Thursday, 17 June 2010

More Nappies...

Who would have thought there was more to say about nappies? I didn't! I assumed a brief rant about the horrors of disposables and the marvels of modern day reusables would mean I could toddle off feeling virtuous and leave the subject! However I didn't take into account a slightly obsessive Bebbington personality trait so, partly thanks to my sister who also has a young baby, I am now concerned about looking after my lovely nappies properly and I have also discovered the slightly barking world of what you could call fashion nappies. More on that in a minute!

When it comes to the bum genius flips that I was banging on about a while ago I have learnt that it really does do you good to pay attention to the manufacturers washing instructions. One area where perhaps Mummy does not know best.... I was just shoving them in on a 60 wash with an unspecified (IE far too much) amount of bio-d and a bit of ecover bleach. I also popped a bit of weleda calendula nappy rash cream (I know, I am very middle class, I can't help it!) on Jessies bum every time I changed her. Turns out all this can build up in the nappies which is not good considering they are a very high tech fabric and they need to last through some intensive washing and wearing for at least two years, and then go through the whole thing again if you pop out another sprog. I had stopped wet pailing off my own back. Wet pailing for those not in the know is the process of putting all your dirty nappies in a bucket of water to soak before they go in the wash. It's recommended by most cloth nappy experts that you just dry pail but I started dry pailing because there is nothing quite as revolting as a bucket of water that has had pooey nappies sitting in it for three days apart from perhaps spilling it on the floor and your feet as you try and manhandle a bag full of wet nappies into your washing machine.

Anyway, now the process is to hose off any poo in the bath with the shower connector and put everything in an empty bucket. When this is full (about every three days) it all goes on a 40 wash with a quarter of the recommended amount of washing detergent and nothing else. Hanging them out in the sun is the best stain remover but I don't generally have that option (although I'll get them next to the window on a sunny day), I have come to the conclusion though that a bit of staining on your nappies isn't the end of the world! But don't tell my grandmother I said that. I also don't put any cream on Jess' bum anymore unless she's looking a little rashy. It's actually a good idea to let babies have some nappy free time as much as possible so I try to let her have an hour in the morning after she gets up kicking about in the buff. It's quite good actually as she is getting into rolling over and sticking her feet in her mouth and being nappy free gives her as much opportunity to contort herself into all sorts of weird positions. And gets lots of lovely air at her bottom.

The reason I discovered all this (or actually looked at the labels on the nappies) was because I had housewife shame while staying with my sister in France. My nephew is also in bum genius flips so we were sharing nappy stuff and I had brought some of my wraps and inserts with me. Said wraps and inserts were the cause of my shame! For some reason they stank of stale wee when I took them off her, it was foul. And then of course I had to put them in my sisters nappy bucket and she had to transfer the revolting articles into the washing machine. I will still maintain that I am a feminist through and through but I am starting to realise now that you can be a feminist and be embarrassed by your lack of laundering ability. I'm hoping that arguing that looking after my nappies properly makes me a good environmentalist so it's OK...

Anyway, on returning home I decided to strip my nappies. There are many different ways of doing this involving white wine vinegar, fairy liquid or bicarb of soda but I plumped for the dishwasher tablet as it seemed the easiest! Basically shove all the inserts and wraps on a 60 wash with a dishwasher tablet and then do a second rinse when it's finished. Then hang them in the sun (if possible). They have come out sparkling but only time will tell if they don't smell like the cats litter tray when she's had one on over night!

And on to the fun bit. We chose our nappies on the basis of ease of use and cost effectiveness (and because I don't want to be dumping half a ton of nappies a year). I love my bum genius flips and I used to think they were very swish for coming in three different colours but I have now discovered that three different colours is actually incredibly pedestrian. If you don't have a baby or you aren't completely susceptible to pretty colours and patterns you should be OK but otherwise exercise caution and go and check out They stock a bewildering selection of what can only be described as fashion nappies. Although I believe they describe them as 'premium'. The brand names of these nappies are designed to hard wire directly into a new mothers frazzled cerebral cortex. Behold the likes of Bambooty, Blueberry, Cushie Tushies, Fuzzibunz, Issy Bear Nappies, Itti Bittis and Mini La La. The nappies themselves come in an overwhelming number of different prints and colours and fabrics. Most of them are designed to last from birth to potty training (which is good as they can cost up to £25 a pop) and crucially many of the brands produce their nappies in small runs of limited editions. Some will sell out within days of arriving on the website. Jess has one which was a gift and I love it! Even the stitching around the edges of the insert to soak up the wee is rainbow coloured. Genius. But it also works really well, the surface that goes against her bum was completely bone dry when the insert was sopping wet.

Jess Modelling her Issy Bear in White Skulls

In all seriousness though, these things are just gorgeous and would make a great gift for a new parent as, unlike most baby clothes, they'll last the wee one for a couple of years.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Mini feeding update

Got the baby led weaning book by Gill Rapley this weekend and have nearly finished it. It has really geared me up towards starting Jess' weaning and I'm very excited about it now! The basic plan is to start when she's about six months or when she's ready and let her take charge. She'll still get all the goodies she needs from me and she'll explore food in her own time. No purees, no aeroplane noises and no trying to force feed her stuff she doesn't want. It'll all be done in her own time and she'll be eating the food John and I eat.

Which leads me on to the second bit.... As many of you know, John is a vegan, I'm a carnivore and Jess will be a vegetarian until she can decide what she wants to do. I try to cook vegan at home for our joint meals usually with added cheese for me but having received an old vegan cookbook from my brother in law I'm feeling very inspired to make our meals more varied and healthier. I want Jess to be eating exciting, healthy food so makes sense that all three of us do. I'm not saying I'm going vegan but dairy will hopefully play a less central role in our shared meals.

If the courier turns up with my phone and lets me pop out for supplies we may well be having black eye bean burgers tonight. Yum!

Feeling very foodie inspired!

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Feeding part 1

Called this feeding part 1 as obviously Jess is still fully breastfeeding (apart from the lick of ice cream she had last week. And the raspberry coulis. And the wild strawberry..... etc etc). As time goes on things will get more varied so feeding part 2 will probably appear at some point!

Also, very little of this will be news to mothers but maybe for mothers to be or mothers to be to be it may be of some help or interest.

Breastfeeding has really blown me away. I was expecting it to be good but embarrassing and demanding. It has been beyond good and the embarrassment or any feeling that it is an embuggerance at all has just melted away. You find yourself in an odd head space where getting your boobs out seems like completely normal behaviour.

I should perhaps point out that I am a massive advocate of breastfeeding for the benefits it has for bonding with your child and the benefits to yours and their health, this probably extends to me being excessively anti formula feeding but to be honest I cannot see that there are many reasons you would formula feed your child.

When Jess was born one of the first things she did (after peeing on me) was latch on and I loved the fact that she (in common with all babies) had the inbuilt desire and ability to do that. Unfortunately my milk didn't actually come on properly so we were back in hospital when she was four days old with a jaundiced, dehydrated and skinny baby and an exhausted and upset me. I was gutted that her first proper feed came from a bottle of cow and gate and that she was so knackered she zonked out immediately post feed for her first proper sleep since we were initially discharged. The feeling that I couldn't provide for her what she so clearly needed and what I was designed to give was devastating. On top of that the smell of formula made me want to heave, I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed and I was being milked like a cow with an electric breast pump.

Four days later we were discharged fully breastfeeding with a much less tangerine Jess. My ever fantastic partner was his usual practical self and had brought a couple of cartons of formula in case of emergencies despite me whinging that I didn't want them (although it was good to know they were tucked away in the cupboard and even better that there they have stayed!)

Since then the intensely physical relationship that has developed with Jess through breastfeeding has been bizarre and fascinating. At the beginning it used to have me in fits of giggles as it does tickle and the hormone boost just put me in pink cloud land, I've gotten over this, thank god, but it still makes me feel happy and calm and generally that all is good with the world. The letdown thing is a weird one too, the only way I can describe it is that if feels as if your nipple is being clamped from the inside, can occasionally be painful if you're full to brimming but it's not unpleasant pain (thanks to the oxytocin I imagine) that only lasts for a few seconds and you do get used to it. The supply and demand thing is also an interesting one. When I have a full supply is dictated by Jess so now she is five months and sleeping through the night I wake up with a good breakfast for her but that's the only time I'm ever busting at the seams as it were!

I was also led to believe that if you are breastfeeding your child they will be feeding every two or three hours day and night for up to an hour at a time. You are made to feel that formula fed babies get it down quicker and are more regimented. I would say in my experience that this doesn't hold true which leads me to the earth shattering conclusion that all mothers and babies are.... different!! Jess started to sleep longer through the night very quickly and now will do a good twelve to thirteen hours most nights. During the day she has what she wants when she wants and seems to be a very efficient feeder getting what she needs quickly. This is probably tied in with milk flow too and my milk flow seems to be quite heavy or fast or whatever adjective you wish to employ! Needless to say I have got the cat in the face when in full force.... I was also told that breastfed babies poo very regularly and when she was little (er) this was the case but now I have to deal with one big one every three or four days again leading me to think that you can't generalise about these things.

The great thing about breastfeeding is that you can do it anywhere and you don't need any specialist equipment apart from some muslin squares and nipple pads. I really couldn't be arsed with faffing around making up bottles of formula and sterilising bits and bobs. The only thing I can really say is I have had a little difficulty finding nipple pads I really like. These are essential as when your baby is sucking on one boob you get let down from both. The letdown in the spare boob can be mostly stopped by pressing on it but that can be tricky so breastpads are needed! And they do leak when full and if there is one thing I hate it's wandering around with damp clothes.

So, I have tried bravado reusable breast pads, lansinoh disposable breast pads and lilypadz.

The bravado ones just don't work for me, they aren't waterproof so the milk just went straight though and out to my clothes, took a little longer than it might have but still no good. I would still maybe recommend them when not completely breastfeeding and I may get back to you all on that!

Lansinoh disposables are great, very rarely leak, very discreet and I can use one pair during the day and a fresh pair at night. However I hate that they are disposable, that they have some sort of absorbent gel in them and that they are all individually wrapped. However I wouldn't be without them. They are also better than the french ones I have seen which have a fake nipple on them to show through your clothes. Freaky!

LilyPadz..... My god, I wanted these to work so much! They are basically plasticy, sticky, flexible dome things that you stick over your nipple and they work by supplying the pressure needed to prevent let down. I have used them and being able to ponce about without a bra on was luxurious but they just didn't work that well. I couldn't feel them when they were on which was great and they stick brilliantly but didn't, for me, stop let down completely so you'd wind up with a small reservoir of milk behind them, or they'd just leak. Also they got covered in cat hair really quickly which kind of grossed me out a bit! Might work better if you don't have a cat and have a more controlled milk flow / aren't feeding 100%.

Would also recommend mothercare (despite hating their directors political views) for their extensive range of bras, sleeping bras and vests. My sister particularly recommends the post pregnancy nursing vest for it's wobbly bits taming properties.

I haven't covered mastitis or cracked nipples as I have had neither. I do realise this makes me very lucky and if I hadn't had such an easy time of it I might feel differently but I still believe that it is worth perservering. I was recommended lansinoh nipple balm for cracked nipples which I got just in case and found that it really helped my lips which were cracked to buggery after the gas and air!

Anyway in the near future we will beginning weaning Jess and I'm hoping to do baby led weaning which will be fun! I will let you all know how we get on.