Happy Baby Song – a little secret to share

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James has been very lucky, my oldest son goes to the fabulous Ringwood Waldorf School, so when James was born I had the wealth of calm parenting knowledge the lovely mums at school were kind enough to share with me.

The thing I found the most useful, was a little song. now I am not a singer, and although I know babies like singing I had never really got the hang of it, not being a singing type I could never remember the words! 

When I first heard this little song I didn’t think it would work and it was several days until i tried using it. And it worked! And not just a little bit – it really really worked!

Soon I was singing it all the time, if james was crying – not for milk and not for a change or a cuddle, but a real baby frustration at being a baby type cry, I would start to sing, sometimes it would only take two or three lines to stop the cries, sometimes longer. But however long it took it almost always worked.

The time I was most grateful for it as a tool to calming my distressed child was one long car journey home – a 3/4 hour drive home in the dark and in torrential rain James was about 6 months. He started to cry as soon as we set off, I think it was the combination of the rain and dark, I started to sing, and he stopped crying. As soon as I stopped he would start again. Being dark I could not see when he was asleep, I needed to get home – he had fed and was clean, so I just had to keep going. Even Robbie was kind enough to join in,  So we sang all the way home, all the time we sang James was calm, and not crying. Stop and he screamed immediately. It was a long 3/4 hour singing the same few lines, but it was worth it.

 I used the song almost daily for about 18 months, and then just when needed, and now james is a confident in himself two year old, if i start singing it he will tell me to stop!

So how does it go?

It isn’t very long

it hasn’t many words

Happy baby, happy baby song. 

and repeat ad infinitum.  Start by saying the words and let them find the rhythmic tune. You can sing fast or slow, loud or soft, whilst baby is in your arms, or across the room, remember to sway  back and forth (not recommended if driving!)

Anyone can sing it, or even just say it in rhyme.

So why does it work? Singing to your baby helps to calm you down, gives you something to concentrate on instead of the crying. The rhythm regulates your breathing and helps to create a calm feeling for baby. Your baby takes their cues and works out how to respond from you – mum – who they need to  be sure and calm, with a steady heartbeat. 

It won’t work every single time for every single baby, but it is always worth a go 🙂

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We Do It In Public Photos

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I am very privileged to have been involved in this project from almost the start, I met Paul on his second visit to Bosom Pals, and was quick to volunteer.

But that was the problem. I had just had a baby, and was not feeling that confident of how I looked, let alone let a stranger take photos of me exposing myself!

The importance of the project and the fact that Paul was coming to my shop  – enabling me to show you can have a baby and work  and breastfeed meant so much to me, I took a deep breath and went for it. And I am so glad I did.wditp james and robs

Paul is so easy to talk to, helped by the fact he has the skill of a real professional photographer, subtly, gently taking photos, as if it is the most natural thing in the world.  To find a man who is so informed about the issues behind breastfeeding and so sensitive to how women feel about those first feeds out and about is rare, but all adds to the magic of having your picture taken for the We Do It In Public project.

The first set of pictures Paul took of me are really special and my fears of how i might look were of course unnecessary, Pauls skill took care of that, and if you want to take part in the project, one of the best bits is having your photo taken by a professional!  The fact that your picture may be the one that just inspires one woman to keep feeding for one more feed, and then one more is something that you will be able to look back on with pride as part of your breastfeeding journey.

He also took photos of my niece feeding my great niece at the age of two, and me feeding a four month old James in the background.  These photos were taken at my mothers home and very kindly he took a few extra shots of my family together as we all live a long way and getting us all in one place is a rare event. More beautiful pictures, with three generations of women who had and still were feeding their babies.

The third set of pictures were taken when Paul came to photograph an amazing bunch of ladies in Poole. I tagged along as although I am still behind the project 100%, this photoshoot was not about me, but all the other mamas, it was their part of the project. Quite selfishly  I wanted a nice picture to complete my breastfeeding story. James is now two and my first child Robbie self weaned at 15 months, so I had not had the chance to feed well into toddlerhood.   Once again Paul took the most amazing photos, which I will always treasure, and look forward to showing my grandchildren. I hope that the story I tell them to go with the photos is how we had forgotten that we are meant to breastfeed our children, and I and all the other people involved in the project helped to change this, so everyone just feeds their babies, and society supports mamas to breastfeed as the normal and that the project did it’s job.

Find out more www.breastfeedinginpublic.co.uk wditp james 2

My breastfeeding Story

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My Breastfeeding Story.

Well the picture stands out on the page doesn’t it?  Sometimes when I look at it I can’t believe it is me, and other times I can look and it just makes me smile. The picture was entered into the world breastfeeding week photo competiton 2012, and it was one of the 10 winners from around the world. I am very proud of this, my image is representing breastfeeding. But there are good and bad messages in it.

So how did I get here?

My first son was born in 2003, he wasn’t planned he chose me as his mum. My partner and I were not going to have kids, we had our animals and I was breeding my dogs and all sorts of other animals.  babies just weren’t going to happen, but Robbie had other ideas and in the January very unprepared  I gave birth to Robbie via an emergency C-section.

I had always thought breastfeeding would be easy,  after all I watched my dogs do it – and with up to six puppies!

Naively I  thought baby arrives and you put it to the breast and it feeds……hahaha.  Robbie was about four hours old before I got to hold him, the most contact we had  was someone had held him close enough for us to rub noses…….something we still do today now he is 9.

I was horrified to find my sleepy little boy wasn’t interested in feeding , and the next few days were spent trying to get him to feed, lights for jaundice, and countless different midwives telling me different ways to get him to feed.  What everyone had forgotten to tell me is that the drugs you are given during and after  a c section delay your milk coming in, and that Robbie was so sleepy because he was being given paracetamol  for the pain from bruising on his neck and the cuts on his head from the  failed vontuse and forceps. He was in too much pain to nurse correctly to help my milk arrive.  It also didn’t help that one night one of the nurses took him from me so I could sleep, and gave him a bottle of formula without my permission.  I  now know that feeding with all of this going on would always be more difficult. I just wish I had know it then.

After seven days of this and Robbie’s weight dropping by nearly a pound I had to go home, my natural instincts started kicking in and I trusted that when I got home we would be okay.  I was given a very stern lecture by this young male consultant that I was putting my baby at risk and that if we had to come back he would go into the children’s ward in the main hospital and this would not be good for him etc etc. So with this ringing in my ears trying to drown out what every part of my instincts were telling me I went home.  I will gloss over the fact that the housework was still being done as I walked through the door, a sure sign it hadn’t been done whilst I was in hospital. it was good to be home, introduce my puppy to the dogs, and settle down to being a mum.

But we still hadn’t got feeding sorted, it was painful and i was using a nipple shield. Robbie had been born on the Thursday, I came home on the following Thursday. I had seen the information about Bosom pals in Hythe.  But that wasn’t till the Tuesday, we managed to keep going till them, when I was taken down and left at the door by my partner.

It was here I met Jayne Trefoil, she is a midwife with an obsession for helping women breastfeed, and she is amazing at it, so calm she can sort anything out with gentle reassuring mum’s that they can do it. It took one session for her to get rid of the nipple shields, and  within a couple more sessions we were totally sorted. I had one wobbly moment after that when I was so tired I didn’t know how I was going to carry on, standing in tears in Waitrose I looked at the formula and thought it was the way to go, I didn’t know which one to buy or if any were better than another, I was on my way to bosom pals, so thought I would ask there…………….of course I was told the answer……..and given the support I needed to carry on feeding my little man myself.  We carried on going to bosom pals, enjoying the company of other mum’s until Robbie self weaned at 15 months.

It was eight years later I found myself going to see Jayne again,  bosom pals had move to a Wednesday at was now based at the sure start centre in Hythe.   I hadn’t had time to track Jayne down before giving birth to my next son James, the look on her face when she realised it was me with another baby was priceless!

James again was born by c-section, but this time I had gestational diabetes so had lots more hospital checks and I had a lovely midwife, but due to shifts and other births she  could not be with me at the birth. I had been well prepared having done some hypo birthing preparation which helped hugely and I was able to keep calm and had no fear about giving birth. I do believe that I could have given birth naturally if i hadn’t had so many interruptions  (five people in suits walking in when my bum is in the air is not good for a relaxed head space!.)

I had also tried to express my milk before my induction , knowing that james would have a lower blood sugar than the hospital would want, I wanted to be able to give him my milk, and to get my milk going in case of a c section.  For some reason I could not get any milk out, not that it would have been any good as there was no fridge in the hospital for mum’s to store breast milk in.

I was disappointed to have another c section but I did have the best experience possible.  I was asked before they started if I would want skin to skin, I had been gearing myself  up for an argument.

We were then asked if we would like to see james “being born”, another big yes.  It was amazing, from the angle I was looking (flat on my back) he could have been coming out of anywhere!

The skin to skin was so special, I think possibly even more important for a woman who has had a c section,  being able to look into my sons eyes as he focused for the first time was amazing. And James was so calm, my state of mind had helped him remain calm, no crying just gazing into my eyes and meeting me.

I think he would have fed but the drugs made me sick, but as his dad’s hand had been holding James on my chest for me, he just scoped him up and held him, the second best place in the world for a newborn!

I had hoped that feeding James would have been  easier, but having had gestational diabetes the hospital  insisted he had to have blood sugar tests every 6 hours, this involved a pick to the heel of his foot to take blood. he needed 3 readings above  3. He kept coming in at 2.9 – which meant more and more tests. This of course stressed me out, again I had loads of drugs slowing down my milk, and a lack of real support from the hospital.

This is why I am supporting the Mums for mums peer supporters programme to get help into the wards for new mum’s.

In the end I had no choice but to allow him to have a feed of formula,  this brought his sugars up, and we were able to go home after four days. Better than seven! By this time though his feet were like pin cushions, and at his 5 day check up they had difficulty find space that wasn’t sore on his feet to take blood. I am sure if I had better support, access to pumps etc this could have been better managed and we would have been home quicker, and James would not of needed formula or  had sore feet.

Once at home we had a few colicky days and those days where they do nothing but feed, but I was back in the shop after two weeks, although I had sat on the ward in hospital taking work calls the day after he was born! We won’t mention Dave had answered the  phone whilst I was in labour and uttered the words – “it’s a bit difficult now we are having a baby”

james is now 15 months and still feeding, no sign of giving up like his brother, and I am looking forward to feeding him for as long as he wants to, and letting him self wean when he feels ready to give up the comfort and nourishment “mama ” gives him.

World Breastfeeding Week 2012 Photo Competition

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Lucie Mann Breastfeeding at work.

Traditional tools in a modern work place .

“It says so many things good and bad about modern motherhood”.  This was my first reaction when I found out this photograph had been chosen to be one of the ten photos from around the world to represent world breastfeeding week.

I am extremely proud, proud of the photo, proud of the win, proud to be a part of something really special with our breastfeeding peer support program -” Mums for Mums”, but more than anything I am proud to have breastfed both my sons.

I would not have achieved this with out help, all women need help to breastfeed, from those women who have no real difficulty with their breastfeeding journey who just need a supportive partner, to those who need the help of professionals to get over major physical difficulties in order to breastfeed.

So once you have battled to get feeding established, and you and your baby are enjoying the bond you have when feeding and life feels good, for many women the prospect of going back to work looms over you. We are not allowed to work at being mums anymore – we are expected to work at a “job” as well.  The right to have good jobs and careers and to “have it all” was a long hard fought battle by many strong women. This picture shows the reality of “having it all”. This picture is not posed, Paul who had been taking photos of me for the breastfeeding picture library, was in the middle of changing lenses when the phone rang. All the staff  were busy serving, so I did my job and answered the phone. Quickly Paul started snapping, and captured my reality of being a modern woman in 2012.

I know I am very lucky, I own my own business, I work with my partner, who is 100% supportive of me feeding our children, and of me working, and helping enable me to do so safely.

Every woman in the world should have the right to feed her child for as long as she wishes, and to work if she wishes, or needs too.

I would say to any business owner, find a way to help your woman workers, have nice places for women to express if they need too, allow flexible working around feeding, providing on site childcare. It is all much easier than you think, and you end up with workers who are happier to be working, who are not worrying about their child, who are less likely to suffer from depression.

And for those women who choose not to work whilst they bring up their children, lets have a bit more respect for them. They are making a choice many wish they could, and that would improve the lives of many children if more woman could make the choice without suffering economically.

We may not “have it all” yet, but I do believe we can get a lot nearer to it than we are now. We need to respect women’s choices and make it easier to work or not work and still feed their babies.

http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/pcresult.shtml

breastfeedinginpublic.co.uk

http://www.koimad.com

http://www.wessexbabywearing.com

Why do they do it?

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I saw a lady today at the swimming pool. She is actually quite a nice normal lady similar age to me, I have spoken to her before. She has four children, a girl of seven, twin girls and then a boy who is about 10 months old I think. She has a big car to accommodate them all, and the junk that she is carting around with them. She struggled to get her pushchair out of the car, it was buried underneath all sorts. It took her a good five minutes to get it out and sorted. The boy was plonked into it, and pushed it into the foyer of the pool. It was just under 18 meters. That’s right all that effort to walk 18 meters. She got her son out and sat with himwhilst one child swam, one sat with her and one was bored outside.

After the swim, the boy was put back into the pushchair and pushed 18 meters back to the car………….and she huffed and puffed to get the pushchair back in the car.

Why?? Are we so dependent on these contraptions that we are afraid to let our children walk crawl explore discover?

James during the same half hour was playing on the climbing frame, He was crawling underneath, pulling himself up, coming down the slide on his own, throwing himself off the wrong side – knowing I would catch him, no doubt in his mind that my arms would be there. And that’s because my arms are always there, I carry him in a sling all day, he is secure in his world that my arms are always there, he can wander and find his world, laugh as he runs away, he has no fear that he will not be held, that my arms  are not there. people stop and ask me how old? Isn’t he good they say, look at him go they say, no shoes ( little feet did not come with shoes on), wow they say.

They will never get the chance to say that to the chid who is always in the pushchair.

Am I being to hard on those who use them? No I don’t think so, we just seem to have been brain washed into believing that we must spend hundreds of pounds on a travel system that does this and that , including hiding your baby away from the rest of the world, making sure your baby can’t hear your heartbeat, can’t smell you, can’t hear your voice close, can’t focus on your face, all most babies can see in a pushchair is the black of the hood.

And then as babies grow and need to use their legs we push them back in, cross and frustrated they can’t run around. We live in a society where one in three children are overweight or obese, maybe learning to walk would help…….

I have never owned a pushchair, I can’t understand them, I will never own a pushchair, I carry my babies!

 

On my back in the garden, enjoying the sunshine and being nosey!

Baby wearing Why?

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Why do I babywear? I don’t know to be honest. I always knew I would. I can always remember my mum saying ” if she has kids she will just put them on her back and carry on”…….and I did!

MindIi wasn’t going to have children – there is enough people in the world…….and I didn’t get babies I didn’t really like them. They smelled, they poo’d, they were sick, all very yucky in my book. Give me my animals any day.

And then I met my partner David, and the idea wasn’t quite as horrendous, but still not something I needed to think about as David didn’t want kids either….

And then I got pregnant ………..and along came Robbie, sent to teach me, and for is soul to grow, and so was born the earth mother from within.

I knew the only way I would survive   this journey was to follow my natural instincts, so I carried him. I didn’t have a pram or pushchair, I just carried him, so did dave. I hadn’t heard the phrase baby wearing at that point. and as we really had no money I used a typical baby carrier that gets sold to hold babies, I picked it up at a car boot, it was uncomfortable and didn’t fit well and held Robbie in a terrible position. knowing what I know now I am very surprised I didn’t have an accident.

When he got to about six weeks I knew that carrying him was going to have to stop or I was going to have to do something else. But what that was I had no idea. I then went to a nappachino- a coffee morning to talk about real nappies. There I met a lovely young woman who used a ring sling. She saw how much I was failing with carrying Robbie, and made me my first ring sing. It was made from plastic ring slings, and an old sheet. With her kind act she shared the love, something i try and do as much as I can for others now.

Seems so simple now, but it changed my life, I was able to carry my baby everywhere comfortably and safely. I was so grateful to her, and I went on to make a very long cotton ring sling with plastic rings and green camouflage  print, which was long enough for his dad to use. Between these two slings I carried Robbie till he was around 3, when the down was more than the up.

Just before we ended our baby wearing with Robbie I bought a beautiful silky ring sling for best, I only used it a couple of times, but it was still very precious to me.

I packed away my slings and that was that. Life moved on and I didn’t think I would get to carry a baby again.

Catching fish in a fish

Then James came along, and The first thing I bought was a stretchy sling, ideal for when you have newborns, gives them support and they can be taken in and out really easily. I then bought another, and another, and my sling addiction took hold. Not taking any chances this time, if this is the last baby I carry, I was going to have as many as I wanted, and felt a strong need to share the love.

I take James to work with me and this really would not have been possible if I did not wear him. Catching fish with a baby on your back is quite amusing!

The one thing I was upset about was I could not find the slings i had used with Robbie, it just seemed like a really important thing to be able to use the same slings for both my babies. However much I looked I could not find them. I even checked I had not given them away. Then one day I was searching for some fabric in the loft, and at the bottom of the bag was some camo fabric, I pulled it out and there was one of robbies slings, I was so happy to have found just one of them I cried. Forgetting what i had been looking for i emptied every bag i could find, and tem minutes later i found all my slings…………It was so special to find them. I washed them and ironed them, and carried my baby in them. And even better, Robbie has been carrying his brother in the slings i carried him in. And Robbie tells me I must look after the slings so he can use them with his own children when he is a dad………………

And as for spreading the love well I discovered the way I could do that was to become a sling consultant, I trained in February 2012 with the Trageschule UK  school of baby wearing. In October 2012 I will be doing the advance course, to help me learn even more about baby wearing and making a difference. I am also a member of BABI – British Association of Babywearing Instructors.

I also run the Ringwood Sling Meet. which is free for all to come and learn about babywearing, and to meet other local mums who baby wear.

As I type this James has been asleep on my back, he can feel the comfort and security of being with me whilst I am able to work and use my brain, if more mums who find it frustrating learned to carry, they could get on with using their brains and not losing their identity as a person. It has helped me do more than just be a mum! Mind I can’t think of a better job than being mum…….

 

 

 

http://www.trageschule.co.uk/

On His Own – Crossing the Rubicon.

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Oh my gosh, today for the first time i have let Robbie walk round to cubs on his own…………..

He asked if he could, and he has been going to Lizzie’s ( the local shop, which is half way to cubs for quite a while now), but that is different to walking all the way to cubs. Is it too early? Not for Robbie, my beautiful boy who is growing up so fast. At that stage where he needs me less and less for some things and yet still will hold my hand so tight on a wobbly day.

Wobbly days, wow aren’t they testing? emotions going up down and round about..  all part of the Rubicon moment, crossing over from one stage of life and conciseness to the next exciting stage. Robbie is in this full swing, often suddenly declaring he is feeling lost, a complete an utter despair of knowing where he is within the world, and his life, not being able to express this just makes the whole thing even worse.  Black moments where the world seems bleak and he can’t see anything changing, it is almost a physical thing sometimes he actually shakes with it, shakes with pure emotion and fear of this huge unknown………………

And then in a second it has passed he lets go, and his face lightens and the world is light again and running jumping celebration his new-found joy in just being.  How long will this last? ten minutes? half and hour? two days or a week or so no one knows least of all Robbie. But it is lovely, and makes me smile. Most days we actually go through this whole process several times but to varying degrees, sometimes it is so shallow that no one notices,  And sometimes it is full on, deep and dark as dark can be. Sometimes it passes within a few seconds – sometimes it may take half a day to pass. But pass it always does thankfully. During the dark moments he hates me, he hates everyone he shouts and screams, and slams the door.

Before we understood we would scream and shout back tell him off, take the mick say he was too early to be a teenager.

But now we know we are prepared for it, the onslaught that is thrown at us.

So when he tells me he hates me, I hold him if he lets me, and remaining as calm as possible I tell him I love him nothing complicated, just a simple that’s fine if you hate me…….. I love you. It brings silence most of the time, sometimes more rage at the fact he has not riled us with his furey.

Hugs are always at these times hard and tight, often with tears, head buried deep into my chest, not waiting to leave the safety of my arms, but knowing that this is another step towards not needing me like that again.Tears hot come freely at times, and yet other days they don’t come. At what point will they stop falling? I hope they need not fall, but that the only tears he ever need shed are of joy. But I know that won’t happen he would not learn how to be a real person a real human if he did not cry.

And should men cry? yes real men should cry, I have a real man, and he is a good dad, who  is man enough to cry. I would love that side of his dad to be in both boys, the caring tender side that allows him to do the job he does, but gives him conflict  I hope my boys don’t have the conflict but all the passion

But that is one of the things the Rubicon is teaching him, how to have passion and understanding of his place in the world. I can’t teach it to him no one can, we just must all hold his hand tight when needed and guide him though the dark bits, love him through the dark bits,

And be  standing on the other side of the Rubicon waiting the next stage in a beautiful life!

A little footnote to this – It took Robbie roughly a year to fully pass this stage, starting slowly quite early during year 2 ending during year 3.  As I type this he is heading to year 4, bright, funny and although he still has other issues, he has an understanding of his place in the world. I am really enjoying his company and miss him when we are apart.  I am so thankful we had an understanding of this before we got to far into it. I wish this information was more widely available and this stage more recognized.  Maybe more kids would be understood instead of being given labels.

Here is a link to an explanation of this time by Denver Waldorf School, there is a lot more written but most of  it is not yet online.

http://www.denverwaldorf.org/curriculum/elementary-school/third-grade/