Monday, 30 January 2012

10 things which apparently sum me up as a hippy

If you read my first blog post you will know that I have changed as a person over the past few years. Here is a list of things that I now do/have done and the reasons behind 'hippy-ish' are you?

1. I am breastfeeding a toddler and a newborn baby

In the UK Breastfeeding rates are really very low in comparison to the rest of the world. When I was pregnant with my first I decided I would give breastfeeding a try then no biggie if I switched to formula. Yet here I am with a 2 year old and a 4 week old baby feeding both. It wasn't something I planned to do but I could not find a good time to 'wean' my toddler. I kept thinking she would wean when I was pregnant but she didn't then after her sister was born she still did not wean. There are many benefits to breastfeeding past infancy so I decided to just run with it. As it happens its a very useful tool, booby cures many a thing from thirst to hurt fingers.

2. I carry my baby around in a sling (not a popular structured baby carrier)

Wow its hard work with a newborn and a 2 year old. When you have a double buggy in town people look at you like you have two heads and most babies are not actually that happy about being put in a pram, especially when tiny. I started with a normal baby carrier with my first and could only handle her in it for about 10 minutes before my back ached but this time I decided to try a Moby wrap and I have to say it is amazing! With this long piece of fabric I can hoover, peg the washing out, do my hair & makeup and even play games with my toddler and it is so incredibly comfortable. I can even feed my baby in it and no one is any the wiser (great for trips around the supermarket...) so although there are loads of benefits of babywearing I have to admit, for me its pure convenience!

  3. I use cloth nappies

I do this for 3 main reasons; 1. I find I have hardly any leaks compared to disposables 2. It saves me shed loads of money 3. My girls have sensitive skin and they are less red in cloth nappies. I also blogged about this in another post in more detail. I now have 2 in cloth nappies, yes I have to do a nappy wash every other day which may be a bit of extra work but I would hazard a guess that two in disposables would cost me around £40-£50 a month which doesn't include the cost of disposable wet wipes - I would rather spend that on nice things for me the kids.
4. I chose to have a home birth

My first birth did not go to plan so when I fell pregnant again last year I decided to research as much as I could regarding the complications in my last pregnancy, the birth itself and other options and what happened after my daughter was born. When I looked at the bigger picture and the statistics in my area regarding care in my local hospital I decided that staying at home to have my baby was far safer than going to my consultant led delivery unit. This decision resulted in my perfect second birth

 5. I bring my baby into my bed at night to feed her

Yep the taboo of parenting. I sleep with my baby even though apparently the safest place for her is a cot next to my bed...why? Because if I don't lie down and sleep whilst I feed her I am likely to fall asleep on a sofa or chair which is far more dangerous than feeding her laid down in my bed. When I bring her into bed with me I follow the safe co sleeping guidelines as recommended by UNICEF. As a bonus I also tend to get a little more shut eye throughout feeding so function better in the day. I must admit, I do also put her in the moses basket until she wakes for a feed purely for my own comfort than anything else but I do feel that safe co-sleeping is far safer than feeding baby out of bed when very tired. 

 6. I use homeopathy for me and my children 

Whether its stress, teething, labour pains or even a cold you can bet your bottom dollar that there is a homeopathic remedy to help. When I first heard about homeopathy it was chamomilla for my daughter's teething. I was shocked at how well it worked, it seemed to really calm her. Then when I was told it would help me in labour I must admit I was skeptical but actually it really worked!! I now swear by it and wish I had discovered this years ago.

 7. I meditate to relax

Yup, three years ago if you asked me how I unwind after a busy day I would probably say with the best part of a bottle of Pinot Grigio and 10 cigarettes. This then led me to feel like crap the following day and was really damaging my long term health. When I fell pregnant I had to give up alcohol and cigarettes and I was determined not to take my filthy habits back up once the baby arrived (another motivation to keep the nasty habits at bay was breastfeeding as I didn't want my baby to have the toxins via my milk) so I had to find another way to unwind and deal with stress and that's where I came across meditation. As quite a highly strung person, meditation is what keeps me in check (and most probably sane) on a day to day basis. Its free and I can do it almost anywhere.

 8. I don't believe in smacking children earns respect or teaches them right from wrong

Research shows that children who are physically punished have more chance of becoming violent themselves - hmmm, hardly any wonder if their main role model hits them when they do not do as they are told. Instead I am a huge believer in trying to find out the reason why a child has done x,y or z then deal with the cause. With children under 3 its mainly through frustration in learning about the world. I do believe children need to learn right from wrong but I believe that can be achieved more effectively with positive reinforcement rather than through fear in ones caregivers.

 9. I recycle/reuse/buy second hand and try to reduce waste

Where I live the black bins are only collected once a fortnight so with a family of 5 it is really important we recycle. I also care about things clogging up the countryside in landfill. I try to reuse things rather than chuck them whether that is to make things out of bottles/yoghurt pots/boxes with the kids, cut up old clothes for dusters or pass on childrens clothes to friends it all helps. I tend to buy second hand where possible mainly to save money.

 10. I make my own bread

If I make it at home in my bread maker not only do I know what my children are eating but also it tastes yummy, smells yummy and well, you really cannot beat home made bread :)



Sunday, 15 January 2012

Children's books that support home birth and/or breast feeding

When I was pregnant last year I decided to have a home birth, my daughter was 15 months when I found out I was pregnant & almost 23 months when her sister was born.

I really wanted to prepare her for the arrival of her sister but a trip around W.H. Smiths & Waterstones left me feeling deflated; all the books they had about new babies included bottles and/or trips to the hospital and whilst I appreciate this is helpful to some families, it would not have been a true reflection of what was about to come for us. It was obvious my daughters beloved Dora could not help us with this one...

I did some routing around & managed to find a few books which supported home birth and breastfeeding so thought I would share them with other people looking for similar books - I really do think they helped to prepare my daughter, it can be hard to find good ways of explaining what will be happening to a toddler in a way they will understand.

Please note: although these books do support breastfeeding/home birth they do not always support other typically attachment parenting techniques such as co-sleeping, baby wearing etc so they may not be suitable. We just took what we could from them.  

Home Birth Books

My favourite one is Hello Baby by Jenni Overend


This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a home birth from a little boy's eyes. The first time I read it, I cried as it is just so lovely. My little girl loved this book & I think it would suit older children too.

Our Water Baby by Maclean & J Nesbit is lovely for anyone planning (unsurprisingly) a water birth 

It is about a little boy helping his parents prepare for the birth. It is very sweet and has lovely illustrations.

I have not read this book but We're Having a Home Birth By Kelly Mochel was recommended to me by a friend

 It is about a little girl who is getting ready to welcome her little brother into the world the website states the following  

"Children will love this colorful, contemporary book about
their family's special upcoming homebirth event. A great
tool for discussion about what to expect when the baby
arrives, this affordable book covers important issues such
as the role of a midwife, being good labor support, noises
to expect mom to make, cord cutting, placenta delivery and
breastfeeding. Combined with healthy conversation about
pregnancy and homebirth, this book will help teach children
that birth is a natural occurence, not a medical emergency."

Last but not least is My Brother Jimi Jazz by Chrissy Butler

 This beautiful book is about the homebirth of a baby boy told by his sister. It includes preparation & the beautifully illustrated birth.

Breast Feeding

I really wanted to find some books on showing breastfeeding as the norm. Especially new babies as although I was still feeding my eldest daughter, I wanted her to understand that the new baby will also have boob.

My New Baby by Rachel Fuller was perfect for my daughter.


There were at least 2 images of breastfeeding the new baby & the story was simple meaning my daughter did not get bored.

The New Baby by Anna Civardi (Usborne First Experiences) has a scene or two of Mrs Bunn breastfeeding

 This one features a hospital birth & is a little old fashioned but I did like the fact breastfeeding was considered normal.

I was quite surprised but Topsy and Tim: The New Baby by Jean Adamson included breastfeeding in this book

My daughter loved it too. It was good for explaining basic baby care to her.

The New Baby at Your House by Joanna Cole shows real pictures of children with their younger siblings

It shows a mother breastfeeding which is lovely & clear. I think the photographs make it more 'real'. The only down side is the text, it can be quite negative towards new baby behaviour ('what naughty things might baby do?') and its quite lengthy in places so I make it up as we go long.

My New Baby by Annie Kubler is lovely

It has no text so you make your own up but shows Mum breastfeeding the new baby.

The Wonderful Place by Chrissy Butler is a beautifully illustrated book all about breastfeeding

 It supports full term breastfeeding - many images from the book can be seen on her website.

We Like to Nurse by Chia Martin features lots of animals nursing

There is also a human Mummy & baby feeding. Simple text and very easy for toddler to understand.

That is about all I have found on my search so far but if you have any recommendations please let me know by commenting & I can always add them. 


Saturday, 14 January 2012

My perfect second birth

My first birth was not a nice story so I did it all again just so I could write something nice on the subject of giving birth. 

This pregnancy was very much planned, after two early miscarriages I had a rocky start but this little egg was a sticky one and I am now in possession of a positive birth story - so positive, I am broody again just so I could give birth and relive the amazing experience I had!

This time I decided to have a home birth this was not until I had carried out a lot of personal research and decided that for me and my baby, birthing at home was going to be safer than birthing in hospital (I will cover this topic in full in another blog but for now, I want to tell you about my fluffy home birth story without the science bits). 

My EDD was Christmas Day, Friday 23rd my contractions started but it was stop-start-stop-start. The longest break I got was about half hour.

Labour didn't progress much over the weekend but Christmas Day Eve I started leaking fluid. On boxing Day Eve I informed labour ward as the contractions were also stronger. A lovely midwife came out and examined me (my choice as I had been contracting for so long I needed to know if anything had happened) I was 2-3cm but stretchy and between 50-75% effaced. Nothing much happened the rest of the night and I went to bed.

On 27th another midwife was on call and she was awful, she wanted me to go in for a Pitocin induction (this is a synthetic hormone given intravenously to stimulate the Uterus into contracting and forcing the body to go into labour) and continuous monitoring due to Premature Rupture of Membranes (PROM - waters breaking before labour is 'established') as she felt there was a risk of infection but I refused and said I would keep checking my temperature and monitor the colour and smell of the fluid then alert them should any signs of infection be apparent, she stalked me the whole day, ringing constantly, told me not to use birth pool as it increases risk of infection (this is untrue or at least unproven) & even questioned my plans to tandem feed!! She had me in tears and I felt so undermined by her, I had done my research and just wanted her to respect my informed choice. In the end my labour came to a halt, I knew she would arrive if things kicked off and I did not feel safe to birth my baby. She was still on duty on the Wednesday and I had had a big bloody show but I got my husband to screen phone calls and make excuses for me. She told him all the 'risks' and asked him what our plans were to which he replied:
'to stay at home and have a baby'
We went out for a drive and came back to 5 missed calls from her and she had even turned up when we were out. We nick named her 'stalker madwife'. In the afternoon of the 28th another midwife took over, she was amazing, came out to see me, trusted in me. She was happy with me & baby and told me to forget about having a baby, watch a film, order a takeaway & have an orgasm ;) She was the best thing that happened as I really relaxed.

Thursday 29th I woke up to a big contraction but went back to sleep. 10am I had another and went to the loo to have a gush of fluid - waters had definitely gone this time - yay!! I realised the leaking must have been a hind water leak (which meant even less chance of infection)

Throughout the day contractions got stronger but whenever midwife (the lovely one from boxing day who I really liked) arrived it all slowed down - think I had white coat syndrome! By 8pm I was in pain and asked her to examine me - I was 3-4cm and no more effaced than Monday! Could not believe it! I sent midwife and my Doula home and we ordered Pizza, I was having painful contractions but I wasn't sure if this was it as nothing seemed to be happening!!

I called everyone back at 11 as I was in pain. we talked and labour seemed to carry on progressing so I wanted to get in the pool. Midwife advised best not to quite yet as it may slow labour down so I asked her to examine me at midnight to see where we were. I was still only 3-4 cm but cervix was more central. The Midwife suggested I take some paracetamol and try to sleep, I was devastated and told her I was convinced baby was going to be born within a few hours so could not understand why I was not dilating.

Bed was a bad idea, could not sleep
, I asked my husband to rub my back and he fell asleep mid contraction - I flew out of bed and ran downstairs! I had had enough! I told my Doula I needed more pain relief and she gave me some homoeopathy to help back labour, I was upset as baby was no back to back yet the contractions were so intense I could feel them EVERYWHERE. She phoned the midwife who said to let me get in the pool & she would be over about 4am. At 230am the pool was ready. Climbing in was a massive relief, the water seemed to absorb my contractions and finally I felt I could cope!

Then at 305 I needed to push, Dana (my doula) and my other half heard the noise and immediately called my midwife then 999 - with the first contraction I put my hand down and could feel her head, I was told by Dana to get out of the pool (she was talking to emergency services) but I refused, I felt it was safer for me to stay there. Dana jumped in the pool on the phone to emergency services and followed their instruction. Second contraction and the head was born - 3rd contraction and Freya Holly was born at 315am.

I sat back in the pool and fed her, she was awake and alert. 5 minutes later paramedics and my midwife arrived, my midwife asked to cut the cord as she wanted to check baby over, I let her as I wanted the reassurance she was ok. My midwife sent paramedics away and I got out of the pool - placenta arrived at 340 naturally and we cracked open the champagne at 345!

I was checked over and had no tears just a couple of internal grazes. I felt on top of the world! Later we had Freya weighed and she was a petite 6lb 15oz.

It was the most intense, amazing experience of my life and had restored my faith in birth, such a healing experience after a traumatic first birth.

The only things I would have changed were the vaginal exams, they set me back emotionally which is why I did not recognise transition. I also would not have informed the hospital about the waters leaking and I would have refused to let the cord be cut so early - in fact the only things I would have changed were things involving the medical profession ;)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Sleep - what worked for us when the sleepless nights became too much

I feel a bit of a hypocrite for writing this due to my 'anti-sleep-training' stance but I honestly feel that sometimes there needs to be a compromise between controlled crying/cry it out and burning yourself out.

Where my family were at when something needed to change...

I was almost 7 months pregnant, waking up to 10 times a night to breastfeed my daughter (then 20 months) back to sleep. My nipples were sensitive so falling back to sleep whilst feeding was not an option and often breastfeeding was not getting her back to sleep either. After an exhausting night where I fed my daughter from midnight until 5am after she had not settled down to sleep until 11pm I decided there was no way I could cope any longer and something needed to change before my baby was born.

I had tried cranial osteopathy, chiropractic and also herbal remedies. Even resorted to paracetamol to see if it was pain waking her but nothing worked, she was not poorly, she napped in the day - often twice! - she had just got herself into a very inconvenient routine which was affecting our whole family.

My full-time stepson needed to be able to function in the day for school, my husband needed to function for work and as I run a business from home and I am studying a diploma in breastfeeding counseling I also needed to be able to function - plus pregnancy is tiring in itself!

When not to try this 

  • When baby is less than 18 months old (night feeds are so important)
  • When baby is not well
  • When a big change has happened in their life within the last 2 months (i.e moving house, starting new childcare, parent returning, new family pet/baby to work etc)
  • When sleep is not an issue and you are actually coping - this should be an absolute last resort
  • Before a baby is walking
  • If it doesn't feel 'right'
When you might like to try this (and none of the above are a factor)

  • When your sleep deprivation is making you unable to function and meet the needs of your child/children 
  • When you are finding it hard to meet your own needs or starting to feel depressed or exhausted (signs can include crying a lot, feeling like you cannot perform tasks such as washing/dressing, lack of or increase in appetite causing you to gain or loose weight very quickly)
  • When other families members are becoming affected by the lack of sleep
These lists are not exhaustive so if something doesn't seem right, please do not try this. I cannot guarantee this is right, I cannot guarantee it is without risk but it worked in our case & for the better with no crying.

I am not a child psychologist but I am very aware of the risks of controlled crying and cry it out I also feel that Dr Jay Gordon's night weaning method was a little to harsh for us and as we do not co-sleep, I did not feel it was fair to replicate a similar tactic with a cot.

So this is what we did...

Starting with daytime naps

My daughter had got into a habit of sleeping for 2 hours in the later part of the afternoon. She would wake up about 530 then be full of beans. So I spent a week of having really busy mornings to tire her out. Whether that be going to the park, a toddler group or whatever I made sure our primary activity was in the morning.

I would try to give her lunch out and about or at least a substantial snack then head home for about 12. She would then fall asleep in the car/buggy on the way home & I would let her sleep for as long as she needed (I am lucky in that she will allow me to put her to bed once asleep even if she fell asleep elsewhere.

After doing this for a few days we noticed that she was tired earlier and naturally would fall asleep on the breast around 9pm. However, from 6pm-9pm she was over tired & it was obvious she was falling asleep at 9pm due to exhaustion and she was still waking up every few hours to feed & often was not going back to sleep.

The second week - starting our new evening routine

Now I decided that I wanted to find a way to help my little girl fall asleep without boob. I am not saying this is right or wrong but I felt that with a newborn on the way it was going to be tough tandem feeding without having to contend to a newborns cluster feeds along with a toddlers 3 hour stretch of on off feeding. I did not want to wean her fully from the breast so needed a compromise.

We decided that a whole new routine was in order and that my husband was to take over the care for our daughter after dinner to try and break the habit of her falling asleep on me. 

This was the routine we decided on:
  • 6pm dinner for all the family
  • 630pm husband to take daughter & stepson for a 15 minute walk with the dogs
  • 645pm play with toys for 15 minutes with Mum
  • 7pm start bath time with daughter helping husband prepare it
  • 710pm in bath
  • 730pm out of bath, dried/dressed etc
  • 745pm Mum to go upstairs to say goodnight whilst husband prepares warm milk
  • 750pm daughter in bed with warm milk whilst husband reads stories
  • 8pm lights out
 How did it go?

Day 1

I had been talking to my daughter for a good week about her new bedtime routine. Preparing her that Daddy would be putting her to bed and she seemed fine with it.

We had decided I would go into her and settle her in her room with a breastfeed if she did not settle within 5-10 minutes with my husband and that he would not leave her room until we knew she was either asleep or happy to drift off on her own (ie. not crying and had said goodnight).

The first night, she was happy to go into her bed with the milk and have stories, when my husband turned the light off she did get a bit upset so he turned the light back on and read her another story but explained to her it was time to go to sleep. After this story, he turned her light off again and she did get a little fussy but it was not tears, it was her going to sleep 'cry' she often did if out and about & she did not have access to boob.

She did wake a few times that night so my husband brought her warm milk. Again we decided if she was distressed I would go in but otherwise it made sense for him to settle her. She was happy to settle for him and did settle much faster than normal (about 20 minutes) and was not left alone to cry.

Day 2

Very similar to day 1 only she settled without having the extra story but insisted on taking her 'doggy' to bed. She again did her little going to sleep cry but was asleep by 803pm!

She woke once that night and settled in 15 minutes with some warm milk.

Day 3 

My daughter started to settle into bed whilst husband was reading and said 'night' before he had finished the second story and pointed to the light! No going to sleep cry just cuddled up and drifted off on her own.

Again she woke for 15 minutes - this we could cope with.

Did it stay a success?

Most nights she was more than happy to go to bed and from about 2 weeks in started to 'sleep through' as in, if she woke she would settle herself back to sleep. It really helped us as a family and she did seem more settled in the day for having a better nights sleep and I was happier for not being awake for hours on end.

We had the occasional night where she woke or was not tired but these were few and far between.

I do think my daughter was ready for this and that is why it was so successful, if she had been really distressed at all I would have re thought the whole process or maybe put it off for another month or so. I do think toddlers need to have an understanding of what is expected of them so I do not think this would be suitable for a child under 18 months.

I have mainly blogged this as so many Mum's are sleep deprived and need a balance. A burned out Mum is not good for anyone and although there are other things you can do such as co sleeping/bed sharing but for me personally, with a newborn on the way and the fact she was not settling after a feed this was not an option for us.

Now my newborn is here she is still sleeping through the night and settling down for 8pm. I am so glad I did implement this routine as I forgot how tiring newborn babies can be!