Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

Should new mums be bribed to breastfeed?

12 Nov

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

It was announced today that new mums are going to be paid £200 in shopping vouchers if they breastfeed until their baby is 6 months old. This is going to be trialled in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and possibly rolled out nationwide next year.

Why should mothers be financially rewarded for breastfeeding? Surely the only incentive should be the benefits that breastfeeding brings for mums and for babies? Wouldn’t it be better to spend this money educating women on these benefits and to provide better support for mothers who need help with breastfeeding? This money could be much better spent by training more breastfeeding support advisors and providing more local latch-on groups.

Surely what the NHS should be doing is making breastfeeding ‘the norm’ by working on awareness campaigns and providing more support on maternity wards where it is really needed? I had a very difficult start on my breastfeeding journey. I stayed in hospital for 2 days in order to perfect the ‘latch on’ and there was only one nurse on the ward who could really offer good advice and support. The rest of the staff were just too busy or did not seem to be interested. Money should be spent improving this support as the first few days are the most crucial on any breastfeeding journey.

Of course there are plenty of women out there who would like nothing better than to breastfeed but for one reason or another are just not able to. This can be extremely upsetting and something that they may always feel sad about. Seeing other women being thrown cash for doing something they are just not able to do will only add insult to injury and could lead to feelings of inferiority and guilt. Why should they be made to feel like this?

My main concern is the monitoring of this scheme. It seems that all mums will have to do is to tell their Health Visitor or Midwife that they are breastfeeding and they will be given these vouchers. Sorry if I sound sceptical here but REALLY??? Undoubtedly, some mums will just see this as a money-making scheme, tell a few white lies and head to the supermarket and buy formula with it. When it comes to assessing the success of this trial, of course it will show that breast feeding rates have gone up how realistic will this actually be?

Breastfeeding rates are low in this country and that definitely needs to be improved but surely the following benefits are enough to persuade mums to breastfeed? (taken from the NCT website)

Benefits for babies
Breast milk is a living fluid and every mum’s milk is tailor-made for her own baby. It contains many ingredients which help a baby stay healthy, such as antibodies to fight germs and hormones that help your baby’s development.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have ear or urine infections or get stomach bugs or chest infections.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight children.
If your family has allergies, your baby is less likely to get eczema or a wheezy chest if they are breastfed.
Fewer babies who are breastfed get diabetes in childhood.
Premature babies who receive breast milk have a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (a potentially dangerous bowel disorder).

Benefits for mums

Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of developing certain types of ovarian and breast cancer.

Mums who have breastfed have a lower risk of hip fractures and diabetes when they get older.

Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size after birth.

Surely this should be incentive enough without resorting to bribery? What do you think?


Life with a newborn, what I wish I’d known then

31 Mar
Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Image via Wikipedia

I don’t think anyone can prepare you for the shock of bringing home a new-born baby for the first time. They don’t come with a manual; there are no written instructions on how to care for them.  Maybe I’m the only one but I felt totally petrified for the first few days that we were at home. I must have phoned my mum a million times to ask her questions.  Of course you somehow get through those early days and get into some kind of routine but life with a new-born is still a tremendous life changing experience.

When we brought home our second baby things were different, we felt like we knew what we were doing and everything was so much easier and less fraught with anxiety.

So having been there, I thought I’d offer my top tips on life with a new-born.

1. Babies cry! Ok, some people may have a pretty perfect baby who sleeps, feeds, sleeps and feeds but neither of mine were programmed this way.  But what else can a baby do except cry when they need something, it’s just their way of telling you they need something.  Ok it might take us a while to work out what their cries mean but you will soon get to know whether it is a hungry cry or a tired cry, or a ‘I need a new nappy’ cry.

2. Breastfeeding hurts. Yep, it’s true, I’m sorry to say.  Baby doesn’t just latch on and away you go although this is certainly true for a lot of people.  It can be very, very painful in the early days.  I likened it to having a crocodile clip attached to your nipple. BUT the good news is, it gets easier and easier as the days go by and it is so worth sticking with it. If you need help or just want to talk to other mums who are going through the same situation then ask your midwife if there is a local latch on group.

3. Just accept that your house will be a mess for a few days, weeks, months (or in my case years) after your baby is born.  You will have far more important things to worry about than dusting and ironing.

4. Looking after a new-born baby is draining, both emotionally and physically.  You need to rest when you can and make sure you eat healthy, regular meals.

5. Babies are not as fragile as you think. Don’t worry if everyone wants to cuddle them and older children want to hold them.  As long as it is all supervised baby will be fine.  You don’t need to avoid everyone who has a cold or a sniffle.  This is especially true if you are breastfeeding as your baby will have immunity from all sorts of things via your breast milk.

6. Crying babies are stressful. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

7. Most of all, try to RELAX and enjoy these early days.  They really don’t last long, before you know it you will be waving your little one-off at the school gate for his/her first day at school.

What about you?  What do wish you had known before your baby arrived?

Expecting a baby? What to pack in your hospital bag.

19 Jan

Even if you are planning a homebirth it is always a good idea to pack a bag for the hospital just in case.  As with the birth of my son, things don’t always go according to your birth plan and you may find you have to go into hospital for some or all of your labour and birth.  I never really found a good list of things to pack so I’ve put together my own, I hope some of you will find it helpful!

Things for the mum to be:

Your birth plan and maternity notes

Dressing gown – you might be wondering around the labour ward for quite a while

A couple of nighties (if you plan to breastfeed you might want to make sure you have some that make this easier)

Slippers or flip flops

Socks – your feet can get really cold in labour

Snacks for you and your birth partner – try to avoid sugary snacks and stick to things like bananas and wholegrain bars that will give you more sustained energy.  Don’t forget bottles of water or juice.  Go for ones that are easy to sip from, not cans

Swimsuit for you and your partner if you are planning a water birth.  If you are not planning a waterbirth make sure you have something comfortable to labour in.  An old T Shirt and jogging bottoms are fine – keep in mind that whatever you wear may get a bit messy

A change of clothes for when you go home.  Don’t expect to go back to your old pre-maternity clothing as soon as your baby is born.  I’m afraid it takes a bit longer than that!

Nursing bra and breast pads.  Reusable breast pads work out far cheaper than buying disposable ones

Big comfy pants or disposable pants

Take your own towel, it’s unlikely the hospital will provide one

Large sanitary towels

Camera (don’t forget to make sure batteries are charged!)

Toiletries, including deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush etc.  Lip balm is also a good idea as you may get dehydrated.  If you have long hair you might want to take hair bands etc to keep it out of the way when you are in labour – it’s amazing the little things that can annoy you when you are having contractions!

Items needed for baby

Baby clothes, including hat, scratch mittens, 2 – 3 baby grows and vests

Blanket for baby

Washable or disposable nappies and wet wipes.  Don’t forget you can get washable wet wipes too!

Muslin squares – great for mopping up sick and dribble

A going home outfit, don’t forget a snowsuit or similar if the weather is cold

Don’t forget, you will also need your baby car seat.  You won’t be allowed to leave the hospital without it

Other items you might want to take:

Ear plugs!  It can be impossible to get any rest in hospital because of the comings and goings all night long, don’t worry you will still hear you baby if he/she cries

Herbal teaschamomile is particularly good for it’s soothing and calming properties

Essential oils – try lavender or Bergamot.  You can either add a few drops to some carrier oil and use as a massage oil, or place a couple of drops on a tissue and inhale or sniff the oils.    There is a really good article on which oils to use during pregnancy and labour here.

An ipod or some other kind of music player, along with your own choice of music.  This can really help with distraction and relaxation

TENS machine.  If you plan to use one it is advisable to take your own as the hospital may not have one available

Arnica tablets.  I swore by these after my second birth.  I recovered from stitching and bruising far quicker than I did after my first baby was born when I hadn’t taken them.  They are homeopathic so perfectly safe for you to take whilst pregnant or breastfeeding.  You can start to take them when you go into labour

Telephone numbers and change (or your mobile phone) for those all important phone calls at 2 am!!

Was there anything else you found useful to have while you were in hospital?  Was there anything you desperately missed that you would recommend taking?