As one door closes, another one opens. 


Our almost 2 year old big girl, decided to have a day of exploring some independence, today.
On leaving the house to attend our favourite playgroup, instead of climbing into her pushchair, she announced, “No. My can walk!” So, today, for the first time, she walked. 


She was so good at listening to mummy. She held my hand, stayed on the path and let me hold the reign when she wanted a bit more freedom. 

She stepped onto the bus, all by herself, and even sat on her very own seat, which she was thrilled with and told everyone, “My seat!”, with a huge grin on her face. 


When we got off the bus, she walked passed the workers, fixing the broken road, and watched as she held my hand. No jumping into my arms, scared of the big noise. Instead, her eyes stayed fixed in curiosity, as I explained, as well as I could, what it was all about.

On the way home, she learnt how to wait on the path, when the red man shows and only to cross when the green man shows. 
I think crossing the road was her favourite part, as she repeated “Cross the road!” every 2 minutes, each way! 😁

Yesterday, she didn’t have this hunger for autonomy. Today she explored a new world and I was left feeling a mixture of both sadness and pride. As one door closes, another one opens, they say. 

It’s crazy how your love develops for them, every step of the way. 

I think I’ll remember this day forever. 💗

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Attachment Parenting is Not ‘Just Another Parenting Fad’

 
If you want to be an attachment parent, you have to breastfeed, babywear or carry your baby constantly, sleep with your baby, never have a life and shit baby pink unicorns, right?

Wrong! 

In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with how you feed your child and has a lot to do with how you respond to your child’s needs. 

Do you play with your child? Hug them when they cry? Feed them when they’re hungry? Always keep them nearby during their first 6 months of life? Guess what? You’re an attachment parent! 

I first learnt about attachment theory when I was studying my Early Years diploma, many moons ago, and it’s the kind of thing that once you understand, just makes a lot of sense.  Since then, I guess I never really gave it much thought, other than, that’s probably how I will parent.

I was reacquainted with attachment theory, once again, when I became pregnant and a friend mentioned this ‘new trend’ called co-sleeping. Co-sleeping? What’s THAT all about? 

It was explained to me that co-sleeping means you either sleep with your baby or baby sleeps by your bed, meaning when baby cries, they are never far from comfort and food, two very essential things for this early stage of life. Well, yeah that makes sense. So, I did my research. This is when I met my old friend Attachment Theory, again. Only she’d changed a bit. Got older, got some new jeans, changed her hair, got married and changed her name to Attachment Parenting. Oh and it turned out, we had a lot more in common than I ever realised. 

We both recognised that when babies cry, they are communicating a need. Be that hunger, pain relief or simply comfort. We both felt that it was always a safer option to keep baby close-by, during those early months, so that you can better regulate silly things like breathing, temperature, heart rate, hunger and so on. We also both agreed, it was kind of ridiculous to think a baby, whose brain does not yet have the tools to create manipulating behaviour, could cry just to ‘get their own way’. Have you seen the size of a baby’s head? Their brains are so small, they only have room to work completely off their basic human needs. There’s no room for negotiation. If they cry, they are literally just communicating one of their basic needs. Simple! It is literally, physically impossible for a baby to attempt any form manipulation or negotiation. 

I think attachment parenting has recently been getting a bit of bad press, through what I believe to be a little misunderstanding and I think it’s about time we cleared this up. Attachment parenting isn’t a fad, it is just parenting, without all the, ‘Don’t pick the baby up too much, you’ll spoil him’, crap. I think most people assume, because a lot of parents who identify as an attachment parent tend to breastfeed, co sleep or babywear, that you have to do one or more of these activities in order to join the club. In fact, the problem is simply that not enough people, and most specifically, those who don’t breastfeed, co sleep or baby wear, are identifying themselves as attachment parents. 

The other problem we have is that many people view attachment parenting as if it is something really demanding and difficult, when it’s the exact opposite. In fact, it’s kind of lazy parenting! By answering your baby’s cries with a hug or a feed, guess what? They cry less! Not constantly trying to put your baby down for a sleep, when they’re not tired, actually makes your life a lot easier. Understanding that babies don’t respond well to sleep training, prevents you from going through the heart-ache that comes with leaving them to cry and more importantly, the disappointment that comes with them waking and crying every time you try to put them down.

Studies show that when a baby cries, both the mother’s and baby’s cortisol levels in the brain, are raised. This means mother and baby are stressed! This goes against what nature expects you to do. It is your body’s way of telling you something is not right. 

So what do we do? We follow our instincts to pick baby up and hold or feed him. And as if by magic, those cortisol levels are immediately reduced and are replaced with the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin, also know as the love hormone, acts as a natural anti-depressant. So, in essence, attachment parenting can reduce a mother’s risk of Post Natal Depressiom (PND).

Being a parent that responds sensitively to your baby’s needs, I think, deserves some recognition. If you do this, well done! You have learnt that following your instincts and listening to your child works better than following the surrounding rules and opinions of others.

It’s easy to lose track but I have found that the less I listen to the advice of others and the more I simply watch and listen to my baby, the smoother things go. 

So, in summary, trust your instincts. They know best. Attachment parenting is NOT just another parenting fad. It IS just parenting. Exactly how it was meant to be, which is why when parents practice it, they find they are less stressed and that their babies cry less. This in turn makes it easier to understand exactly why your baby is crying, upset, grumpy, and also recognise everything that makes them happy. 

It’s like I always say, Happy Baby, Happy Mammy! 😉

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Bed Sharing is NOT Co Sleeping!!

  
I’m a big believer in co sleeping to help alleviate stress for the whole family.

Let me just get one thing straight, first. Co sleeping is not bed sharing. Bed sharing is a FORM of co sleeping. If your baby still sleeps in your room, no matter where they are in that room (unless you have a really really huge room) then you are co sleeping. Obviously, the closer the better but still co sleeping. 

The reason the closer the better, is because it is natural for our infants (notice I said ‘infants’ not ‘babies’) to want to be near to us, for security and protection. They are small, helpless little animals and in our caveman days, prone to being eaten by predators. They crave to be near us, hence, lots of crying when they aren’t. 

This isn’t to make you feel bad, it’s to help you understand why your baby cries and how you might be able to solve it and get a better nights rest!! 

Crying stresses me out, to the point I can’t think straight and I feel sick. So does a really disturbed nights sleep! I know I’m not the only one, and I believe that it is partly down to our instincts as parents to feel like this. It is instinctive to answer our baby’s cries and keep them close. 

The best advice I ever got was to follow my instincts and I know, I have just discovered I have PND, at almost 12 months in, but I truly believe that if I hadn’t have been co sleeping with Maya, I would have delved into a great depression a lot sooner than now! 

It makes me feel better when I don’t hear my baby cry all the time. And did you know, that a hug, a kiss, a touch, skin-to-skin contact, and/or breastfeeding releases a hormone called oxytocin into YOUR body. Oxytocin work as a natural anti-depressant, alleviating stress and helping us to feel generally much better than we otherwise would.

Did you also know that sleeping with your new born helps to regulate their breathing, body temperature and heart rate? Without you there, they have to try and do this all on their own. Another reason to keep them near!

Again, you don’t have to bring them into your bed, all the time, to do this. You can simply just keep them nearby!

This article explains, really well, how western culture has messed up the way we were supposed to do things with out children, biologically, as humans. 

Follow your instincts! Do what feels right. I PROMISE it will make you feel better! ✌🏻️

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Breastfeeding – Friends and Foes

  
I had a really interesting morning at toddler group, today. My usual side-kick has gone back to work so Maya and I were flying solo. Time to make some new acquantences! 

There’s a lady at the group, I have actually noticed in previous weeks, due to the fact she reminds me so much of my older sister. Doesn’t really strike you as a mum. Very glamorous! Full make-up, flowing, and might I add, perfectly highlighted, hair. I don’t know, just not quite as tired as rest of us. This one definitely looks after herself. Makes you slightly jealous. In a good way! 

What’s her secret? 

Where does she find the time? 

Cue dreaming of days gone by, where you would spend a good hour, at least, pampering yourself every morning, not a care in the world. 

Anyway, I noticed her again, once more, today. She was trying to settle a crying baby in a car seat, in the corner of the room. I couldn’t help but sneak a few looks and I noticed, what looked like, a bit of cry-it-out session, going on. I wondered, why? – Not in a judgmental way. Becoming a mother has made me realise you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. But, in a genuinely curious way. 

She’s right there, I thought. It’s a playgroup. I wonder why she’s trying to keep him in the car seat? Perhaps, it’s nap time? 

The crying got pretty bad and the lady just kept holding him down, as he tried to wriggle his way out. I really couldn’t watch it. The sound of a baby crying, goes straight through me and makes me feel a bit sick. So, I left the area and moved over to the forming circle of mums and little people, in preparation for Song Time.

Just as we sat down, Maya began tapping my boobs and whining, so I got comfortable and started nursing. 

Just as we had started, the lady and the baby came and sat next to us. “Don’t mind me! Just keep doing what you’re doing!” I laughed and thanked her, as she moved her chair out of my way, noticing she was now cuddling a very distraught little boy. 

“He’s not mine, he’s a friends.”, she said. “She’s trying to get him off the boob so, I’m helping her out.  He’s 8 months old. He doesn’t need it anymore, he just uses her for comfort, he’s not getting anything from it.” 

It blew me away.

I couldn’t believe this person had just sat next to me. My heart started to race a little. 

I’ve prepared myself for this for a long time, meeting someone who knew so little about breastfeeding, yet felt compelled to voice such a strong opinion on it. 

Having only just met her, I didn’t feel I could correct her, just yet. 

Of course, he would still be getting something! Human milk doesn’t just stop being nutritious because a baby is over 6 months. I mean, what would it be replaced with, formula? Cows milk? Of course, if dried-up cows milk is nutritious, then human milk most certainly still is! 

I stayed quiet, though. Gave her a half smile. Enough to be friendly but not too much. I didn’t want her to think I agreed with her.

Song time pursued and after joining in for 5 minutes, Maya wanted more milk but a few minutes into feeding, everyone started singing her favourite song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” At that, she popped off and shot up, with a huge grin on her face and began clapping her hands. The lady tossed her hair back, laughed and said, “She prefers the music to the boob!” I laughed again, nodded, smiled. Trying to work her out. Was that friendly or a dig at breastfeeding? Am I being paranoid, here?

On the one hand, I love people who are relaxed about me breastfeeding. On the other hand, it was clear she knew very little about it and had some judgements of her own. I know this type of person and I prayed she wasn’t about to fit the stereotype. 

Song time ended and off we went to play again. I noticed the baby boy’s mum had returned. She was walking and hugging him tight. She looked very stressed! 

I wanted to go over and offer my sympathy and support. Perhaps, some advice. I could tell her about the Breast Buddies group on Facebook, I thought, and she could get tonnes of advice on gentle-weaning strategies and maybe, then, she wouldn’t be so stressed. 

I almost went over but stopped. What if she thinks it’s none of my business? What if the other lady shouldn’t have been telling me what she was doing? I thought it best to leave it. 

I regret that now. 

We enjoyed snack time and before you know it, we bumped into each other again. I looked for her friend with the baby but they were no where to be seen so, I asked her, did she know if her friend was in the Breast Buddies group? 

She wasn’t sure so, I explained, it was full of women who could give her some great tips and that weaning didn’t have to be all or nothing. She could offer expressed milk or formula, along with food during the day and still offer the breast on a morning and at bed time. This might make the transition less stressful for the baby and for mum to endure the crying. There are also options to give milk in a cup, if he won’t take a bottle, I went on. I asked her to pass on the name of the group, as well as my name and if I see a post from her, I will link her up to some good articles.

She seemed thankful for my advice and promised to pass on the information.

Proud moment. I did good, I thought. I was just about to go about my day with that good feeling that changes everything when you’ve done a good deed, when out of no where, there it was. A plethora of breastfeeding myths and criticisms, rolled off her tongue one by one. 

“I’m all for breastfeeding but there’s a way to do it discreetly..”, “Some women do it just so they can get their boobs out.” I was quick to defend this one and said I don’t think anyone ever breastfeeds a baby just so they can get their boobs out. However, she was quite persistent and proceeded to explain she once seen one, in the shopping centre. “…and you should have seen the size of the kid, at least 2!” 

So, I’m stood here thinking, I’ve waited for this moment, say something clever, tell her about the World Health Organisation and that they recommend feeding until 2 and beyond! Tell her! 

I managed to push out that feeding until 2 or 3 is quite normal. Disappointing stuff. 

I fake smiled and pretty much gave up on trying to convince her. I just didn’t know where to start and figured it would take more than a few minutes to educate this lady on the truth. So, I just reminded her to pass on my message, smiled and said goodbye. 

To be fair, she was very honest and I appreciated her honesty. I didn’t, personally, feel offended by her opinions on breastfeeders. I’ve heard it all before, mainly in the comments section of breastfeeding articles, online. However, this lady represents a much bigger problem. It is seemingly harmless comments, like hers, that can destroy a mother’s breastfeeding relationship. 

Critisisms like “he doesn’t need it” or “he is using her for comfort”, suggests there is something wrong with a baby breastfeeding for comfort. Actually, it’s a very normal and natural thing and not only do I love that side of it but once they’re older, you get to use it as a great parenting tool! It’s literally the answer to everything. Anytime Maya falls and bumps herself, I get the boob out. Teething? Boob. Sick? Boob. Upset? Boob. You see where I’m going with this…

Yes, some women use breastfeeding as a means to provide their child with the comfort they seek from their mother. Much like a hug, a feed can provide security and help the child to feel loved and cared for. Very important to a child’s emotional development. Would you deny a child a hug? 

So, that was the last I seen of her. I tried to forget about it and carried on playing with Maya. We were just about to start getting ready to go, when a lady behind me exclaimed just how beautiful Maya was! 

We got chatting and as it turns out, I had managed to park myself next to the other breastfeeders in town. I suddenly felt at home! 

What lovely, ladies they were. We got chatting about breastfeeding and how there really isn’t enough support for those mums who really want to, but struggle and that many end up left, feeling failed and guilty that they didn’t do a good enough job or are now unable to nourish their baby with their own breasts.

Another mum interrupted at this point and explained that is exactly what happened to her and that she had failed to breastfeed. We all piped up straight away and told her she didn’t ‘fail’ she was failed by the people that were supposed to help her.

The conversation really lifted my spirits and reminded me that while there are still some uneducated people out there, contributing to the discrimination women face for breastfeeding, there are also the people like us. The ones who will never judge a mum on her decisions with feeding her baby, who will never throw such strong, uneducated opinions at vulnerable mums, looking for help and support and who will always offer ideas for gentle methods and give their support to a mum-in-need. 

Keep up the good work you people! It’s working. One boob at a time. 

And if you’re reading this, mum, please get in touch. I’d love to chat! 😊

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