Why I decided against a home birth

I want to start by saying I LOVE the idea of a home birth and adore hearing people’s experiences of giving birth at home, so please don’t read this as anti home birth, these are just the reasons it wouldn’t have worked for me.

I had never considered a home birth until a saw a friend talking about it being what she wanted when she was pregnant and later what a wonderful experience it was. It piqued my curiosity and sure enough several of my friends had done it or planned to. I joined a group on Facebook (as you do) and started seriously considering it myself. In the end, for a couple of reasons, I opted for a birth on the midwife led unit at my local hospital.

So, why didn’t it happen?

I mentioned it to a few people, close friends and family and they were all terrified. No matter how much I explained why it was just as safe as the hospital and that it would be okay there was always fear. My husband witnessed my previous traumatic birth and still struggles with it himself and my mum had to have an emergency cesarean with my brother. These were to two people I needed on board, wholeheartedly, or it wouldn’t have worked.

I don’t want to hear how it’s my body, my birth and my choice – I know that, just ask the midwives who were around for my birth. If I had gone ahead with a plan for a home birth they both would have stood by me but not with the confidence and conviction I would have needed from them. I didn’t have my heart set on it and I certainly can’t hold it against anyone, it just wouldn’t have been right and it was 100% my choice. A home birth is supposed to be in a relaxed environment with no fear or negative energy and as supportive as they would have been if I told them that’s what I was doing I have a feeling they would have been poised to call an ambulance the entire time.

Of course, there is also the small matter of my house not being at all “birth ready”. I’ll be the first to admit that it is a total mess, particularly towards the end of pregnancy when I could hardly move without pain and a four year old with a massive aversion to tidying. Not to mention the fact that I wanted a water birth and had nowhere big enough for a birthing pool. I really didn’t fancy giving birth in the chaos.

I stuck around in the Facebook group I joined. It was a hugely helpful resource for learning my rights as a pregnant woman and helping me decide how I wanted my birth to be. I’m not sure exactly how confidently I could have delivered a 9lb 8oz baby at almost 42 weeks with no intervention without them.

I would encourage every pregnant woman looking for an empowering birth to at least look into home birth, even if you decide it isn’t for you. The things I learnt along the way shaped my attitude which got me the positive birth experience I craved.

Have you had a home birth? How was your experience?

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Newborn vs Toddler (The Unadulterated Truth)

Remember that moment, when you had a little baby you loved to pieces?
IT WILL ALL CHANGE!
Well, not the love, that’s kind of unconditional, but the little baby will certainly change… Here’s what you need to know about the difference between a newborn baby and a toddler.

The Newborn (aka the CryBaby)

Benefits:

  1. At first, they sleep for like 14 hours a day. It’s bliss.
  2. You can do things you want to do – housework, sleep, eat, sleep, you get my drift…
  3. You can go to the toilet without a small person attached to you (unless you’re breastfeeding – I have indeed breastfed my baby whilst having a pee).
  4. BOUNCY CHAIRS – NEED I SAY MORE?
  5. Milk solves everything.
  6. Everyone still wants to help out and hold the cute little baby.

Drawbacks:

  1. They’re very boring and are terrible company. You’ll be chatting away and nobody is chatting back.
  2. You’ll try not to, and you’ll hate yourself for breaking, but YOU WILL USE BABY TALK. ALL THE TIME.
  3. They do really bad shits. Seriously bad. First it’s all sticky tar, then it looks like chicken korma. It’s just really unpleasant.
  4. They are so dependent on you for everything!!!!!!!! They cry, and you have to answer. What’s that all about? I’m an independent woman, my daughter should be too.
  5. THEY CRY ALL THE TIME AND YOU HAVE TO GUESS WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON IN THEIR TINY BABY BRAIN TO MAKE THEM WAIL LIKE A BANSHEE AT 2AM.

The Toddler (aka the Terrorist)

Benefits:

  1. They have their own little personality.
  2. They can walk and talk and ask for things, making your job of having to guess what the baby wanted so much easier.
  3. You can have fun with them.
  4. They can play independently.
  5. They can go to the toilet by themselves. No more poo for you, mama!

Drawbacks:

  1. Sometimes, their personality is that they’re a little shit.
  2. Even though they can ask for things, they won’t, they’ll whine at you instead.
  3. They can play independently, usually at risk of criminal damage to your walls, doors, and anything else which can be drawn on.
  4. They can go to the toilet themselves, but they’d much rather piss their pants and let you clear it up.
  5. They’ll always say dad is the favourite. Fucking traitors.
So, which is my favourite?
I’ll leave that one for you to work out!
Are there any missing from the list???

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Taking control of my second pregnancy

There is another baby on the way in the Mummykind team! I’m pregnant with baby number two and this time round I know quite a bit more about what I am doing.

I have already had a couple of midwife appointments and in that time I have been able to exercise my right to decline routine testing which, if I’m honest, was totally empowering. They would like for me to have a fasting blood glucose test later on in pregnancy to test for Gestational Diabetes . They want me to have this test because I am slightly overweight for my height –  a BMI of 32 at the time (already 11 weeks pregnant and showing) and my Grandfather has Type 2 Diabetes.  I was tested in my first pregnancy and I was fine, as I knew I would be. The test was actually horrible for me, I was hungry, tired and felt so sick. They take two rounds of bloods which is about my limit before I pass out. I decided this time to not put myself through it. Saying “no” felt so good.

I plan to reject further carbon monoxide testing on the grounds that I will have to walk through fairly heavy traffic to get to each appointment and the results are skewed because of that. The first one was unpleasant and I don’t need to be using a giant plastic straw every single time I see a midwife for them to confirm to me that I don’t smoke and my boiler is fine.

Bye bye pregnancy vitamins. They make me feel ill and it turns out you only need to supplement with vitamin D after 12 weeks. There are tentative links being made between folic acid after 12 weeks and tongue ties in newborns which is something I would like to avoid if at all possible.

In my first pregnancy I was pushed from midwife to midwife to consultant and back to another different midwife – 9 midwives and 2 consultants in total by the time I was discharged (not including the ones who came and went through my labour and delivery). I never had a number for a specific person or an allocated individual looking after my care and needs. I have made it clear this time that this was detrimental to my previous care – I now have two ladies looking after me and I have both of their contact details. The feeling of security because of that alone puts my mind at rest.

I will be opting for Group B Strep testing this time. The midwife has already tried to downplay it but I’m not taking that risk again.

I trust my body. It’s becoming almost a mantra at this point. In my previous pregnancy I trusted healthcare providers over my own instinct. Now they do have their merits, they are highly trained and experienced after all. But they cant feel what you are feeling. There will be no telling me when I can and can’t push this time and if anyone indicates that they don’t think I’m trying hard enough or has the gall to tell me that I just need to push harder they will be told to leave.

I will be asking to see copies of the medical consent forms and disclaimers I will be asked to sign in the event of an emergency. It’s important to me that I know what I am signing and in the middle of labour I don’t want to be trying to get a grasp on this kind of thing. I will also be asking for a full run down of what pain relief I will be offered and the risks involved with them, as well as my own research into what will work best for me with my Fibromyalgia and previous traumatic birth.

I will be immediately disengaging from the health visiting service because I can’t bring myself to trust them after their stack of failures last time, if it will appease them I may attend weighing clinics on my own terms. I know that every health visitor is different and some are amazing but I’m not putting my mental health in the hands of a luck-of-the-draw system, the ones I met let me down last time so they aren’t welcome this time.

Knowing now that my children are genetically predisposed to tongue tie and CMPA I will not be hanging around if I spot a single symptom. 6 months of feeding hell with my first was too much for everyone and I refuse to go through it again.

Cloth nappies will be coming with me to the hospital and they will be used from day one. Anyone who wants to tell me it’s too much work or that the hospital “won’t allow” me  to use them will get a full lecture from me about the benefits of cloth, my rights as a parent and about belittling the choices of pregnant women.

To put it in a sentence:  I’m in charge.

Sarah’s Birth Story – How We Met

Dear Olivia,

It’s 4:30am on a Saturday and I’ve just woken up with pains in my abdomen. I had been having false labour contractions for about three weeks prior to that (you were exactly a week late) so I wasn’t too quick to wake up daddy and tell him that I thought it was for real this time. Instead I went downstairs, used the toilet, bounced on my birthing ball and put on the nightie that I wanted to go to the hospital in.

I was timing the contractions and seemed to be having them about every 7 minutes, and they weren’t too painful at that point.

At about 5:30am I ran a bath. In the run up to having you I was adamant that I desperately wanted a water birth, and thought that the warm water would soothe the pain from the contractions. I got in the bath for all of about 5 minutes before deciding that it was actually irritating me and I didn’t want to be in water at all!

It’s now 6am, contractions are speeding up a bit, once every 5 or 6 minutes and getting a bit more painful. I decided to go and wake Daddy up. Now Daddy is not a morning person, as you will learn, and we had a late night staying up and watching films with Kiera, so I had about 3 hours sleep and Daddy had about 5. Needless to say Daddy was a bit grumpy at first, but he got up quickly, made me a cup of tea and looked after me while I rang the midwife. He also put on the music channel, and for some unknown reason I was listening to Cotton-Eyed Joe and bouncing on my birthing ball at 6 in the morning.

At about 6:30am I started being sick and there was a bit of blood in it too, so Daddy rang the midwife again and they told us to come in as they weren’t that busy anyway. So Daddy went and woke Kiera up and got her dressed. We got into the car and Kiera was crying, you see, we’d booked tickets to watch the new Alice in Wonderland and she was upset that she couldn’t go! You were so inconvenient.

We dropped Kiera off at her mummy’s and by about 8am we made it to the hospital. Between about 8:30 and 9am the midwife came in and asked if I wanted to use the birthing pool, to which I responded with my bath story, and then checked me over and told me I was 3cm dilated, and then my waters broke all over her hand and the bed and everything! Oh great! We thought we would be in for a long while yet.

I got hooked up to the tens machine and Daddy was rubbing my back (though the wrong end, the blithering idiot) and all of a sudden it was too much and too painful and the midwife came in to tell me that as I had a long way to go I should get transferred upstairs to the labour ward for an epidural, and I gave in and agreed to have a bloody huge needle in my spine.

But here comes the twist…

The times become less accurate here because of gas and air (bloody good stuff btw) but roughly an hour later I had another examination upstairs and I was 8cm dilated!!!! Oh, and the anaesthetist was dealing with an emergency c section so no epidural for me! You were coming too quickly and about an hour later again I was being told to push.

Uh oh, there’s another twist…

You got stuck!

I was pushing for about an hour and a half, my legs flatteringly up in stirrups and about 6 people at the end of the bed, Daddy next to me with a straw and a cup of water and the room being like the tropics to everyone else as I shouted at a health worker not to turn the air con on!

I convinced the doctor that I needed help, and so more people came in wielding forceps before they changed their minds and used a kiwi cup instead. They asked Daddy if he wanted to watch but he said no as he knew I didn’t want him to see all the gross stuff. Then with 2 or 3 pushes you were out, and up on my tummy. I said “oh my god” and Daddy laughed. Then he cut the cord and you were moved further up my chest so we could have skin to skin.

It was perfect for a few seconds until I started being sick again and had to have someone put you in the crib as I was shaking so much from the adrenaline and the gas and air comedown!

Once the atmosphere had settled I cried, more out of guilt of having someone move you as I couldn’t hold you straight away after you came out, and I asked Daddy and the midwife if you were okay. You were fine, sleeping peacefully as if nothing had even happened.

I asked if I was just being a blind mother or if you really were that beautiful. And you are. You’re more beautiful than anyone on the planet and I love you so much.

So there you have it, that is how you arrived at 13:06 on your birthday weighing 3.9kg/8lbs 9.5oz.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

ENDED:#RNW2018 – Reusable Nappy Giveaway!

***WINNER ANNOUNCED IN THE COMPETITION WIDGET***


Reusable Nappy Week happens every year and is a great time to get into cloth – not just because the warmer weather means quicker drying times. The popularity of reusable nappies is soaring (yay!) and during RNW each year there are special discounts with so many retailers and competitions for prizes of all sizes. If you’ve been thinking about trying cloth now is the time to give it a go!

We have teamed up with Ashford Cloth Nappy Library this Reusable Nappy Week to bring you the opportunity to win a large (9-12kg) Bambino Miosoft cloth nappy cover and two prefold nappies to use inside it. Please note, this competition is for UK entrants only.

 
#RNW2018 Prize - White hook and loop fastening Nappy Cover

If you want to try cloth and don’t know where to start, find your nearest nappy library here.

 
We would love for you to share but it is not a requirement to enter the competition. 

ENTRIES FROM OUTSIDE THE UK WILL NOT BE COUNTED.
Winner to be announced on Tuesday 1st May 2018.

#RNW2018 GIVEAWAY!https://js.gleam.io/e.js

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Mummies Waiting

Should I give my baby a dummy?

Ah, this is one question that possibly all new parents consider at least once! In fact, I’m considering it right now as my daughter screams her head off, refusing to go to sleep, and she’s nearly 2! However, when you’re a first-time mum, there’s a lot of overwhelming information about why you shouldn’t give babies dummies, or how long they should have them for, etc. etc.

So, here is the story of how my daughter came to have a dummy, and how she came to stop using it!

Day 1

8.5 hour labour.
Distressed baby.
Breastfeeding ALLLLLLLL night.
Screaming ALLLLLLLLLL night.

Luckily enough we were the only family on the ward at the time, but my god was I so exhausted. The following morning, the midwife did her rounds and asked how we were.

“Why won’t she sleep?” I said, “isn’t she supposed to be tired, too?”

She sort of smirked at me, and while you may appreciate that it was a bit of a daft question, my baby had literally not slept a wink that day/night. My NCT classes had equipped me with the information that labour and birth would be equally as hard and sometimes traumatic for the baby as it is for us, so they should be doing a lot of sleeping in those first 48 hours.

  I told the midwife that Olivia had been latching on and off all night and then she said the words that would change everything for me and my baby.

 “She’s too sucky, she needs a dummy.”

I was confused. I’d heard all about teat confusion and asked her if it would cause problems with me breastfeeding. She said no, and repeated that my baby was too sucky and needed one. Exhausted and acting on the advice of a professional, my partner Jamie went down to the hospital shop to find one, which she wouldn’t take. I remember feeling relieved. I never wanted to use a dummy for her. In my mind it meant that she’d have it for years and that she’d end up as a toddler with a speech impediment and still using a dummy. Of course, that was completely irrational, but I wanted to avoid them as a matter of personal preference.

Day 2

We were allowed to go home, and amongst the many gifts we had been given were some tommee tippee dummies.

Amid more screaming and constant breastfeeding during the night, and a baby who wanted to constantly not only be on me but be latched onto me ALL. NIGHT. LONG…

(Again, I know you’re reading this thinking “well what did you expect, you stupid cow?” The truth is, I have no bloody idea what I expected. It was my first time in that situation. I didn’t read any books or blogs or prepare myself in any way other than going to NCT classes, especially having been told that parenting books were a waste of time. So what I expected was nothing. I knew absolutely nothing.) 

We tried again with the dummy, and eventually after a few nights she began to settle with it and took it quite well. Breastfeeding was going well, and she was gaining weight well too. There were no issues with teat confusion at all and everything seemed perfectly fine.

Week 8

Her weight began to drop very steadily with no reason at all. She had a little bit of reflux but no other signs that she wasn’t taking enough milk. I was expressing regularly as well as giving her regular feeds. Teat confusion still wasn’t a problem at all – we were able to alternate very easily between tommy tippee bottles, avent bottles, dummy and breast. I remember feeling incredibly lucky compared with other mums I knew whose babies were very fussy with teats. We had a very good eating and sleeping routine and seemed to have found our little groove together.

I was told to go to a local breastfeeding group, where the lactation consultant told me my latch was wrong, and, oh yes, attacked me for giving my baby a dummy.

The very fact that Olivia had a dummy meant that the real problem went unnoticed for a further 3 weeks.

This is the reason why, with hindsight, I wish I had stuck to my guns and never given her one in the first place.

Week 11

Olivia was diagnosed with a tongue tie, and finally referred to a specialist tongue tie clinic in London. This was also the last week that I was able to exclusively breastfeed my baby girl, and I had to introduce formula. Up until that point, her tongue tie hadn’t stopped her from breastfeeding, even though it was an anterior tongue tie and she couldn’t move her tongue from side to side! If you want to know more about breastfeeding a baby with tongue tie, click here.

I was sobbing in Tesco, putting the Cow & Gate through the checkout. I know how stupid that seems. It’s made no difference to her development whatsoever – she’s still as clever as she always would have been, but it’s just so devastating that it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I wanted her to get her nourishment from me, not an artificial replacement of me… But she had plummeted from the 75th percentile to the 0.9th, so what other choice did I have?

Week 14

Unable to stop using bottles, we sacrificed dummies. She adjusted instantly, and didn’t miss it at all. In a way, I am glad that we had to stop using dummies at that stage. I honestly believe that once babies begin to have a proper awareness of what it is and what it’s for, it would be so much more difficult to take it away, and then my dreaded fears of having a toddler with a dummy would have been realised! There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s your choice, but, for me, I just don’t like them, and the truth is they really can affect speech development if they are used for too long.

So, all in all, dummies have their ups and downs. My main concern if I ever had another baby (which I don’t plan on doing) would be that I would have a similar issue. It was never fair for the lactation consultant to attack MY choice as a mother to give my baby a dummy, and I just couldn’t face that judgemental attitude again if I had a second baby with a tongue tie.

If you’re planning on breastfeeding, I would really recommend waiting to see if you can go without one. Teat confusion IS a thing, and although Olivia wasn’t affected by it, she is pretty much the only baby I know who can easily adapt between different teats and the boob. In my mind, they’re not worth the hassle of trying to take them away when your little one gets older, and although every baby needs comfort, they can get it just as easily from you, a teddy, or even a little blanket with far less complicated issues that can come up.

Let me know how you managed to get rid of dummies or why you decided to use or not to use them in the first place!

7 Actual Important Things all Pregnant Women Need to Know…

There are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 

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I see a lot of posts on this subject that focus on the funny side, about how everyone will see your nakedness and you won’t care, about how you’ll get used to being puked on etc etc.  This post isn’t that, there are so many practical things no body ever told me when I was pregnant and I never even thought to ask  – You don’t know what you don’t know, right? 
 
So, here is MY personal list of really important things that I should have been told, I’d love to hear yours in the comments!

1. Group B Strep 

It’s strange, I was asked several times on the maternity ward whether I was Strep B Positive and I always assumed that I must have been tested or they wouldn’t be asking (after all, they nicked enough of my blood for testing over the course of my pregnancy) I also assumed I must have been all clear or they would have told me. WRONG. It wasn’t until Harriet got her results that I found out what it is and why it is so crucial for EVERY mother to be tested in EVERY pregnancy. (Read her story here)
 

2. Your birth might not go according to plan

Okay, thats a pretty obvious one and I guess on some level we all know that but what I mean is that no one told me exactly what it was that could go wrong and how that might be resolved. Nobody prepared me for emergency procedures in theatre. I suppose nobody wants to scare a pregnant woman, well, I’m gonna do it. You might have to have major abdominal surgery. You might have to have your lady bits sliced and diced. Your lady bits might rip and you could lose a lot of blood. If you are pregnant I would strongly advise you to talk to your midwife (or relevant healthcare professional) about what you can expect if you need to have an emergency procedure. What the risks are, why they happen and what you have to sign when they thrust the surgical permission slip at you between contractions. It’s going to be easier to take that information on board when you aren’t 15 hours into labour and drifting in an out of consciousness.
 

3. Packing for hospital stays 

I see a lot of posts about hospital bag essentials. I disregarded most of them because they contain bluetooth speakers, tablets and essential oils. I packed a small bag of actual essentials (clothes for me, clothes for baby, nappies, sports drink, vaseline, maternity pads, granny pants, phone charger, hospital notes) which would have been absolutely fine if my birth had  gone smoothly and my son wasn’t crazy jaundiced. My poor husband was back and forth with clothes and supplies all week. He doesn’t drive so he was walking three miles to the hospital and three miles home (what a trooper). So, pack a bag for if things go to plan. Pack another, bigger bag for if they don’t. Oh, and hospitals don’t give you shampoo. 
 

4. Tongue tie (and other feeding issues)

This is a huge deal to me and I will be talking about it in more detail in another post soon. I did hear tongue ties mentioned when I was pregnant. ONCE. It was in the following context; “You can’t breastfeed a baby with tongue tie because they can’t latch to the breast”. This is possibly the single worst piece of misinformation I was given. My son had a tongue tie and he latched and fed, just not very well. None of the midwives or health visitors picked up on it and I had no idea what to look for. I was supported by amazing local services which are now facing massive budget cuts (see their campaign here) but I wish I had gone to see them when I was pregnant for some advice and again after my son was born before I was told that his behaviour was normal or that it was my fault.
 

5. Nappies

You are going to be changing a LOT of nappies. I decided to use cloth when I was pregnant but my dinky baby didn’t fit in them to start with. If I had realised just how many disposable nappies we’d get through in the first three months (around 900) I would have invested in some smaller sized cloth nappies. Obviously a lot of people told me that it would be a lot but the actual figures still startled me. If you’re in the UK you can find your local cloth nappy library here.

6. How and when to bathe a newborn 

This one was a source of panic for me from around 20 weeks. I asked at an antenatal class but I was shown with a rigid toy doll and no actual water so I was ill prepared. When I was presented with a mucky baby fresh out of the womb I had no idea if I should be washing the gunk off of him and how I might go about that. I avoided it for a while and picked the crispy bits of womb lining out of his perfect hair as best I could. He was eventually washed for first time at a week old by a lovely member of the maternity ward team who talked me through top and tailing. I still had no idea how to give him an actual bath so I just didn’t, for weeks. I’m still not 100% sure but if you’re concerned I hope you find comfort in the fact that it isn’t just you.
 

7. Dressing your baby 

How do you get those tiiiiny little vests over the head of a baby with zero muscle control? (Answer – you put the head hole under the back of their head and pull it gently over the top). As silly as it sounds, no one ever told me or showed me and I had not slept much so how was I to know? It took me a week to figure it out – luckily I have a summer baby. He lived in fully poppered sleepsuits most of the time. Also, everyone kept telling me I needed a going home outfit for him and that is a lie. I needed a clean sleep suit for him to go home in. I did pack an outfit but he was too tiny and I didn’t care one bit, I just wanted to get home.
 
I’m sure I’ve missed some because… well because my son is two and my brain is mush from all the parenting. As a bonus, I asked my husband what he wished he’d known. Apparently he’s quite traumatised. Here is his list:
 

Labour is terrifying

Seeing your partner in labour, in that much pain and not being able to help is awful. Seeing them in theatre and having to hold it together when you’re worried you might lose the woman you love and your child is the scariest thing. 
 

Babies are terrifying

How do you hold them with out breaking them? How do you change nappies? Dress them? Undress them? Put them in the carseat? Pick them up? Put them down? HOW?
 

The weight of the world is terrifying

Your partner just made a small human. She is in no position to do anything much so you’ve just gone from being responsible for yourself to being responsible for you, your wife and your baby… and all of the cooking and cleaning. Two weeks in and you have to work again. It’s a massive adjustment to make and it can be a little overwhelming.

The soft spot is terrifying

Every time you touch the soft spot you think you’ve hurt your child. Absolutely. terrifying. 

 


If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

harriet labour
 
 
sarah birth story
 
tongue tie
 
We are linking up to some of these amazing blog linkies!
 
Mummies Waiting

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

 

Cuddle Fairy

Single parents, I respect you

I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent, and that’s why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.

My god, do I respect you.
You see, I was primarily brought up in a single parent family, but it was incredibly dysfunctional and damaging and had a lot to do with my diagnosis of pre and postnatal depression with my own pregnancy. You’d think that would make me stereotypically biased against single parents and that I think all families end up that way. But no, I don’t tar everyone with the same brush, and maybe mine was so terrible because of how hard it was? Who knows. What I do know is that the majority of the time, single parents are heroes.

Aimee’s blog post on the new baby bubble rang true for me, yet I couldn’t help but think what I would have done if I hadn’t had the support of my partner in those crucial first two weeks. Jamie even said to me in hindsight he shouldn’t have taken the second week of paternity leave, but even with that second week I wasn’t ready to be a parent on my own. I had a vaginal birth and needed stitches but it was otherwise uncomplicated, imagine if that had been a C-section… how would I have coped? The answer is, I wouldn’t have.

For a bit of context, Jamie used to do shift work, which meant for 7, 5 and 4 days at a time he would be away, and I wouldn’t see him until the end of that shift pattern. It also meant that the days in between he was there constantly to help, but the days without him put a huge strain on me and with PND skulking over me like an angry raincloud it was terrifying being alone with a baby some days. He no longer works there, and at the moment his job means he’s home fairly often, but next year he could be away for 6 whole months.
6 months alone. Just a nearly 2 year old for company. Will it be easy? Will me and my daughter have an unbreakable bond because I was the only parent around for 6 months when she was a toddler? Will she resent her dad? All of these questions are spinning around in my head and I know I have nothing to worry about. Some mothers and fathers have to cope every day like this, not just 6 months. What am I complaining about? But it scares me. I’m in awe of how people must manage every day like this and go on to raise loving, clever and wonderful children. You don’t need two parents to bring an amazing boy or girl up to be an equally amazing man or woman, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier having that other person around to help.
I don’t think people say it enough. I think there’s still a stigma around being a single parent, and that’s why I wanted to do this blog post, to tell you that for me, you guys are absolutely bossing it.
So do me a favour… tonight, get the kids to bed, pour yourself a large glass of wine or crack open a can of lager, kick back, put your feet up and know that you are incredible. Even if you feel like you’re failing, we all have those moments, and you are most definitely not.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Becoming a single mum, the baby steps I’m taking

Why I’m happy being a single mum

Learn to love yourself

Mum Muddling Through

Can you breastfeed a baby with tongue tie?

At the clinic we were told that she had an anterior tongue tie. We had been positive it was posterior given that it went unnoticed for so long, but the severity of it was another example of how let down we had been by the health professionals. She could poke her tongue out, yes, but she could neither move her tongue side to side nor up and down. Her movement was that limited.

This is something I’ve balled my eyes out over. Not once, but what feels like a million times.
I never knew what a tongue tie was, until I had Olivia. Even then, it wasn’t a case of her not being able to feed from me and it being diagnosed straight away. Oh no, no, no… She was exclusively breastfed for the first 11 weeks of her life (I hate that it wasn’t even 3 months) and at that time everything changed.
You see, a tongue tied baby can breastfeed, and the longer they can manage it, the more they are exercising and stretching their frenulum – the little bit of skin holding the tongue to the base of the mouth. BUT it will get to a point where the movement is too limited to continue to be able to latch. What makes it more difficult is that the exercise and stretching, in my case, confused the health visitors and breastfeeding gurus/lactation consultants because Olivia could poke her tongue out… something which tongue tied babies aren’t supposed to be able to do.
At 11 weeks old, Olivia’s weight had already dropped twice the 2 weeks before, and there I was at the weigh in, confident that she had been fed much more regularly and must have put on weight this time. That all came crashing down in a split second. In the space of 3 weeks she had plummeted from being on the 75th percentile to the 0.9th. The health visitor looked at me. If you’ve experienced this you know that look. It was saying, “What have you been doing to your baby?” I broke down. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t hold my baby. The guilt consumed me. I only wanted what was best for her. Why was MY milk not good enough to keep her growing?
And then she said it.
“Your baby needs formula.”
It all happened again. I couldn’t breathe. I nodded silently, sobbing uncontrollably.

If you’re a formula feeding mama by choice, maybe you won’t understand this… But my choice was to breastfeed her exclusively. I was against formula completely, I didn’t want to put her on it, I wanted her to have my breastmilk that my body had made specifically for her. I was proud of breastfeeding and there was never a doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed her for as long as I could. Until I couldn’t. The choice was taken away from me.

My daughter was starving.
Starving.
That’s the first time I’ve admitted it, you know. Before now my partner and mother in law have said it. I know that it happened but I couldn’t admit it. It added to my guilt. If she was losing weight why didn’t I put her on formula sooner? But the truth is I was blamed for the problem. It was thought to be because of her having a dummy, or because I had a routine with her and wasn’t feeding her on demand (even though I was).
Jamie (my other half) and his mum pleaded with me to give her a bottle for my own sanity too. I remember in particular she said I couldn’t have Olivia hanging off me 24/7. But they didn’t get it. I did everything to keep breastfeeding.
When she finally got diagnosed with a tongue tie, we were referred to a specialist clinic in London to have it snipped. She was 14 weeks and 2 days old. The oldest baby in the clinic. I had to lie about how much breastmilk she was having because for the NHS to snip the tongue tie the baby had to be almost exclusively breastfed. I hired a double breast pump and my GP put me on domperidone, an antisickness tablet with a side effect of lactation. But even that wasn’t enough to get my supply back up. For 6 weeks at that stage Olivia had either been not getting enough milk herself or had been having formula, and once the demand isn’t there, the supply isn’t either.
At the clinic we were told that she had an anterior tongue tie. We had been positive it was posterior given that it went unnoticed for so long, but the severity of it was another example of how let down we had been by the health professionals. She could poke her tongue out, yes, but she could neither move her tongue side to side nor up and down. Her movement was that limited.
At the clinic they told us we needed to massage the wound daily to stop it repairing, and that the babies weren’t to use any artificial teats. We should finger feed them instead with a nasal tube in their mouths like a straw. That was nonsense. Maybe it would have worked on a newborn baby for a mum whose supply hadn’t deteriorated like mine, but again I had to choose formula. I carried on breastfeeding and the first feed after the operation was amazing. I could tell the difference in her latch. I could see how hungry she was. And I took comfort in the fact that I had this perfect feed and that my milk was healing her wound.

Don’t get me wrong the operation itself was horrendous, but at least she could feed now. I wanted to go back to exclusive breastfeeding, but once your supply has virtually gone it is so hard to get it back. So she stayed on formula, and on the minute amount of breastmilk that I was able to give her.
One night she just stopped. She didn’t want it anymore. I don’t know how it happened, but it felt final and it was the last time she ever latched onto me for comfort in the night.
That was 5 months ago.
At 9 months old we ended our breastfeeding journey. And believe me there were A LOT of trials and tribulations along the way, but her tongue tie was the worst one of them. It broke me again and again. I felt guilty for such a long time, but I did everything I could and I’ve accepted now that formula and breastmilk made my baby girl grow from this….
To this…
I loved breastfeeding. I could never understand why you wouldn’t try, but sometimes you will end up formula feeding anyway. It still upsets me, but I know I can’t carry that guilt anymore.
That’s my breastfeeding story.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…


My breastfeeding story

During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I wish I could say that breastfeeding worked for me but I can’t.
During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I watched the breastfeeding DVD to prepare myself and I attended a parent event where I spoke to two very lovely ladies who demonstrated with a woollen boob just how the baby would latch on. I found some different outfits to wear for breastfeeding and I even spoke to people to find out where I could breastfeed in town. I prepared myself for the odd person I was undoubtedly going to meet who would have a problem with my feeding  in public. How did other people deal with it? I read articles to find out. I knew it might be a bit difficult at first, but this was what I wanted and I was going to keep trying until it worked. I wanted to provide the milk for my baby and everyone I spoke to at that time had told me it was the best option for my baby.

My contractions started at a parent evening class on the Tuesday. I was too embarrassed to say anything because the lady running the group had joked that she’d “never had anyone go into labour at her pre-natal classes before”, and I was the silly sod who left it a week before my due date to attend the first class! I also attended the class on my own because for some reason, despite the fact it was called a ‘parent event’, it didn’t click in my head that my partner could come. I am going to blame the baby brain for that! I gave birth to my daughter on the Friday.
After giving birth to my daughter, despite feeling exhausted, (as I’m sure is the norm in that situation!), I had a new wave of energy and adrenaline.

This was it, I was going to do it. I was going to provide the food for my daughter.

The rest of that day we had a bit of trouble, but my daughter seemed to be latching on for short times. We were both just learning!

That first night though I must have had my finger permanently on the buzzer for the poor nurses. “I can’t do it.” It just didn’t seem to be working. The nurse would try to help me with the latch on each time. “You’ll get the hang of it.” “You’re tired.” In the end we were all getting a bit frustrated and the nurse thought she would try a premade bottle.

‘Hmmmm ok’, I thought, ‘just this once, just while I get the hang of it, but I don’t want her to get too used to the bottle.’I kept trying that day and as far as I was aware we were getting there.

That afternoon we were able to go home and me and my partner were full of excitement and adrenaline… we were mentally ready for this…
… but our daughter cried and cried and cried and cried.My partner sang to her, rocked her, we fed her, we played music, we even played womb sounds from YouTube.

Nothing was working.
By the early hours of the morning our confidence had been crushed in one foul swoop. The experience from that one night was enough to dampen our spirits for the next few months. We felt like absolute failures and we did the only last thing we could think to do at 2am in the morning and it was to phone for the cavalry. My partner’s mum came over, (I’m sure she was absolutely thrilled at that time of the day), and we were grateful that we weren’t alone because we thought clearly we can’t do this.
“She’s hungry,” she said.She can’t be, I thought. I’ve been feeding her constantly!

“We’re setting up the steriliser.” My partner and his mum proceeded to feed my daughter and I sat in the bedroom and sobbed, for what felt like hours. This isn’t what I wanted!

I’m pretty sure that what I was feeling that night was heart ache.
My partner then confirmed to me that she was feeding quite happily from the bottle. She was feeding from the bottle… but she couldn’t feed from me. This was obviously my fault. All I could think was that I was unable to do something that should have been the most natural thing in the world.
During those early weeks I was expressing milk slowly. I tried the nipple covers too but it just wasn’t happening. I had to accept it in the end that she would be bottle fed.
When my daughter was only a few weeks old we ventured out to some baby groups together. There were mums of course at the groups and they were breastfeeding. I felt embarrassed. I’d get the bottle out for my daughter and hide away somewhere to feed her. If someone saw me I felt I had to explain why I hadn’t been able to breastfeed… “My milk was slow in coming through.”
Looking back I think why on earth did I feel so embarrassed? It wasn’t a sign that I wasn’t looking after my child properly!
Over the next few weeks it came to light that as well as my milk being very slow, my daughter has a tongue tie which had been making it difficult for her to latch on.It wasn’t MY fault at all! It was no one’s fault.

In those early days you are just trying to do what is best for your baby. It’s all new and it’s all daunting, because you have this little person relying on you to understand what they need when they are crying and it can all feel a bit like trial and error.
I have the utmost respect for mums who breastfeed and I have the utmost respect for those who bottle feed. We are each going through our own parenting journey. We are the specialists in our own children’s needs.
Please go easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can and that’s all you can do.