To breastfeed or not to breastfeed: money is not the question

IMG_3339

Well it’s been a while since I had time to blog – turns out the early months when they fall asleep every hour wherever you left them, even if only for 20 mins, is the easy bit and when they’re awake for hours they need constant entertainment, and feeding, visiting doctors because they’ve got a peculiar rash or their poo looks funny and settling for naps etc and there’s v little time for doing the washing and cleaning your own teeth let alone pontificating online!

Anyway the latest news that mothers from deprived neighbourhoods in Sheffield are going to be paid to breastfeed in a new trial has got my rant hackles rising again – potentially causing controversy with some of my friends, but applause from others who feel guilty they weren’t able to manage this apparently-hallowed experience of nourishing their baby from their own bosom.

First things first: I did breastfeed for six months. I hadn’t been sure I wanted to, worrying I’d find it ‘icky’ but I gave it a go and after a few false starts Evelyn got the hang of it (I’m not sure I ever did!) and it wasn’t as unpleasant as I’d thought. I did found it hard though and extremely stressful. Evelyn was always too inquisitive to see what was behind her and often too impatient to have a full feed and I found it difficult to not worry when she wouldn’t feed and trust she’d get what she needed. I has mastitis twice. I was shouted at by an imbecile in a cafe for being ‘disgusting’ and ‘offensive’ for feeding my baby in public (rant hackles rose then too and an argue not ensued). I never found it a nirvana-like experience as some claim. And yes I think I bloody well deserve a medal for it and I was glad to see the back of it if I’m honest – though I’m still a little sad I didn’t get to have one last nice feed because the last few were such a struggle that the transition to bottle happened much more speedily than I’d planned.

And I totally ‘get’ the push to encourage more women to breastfeed. I buy into the breast is best theory. I really do. But I don’t buy that formula is the devil’s food. I know that formula producers have a reputation for underhand marketing methods in third world countries, and yes it is abhorrent to push breast milk substitute onto populations who can ill-afford it and have a free, more nutritious source, available in their own breasts. But we are not in a third world country and that doesn’t make formula itself bad for those who willingly choose it for whatever reason – from they don’t like the idea of breastfeedng to they physically aren’t able to.

I do believe that breastfeedng should be encouraged, but there is a whole world of difference between encourage and push down people’s throats to the exclusion of any other sensible advice.

I am middle class and in my social circles breastfeedng is probably the norm. I certainly felt pressure to breastfeed and was the only person in my NCT group to admit that I wasn’t sure I wanted to, even if others found it wasn’t for them when it came to the reality. Most mothers I know at least tried it. But many failed for various reasons – lack of supply, plagued by blocked ducts and mastitis, babies not thriving etc. Others gave up before six months because they had to go back to work or were afraid to leave their house in case their baby needed a feed in public. I was publicly humiliated and shouted at by one imbecile, and alternately congratulated by a lovely well-meaning lady in Waterloo station (needs must with a wailing baby) but really I’d have rather been ignored so I could pretend everything was normal and I was just waiting for a train. There are countless reasons why women don’t breastfeed or give up. And the trend seems to be to castigate women for not being Mother Earth once we have babies – even if for our non-child-bearing years we’ve been expected to live up to entirely different ideals. I even feel guilty having made the celebrated six-month mark that I went onto bottles – I now feel the urge to shout at strangers in cafes that I did breastfeed her until she was six-months! Ludicrous. There really should be more balance.

My experience was that not one midwife or health professional would offer any advice whatsoever on formula feeding, so scared were they of not toeing the party line of ‘breast is best’. There is next to no information about combination feeding – a valid choice for many who may want to breastfeed but aren’t always able to or who want to continue some breastfeeding when they return to work for example, but for whom expressing isn’t practical (it takes bloody ages and even I in my privileged position of being able to take a year off work couldn’t muster the enthusiasm or the time to do it for long). As a result of this ‘oh that would be a decision for you, we can’t advise you to give top-ups’ attitude when I sought advice for my poorly jaundiced – and it turned out starving because my milk didn’t come in properly for five days – five-day-old daughter resulted in her being hospitalised and nearly requiring a full blood exchange. Of course as soon as doctors get in the picture, out come the formula bottles and the road to recovery – and you feel like a failure because all the advice and literature is shouting ‘breast, breast, breast’ and you ignored your own entirely sensible instinct.

So I don’t think offering monetary reward to mothers in demographics less likely to breastfeed is the answer at all. There are a million and one other things that £200 could help those families with that would have a greater impact on their wellbeing rather than demonising formula feeding even further.

Or perhaps that money could be spent on providing better practical and professional support actually in hospitals to get people started breastfeedng (what little help I received felt like assault and I didn’t see a breast-feeding specialist at all in my two-day stay ); or in providing better help once you go home (breastfeedng cafes – you must be joking, I couldn’t get myself out of the house for a trip to the shops for months let alone for a one hour slot the other side of town!); or educating idiots like the imbecile who verbally abused me, or the cafe owners who stood by and did nothing while he did it, so that people don’t feel ashamed or intimidated to get their norks out in public for feeding.

Or maybe they could just train midwives to have a more balanced approach to providing advice to new mothers when they’re at their most vulnerable and lost and haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. Maybe that would help all mothers feel just a little bit more supported, and a little bit happier whatever decision they come to regarding feeding. Just maybe.

Everyday sexism and how to be a mam, not a mum?

photo-19

Just chillin’

So I’ve been reading this morning about the furore about John Inverdale’s comments about Marion Bartoli’s looks, and getting involved in a bit of debate on facebook about whether they matter. I also say a twitter post last night where someone was highlighting the thoroughly hateful things people were saying about Bartoli, none of them related to her ability to play tennis – which is clearly astounding to someone like me who can barely walk up the hill from the train station without wanting to pause for a rest (I’m blaming pregnancy weight yet to be lost btw – it wasn’t always thus, though it is a long steep hill!).

Anyway so there are some who think Inverdale didn’t mean any offence (which I’m sure he didn’t – he seems a nice enough chap) and that he was actually highlighting the fact that you don’t need to be good looking in order the achieve great success. However I have big problems with this.

It’s not whether he intended to, or indeed did, cause offence that’s the problem: it’s the fact that comments such as this, along with millions of other examples of everyday sexism, all add up and contribute to women growing up with a corrosive self image because they believe (sorry – are correctly aware) that society judges them on their looks first and their ability second.

While I can have some sympathy with the intent to illustrate that you don’t need supermodel looks to achieve success, what Inverdale’s comments actually imply is a) that looks would be a better/easier/preferable route to success; b) the only way to overcome the ‘misfortune’ or not being ‘a looker’ (his words) is through hard work and determination; and c) she has achieved this great thing despite her looks. None of these hold positive connotations for women in the slightest. In fact her looks have absolutely nothing to do with her success or otherwise.

Using Caitlin Moran’s yardstick for whether something is sexist – i.e. do men have to put up with this? – you would never hear a commentator say (searches madly for the name of an unattractive male tennis player and fails …) ‘x isn’t much of a looker but look at his serve’ or ‘Federer has got the looks and the backhand to match, no wonder he’s a winner’. Even Wayne Rooney escaped unscathed by comments about his appearance when his footballing skills are being reported.

Aside from all that Bartoli has hardly been hit with the ugly stick anyway – she’s perfectly normal looking. She’s not a model, therefore her looks have nothing to do with her job and shouldn’t be comment-able.

So, some people argue it’s a small point, Inverdale didn’t mean offence, get over it (possibly even followed with some quip about ‘militant’ or ‘aggressive’ feminists) but actually it isn’t until we start tackling the small stuff that we begin to make it clear that it isn’t acceptable, and that we start to make a difference to how women are perceived in society. If it remains all invasive and ‘it’s just a bit of fun, don’t take it so seriously’, then it stays pervasive and it sneaks its way into our subconscious and we stop noticing it but the bigger problem is all the while slowly growing. And the fact that so many people took to twitter yesterday and thought it was acceptable or fun to say such horrific things and outdo each other about Bartloi – people who had clearly tuned in to watch the tennis and were presumably therefore tennis fans rather than social commentators – just proves that.

So I don’t think Inverdale should lose his job, but it is right he was asked to apologise and it does matter what we say and how we describe each other.

Which leads me to a less contentious issue that’s been perplexing me since Eve was born: how do I become a mam, not a mum? I’m from the north east originally but now live in London. My mother has always been and always will be my mam. That’s what she’s called. When I accidentally call my husband’s mother his mam, it sounds wrong because she’s his mum and always has been. No one can rename someone’s mother.

But where I come from only posh people had mums. i know that’s not true of the rest of the country, but ‘oop north’ only the posh public school kids in Jesmond at mums. The really posh ones had mummies.

So while I’m happy to be referred to as a mum by others, I secretly want Eve to call me mam (er obviously when she’s old enough to say anything other than just making dolphin noises – current noise of the moment!). But she’s going to grow up in london, where everyone calls their mothers mum. What to do? Do I just give in to the inevitability that I’m be a mum or strive to instil in her that while everyone else’s mum is a mum, I’m a mam? One thing’s for sure – I won’t tolerate being a mummy! You can be a mummy when your child is a toddler, yes, but past a certain age it’s a no no – adults still going round calling their mother mummy, you have been warned!

In pursuit of a night’s sleep …

photo-17

Catching a quick 40 winks …

At the risk of offending some of my friends, who may potentially hold strong views on such things, two things I’ve read recently have incensed me. Both concern the supposed barbarity of controlled crying. A Guardian article http://tinyurl.com/cztmkpy and a chapter in the book ‘What Mothers Do: especially when it looks like nothing’.

I should start by explaining that I have never had to try controlled crying (yet!) so I’m not trying to justify my own actions or philosophy. I am lucky in that I have a relatively contented baby (touch wood and all that) who cries rarely and mainly for one of four reasons – she’s hungry, tired, or struggling with wind or reflux. Two of those are fairly easily solved – one more so than the other – and the other two I can do little other than to provide cuddles and comfort until she’s through it. She settles relatively easily at night, wakes once or twice for feeds – sometimes with difficulty to resettle, and struggles with daytime naps. But I am aware that I am lucky – her temperament is little to do with my mothering skills and more to do with nature. And all could change in a heartbeat as is the wont of babies (so I’m learning). I was a very sleepy baby and was categorically not left to cry myself to sleep – I’m still never happier than when I’m asleep and my nickname to those that know me well is the sleepie tortoise – but my brother didn’t sleep at night for the first two years of his life and I have friends from both sides of the argument, some of whom are still struggling with desperately difficult evenings with a screaming baby for hours until they can collapse exhausted into their own beds. So I can appreciate how it is a viable choice for others.

Which is why I get so incensed by the judgementality of pieces like the Guardian article which is critical of our desire for routine and those who choose controlled crying to achieve this. The fact that other societies and civilisations have a different approach to childcare of young babies and are able to adapt their lives 100% around the needs of their newborn, changing their own sleep patterns to accommodate those of their child and spending every waking minute holding and cuddling their baby, does not change the fact that our culture does not. Our society is built around structure and routine like it or not. So in order for mothers to continue to be members of that society – something which most of us don’t have the opportunity to opt out of – then the way we bring up and care for our children will obviously be within that framework.

Most women either have to, from economic necessity, or want to return to work at some point after having children, or have other children to look after or other commitments so it is only a matter of time before babies will be faced with at least some routine and structure in their life as a result: who can blame mothers who choose to attempt to introduce them to it early in life to avoid potential upset and battle further down the line – possibly at a point when a child is more likely to remember the abrupt change. Even those who have the option to not return to their old work,may need to have some form of routine. Not everyone has the luxury of entirely going with the flow, even if we all need to sometimes.

But what incensed me the most was labelling women who choose controlled crying as victims! As mothers we are many things – confused, under-confident, uncertain, caring, struggling, competent, nurturing, confident, naturals etc etc, the list is as endless as the myriad of personalities of mothers and parenting styles – but please don’t label us victims over a choice we make! We are bombarded with various theories, experts, books, Internet forums, opinions all spouting a different view, and we are constantly working out what is best for our own individual baby, making choices, changing our minds, monitoring the impact etc. Please don’t call us victims because we’ve assessed the options for every minute decision we make, listened to the arguments for and against, analysed whether we think it could work for us and our baby and made a reasoned choice, weighing up the pros and cons, and given it a go. We’ve made a choice and a decision. We are not victims just because others disagree with that course of action.

I should point out that the chapter in ‘What Mothers Do’ wasn’t nearly  so judgemental though was definitely coming from a biased angle. My main bone of contention was the assertion that mothers are distressed by leaving a baby to cry purely because they were left to cry themselves as babies. Well I know that I was not left to cry. But I would still find it difficult to leave my daughter to cry at night – because I’m a mother and it is extremely difficult to hear your child cry and not comfort them. Of course it is a difficult choice to make – but it is also difficult to have a crying child that won’t sleep night after night no matter what you try, or who will only sleep if you take them out in the car every night, or will only sleep on top of you every night if you’re concerned about co-sleeping or after hours of rocking. There are no easy choices. Feeling judged for the choice you make – whatever it is, from co-sleeping to controlled crying – is unhelpful for parents (and let’s not forget it’s not just mothers here, though they do seem more often the ones criticised and expected to make all the adjusting) in navigating their way through the minefield of ‘what’s best?’.

While we all as mothers have to reassess and adapt our lives for our new role, having our choices criticised, judged and disrespected does little to acknowledge the difficult job we’re all doing. Unless the whole framework of our society can be turned on its head – and I don’t see anyone calling for this, nor can I imagine there are many regressives left who would be calling for a return to the 1950s (or indeed the 60s, 70s and much of the 80s) where women didn’t have choices and their only option was to give up any career – if they had one at all – to be the sole childcarer – then women will continue to choose what they think is the best option for them AND their baby. There will always be debate – healthy I think – on the best way to raise a child and so it should be. Just take the judgement out!

While there are countless problems with today’s society that I cold harp on about endlessly, I don’t see that we’re raising a society entirely filled with ill-adjusted sociopaths as a result! Regardless of which option we chose.

11lb 4: sanity level – marginally bonkers. Thank ‘insert relevant deity’ for Gok Wan and Kellymom

photo-16

Just resting my eyes, honest …

I’m not reading any more of the books: I’ve had it with them. They all make me feel inadequate as my baby doesn’t ‘conform’. Goddam it why hasn’t she read the books and know what she’s supposed to be doing???? As soon as I think we have a pattern or routine in the making she bloody changes her mind – and then I go out and panic in M&S that she’s due a feed but is still asleep or she randomly decides she wants a feed after an hour and everything falls apart anyway or it’s bloody hot and sunny and I worry she’ll get dehydrated so don’t want to leave her too long without a feed or she stops bloody falling asleep for her morning nap without being rocked in her Moses basket (which is about a centimetre away from being too small for her already!) having hitherto dropped off happily in her chair (oh the false sense of security!). And they all contradict each other anyway – 4 hour feeds or 3, dream feed or not, regular daytime naps or no naps after 4pm. All far too stressful! Managing a global multi-million pound budget is a breeze by comparison! So that’s it – the books are going on the bookcase (ok a pile on the floor) and staying shut. No really they are. Honestly. For now. For today. Until I just want to check what that weird spot on her tummy might be.

Next I’ll stop googling things! Last week’s obsession was whether my nipples are lipstick-shaped after feeding – who knew to even consider this without Doctor Google? My conclusion – no idea but she seems happy and is putting on weight and my nipples don’t hurt so who cares. Annoyingly google does occasionally throw up something helpful which does keep you going back for more like every bad relationship! Today I found an excellent site (kellymom) on breast feeding positions to try to help with reflux – hopefully helpful this evening having been awake from 4.30am this morning unable to put Eve down without her squirming in discomfort and projectile vomiting (though I realised I forgot to give her Gaviscon before bed last night and we should be giving her double the dose now she’s a big fatty which doesn’t help). The site also revealed it can peak at 2-4 months and that being on her left side, rather than right (we’ve had her on her side in a wedge for a while now to help the reflux issue but swap sides each week to prevent flat head!) is better – which may explain why she’s been worse this week when we thought she was showing signs of improvement. I feel like I’ve constantly had the washing machine on for a running supply of bedding and PJs for us both (delightful incident at 2am earlier this week where I had to wake husband to strip our bed, myself and her from the latest soaking). And I confess that despite the lovely weather this week I stuffed it all in the tumble dryer anyway instead of on the line cos it was quicker and easier (let’s just pretend I don’t work for any kind of environmental organisation for the time being shall we …)

In other news thank god for Gok Wan and Sainsburys who seem to have produced a decent pair of jeans I don’t look ridiculous in! Hurrah! The Boden jeans sadly only added to my stereotypical ‘lesbian potter living alone with cats up a bleak hillside’ look, which I’m not quite ready to cultivate just yet, though I did succumb to the lure of a couple of other Boden pieces. I still had to take the waist in as I’m currently suffering a waist:hips ratio imbalance, but jeans with a decent rise waist and not too tight, not too baggy legs and a decent length are hard to come by. Who thought I’d discover them in sainsbos? Bring back 90s jeans with proper high waists I say! Of course if I ever manage to lose this baby weight they won’t fit for long – they’re actually almost an excuse to go on scoffing cake!

BUT I did have the hair cut. It is neither the cut nor the colour I asked for but I think I avoided the Prisoner Cell Block H look just about. I don’t know what it is about hairdressers that they can’t follow instructions and I don’t know why I’m surprised that my request for ‘still quite long and floppy on top and fringe, enough to put it in a quiff if I wanted’ has ended up as super short crop slightly grazing the very top of my forehead and in no danger of falling across my eyes – but I don’t hate it and I’m sure it will grow into some semblance of what I originally asked for. As for the colour – well I chickened it of red for fear Eve wouldn’t recognise me and I thought blonder than normal would be too high maintenance, so instead opted for what should have been a caramel brown with blonde through the front. What I’ve actually got seems to border on bog standard brown with an auburn/ginger tinge. But there’s a box of red hair dye currently  sitting in the bathroom which may change all that: could be disastrous but at least it will have cost only a fiver instead of salon prices.

Next week – Eve is in for her second big betrayal as I take her for her 8 week jabs (she survived BCG this week and seems to have forgiven me just about).

Nappy brain: my arse. 10lb 5oz: sanity level – ok

photo-15

My little smiler – dressed a la communist China circa Mao’s five-year-plan

Nappy brain – my backside! Ok so I may be unable to concentrate on anything other than stopping Eve crying when she is, and by the end of the day a considerable number of words have dropped out of my vocabulary. BUT when Eve drops off for a nap I spring into action with the brain power and decision making ability of a Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist or CEO of a multi-national conglomerate on a sacking spree. No one knows how long the window of nap time will be so prioritising is key: anything from 30 minutes to two hours can be spent dashing round the house – quietly! – doing the washing, having a shower, eating lunch, preparing dinner, tidying up, putting washing away, phoning the council, working out which knickers still fit etc.

And there is no way to know when this window of opportunity will present itself. Cunning little things babies – for the last three days Eve has had a nap (of varying length) after her first feed of the day allowing me time for breakfast, expressing and a shower (such luxury I know!) OR a bit of extra sleep (always a toss up each day which wins – smelly and hungry or tired – and often if she only has 20 mins I end up smelly, hungry AND tired). Today, ‘nope, no nap for me’ she says, so I forgo shower, get dressed, come downstairs, pop her in her chair to make breakfast planning a stint on the bay gym after … and she promptly falls asleep!

And then of course she’ll be asleep – or worse just dropped off after not having slept for hours – right at the time you thought she’d need feeding. Right after you thought she’d started to settle into a pattern, a routine even. But no, she has other plans. Then starts the internal monologue of to wake or not to wake to keep her to this new ‘routine’, which might mean that bathtime and your own evening meal might be at some vaguely sensible time, or let her sleep …

Anyway – we survived the visit to Wales to meet the Welsh contingent. It didn’t get off to a great start with an emergency dash to the GPs as a temporary patient to get some antibiotics for mastitis (MOST painful thing in the world EVER!!!!) but Eve coped magnificently with being prodded and poked by all and sundry and her little cousins demanding a hold, a stroke, a cuddle, a poke etc at every opportunity. She had a minor meltdown at her great gran’s 90th birthday party when it all became too much for her. But we all lived to tell the tale.

Milf break

photo-14

Drunk on milk

A word or two about the title of this blog btw – milf and honey. For the avoidance of doubt and accusations of vanity or arrogance, I’m being .. er ironic I guess, or maybe I just liked the pun and couldn’t think of anything better. I couldn’t be further from a milf if I didn’t leave the house for days, didn’t shower or wash hair that hasn’t seen a haircut or stylist for months, constantly wore comfortable ‘lounge’ pants and was covered in baby sick … oh hang on a minute … that is my current ‘look’. I am working it though.

Obviously Eve is the honey – apart from when she’s a monster.

I have however ‘invested’ (read spent more than I’m prepared to admit to my husband – the husband who will shortly be the sole breadwinner of the household when my maternity pay stops!) in some new clobber, admittedly in sizes way larger than I’m at all happy with, in an attempt to rectify this. My friend’s response to my admission of this spending splurge was ‘you produced a human being out of your vagina, you can do anything you bloody like!’, which is obviously why I love her and made my confession to her as I knew she’d justify it for me.

So I’m not viewing this as an admission the weight is here to stay, I;m viewing it as a short term investment that means I won’t throw myself under a bus from depression of wearing leggings ALL THE FUCKING TIME!!! Obviously I’ve made an obligatory order from Boden – it’s practically the law for mothers to be top to toe in Boden isn’t it? I am aware this is the slippery slope into cloned ‘yummy-mummy’ territory, and I’m not proud of myself. Though in my defence the denim jacket is the only one I could find not cut around the midriff and suitable only for hipster waifs and teenagers, and the jeans are the only ones I can find with a sensible waist that doesn’t sit below the muffin top – which to be fair was an issue before pregnancy, only exacerbated now! These are staples and no one will know they’re from Boden, but it would be ridiculous to try to squeeze myself into Topshop equivalents right now – though as an aside you can’t have too much leopard print from Topshop. It’s a given. So I am waiting with baited breath for the delivery man to arrive and rescue me from my fashion wasteland.

I am also contemplating a new short haircut. My pregnancy-adled mind already thought it was a good idea six months ago to chop off my long locks, the product of about 10 years of growing my hair, to a short bob (not entirely a mistake but not entirely the genius idea I thought at the time), but I’ve recently been looking at some old pix of me when I had a super short bleached pixie crop and, at one point, a shaved head. Not entirely sure I can still pull it off (I was 25 and thin at the timeand looked ‘gamine’: I fear a similar look now would just look ‘Prisoner Cell Block H), but I reckon I won’t know until I try and I can always hide away until it grows back (please no one get married where I have to appear in photos!) – and I’m pretty sure you can’t divorce your wife because she cut her hair! and looks shit Can you? I’m also thinking I may go redhead – if the rest of the family are going to be gingers I may as well join them! Cue the next few posts bemoaning my hideous haircut and attempts to grow it back …

Anyway we’re off to the land of husband and Eve’s forefathers today for her to be pawed over by the Welsh contingent of excitable cousins and aunties, uncles, grandparents and great aunties and uncles and the guest of honour, Eve’s great grandmother who reaches the ripe old age of 90 this weekend. So best get packing – Eve needs a whole suitcase to herself.

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a velociraptor …

Image

From the sounds emanating for her small but perfectly formed body, my daughter is a velociraptor! I foolishly thought that babies alternately cried, cooed/gurgled or were silent, but no, the repertoire of weird and winderful, and downright alarming, noises is quite extensive. This seems to be most prevalent at night, including when she’s actually asleep. We can have the full recital of grunts, snorts, caterwauls, hisses, cackles and squeals by morning – snuffling like a truffle pig in the undergrowth through the night. This does not lead to a peaceful night even if we have managed to get her to sleep between feeds.

Anyway, following on from things they don’t tell you about pregnancy, here are my thoughts on things they don’t tell you about the immediate post partum period:

  1. The hospital will give you someone else’s body to go home with. You realise you won’t have your pre-pregnancy body, but you assume you’ll have your 9 month pregnant one with a smaller flabbier tummy. But oh no – totally different body entirely, swollen with water retention so that even your maternity clothes don’t fit: elephantine feet, thunder thighs, chubby chops AND the massive empty balloon of a tummy wobbling about all over the place and feeling surprisingly ‘papery’ to the touch. Even your foof feels strangely saggy for a day or two – a most peculiar sensation (a friend of mine described hers as feeling like she had testicles!).
  2. Post-natal care sucks – so long as neither you nor the baby are dying, they really don’t care and you’ll get a million pieces of contradictory advice about everything from nappy changing to breastfeeding.
  3. Breastfeeding is really hard. You’re warned about the cracked nipples and the improper latch on, but no one tells you that you’ll be constantly fretting about whether baby is getting enough, eating too much, farting because you ate broccoli, not pooing enough because you only had 4 portions of fruit and veg today etc. Plus the let down reflex really hurts! and let’s down when you don’t even need to feed. Not to mention the totally erratic feeding patterns – every hour for 10 mins one morning and then 4 hour feeds in the afternoon; one day every three hours, the next every two; a 20 minute feed one night followed by a four hour stretch of sleep and then an hour and half feed the next night that only sees her through two hours before she’s demanding more. There is no rhyme or reason and it’s exhausting and extremely stressful. Cracked nipples are a breeze by comparison.
  4. Everyone you speak to has a contradictory opinion on breastfeeding (alternate boobs per feed/ offer both boobs each feed; feed every two/three/four hours/on demand … Etc etc) – which does nothing to allay the worries or the stress.
  5. Once your belly retracts you won’t fit into either your maternity clothes or your pre-pregnancy clothes. Depressing and expensive as you replace your wardrobe with things two sizes bigger than your usual size and weigh yourself daily in the hope of miraculously having lost another pound without having done any exercise or so much as looked at a salad leaf.
  6. You will sweat buckets at night. And you thought the pregnancy sweats were bad. The only plus side to this is that it does actually help you lose some weight as you’re sweating off the water retention.
  7. Your pendulous boobs will knock together in a way they never have before, and, when unsupported, will rest on your belly alarmingly, especially in the bath.
  8. Sleepless nights are not funny – but everyone will joke about them anyway including (most irritatingly of all) all health professionals who will find it hilarious how little sleep new mothers get and will show little or no sympathy while telling you, you must express at nights well as feed and settle baby to get your milk supply up and to do your pelvic floor exercises and to find time to drink lots of water and eat healthily etc!
  9. Everyone who’s ever had a baby will tell you to rest while the baby rests. While initially sounding like sage advice, by the third hearing you will want to lamp them – when is this fabled time, this elusive period when they rest and you can too? While pushing them in their pram to actually get them to sleep? While grabbing a two minute shower when they have finally settled and stopped crying by lunchtime? While trying to eat the breakfast/lunch you’ve been told it’s so important to have to make sure you keep your energy levels up? When the latest health visitor is due to visit? Arghhhhhh.
  10. You will get right royally pissed off with all the gifts people send you because they all arrive at 7.30am with the postman requiring a signature – especially if they’re a frightening Hello Kitty stuffed toy (twice!!!). There is at least one delivery man who has now seen my norks as I had to answer the door mid-feed. I’m not proud. [Of course - with the exception of the Hello Kittys which I feared must be breeding in the post office - I'm hugely grateful for all the lovely gifts really].