Loneliness of a New Mum

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Surrounded by family and friends we bask in the news of our imminent arrival. We may be treated to a Baby Shower. Surrounded by smiles and expectations. Into this our baby arrives.

At home we greet the stream of visitors cooing over the cute outfits and cuddly toys they bring for our little one.

Then it stops…the doorbell stops ringing, the bouquets of flowers start to wilt and there is a gradual realisation that this is it. You and baby.

A recent survey of 2,000 parents found the majority feel cut off from friends, and family, after the birth of a child.

The research by Action for Children found that 52% admitted suffering loneliness, with many saying lack of money and inability to leave the house easily left them feeling isolated. More than two-thirds of parents said they had felt ‘cut-off’ from friends and family since having children.

I struggled with feelings of isolation when my first son was born.  It was a cold January and I had had a C-section so wasn’t as mobile as I had hoped.  Prior to having my son I had a busy work life and had colleagues to chat with every day.

After the initial influx of visitors dispersed, I found it hard to adjust.  Each day became the same and each evening I longed for my partner to return from work.  I’d barrage him with questions wanting to know everything about his day – his interaction with adults.

My son was born in the days before What’s App and Facebook and although mobile phones were common they were still not used as freely as we do now.  So it was a chance encounter at the weigh-in clinic that I met a girl I had been in antenatal with.  She had just signed up to a baby massage class and encouraged me to come along.  It was the best move I had made…each Saturday morning I attended the class getting to know the other mums, sharing our experience and arranging to meet for coffee.  I soon had a supportive circle of friends which continued grow and evolved with me and my family.

Sustained feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to mental health issues including depression and anxiety – both common among new parents.

Feeling of loneliness can be experienced a different levels at different times and as a mum who works from home there are days where I long for a colleague to share things with or someone to pop in for a coffee to break up the day.  Some mums can feel isolated at night when they are up feeding; people can feel detached even in a group.  This is why as parents it is important to share our feelings, so we don’t feel alone.

Sustained feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to mental health issues including depression and anxiety – both common among new parents.

We could look at, and analyse all the reason that parents feel lonely, but each situation is unique to the individual. What is more important is how we can help combat these feelings of isolation.

Top five tips to combat loneliness

  • Try and get out at least once a day.  Even a simple thing like chatting to a neighbour or shop keeper can give you a boost.
  • Find out about local groups for mums in your area – you’ll be surprised by just how much is on offer once you start looking.  Your local NCT can be a good place to start.
  • If you attended an anti-natal class, arrange a meet up.  Don’t just rely on digital communications – we need face to face contact.
  • Pick-up the phone and have a good chat, or arrange to meet up. Sometimes you have to be the one to take the lead.
  • It is important to share how you are feeling….you’ll be amazed how many people are in the same situation.

Carry safely this bonfire night.

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Carriers and slings are great for bonfire night you can keep baby close and it saves you taking a buggy over a muddy field. It also makes it easier for a quick exit if baby doesn’t enjoy the experience.

But it is important to keep safe and here are five tips to help you carry safely:

  • Do not light fireworks when carrying a baby.  Carriers and slings can be so comfortable it is easy to forget you have a baby attached!
  • Do not use a sparkler when carrying baby.  Sparklers reach extremely high temperatures and baby is closer than you are if you are carrying.   Always be safe.
  • Keep baby facing in if possible.  Babies can become over stimulated and frightened by the lights and bangs, this can be reduced if they are facing you for comfort.  But always be prepared to leave early, some little ones just don’t like the noise and flashing.
  • Think about ear defenders or ear muffs.  Babies have sensitive hearing so consider the noise.  If at a garden display you could watch from inside.  Why not consider watching from a distance.
  • Remember it’s going to be cold, but a carrier counts as a layer of clothing.  If you are wearing a wrap style carrier each layer of fabric counts as a layer of clothing.  Keep extremities warm feet, hands and head.

Above all have fun and stay safe.

Moving On!

Moving Day!

Moving Day!

Moving from the house that we have lived in for 10- years was always going to bring up lots of emotions.

When we moved to this house we were a family of four and we leave a family of five. This was our family home for 10 years.

The four walls have seen laughter and tears, they have witnessed so many occasions and events. ,

I started The Nappy Laundry Company here almost 10 years ago, a small business, laundering nappies and like my family it has grown and changed.

I no longer launder nappies but retail and give advice on cloth nappies and sling. I am now the longest running sling and cloth nappy consultant in the Aberdeen and the shire. I have welcomed many mums and new babies through the doors, helping them on their parenting journey.

Stonehaven is still be my home and my base, and I will still be advising and retailing nappies and slings. But my new home is closer to the town and I have more space for the additional service I have offer – baby massage.

With boxes gradually getting up packed and the stress of the move subsiding – I am loving our new home.

So as one door closes another opens and I look forward to welcoming lots of new mums to my new home and helping them at the start of their parenting journey.

Bonded Beginnings

Babywearing peer supporter Lois Benvie talks about how using a sling helped to keep baby close after her planned c-section.

Cuddles, Convenience, Connection

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Birth plans are mythical creatures; they dwell in dreams and love to disappoint us. I didn’t have one the first time I gave birth. I didn’t think c-sections made any space for them. All I wanted for my second c-section was my baby close, touching me or my husband, at ALL times. Two hours after birth my baby was taken to NICU; he couldn’t have felt further away.

No-one tells you how to bond with a baby you can’t even cuddle when you want to or when he needs you to. I had felt an immediate, profound, all-consuming connection to my first born on his birth day. Towards my second born I felt distance and guilt.

But once we argued him out of NICU (another less uplifting story), we wrapped him and felt better. My husband ‘wore’ him first. His keenness to wrap was uncharacteristic; he felt the same painful distance. And the photo I took of him cuddling his newborn in a sling was an instant hit on our local babywearing fb page, an affirmation of his love for his new child and an acknowledgement of the power of keeping children close in slings.

The wrapping continued. I carried him safely around the ward and hospital and he never bothered my scar. Having him high and instantly kissable was much better than a cumbersome pregnancy belly. It was physically comfortable and mentally a huge comfort. I could pee without setting him down, traipse back and forth to the room where my pumping equipment was sterilised and my breast milk was stored (more fun stories) and escape the heat and claustrophobia of my curtained cell. Midwives gave me positive comments and other mums were curious. I felt in control, finally.

From there our connection grew. I could smell his skin and it was intoxicating. I could give him the skin to skin contact we both wanted and had been denied so soon after birth. He was always settled, feeling my heartbeat and maintaining body temperature. I could also reconnect with my toddler. Mummy was home and had two free hands for most of the time. I couldn’t shower in a wrap (or pump, annoyingly) but I could brush my teeth, dress my toddler, do dishes and laundry, pay bills, hoover, play duplo, walk the dog – you get the picture.

Babywearing is beautiful, practical, and to me, essential. It is the way to find the eye of the tornado. It helped me when I felt helpless and seven months later we rarely get through a day without using a sling. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Do I need a sling?

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Do I need a baby sling?

“I have everything I need for when my baby arrives. A pram, moses basket, bouncy chair, baby gym, so I won’t need a sling.”

This is something I often hear when I am out and about at events for expectant parents and of course it is true – you don’t need a sling or carrier of any type.

As a first time mum I had little knowledge of what I needed or where to shop, I was blinkered to the big stores and the fancy prams – guided by their glossy catalogues and must have lists. And 13 years ago the lists didn’t include baby carriers.

So when I discovered babywearing I didn’t look back and wanted local mums to have access to babywearing sooner.  This is why I trained as a babywearing peer supporter and consultant and started retailing  a range of carriers that were not easily available on the high street.  I now offer sling lends, consultation and sling meets to help other mums discover the joy of babywearing

But don’t just take my word for it! Do I need a sling? I decided to put this question to a group of local babywearers to find out how they would reply and I got an amazing response.

Here is the real reason why slings are amazing – from real mums.

“A sling is a godsend for those times when baby needs cuddles but you have to cook, wash up etc. Or if you are out on a walk and the pathway isn’t suitable for a buggy. With a sling you can go wherever your mind takes you and you’re not restricted with finding a parking space, pushing a buggy through crowds/along bumpy pathways.” – Cheryl

“If you’re out and need to catch a bus, you won’t need the hassle of folding down the pram / waiting for the next bus if baby is in a sling!” – Jenna

“No more bumping prams up and down stairs. No more sizing up if your pram will fit through a gap. No more struggling with storing a pram in the car or a packed hallway.” -Claire

“Baby might be happy enough in a bouncy seat at times, but other times (leaps, illness, grouchy days) they will have none of it and the carrier will then be a godsend so you can get some stuff done whilst also soothing baby.” – Kirsty

“A sling is amazing when they’ve fallen asleep on you (in the sling) and you can just pop a hat on them and go out you don’t have to disturb them. Makes life soo much easier if you have a fussy baby too!” – Hannah

“Slings are also great if you already have other children as you can go for a walk or to the park and still have two hands free!” – Lyndsay

“It hides your post baby belly! 😉 Or alternatively it lets you work on that belly by letting you access a greater variety of walks that are inaccessible with a Pram.” – Isla

“Using a sling means you can use the escalator rather than waiting for the lift.” – Kirsty E

“If you have a baby with reflux/colic/allergies and they just want to be held all the time, it’s irreplaceable” – Stacey

“Travelling! No buggies on flights, sling all the way!” – Lisa

“All you need is a sling! ” – Rachel

“It’s so nice to have both hands free when shopping so you can carry a basket and not get buggy rage in narrow aisles!” – Helen

“A sling is so amazing. In the first few weeks you can feel quite overwhelmed and very restricted (in amongst more positive feelings of course) but a sling will give you back some freedom.” – Jill

I think the answer is clear – you don’t need a sling, but if you have one it makes life with a baby a lot simpler.

Thanks to all the mums at Aberdeenshire Babywearers for there contributions – too numerous all to get mentioned.  Remember babywearing is not just for mums.  Grandparents, dads and care givers can all join the fun

New Online Babywearing Course Launched

The Nappy Laundry Company is delighted to launch it’s first every online babywearing course.

Expecting a baby or have a newborn at home, this gives you the opportunity to learn about babywearing from the comfort of your armchair.

The Introduction to Babywearing Course covers everything that would be covered in a workshop.  You find out about the benefits of babywearing, safety and position as well as the different types of slings available.

SAVE 20% as an introductory offer!
Sign up now for just £16 and get started.

Winter Whiff

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During the cold winter months I have noticed an increase in the problem of whiffy smelling cloth nappies.

Across social media mums plea for help to rid their nappies of the troublesome odour.  Advice came flooding in and includes strip washing or trying a bouquet of detergents.

This got me thinking, why is there this increase in this honky horror?  So with no scientific evidence and no kitchen sink science experiment I’ve come to the conclusion that it is winter itself that is the cause of the whiff epidemic sweeping country.

Cold, damp, wet and short days are all typical of the British winter, making drying cloth nappies more challenging.

We use pulleys, airing cupboards, clothes horses, tumble dryers and even radiators (against all advice – of course).  Any method to get those nappies dry during this damp season.

These methods might work, although they often leave slightly crispy nappies –  but could they be the cause of the offending stink

Drying indoors means fresh air isn’t circulating around the individual fibres, the fibres lie dormant drying slowly and trapping in nasty odours.  What about tumble driers?  Yes a tumble drier circulates the air but it isn’t fresh air and the driers themselves can smell dank.

So how do we solve these winter wiffs?  RAIN is the answer,  natures best fabric softener and deodoriser, and it’s abundant in the winter, especially in my home – Scotland.

To banish those nasty niffs – just hang your cloth nappies, cloth wipes, inserts and liners in the rain and forget about them if possible for 24-48 hours.  Then dry as normal.

To optimise you odour elimination you can also try adding and extra rise cycle, freshen your washing machine with a cup of white vinegar or try a washing machine cleaner such as Little Violets Washing Machine Cleaner.

For more advice on washing your nappies visit the http://www.uknappynetwork.org/washing-guide.html

Singapore Sling

Ali came to The Nappy Laundry Company for a sling consultation while on holiday is Scotland, she had a large framed carrier that was heavy and uncomfortable, so she borrowed a Tula for her trip to Islay.

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Ali’s Story

We live in Singapore where the buggy living is easy…smooth pavements and very little park land…and even if we stumble across a treasured patch of green there is, inevitably, a concrete path carved through it…or a board walk at the very least.

 

The Singapore climate makes Babywearing a little tricky…being stuck close to a little bundle of heat in 33 degrees with 98% humidity is not that appealing! But in Scotland it, literally, saved the holiday!

 

Having not been home to Scotland with a small person I’m tow for five years it came as a surprise to me just how often a buggy was infeasible…woodland walks, beach walks, boat journeys! It seemed that I was going to have to Babywear! And I am so thankful that I did. It made the whole holiday much much easier…not to mention it kept both me and bub cosy on those Scottish ‘Summer’ days! I hadn’t realised what I’d been missing (what we’d both been missing, really). I loved having her close and she loved snuggling in during nap time and getting to see the sights when she was awake at a level above people’s knees! She was much more actively engaged in her surroundings than when in the buggy and it was easier for us to communicate too. I’m now a total Babywearing convert…even back in sweaty Singapore!

 

Ali borrowed a Standard Tula, as part of a sling library trial.The Nappy Laundry Company will be expanding to include a sling library service in the New Year.

Breastfeeding Bubble

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This week it was widely reported on the local news that Aberdeen cafes and restaurants are signing the Aberdeen Breastfeeding Welcome scheme….great news for nursing mums, but why is this still necessary in 2016?

In 2005 I had my first baby, the same year a  law was passed in Scotland: You have the right to breastfeed or bottle feed a child in public until a child is 24 months old under Scottish law. In addition you cannot be discriminated against for breastfeeding a child in public up to the age of 26 weeks. This is the law under the Equality Act which applies throughout the UK.

So  I was free to feed anywhere.

If I am honest it had never occurred to me that anyone would disapprove of breastfeeding in public. So in this blissful bubble of naivety our breastfeeding journey began.  Like many it didn’t go smoothly to start, and I found it much easier to get topless on the sofa at home with a large bar of chocolate and the TV remote – no new law was going to allow this in the local café.

Once we got the feeding, while fully-clothed, mastered – I was ready to rejoin the world and feed in public – I was nervous and lacked confidence, but other people’s opinion hadn’t crossed my mind.  My main worry was that baby would come unlatched and I’d end up like a milk fountain squirting innocent passers-by – I’d like to reassure you this never happened!

One of the reasons I loved breastfeeding was the lack of equipment. I just needed me, my boobs and baby. So once I’d fed a couple of times in public I was happy and comfortable, I breastfed all three of my cherubs. I breast fed in art galleries, public transport, cafes, and the cinema, I never once heard a negative comment, only encouragement.

So it came as a bit of a shock when just a year ago, my happy breastfeeding bubble was burst. My children were all well and truly weaned and I was attending child protection training. A few scenarios were given to get the group discussing issues and perceptions, one of these scenarios was a lady breastfeeding in public.

Expecting this topic to be dealt with quickly, I was taken aback when two ladies said that they didn’t feel it was necessary for mums to be feeding in public and they should wait and do it in the privacy of their own home. BUBBLE BURST.

Mums need to be seen breastfeeding in public, we need to bring up a generation for who this is the norm and perhaps we won’t need to be talking about this 12 years from now.

This new scheme that will see local business display a welcome breastfeeding stickers can only be positive in helping new mum gain confidence to feed out and about.  But remember if they don’t have a sticker you can still feed you toot and maybe suggest they join the scheme.

Breastfeeding support has also improved leaps and bounds in the last 12 years so don’t hesitate to ask  your health visitor for information on your local breastfeeding groups.

 

 

 

 

 

Hypnobirthing Taster

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When I had my first child over 12 years ago I was unaware of hypnobirthing, with my second I had a great pregnancy yoga teacher who introduced me to relaxation techniques which really helped during the birth and labour. With my third I once again used these techniques with success, but as life got in the way, I didn’t take them further.

So when I was invited along to Jade Gordon’s August Hypnobirthing Taster Session in the Aberdeen Wellbeing Centre, I jumped at the chance.

I was invited to do a short tea break demonstration on babywearing, but had the privilege of sitting in with the expectant mums to find out more about hypnobirthing.

Jade started the session with introductions, explaining that hypnobirthing was about self-hypnosis, not the entertainment style hypnosis often depicted on television, we then got comfortable and Jade led us into the first session.

With eyes closed, Jade’s relaxing voice led us through a visualisation focusing my mind and I felt the worries disappear. As she led us back to the room she then spoke about the fear of birth that has become embedded in our culture. She spoke about how hypnobirthing can help us take control of these fears and turn them into a positive.

Following the tea break and my demonstration, once again Jade led us through a longer relaxation session. I was taken aback by just how relaxed I had become managing to shut out the occasional noises and immerse myself completely in Jade’s words.

When for the final time she brought me back to the room. I felt a relaxation and peace I hadn’t experienced in sometime.

To be able to use these techniques during labour and birth must be truly empowering. After the session I could really see just how hypnobirthing puts the control back in the hands of the mother which can only be a positive.

I slept so well after the session, I am now hoping that Jade might consider doing session for busy and stressed out mothers!

To find out more visit Jade’s website Aberdeen Hypnobirthing

The next Aberdeen Hypnobirthing Taster Sessions at the Aberdeen Wellbeing Centre are on 6th Oct and 3rd Nov.  Book now at Aberdeen Hypnobirthing.  A taster session cost just £20 and lasts and hour and a half.

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