I feel his heartbeat. I can hear him breathing. He is right here to kiss. His skin is warm. Sleeping. He trusts me so much. I am the centre of his world and so he is mine. He is listening to my heartbeat. He is calm. I trust he knows what is the best for him. I give him all my heart, my attention, I encourage him and show him the rest of the world. I know he would tell me if he needs anything more. He knows that I would listen. I am here for my baby, he was born to make me a mother. His mother. His carer. The one who will listen to his heartbeat until the last one and even beyond.
To celebrate the International Breastfeeding Day and the start of the Breastfeeding Week I would like to express my appreciation to those mums who did not give up, who worked hard. I would like to show respect for those who managed to express one little drop of breastmilk for their babies. I would like to encourage those who feel that they were not successful breastfeeder (like me), that while breastfeeding is important, it is not the only way to take care and nurture of their babies, so they might try again with their next baby, they are also fantastic mums. I know that for most of us, breastfeeding does not come easy and we could list long why it is so difficult. But today, I would like you to give me a GOOD example, a lovely memory, a cute story and list the benefit of breastfeeding.
"Breastfeeding helped me form a strong bond with my 3rd baby. I wasnt ready for her to be convinced but it happened and I resented it. I fed her until she was 22 months and we are now best buddies x x I just think if I hadn't fed her and not been together so much it may not of been the same for us because of how I felt "
"When my daughter was 15 weeks old we got stuck in a traffic jam, absolutely stationary for 2 hours. I've have never been happier that I persevered with breastfeeding! x"
"We had a really difficult start with breast feeding 11 months ago and I nearly gave up but we persevered and since then I have been grateful EVERY night that I don't have to get up to make a bottle and we can just really easily snuggle up together in bed to feed. " " It was the first time I breastfed Seth and it actually felt right, when he was about 6 months old. It was a few weeks after his tongue tie had been cut, he finally latched properly and I felt that rush of calm and love, the oxytocin rush that everyone had told me about. Until then feeding had been a battle, a war of attrition and at that moment it finally became a pleasure. I'm still angry that it took so long to get there because we weren't listened to but I'm glad we're doing well now " "We had several fantastic and lovely moments together, specially at bedtime and by nights. I loved being a breastfeeding mother."
I gave lots of thoughts how to approach the World Breastfeeding Week. As member of the local attachment parenting group I felt that we really should do something, we should advocate, celebrate, organise events.
Then I realized that breastfeeding is not a happy story for everyone. There are mums who fight really hard to be able to breastfeed. There are mums who cry a lot, they are full of emotions, overwhelmed with the love they feel for their baby and want to give and give and more. And they feel that they failed. They failed their child. Which is not true, yet a valid emotion.
I support breastfeeding, I believe that a breastfeeding mum is one of the most beautiful creatures of nature. I wish every mum would and could breastfeed their baby.
When we say that breastfeeding is the best for the baby and the mother, we should not forget those tears and efforts, we should remind ourselves that those mums who want to breastfeed but cannot are not failures, they are fantastic mums.
While breastfeeding is a winning goal and, yes, for Life!, the balance should be found and when it is not the best for baby and mum that should be respected, as well.
I do not say that those mums who cannot breastfeed or do not want to feed their babies in this way are less or more.
Mothers need support, mothers need help, mothers must be heard, mothers need more information and they need to learn more - either from their own mother, family, friends, through support groups, lactation consultant or from a health professional.
Mothers need to be accepted. Breastfeeding should not be a topic of judgemental conversations or debates. Breastfeeding is the most natural way of feeding and human milk is the best for a human.
I ask the attachment parenting group to celebrate this week with respect and understanding, with support and love!
Read more: http://worldbreastfeedingweek.org
The development of baby's spine to the typical S-shape usually takes a bit more than one year and can be divided in three stages.
When a baby is born the spine is in total kyphosis which means it's rounded in the shape of a C. None of the muscles which help straighten the spine are strong enough yet.
The first part of the spine to be straightened is the uppermost part, called cervical region. When a baby learns to hold up his head, usually around 3-4 months, the curve (kyphosis) of this part slowly gets straighter and finally slightly curved the other way (cervical lordosis).
When a baby learns to sit up, usually around 9 months, the muscles in the middle of the spine (thoracic region) get stronger and help supporting the baby's back. The spine in this part stays rounded (thoracic kyphosis).
Finally the lower back (lumbar area) gets straightened and curved the other way (lumbar lordosis). This stage is finished when a child has learned to walk, usually around 12-18 months. The typical S-shape has been reached as the child's muscles are strong enough to hold up the whole back1,2.
What does that mean for carrying your baby?
The younger a baby is the more important it is to support the spine on it's whole length because there are not enough muscles to support the back and also the intervertebral discs cannot act as shock absorbers yet. A good sling therefore supports the baby's back evenly like a firm bandage so his back cannot slump in it. The slings material needs to be soft enough and not too stiff to achieve this effect, and the sling needs to be adjustable to offer support as needed.
Good support of a rounded back is also important for older babies when they fall asleep because then their muscles relax and the sling needs to compensate this.
Development of Baby's Hips
In order to find the ideal way to carry a baby we have to take a look at baby's anatomy. When a baby is born, some of his skeleton is still cartilage and not yet proper bone. Ossification (= cartilage becoming bone) is a process which takes years and is finished when a human being is fully grown up3,4.
One part of baby's body which contains much cartilage is the pelvis. It initially consists of several bones which are held together by cartilage5. In a newborn, where the femoral head (top of the upper leg bone) meets the hip socket (acetabulum), three bony parts of the pelvis are joined together by cartilage and everything is still a bit soft. Also the femoral head is still formed by cartilage. Ossification of the pelvis and the femoral head happen gradually and are usually finished within the first 9 months of life. Especially in this time it's important to aid the development of the hip by supporting correct positioning of the femoral head because wrong positioning, such as tight swaddling, may lead to hip dysplasia6,7.
There is an ideal leg position which centers the femur head right in the middle of the hip socket and thus aids the development of baby's hips. It's described as M-position, frog-position or spread-squat-position and means that baby's knees are higher up than his bottom and that his legs are spread apart ca. 90° (for those with medical background: legs should be flexed min. 100°, abduction should be 30-45°). Babies automatically assume this position when lifted up, because it's also ideal for being carried on the mothers hip. Also babies treated for hip dysplasia using a Pavlik harness or Frejka pillow have their legs in this position6.
A baby carried in the M-position will have a rounded back because the tilt in the pelvis causes the spine to become rounded and viceversa. You can see this in the left-hand photo showing a newborn in a red wrap.
In a cradle carry (baby is lying on her back in a hammock-style sling) a correct M-position cannot be achieved because her legs cannot be spread. So this position is not recommended at all by hip dysplasia specialists8. Instead upright positions, especially on the mothers hip are better for the hip, if a carrier supports correct positioning and a round back.
Here are some pics showing the M-position in a newborn, a 4-month old and a toddler:
A good carrier allows the baby to be carried in the M-position. This is not possible if the fabric in baby's crotch is too narrow (it should support the whole upper leg and reach from knee to knee) or if baby's legs are spread too far apart. So before buying a baby carrier check how a baby sits in there, either by trying it out with your baby or by looking at photos.
Imagine what it would feel like for you to sit in a baby carrier: Wouldn't you prefer to have your whole upper legs supported instead of dangling from your crotch?
Bedsharing can be very dangerous, so can most things in life. Sleeping with a baby on a sofa, sharing a bed with a baby if you formula feed, smoke (or smoked during pregnancy), if you have drunk alcohol, if you have taken prescription medication or recreational drugs can all be incredibly dangerous.
Sharing a bed with your baby following some simple rules (see our article here) has not been shown to be dangerous in any research. Sadly there have been no studies done to date that include all of the variable contained in sensible bedsharing advice. The research is always missing important variables.
2. Two Thirds of all SIDS Cases Occur When the Baby Was Sleeping With a Parent.
As mentioned above research that categorically states that bedsharing is far more risky than a baby sleeping alone is sadly deeply flawed. It misses so many important variables and while these studies have provided a good opportunity for scientists to clear up the issue of bedsharing safety sadly all they have done to date is confused the issue. It is naive at best and deceiving at worse to use these studies to tell parents not to sleep with their babies. Many are concerned that anti-bedsharing research may actually put some babies at more risk as their parents may fall asleep with them in bed accidentally, having not been made aware of what the risks are or how to reduce them.
3. It’s Not Good for the Baby, They Need to Learn Independence
Before independence first comes dependence. When a baby is born they need us, they cannot survive without us, indeed they do not even realise they are a separate entity to us until they are 3mths old. So much research speaks about the importance of infant attachment, baby-carer bond, and how if an infant is allowed to be as attached to their parent as they need then we can help to create a confident toddler, child and adult. Separating an infant from it’s parent before he or she is ready to separate does not make him autonomous or independent, it deprives him of a basic need.
4. Bedsharing Kills Marriages
Stress & exhaustion with a non sleeping crying baby is more likely to affect a marriage than a small person in the bed. In fact most marriages break down because of a lack of communication or simply growing apart. Babies are small for such a short time, if parents agree on a parenting strategy and communicate well with each other this clearly isn’t an issue.
What about sex? is really the undercurrent here though, for most new mothers sex is the furthest thing from their minds. After the birth hormones are haywire, bodies are sore and tender, where the baby sleeps is almost irrelevant in this respect. This also presumes that it is only possible to have sex in bed at night, which is clearly not true.
1. Bedsharing Can be Safe
In many countries bedsharing is the cultural norm. During the 1990s, in Japan the SIDs rate was only one tenth of that of the West and in Hong Kong, it was only 3%. Interestingly bedsharing is normal, and very common, in Japan and Hong Kong. All around the world parents sleep with their infants in their beds, bedsharing rates are as high as 60-70% in some societies, the SIDS rates do not correlate with this.
To quote William Sears, MD:
“Until a legitimate survey is done to determine how many babies sleep with their parents, and this is factored into the rate of SIDS in a bed versus a crib, it is unwarranted to state that sleeping in a crib is safer than a bed. If the incidence of SIDS is dramatically higher in crib versus a parent’s bed, and because the cases of accidental smothering and entrapment are only 1.5% of the total SIDS cases, then sleeping with a baby in your bed would be far safer than putting baby in a crib. The answer is not to tell parents they shouldn’t sleep with their baby, but rather to educate them on how to sleep with their infants safely.”
2. Bedsharing May Save Lives
There are many reasons where it may be safer for a baby to be in close proximity to its parent(s) including the concept of limbic regulation and gaseous exchange, decreased levels of infant apnoea, and the increased arousability in breastfeeding mums (resulting in heightened awareness to their infants). Research has found infant apnoea decreased by up to 60% in studies when babies are near to someone else breathing whilst sleeping.
3. Bedsharing Can Mean More Sleep For Everyone.
Many parents spend hours fighting their babies, returning them to their cribs and moses baskets as soon as they fall asleep, where they awaken and cry. Conversely many comment that their babies will snooze for hours in their arms. Babies are likely to wake more regularly and feed more regularly during the night when in their parent’s bed, however the awakenings are shorter and often parents aren’t fully aware of all of them.
4. Bedsharing Helps Breastfeeding & Milk Supply
Bedsharing and breastfeeding go hand in hand, indeed we know the research says it is only breastfeeding mothers who should co-sleep with their babies (due to their heightened states of arousal to their infant), we know that the close physical contact – oftentimes skin to skin – that comes with bedsharing can make the breastfeeding experience easier. We also know that breastfeeding alone candecrease SIDs risk – imagine what a powerful combination we have in terms of decreasing SIDs risks when we combine safe bedsharing and breastfeeding.