Saturday, 10 December 2011

54 signs that you are approaching your EDD in pregnancy...

1. You wake up every morning and think 'is today the day?'

2. You feel hard done by every time someone you know gives birth (especially if they are not as far gone as you)

3. You have washed all the newborn clothes and keep getting the smallest of sleep suits and vests out to smooth over your bump

4. You decide to stop neglecting the birth ball and bounce around the entire episode of Eastenders

5. You walk like you have just done a 100 mile bike ride

6. You check either your hospital bag or your home birth supplies kit twice (every hour, most days)

7. You wake at least three times a night to pee and another 3 times a night as you cannot get comfortable

8. You now understand why pregnant women complain of backache

9. You become frightened of sneezing/coughing/laughing in public

10. It takes a lot of restraint not to punch anyone who asks "any signs...?"

11. It takes a lot of restraint not to punch anyone who says "no baby yet?" 

12. It takes a lot of restraint not to punch anyone who tells you to "have sex/eat a hot curry/eat fresh pineapple/go on a bumpy car ride"

13. You have sex

14. You order a vindaloo and force yourself to eat it despite being more of a Korma gal

15. You buy a pineapple, chop it up then decide after eating more than half that it is hurting your tongue

16. You ask your other half to take you on a bumpy car ride

17. You are sick of people telling you its called an 'estimated' due date for reason...

18. You consider giving your partner a blow job but wonder if it is a myth that prostaglandin is better absorbed through the stomach so settle for a bit more sex

19. You catch yourself googling 'how do I start labour'

20. You squeeze your boobs to see of they work yet then get all excited when they do!

21. You dream of eating pate/runny eggs/brie

22. You wonder if every twinge is labour 'starting'

23. You pay lots of attention to anything that looks 'different' when you wipe after going to the loo in case its a 'show'

24. You feel shattered one minute then the next minute are obsessed with cleaning the skirting boards in the spare room

25. You feel really hungry and order a few chinese dishes to share then cry when you are full up after about 10 mouthfuls and watch your other half devour the lot

26. You cry at the RSPCA advert

27. You are convinced labour has started, ring labour ward and are told to have a bath...then it all stops

28. You are sick of people saying 'don't worry you will know when you are in labour'

29. If this is your second/third/insert number baby you surprise yourself by forgetting what the last month of pregnancy was like

30. You scour the internet looking for birth stories and decide to ignore any that don't seem like the nice natural birth you have planned

31. You freak out a little every day in case you waters break in public

32. You google 'do I get freebies if my waters break in the supermarket'

33. If you know what colour bump you have, you still have reservations and panic in case the sonographer was wrong

34. You cannot believe you are going to have a(nother) baby

35. You look back over the last nine months and think that although your EDD is here/gone/fast approaching, the day you took the first pregnancy test seems like a very long time ago

36. You snap at your other half for the smallest things such as not appreciating the clean skirting boards in the spare room

37. You decide to go on a batch cooking frenzy then get bored after cooking one thing (then eat that for tea...)

38. You suddenly feel like doing something creative

39. You cannot believe your other half wants to go out for a beer with his work colleagues when you are due to have a baby any day (even though technically you still have 3 weeks until your EDD)

40. You dream that you have given birth then wake up to see the moses basket is empty or there is no little person in your bed

41. You keep practising how to tie your Moby sling/fold your pram up/adjust your baby Bjorn 

42. After you have had a 'show' you convince yourself every day will be THE day

43. You decide your stomach cannot stretch anymore

44. You decide your breasts cannot get any bigger 

45. You have a day out and a rest from Facebook only to come home to about 100 inbox messages and notifications asking if you are in labour - not to mention the 50 text messages you received in the day asking the same thing...

46. You are sick of only hearing peoples horrific birth stories - why subject a pregnant women to stories of forceps and 3rd degree tears?!

47. You are sick of people laughing when you tell them you plan to have a natural birth or home birth and hinting you will be screaming for an epidural before you are 5 cm...

48. You practise your active birth positions/hypnobirth techniques everyday from week 37 onwards

49. Your antenatal classes have finished and some of the other pregnant ladies have already had their babies

50. You start getting contractions but decide it must be a false alarm until all of a sudden you realise that they are starting to actually hurt and your waters have gone

51. You actually get excited about putting on your tens machine as this time its for real

52. You feel quite out of it and the first 2 stages of labour unfolds almost as if it is happening to someone else

53. You stare at this tiny bundle and cannot believe a few hours ago they were tucked up in your womb

54. You cannot believe its all over and just how much love you can feel for one tiny being :)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Top Eight 'Bad' baby behaviours (which are not bad just normal...)

Feeding more than every 3 hours...

Babies have small tummies, about the size of a marble when born! Their tiny tummies only hold about 5ml of colostrum to begin with and this can be digested very quickly. Some babies need feeding every 1.5 hours, some can feed in 20 minutes but others need an hour. Some babies have latch problems such as bad positioning or tongue tie which can affect feeding causing them to feed for much longer or more often. The Le Leche League have some fab information here on how babies feeding differs in frequency from other babies.

Waking up at night even at 6 months...

I have some bad news - babies do not sleep all night and guess what? Neither do we! How many times do you wake check your surroundings, go back to sleep, wake have a sip of water, go back to sleep, wake go to the loo then go back to sleep? Well babies wake too and if they do not cry it doesn't mean they do not wake, it means they have learned the art of drifting from sleep cycles on their own. Some babies do this at 3 months - some not until 3 years! It is all normal. This link from Kelly Mom contains lots of links to normal infant sleep studies and guess what? 84% of babies were not sleeping through the night at 6 months. Babies wake for many reasons, here are some:

  • Hunger
  • Security
  • Comfort
  • Teething
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Reverse Cycling
  • Pain
  • Wet/dirty nappy
  • Too hot or cold
So although it may be tempting to train them not to ask for your reassurance at night, think about it, how would you feel? This post explains it from your baby's point of view.

My baby won't eat solids!

If baby is under a year old and refuses solids, whether that be puree, finger food or mashed mulch its probably because they are not ready. Like any developmental stage, babies learn to start eating at different ages. At 1 year old 90% of a babies calories should still be from milk - food before 1 is just for fun! So just go with it, as long as baby is healthy, happy, gaining some weight/growing and has wet and dirty nappies then just keep offering them a range of healthy foods. I go into the the introduction of solids in great detail in this post.

My baby is so clingy yet they used to go to anyone

This is a really normally phase. At some point between 6 months and 14 months babies realise that they are separate from their mothers and can get a little freaked out by this. They start to really miss you when you leave them and can feel really insecure. The worst thing you can do at this age is ignore their pleas. They are babies for such a short time and need lots of reassurance and love in this stage. 

Ways to reassure baby when they suffer separation anxiety:
  • Be there as much as possible, obviously if you have to work then you cannot do a lot about that but when you are there try not to leave them crying alone
  • Wear them in a sling
  • Increase day time touch, cuddle them more, offer them more breastfeeds (if you are breastfeeding)
  • Have more skin to skin
  • Do not try and transition them from co-sleeping to a cot or from your room to theirs at this stage
  • Try not to sleep train or do anything that involves leaving them upset
  • Meet their needs as much as possible - babies who have their needs met generally become happier toddlers
If you are reading the above and feel you may have made separation anxiety worse by sleep training then this may have some pointers for you. Do not beat yourself up - we all make mistakes due to lack of information/sleep/patience!

My toddler does not understand 'no'

Like anything, some babies/toddlers/children will understand consequence sooner than others. If you have a toddler that seems to 'ignore' you when you say no, try to distract them, make the environment safe and explain to them why they cannot do something. Smacking them for not listening/doing as they are told is often not the best thing to do as they loose trust in you. 

My new baby cries as soon as I put them into the moses basket/crib/swing/pram

Babies spend 9 months in the warm watery secure paradise of your womb. They are constantly held, rocked to sleep, hear your voice, smell you, hear your heart beat. They have no irritations such as nappies rubbing, poo stinging, clothes feeling funny its just them fluid and you. Then one day they are squeezed through the most narrow passage ever (or just lifted from) this little heaven as they know it into a cold world of noise, light and foreign objects. They feel safe when they are with Mum. They know you, your smell, your voice and know they are ok. They relax and fall asleep on you. Then they are placed in a cold place with no Mum and they startle and cry - its very normal. Rest assured they are not trying to 'play you' by letting them sleep on you you are not making a rod for your own back, you are making your precious bundle feel so secure so they can learn to live in this new strange world without fears and anxieties. They need you. I love this link which really explains normal newborn behaviour and the reasons behind it.

My baby uses me as a dummy

Yes. Why do you think dummies were invented? Because babies have a sucking need and sometimes this can be really strong. They would not have invented them if there was no need for baby to suck. Babies do this for comfort, skin to skin, for pain relief, to increase milk supply, to fully empty the breast after a feed and many other reasons.

Many mothers feel worried that they should not let baby 'use' them in this way but introducing an artificial dummy can have negative effects, especially when introduced in very young babies. It can affect the following:

  • Milk Production
  • Breastfeeding latch
  • Facial/dental development
  • Make Mum's period return sooner
  • Make baby gain too little weight
So dummies really as best avoided if at all possible. I understand some mothers need a break and this can help and formula fed babies can benefit from having a dummy to prevent over feeding but breastfed babies should have as much of their sucking needs met at their Mothers breast.

My child is aggressive so therefore I need to use time out/smack them

Children can be aggressive for many reasons. Whilst it is true violence can be a learned behaviour, some children do get frustrated easily and find that this frustration causes them to be angry. I have met children from very laid back parents with aggressive children and laid back children from highly strung parents.

Although it can be tempting to stick little bobby in the corner for snatching a toy or smacking him for pushing over a child it is more important to understand why they are feeling aggressive. If your child is verbal enough to explain what is wrong ask them. Sometimes children become frustrated because they have eyesight or hearing difficulties, others when in pain. Its best to explore all avenues.

If they are slow to communicate you could try baby signing as an avenue of communication. If there is a certain 'trigger' to the aggression ie. sharing you could see if there are any books out there that explain things to them in pictures.

Punishing them may make them more frustrated and aggressive. 

I am sure there are other baby myths I have missed off so please feel free to comment - these are just a few I have come across. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of calling children naughty or their behaviour bad, we accepted them as normal? 


Sunday, 30 October 2011

Breastfeeding during Pregnancy - the first trimester

Lots of people think I am mad for continuing to breastfeed whilst pregnant...

Sometimes I am inclined to agree with them, other times I feel they are the mad ones for even suggesting weaning at a time when my daughter's world is changing in a way she cannot even understand. 

As I write this I am 32 weeks pregnant, I have kept a reflective journal on my feelings of breastfeeding whilst pregnant so I can provide a really honest experience of how it felt for me. I cannot speak for others, this is purely my account of the journey, as honest as I can possibly be...

Can women breastfeed when pregnant?

I have been pregnant three times this year, two unfortunately ended in miscarriage. After the second miscarriage I was told by the consultant that it is probably the breastfeeding causing me to miscarry as they could find no other reason. He urged me to either wean my daughter or use some form of contraception until she had been weaned to avoid another miscarriage. I went home and cried, I felt it was my fault and resentful towards my daughter but actually when I googled I found out that there is no proof to state that breastfeeding when pregnant causes miscarriage. Hillary Flower wrote this interesting piece on nursing during pregnancy A New Look at the Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy she also wrote a fantastic book called The Adventures in Tandem Nursing Published by the Le Leche League. The book is completely non-biased and gives lots of accounts of mothers feeding stories; pregnancy and beyond.

I decided that taking all of that into consideration that I would wait at least 6 months before trying to conceive again, after all by then my daughter would be 19 months and most probably be on less feeds...


That was until about 4 weeks later when was feeding my daughter and I had some real tenderness in my nipples. I couldn't be pregnant as I had been careful yet this felt very similar to the last time - only the feeling was stronger! I was crying when my daughter latched on! I looked in her mouth and could see no sign of thrush although my breasts ached much like when I had thrush before. A few days went past and I starting feeling sick, then very tired so decided it was time to pee on a stick...

I prepared my self for disappointment and peed into the pot (I had the dip stick pregnancy tests you can buy in bulk from Ebay as they are apparently more sensitive than shop bought ones and much cheaper!). I watched the wee soak up the stick and immediately there were two red lines

You see I knew that I was but I just could not believe it so I did about another 5 tests to make sure, then went and bought a Clear Blue Digital which said I was about 4/5 weeks pregnant and I did a First Response test just to make sure...(ok, ok I got a little obsessed...)

To wean or not to wean?

So a couple of weeks passed, I had a bleed, I had numerous scans and tests but for some reason this baby decided to stay firmly implanted in the safety of my womb.

I was asked if I was still breastfeeding, I honestly replied that I was and was constantly told to prepare myself for another miscarriage as my body was obviously not capable of nurturing a fetus and a toddler, the two previous miscarriages were proof of that.

However, I would look at my beautiful daughter feeding, even though I was in pain and she seemed to want to feed more I just could not bring myself to stop
Breastfeeding was so incredibly important to my daughter, it was her comfort, her food, her drink, her time with me, her way to get to sleep, her skin to skin and one of the most important things to her. So I decided to carry on, despite the advice (which I was learning more and more was not backed up by credible research) and let nature take its course.

The pain eased off...

By about 8 weeks I was either not noticing the pain or it had more or less gone, my milk supply seemed a little lower but I could still express and my daughter seemed happy with the situation. I managed to stop worrying about miscarriage but I was still peeing on sticks most mornings to check I was still pregnant.

Hardly any nausea

I was a little concerned, I felt tired but hardly any sickness, I actually felt really well, much better than when I had been pregnant with my daughter. The absence of pregnancy symptoms did alarm me somewhat but I have since learned this is a common theme amongst pregnant women who are still feeding. I decided to just carry on about my business and cross off the days until my next scan at 12 weeks. I decided I could finally breathe once I got there and knew all was ok.

By about 10 weeks I had noticed my supply had diminished a lot and my daughter was not happy about this, there was still milk but not as much as there had been. I was not in any pain these days but I did notice she started eating far more, I take it that was to make up for the lack of milk. She also started drinking more water from her cup and actually cut a couple of feeds out.

Other than the worry of miscarriage I had a relatively uneventful first trimester and was very pleased at 12 weeks to see this


An informed choice???

I am going to start this post by apologising - I am sorry but this will not sit nicely with everyone but at the end of the day I am sure many will relate to this...

I have noticed that on forums and Facebook pages there are a few subjects that are guaranteed to fuel fights. The main culprits in my experience are:

  • Formula feeding
  • Breastfeeding in public
  • Spanking/smacking
  • Sleep training
  • Vaccines
The above categories seem to divide mums into groups, cause arguments and basically upset many involved. (There are far more parenting subjects that do this but this but I think these tend to be the most controversial)

I myself have been involved in these arguments, I try to offer practical advice and links to research to prove my point and never get personal. However, I am often attacked personally just for being armed with information. Information I have had to seek out myself and make an informed choice about - why? because Mums are not given the facts by Health Care Professionals for a start and live in a society full of misinformation and restricted information for fear of offending others.

Let's start with formula feeding...

When pregnant we have it drummed into us that we should breastfeed. We are handed an Off to the best start leaflet and told that it is the best way to feed our babies.

Yet how many Mum's and Mum's-to-be are actually aware that many of the reasons breastfeeding is so much better than formula feeding is due to the fact that the cow's milk protein can actually be attributing factors to:
Not to mention the fact that many babies have allergies to cows milk protein causing green frothy poo or constipation and rashes. There is also some links to Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerated Colitis and Crones Disease...scary stuff huh? And if you are thinking that Soy formula is ok then please think again. These few snippets of information may be new to you or you may know of them already, I may have just really pissed you off. You may be feeling guilty as you have a history of one of the above in your family yet formula fed knowing no better. The above list does not even touch on what breastfeeding protects against...I will stop here as this is not an anti formula blog piece and I fully empathise with women who cannot breastfeed whether that be due to a medical reason or lack or support - its all valid.

Sleep training, spoiling babies and brain development...

Many women battle with their babies to get them into a 3 or 4 hourly feeding routine and sleeping 12 hours a night. To do this they often distract baby between feeds using a walk with a pram to try and get baby to sleep or give them some water and then ignore them crying for periods of time at night. This practice is endorsed by many famous authors offering sleep advice.

Yet the first 12 months of a baby's life is crucial in brain development. Being held, their needs consistently met and on demand feeds are all part of the process. This explains it well.

So when we do not meet a child needs, leave them to cry and avoid spoiling them we are actually teaching them not to trust us. That we are not there for them consistently. That sometimes they may go hungry and feel unloved. This then wires their brain for life and their stress response in situations.

Dr Sears explains it like this:
  ''Babies who are "trained" not to express their needs may appear to be docile, compliant, or "good" babies. Yet these babies could be depressed babies who are shutting down the expression of their needs, and they may become children who don't ever speak up to get their needs met and eventually become the highest-need adults.''
You can read his full article here which explains why it is important to 'spoil' your baby - not ignore them!! 

Who wins out of these mothering rifts?

I hadn't really thought much about the answer to this question until now...this really got me thinking...the only people benefiting from information being withheld is the companies that make money from it; Formula Milk Companies, Baby Sleep Train Authors and Pharmaceutical Companies that sell drugs to control conditions such as Diabetes, Asthma and Reflux. Oh and not to mention the Government who have all the tax from the profits of these companies. Coincidental? I personally think not...

Then of course there is Postnatal Depression (PND)

A very serious condition affecting around 10-15% of mothers. Many people do not state the facts in case of offending these women. I have also seen mothers with PND become really upset and use that as an excuse for others to stop giving information. A little while ago this comment was posted on a Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding debate on Facebook

''Thanks to all the bitchy breastfeeding Mothers I now feel awful. I have bad postnatal depression and do not need to be told that I am an even worse mother than I feel just because I chose to formula feed my baby so I could still have a social life. A night out with my mates relieves my PND a great deal. I hope you are all happy to know now that you have made a depressed mother feel even worse than she feels already. I hate the Breastfeedin bullies - no one wants to see you feed in public, you do it for attention to make others feel bad. I hope one day you feel like a bad mum when your baby grows up needing to eat everytime.''
 This was posted in response to another mother asking why breastfeeding was so great and a breastfeeding mother posting a link to the risks of formula feeding. Up until this point the debate had been quite respectful...because of this onslaught the whole thread turned nasty, Mothers were saying that the lady should not be going out, other Mothers were giving her a virtual 'hi-five' and the page administrator decided to delete the whole thread and ban members who were offensive.

The sad thing about it is that how many Mothers actually are told that breastfeeding/baby wearing/co-sleeping (safely)/natural birth and other traditionally 'attachment parenting' methods have been shown to reduce PND due to strengthening the bond between child and mother and also setting of feel good hormones in both? Should we really deny people the facts that 85% (if not more) of mothers could benefit from for fear of offending?


Children learn from what happens if their role model and care giver physically punishes them whenever they do something wrong? Ok, they may 'behave' but are they not given the message that its ok to hit people who do not do as we say? 

The NSPCC recognise that smacking is not a good idea. There are numerous studies to show that children who are smacked are likely to be more aggressive, more likely to be secretive towards parents and actually do not behave 'better' unless in sight of their parents (so they behave out of fear not from learning it is wrong. This great piece by Jan Hunt explains the top 10 reasons why you shouldn't hit your children.

So if this is the case why do so many people blame bad behaviour on the absence of the 'cane' in school and the 'PC police' making parents who decide to smack their children feel like child abusers? Again I would say this is because people are not being told the full picture...

Then there is the Vaccine debate...

I personally am at a loss with this...there is so much conflicting information out there regarding vaccinations. I can see both sides of the argument but possibly as research is hard to find when you are just told the benefits from the NHS. The place to have a look to get a really good understanding of the subject is Arnica where they present the research against vaccines - then pair that up with the research for...its definitely something I need to research further and I do not feel I have the right to comment either way until I am in possession of all the pros and cons that I can find. Yet it seems many people make up their mind and attack others choices without being informed, purely because of the way the media showcase parents of unvaccinated children.

So should us mothers really be attacking one another for our choices when we are let down by society for the lack of informed choice?? I think not...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Baby-led solids, best for baby, best for lazy parents

Or baby-led weaning, although I prefer the term baby led solids as to me 'weaning' sounds like cessation of breastfeeding rather than complimenting it.

I have decided to write this blog piece to clear up a lot of confusion around the whole mush vs finger food debate - so many people spread countless myths about when they feel children are ready for solids and a lot of health professionals are none the wiser either. Many Mothers do not have the time to research the topic fully so I am hoping to water down what they need to know and more importantly why they need to know it.

Ok here are the most common reasons for a mother choosing to start solids early:
  • waking at night from 4-6 months
  • watching Mum and others eat
  • feeding more (day as well as night - especially at 4 months)
  • because a friend/relative/health professional told them too (yes even health professionals get it wrong)
  • because baby is big
  • because baby is small
  • because baby has stopped gaining so much weight 
There are more, yet I think this covers the main ones!

Lets look at calorie content in milk vs mush...

Ok, milk whether that be breastmilk or formula is calorie rich. Each ounce of breastmilk is around 22 calories and each ounce of formula is around 20 calories. An ounce of pureed carrot is only 7 kcal, baby rice is around 20 calories for 2 tsp and an ounce of water and potatoes are only around 14 calories per ounce - you can see more here on this Kellymom link.

So as you can see, most of the foods we feed our babies are no higher in calories that the milk we provide and in all fairness if you look at the fat content in that link much lower in fat than milk. This kind of negates the reasons behind slow weight gain, needing to bulk them up (small babies), fill them up (large babies) and most of the reasons why health professionals advise early introductions of solid foods (weight gain issues).

So why is my 3/4/5 month old baby starting to feed more and/or also beginning to wake at night or require more night feeds?

Babies have regular growth and developmental spurts. Some will have big one at four months, some earlier at 3 months and some later at 5 months, so it is very common that babies need more feeds or sleep less well at this time. If you look back to the point, solids are unlikely to help this, as they will probably have less fat/calories and therefore could end up prolonging a growth spurt. This is a great link on surviving growth spurts well worth a read. Basically the best thing you can do if breastfeeding is feed, feed, feed and if you bottle feed, increase the amount per feed, you will find the manufacturers normally do this at 4 months anyway.

Is it harmful to introduce solids before 6 months?

The short answer is, it could be depending on your child...lets have a look at breastfed babies first.

When a baby is born their gut is perforated meaning bad bacteria/proteins can go through the gut wall, breastmilk coats the gut and prevents this happening, by about 6 months the gut is more or less formed which is why exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months is so important - people call this the 'virgin gut' and introducing anything other than breastmilk in this time can affect this, when things pass through the gut this can cause allergies and infections.

Formula fed babies are less at risk of early introduction of solids as they no longer have virgin guts so in that respect the risk of allergies and infection is already there. However, formula is much better tailored to your babies needs than jars of baby food so it is advisable to lay off the solids until 6 months.

There are other risks of early introduction of solids which I will explain further.

Will feeding my baby solids early make them obese?

There is no guarantee that early solids will make your child obese but the research shows they are more likely to be. Feeding a baby solids before they are ready can stretch their little tummies so they feel stuffed, this can then make it harder for them to know when to understand they are full. However, it largely depends on what is fed and more importantly how much.  

How do I know my baby is getting enough calories?

As explained earlier, breast/formula milk is rich in calories and fat, babies can survive on milk alone for the first year but it is recommended that you introduce complimentary food from 6 months. This need to be nutritious and iron rich. If you baby seems very hungry, more milk should be enough.

What are the real signs of baby being ready for food?

  • Sitting without support
  • Hold their head fully
  • Able to pick up food, take it their mouth, bite and swallow 
This shows it is really a developmental issue as opposed to a sleeping/growth issue. This is partially protective, babies able to do all of the above are unlikely to choke. It also makes sense if you think of other primates who do not puree their carrots, monkey's start on solid foods from the day they steal a banana from their mum.

Is there any reason to spoon feed?

Babies are very good at knowing what they need, if you offer your baby a range of foods from 6 months onwards they will know what they need and can cope with eating and what they cannot. There is no real reason to spoon feed although, I know some mothers do prefer to feed yogurt/cereal by hand to create less mess, if you decide to do this its important to stop feeding as soon as baby is not interested and leave a little space between spoon fulls. 

My baby is 6 months and will not eat solid foods I put in front of them - should I spoon feed instead?

Like all developmental milestones, some babies will be capable earlier than others. From my own experience, my daughter was no eating much solids until almost a year, yet she still had the same amount of milk feeds (about 8-10 a day) as she did from about 4 months, the important thing to remember is that adding solids is to compliment milk no replace it.

Where can I learn more about baby-led solids?

Here is a list of resources about delaying solids and also further information:

Dr Sears 
Baby Led Weaning 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Life after sleep training...(because we are all human)

This is not another post to talk about the damages of sleep training, whether that be controlled crying, cry it out or anything that involves leaving a baby to cry themselves to sleep...

There is loads of information about sleep training out there and how bad it is to leave babies to cry, if you are unsure of that then here is a good place to learn about that. Lots of people also focus on the way it can make your child feel, this heart-wrenching piece really helps you to empathise with baby & to be honest, if you have done controlled crying/cry it out/taught baby to self settle/ignored their protests (delete where applicable depending on the advice you received) then you are probably feeling like crap & thinking well what next?

Now most parents use a 'sleep training' method when they feel they have just had enough of waking at night/not getting baby down until midnight. I would not think that a parent with a baby who sleeps naturally from 7pm-7am (this type of baby is a very rare type I may add) would even need to consider anything like this. Just because you have sleep trained then that does not make you a bad parent, it does not mean you cannot do things to help undo any damage that may have been caused.

I am writing this post as I have been contacted by a few Mums who have done different sleep training methods and now feel like they have made a bad choice. None of them knew about the dangers sleep training can have and all have reported changes in their relationship with their child since doing it that has not been a 'good' change. 

"Sophie* Shared with me that she did let her daughter cry it out at 6 months old. Her daughter had been waking 6 times a night to breastfeed and Sophie had to go back to work, she also had 3 year old twins so day napping was not an option and she was at her wits end. The twins had always been 'good' sleepers and she felt she could not cope with this lack of sleep. So at 6 months (and on the advice of her health visitor) she let her daughter cry herself to sleep. The first night took 90 minutes, the second night took 60 minutes, the third night took 45 minutes, the fourth 25 minutes, the fifth 10 minutes and on the sixth night baby was asleep in 2 minutes. Baby never cried at bedtime from the seventh night onwards and she started sleeping from 8pm until 7am when Sophie woke her up for the day. At first Sophie was amazed at the change and pleased but she noticed her daughter was different. Her daughter became very clingy in the day and where as before she was very happy-go-lucky. She would cry more often and became upset when she was separated from Sophie. One day Sophie went to peg the washing out and baby started to cry as soon as she opened the back door, she was so distressed that she was sick and cried really hard. Deep in her heart Sophie knew it was from the cry-it-out, she felt bad and did not know where to go from here, she also felt as though the bond was not as good, her baby seemed to smile less and no one seemed any happier for having more sleep..."

So what can I do if I have sleep trained my child and now I want to undo any damage that may have been caused?

This is precisely the point of this post.

So you have done controlled crying, cry-it-out, self settling or whatever and you are now aware that perhaps it wasn't the best idea. Maybe you thought you were teaching them a 'skill' they needed to have or that it was in their best interests and then you have stumbled across something like the posts in the second paragraph and now feel bad.

You should not feel bad if you were unaware of the dangers or the effect it could have on your child. You were doing the best you could in the situation you were in with the knowledge you had, that does not make you a bad Mum, that makes you a great Mum who was not aware of the full facts. With more information we may make other choices.

When it comes to sleep training, I think its a good idea to understand why its not recommended, this article highlights why it may be better to seek alternative so lets look at some of the points then look at what you can do to undo any damage that may or may not be an outcome of sleep training.

Babies can feel stress – and crying to sleep for any period is stressful. Stress for kids under 2 is shown to actually change brain development

If your child's brain has developed differently, then according to Dr Sears in the above link your child may have an over-active adrenaline system. The main output of this is anxiety so taking the following care with your child should help not to make any adrenaline or anxiety worse:
  • Don't dismiss their feelings
  • Listen to your child 
  • Offer comfort and distraction
  • take them outside
  • Stick to routines (limit change)
  • Keep your child healthy
  • Avoid over scheduling
  • Set a calm example
If you would like further information on this, then  has some fab reading on the subject of anxiety. Please also note that the brain development has mainly been linked with children who have experienced excessive crying and probably not children who may have just been left for 10 minutes or so to see if they will settle.

There is lots of research to show that responding to your babies needs creates a more secure confident toddler. if you have sleep trained them, there is nothing stopping you from making sure you respond to them during the day, avoid ignoring them if they are crying in the day and when possible have skin to skin as this boosts their serotonin levels, the feel good hormone. Make sure that if you have sleep trained you are extra sensitive to their day needs.

Babies do not need to self soothe through crying to be “independent” – they achieve this by self-esteem fostered by a strong, trusted bond

This is something to bear in mind. If you have sleep trained your baby or child try to be the best parent you can. Tell them you love them, hug and kiss them as much as possible, tell them you understand why they are upset when they are having a tantrum instead of ignoring them. If they do start waking at night again go to them as quickly as possible. Let them know you care deeply for them and think the world of them. 
Babies are not able to calm themselves down when under stress & they wont learn that skill by crying it out

When I child is left to cry-it-out they give up crying and go to sleep. They are often still upset and some babies sob for a while after in their sleep. These babies have never learned how to ease their tension so tend to be more demanding toddlers who find it very hard to stop once they get going. You need to understand this and not punish them for it. Parents need to understand that tantrums are a child's way of making sense of the world and by being there, being calm & understanding they will learn from your example and calm down quicker than being left.

Babies don’t cry just for the sake of it – they are communicating their needs and why they are being ignored is not understood by the baby  

If you have left your baby to cry at some point, chances are they have had an unmet need. You need to be aware that the unmet need may manifest itself in other ways. For example if your child was hungry and left to cry, they may worry about the availability of food and eat very fast or be almost obsessed about when they will be eating next. If they were left to cry when they wanted a cuddle, they may be very clingy and need even more cuddles in the day. Its important that if you have noticed any changes in your child then you make sure you go the extra mile to meet any needs that may have been unmet as this will hopefully reassure them that it will not happen again.

What if I did controlled crying and my child seems better for it?

If this is the case you may want to adopt the above advice anyway. Children will often do anything they can to please their care givers and may still be insecure. They can then grow up into adults that always try to please others and ignore their own needs. I am not saying this is why your child or baby is compliant but it is true for some so making sure that your child has the freedom to express emotions, even if at times those emotions may not be what you want to hear, will help them be a well-rounded individual.

Now, that's about all I have on the subject for now, I just wanted to write something that would help people to move on from any guilt or bad feeling that they may have for controlled crying or other sleep training methods. If you have any concerns about your child's sleep in the future there are a few places you can look for advice; Facebook groups The Dangers of Baby Training, The anti CIO Community and Natural, Gentle Parenting all welcome questions on sleep concerns and have a wealth of information and support. There is also information in Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution about helping your child sleep for longer periods at a time but uses gentle methods.

Remember, just because you have done something as a parent that you may now regret, that doesn't make you a bad parent - it makes you human x

* Name has been changed as they wanted to be kept anonymous