The “best” advice
That wonderful day has arrived when you announce that you’re pregnant. Enjoy those precious moments, take a deep breath…wait for it…wait…just a bit longer… then BOOM the advice from friends, family, neighbours, people with children, childless couples and total strangers comes POURING in. Oh joy
Everyone will have their two-pence worth to chip in. What buggy to get, What cot is best, To have a cot bumper or not to have a cot bumper? What the best steam steriliser is to use? Don’t use an electric steraliser, Milton is best, Milton? This isn’t the 70’s. Which bottles are best? What books you need to get.
Not forgetting the gem that is “your lives will never be the same again” well duh, obviously, we’re growing a human!
You can become very overwhelmed with the amount of products there are on the market and most of it is unecessary, one poor mum-to-be had a small panic attack at the Babyshow back in February, she just needed reassuring to trust her own instincts. Beg, borrow and steal what you can, you will only need 80% of it for such a short time.
So baby arrives… How soon are you going to get it into a routine? Are you following Gina or the Baby whisperer or planning on doing attachment-parenting None of the above? Are you going to have them in your room for 6 weeks or 6 months? Controlled crying is the answer, Never leave them to cry thenmselves to sleep it’s cruel, Are you going to co-sleep because its important for therm to feel attached, Don’t ever put them in your bed, you’ll squash them in the night…
I was adamant that Minibeast would never sleep in our bed… until I discovered what sleep deprivation really feels like, then you do what ever you need to to ensure you all get the best possible sleep you can. I have mastered the art of sleeping on 4 inches of mattress – it’s amazing how something under a foot long can take up so much room, luckily we did not have any problems transferring her back, it was not every night but if it is, who cares, you’re all sleeping and they won’t be climbing into bed with you when they’re teenagers! She is now 5, utterly independent and sleeps perfectly in her bed, only ever coming in when she’s ill.
Then comes the advice with feeding. Boob or bottle, bottle or boob? Whichever you choose you are a GOOD parent because of it. If you can’t breastfeed you are not a bad person, your baby will not suffer or be malnourished as a result or even if you simply don’t want to breastfeed that is entirely your prerogative and I salute you. I have utter admiration for women that find it so natural, I struggled and cried through 10 hideously toe-curling (literally) painful weeks being offered advice left right and centre and 4 visits to the breastfeeding clinic at the hospital, “hold her like this, No that will give her tummy ache, Do it like this instead using a pillow, Is she tongue tied? Have you tried the rugby ball hold? Use this nipple cream sparingly, No you should smother yourself in it, Use a nipple shield, Don’t use a nipple shield it will cause ‘Nipple Confusion’…” It went on and on. To help matters even more, somehow she got Oral Thrush which in turn gave me it in the boobs. More pain. So when the day came when I said enough was enough, it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders. It’s not for everyone, so please don’t give bottle-fed baby mum’s a hard time.
Oh and apparently breast-fed babies don’t poo as often… Minibeast didn’t poo for 13 days – that was fun. More advice… Try massaging her tummy always in a clockwise direction and quite firm. Try tickling her bottom hole with a thermometer. (No thanks) Try cycling her legs. Have you tried eating something that may help like prunes? Try warm water and brown sugar (old wives tale – not supported by Health visitors these days) Take her to a Cranial Osteopath, Take her to the Drs for a suppository, (that didn’t work and was basically unnecessarily cruel – shit advice, no pun intended)
Ok so, Baby massage: check – not easy when theyre in a pavlick harness… I haven’t got to that bit yet…
Warm bath: check
Hot water bottle: check
Fruit juice: check
Sugared water: check
Prune juice: check
Then yippee…WE HAD POO…..Unfortunately it was when she was in the bath with me!!! I’ll forgive her this time. Hurrah for prunes!!
To add to the joy, my poor Minibeast got colic, no it wasn’t reflux, gas or a milk allergy… so I then had a barrage of What are you eating? Don’t eat carbs it will make your milk bad, Eat more carbs it will settle her tummy. Avoid dairy, Drink more milk, Don’t eat green veg (really??) Eat mostly vegetables. Avoid red meat, Take fennel capsules or get some fennel essential oil and put 10 drops in to a bottle of water and shake it before you drink it, that normally knocks colic on the head immediately – (of course it does) that is if you’re breastfeeding. Give her a dummy, Don’t give her a dummy she’ll never let it go (actually we tried giving her one but she got the world record for longest spit out of a dummy across Boots)
So just as we were settling into a routine of the relentess crying we had the scheduled hip scan, common for all babies born by c-section due to being breach. She was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia so she had to be put into a Pavlik Harness. This was far worse for me than her and she will never remember being strapped up like a frog. It is amazing how many people suddenly have a degree in Orthopedic Surgery and can recommend all sorts of “more appropriate” methods. We were lucky infact as her case was very mild, there are cases where the hips have to be reset. But still it was 2 months of no bathing as the harness could not be removed at all then a further 6 weeks of it coming off once a week for baths. This was in March so it was also still quite cold weather and the poor baby couldn’t wear anything on her legs. We ended up getting baby grows that were for 6-9mth old babies so they would fit over the harness. If you are unfamiliar with the design, it makes the baby as rigid as if set in concrete and I have never wanted to punch someone on the nose quite as much as the baby massage “expert” I met who kept insisting that it would be fine to remove the harness and lay her on her front (to help relieve the colic)… or even better lay her on her front in the harness. Grrrr!
However, the harness worked, her hips are fine and she was walking by 10 months.
My advice? Ignore the advice, put down the books, especially those whose authors have yet to experience the hormonal turmoil that is raging inside a new mum’s body. Every baby is different, every home is different, every solution is different and you will know in your gut what is best for YOUR baby. Being new parents is about survival, yours, not the baby’s, they are far more resilient than any book will let on and they get to nap throughout the day! Do what feels right for YOU and YOUR baby. You are not out to impress anyone, even the most natural “earth mothers’ will have a crappy day.
So yes, we didnt have the easiest start to parenthood, even with all my training and experience it was hard with colic, constipation, oral thrush and a harness to deal with but don’t misunderstand me, I never stopped adoring her and being grateful for having her, I am well aware that there are people with much larger struggles than ours but when you are going through it, it feels like you alone have the biggest struggle so please, unless new parents actually say the all so important words “Can we ask you for some advice” I implore you to keep your lips sealed.
I survived, we have an incredible bond, and I managed it all without having to take out shares in Magestic Wine.
Still feeling broody?
I’m just waiting for the advice on how to deal with a tenenager to come next…
This post was written by Sarah Cozens