Saturday, 25 June 2011

What's a guy to do?

I don't know how she told you.  Perhaps you came home and the table was set with a beautiful meal and wrapped in your napkin were a pair of knitted bootees (yes, clearly my mind is on a very old TV commercial).  Perhaps you were pacing outside a bathroom whilst she peed on a stick.  Perhaps she called you at work.  But now you know.  She's PREGNANT!

So, what do you do?  Run screaming for the hills?  Jump up and down in jubilation? Sit down with a stiff drink? Weep with joy?  Well it almost (note almost - the hills thing… not so good) doesn't matter what you think, say or do in that moment, but a top tip… let joy and jubilation be a major part of it! You're going to be a father.

How are you going to support your partner through this pregnancy?  And has your mind wandered towards the birth yet?  And then… oh yes… there's more.  What about when the baby is born?  Parenting!

Okay, one step at a time.  Pregnancy!

There is a temptation to Google and to Google a lot!  Try not to give in to it.  Find some good research based evidence.  And when you talk about birth and labour, try not to listen to the 'horror' stories.  Tell those people that you would love to hear their stories, but not until you have one of your own to share.  The guy at work will have lots to share.  You might not want to hear it all.

She may or may not have 'cravings' or like me.. just go off things.  It might involve the odd midnight dash to that particular bakery/deli/burger bar/bagel shop.  She may eat things that you never want to remember her eating.  Go with the flow my friend.  Make sure she eats, drinks and rests during her pregnancy.  She's not ill, but her body is working hard.

Don't ignore the antenatal classes.  Choose them together.  Go to one that keeps men in the breastfeeding sessions.  You need to know so that you can support her and be her gatekeeper.

Next step.  Birth!

It’s not as easy as it sounds.  Sometimes you'll need to step up and get on with the job at hand and not think about how squeamish you may or may not feel.   Sometimes people say “Well it’s not as if he had to do anything” but let’s think about what you do.  It’s a big job.  It can affect you physically and emotionally.  Whilst Mum is labouring away and not wanting to eat (and Mum should eat) you might feel that you can’t or shouldn’t.  Big mistake.  No one wants a partner who has passed out due to exhaustion and lack of food and water.  Be sure to look after your own needs (remember the oxygen on the aeroplane analogy).  Eat, drink, go to the bathroom.  Oh and when you eat, her sense of smell is heightened, be wise with your food choices.

Then she will want you to massage her, to touch her, to hug her, to kiss her and as you lean in and your hands make contact with her body she may wrench away from you and ask you in no uncertain terms what the hell you think you’re doing!  When she wants a massage you may feel that you’re tired, you just need a rest, but you know she needs you so you press on.  Then she tells you to stop and leave her alone and now you feel rejected.  Take it on a moment by moment basis.  It’s nothing personal.  What she appreciates most is your presence.  Your partner's strength during labour may surprise you, but you may also be confused by some of her reactions, which can include despair, irritability and even hostility. Keep your sense of humour but check your ego in at the door!

So what happens if she gets to place where she feels she can’t go on? 

Look her in the eye. This may help her refocus.  She’ll know that you care and that you are committed to this.  Keep your talking/jokes etc to a minimum.  Let her go into herself and into her “zone”.  Remember the thinking part of the brain closes off during labour and it becomes an instinctual, primeval thing.  A nice firm touch or massage, maybe a hug show her love and can warm her up if she’s cold and shivering.  When she gets to the point where she thinks she can't do any more, tell her you love her and you're proud of her and how amazing she is.  It's hard because all you may want to do is to grab as much pain relief for her as possible.

And the next step?  I'm going to talk about the days after the birth.

This is where you will come into your own. The Midwife will only come to visit a few times. The phone will ring, almost incessantly, as friends and family want to share your joy. But this is your time to allow yourselves to become a new family. Take time to make sure your partner goes back to bed. Make sure she is fed and watered. She will be tired and so food may not be something she thinks about too often.

She has done an amazing thing and your family has increased. Take time to enjoy them, but remember to look after yourself as well.  Send her to bed as often as you can. When the baby sleeps, she should sleep. new parents often worry about what will happen to the baby whilst they sleep. So, after sending Mum to bed, spend time holding your baby, or simply watching your baby sleep. Week six seems to be the peak of tiredness postnatally. If you ensure her to rest in the beginning, she is less likely to fall into total exhaustion. Encourage her to bank her rest. Make no decisions in the middle of the night.  

You are your family's gatekeeper. You may want to consider leaving a message on the answer phone letting people know that all is well and that you will call them back in a few days. Perhaps you might ask relatives to put off their visits until you have found your feet as a family. You can ask that family and friends bring food and tidy or take away the dishes. It's also worth considering having an" open afternoon/evening" where you invite everyone around for a couple of hours and lock the door behind them afterwards (don't forget to have someone on tidy up duty). Then when they are all gone, turn the phones off and go to bed.  Remember what you learned in the Breastfeeding class.  Encourage your partner, especially in the middle of the night when she's at her most vulnerable. Know when to call for help. Keep that list of breastfeeding support lines and Lactation Consultants in your phone and on the fridge. Whenever she sits down to nurse the baby(ies) make sure she has water. Put a plate of snacks beside her Massage her shoulders, tell her what a wonderful job she is doing. Protect her from anyone who tells her she can't do it, including your mothers.

As to the parenting... well only you two know how you want to raise your children. Everyone will have theories but only you two will know what works for you too. Look to your instincts.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Keeping abreast of the matter

I want to talk about a view boys have of breasts and how I feel it affects breastfeeding!  

This example that I'm about to share contains language I wouldn't ordinarily use, but in order for the story to sound 'right', I've had to keep the original phrase.

I read a story on a parenting forum about a woman breastfeeding in the local coffee shop.  There were many breastfeeding mums in that day.  Two young lads walked in and the first said, "Blimey mate, look at all them tits", to which the second lad said "Don't be silly mate, them's feeding tits, not w***ing tits'.

Now I've been thinking about this a lot just recently.  I have an 18 year old son (Number One Son) and a 7 year old son (Wee Weapon 2/Boy Child).  Getting Number One Son to 18 has been no easy task.  We have had talks about sex, pornography and all the relevant in between conversations.  So as you can imagine boys and breasts are something that I'm relatively familiar with and it seems to me that for some, the whole breast issue is a minefield.

I was out to dinner with some friends when one of them told me that she was concerned about the images that her son was seeing on my Facebook page.  Now as far as I remember, I had no nude shots on it and I'm reasonably sure that there are no "ooh drunken Doula not on call" shots.  Her concern was the amount of breasts that her 15 year old son was seeing on my page.  Now I've looked through my page/my wall/my links etc etc and I don't see anything perverted there.  And so of course the initial story flew back into my  head.  

There are a lot of sexual images out there for young boys (yes, I'm aware of the imagery for girls, but at the moment I'm talking boys… oh man, I'm going to have to write again on the subject of girls.  I have three girls!).  Young boys, old boys, men, all of us, have breasts thrust at us from every angle.  Want to advertise a car?  A nice buxom woman reclining on the bonnet should do the trick.  Want to advertise perfume?  Let's have a beautiful  young woman strip as she walks towards the camera.  Want to advertise aftershave?  A couple of squirts and women will throw their clothes off.  At least the Wonderbra ad was advertising bras and so one might reasonably expect to see bosoms.  Perhaps the "Hello boys" was little more than an invitation to 'dive right in' but hey, if we're going to advertise women's products to women, we must make sure that they will become more attractive to men.  And so, our little boys grow up knowing that 'tits and arse' are what they should expect and the idea that a woman's breasts might not primarily be there for a man's pleasure comes as a bit of a shock.  

Facebook, of course, does not help here.  Pretty much every day another account and/or page is deleted for 'obscene imagery'.  Pole dancing is fine.  Breast enlargement is fine.  In fact pretty much every image of breasts is fine until there is a baby nursing from them.  Comments from Joe Public aren't always good/kind/helpful.  Shock horror reverberates through people when they realise that a baby is about to be or is being fed.  Summer will be interesting.  All the spaghetti tops will be out, the low hips, low necklines and highly visible breasts.  There will be many photos on Facebook that will cause excitement and pleasure.  But a feeding baby, well that's really rather disgusting.  Imagine using the breasts as they were intended.  Feeding tits!

One of my very lovely twin mums

Saturday, 4 June 2011

When Doula-lly went Dou-la-la!

There's a blog that I've been enjoying and she asked if I wanted to do a guest blog for her.  Well of course you know how much I have to say.  So I wasn't going to say no now was I? 

The blog is Dou-la-la and here is my guest post.  Once you've finished with that, why not browse through her blog and see what she has to say.  It's well worth it.

Happy Saturday people! 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Whizz pop bang! (A brave new world)

Isn't it funny how many gadgets we need to do our daily bits and pieces?  And how wonderful of Nestle to decide to help us out in an area where we clearly cannot manage.  No need to train Midwives in breastfeeding support, or to lead breastfeeding workshops.  No need for those pesky private antenatal classes where Mum might learn how to initiate and maintain breastfeeding.  No need for those Lactation Consultants, Breastfeeding Peer Supporters and Counsellors.

No no.  The kind and generous Nestle have decide to provide the first, ultimate, complete, nutrition device.  It will only set you back a zillion pounds/dollars/[insert currency] for the initial outlay and then those nifty, convenient little capsules will simply cost pounds/dollars/[insert currency] more than those bulky great tins.  I wonder of course if there is space on those teeny tiny capsules to remind the 'makers up' of this formula that the product is not sterile and therefore the water needs to be heated safely.  Of course they have been ever so kind as to provide water filters to prevent those nasty bacteria from entering the water.  Phew!  For a moment there I thought the freshly-made-up-at-the-touch-of-a-button formula might no longer be sterile… but… wait!  Let me think about that.  Just for a moment, a mere nanosecond.  Nope.  Still not working.  Definitely need to heat that water up to 70+ degrees.  Hmmm…. but this product promises formula made up and good to go in less than a minute.  <searches publicity photos for the cooling unit, sees none but assumes that the lovely Nestle will have taken care of that minor detail>

This world we live in is making us more and more dependant on the gadgets and gizmos.  I may reveal my age when I hark, with unashamed nostalgia and rose-tinted classes, back to the days of 'The Good Life'.  I confess.  I have been planning to grow my own veg for about 8 years now and as soon as the planning stage is over, I shall move straight into action.

But I do worry.  I worry that we leave our children the legacy of 'the button'.  Just push this button and that will happen.  Push the other and something else will happen.  Alongside 'the button' will be the pill.  Too fat?  Pop a pill.  Got Gestational Diabetes?  Pop a pill.  Got Morning Sickness?  Pop a pill.  Oh hang on, did that… Thalidomide anyone?  

It's all about making it easier.  I'm writing on a train, but I'm not using trusty pen and paper (train is far too jerky for that :excuses:).  I am using my laptop.  I can connect to the internet should I wish.  I could do an online shop and have the food delivered in time for my return home in a couple of days.  I could blog!  I have my smart phone in my lap.  I can Facebook and Skype and email and call.  It is all so easy now.  And there is the dichotomy.  I love that it is all so easy now.  I pooh-poohed the Smart phone.  Who needs the internet on their phones?  Why would you need access to your email? Please excuse me whilst I book a shopping delivery.  

I don't, however, understand how getting up out of my lovely warm bed in the middle of the night to hit a button would have made life easier for me.  It would still be cold in the kitchen and that wouldn't do.  I like the warmth of my bed too much.  It was one of the reasons why breastfeeding seemed the perfect choice for me.  My ultimate, complete, nutrition system, which pre-dates the BabyNes by Millennia, worked very well.  I remained in my warm and cosy bed, happily feeding my children.  

When we consider the forethought and benevolence of Nestle, we should try to remember that yes, it is being made easier for us.  Easier to fill their ever deepening coffers.  Easier for them to flout the WHO Code with our permission.  The late great Martin Luther King said "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.".  Are we happy to stand by and let it be or is it simply just a convenient thing for others and we shouldn't begrudge them the chance to make their lives easier?

Nestle, the great equaliser. Nestle see the poverty divide and makes a machine to ensure even the most affluent households can have unsafe baby formula.

Nestle's 'wonderful' new gadget