Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Baby Number Two Question

When Ameli was two days old, I was asked if I’d have another child. Unequivocally, I said yes. I was on such an oxytocin high from my home water birth, I was capable of anything. And besides, my newborn had been asleep most of her life. And I had people around to help with food preparation, house cleaning, and my husband was off work to help with the baby.

What Is Breastfeeding Let-Down And How Does It Work?

Milk production in the body is a simply miraculous process. In general, it is started when a baby latches on to the mother’s breast, and ‘let-down’ occurs. Really, let-down is the action of milk flowing through the milk ducts into and through the nipple and into the baby’s mouth. Knowing how breast milk is made can really help us understand what happens.

Mama Said No. All The Time.

One day I sat in an adjoining room to where my husband and daughter were. I didn’t know particularly what they were up to, but at one point, a full few minutes of the ‘conversation’ was her Daddy saying ‘No, no, don’t touch that. No Ameli, put that down. No, no, I said no’ and so on.

I became conscious of how often we were saying no to Ameli and discussed it with my husband. At first he didn’t really think it such a big deal, but he must have become conscious of it, as he started pointing it out to me when I was doing it too.

We began to realise how difficult it really is to exclude ‘no’ from your vocabulary once Ameli started walking, unpacking things from cupboards, and generally expressing her independence.

It wasn’t until Ameli one day did something she was allowed to, then looked at me and shook her head that I realised that it did have an effect on her.

So we’ve started making a few changes to the way we ‘do’ things:

This post has moved. To read the rest, click here!

News Of The Week: Scientists Discover What Triggers Labour

Well, doesn’t that just sound like great news! I can’t begin to count how many articles, stories and books I’ve read around childbirth and labour and how many times I’ve read the line ‘no one really knows what triggers labour‘. It seems that’s all about to change.

The actual explanation of the process in Nature News is quite long and sciency, so I’ll share the short version from Strollerderby:

“The key is that tiny micro-fragments of RNA (DNA’s single-stranded cousin) in the uterus become extra active at the end of pregnancy. As circulating progesterone levels fall, these miRNA pieces are expressed strongly.

The miRNA affect two important genes (ZEB1 and ZEB2). These two genes keep labor at bay, because they keep levels of contraction-inducing hormones, like oxytocin, down.

Rising miRNA block the two genes, letting oxytocin loose, and labor beings.

Doctors and researchers know that infections and inflammation cause women to go into labor early. So they tested this on mice, inducing labor in some with an infection and others with hormones. Sure enough, the cascade of miRNA and ZEB genes held up.

This is a surprise to scientists, because the ZEB genes weren’t thought to be involved in labor at all – a scientific curveball. Now they know that when a woman gets an infection, these genes and the miRNA kick off contractions.”

Now scientists are really excited about developing a new series of treatments to help prevent pre-term labour, and help keep pregnant mothers pregnant until their babies are ready to be born. Of course, that’s great news! I was in an NICU unit just last week and some of those babies are so small, I was afraid to breathe around them.

But it does lead me to wonder about something else: that whole ‘you have to be induced within 24 hours of your water’s breaking for fear of infection’ rule. This is often a determining factor in women having to be induced, which we all know by now can lead to a ‘cascade of interventions’.

“Mendelson” – the biochemist leading the research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas – “says that many women go into early labour because bacterial infection leads to inflammation, which can induce labour. And labour itself resembles the body’s inflammatory response, she notes, in which foreign material is ejected from the body.”

While Hollywood and most of the medical world would lead you to believe that you have to run for the hospital the moment your waters break, there is actually only a very small increase in the risk of infection. A 2007 study published in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found that the risk of newborn infection did in fact increase over time: the risk was .3% for a duration of less than 6 hours and increased to 1% for over 24 hours.

1% chance of infection versus the nightmare that labour can be after induction.

I have recently discovered and absolutely fallen in love with the blog of a world travelling doula, DoulaMomma, who wrote a fantastic article with excellent research and studies on what happens when your waters break before labour. It really is well worth a read – as are the real life and real time stories in the comments below.

I think it’s fantastic that “they” are developing a treatment for pre-term labours, but I would love to see some research on the reverse – is spontaneous labour missed by lack of ‘infection’ due to inducing too early?

How To Turn A Back-To-Back, Transverse or Breech Baby

OP, or back labour, is when the baby’s back faces the mother’s back, rather than the preferred back to belly (OA) position. The problem with back labour is that it can be longer than an OA labour, with pain focussed in the back. For first time mothers, this can add to the length of labour too, often resulting in many interventions and eventually a generally emergency caesarian.

A Transverse baby is lying across the abdomen rather than down, and a breech baby has their feet down instead of the head.

While the internet is an amazing resource with information on just about anything, that is also it’s downfall – where do you start? So rather than reinventing the wheel, I’ve compiled a list of resources for those with back-to-back, transvere,or breech babies both on trying to turn your baby and on dealing with labour.

Breast Milk Production: How Is Breast Milk Made?

I have been breastfeeding for a little over thirteen months now, and it recently dawned on me that I kind of just ‘trust’ the process to work, and have no idea how breast milk is made. This is a rather unnatural situation for me, as I always want to know the ins and outs of everything, so here goes.

What Do You Mean ‘Natural Parenting’?

I have often told people these two things:

  1. Before I had Ameli, what I knew about children could be written on the back of a match box, with room left for a stamp.
  2. I didn’t choose many of the ways we’ve decided to raise Ameli – she chose them.

Dear Ameli- Letter To A Thirteen Month Old

Dearest little girl,

Yes, that’s you. No longer a baby, but a full blown toddler, walking, (sort of) talking, toddler. My beautiful little girl. I don’t even know where to start. Our life hasn’t exactly been normal since your arrival, has it? We’ve not had the ‘normal’ first year with baby.

Ameli Bridesmaid by Alice GundryWe arrived in South Africa on your birthday, met by your Oupa and Nana. Daddy had missed the flight due to a tube strike in London, so it was just you and me for 16 or so hours. Well, you and me, three suitcases, hand luggage, a pram, laptop bag and nappy bag. But you were so good. You made friends with everyone around us. You were so well behaved, I felt blessed to have it be you with me.

Our first weekend here, you were a beautiful flowergirl at your aunty Wendy’s wedding, and our second week was pretty uneventful. I was sick and very, very tired, and just not doing well, and again, you were so well behaved, as if you knew.

Our third week we went to the Cape to visit my Granny and Ouma and you were a hit, as usual. You and Granny have a beautiful relationship. It’s awesome for me to see you get on so well with the person who has been my best friend for years. Ouma adored you too. She knitted you a teddy bear, a winter hat and jersey, and just loved holding you. She has pictures of you all over her house, which made my heart sing a little.

We went to the aquarium in Cape Town, which you cried your way through, and we went to see the Penguins in Betty’s Bay, which you cried your way through. You were so unsettled all week, and I noticed on of your top teeth coming through. It’s still not out now, but it really bothered you that week.

The following week we went to Dhikololo with Nana and Oupa. It was a really good week, out in the bushveld. We spent most of our time in the indoor pool where Nana helped you float around the pool. You learned to go under water and come up clapping and we even went down a supertube! You were dragging US up the stairs to go again! I was very impressed. You had an audience too. People couldn’t believe you weren’t even 13 months yet and so comfortable with water. I think it’s because we’ve never shown you fear in the water, but maybe it’s just because of who you are.

My Water Baby

You have learned a few more words this month. Not real words, but sounds that you put to use in the right places. You say ‘tee’ for gentle, like when you play with the butterflies we put around the garden for you. You say ‘ta’ for please and thank you. You say ‘mummeeee’ and my heart melts. You say ‘dadeee but you’ve been saying that for a while. You walk around talking to yourself almost constantly in your own little language and you don’t seem to know why we don’t understand you. You look at us with such seriousness sometimes, intent on telling us something we just can’t understand. It’s very amusing.

You’ve also taken the first steps to tantrums. You lie yourself prostrate on the ground and cry, although you’ve not yet discovered the joys of kicking your feet or pounding your fists. I’d love to know where you got the manual on how to be a toddler, since we don’t watch TV and you don’t have many other friends your age!

On the flip side, you’ve begun giving the most beautiful hugs. Sometimes in your sleep and sometimes when I pick you up you’ll put your arms around me and hold on really tight. It’s enough to make me melt. I treasure those hugs and I think they’re powerful enough to stay in my memory for ever.

Today, your 13 month birthday, I walked in to the room to find you putting your shoes on. I was so surprised. You couldn’t do up the buckles yet, but you were in your shoes and ready to go. It really awed me. I just think you’re so clever!

I’m so careful with you, not to make you my reason for things, not to depend my happiness, who I am and what I aim to get out of life on you and just you. I don’t want to give you the burden of ‘making me happy’. I don’t want to give you the burden of having to love me. I don’t want you to ever feel that you have to ‘make me’ anything. I want to always love you with no conditions and no expectations, and hope that that will be enough for you to love me back beyond these years of needing me.

I never want to be emotionally dependent on you, nor do I aim to be your friend. I will always be your mother first and if from that, in my later years, a friendship can blossom, then that will be the reward for my years of mothering you. I wish to watch and help you grow, develop and reach for and beyond your goals – things I already see in you every day.

I want you always to know how proud I am of you, and how much joy you fill me with. Even when I’m tired, cranky and sleep-deprived. Even when I’m not having a good day as a parent. I’m always proud of you and always, always, without exceptions, love you.

For all time, little girl.

Mummeeeeee

Rebirthing: For Emotional Healing And Breastfeeding Reintroduction

A few days ago I heard about something I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of before: Rebirthing. @mamapeardesigns was asking questions about it on twitter, and I was immediately intrigued, so I started reading more about it. There isn’t a huge amount of information, sadly, and I’d love to know if anyone has experience of it, but I thought I’d share what I found anyway, in the hope that it might help someone. (Please note that Rebirthing is a name applied to a form of breathing yoga and also to the questionable practice of wrapping a person in a blanket to create a womb like experience and requiring them to fight their way out  – otherwise known as Attachment Therapy. This is neither of those techniques)

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