- 5 months ago
Feed. Change nappies. Coax baby to sleep. Repeat.
One of the great contradictions about the first weeks of being a parent was that while it was one of the most joyful times of my life, it also felt a bit like being on a hamster wheel of routine, with very little chance of taking a break to get some perspective.
So when one of the women from my antenatal class at TheBumpWA encouraged me to sign up for the “Early Days” course, which started when my son was eight weeks old, I thought of it as a way of making sure we got out of the house, got a break, and met a few other mums.
It turned out to be all of that, and more.
On the first day, the facilitator asked us to break into groups and share something about ourselves that in no way related to our babies, pregnancy, or parenting.
I was at a loss. Everything that popped to mind was baby-related. The other women in the group seemed to be having the same problem. We all eventually scrounged up something to share, but it was a good way of jolting us back into ourselves. It was a gentle reminder that while my son was my new top priority, if I was going to be a good parent, I needed to take care of myself too.
This seemingly basic icebreaker was much like the rest of the class– no heavy-handed parenting advice, just a little help in getting conversations started… and once we started talking, it was hard to put on the brakes. Many of the mums often stayed over an hour after the class wrapped up.
With nine mothers whose babies were around the same age, the class was small enough to allow us all to get to know each other well and felt safe enough to be honest about our experiences. It was reassuring to hear that other mothers were having the same struggles as me. Waking up every two hours at night? I wasn’t alone. A baby that hates tummytime? Join the club.
The most valuable part of the course didn’t have to do with what we discussed as much as it did with how we discussed. Conversations about parenting can sometimes feel like navigating a minefield, with deeply held beliefs about what is best for children making it difficult to listen to other points of view.
The ground rule for the class was to be encouraging rather than judgmental– to resist the temptation to be smug when things were going well for us, and to ask for help when there were bumps in the road rather than being insecure and self-pitying.
And perhaps most importantly, to bring a sense of humour and have fun.
Sure, we aired a lot of frustrations– there was a lot of lamenting about sleepless nights!– but we were also able to laugh at our foibles and delight in others’ successes.
During the course of only a few weeks, we watched each others’ children grow bigger, develop the same behaviours, like suddenly discovering that they could roll over, begin to interact with one another, and show us glimpses of their personalities.
Thefacilitators fostered a sense of community that helped me make it every week, when my son was being fussy. It helped that refreshments were served, including the best clotted cream scones I have ever tasted!
Our group represented relatively diverse parenting decisions on everything from whether to use cloth nappies or disposables to co-sleeping to vaccinations, differences that often helped fuel learning rather than tension. One mum was practising “elimination communication”– a form of early toilet training– something that a number of us had been curious about, but didn’t know much about.
The facilitators often had research and anecdotes from years of experiences at the ready, but we also learned to tap into each other’s’ parenting wisdom. As a group, we had a wealth of knowledge on everything from baby swimming classes to chiropractors to how to keep a dummy in a baby’s mouth.
The ground rules for the class have affected the way I approach conversations on parenting generally. It’s helped me with the delicate balance between being secure and confident in my parenting decisions, and being open to new ideas.
Category archives: Post Natal Support
- 2 years ago
Motherhood can be a challenging and isolating experience. For a first time mother, the process of accepting this new life as normal can be a difficult one filled with fear and devoid of confidence. But there is hope in a group of people all facing the same problems at the same time: a mothers’ group. You should join one, and here’s why.
- FOR SUPPORT
Some women find it helpful to be a part of a group with babies of a similar age, who are going through the same experiences, who live in the same area and are just as lost as each other. Statistics show that new mothers with a strong support network are less likely to experience depression after birth. The simple act of talking to someone else about the struggle can be an amazing gift, and one that changes lives.
- TO LEARN
A mothers’ group is a community based upon motherhood, common struggles and the benefits of face to face human connection. If you’re a first time mother it’s only natural to be unsure of many things about parenting and raising a baby, and Google can only tell you so much. By being with other mothers who’ve done it before, or are in the same uncertain shoes, you can swap stories about dodging food bowls, fighting midnight battles and find out that yes, this is how it’s meant to be.
You will learn that children are different, and that your style of motherhood is a different. Whether it’s with a visiting midwife or another mother, the simple act of talking about those differences can be the first step to accepting within yourself that your style of motherhood is perfectly alright.
- FOR A CONNECTION
A mothers’ group is about being a mother, and the power of this common connection should not be overrated. Friends who aren’t parents may not understand the trials of being a new mother, and that disconnect can drive you away from them, or be enough to prevent you from turning to them from help. Or, simply, when you see your single friends you just might want to gossip and catch up on a world far removed from nappies and teething.
But those in a mothers’ group are all in the same position and are sharing experiences at a similar stage in life. This sense of unity brought on by a commonality can create a bond that builds trust and comfort, and gives you someone to turn to when the stress is high and the self-confidence is low.
- AND FOR A REMINDER THAT EVERYTHING’S OKAY
Sometimes it’s all about realising that you are doing your best to cope with your new life, and that sometimes you hate the stress and the fatigue and the tension, and that’s okay. Every day has its challenges, just as every life and every family does, and sometimes all you need is to see a group of mothers with the same fears and know that, yes, this is motherhood, and everything is okay.
TheBumpWA runs Bumps to Bubs and Beyond Bubs groups every Friday between 10 am and 12 noon at Cockburn. Call us at 9498 6033 for more information.
- 2 years ago
Ideal age gaps between siblings?
If you’re planning on having multiple children, you might be thinking about the ideal age gaps between siblings to enjoy a harmonious family life. But, is there such a thing?
There are no rules to planning a family, and different families are as unique as the personalities that make them up. However, there are some considerations you may want to think about when it comes to planning your family.
Your Health and Wellbeing
There are a few factors to think about when it comes to assessing your health and wellbeing. If you’re considering having a child soon after your last pregnancy, you might like to think about how quickly you recovered after your last pregnancy and the physical stress that another pregnancy might put on your body.
If you had any complications during your last pregnancy, or labour, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice from a trusted medical professional about how long you should wait before falling pregnant again.
Are you able to nurture a new pregnancy as well as breastfeeding your baby? Both activities demand nutrients from the mother, so it’s important to carefully consider nutrition and what is needed to sustain two babies, as well as yourself, without compromising your health. If you have any concerns about fertility you may not want to space out your children over a few years when that might make it harder to fall pregnant again.
Children are expensive, there is no doubt about it, so it’s a good idea to think about family income and budget when thinking of adding another child to the family. While every family’s ‘comfortable budget’ will look different, things like taking extra time off work, additional day care fees, and medical expenses might impact your household cash flow quite significantly.
You might even find yourself considering purchasing a bigger car, or larger house to accommodate your growing family. These large assets can have a big impact on day-to-day life and may also influence your decision.
Your family dynamics
There is as many opinions as there are people on whether or not having children close together increases their companionship with each other. Children who are close in age may more naturally become friends during their younger years, whereas children who are further apart may have a more hierarchical relationship.
But equally, it may not work that way. Your children have their own personalities and the potential to fight with each other, or be best of friends, will vary from day to day (or hour to hour) no matter how big or small the age gap is between them.
The pros and cons
Having babies close together might condense your total years of parenting, but might also make the process more intense as you raise children who are at similar developmental stages of their lives. In the early days, this might mean more sleepless nights, intense days as you juggle two wholly dependent infants, and more consecutive time out of the workforce.
However it might also make it easier to reuse clothes, keep them both occupied as they play together on activities that suit both of them, and the reduction of overall years in active parenting which might be especially helpful for older parents.
On the other hand, spacing children apart by a few years (or more!) will increase the total years in active parenting, but will allow for some breathing room between each one. You can go back to work between maternity leave blocks, if that’s something that’s also important to you. You also might be able to get back to better sleep patterns after those intense months of night-time feeds.
At 2 or 3 years old, an older sibling will be a little bit more independent than their infant sibling, and won’t rely on you for quite as much. They can walk beside the pram, occupy themselves a little bit more when you have your hands full, and will be less reliant on your breast milk.
However, it might also increase the likelihood of sibling rivalry and they might be more reluctant to play together, particularly when one child can’t do as much as their older sibling. It will also spread out the years of active parenting which may not be ideal for you, depending on your plans.
The final word
It really is up to how you and your partner feel about how a new baby will affect your lives and family. Your priorities will determine whether having another child soon after the last will be ideal for you, or whether it would be preferable to wait.
There is no right answer but, whatever you decide, your family will be just the way it was meant to be all along.
- 3 years ago
Babies spend a lot of their time sleeping. Some sleeping arrangements are not safe. They can increase the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI) including SIDS and fatal sleeping accidents. SIDS remains the most common category of deaths between one month and one year of age. Research has found some important ways to reduce the risk of sudden infant death and create a safe sleeping environment for babies.
How to Sleep your Baby Safely:
1. Sleep baby on the back from birth, not on the tummy or side
2. Sleep baby with head and face uncovered
3. Keep baby smoke free before birth and after
4. Provide a safe sleeping environment night and day
5. Sleep baby in their own safe sleeping place in the same room as an adult caregiver for the first six to twelve months
6. Breastfeed baby
For more information go to http://www.sidsandkids.org/safe-sleeping/