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.

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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Real Nappy Week – Make A Change

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Real Nappy Week 2016

18th-24th April

Celebrating Change

The theme of the 20th Real Nappy Week is change and it has really got me thinking about the change from cloth to disposable and the journey back to cloth.

I was a cloth-bummed child of the 70s, my mum washed in a twin-tub and line dried all our nappies, as her mother had before her. So from then there was a quiet revolution and out went the cloth and in came the paper, plastic and macrogels. Hydrogels are a new material allowing nappies to hold even more urine.

The 70s was a time of great change for women. Many were going back to work after having children. There was more opportunity for women in the workplace and there was greater mobility, so young families often didn’t have the support of an extended family.

It was in this atmosphere of change that the disposable nappy first took hold. Mums didn’t want to be perceived as being chained to the kitchen sink, and this was a product of convenience. As demand grew, prices fell. With big brands producing disposables, marketing budgets were huge and by the 1980’s, in an era of excess, the disposable nappy had eclipsed cloth.

The change from cloth to disposable had been seamless, but in the early 90s, as we left behind the throw-away attitude of the 80s, a new era was dawning. The environment dominated the media, and from this families started to think about the future of their children.

Cloth nappies quickly evolved to cater for the growing market and the terries and nappy pins were soon to be joined by funky coloured nappies that fastened with applix and poppers.   Most households had washers and dryers – white goods our parents and grandparents would have given anything to own when they were scrubbing nappies by hand!

So why change?

By using cloth nappies families can make huge savings of anywhere from £100 -£1000 and the more children you have in cloth the bigger the saving.

By choosing cloth over single use nappies families could make up to a 40% carbon saving.

Currently UK families send 355,000 tons of single use nappies to landfill each year, costing local authorities and tax payers, £32 million a year.

Something has to change!

What to change?

Changing Habits: We have become accustom to buying and binning, we need to change our mindset. Buy, reuse, recycle!

Changing Lives: Cloth is comfortable, dry and cushioned making for a happy baby and by reducing landfill you are making for a happier future for everyone.

Changing Futures: Change a habit of a generation and spread the word!

The Nappy Laundry Company will have discounts on cloth throughout Real Nappy Week 2016.

How Eskimos keep their babies warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood

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Published in 2012 this is not a new book, but it is one that recently appeared on a reading list for a baby wearing course and the name caught my attention.

As a mother of three active children, factual coursework books are hard going by the time I sit down in the evening and are more likely to send me to sleep swimming in a dream of statistics and facts.

But Mei-Ling’s book on parenting wisdom from around the world was different, she takes aspects of parenting in different cultures and looks at incorporating them into her own modern lifestyle with a light-hearted touch.

Each chapter looks at a different topic and culture including how Kenyans live without pushchairs and how the Chinese potty train early. She looks at the positive and negatives of the these customs drawing from child experts, anthropologists and parents.

“Baby wearing is no longer some warm, fuzzy trend by granola-munching parents. More and more mothers and fathers are choosing to wear slings.”

Hopgood examines the act of carrying a baby not just from a practical level but she also looks as babies as active participants in the act of carry and the stimulation carrying has on their motor neurone skills.

The chapter on potty training is fascinating even providing recipe for a gentle cleanser to use when cleaning babies bum.  She draws the readers attention to the fact that babies have started potty training later since the introduction of disposable nappies.  Potty training is getting later and later as it benefits the disposable companies.

This is a refreshingly easy, intelligent read that is both entertaining and informative.

This novel is readily available in libraries, once I return it, and on Amazon and all bookshops.

Child Protection Training

This week I attended Child Protection Training, something that I hope I never have to put into action, but interesting and important to keep up to date.

Two of the most important points of information I came away with is that if a child wishes to confide in me I should at first inform them that I would have to pass the information on.  The second point was that I shouldn’t take any pictures of suspected injuries or bruising, this is something that I think many people would consider worth doing.  However it is best left in the hand of the professionals who have the correct equipment.

The advice that you should inform the child that the information they are going to give you will be passed on also surprised me.  Surely a child may then not confide and this may be the case.  But the child still has your trust and may come back and talk to you, and you can still report that a child approached you and wanted to confide.

We all have different opinions and views but when it comes to Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Neglect we would probably all agree that this is not acceptable and the care of the child should be central.

If you did have concerns about a child you should report it to police, and social work would rather find your concern unfounded than it not be raised at all.

There is some excellent information on Aberdeerdeenshire Council’s website about Child Protection – what to look out for and how to report your concerns.

www.girfec.aberdeenshire.org

I am sure all Council’s have similar sites – but remember if you think a child is at immediate risk you can call the police.

 

 

Why I am still called The Nappy Laundry.

logoIn January this year I took the decision to close the nappy laundry side of my business after 8 years.

Over the 8 years I have enabled families across the North-east to use cloth nappies.  Some families used the service from birth to potty training for one child, some for multiple children and some used the service to get them through difficult or busy period in their lives. But as access to cloth nappies has increased and they have become easier to use and launder the demand for the service decreased.

So there it is: The Nappy Laundry Company no longer offers laundry services.

Many people have asked me if I am keeping my name and the answer is YES!  The Nappy Laundry has been around for 8 years and has become a recognised name.  We still offer cloth nappies that you launder and a range of fantastic laundry products.

Over two years ago I successfully branched out into babywearing products.  For the past two years The Nappy Laundry Company has been the only business in the North-east to offer a wide range of carriers and consultancy.  As this market has expanded I have recently been joined by a number of other consultants in Aberdeen as well as a the NCT sling library.  These are exciting times for babywearing and I hope this new explosion of services will raise interest and in turn help raise the profile of The Nappy Laundry Company’s baby carrying consultancy services.

My logo for The Nappy Laundry shows a baby in a sling so I decided that I would keep both my logo and name. It’s an exciting time in cloth nappies and babywearing and I look forward to continuing to help new parents on their journey.

I hope you can join me too.