Daddy time (The Ordinary Moments #3)

I’m linking up with Katie at Mummy Daddy Me again this week for some more ‘Ordinary Moments’.

My husband works in Edinburgh and so has quite a commute every day. This means that during the week he doesn’t get to see much of Toby. He usually leaves before Toby is awake in the morning so he only sees him for half an hour or so before bed time in the evening. Toby and I go and pick Daddy up from the train station at twenty past five and then there’s half an hour for cuddles and playtime before bed.

Daddy and baby

It’s so lovely to see the two of them together in the evenings. Toby clearly adores his Dad and always has a big grin for him when we get home. I know it’s hard for hubby not too see very much of Toby during the week so I’m really glad that his work is flexible enough that he can at least get home for bedtime – it’s a luxury that a lot of working parents don’t get.

Daddy and baby reading

As well as some cuddles we usually try and fit in a story at some point before bed. In the last week Toby has really started engaging when we read to him. He reaches out and touches the pictures and even tries to turn the pages.

So there we are, another Ordinary Moment in our daily lives.

mummy daddy me

Living with a reflux baby

reflux baby medication

Living with a reflux baby isn’t easy. At four months old Toby takes 1ml of medicine in a syringe three times a day. He also has Infant Gaviscon added to every bottle of milk as well as Dentinox Colic Drops (although I’m not entirely sure that they really do anything!). I don’t like having to give him medication so regularly but for now it is just something we have to live with. I know that we are very fortunate that Toby’s illness is in no way life threatening and, if we are lucky, he should grow out of it fairly soon. That said, gastric reflux has not made the first few months of my little boy’s life as smooth sailing as it could have been.  Before Toby was diagnosed I found a lot of really useful information online and from reading about other people’s experiences so I hope that by sharing our reflux story (so far) we might be able to help another baby who is struggling with the same problems.

We first thought something might be wrong when Toby was just a week or two old. As I have already written we had some trouble breastfeeding in the beginning and a lot of that was trying to get Toby to latch on properly. Instead of rooting and turning towards the breast he would actively turn away. I think the difficulties we had were a big contributing factor to why we ended up moving to formula feeding full time. Of course it’s only with hindsight that I can link these difficulties to reflux.

Early signs

The second major indicator that something wasn’t right were the noises that Toby would make when he was lying in his crib, especially during the night. He would make all sorts of grunting and choking noises, keeping both himself and us awake. Sometimes he would be asleep but still making these noises. It was horrible hearing my baby sounding so distressed even though it didn’t actually seem to be bothering him that much. I mentioned it to our health visitor but she just dismissed it as ‘babies are just noisy’. Toby was still sleeping in our room at this point and I even resorted to wearing earplugs to try and get some sleep!

When Toby was about a month old I turned to Google to see what could be causing all these noises he was making. One of the possibilities that came up was reflux.  I didn’t really know much about reflux; a friend’s daughter had suffered when she was a baby and remember her having to have Gaviscon in her milk but that was about the extent of my knowledge. It was also at this point that Toby started being sick a lot more. This coincided with our move to full time formula feeding meaning he was managing to eat a bit more in one sitting. This vomiting was something which was also dismissed as normal by the health visitor. I know babies often bring up some milk after feeding but Toby was bringing up virtually full feeds, sometimes straight away, sometimes half an hour or an hour later. I would put him down to sleep and then find when I checked on him that he had been sick over his shoulder – his clothes, hair and sheets would be soaked. And I was terrified that he wouldn’t turn his head and would end up choking. His vomiting was so forceful that on one memorable occasion I sat him up to wind him and he was sick all the way up my dressing gown sleeve, managing to get it up past my elbow!

The more I read about reflux, the more convinced I was that I had found the cause of Toby’s symptoms. Along with the vomiting and the noises, there were also continued difficulties feeding even after we had moved to bottles full time. Reflux is really another name for heartburn. It is quite common in babies as the muscle at the top of the stomach can be underdeveloped making it very easy for the contents to come back up into the babies throat and the acid from the stomach can be very painful for them. During and after feeding Toby would arch his back and scream in pain. It was just heartbreaking to watch. Even very young babies can quickly learn to associate feeding with the pain of reflux, but equally they know that feeding can help to alleviate the pain temporarily as the stomach contents are pushed back down. What this led to was a cycle of feeding on and off all day. Toby would take an ounce or two of formula then refuse to drink any more as he knew it would hurt him but then he would be hungry again half an hour later and this went on day and night. It was exhausting for both of us.

From reading online I found quite a lot of tips of things we could do to try and help Toby. We tried to feed him in a more upright position, keep him upright after feeding (it was recommended to keep him upright for half an hour, which is fine during the day but not so practical at three o’clock in the morning!) and to tilt his crib so gravity would help keep the milk down. We tried all these ideas. We used books to raise the head of his crib. In fact at one stage it was at such a steep angle that we had to tuck his blanket really tightly under his arms to stop him sliding down the crib and ending up in a heap at the bottom!

Getting a diagnosis and first treatment

However, after a week or so of trying anything we could think of without seeing any improvement I took Toby to see our GP. I explained Toby’s symptoms and, after checking it was nothing more serious, the doctor agreed it was reflux. I suppose it is quite difficult to diagnose reflux accurately in babies. Certainly when we were at the doctor Toby was happy and showed no sign of any discomfort. The doctor just had to go on what I told him. Anyway, the first step in treating reflux in babies is Infant Gaviscon. For formula fed babies this is added to the milk (it can be used for breastfed babies too but administering it can be a lot more tricky). Unlike the adult version Infant Gaviscon contains only a mild antacid. Its main function is to thicken the milk, making it easier for a baby to keep down and so reduce the symptoms that way.

So we started with the Gaviscon and we did see something of an improvement in Toby. He stopped being sick pretty much completely and he did seem a bit more comfortable but the night time noises and the back arching were still there. After a week I took Toby back to the doctor, this time armed with a video to show him exactly what was going on. I knew there were other medications that could be prescribed that I thought might help Toby further. But as Toby had stopped being sick and was still gaining weight the doctor just wanted us to continue with the Gaviscon.

Back to the doctor

So we carried on for another week or two. Toby was definitely better than he had been but his feeding routine hadn’t improved. Feeding was still going on through most of the day (and night) making it really hard to go anywhere or do anything. We were going to just persevere with the Gaviscon but one day I was browsing in our local charity shop when a book called The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan caught my eye. I’ve mentioned this book by Alison Scott-Wright in another post but the reason I bought it was because it had a whole chapter about reflux. The author made the very good point that we couldn’t expect Toby to sleep well until his reflux was under control. In the book there is a list over four pages long of symptoms that can be associated with reflux. Of course in isolation some of these things could just be normal baby behaviour but when a baby has several of the symptoms and isn’t able to sleep and feed comfortably then that can indicate reflux. I’m not going to go into the whole list but here a few of the things that Toby was doing:

  • Frequent hiccups – also babies who have frequent hiccups in the womb, which Toby did, often go on to develop reflux
  • Arching the back and neck
  • Body goes rigid and stiff, it always seems as if the baby is trying to stand up on you
  • Displaying stress-related behaviour as a reaction to pain or discomfort – head-thrashing, rubbing together heels and/or feet
  • Appears to fall asleep after a few minutes’ feeding and is impossible to wake to continue with the feed
  • Cries when laid horizontal
  • Wants to be constantly held
  • Having excess mucus and seeming to have a constant cold
  • Small amounts of vomit produced all the time – we would often see a little bit of milk come up into Toby’s mouth which he would then swallow back down, causing burning from the stomach acid both on the way up and the way down again.

So you can see, this is quite a diverse list of symptoms but when I read it and so many of them applied to Toby I knew his reflux still wasn’t under control and so we headed back to see the doctor again. This time we saw a trainee GP so I just went in, explained Toby’s symptoms hadn’t improved and asked to be prescribed ranitidine, an antacid that I knew was used to treat reflux in babies. Cue much confusion from the trainee as she checked her reference books – ranitidine isn’t licensed for babies even though it is widely prescribed so she was struggling to work out the correct dosage. As it turned out is was a good job we have an observant and thorough pharmacist because she actually prescribed over ten times the correct dose! Luckily it was all sorted out and Toby started on his new medicine. And there was an almost immediate improvement. Within a week most of his symptoms had gone, he was feeding better and sleeping better. Within a couple of weeks we had him feeding roughly every three hours and sleeping through the night. It was amazing.

Since then we have had to increase the amount of ranitidine Toby was getting – the dosage is calculated on the babies weight so as they get bigger the dosage can need recalculating if symptoms start to reappear, Which brings us to today. Toby is largely free of the symptoms of reflux. Babies do usually grow out of it at some point but the only way to really tell is to reduce or remove the medication and see what happens. We have tried reducing his Gaviscon recently but he just starts being sick again. However, yesterday I forgot to give Toby his lunchtime ranitidine and he was absolutely fine all afternoon. So today I didn’t give him that dose again and still no problems. So we are going to keep on with his morning and evening doses for now and see how it goes and if all is well then maybe we can start reducing those doses too.

What to do if you think you have a baby with reflux

If I had any advice for parents of baby suffering from reflux, or who they think might have reflux it would be to see your doctor as soon as you can and if the medication you are given doesn’t seem to be working then go back until you get something that does. I know we were lucky in a way that the ranitidine worked, but if it hadn’t I know there are other medications we could have tried. If I could go back I would have gone to the doctor much sooner and maybe tried to get the ranitidine earlier so then Toby would have felt better quicker. But at least he’s doing OK now and I’m sure there won’t be any lasting damage caused by his difficult early weeks.

Reflux does seem to be more common now but I wonder if that is because parents can do more research themselves online and so are more aware of it, and therefore it is being diagnosed more often rather than dismissed as colic or just a ‘sicky baby’. Did your baby have reflux? Did you find it easy to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment or was it a bit of a struggle? I would love to hear about the experiences of other parents in a similar situation to us – feel free to leave your comments.

 

Review: bumGenius Freetime

We have been using bumGenius Freetime nappies full time since Toby was about 7 weeks old. He used them right up to potty training at three and a bit. They are still our most used nappy with Gabe too and they make up the majority of our stash.

Bumgenius Freetime

The Details

bumGenius is a family run American company – I believe that most of their products for sale outside the US are produced in their own facility in Egypt. bumGenius nappies are available from a variety of UK stockists. I got mine from a few different places depending where I could get the best offers at the time. The bumGenius Freetime usually retails at £19.99 (unless you can get one in a sale or get discount for bulk buying) which is towards the top end of what you would expect to pay for a cloth nappy. However, the nappies are an all-in-one (AIO) nappy which essentially means you don’t need to buy any extras like inserts or wraps. It is also a birth-to-potty (BTP) or one-size-fits-most (OSFM) nappy so they should last as long as your baby needs to wear them. And they should last for more than one baby so the cost works out quite reasonable in the end. These nappies used to be available with popper or velcro fastenings but now only come with poppers. They also come in a variety of colours and prints. We started off with all velcro fastening as I foung it easier to get a snug fit when Toby was small but the velcro got quite tired (and Toby figured out how to open it) so I had all our original nappies converted to poppers.

The Pros

bumGenius FreetimeThe nappies are really easy to use as you can see in the pictures above. The length, or rise, of the nappy is adjusted using three sets of poppers on the front of the nappy. As the nappy is an all-in-one the inserts (the part that actually absorbs the wee) are attached, which means there’s nothing to get lost in the wash and no need to match things up with the right nappy afterwards. As the inserts are only attached at one end they open up for drying (1) which dramatically reduces how long it takes. On a fine, breezy day they will dry in an hour or two on the line. Seeing as we don’t have many of those at the moment though, mine usually dry overnight in the airing cupboard or in about an hour and a half on low heat in the tumble drier. Once you have your clean dry nappy then you simply fold the flaps back in. They can be folded several different ways. Because we have a little boy we fold the front flap in half before folding it back into the nappy (2). This makes it more absorbent at the front where the majority of a boy’s pee ends up.
The back flap is then folded over the top (3) and a fleece liner (if you are using them) is placed on top (4). I then store my nappies in a drawer like this so they are just ready to take one off the pile and put on when needed.

bumgenius FreetimeThese nappies, like a lot of others, also have laundry tabs which are used to protect the velcro during washing and to stop all your nappies ending up stuck together in one big ball when they come out of the machine.

The Cons

There really aren’t many; I think the bumGenius Freetime is a great all round nappy.  We have only had a couple of very minor leaks from these nappies. Even then it was only a little bit where the moisture had wicked through at the leg seams and really my fault for leaving the nappy on too long! Usually Toby can wear one of these nappies for two or three hours before it needs changing. Because of this I don’t think I would recommend the bumGenius Freetime as a night time nappy unless you want to change nappies as frequently at night as you do during the day.

The Verdict

I would recommend the bumGenius Freetime to anyone whether they are starting out with cloth nappies or are seasoned users. They are especially good for anyone new to cloth nappies (or maybe any reluctant Dads out there!) as they are really just like changing a disposable. The only thing I think that might put you off this nappy in favour of an alternative would be the price.

So, in conclusion, the bumGenius Freetime is a great all-in-one birth-to-potty nappy. It certainly gets my vote.

Four month sleep regression?

Four month sleep regression

Four month sleep regression. Is that even a real thing? I heard about it but naively thought that I have a baby who sleeps, it won’t affect us. Oh how quickly things can change. It was only two weeks ago that I was writing on this very blog, smug as you like, about my wonderful baby who regularly sleeps 14 hours a night.

Then last week Toby had his third set of immunisations. No problem, I thought. He was fine after the first two lots, why should this time be any different? So we put him to bed as usual. And then he woke up and wouldn’t settle until he was fed. Then he woke up again. A cuddle this time and he went back to sleep. Then he woke up again. Another feed, some Calpol, and the snot sucked out of his nose. Back to sleep. Awake again. Dad settled him with a cuddle and a bit of rocking. 5 am. Awake again, a dirty nappy. Another feed. More snot. Eventually back to sleep. Then my alarm goes off. Of all the days, I was going to work for my first Keeping In Touch day!

Suffice to say we had a bit of a bad night. I just thought though that it was a combination of his injections and a cold. So while I went to work Toby had a quiet day at home with his dad. We bought a Calpol plug in vapour thingy and for the next three nights normal service was resumed. But then on Monday night Toby woke at 3:30 am and wouldn’t go back to sleep without a feed. Last night he woke up at 12:30 am and I ended up feeding him again. And he’s been properly hungry, finishing whole bottles. Last night he woke up crying again at about half three but by the time I had got up to go to him he was back asleep again. We are lucky that when he does properly wake up he does tend to go straight back to sleep on his own once he’s been fed so I’m usually only up for about 20 minutes at the most. But it’s 20 minutes I’d rather be in bed! Especially seeing as Toby was kind enough to pass on his cold to me! On the plus side the napping situation has improved quite a lot over the last few weeks and we’re usually getting a decent afternoon nap in now (sometimes both of us!).

So what’s happening? Is it a growth spurt? A sleep regression? A wonder week? Who knows?! Toby does seem to be making more developments at the moment. He sat up on his own without toppling over on Monday. He’s almost found his feet. (He also found his willy getting changed after swimming today!). He’s babbling a lot more than before too. So hopefully this is just a bit of a developmental phase he’s going through and soon things will go back to normal. For now I’m just going to try and go with it. I’m going to try and get some more milk in him during the day, although that’s sometimes easier said than done. Toby can be quite stubborn if he doesn’t want to eat. And if he wakes up in the night hungry I’ll feed him and put him back to bed. I’m reluctant to introduce a dream feed when he was managing fine without before. When we tried it before it never made him sleep any longer anyway and I’m of the mind that waking a baby when you want him to be asleep is just counter-intuitive.

Anyway, any advice or even reassurance that things can get back to normal would be gratefully received at this point. After six weeks of full nights’ sleep all this getting up business really is making for a tired and grumpy mummy!

Smiley baby (The Ordinary Moments #2)

Toby is such a happy, smiley baby (most of the time!) – I love seeing his grinning face every day. It’s so cute how he gives his dad a big smile every evening when we go and pick him up from the train station after work. He smiles a lot for other people too now which is just lovely. I know I’m biased but I really do reckon he’s the cutest baby in town.

Smiley Baby

mummy daddy me

Review: Little Bird Told Me Softly Snail Baby on Board

Baby on Board sign

When we were asked to review this baby on board sign from Little Bird Told Me I was delighted, as the one we have currently has a serious design fault (more on that later) and I was hoping this one would be a better replacement. Little Bird Told Me is a fairly new company selling simple traditionally based toys both online and through selected retailers. They don’t stock a huge range, but looking at the website I’d be happy to buy (or be given!) any of the products that they sell. They’ve got some really lovely rocking horses – if anyone is feeling generous and wondering what Toby would like for Christmas (Nana?)

The Details

There’s not really much you can say about a baby on board sign – it does pretty much what it is supposed to do! It retails at a very reasonable £6 which seems to be the going rate for this style of sign. This one is very well made and lovely colours. It also matches the other ‘Softly Snail’ toys available from Little Bird Told Me.

Baby on Board sign

The Pros 

The sign is big enough to be seen from outside the car. It has stayed firmly stuck to the window since I put it in there last week. And most importantly it doesn’t suffer from the design flaw that our other sign has – that is when this sign is stuck in the window, the text which informs you there is a baby on board faces the outside world. Unlike our other one which, due to the way the sucker is attached, merely lets Toby know he is in the car – just in case he wasn’t sure.

The Cons

None.

The Verdict

I would definitely recommend this sign. Although I haven’t seen any of the other products sold by Little Bird Told Me in the flesh the website is very user-friendly, the products are reasonably priced and there is a good selection available. I like the ethos of the company too – I much prefer more ‘traditional’ toys to battery powered plastic!

 

**Disclaimer: I was sent the Baby on Board sign in order to write this review and was able to keep it. However, all opinions are my own.

A birth story

A birth story

It seems a bit strange to be writing about my birth experience when Toby is already four months old but it seems that a blog primarily about being a mum would be incomplete without a record of how my baby arrived in our family. I am also finding as the weeks and months pass I am forgetting some of what happened so I want to write it down before it disappears from my memory altogether!

I had a straightforward pregnancy really. I had nausea constantly from about week 6 to week 12 but I was only actually sick twice. From about 30 weeks I had quite severe pain in my hips but it came and went and only usually lasted a minute or two when it was there. Other than that I was just really tired, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was still teaching (and on my feet for a lot of the day) right up to 37 weeks. And whereas in some jobs your colleagues might make allowances because you’re pregnant, teenage kids show no such sympathy!

My bump was measuring a couple of centimetres big throughout most of my pregnancy. I got really fed up with everyone asking me if I was sure it wasn’t twins, or telling me I was going to have a massive baby. I’m still not sure how measuring the outside of a bump can be at all accurate or useful – I know some of my bump was definitely due to excessive cake consumption and nothing to do with the size of my baby.

Anyway, to the birth. I had somewhat ill-advisedly decided to work right up until the end of the summer term, which took me to 37 weeks pregnant. I was really glad that the last couple of weeks of term were pretty quiet – I was huge, and knackered! If I had made it to my due date I would have had almost three weeks of summer holiday to relax and prepare myself. As it turned out Toby had different ideas! Eleven days after we broke up was sitting on the sofa with my husband and we were discussing whether we would be able to go to the recording of a comedy TV show which we had tickets for the next day. I got up to go to the loo and just before I got there my waters broke all over the kitchen floor! Decision made.

I wasn’t having any contractions or other signs of labour but after a quick call to the hospital they asked us to go in so I could be monitored. So at 11 pm we made our way to the maternity unit. We were there an hour or so while I was put on a monitor. The baby was doing fine and they could detect some mild contractions but nothing much was happening. The midwife advised us that their policy was to allow 72 hours after waters breaking for labour to start naturally before induction. Apparently after 72 hours there is a much greater risk of infection. So we were sent home with an induction booked for 3 days later and appointments to come in and be monitored on the days in between. I was so weird going home that night thinking that our baby could arrive at any time and would definitely be with us by the weekend.

The next day I was still leaking amniotic fluid but no sign of any contractions so we went back to the hospital in the afternoon as planned. While we were there one of the midwives came and said they were very busy on the day my induction was booked so would I mind being induced the next day instead. Now, I know some women maybe just want to get their baby out as soon as they can but I was keen to avoid an induction if I could help it. They seemed quite put out when I said no and tried to get me to change my mind, telling me I’d have to wait until the evening to come in on the planned induction day but I stood my ground and I’m glad I did. There was no medical reason to induce me earlier than planned, the baby was doing fine and I was only at 38 + 5 weeks so I didn’t want to rush him out if I didn’t need to. So off we went home again for another evening of waiting.

Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long. About 5 am the next day I woke up with a bit of a crampy feeling under my bump and in my back. I quite often woke up feeling a bit sore though so I wasn’t sure whether this was really the start of something. I drifted off back to sleep for another hour but when I woke up again the pain was still there. I decided to get up but told the hubby to stay in bed – if this was the start of labour then he needed as much sleep as he could get. I had some breakfast and watched a bit of TV but over the next hour or so the pains were getting stronger and I decided this was definitely labour. I started using an app on my phone to time the contractions and when they were about six minutes apart rang the hospital. I explained what was happening and they told me I could go in if I wanted but it was probably best if I stayed at home as long as I could. The hubby was up by this point – I had taken some paracetamol (which was doing nothing!) and was kneeling on the floor trying to do the breathing I’d learnt at pregnancy yoga. I think about half an hour after the initial call to the hospital I decided we weren’t waiting at home any more. The contractions were coming every three minutes by this point. The hospital was about half an hour’s drive away and I knew it was only going to get more uncomfortable the longer we waited. So we got our things together and set off.

We arrived at the hospital about 10 am and after settling us in one of the delivery rooms the midwife examined me. I was 3 cm dilated. She also gave me a sweep during the examination to ‘help things along’ and told me it was unlikely we’d see a baby before tea time and they would check me again in four hours. They contractions seemed be coming more frequently and more strongly, I wasn’t sure I could cope with another four hours of that! My birth plan was to try and avoid pain relief if I could; I had wanted to use the birthing pool for my delivery but the midwife explained that because of my waters having gone two days before I would need antibiotics via a drip during the labour to prevent any infection in me or the baby. I couldn’t go in the pool with a cannula in my hand so they would have to take it out then reinsert it a few times during the labour. I’d only had a drip once before and the cannula was really uncomfortable so I didn’t fancy that and decided to abandon the birth pool idea.

The midwife suggested I try getting in the bath instead. After about ten minutes though I gave up on that too – this was in July when we were in the middle of a heat wave. I was too hot in the bath and it wasn’t deep enough to cover my bump anyway. So I got out and tried to find some way of getting comfortable. I eventually found that kneeling up, hanging over the back of the bed seemed to be the most comfortable. It was now about 11:30 am and the contractions seemed to pretty much constant to me. There was no way this baby was waiting until tea time. The hubby had been doing a great job helping me with breathing through the contractions and rubbing my back but the pain was getting unbearable. I had a TENS machine on but that wasn’t doing much apart from giving me a button to push. I needed something stronger so we called for the midwife and got the gas and air hooked up. After that it gets a bit hazy for me – I kind of went into a world of my own, just sucking on the gas and air, occasionally asking for water, and just trying my best to cope with the pain. At some point during this stage I had to turn over on to my back while they put the cannula in my hand. It was excruciating – I have no idea how anyone manages to give birth lying flat on their back!

Anyway, I think maybe an hour passed before I felt the urge to start pushing (although as I think is quite common in labour I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to start pushing the baby out or if I just needed a poo!). ‘Just do what you need to do’ advised the midwife. So I started pushing. The next bit didn’t really take very long. At first the baby’s head would come down then pop back up again after the contraction. Towards the end I had to stop using the gas and air because I was actually doing it so well I was breathing away the contractions. So with a couple more gas-free pushes Toby arrived in the world at 12:58 pm.

It was then a bit of a manoeuvre to turn from kneeling facing the back of the bed to lying down with Toby still attached by the umbilical cord! We managed it though and had immediate skin to skin contact while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating before the hubby cut it. He wasn’t sure if he would want to but then decided he might regret it if he’d had the opportunity but not done it. I had a managed third stage which was over in a few minutes without me really realising and I was massively relieved to have got away with out needing any stitches.

So, I didn’t need my induction after all. From the first twinge to the arrival of our beautiful baby took just eight hours. All the midwives seemed quite surprised at how quickly it had gone. In fact they said if I have another baby I should go to hospital as soon as I feel the first pain of labour because a second baby is likely to arrive even quicker! I never did get my antibiotics either. After they had put the cannula in my hand they didn’t have time to get them prescribed by one of the doctors before Toby was born. So I could have used the birthing pool after all!

I know I was very lucky to have such a straight forward pregnancy and labour. I honestly don’t know how women cope with labours that go on for days! Any longer and I think I would have been begging for an epidural. We spent one night in hospital so Toby could be monitored for infection and then although they were trying to get us to stay another night so we could get breastfeeding properly established I thought we were doing OK and just wanted to go home. So that was it. About 30 hours after we first arrived, we went back home taking our new baby with us.

A birth story

In the news: Paid to breastfeed

My social media has been awash with outrage today over a story that women in a pilot study are going to be ‘paid to breastfeed’. I’m not going to explain the whole thing here; chances are if you’re reading this it’s because you are already aware of the story and the resulting furore. (If not you can read the BBC news story here). It’s worth noting that although this has been a massive story in my timelines today it didn’t even make the main headlines on the BBC News app and was tucked away in the health section.

Anyway, it seems everyone is having their say so I thought I’d get my two penn’eth in while it’s still a hot topic. I’ve already written about my breastfeeding story so I’m not going to go into all the details again but suffice to say I really wanted to breastfeed my son and I would love to still be doing it now.

Would the chance to get £200 of shopping vouchers helped me to carry on? Probably not. I just wasn’t producing enough milk to exclusively breastfeed. Chances are that missing out on the vouchers would just have added to the feeling that I was some how failing my son.

However, would the possibility of me losing those vouchers meant that the midwife would have been less eager to suggest top up formula feeds when my baby was only three days old? Possibly.

Would the very presence of a scheme designed (in whatever misguided way) to encourage me to continue breastfeeding have led to me receiving more support in order to do that? Quite probably.

I think that Becky over at The Laughing Owls made a good point in her post on the matter – it sometimes seems health visitors and midwives are so concerned with a mother’s mental health that they pussyfoot around the issue of breastfeeding rather than providing encouragement and support. I remember repeatedly just being told I needed to do what was best for me, even if that meant stopping breastfeeding altogether, rather than being given encouragement to continue.

I’m sure most people reading this would agree that we would rather see money spent on training midwives and health visitors to better support breastfeeding, or on more specialist support workers, or more peer support groups, than as a direct financial incentive to try and get mothers to breastfeed and I’ll admit my first reaction was to join in the outrage going on all around me…

But this is where I’m going to make my, perhaps controversial, point. It’s a point I’ve not seen made in any of the blogs or comments I’ve read today (although I’ll admit I’ve not read even half of what has been written). You see, in amongst all the outrage I think we might have missed the point. This pilot scheme (and let’s remember it is only a pilot) isn’t aimed at me. It isn’t aimed at all the people who I follow on Twitter or Facebook. It isn’t aimed at women like me who really wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t, or even at women who considered all the pros and cons and then made a perfectly legitimate and informed decision to bottle feed their baby. This scheme is aimed at mothers in (and I quote the BBC) ‘deprived’ areas…

The areas have been chosen because they have such low breastfeeding rates. On average just one in four mothers are breastfeeding by the six- to eight-week mark compared with a national average of 55%.

So, this scheme is aimed at mothers who often don’t even try to breastfeed or if they do then they don’t keep it up for long. And maybe this pilot will show that for these women, a financial incentive, which I’m sure must be coupled with some sort of increased support from the midwives and health visitors who are to monitor the scheme, will help encourage them to breastfeed when otherwise they wouldn’t have done. And in my mind that can’t be a bad thing.