Tag Archives: parenthood

The secret formula

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This week I listened to The Food Program on radio 4. Although radio 4 is probably my most listened to station (that and Planet Rock when there’s a digital radio about) is unusual for me to seek out The Food Program (last time I did was a few years ago when the gin episode was on). Last week’s edition was called The Secret Formula- the subject of the episode all about baby formula- history,  manufacturing process,  ingredients and the law.

I was quite interested to see how they were going to play it and I must admit that overall I found their approach baffling and rather poor. The initial section which talked about low milk prices and why the milk industry especially in Ireland is refocusing their market to look more towards the production of formula was really interesting.  Milk prices are so low,  pushed down by the large conglomerates and supermarkets that farmers are struggling to make any money at all,  but formula is a growing market especially in newly developed and developing countries.

The presenters managed to get a guided tour of a formula production factory which in all honesty despite being the largest section of the programme was a huge waste of the valuable 26 minutes available. The presenter feigned surprise at the sights and conditions of the factory and it’s equipment with a very derogatory stance in regards to the hygiene/health&safety precautions and “all the huge metal storage tanks and tubes”. Whilst I’d be the first to raise a wry smile at the complicated process that goes into replicating breastmilk (the process of which we don’t have to concern ourselves with), my limited knowledge and experience of processed food production would suggest that both the above parts off the presenters experience were entirely normal. To top this off more minutes from the program were used up on listening to a protective suit being donned.

The presenters next looked at a potted history of baby foods and early “formula”. This part was particularly interesting but fell short of describing the changes in advice on weaning in the last 50 years or so or explaining why early “formulas” of mashed up bread and milk are now known to be unsuitable for children. I wonder if this was partially to appease the likely listener-ship of a radio four programme. Advice and info changes so regularly that is possible they didn’t want to alienate listeners who may have been parents of babies 20 to 80 years ago, and who very likely did some of the things that are now  frowned upon.

The part I found most fascinating covered law and regulation around formula production and how it is regulated. Although I felt I already knew  a reasonable amount on this subject I was pleased that the expert suggested how the rules could be changed in the future-including banning formula production companies from advertising any formula milk below one year and a ban on “follow on milks”. These follow on milks are not necessary and have been thought up by formula producing companies to get around the current legislation which states that formula cannot be advertised nor be on special offer aimed at babies under six months old.

Finally the piece spoke to a small group of mothers with formula fed babies. Whilst is unfair of me to judge anything that was said by those individuals,  it was interesting to see how marketing and celebrity had affected their decisions around which brand of formula to use.  When I think about my own friends, their decisions for what formula to chose was usually based on where they shopped and which ones their babies seemed to get on with best.

It got me thinking though about why the programs left me feeling cold. I felt like there was a lot that could have been said in a professional, factual and impartial way about formula production, the companies that produce it and the risks and problems associated with it. However instead the programme content was neutral but the tone was sniffy and judgemental as if in in lieu of actually being able to say anything factually correct but potentially negative about formula.

I appreciate this was not a programme about breastfeeding. However I feel it’s almost impossible to talk about formula without the context of breastfeeding and I don’t think this was addressed very clearly. Try harder please Radio 4.

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The exact expected rollercoaster ride

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This is so what I was expecting!
Sleeping and eating
These babies are amazing, they really know (instinctively) how to push your buttons and what your absolute limit of exhaustion and being able to cope is. Then they show you how wonderful they are and you forgive them…. until the next time!

We have had some really shocking nights. We’ll do a feed around 10 or 11pm, then put the baby down. On these bad nights, he tends to settle quite well initially. Then around 1am he wakes up and that is it until half past five in the morning. He will feed, burp, posset, cry, wriggle, feed….. etc etc for 4 1/2 hours. Sometimes he sounds frustrated and really does have tantrums, other times he just grizzles and moans. A couple of nights like that in a row are very hard to cope with, and he tends to seem to push right to the limit, then have a sudden good night to surprise us!

Last night was his best night ever (after a rocky start). He “cluster fed” (as above) on and off from about 7pm until 11:30pm, then he finally fell asleep. The next thing we knew, it was 4am! That is officially his longest ever night time sleep since we started feeding on demand. Once he went down, he then didn’t awake again until just before nine. What a hero! He even was chilled out enough to let me go off and express some milk this morning.

It also seems the cluster feeding is working. I believe the idea of it (isn’t apparently to make me tired!!) is to help increase my supply- and it really seems to have done that. I expressed 120ml (which is a whole feed) in about 15 minutes this morning! Very efficient! And had enough left to feed him straight after and he’s still settled 2 hours later. Amazing.

I know this is unlikely to last and just as we get complacent, he’ll revet back. However, it’s so welcome to get just that little bit more sleep. I feel so so human. I even went into deep sleep and dreamt last night- for the first time in 5 weeks!

On the bottle
One of our aims now is to get baby taking a bottle of expressed milk. This is not only to make my nights a bit more pleasant and to mean that if needs be, I can actually go out when a feed is due, it also is really important to help daddy (and potentially others like grandparents and uncles/aunts) bond with baby too.

Thursday we tried a bit of milk from the bottle and baby was having none of it. We know that he DID know how to take a bottle during weeks 1 and 2 whilst we were trying to get him feeding better but it seems he had forgotten/ prefers the breast. Baby did not play ball- daddy was downstairs trying to feed him and I was upstairs trying to grab a nap… Eventually daddy brought him up, and he then took the milk whilst I was in the room (then I BF him after).

On Friday night, I went out. This was every bit as terrifying as I thought it would be. I was an hour late due to baby needing a feed (a long one) and sicking up a lot of the feed, then after I had been out an hour, poor daddy sent me a text to say he was putting the baby in the sling and coming up to see me to help baby sleep. Baby was refusing the expressed milk and screaming, so the sling was the only option. It worked! Baby slept like a dream in the sling. And I got to walk home with daddy and baby which was nice. 90 mins out was better than nothing!

Last night, we had a bottle of expressed milk ready to do, and then with the evening cluster feed, we never got around to using it. Excepting the baby to wake up about 1am ish, we said that daddy could do the next feed. So at 4am, baby got the expressed milk. He wasn’t super- keen on taking it and grizzled a bit but superdaddy persevered and got it all in him. Baby didn’t fall asleep so I gave him a little breast and after that he slept well.

We will keep persevering with this!

A LOT of text- apologies. Have a picture!

Hurrah
All the ladies from the Mumsnet Sept 2013 due date thread have now had their babies so we had a mass-celebration friday/ sat night (to suit). We all had a glass of champagne (or other favourite tipple) and posted a picture onto our facebook group to celebrate. I, and another lady also put together some fun awards to the gang- I really enjoyed it! What a lovely bunch of ladies!

Celebrate

4 weeks

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I feel very remiss, it’s hard to keep up with blogs! It does’t help that I have a number of blogs- personal, photography, cycling, charity and this one! Keeps me busy.

So baby is 4 weeks old today!

What is there to say?
Weight
He gets weighed on Thursday for the first time since he was 15 days old. Birth weight was 3.7kg (8lb 3oz), he only lost a very small amount and was back up to 3.5kg (8lb), and then by 15 days was up to 4.1kg (9lb). So it should be interesting! I think he is feeding well, he feels heavier each day and looks like he’s getting longer if not fatter!

Feeding
Baby has totally got the hang of breast feeding and is doing brilliantly. He hasn’t had any formula at all since….. week one(?) and he’s had one expressed bottle in the last couple of weeks when I needed to get some sleep and he wasn’t latching on well. I’m really pleased that we persevered through sleepless screaming sessions and got him feeding properly, makes me tear up with excitement to think about it!

Had our first proper public feed in a coffee shop very discreetly in town on Saturday and that felt great. I felt sorry for the poor teenage boy serving our drinks who didn’t know where to look, but I am very much of the opinion (or should I say “safe in the knowledge” that it’s an entirely normal and natural thing to be doing, and I have no embarassment around it.

Sleep
Sleep patterns are not discernable yet (no surprises). We have good and bad nights and good and bad days, which is no surprise at all to me. I have no urge to make him have a routine just let- I’m happy to let him be a baby.

On a good night he feeds about 10pm, 1am, 4am and 7:30am ish for about 15-40 minutes at a time. He doesn’t like to sleep in his moses basket straight away so he needs to be cuddled or lie on the bed next to me for a while before he’s ready to be put down to sleep. This means I get 4-5 hours sleep if I’m lucky in slots of 90 mins or so. This is ok! I can do that!

On a bad night- who knows?! We had a few colic (?) nights where he refused to sleep until about 4am, and then has had at least one other night where he woke at 1am and didn’t go back to sleep until 5:30 am with lots of crying and screaming inbetween.

Me
I’m doing ok. I really am. This surprises me a little but then I’d like to think that:
a) We came into this with realistic expectations about parenthood
and
b) I have a generally quite positive attitude which helps me through

It helps having a wonderful hands-on husband who helps me out, praises my (small) accomplishments and understands when I’m a bit craggy.

Us
I think we’re pretty ok too. The above helps. A lot. We are communicating well, even when tired and grumpy. We are taking our fair share where we can, and doing what we can when we can. We’re trying not to stretch ourselves too thin and to share things where possible.

Typical week
Although there’s little pattern or routine, now Mr Bumpy has gone back to work, there’s certain things I make sure I do. I always:
shower and get dressed (which is funny as I didn’t used to worry about this when I worked from home, had a day off or at weekends)
sort the kitchen out to some presentable standard sometime during the day
leave the house– just for fresh air. Any kind. Trip to the shops or whatever.
meet someone/ have a guest every week day. Anyone!

It’s definitely helping keep me sane!

Weekends are a little free-forming still- we are yet to organise those, but they’ve been ok!

He’s brilliant, even with the lows, the highs are just amazing. People forget to tell you that 🙂

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