Wednesday, September 25, 2013


This week, a friend on twitter asked "what advice would you give to new parents?"  I actually had three pieces of advice to offer.

Trust Your Instincts
It's really easy as a new parent to doubt yourself, to wonder if you're doing the right thing - you may ask for advice from various people, and be given conflicting responses.  And this can leave you wracked with self doubt, you want to do the best for your new child, but there are other people telling you you're wrong, or 'that's not the way I would do it'. 

Give yourself some credit. 

You may be new at parenting, but already you'll probably be in tune with your baby, and know when something is 'not right'. 

We had various health problems with Mini Mint, he never latched on for me to feed him myself, and I allowed myself to be bullied by my mid-wife (see point 3) into not giving him a bottle, but feeding him via a small medicine cup, so as not to give him 'nipple confusion'.  He ended up developing kidney problems at 11 days where he was admitted to hospital severely dehydrated.  Then, again at 25 days old because he was pooing blood (that is quite exciting in an 'OH MY GOD' kind of way).  We were admitted on a Friday afternoon, and were seen by a registrar at around tea-time who told me that it wasn't blood - but mucus (bright red mucus, really?) and to take him home and 'keep my eye on him'.  When I asked him what 'keep my eye' on him meant, I was told that if 'it happens again, bring him back in'. 

At which point I finally developed my mummy roar and refused to go home until we had seen a consultant.  We spent a long weekend in a cubicle on the children's ward, with no doctors coming in to us at all, until the wonderful consultant came in on the Monday, took one look at Mini Mint and diagnosed a milk protein intolerance.  We were given a modified formula, and within a week Mini Mint was a completely different baby.  Alert, full of life, gaining weight and just perfect.

I knew that something wasn't right, I stayed my ground, and we got the help and advice that was needed to help Mini Mint get better.  As a sidebar, it turned out the IBS I'd been diagnosed with myself when younger, was actually a dairy intolerance too, and it was hereditary.

LISTEN to all the advice you are given and USE what is right for you and your family.
When you're a new parent EVERYONE wants to give you advice, or tell you how THEY would manage X,Y,Z.  You may become overwhelmed with advice.  You sometimes get to the point where you want to snap at people to mind their own business, but... just listen. 

You don't have to follow through everything that you are told, if you think it's a load of rubbish, just nod, smile and say 'oh, that sounds interesting'.

Don't get into an argument about it.  Just choose not to follow that particular piece of advice.  Trust me, your life will be sooo much easier.

Don't Be Bullied
Parenting seems to unleash a barrage of 'know it alls' (me included, look at me giving out advice!), people will out and out tell you that they think you are doing it wrong, that you're a bad parent, that you are harming your baby, purely for making a decision that works for you and your family. 

In my case I would have loved to breast feed Mini Mint, but he was actually born in a diabetic coma, and was in SCBU for the first three days of his life. We never got to have that all important skin on skin contact in the first hour, he had to be fed via a tube for three days.  When I was allowed to have him on the ward with me, he just wouldn't latch on, it was almost like he was fighting me every time I tried to feed him.  I asked the staff for a bottle and said I would express milk and feed him that way.  They out and out refused and said he would get 'nipple confusion' if I started to feed him with a bottle.  They insisted that I feed him using a tiny medicine measuring cup, which I did, but actually ended up spilling most of it down his chin. 

When we got home I voiced my concerns to my midwife, and she backed up what the hospital said, and made me feel awful for even considering giving him a bottle, even though he would still be getting breast milk, as I was expressing. And I let them make that decision for me.  We ended up with a very poorly baby, who had to have regular check ups at the hospital for two years to ensure that his kidneys were not permanently damaged by the dehydration this caused.  After he was hospitalised I decided enough was enough and sent 'im indoors out to buy bottles and a steriliser, and Mini Mint improved dramatically.  Until my breast milk dried up at around 20 days due to the stress of being in and out of hospital, which led to the situation in the first point above. 

I let someone who had no connection to me or my family, bully me into making decisions I wasn't happy with, which caused distress to me, Mini Mint and 'im indoors.  But it also taught me a valuable lesson.  This is MY family, and the only people who should be making decisions that affect my family are me, or 'im indoors.  We will listen to your advice, and decide if it is going to work for us.  We will not let anyone brow beat us into making a decision we are not comfortable with.

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