A Baby’s Brain

I find myself continuously amazed by Baby G’s progress these past few weeks. She’s gone from this little bundle that lay there and took everything in to this slightly bigger bundle that’s gurgling at me and trying to figure out how to grab things (including my nose and mouth when I look at her) and she’s even started rolling over. (Only one way, but still!) She’s also been watching myself and Mr. G eating at meal times with huge interest just these last few days. I think she’s getting ready to make another leap…it’s amazing to watch her develop.

I came across this interesting program on YouTube today – The Secret Life of the Brain (The Baby’s Brain). So interesting how their brain works. Makes you wonder the kinds of ways that are best for helping them along…

Almost 4 months old

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, sorry! Life has been very busy lately as I’m sure you can relate to. But things are good. Baby G is doing really well. We’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way, but she seems to be in a good phase at the moment.

Baby G sleeping

Tomorrow, Baby G will be 4 months old. I can’t believe it! The public health nurses are already giving me pamphlets on getting ready to introduce solids to her diet (advised around 5 months in Ireland). I can’t believe it’s time to start thinking about stuff like that already.

Highlights over the last month:

  • Baby G gave me her first giggle last week! She’s only done it a couple of times since but my goodness, it’s the best thing in the world to hear your baby laugh. She does silent laughs a lot, where she just opens her mouth in a big toothless grin, but to hear that little baby chuckle makes my heart pang!
  • She just rolled from her back to her tummy for the first time yesterday! I have a million videos on my phone of her trying so hard and not quite getting there, but yesterday she managed to overcome the shoulder and get on to her tummy. Now we have to work on her being able to roll back over because once she’s on her tummy she gets stuck there and after a few minutes she gets frustrated and starts crying.
  • She’s so much more alert! She’s watching everything and taking everything in. These days she’s generally napping for about 40 minutes at a time and tends to be awake for about 2-3 hours in between in each nap. There’s still no predicting it though, she’s very much a “I’ll do what I want when I want” kind of baby.
  • Baby clothes. Once you hit the 3 month stage a whole new section of clothes opens up. She’s not in onesies so much anymore (mostly because it’s warm and her feet are too big for them anyway!). It’s been so fun dressing her up in big people clothes.
  • Mum and dad lunch date! Last weekend, myself and Mr G were able to leave Baby G with my parents for 2 whole hours while we went for lunch ALONE! It was really lovely. Typically, I missed her the whole time (especially when we walked the pier after) but I didn’t know myself not having to think about where would suit to eat with a buggy and possibly having to stop eating to feed the baby during the meal. I’d like to try that again soon, maybe we could even manage a cinema date next time…
  • SWIM CLASSES! I’ve signed Baby G up for a Water Baby swim class not too far from our apartment. She loves it. We’ve done 3 sessions so far – the classes only last 20 minutes – and it’s about getting her comfortable with water. We’ve even managed to submerge under the water twice and she didn’t seem to mind. So that’s exciting! I want her to be confident around water.

Lowpoints over the last month:

I don’t want to dwell on these too much because mostly we’ve been having a really great time, but….

  • Trip to the emergency room. About 2 weeks ago, Baby G had real trouble with constipation. She didn’t poop for 9 days. I’d read that it can be normal for breastfed babies to not poop for up to 10 days, but I’d made an appointment to see the doctor just in case. Apart from not pooping, she seemed to be in great form so I wasn’t too worried. But then, as always happens, the night before we were due to see the doctor, things changed. It was about 7pm, so all pharmacies had just closed, and she started roaring crying and her stomach suddenly felt hard and swollen. We called an on-call doctor who advised we take her to the ER room so they could check her out. I wasn’t too worried, I knew it was mostly to get her comfortable, but still, being in an ER room with my baby was tough going. They gave her some laxatives and two suppositories and that seemed to help. I was just SO grateful to leave there with a healthy child. I can’t imagine there being anything seriously wrong her. We’ve had a couple other moments requiring suppositories to help her bowels along, but she seems to be doing much better now.
  • Sleep regression! I don’t know if it’s the so-called 4 month sleep regression starting or if it’s the July heat but we’ve gone form sleeping 5-6 hours at a time during the night to waking every 2-3 hours again. It’s so hard waking that often to feed after having a few good weeks of semi-decent rest. But I’m hoping it’s just another short phase and won’t last too long.

That’s about it for now! Hope you’re all doing well….

 

Teething at Two Months?!

You might think I’m crazy for suggesting this but I think Baby G is already teething (she’ll be 11 weeks old in 2 days).

For the last week, she just hasn’t been herself. She’s able to get to sleep, though that can be tricky sometimes, but when she’s awake she’s been crying more and more and it seems nothing we do can help her. Her symptoms include: crying and irritability, turning away from the boob, drooling, touching her cheeks and ears (with her tiny, jerky, newborn movements that I adore), sucking/chewing on her hand and anything else she can and also a change in dirty nappies.

I know…I’ve read from countless sources (like here) that teething typically occurs around 4 months. But I’ve also read that babies can be born with teeth (can you imagine?) and some sources (like here) seem to think teething can occur at any time…even as young as 2 months.

Last weekend, she was so upset we decided to give her some calpol and it actually worked. She fell asleep and when she woke up she was happy. For a few hours. Then the crying started up again.

Today, my sister gave me some Nelson’s Teetha Granules to try because they really helped when her daughter was teething. If you don’t know what they are – they’re basically camomile extract suitable for babies 1 month+. The camomile helps soothe them and calm them down. So this evening, when she really started to cry again, I put some of the granules on my finger and let her suck on them and repeated this until about half the sachet was gone. The result? She quietened down (I even got some smiles and chats!) and…SHE FELL ASLEEP. In her crib. On her own.

It may be a 1st time coincidence, but right now I feel like my suspicions have been confirmed.

Anyone else going through teething with their really young baby??

 

Coping with Mastitis

Breastfeeding for the first time is hard. At best you’ve got one hungry little newborn who just wants to feed, feed, feed and at worst you’ve got a battle on your hands of trying to get the baby to latch correctly and not hurt you or your nipples any more than is necessary.

I was incredibly fortunate that Baby G had a good latch straight from birth. It turned out that I had a fast let down and my milk came in within the first 48 hours. By all accounts, that was great! I recognise half the battle was won based purely on luck.

However, with a fast let down and full supply of milk and one hungry little baby very quickly came heavy engorgement followed by a dose of mastitis. If you don’t know what this is, you’re lucky. It’s an inflammation of the breast tissue and can be caused by a number of things (infection, milk not being drained properly etc.) You can read more about it here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_mastitis_251.bc

After giving birth, I went from being a humble 32B to a 36DD in the space of 3 days and I can tell you that the pain, not just from the raw nipples and constant feeding, was unreal. I had been SO excited towards the end of my pregnancy about being able to sleep on my stomach again…but no such luck. With those huge and solid boobs planted on top of my chest, I could barely roll over without hurting. They were solid as rocks. Lumps = not good.

Not only were they sore but they were HOT. And I don’t mean sexy. I mean seriously warm. I looked like a much less glamorous Pamela Anderson and couldn’t get comfortable or cool no matter what I did.

And then came the red patch on my lower left breast. This is the first proper warning sign of mastitis. Soon my temperature began to rise and I started to feel unwell. My midwife had warned me of the symptoms since I was a good candidate for mastitis (with my big milk supply) so I knew it was developing. I didn’t like the idea of taking drugs while I was breastfeeding, unsure of what it would mean for Baby G, so Mr G got a non-toxic pen and drew around the area on my breast to mark its size. We decided that I’d sleep on it and if it had gotten any bigger by the morning that I would get to the doctor and get some drugs. I hopped in the shower to hand express after she’d finished feeding to try empty out my milk and then went to bed and hoped for the best.

The next morning, I woke up sore and unwell and saw the redness had almost doubled in size so I knew I had to get to my doctor straight away. She prescribed me antibiotics that were safe for breastfeeding and told me to keep taking my painkillers to help with the pain. Luckily I was still taking the painkillers to help recover from birth, so the antibiotics were just another couple of pills to be popping.

I was surprised I had to take the drugs for 10 days though. It took about 3 days before the redness started to disappear but it wasn’t fully gone for about a week. I watched Baby G like a hawk, wondering if there was any change in her while I was taking the drugs, but she didn’t seem to be affected by it at all thankfully.

So the lesson here is: mastitis is a bitch. It’s sore and it’s exhausting and it can be really serious (sometimes leading to hospitalisation). If you think you’ve got it, get yourself to a doctor ASAP and get treated.

But, the good news is there are things you can do to help yourself. And it doesn’t last forever. It can take 3 weeks after delivery before your milk supply is regulated properly to match your newborn’s needs. Some days will be better than others. Some days will be emptier than others and a lot tougher to keep up. (Did you know newborns tend to feed more at night because that’s when the hormone prolactin is produced which helps your milk come in faster? Clever little babies!)

This is not an extensive list, just a list of the things that I found helpful. Hopefully it’ll be of some help for you to!

  • Cold cabbage leaves. The dark green kind. If you buy some cabbage and put them in the fridge (towards the very back) they will be nice and cool. After every feed, or any time your breasts start to feel warm and full, reach for a leaf and place it over your breast. If you place it inside your bra it’ll help keep it in place. The cool touch of the leaf will help relieve the warmth and soreness and the cold also encourages the ducts to close which slows down your milk supply. (It doesn’t stop it, it slows it, which is a godsend for those of us who produce waaaaay too much to begin with). FULL DISCLOSURE: you will smell like Christmas dinner as the leaves heat up from the warmth of your skin. It’s not particularly nice, but it works. My midwife also told me there was no need to wash your breast or nipples before feeding again, but do what makes you comfortable.
  • Learn how to make different positions work for you. This one is SO important. I never knew that certain positions helped drain certain areas of the breast* and I am so grateful to the midwife who taught me that (seriously, I must have seen 5 different midwives but only 1 told me about this!). If you position the baby’s lower lip/chin so it’s over the affected area (or even just your fullest area) then this will be the main part of the breast that the baby drinks from. This means the baby will get the most out of the feed but it also means the area will be drained and relieved quickly and you’ll feel so much better. Just look out for a really fast let down, when I get quite full, Baby G tends to splutter a lot because the milk just pours into her mouth.
  • Cold face cloth as a compress. This is the same idea as the cabbage leaves but less smelly.
  • Cool showers. The cool water running over your breast will be a relief, though the rest of your body may not thank you for it. Might help wake you up a bit though 😉
  • Hand express. This one you need to be careful with because you don’t want to overstimulate the breast and trick it into thinking it needs to provide MORE milk. You just want to relieve the pressure building up a little or after a feed, drain the breast. Sometimes the baby doesn’t get it all out and this can lead to mastitis. Gentle rubbing motions from the outside in towards the nipple will help break up those lumps and move the milk along towards the nipple ready to be drawn out. TOP TIP: Don’t squeeze your nipples! They’re already having a hard enough time adjusting to your newborn’s needs. Gently pinch the area around the outside of your areola and this will push the milk out.
  • HEAT! I know this contradicts the first few points but trust me, if you heat your breasts up with a hot water bottle (or warm face cloth) right before a feed it will open all your ducts and allow the baby to draw down the milk that bit easier and help them to properly drain them. (Finish the feed then with a cold compress to close the ducts down).

As a side note, I also found the Multi-Mam compresses a God send for helping heal my nipples during the whole establishing-breastfeeding routine. They’re pricey, but worth it. Keep them in the fridge too for added effect! http://www.multi-mam.com/multi-mam-compresses-more.html

*You can read more about breastfeeding positions here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_positions-and-tips-for-making-breastfeeding-work_8784.bc

Two Month Vaccination (I Wasn’t Prepared For That!)

Today Baby G had to get her two month vaccinations.

I’m not sure who was more traumatised by the experience – me or Baby G.

Sure, I knew there would be tears – two needle pricks in your legs when your that small is bound to hurt. But my god, I wasn’t expecting the wails that came out of her. She cried one of those long, silent, bunched up cries before gasping for as much air that could possibly fill her lungs so she could tell me just how terrible the whole thing was through her sobs.

I almost started crying. It was awful. The doctor had to keep reminding me that all babies cry like that and that I was, in fact, doing a good thing for her.

But I’ve never wanted to cuddle her as much as I did at that point in time and tell her that everything was going to be ok.

She’s pretty much been asleep ever since – waking only twice, once to feed and once for a nappy change. I don’t know if this means she’ll be wide eyed and bushy tailed for the night or if she’s going to sleep the whole experience off. But man am I glad that appointment is behind us.

I have infant calpol at the ready, just in case.