I remember how difficult it was emptying the dishwasher with one hand. Making dinner with one hand. Doing my shopping with one hand.
My babies never liked being put in prams, baby chairs, comfy cots or cribs.... They would start crying after a minute or two, and one thing we are not meant to cope with, is a baby crying. Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to ignore the sound of a crying baby? Research shows that a baby's cry subconsciously affect a person's behaviour as a result of the activation of the sub-cortical areas of the brain. These are among the brain's most primitive parts and are important in controlling behaviours such as the fight-or-flight response and other responses that keep us alive in dangerous situations. So basically, we are wired to respond to this sound. To this day, if I am in a shop and I hear a baby crying for more than a couple of minutes, I actually need to leave. I get really stressed. It is either me leaving or running to pick the baby up myself. I am a primitive kind of lioness mother I guess!
So I found every day tasks so impossible to do with one hand. And then a lady in a breastfeeding group said, here, try this. It is called a sling. OOOHHHH. My life changed there and then. It was a bit tricky to do it the first few times, but after a couple of days it took me seconds to have my sling on. I suddenly got my TWO HANDS BACK!
My babies were the happiest in the slings. They had lovely naps and I was so productive. I remember teaching piano lessons with a sleeping baby in the sling; going for walks for as long as I wanted; making dinner and cleaning the house; going shopping with no pram...And very importantly, without a sore back. New mums out here. MIND YOUR BACK. You may think a tiny newborn baby is not heavy, and it is not, but when you have it in your arms for hours every day it does become heavy and it affects your posture and your back!
I know Lisa, or wonderful guest for the week, is a great supporter of slings and uses them daily. A big misconception we had, apart from thinking that the babies will sleep all night after a few days, was that you could just leave the baby down and get on with your day as normal. Whilst you can do that sometimes, it is also normal for babies to want to be held a lot and that is why there are so many things on the market, like bouncers, swings and chairs, all designed towards being able to leave your baby down for as long as possible without them crying. This says a lot about newborn behaviour. Babies cry when they are put down, and we are tying to invent things that somehow mimmic the movement of the human body. Can I just add, all these things also become clutter in your house and will later take half your attic space!
Of course, it is very hard to go around all day holding a baby. You can't get much done. This is a challenge especially if you have other children. There is one way around this. SLINGS. They are wonderful. They allow you to attach the baby to your body. There are wrap slings, Ring Slings, Mei Tai slings...There are lots on the market. When you use slings you can go by your day as normal. You can even learn how to feed your baby in the sling. Of course, as always, follow the guidelines and do baby wearing safely. You can refer to this website for more information, and if you want to try some slings before buying one, there is sling library available (www.babywearingireland.ie).
The best thing about slings is that your baby is content and happy. They get the contact they need. They can listen to your heart, they can smell you, feel the heat from your body. There are so many benefits to it. Having your baby close is very beneficial for breastfeeding relationships. The closer the baby is to the mother, the more the baby will feed, therefore it affects the milk supply and the mother can be more alert to the baby's cues. The more content, happy baby during the day the better and most likely they are to sleep at night. The calmer they are, the less stressful it is for the baby, the less stressful it is for the parents. And we refer back to how it feels to hear a baby cry and trying to find ways to comfort a crying baby. Ironically, often people will find that the one thing that works is holding the baby in arms and rocking. Wearing a baby in the slings enables to do just that by default. You are walking around doing chores in the house, or cooking, cleaning, walking to school to collect other children, etc. It fulfils a basic need. And often we forget this need may go on for some time. Babies and toddlers will want to be held even as they get older. You can get different slings depending on the age and the purpose and they are wonderful. Some of them allow you to carry your toddler on your back, for example.
Over the last few days, most of you who decided to share your stories have mentioned the importance of support. We wanted to dive in deeper into this. It takes a village, and we are a village! Lisa tells us that getting people to help and asking for help is really important. It is something I didn't do enough the first time and sometimes I found it hard. Help can come from neighbours, family, friends, etc. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It can feel as if you are not organised enough, or not good enough, sometimes like you have failed. Well, this is the truth: YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. You may think other people are doing perfectly fine without help, and that it is only you who is in that situation. Think again. I found hard to ask but easier to accept if somebody offered. Next time somebody offers, say YES, THANK YOU. And if you are on the other side, maybe offer help next time you get the chance.
Motherhood can be a very isolating experience. Some mothers can go from working full time, in an environment that they had full control of, to spending long stretches during the day when they are alone with their baby. This can make you feel quite helpless. I always tried to get up, get dressed and show up. There are great local resources that can prevent isolation. Local coffee shops where mums meet (they are generally happy to meet new mums and babies, so don't miss your chance to go and say hello); playgroups, mother and baby groups, breastfeeding groups, etc.
Tomorrow we are covering a very important topic and one of the BIGGEST MYTHS. I have to stop breastfeeding because I am going back to work. Please join us tomorrow and leave as many questions as you want. We will try and get them all answered for you.
As a way of helping spreading the word (check my first article, where we talk about changing lives) , I am doing an amazing GIVE AWAY in collaboration with Frank&Nora on Instagram and the winner will be announced on the 26th of March, for Mother’s Day.
Frank&Nora is an independent growing brand run by Stephanie. A creative, a designer, a wife & a mother. Using 100% organic cotton, they provide affordable quality with a unique customer engagement ethos.