How to survive sleep deprivation as a parent

Ahh sleep deprivation! Something all parents know far too well. My first experience was in pregnancy, especially during my last trimester. I was SO uncomfortable, with a mixture of heartburn and restless leg syndrome making it almost impossible to get sleep, not to mention it taking hours just to get comfortable. Of course I still had silly comments like… “Get the most of sleep, it’ll be gone before you know it” – incorrect! At 35 weeks pregnant I felt like I had already said farewell to sleep.

After my beautiful boy was born, I thought I had hit the jackpot. Oliver slept through, that’s right… SLEPT THROUGH! He would maybe wake for a breastfeed at around 5am, but would sleep back through until around 9am, and boy did I brag about it. Obviously karma got the better of me because at around 4 weeks old his colic kicked in and it was “Adios, sleep!” and “Hola, sleep deprivation”. To put it bluntly: The. Child. Would. Not. Sleep. Yet, still I had people making stupid comments like “You look tired, you should sleep when baby sleeps” – assuming that said baby even slept? I remember thinking to myself “f*****g idiots”

Now at 2.5 years Oliver is slightly better with his sleep, I say slightly because last Sunday he had me up at 4am (ON MY ONE DAY OFF). I think all parents have experienced sleep deprivation at some point, and it’s a whole new level of tired because, although you’re exhausted, you still have this little human to care for (and I’m convinced Oliver has this way of sensing when I am shattered).

So here are some of my tips for surviving sleep deprivation with a little one:

  1. Forget the house work, if you have had a bad night with your little bundle of joy IF they nap, you nap too.
  2. Lazy days are a MUST. If both you and baby have had a rough night, a day with blankets, snacks and films are essential.
  3. know your limits, say no to people ” popping round ” Unless of course it’s a close friend or relative who is prepared to help said sleep deprivation
  4. IGNORE any comments on how tired you look. There is categorically no such thing as a perfect-looking sleep deprived parent – they’re a myth.
  5. Caffeine (unless you’re breastfeeding) – I have had and still have many a day where I can be seen clutching onto a coffee first thing in the morning, followed by an energy drink at lunch time to stop me crashing. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, and a 7 hour shift with 3.5 hours sleep is no walk in the park, let me tell you!
  6. Accept any help. I’m fortunate that my sister is studying to be a SEN teacher, so she often offers to watch Oliver for an hour if I have had a bad night so that I can get some much needed shut eye (especially if I am having an endometriosis flare up/PCOS flare up)!

My final piece of advice is remember that sleep deprivation isn’t permanent. It does get better, and although you may feel like a complete Zombie right now, it will pass, and to put it bluntly (because I never have and never will sugar-coat parenting), you are not the only parent going through this. Anyone who says their child has always slept through the night is lying, all children go through a phase of not sleeping!

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They Aren’t Little for Long – 21 Ways to Treasure Lovely Moments

Lately I’ve been left feeling totally alarmed at how quickly time passes. So I thought I’d compile a little list of things that I do regularly to ensure I appreciate every moment of Florence growing up.

21 ways to appreciate and commemorate the time you spend with your little one as they grow up…

Lately I’ve been left feeling totally alarmed at how quickly time passes. So I thought I’d compile a little list of things that I do regularly to ensure I appreciate every moment of Florence growing up. As a parent you may already do all of these things! You may do even more! But if you’re a new parent or a mummy to be- here are a few ideas of how to treasure the most special time of your life!

1. We tell her that we love her at least once every day!

2. I tell her that she’s a miracle every day!

3. Every time I call her beautiful, I make sure to compliment her intelligence or her skills. I want her to know that regardless of how beautiful I think she is- that her intelligence, skills and how she treats others is far more important.

4. I try to appreciate ALL of the little things- from the more pleasant things like the extra half an hour in bed for cuddles. To the not so pleasant things like wiping snotty little noses, having an audience when you use the toilet and ‘wrestling match’ style nappy changes… They aren’t little for long and it’s only a matter of time before they won’t need you or want you for these things.

5. Sometimes I deliberately place both of our lunches on the same plate to encourage her to share. It gives the meal the most lovely ‘picnic vibe’… her sharing with me and trying to feed me makes my heart melt!

6. I often let my heart burst with pride as I watch her perfect little face as she snores and dreams.

7. We like to read her that extra story before leaving her to settle.

8. I like to let her sit / lean or rest her head on me for as long as she wishes. Even if it makes my limbs go numb!

9. We watch discretely from afar as she starts to explore, so we don’t miss a thing, but her confidence can be allowed to soar as she experiments with independence.

10. I honestly, Kiss and cuddle her like it is going out of fashion. Allow her do to the same (even if her kisses are the ‘open mouth – I like to bite my Mummy’s nose’ type!)… You CANNOT spoil a baby with love.

11. We take as many pictures as we can, even of seemingly everyday or boring things. (Like when she eats a chocolate biscuit and leaves the residue on her cheeky little face!)

12. Yet, reminding myself to live in the moment and put my phone down for the majority of the time I spend with her.

13. We capture milestones. We encourage milestones. But we don’t rush them- she won’t be little for long. This time is so precious.

14. I started a list of all the words and phrases she uses. I don’t want to forget the order or the words- I want to remember it all.

15. Capture a little bit everything- firsts, the silly faces, the tantrums, the smiles, the drawings, the messes made and other hilarious little hiccups that come with mummy life. I feel that looking back at this when she’s older, will help her realise that life isn’t all smiles and it’s not always picture perfect- but everything will be okay!

16. We take pictures of Florence and her baby friends babies often- seeing how they change and how quickly they change is beyond magical.

17. I occasionally try to take some ‘me time’ (which is sadly usually spent in hospital!) … you couldn’t do a full time job well without the occasional holiday or break- parenting is the same. You need to look after yourself to have the energy to be the best parent you can be. Be kind to yourself! (Plus the cuddles after not seeing your little one even for only a short while are just so lovely!)

18. I write this blog (mummygoeswhereflogoes!), I write notes on my phone and I occasionally write a diary too! I like to record key memories, I like having physical reminders of events and hope that Florence will look back and know how much these moments meant to me.

19. I set up an email address for Florence so that I could send her random emails throughout her childhood- when she’s 18, she’ll gain access to this account and we can go back through and read all of the material that has been sent to her by loved ones over the next 17 years.

20. On her first birthday I created a memory book and and guests at her party contributed to a time capsule. I’m still getting some friends and relatives to sign the book now- so one day we can look back at the kind words from loved ones and what was going on in the year that she was born.

21. I try to purchase the occasional item to commemorate Florence- personalised items with her name on, cute little prints, personalised clothing with her name or year of birth on- etc. I wish they did more of these when I was born! I think they’re precious!

How are you making the most of special moments? How are you treasuring the precious steps of your little one growing up?

Thank you so much for reading! x

Bottle Feeding Through World Breastfeeding Week

I am absolutely pro breastfeeding (it’s giving your child food that is designed for them, why would anyone be against it?) but somewhere along the line that has become, to some, synonymous with anti-bottle/formula and that is really not the case.  I don’t want there to be ANY parents out there feeling bad for providing their child with nutritionally appropriate food. 

World Breastfeeding Week makes me kind of emotional because I am constantly reminded of what I fought so hard for and ultimately couldn’t manage. I can’t let this whole week pass me by without saying something because I know it isn’t just me… 
If you are a bottle feeding parent then World Breastfeeding Week can put a bit of strain on you. I know this because I was one and this same week last year was much tougher for me. So, I’m writing this for bottle feeding parents to know they are not alone and it’s okay to feel a bit ‘mehhh’ this week. I am also writing this so that all of you amazing booby mummas  know that us bottle mummas want to offer you support on your journey but can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by it all.
I am absolutely pro breastfeeding (it’s giving your child food that is designed for them, why would anyone be against it?) but somewhere along the line that has become, to some, synonymous with anti-bottle/formula and that is really not the case.  I don’t want there to be ANY parents out there feeling bad for providing their child with nutritionally appropriate food. 
I desperately wanted to breastfeed my son and I was blessed to be able to do that for a short while but ultimately I made the decision for his health and for my own mental health –  he was better off on formula and I have to keep reminding myself a lot that I couldn’t actually have tried any harder than I did. So, without meaning to, I sometimes find myself feeling a bit bitter over the course of World Breastfeeding Week. It’s not because I hold any kind of resentment towards breastfeeding parents but because I sometimes have a wobble and struggle to be okay with the choices I made for my son.
Some women breastfeed and take to it like ducks to water and feed their little booby monsters right up, they’ll have their rough patches but they come through it well.
Some struggle through it, maybe they find their feet after a little while and breast feed exclusively. Maybe they combination feed or switch fully to formula. Maybe they even discover that they hate breastfeeding but their baby just won’t take a bottle. There’s always going to be more to the story than you’re seeing on the surface.
Some women battle. They fight and cry and scream and fight and cry some more and it just doesn’t work for them. Traumatic birth, tongue ties, allergies, medication… whatever the reason, if you are one of these women I can tell you now, I have cried for you. You don’t know how strong you are. 
Some women choose to formula feed from the beginning and as much as I have struggled to understand that in the past I know darn well it is none of my business. A friend of mine explained her reasons to me once and it was like a storm settling in my head. It was 100% the right thing for her to do.
Some women would desperately love to bottle or breastfeed but can’t do either because  their child needs a tube or other special feeding apparatus. You guys are real heroes.

The point is, lets celebrate! Lets promote breastfeeding and support parents through their journey regardless of its length and if a woman you know is feeding in a different way to you then you have an opportunity to open a really interesting dialogue with her. 

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Happy World Breastfeeding Week, you are doing an amazing job.
 
 
 

Coping With Postpartum Psychosis

I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I would completely isolate myself from the outside world. Postpartum psychosis led me to being sat on the edge of a bridge on the motorway at night, I was sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a place of safety… the NHS provides incredible support

I thought long and hard about what my first post should be, I wanted it to be something personal yet something people can relate to…. something informative. I decided to write about postpartum psychosis. Now, I know soap dramas have done previous stories but they’re not entirely accurate.

People always stress about post-natal depression but not so much postpartum psychosis, firstly let me give the NHS symptoms of postpartum psychosis;

    • a high mood (mania) – she may talk and think too much or too quickly, feel ‘on top of the world’, or be more sociable than normal
    • a loss of inhibitions
    • paranoia, feeling suspicious or fearful
    • restlessness or agitation
      • a low mood – she may show signs of depression and be withdrawn or tearful, with a lack of energy, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability or trouble sleeping
    • severe confusion.
My official diagnosis was “post-natal depression with elements of postpartum psychosis”. The stresses of being a new mum had gotten to me, I felt I could hear people talking about me, judging me…I would lay in bed at night and was adamant I could physically hear people talking about me, I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I would completely isolate myself from the outside world. Postpartum psychosis led me to being sat on the edge of a bridge on the motorway at night, I was sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a place of safety… the NHS provides incredible support and I urge anyone with any of the above symptoms to seek medical advice. I was placed on the following medication which helped massively;
  • ·         sertraline 200mg – an anti-depressant that is commonly used for postnatal depression and is safe to breastfeed with
  • ·         risperidone 1mg – an anti-psychotic that unfortunately isn’t safe to breastfeed on
  • ·         zopiclone 3.75mg – a common sleeping tablet
  • ·         diazepam 2mg a tablet used for multiple conditions however used as a sedative in regard to mental health.

My battle is still ongoing, my battle with postpartum psychosis has come to an end, however my battle with postnatal depression is still ongoing, the stresses of being a mother (finances, family stresses and chronic health conditions) are difficult to overcome. I feel this country has a stigma on mental health especially postnatal depression, but this blog is very open and supportive to mental health.
Postpartum psychosis isn’t as commonly spoken about as postnatal depression, however is gradually becoming more common, more mums are speaking out about it and more awareness is being made. I hope this small introductory post from me has been helpful, and I look forward to writing more in the future 😊

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Group B Strep – Aware.

30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time. Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it. Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.

Strep B.
Strep B was knowing Mummies who had needlessly lost their babies.
The stories lead to worry.
Worry became research.
Research became awareness.
Awareness became knowledge.
30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time.
Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it.
Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.
Knowledge had to become taking action.
Strep B was asking my midwife if I could be tested.
Just to be told that it’s very rare and it’s highly unlikely.
Strep B was taking matters into my own hands.
I ordered my own testing kit through the list of GBSS approved ECM tests. 
I waited.
I waited until I was 35 weeks pregnant to do my test.
35 weeks came. I did the swabs.
Sealed, Labelled.
I wrote a cheque for £37.
£37 to potentially save my babies life.
£37 well spent, regardless of the result.
It was all put in an envelope and posted.
I knew that the results would take up to two weeks.
I waited.
Two weeks had passed but no results had arrived.
I sent them an email.
They replied straight away and were very apologetic.
This email had an attachment.
I opened the attachment.
The seconds that it took to open and load felt like years.
*POSITIVE* *POSITIVE* blared at me like red lights.
Is it my fault?
What had I done?
I cried and I cried.
My excitement to meet our baby turned to fear.
It was midday, but I fell asleep in tears.
I told my partner and I told my parents.
I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.
Strep B isn’t sexually transmitted. It is naturally incubated.
There was no way I could have known.
Fear had to turn into action.
Action…
Action, was raising awareness to my pregnant friends and acquaintances.
Action, was passing on the results of the test onto my midwife.
Action, was including my strep b positive diagnosis in my birthing plan.
The community midwife stuck a small “STREP B” sticker on my pregnancy notes.
This was to supposedly alert the team that were to help me through labour.
A sticker wasn’t certain enough, but my voice was.
I couldn’t count how many times, I had to get medical professionals to clarify that they would take this seriously.
Would they have enough of the antibiotics on the ward?
Would I get access to them?
Would I get at least 2 rounds of antibiotics?
Will I get the antibiotics at least 2 hours before she is born?
Would she get checks after she was born to insure that complications had been completely avoided?
What if I couldn’t get to hospital quickly enough after my waters broke?
The 31st of January came.
I was unwell.
I went to maternity day care and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
I was to be induced.
Starting that night.
I was relived!
I would be in hospital until she was born.
I could be sure that everything will be ready for her arrival.
I had many conversations with midwives about strep b.
Where did you get tested?
I tested myself at home with testing kit.
How did you get tested?
I tested myself after I paid for a test.
How did you know about strep b?
I have had family friends affected by it.
How muc
h did you pay to get tested?
£37
A couple of days passed.
My waters broke.
Fear kicked in.
I was moved from an induction room to a labour room.
A drip was started to protect my baby from strep b.
But my black and blue hand wouldn’t take the drip.
I became very worried and begged them to swap to another cannulation site.
They did.
I was finally getting what I needed to protect my baby.
One round.
Two round.
Over 5 hours.
She made her entrance.
It started to go wrong for me, because of a tear.
Yet- She was okay.
I didn’t know it yet.
But my baby was safe.
My Mother made sure that she was getting her after birth strep b checks.
They were made every 4 hours.
She was fine.
My baby was going to be okay.
I came round.
Went from theatre, to recovery to being back on the labour ward.
She was having another lot of checks.
Temperature.
Stethoscope to the chest.
Movement.
Breathing.
Our baby was okay.
She was healthy.
But it all could have been so different.
I was feeling cold.
Then hot.
Then freezing.
My temperature was taken.
Then my pulse.
Blood was taken.
Blood was tested.
My tear had became infected by strep b.
I was diagnosed with sepsis.
I was left fighting for my life for the second time in 24 hours.
I was administered antibiotics.
Strep b had given me sepsis.
It took over a week to recover- Despite me being well equipped.
But if it was my baby who had become unwell.
It could have been so different.
I don’t want to think about it.
I can’t think about it.
I will not shut up about strep b until it is properly addressed.
Until every mummy to be, knows of the danger.
Of the risks.
I will not stop, until strep b is no longer an issue.
It doesn’t need to be an issue.
Every woman pregnant should be screened for strep b.

The New Baby Bubble

I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment.

The ‘New Baby Bubble’ is amazing… You feel like you’ve been blessed with such a supportive family, a content baby and the perfect daddy to your bundle of joy. I remember coming home from the hospital and seeing my family’s faces light up when they finally got to meet their granddaughter and niece. I remember thinking that nothing could ever ruin this perfect little moment. Then my daughter did, and I’m not lying to you, she did the biggest poo I’ve ever experienced. But it was okay, because Daddy was there. Grabbing a nappy, a new change of clothes and telling me to sit down and take it easy. It was fantastic. I lived at my parent’s house at the time, so even they would take over and help with ‘Wiggles’.

Life in this bubble was perfect and I never wanted to leave it.

I would spend hours just staring at my perfect, content, sleeping daughter just thinking about how this wasn’t bad at all. What were other parents going on about? But that changed so bloody quickly!
Because I’d had a C-section, everyone was very wary of me doing anything. If I got up for anything, I would have everyone screaming at me to sit down and that they’ll get it. Now, for those of you who have never had a child… this gets very annoying very quickly. I was allowed to do two things without getting into trouble. Breastfeed and pee. Which is basically all my daughter would let me do anyway!

Towards the end of week two, the ‘bubble’ was starting to go. The excitement of a new baby had worn off for my family and friends, Daddy was due to go back to work in a couple of days and I had only just realised that I had no idea what the hell I was doing. And then it happened. The ‘bubble’ burst and left me with a very different situation. Daddy was back at work, I was allowed to do things again and everything was down to me.

Shit.

As new mothers, this is where the stress kicks in. We find ourselves frantically searching through MumsNet at 1am to check every little thing. But why are we so afraid of leaving the ‘bubble’ and entering the real world of motherhood?

Midwives and health visitors tell you everything you need to know about being pregnant, how to breastfeed etc. You’ve probably researched what to expect when you’re expecting, watched multiple episodes of One Born Every Minute. Heck, you probably had an app that told you which vegetable your baby was the same size as each week (thankyou BabyCentre). But what you didn’t find out was what happens next. After the excitement has died down, when your midwife signs you off and you’re expected to just know what to do.

And the truth is, nobody knows what they’re doing. They are simply winging it. No two babies are the same, so although other mums may have ‘advice’ on how to calm your baby or how to get them to latch properly, at the end of the day it’s all about doing what works for you. Creating your own routine so that you can create a new ‘bubble’ for you and your little family to live happily every after in… until the next obstacle at least.

No More "Do this, do that" – Let Me Raise My Baby

with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore.

It turns out that becoming a parent is a confusing minefield where, at every single step, the whole world wants to give you their two pennies worth and frankly, they are very often wrong, outdated, or occasionally just plain dangerous.
From the day my son was born I had midwives lecturing me about only using one breast per feed and your baby MUST sleep on his back and my mum telling me it was nonsense – “20 minutes on each boob and sleep him on his side” she’d say with the voice of experience. I had people telling me “it’s cluster feeding but it gets better” and people whispering in my ear that it never gets easier. Mums on the internet telling me that he’s overtired and it’s probably my fault and well-meaning parents and in-laws telling me not to give in to his crying because I will make a rod for my own back (I always ignored this one – I’m a cuddler). Even old ladies in the supermarket stop me and tell me how to get him to stop crying, wrong again – he’s actually a bit hungry, I know how to make him stop crying but I’m in the supermarket, leave me alone so I can get this frozen stuff home and feed my child.
No wonder my head was spinning – with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore.
The thing is, he’s my baby and he is different from every other baby in the world and I am different from every other parent in the world. That is not to say that there aren’t some very close similarities between him and other babies or between me and other mothers but lets face it, no one is going to have all the answers, you need to work them out for yourselves with a lot of trial and error (read: blood, sweat and tears).
Together we have been muddling through and finding out what works for us – and as luck would have it, every time I think we’ve got it sussed he’ll have a growth spurt or catch a cold. Here we go again, be back to square one, stumbling blindly through it all and accepting advice from all directions before cherry picking the bits that seem to hold the most credit and trying them. 
Of course if there is ever well documented medical advice or safety advice from experts in their field then there is no such thing as ‘mother knows best’. If that kind of information is presented to you and you have been doing the opposite then that is the time you need to swallow your pride and take the advice but please don’t ever get upset if someone points out something that could be safer; they aren’t usually doing it to shame you, they just want what is best for you and your child. 
All that said, I have had some helpful tips and reassurance from all sorts of places – it’s not  all unwelcome advice, but it can be very overwhelming.
I wouldn’t want people to not listen to the people around them that have experience or professional qualifications but I will say this, your baby does not have an instruction manual and you will get to know what works for them and you. If something works and it goes against the advice of your great Aunty Betty because that worked 40 years ago with her babies it doesn’t make you a bad parent – you are doing everything you can for your baby. 

 

Feel the burn, mummy

So, new mums, experienced mums, first timers and those who are so used to it…What are the best ways to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness?The answer: NOBODY KNOWS!

So, new mums, experienced mums, first timers and those who are so used to it…
What are the best ways to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness?
The answer: NOBODY KNOWS! But there are some targeted mum and baby sessions which I found particularly helpful. At only a couple of months post-partum, myself and the other mums from our NCT group signed up to a lovely lady’s Zen Fitness (Yoga) class local to us in Hythe, Kent.
As someone who has always loved yoga, this was amazing for me, and when I turned up I did not expect it to be quite so hard! I definitely felt the burn…
Using the baby’s weight as your weight, the class gets tougher as the weeks go by, and especially if you’ve missed a week, the next one is so much harder! I remember thinking that “oh, she’s only put on a couple of pounds since last time, it won’t make that much difference”… Well, yes. Yes it did.
The best part about Suzanna’s group was that she was so understanding about needing to take a break to feed baby, or even to stop baby rolling onto other babies… I felt really welcome at her groups, and she was fantastic at making sure everyone could handle the workouts if you were a beginner or had been a regular!
So, that’s one way of really feeling that exercise, releasing endorphins and starting to recover the wellbeing of your body and mind.
Another way is with buggyfit (or similar) groups, using pushchairs to do more cardio exercises, usually outdoors.
These groups are also fabulous. Unfortunately I was only able to try this once, as I had an incredibly busy schedule in the year after my daughter was born, but it was brilliant. With these, you’re not using baby as a weight, but more as a balance when squatting or a resistance when running.

One exercise that I found to be particularly cheeky was the reps of calf dips. With the beautiful beach backdrop, we stood on tiptoes at the edge of the pavement onto the stones and gently dipped up and down. It didn’t feel much then, but the next morning my calves were on fire!
One added bonus is that you can set these groups up yourself for free if you have a bunch of mummies wanting to go with you, or they may already be set up local to you, so check on Facebook if you’re interested!
Finally – and this one is not limited to mums/dads/parents/guardians – I just have to say how FANTASTIC the park run is! Seriously, go online (but open up a new tab and keep this one up and keep reading!) and Google where your nearest park run is <– or just use that cheeky little hyperlink I’ve stuck in there.My other half, being in the army, has been doing running for years and he is a seasoned pro, so although he leaves me far behind when I’m running with the pushchair, it’s a great, fun activity to do with the whole family. We even took my stepdaughter a couple of weeks ago and she loved it! You can race each other to make it fun, or take it at a leisurely pace, which I’ll be honest is what I have to do as it is a 5k course!

So mummies, those are my experiences of post birth fitness groups, and I hope to be sharing more in the coming weeks!
If there’s anything you want to try but want a review of first, contact us and I will be more than happy to see if I can trial one in my area!

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MMLinky
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