Welcome to the October Carnival of Breastfeeding! This month's theme is "What I Wish I Had Known..." and links to all the other posts in the carnival will appear below during the day. Enjoy reading them all.
There are two pieces of advice that would have totally changed the uncertain scary, sleep deprived early days with my daughter. They are simple tips yet I never read them in a book until I was given a copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, eight months into my mothering adventures. So many mums I have talked to have agreed how useful these pieces of wisdom have been to them - in fact I have often wondered why they are not more widely advised. So, without further ado, here they are.
First: the best way to get your baby to nap and to get some sleep yourself is to lie down beside it, nurse it to sleep and allow yourself to rest with it until it wakes. This is so obvious, yet most of us believe we "should" put the baby down in a basket or crib and sleep on our own somewhere else. Every book advises new mothers to sleep when their babies sleep, but if you are breastfeeding in a chair and your baby nods off in your lap, what are you supposed to do? So, to any new mothers out there who are reading this: feel no guilt about cuddling up in bed with your little one for a gorgeous nap. Treasure every moment you get to spend in such a lovely yummy way. And get someone else to do the housework. (Even daytime naps like this count as co-sleeping, and as such, should be done safely. Though, it must be said, it is safer to intentionally co-sleep with your little one in a bed than to drop off on a sofa with the baby on your knee).
Secondly: get a sling that you can breastfeed in. Seriously, this changed my life. A sling is such a warm, cosy place for a baby to be, and when you add the comfort of suckling it becomes almost impossible for a baby not to settle down and sleep. What is so great about nursing a baby to sleep in a sling is that it untethers you from the sofa: whether the baby is awake, asleep or in the process of dropping off, you can wander about the house, go outside, use a computer or do whatever else that appeals. The sling also provides a familiar environment for the baby wherever you happen to be, so it will fall asleep more easily in strange surroundings. What is perhaps most useful for parents of spirited, high needs babies is the fact that it is easier to put a baby down without waking it when it is in a sling than when it is just being carried. And if you do manage to put your sleeping baby down, you can enjoy some precious moments of me-time because you should be able to slide your body out from within the sling without disturbing the baby. I found my ring sling incredibly useful for this and I still use it nowadays to hip-carry my 13 month old daughter. I am sure a stretchy wrap would be equally as good.
The fact that these simple tips, that can make such a difference, are omitted from standard childcare manuals amazes me. I think it owes a lot to our society's irrational fear of letting our babies control us that we are afraid to do such natural things as napping with our babies or carrying them around. So, without wishing to become some kind of annoying advice-giving know-it-all, I spread the word whenever I can (and almost always find someone who completely agrees with me, and, like me, can't understand why we all had to learn these things the hard way). May you, dear reader, have many happy and restful days with your baby.
Fancy Pancakes: Wish I'd Heard More Good Things
The Milk Mama: When breastfeeding begins badly, and what I should have done about it
Hobo Mama: What I wish I'd known when I started breastfeeding
My World Edenwild: What I Wish I'd Known Then: A Poem
Happy Bambino: I wish I had known then…that it wasn’t up to me alone
Three Girl Pile-Up: 4 things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding
Birth Activist: What I Wish I Would Have Known About Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Moms Unite!: You Don't Have to Grin and Bear It
Momma's Angel: What I Wish I’d Known Then – My List For Next Time
The Starr Family Blogg: I Wish I Would Have Known
Whozat: If I'd Known Then
Massachusetts Friends of Midwives: What I wish I’d known back then about breastfeeding
Fighting Frumpy: When Breastfeeding Feels Wrong
Breastfeeding Mums: 15 Breastfeeding Facts I Wish I'd Known as a First Time Breastfeeding Mum
Mum Unplugged: What I Wish I'd Known Then
Blacktating: Breastfeeding is life changing
Breastfeeding 1-2-3: Trust Yourself and Your Body