The four month sleep regression is hell in a Gro-bag

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So Friday had me in tears of stress, tiredness & frustration.

I’ve been trying to nap train baby for a week now, taking ideas from my sister-in-law A and biological sister N. The first nap of the day is about an hour after baby has woken up, so when we come downstairs I pop her almost straight in the sling whilst I make lunches for my partner and I. He has awful IBS and his stomach reacts badly to fat, and I’m still trying to lose the rest of my baby weight, so it’s very healthy: wholegrain rice salad with cottage cheese, and low fat yoghurt with strawberries, blueberries & honey. He also has Herbalife shakes so if I remember I make one of those up for him too (they’re great, by the way – for losing weight or just to have in the cupboard as a good snack, with soy milk). I also do the washing up from the night before, because that’s how we roll! Anyways I pop on a white noise app on my phone, playing through a little bluetooth speaker I got (Divoom Bluetooth Bean – tiny, very portable, great sound, cheap!) and bounce around the kitchen making shushing noises until she drops off for a while.

Then around 1 hour 1/2 to two hours later I start the next nap – into the car seat on the travel system chassis (age hates the pram), with a blanket, muslin, favourite dragon toy & white noise on the speaker again, and I sing my favourite song to her, ‘The Temptation Of Adam’ by Josh Ritter, and push over the rugs in the dining room which provide a soporific bump. The record is ten minutes to go to sleep, she’s definitely getting trained to the white noise!

However on Friday, baby wouldn’t nap. Possibly she was picking up on bad vibes because I was upset with my partner having argued about me not doing enough in our relationship, and around the house, and I’d text him but he was ignoring me & I was getting more & more upset. And baby got more & more upset, as she got progressively more shattered.

I tried every one of our usual techniques twice: pushing in the buggy, breastfeeding on a cushion, bouncing in my arms, breastfeeding & cuddling on the bed, but she kept arching her back, crying, looking at me as if to say, ‘make it better mummy!’ I guessed her reflux must have been bad too, and breastfeeding to sleep can be problematic when you’ve filled them up but they’re still not sleepy, as it just come back up, overflowing, and upsets them.

After three hours of this, I called my partner in tears & asked him to come home & help. He works ten minutes’ walk up the road so fortunately he came back, to find I’d temporarily distracted baby with a YouTube animation of black & white butterflies, but as soon as he took her, the screaming started again. However his presence must have had a calming effect on one or other of us, as after ten minutes I got her to have a boob suck & a snooze, thank god. I thought it wouldn’t get that bad again.

My partner and I talked it through, and worked out our differences. And last night was supposed to be a nice adult night – he was going to make a pizza from scratch (he’s an excellent cook) and I’d help. However baby had different ideas, of course!

I usually feed baby to sleep on a pillow, sat on the bed, with her moses basket beside me, and when she’s fast asleep I transfer her to her bed. I usually feed one side then the other, partially to fill her up and partially as one nipple is more pronounced and she has a habit of keeping it in her mouth, sucked in, and I can’t remove it without waking her, whereas the other is still flat & needs work to keep it pulled out, so when she’s falling asleep it’s easier to remove. Last night she was dropping off when I switched sides but as soon as I offered her the other nipple she seemed to wake up – very unusual. She was looking up at me with her huge blue eyes & chatting at me, being totally adorable, which was very endearing for a while. However, she wouldn’t drift off, she kept looking at me & wouldn’t go back to feeding, and eventually started getting cranky & being sick, which must have hurt her throat, so I had to hold her upright & walk her around, rocking & patting, but still no sleep. She was totally fighting it, she had her dazed stare on when she was quiet & was screaming the house down the rest of the time.

After 1 hour 1/2 of failure my partner brought me up homemade cheesey garlic bread, which helped morales. After 2 & 1/2 hours, 2 poos, and reflux on 3 onesies & two Gro-bags I admitted defeat, my partner made the pizza (it was amazing), and I managed to placate baby into having a soothing, sleep-inducing boob in front of the TV, (white noise still on) whilst I had a well-deserved glass of red. Then when she was finally asleep I transfered her upstairs to her own bed (she didn’t even wake up) and crashed out myself. Happy bank holiday!!

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Get Lansinoh HPA Lanolin nipple cream for free!

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Did you know that you can get Lansinoh Lanolin cream for free on prescription?? I came across this on the BabyCentre forums. It’s a brilliant product for helping soothe & heal sore & damaged nipples, as nipples are ‘moist healing tissue’ it really helps. If you’re expecting, get it in preparation!

Whilst you’re pregnant in the UK you get all prescriptions free of you apply for your maternity exception certificate, and since this wonder cream is £10.49 in Boots it’s definitely worth getting it prescribed.

Tongue tie UK – new organisation raising awareness of tongue & lip tie

On Twitter I came across a new group aiming to educate & raise awareness about a matter close to my heart – tongue tie. Please follow, like, add, etc & make sure every mum & baby gets the help they need.

From their site:

“Tongue-tie UK was created by parents of babies with tongue-tie, to help other parents get access to information and support about tongue-ties and lip-ties in babies and children. We work with a range of healthcare professionals, breastfeeding experts and other support groups, in order to build our knowledge base, and in order to best serve the needs of those that we support.”

Tongue Tie UK Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonguetieuk

Tongue Tie UK website: http://www.tonguetieuk.org

Tongue Tie UK on Twitter: @tonguetiesuk

Feeding in a baby sleeping bag

Am I being lazy not getting baby out of her sleeping bag for night feeds? It wakes her up getting her in & out of it, and she falls asleep during feeds, so waking her is the last thing I want to do right now! I love her baby sleeping bag – her Irish/Australian grannny got it for her – but I have started putting a little fabric bib over baby to stop it getting covered in my milk and baby puke (as everything inevitably does). Is it that supremely slovenly?

 

However that’s a bit of an irrelevant consideration right now as baby seems to be quite awake, wriggling around on me & having a chat with my boob. Just now she puked down my cleavage & then gave me the most enormous grin – I couldn’t help but smile back, I know you’re not supposed to interact at night to teach them it’s nighttime, but that huge open-mouthed grin is irresistible!

We did have a difficult evening of restlessness – whingey & very wriggly when feeding, pulling & writhing at the breast which gave me very sore nipples. I’m worried it’s the antibiotics in on, as the site effects list restlessness, however I’ve been on them for 2.5 weeks now & she’s not been like this all the time. I’ve read on the Babycentre forums this nipple pulling referred to as ‘niplash’!! People attribute it to a variety of things – mostly a need to be burped (tried that), or milk production slowing down, and baby trying to stimulate it as it changes to hind milk. Whatever it was, when we did get to sleep at around midnight, aside from a possible dream feed somewhere in the early hours (dream for both of us – I hazily remember feeding her in the night! We co-sleep) she slept until 5:45, which is a new record! So maybe I’ll let her off the wriggling & niplash… Anything for more sleep!

Sorely tempted to abandon breastfeeding?

I’ve had two people – including the health visitor – say that most people in my position would have given up breastfeeding by now.

I’ve had cracked & bloody nipples, a baby with tongue tie and then resulting nipple tissue bacterial infection, for which I’m on my third course of antibiotics. I’d upload a photo of my nipples but it would make you feel pretty uncomfortable, at their worst they looked truly awful – pusy yellow & red angry-looking tissue surrounding each nipple. And of course the pain! To start with it was pain from a poor latch, then an agonising letdown pain, toe-curling, teeth-gritting, for the first 3-4 weeks, and then the pain from the nipple infection, of baby’s pneumatic suck on raw tissue.

The truth is not that I’m brave, or determined, particularly – it’s that I’ve been too lazy & too proud to give up. Too lazy to buy all the equipment needed to pump/for formula, and to sterilise it all each time, and too proud to admit to the women closest to me – all of whom had breastfeeding problems of their own, but battled through it – that I couldn’t do it. Well I suppose that took determination of a kind, just not for the best reasons!

I have discovered that I can put up with much more pain than I ever imagined. When I was trying to get the latch right and I’d get nipple pain from a bad latch-on technique, I’d rather put up with the pain than try detach baby & start again. I quickly learnt that aside from my partner understandably getting frustrated with me, putting up with pain this time round because I’m too lazy or scared of the stress of trying to get a good latch, means more pain next time, from sore, damaged nipples. And it increases exponentially.

At nearly 6 weeks however it is getting much better. The nips are nearly healed, okay so one has decided to go back to being flat but we can deal with that. The antibiotics have made me constipated, which gave me a bleeding bum, and apparently the specific type, flucloxacillin, is notorious for causing thrush, so I’m being careful. Baby has got much better at latching on too. I am still dealing with profuse milk production so I need to wear breast pads all the time & cover my clothes & baby with muslin when feeding, but that isn’t too bad. I can’t wait for the day when breastfeeding is totally pain-free & effortless – hopefully very soon!

Have you been tempted to give up? Or perhaps you did? Do you regret it, or was it a relief? Let me know in the comments.

Breastfeeding positions – what works?

So I’ve been trying all the positions in the book to get a good latch out of baby – so far ‘laid back’ or ‘biological nurturing’ has been by far the most successful. It’s relaxing for baby, it calms her & regulates her breathing & heart rate, it encourages a deep &  open latch and you can move baby around a bit to ease nipple discomfort. For me, it’s comfortable on the sofa or in bed, it leaves me a hand free for cups of tea (or blogging!), and when she’s done she can fall asleep on me easily – very cute. Also as your milk supply has to work against gravity, it can slow down an overactive supply.

However as one of my nipples can go flat, this position sometimes means baby lands her head on my nipple and totally flattens it, meaning she can’t find it, or she tries to suck it out but ends up only latched onto the nipple, not the breast. I find if I get cold, or experience a let down, the nipple comes out on its own which makes latching on much easier.

I also like the lying down position – great for in bed at night, especially as baby likes to fall asleep with my nipple in her mouth.

I’ve been trying the cross cradle and cradle positions but find baby isn’t great at opening up for a good latch. If she happens to yawn, I can stuff my breast in her mouth, but otherwise she just kinda looks at it, and licks it. I’m a bit worried about this! If I use a nipple shield I can get her to latch on, as there’s something with a bit more structure being guided into her mouth, but I’m worried about getting her used to the shield & having to wean her off. My other nipple is the opposite – always out and quite fat & thick, and fairly easy to get her to latch to.

Anyone else with nipple issues found one position or other better? I’ve read that the rugby hold can be good for sore nipples, but I haven’t had a go at that yet. I’ve also tried the upright or koala hold as I’ve read it’s good for reflux, but I latch her on laid back, then manoeuvre her upright. However she doesn’t feel very comfortable as she’s only 1 month old, and I need to support her head, neck & back.

Let me know your thoughts on the comments.

Tongue tie and hope

After we got home I struggled on, complaining, for a few days. My partner was sympathetic & supportive, but I thought something must be wrong, I didn’t know why, and I think he initially thought maybe I was making excuses. He convinced me to call my sister-in-law which I was too embarrassed to do to begin with, but made a huge difference. We wondered if the problem could be a tongue tie – her baby had it too. Also she told me breastfeeding can be agony to begin with, but it gets better – music to my ears, as I thought I was a total failure.   She lives in Ireland and had had a dreadful time getting her baby diagnosed with tongue tie. Her nipples were mangled but no one knew why, she went to the doctor but was told she just must have a poor latch. After her & her husband did some serious Googling they discovered tongue tie – where the frenulum, the small piece of skin that tethers your tongue to the base of your mouth, is too tight. It’s not always a problem but it can limit the amount baby can stick their tongue out, and therefore how effectively they can feed. It’s not really known if it affects speech in later life but it’s a painless quick snip so in the UK it’s straightforward. In Ireland no one knew what it was, and the poor family had to drive halfway across the country to see a specialist, after enduring 8 weeks of pain. A ridiculous ordeal, and not one I think I could have got through personally. On baby’s day 3, when the midwife came we raised the query of tongue tie, and she said she’d already spotted the possibility. We were booked in to see the midwife who specialised in breastfeeding at the hospital the next day. I had a desperate & painful night, part using nipple shields in an attempt to let my horrifically cracked, bloody & agonising nipples recover, but was worried she wasn’t getting enough milk & it was making her cough, tried with & without.We got baby back to hospital, screaming in her car seat & me hobbling with pain from stitches from my episiotomy. The specialist breastfeeding midwife was called Ingrid & was charming – articulate, intelligent, knowledge & not patronising. She said yes, baby has a posterior tongue tie – altho she can stich know her tongue out below her bottom lip (which not all tongue tied babies can) it’s clearly making a difference to breastfeeding & as we don’t know if it will make a difference to baby’s speech development, it’s recommended that it’s cut. She explained thoroughly what she was going to do – swaddle baby to keep her arms from flailing around, then use sharp, round-nosed scissors to snip the tie. There may or may not be any bleeding, there won’t be any pain (a grown woman investigating this had her own tie cut with no anaesthetic, and stated it didn’t hurt) and maybe some blood. It would heal quickly, as mouth injuries do, and feeding her immediately after would help. Baby wasn’t happy about the procedure, understandably. Her mouth seemed to bleed quite a bit, and when I tried to feed her using the cradle hold (the only position I’d tried so far), I was in agony.

Ingrid instead got me up on the bed in the ‘laid back’ position – reclining comfortably – then put baby on me and let her find her own way to my breast.  This is also known as ‘biological nurturing’. It’s quite amazing, it’s the way new mothers are encouraged to feed their newborns immediately after they’re born – it’s amazing that something so tiny has this built-in reflex to find mother’s breast. Well, like all mammals I suppose. It was founded by a British midwife called Suzanne Colson in 2008 whilst researching for her PhD. She concluded that there are 20 inborn neonatal reflexes that help babies to breastfeed, and concluded that human babies feed best on their stomachs. It’s great for calming baby, regulating their breathing & heart rate, and for getting a good deep latch. Plus Ingrid could tell from baby’s loud slurping noises that I had a very fast flow, and baby feeding against gravity helps with that. It’s a fairly newly recommended position but I’ve since found it invaluable. I found it a great deal more comfortable, and it really helped with my painful let down reflex. I nearly cried at the midwife. Baby seemed very happy too – it was a revelation! Anyone else had a baby with tongue tie? What was your experience? And how did you find breastfeeding afterwards?