Birth trauma – its ok to not be ok

“Well at least you have a healthy baby, thats all that matters!”

How many of us have heard that sentence when our baby’s birth hasn’t gone as we planned? People mean well. They have a point of course, having that precious little bundle here safe and sound is important! But it means that its hard to tell people how you really feel. Because then you seem ungrateful. Like maybe you’re being selfish for feeling the way you do, for not just sucking it up and being happy that your baby is alive and well.

Its an odd feeling really. Because you are happy. You are grateful. You shudder to think of how things could have gone, and you hug your baby a little bit tighter. But there is this nagging voice at the back of your mind, saying “What about me?

I know there are people who have had it worse than me. People who have been left physically disabled from how badly their birth experience went, people who have lived through the worst possible outcome. People who just barely came through the whole thing. But that doesn’t make how I felt, how I still feel to a certain extent, any less valid. My experience was traumatic, for me. And I wanted to share my story, which I touched on in my last post. Hopefully it will make people think twice before they utter that dreaded sentence to someone after a bad birth.

My first child was born in hospital. It was a horrific experience from start to finish. I was admitted with contractions and leaking waters. I was ignored, belittled, lied to by midwives. My family were told differing things whenever they phoned to check up on me. I was 19, single and wholly unprepared for labour and birth. The ward was understaffed, and I was looked after predominantly by a brand new student midwife, who hadn’t attended a birth yet. She was lovely, but as you can imagine, I didn’t feel particularly looked after! When I was ready to push, everyone was in a room down the hall with a lady having twins! I was told I had to wait, as the student wasn’t allowed to attend to me unsupervised. When the midwife eventually arrived she was impatient and grumpy. It was nearing midnight, and I got the sense that she wanted to be anywhere but there. I had had an epidural, which meant I couldn’t feel contractions, only pressure. But she allowed me to keep pushing and pushing, even whilst baby’s head was crowning. As a result I tore, badly. On my birth notes it says 2nd degree tear, but I have since been told that another 2mm would have meant 3rd degree, and surgery. As it happens, I think that may have been a better option! The same grumpy midwife gave me local anaesthetic and stitched me up. I was then sent for a bath. I felt very very swollen “down there”, it didn’t feel normal. It also felt alien to me that I was separated from my newborn baby. I was exhausted (3 nights of no sleep, and then giving birth. It was gone midnight by this time), barely awake. But I was left alone. When I came out of the bathroom I found the room I had delivered in in darkness, and my baby all alone, sleeping in the goldfish bowl cot. I had no idea what I was supposed to do next, so I just stood and gazed at my baby girl, stroking her cheek. I must have stood there for a good 10 minutes in the dark before someone found me. I was then told I should be on the ward, and ordered to get in a wheelchair, had my bags dumped on my lap. I mentioned to the (same, grumpy) midwife how swollen I was, to be told “You would be dear, you’ve just given birth”, in the most patronising way possible.

Things didn’t improve once on the ward. I was repeatedly looked down on, shouted at for daring to doze off  during a demonstration on how to bath a baby (told “You, especially, need to watch this!”), even though I was beyond exhausted. The whole experience was just horrific. When it came for the Dr to check me over before discharging me, I was found to have a massive hematoma. The midwife had failed to cut off a major blood vessel when she did my stitches, and it had bled heavily into the surrounding tissue. I essentially had a balloon of blood between my legs. Not just “normal” swelling at all. But no-one had found out for 24 hours, despite me keep telling the midwives it didn’t feel right. No-one had checked. It took weeks for me to heal. I had to have ultrasound treatment in the end to disperse the blood.

Fast forward 7 years, and I planned to give birth in the closest MLU (midwife led unit) with my next baby. Everything went brilliantly. The moment of his actual birth was scary, but the midwives were wonderful and I felt in control and empowered throughout.

So when, 2 years on, I fell pregnant again I decided to plan a homebirth. Lots of things contributed to this decision. The fact my husband didn’t drive and the MLU was half an hour away (my Dad took us before, but he was due a hip replacement so we didn’t know if he’d be available), the fact that we had a toddler and a 9 year old at home and it would be easier all round. And obviously, the fact that I wanted to avoid hospital if I could help it!

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Everything was going well. At 20 weeks we were told our baby was probably a girl. We booked a 4d scan for 28 weeks to find out for sure. But at 27 weeks I awoke to niggling pains in my stomach and back. When I went to the toilet and wiped, the tissue was streaked with blood. I was due at work, had already been threatened with disciplinary action due to absences with morning sickness and sciatica, so I struggled in. But by mid morning the pain was worse, and I phoned my midwife for advice. She told me to go home, and to go to the hospital to be checked if it didn’t stop. I burst into tears telling my boss that I had to go home because I may be in early labour.

By that afternoon the pain was worse, and we headed to the hospital. I was asked to give a urine sample, which I did. It looked like pure blood. I was given antibiotics for a suspected kidney infection, and sent back home.

Later that day I took a turn for the worse. I was literally rolling around the floor in agony and throwing up. My husband got our neighbour to drive us back to the hospital, where I was immediately admitted, and given intravenous morphine and anti-emetics. It didn’t even touch the pain, I was in agony. Worse than anything I’d ever felt before.

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But by the following night the pain had abated, and I was told I was being discharged. By 10pm I’d still not seen a Dr. I wanted to get home, was told that because the Dr had already said I could go home I could just sign a form and not have to wait. I missed my babies, I was exhausted. So of course, I signed the form.

I got home and got in the bath, the pain starting to come back again. I went to bed soon after. In the early hours I was awake again, the pain worse than it had been before. My husband called an ambulance.

I kept being told it was like I had kidney stones, but that was impossible, because pregnant women don’t get them. I was put on a ward with women who had just given birth, due to a lack of beds. I was in so much pain, I felt exposed, vulnerable. I couldn’t stop crying. I just wanted to be in pain privately, not worrying about how my screams of agony were affecting these other poor women. But I was treated badly, because apparently the form I signed meant I had discharged myself against medical advice. I had either been lied to, or a new shift meant there had been no communication about what had actually happened. I was treated like an inconvenience who had shunned their services previously and they were now reluctant to treat me. Until a consultant came to see me, and actually looked at me properly. She stood at the end of my bed and just observed. Then she said “You’re in a lot of pain aren’t you?” I could barely grunt a reply. She asked if it was worse than labour. I nodded. She said she really was convinced I was suffering from renal colic, caused by kidney stones. She went away to speak to a specialist at a different hospital for advice.

Meanwhile my husband helped me struggle to the toilet. Whilst there I passed two stones. The relief! I was still in pain, but nowhere near the amount I had been. I was discharged the next day.

A week later our 4d scan confirmed we were expecting a little girl. We were over the moon. I ordered my birth pool in a box, and was so excited when it arrived. I couldn’t wait to meet my little bundle.

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Then at 33 weeks I started being sick. A bug, we thought. But it didn’t pass. 24 hours, then 48 hours passed. I still couldn’t even keep water down. My midwife visited, and sent us straight to the hospital. I was severely dehydrated, and obviously this could have had an effect on my still-not-healed kidney.

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I was put on a drip to re-hydrate me, given anti-emetics. Eventually I stopped vomiting. I was kept overnight for observation, but told I’d be able to go home the next day.

But when the Dr came to see me she was concerned, she had noticed I was jaundiced around my eyes. She started asking me questions like had I noticed itching on my hands and feet. I hadn’t, and said so. But I had a sinking feeling. My sister had developed a liver condition called Obstetric Cholestasis (OC) in her first pregnancy. The prodominant, and often only, symptom is an intense itch, worse on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Only my sister hadn’t had any itching. It was only found when she was in hospital for something unrelated. My Dr dismissed it, because without the itch it was unlikely to be OC. But I knew.

I stayed in hospital for another two days, whilst they took my blood and I waited for a scan. I was ignored for the most part, forgotten about. I was finally allowed home, but told to visit the maternity day unit the following day for my blood test results.

My husband was at work, so my best friend took me to the hospital. There I was given the news that yes, I did have OC. A diary was produced straight away and I was initially booked for induction later that week. I was 34 weeks pregnant. I was monitored, had more blood taken and was given my first injection of steroids, to help my baby girl’s lungs to develop. I was told that my bile acid results were more than 4 times a normal level. I was told to prepare for a premature baby. I was warned to be ultra aware of her movements, that if I didn’t feel her for an hour I was to go in to be monitored. OC can lead to stillbirth. No-one knows why. It just happens, suddenly and unpreventably.

I went home and cried. I looked through the drawers and wardrobe of clothes I had bought for my little girl and realised that I had nothing that would even come close to fitting a tiny baby. I sobbed into her baby clothes.

Worst of all, my birth pool was just sitting there, still in its box. Every time I looked at it I was reminded. Not only that I could lose my baby at any minute, but that I would have to give birth to her in the one place I didn’t want to. The place where I had been treated so terribly just weeks ago, and almost 10 years previously. The idea petrified me. My husband sold the birth pool on ebay, I just couldn’t have it in the house.

My life became a cycle of trekking to the hospital for daily monitoring, bloods every other day. I felt like a pincushion. My arms were all bruised where my veins were collapsing and they were struggling to get a needle in. Thankfully, after the first few days my bile acid results reduced, so induction was put back until I was 36 weeks and 6 days.

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A week before that date, my husband had an operation on his foot. He was in pain, wearing a protective boot, when we went in for the induction. We must have looked a funny sight walking around the hospital, desperately trying to get things started. Me waddling, him on crutches.

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But ultimately the induction failed. I awoke on the 3rd day and just burst into tears. I had been told I would need to be monitored for 15 minutes out of every hour, because I was such high risk. A midwife had told me that if they monitored me and couldn’t find a heartbeat they would do a crash section, but it would be pointless as thats the way OC works.

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On this morning, when I woke around 7, it had been 14 hours since I had been monitored. I had been forgotten, neglected, again. And my baby’s life had been put at risk. I told my husband I was going home, got up and dressed and started to pack my things. It seemed pointless to stay somewhere where I felt unsafe. I had a doppler at home, I would just sit with it strapped to me and listen to my baby myself.

Obviously this concerned my husband. He went to find a midwife. When he eventually found one, and told her what was happening, she sneered at him and said “Well I can’t stop her!”, then turned her back on him. He came back to me and told me he agreed with me, we needed to go.

Thankfully the shift changed, and a wonderful midwife who had looked after me on my first day came to see me. She apologised profusely, told us to make a complaint about the midwife when we got home. From my husband’s description she gave us a name. I couldn’t believe it. It was the same midwife who had treated me so badly all those years earlier. The same one who let me tear, who messed up my stitches. Who patronised me and failed in her duty of care by not even checking me over when I reported an issue. That same midwife was the one who was supposedly looking after me through the night, who had snapped at my husband! I was furious. It was honestly, looking back, just as well she hadn’t come to monitor me. As had I seen her I would have sent her away, and I would have been in even more of a state than I already was. Patsy, the lovely midwife, told me the consultant was on his way to see me. He arrived shortly after, and laid out my options (such as they were). My body needed a break from the induction process. I had made no progress, wasn’t even close to going into labour. Despite two previous deliveries, my cervix wasn’t even open enough to break my waters. So I could stay in hospital for 3 days, being monitored and awaiting another cycle of induction. With each day that passed my baby would be at more risk. Or I could have a c-section that day. Baby would be delivered safe and sound, just as son as they could get the correct staff together and get me into theatre.

What would you choose, if confronted with that same choice? They call it a semi-elective caesarean. But its not elective, not really. Given a choice between putting my baby at more risk, or getting her out safe of course I would choose the latter! I signed the forms, and we let our families know. I was so scared. I’d never had an operation, let alone major abdominal surgery. But Patsy took me down to theatre and showed me the room, she reassured me and said she would stay with me.

The actual operation was fine. Even the recovery wasn’t too bad. I bled alot, needed a pressure bandage to stop it. And passed out in the shower when I was told to wet it and try and remove it, which entertained everyone briefly! Once I came home getting around was a pain, and getting the other children to school and nursery was almost impossible. But it was ok.

But I just couldn’t bear to hear those words, “At least she is here, safe and well. That the most important thing!”. I was relieved, grateful, so so happy that she was here. I didn’t have to worry any more. She was safe, my body couldn’t poison her any more. But I mourned my perfect homebirth. I was traumatised by what had happened, what could have happened. The consultant had told me that he thought my induction had failed because my body entered fight or flight mode. I didn’t feel safe, so it refused to send me into labour. I felt guilty for feeling this way. And every time I was told that she was healthy and thats what matters, I felt like I was doing something wrong. Like I shouldn’t feel this way and it somehow meant I didn’t love my baby as much as I should do. I felt cheated. This was supposed to be my last baby. It was supposed to be perfect. Instead, my body had let us both down. It wasn’t meant to be this way.

As time went on I started to feel a burning need to do it again. I talked to my husband, he didn’t take me seriously. He thought we were done. He didn’t want to see me go through that again. He took some convincing, but eventually he agreed we could try again. A month later, when my little girl was 10 months old, I was pregnant again.

Of course I was scared. I had fortnightly bloods taken, to check for signs of OC. But by some miracle I remained clear. I didn’t buy a birth pool, didn’t dare. The trauma of watching my husband package it up and sell it had just been too much to bear. When I got my final blood results at 38 weeks, and it showed no sign of OC, I could finally relax and start to plan for the birth. A wonderful local lady loaned me her pool. I just bought a new liner for it. I still had all the other things packed away from the last time.

Then finally, the day before my due date, my waters broke. Contractions started, and I thought this was it. But all day the contractions stayed the same. Even my fantastic community midwife, who had been so supportive throughout, was starting to gently try and broach the subject of going to hospital, as we approached 24 hours since my waters had broken. I was demoralised, devastated. I could feel it all slipping away again. Inconsolable, I went to bed. But awoke a few hours later to strong, real contractions.

4 hours later, in the pool in our front room, with my 10 year old daughter looking on, I caught my baby as I gave birth to her, and brought her to the surface of the pool. She had her eyes open the whole time, gazing up at me. She was covered in vernix, so slippery and messy. But she was beautiful. And not only that, she was healing. Her birth showed me that I could do it. That I could give birth naturally, without stitches, without issues. I felt so empowered, so at peace. She saved me. I could finally begin to heal.

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Birth trauma doesn’t have to be blood and tears and almost losing your life. Everyone reacts differently to challenges. We need to be kind to each other. And we need to stop trivialising other women’s feelings. Because yes, baby is here and healthy. And that is a fantastic thing, the absolute best outcome without any shadow of a doubt. But your feelings matter. Its ok to not be ok with how things turned out. Don’t be afraid to talk it through. Talk to your husband, your friends, your Mum. Ask your midwife, health visitor or GP about accessing a birth debriefing, (often called Birth Afterthoughts). This is where someone takes you through your notes, so you can identify exactly what went wrong, and why, and try to come up with a plan for what could be different if you were to have another baby.

In severe cases, birth trauma can lead to post natal depression, or even to PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Its important to seek help if you feel you are not coping, even if you feel like you should be. Don’t minimise your feelings. They are yours. They are valid. Be kind to yourself. Its ok to not be ok.

More education – Adding another string to my bow!

I’m so excited! Tomorrow marks the start of a new journey for me, something I have wanted to do for a very long time.

Tomorrow I have my first Sure start volunteer training session. And the day after that, my very first Breastfeeding peer supporter training session! Eek!

I’ve been passionate about breastfeeding since my third baby was born. We had so many issues, from a c-section birth to 10% weight loss in the first week, to being hospitalised at 6 weeks seriously ill with bronchiolitis, to undiagnosed silent reflux and all that goes with it. I managed to get through them all. And I couldn’t have done it without the help of a forum full of ladies who were a font of all knowledge when it came to breastfeeding. Some were professionals, some just spoke from experience. But they helped me so much. I have tried to pay that forward ever since. So being accepted to train as a peer supporter is a dream come true for me!

I already feel that I’ve learnt so much about breastfeeding, but I know there is more to learn, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity.

It also means that I can provide an extra service to my clients, if needed. Which makes me so happy, because I can combine two of the things I am most passionate about!

I’ll keep you all up to date with my training journey.

Kelly.x

The benefits of Hiring a bespoke home photography service

I know it’s not the norm. You think portrait or newborn photography and you automatically think studio right? And you’d be right, to a degree. There are many many great newborn photographers who work out of a studio, be that in their home or in a separate shop front.

But not me. I offer something a little bit different. The service I offer is tailored to the needs of a new parent, with experience gained from being that parent, five times over.

So let me run through some of the benefits you gain from hiring me, and my bespoke home photography.

  • You don’t have to leave the house

Those first days and weeks as a new parent can be tough. Adjusting to sleep deprivation, feeding, acclimatising yourself, and possibly siblings, to a new little person. Just simply getting to know this new tiny member of your family. It’s exhausting. I know for me it was hard to get everything together and get baby ready to just get out of the house, without having an appointment time or a deadline.

Imagine if you didn’t have to go through that. If you could just roll out of bed and open the door in your pjs, ready to have a mini studio set up and your baby’s beautiful photos taken. Well you can! That is the service I offer. I don’t care if your hair is a mess, if you have bags under your eyes the size of suitcases and baby sick on your shoulder. I don’t mind if you want to curl up on the sofa and catch up on a little bit of sleep whilst I work my magic with your little one. I’ve been there.

  • You, and baby, are in your own environment

Your baby is very sensitive to new surroundings. Everything is brand new, and a little bit frightening. Home is the one place they should be starting to get used to, and as a result they tend to settle better there.

I know from experience that I wanted to be at home in those early days too. Recovering from giving birth isn’t always like the soaps and the media make out. And a more relaxed mummy makes for a more relaxed baby.

  • Home comforts

Only like one brand of tea? Couldn’t even think of drinking anything but your favourite brand of bottled water? Comfiest in your own special armchair? There are so many benefits to staying at home and letting me come to you.

  • Essentials all to hand

In those early days, especially if you’re a first time parent, its hard to know exactly what you need to take with you when you leave the house. How many nappies? Outfit changes? If you are formula feeding , how many bottles and how much milk? Do I need to bring a dummy/pacifier? What if it falls on the floor? Should I bring a spare just incase?

You don’t need to worry about any of that with a bespoke home newborn shoot. Everything you need will be close at hand, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything on the day.

  • No childcare

If you already have children it can be awkward finding childcare for them whilst you bring baby for their shoot. But with a bespoke home newborn shoot you don’t need to worry. Siblings can stay at home with you, they can play with their own toys and nap in their own cot or bed. Siblings are much less likely to disturb the session if they have their own things to keep them occupied and are in their own surroundings.

  • No need to worry about transport or traffic

I know not everyone has a car, or has access to one during the day. A bespoke home newborn shoot means you don’t have to plan and pay for public transport, or worry about walking somewhere in bad weather. No concerns over getting stuck in traffic and arriving late either.

  • Lower costs

Because I have no studio overheads to pay, I am able to keep prices competitive and accessible.

 

With my bespoke home newborn sessions I aim to provide a high level of service whilst allowing you to relax and be comfortable. I bring everything with me that I need, including lighting, props and my posing beanbag. It may look like I’m moving in when I arrive! I clear the space that I need, and put everything back as I found it when I finish. All you have to do is feed and comfort baby if needed!

 

Kelly.x

 

 

Education is key

This week I was lucky enough to attend a newborn training workshop with the wonderful Tracy Willis of Tracy Willis Fine art photography. I have long been an admirer of her work, so I was very excited (and nervous, very nervous) to attend.

Our model was a gorgeous little 3 week old girl, Aria, with the most stunning head of hair. She was a little star.

These are some of my favourite images from the day 🙂

I loved every moment of my training day. In a profession where trends change often, education is most definitely key. It may be a cliche, but you really don’t ever stop learning. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learned into practise!

Newborn sessions are available, but availability is limited so advance booking is highly recommended.

 

Kelly.x

 

Celebrating the little things!

Last week I was tagged in a post on Facebook. I clicked on the notification, and was happily surprised with what I saw.

One of my past clients, Jemma, who’s little boy Frankie was one of my model call babies, had shared that it was a year since their session, how much her little man had grown, and how much she still loved the photos.

This made my day! Its so nice to be remembered, and appreciated.

This is why I do what I do, to provide people with happy memories they can look back on for years to come.

So I have decided to celebrate this milestone by sharing some of my favourite images from Frankie’s session.

 

Frankie was such a little star, and hes grown into a gorgeous little boy. These moments are so fleeting, and I’m overjoyed that I can help parents to remember how small their little ones were by capturing them.

Choosing a sling – Guest post by BabywearingKimmy

I wanted to write a post about choosing a sling, the different kinds and how to know what is best suited to you and your baby. But whilst I have worn all of my babies one way or another, I’m far from an expert.

So I asked my lovely friend Kimmy (AKA BabywearingKimmy) if she would be willing to share her knowledge and write a guest post for me! She is so passionate about wearing ALL the babies so she was happy to oblige. So I’ll pass you over to Kimmy, I hope this helps if you’re struggling through the seemingly daunting minefield that is babywearing.
This is what I have written up, please let me know if its not any good! ❤ 😊


I have been attending sling meets from Maidstone to Manchester, I love babywearing, and I love babywearers, and I am being 100% honest when I say that empowering other parents to babywear is probably one of my favourite things to do.
I have had a significant increase in expectant parents who want to try babywearing with every meet I run locally. They all have pretty much the same set of questions that I hope I can help you with!
The first thing you need to consider will be how long are you planning on wearing your baby? If you just want to wear for a few weeks or months, your best option is to find a local (or postal) sling library and hire a carrier. If you plan on wearing for longer you will want to buy yourself a carrier, so you need to consider what your budget is as well as what style you want to go for.
There is a wide array of styles of carriers, and with each style is its benefits. Just like finding the right pair of jeans to suit you, there is the right baby carrier for you and your baby. The best guess we can make with expectant parents or those who plan to carry their newborn baby, is to focus on the benefits they want to gain from wearing.
Stretchy wraps are pretty self explanatory. They are a length of stretchy fabric that you wrap around yourself and pop baby into. Stretchy wraps are great because you can pre tie it onto you, and then pop the baby in and out as many times as you need throughout the day without having to rewrap/tie. And when you have a newborn that feeds and poops, you know you need to pop it in and out! Most people transition from stretchies to other styles from about 6 months onwards.
Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs) or sometimes referred to as ‘buckles’ are very quick to get on and off, especially once you have adjusted the straps to fit you and baby. Whereas with the stretchy wraps I could wear it all day around the house, if I wanted to pop out to the shops I would use my buckles as it was easiest to put on in a car park or shop for example. Some carriers come with newborn inserts which makes it comfortable for the babies who still need their little legs in the right position, so these too are suitable to use from birth. As your baby gets bigger you can remove these inserts and adjust the straps, meaning with the right carrier you can use it well into toddlerhood!

With all carriers though you must be safe, which is why I would always say if you can – try and get yourself to a local meet or sling library. The Sling Pages http://www.slingpages.co.uk/ is a great resource for finding local babywearing help, and for online safety information. The main thing is to remember TICKS Guidelines and ABC reminders

Photo courtesy of babywearingsafety.co.uk
T – Tight, 

I – In view at all times, 

C – Close enough to kiss,

K – Keep chin off chest, 

S – Supported back, 

Photo courtesy of babywearing international.org
Airway

Body Positioning

Comfort

I hope you have found this helpful, and can use this information to enjoy wearing your baby!
Kimmy.x

Kimmy is a qualified babywearing consultant and member of BABI (British Accossiation of Babywearing Instructors). She is due to launch Mid Kent babywearing in September 2016. Consisting of a sling library, sling swing (babywearing exercise classes) and one to one consultancy. 

Follow her pages on Facebook at BabywearingKimmy and midkent babywearing.

12 Bright/Rainbow buys for babies

I love rainbows! I may have mentioned that once or twice before 😉 I don’t really like the whole gender stereotyping thing, pink for a girl and blue for a boy. I love things that have a bit of colour, a bit of personality. A rainbow can always cheer up even the dullest day!

So I decided to share some of my favourite rainbow/bright things I’ve come across.

Little Bird by Jools Oliver at Mothercare

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I LOVE the Little Bird range! Sadly it only goes up to age 7-8, meaning that only two of my little pandas fit into the clothes still. But we sure make the most of it! The bright colours and vintage feel, plus the often gender neutral designs, make this our go-to brand for fun, stand out clothes on the high street.

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Rainbows and brights are the signature colours, so its easy to spot another Little Bird whilst out and about. A great conversation opener!

Sizes start from newborn, so its never too soon to be a Little Bird.

 

Mamas and Papas Jamboree Blanket

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Made from 100% cotton, this blanket is just so bright and colourful! It has co-ordinating items available too, so you can choose to just add a splash of colour to your pram, or deck out the whole nursery in matching brights. Available from Mamas and Papas.

I also have to give a mention to the Mamas and Papas Gingerbread blanket, which is another one of my favourites!

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Kokadi Rainbow Stars Wrap

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This is such a happy, bright and funky wrap! Woven from 100% organic cotton, once its broken in its so butter soft and comfortable. I don’t own one, but I wish I did! One of my favourite wraps of all time.

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Annzel Creations Rainbow Nappy

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Whats not to love about this gorgeous cloth nappy? Rainbows AND unicorns! Its just awesome. And handmade too! Annzel creations is a WAHM (Work at home mum), and she doesn’t just make nappies! Check out her Facebook page for more yummy rainbowness!

 

Sainsburys Colour Sort Rainbow

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I love wooden toys. They are generally so much more tactile than plastic, and more hardwearing. Obviously the natural materials is a big bonus too!

This rainbow from Sainsburys is everything I love in a toy. Wooden, brightly coloured, fun and educational. My littlest panda has one, and he loves it!

 

All The Small Things Tie Dye Clothing

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Photo by All the small things

As the slightly-crunchy, hippy, AP parent I am of course I love myself a bit of tie dye! We were gifted a babygrow dyed by Linds at All The Small Things. It was love! My little panda looked amazing in it, and the quality of the dye job was fantastic. I’ve been a fan ever since! Linds takes customs, so if you have something in mind then just pop over to her Facebook page or website and ask!

 

JojoMaman Bebe Rainbow Stripe Slipper Socks

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These were a lifesaver for us when Littlest panda was small! Being in the sling alot of the time, and being the Houdini of socks, he would get really cold feet. We would have people stop us in the street and say “Oh, aren’t his little feet getting cold?”, when he had started off with a pair of socks on! So when someone suggested these to me I was ready to try anything!

Part thick sock, part moccasin, they really are an amazing invention. You can pull them on and tuck in little trousers, which means no riding up and leaving a bare patch of skin. And no matter how much they kick and kick those little legs, these beauties are not coming off! Plus they look awesome, so its a win-win 🙂 Available from the JoJo website here.

 

Bubble and Geek Rainbow Romper

bubble and geek rainbow romper

Another fantastic WAHM creation! Bubble and Geek make some gorgeous rainbow-y things for babies and kids, but this rainbow romper is my favourite. Handmade with love, from quality fabrics. They are well wroth a look if you are wanting something unique for your little ones! Check out her website or her Facebook page

 

Cheeky Wipes Rainbow Muslins

rainbow muslins

Muslins are a parenting essential! They are so versatile. Mopping up spills and baby sick, using as a nursing cover or a swaddling rag, a comforter or a face wipe. their uses are endless. So if you’re going to be whipping it out every 5 minutes you may as well make it pretty right?

These gorgeous rainbow muslins are from Cheeky wipes (who also make great reusable baby wipe kits!).

Silicone Teething/Feeding Necklace

rainbow teeting feeding necklace

I absolutely love these necklaces from Funky Twiddle Mamas! So bright and colourful, but so useful too. Not only do they look stylish, but they are great for little ones to chomp on to ease the pain of teething. they are great for distracting little one during breastfeeding, to stop them from pulling hair, scratching and turning around to see what the cat is up to every 3 seconds 😉 They can also be worn when babywearing, to give baby something to fiddle with. Not just a pretty adornment!

 

Rainbow Legwarmers

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For those days when socks or booties just aren’t enough, or for showing off those pretty nappies in the summertime, you can’t beat these funky legwarmers from Ali Express. Gender neutral and oh so bright, they are amazing for keeping little legs warm in the sling, or over the top of socks in wellington boots.

 

Short Rainbow Romper and Bib

Rainbow baby romper and bib

This gorgeous set is another WAHM creation, from the very talented Rainbow Baby. As the name suggests, she specialises in rainbows! She has so many awesome makes, I struggled to pick just one for this list. Pop over to her Facebook page and check out her other makes, you won’t be disappointed!

 

I’ve had so much fun putting this list together, and found it so hard to narrow it down! In fact, I may just have to do a follow up 😉 I used to despair about the lack of funky clothes for little ones, boys in particular. Everything seemed to be dull and beige or blue (or pink pink pink for little girls). But as you can see, there are nice clothes and other items out there! I hope this list helps you to find them 🙂

 

Kelly.x

The Importance of capturing memories

So I’ve mentioned before why I got interested in photography. I’m the youngest of 5 children, and Mum and Dad didn’t bother with photos of me. One reel of black and white film sat in a drawer and never developed was what my baby years were reduced to. I have no doubt that my parents love me, that I was a cherished addition to the family. But I guess they just didn’t feel the need. As a result I have gone the other way. My children are immortalised in print many many many times over! Each of them have their own albums, and they love to look through them and try to remember the day they were taken, the moment they were captured.

Sometimes they aren’t even aware that I am photographing them.

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The other day my littlest man fell asleep on the sofa. He looked so adorable, and I was so full of love and wonder that I just had to grab my camera! He is growing up so quickly, and he rarely stays still (as with most 2 year olds, he is a miniature hurricane on legs!), so capturing these quiet moments, those little details of his beautiful little toddler face, is so important to me. I will never let my children look back and wonder why there are no photos of them, wonder as I did growing up if they are somehow less important than their siblings, less worthy of remembering as time goes by.

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So why should you pay someone to capture memories for you?

Maybe you have a decent camera, or just a camera phone. You can catch those moments yourself right? Absolutely! Snap away, immortalise every detail! Make memories, and shoot them. Print them, make albums. These moments are important! Too important to just be stored on your phone, or your computer. What would happen if your computer crashed, your phone broke? All those memories, lost forever. Shoot them, print them, pass them down to the next generation!

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So why do you need professional photos?

Sometimes its tiresome being behind the camera. Look through my family albums and the only photos you will find of me are selfies. I’ve been so busy capturing my children that I have rarely appeared in front of the camera. This is going to change, family photographs for the album and the wall are in the pipeline. Yes, I am going to pay someone else to photograph my family and I! A bit of a busman’s holiday, but necessary. Because I want my children to look back and find photos of me with them, not forget what I looked like because I was always behind the camera.

A pro photographer can catch moments that you might miss, will let you be involved in those moments instead of just being an observer and will give you a finished product, not just a snapshot. Editing plays a big part in a photographer’s style, its much more than just pressing a button and burning to a disc!

Professional photography is a luxury, there is no doubt about it. But it is one that is very much worth investing in. Some people spend their life doing housework, and hating every second. Some hire a cleaner to do it for them. Its not that they can’t do it themselves, they would just rather free up time to do other things, and pay a professional. Its very much the same with photography. Its not for every day, but it is an investment. In your family, in your memories, in the next generation. It is worth every penny.

Kelly.x

10 Myths about Breastfeeding – Busted

I feel I need to start this post by stating that I am in no way against Mums who use formula milk to feed their babies. I was one of those Mums with my first baby. I believe that every woman should be free to make her own choice. But whatever you choose, you should have all the information possible to enable you to make an educated, informed decision. The problem is that there are so many myths surrounding breastfeeding its hard to know what to believe. Formula manufacturers spend billions of pounds on advertising every year, perpetuating these myths in such an insidious fashion that many people now assume they are facts. Even women who have chosen to breastfeed can fall foul to these untruths, made to doubt themselves and their ability to feed the child they have grown inside them by well meaning family members and friends or ill informed health care providers. Even I have been caught out and fallen for some of these.

So I wanted to try and dispel some of these myths, and reassure any Mother who is doubting herself; Keep going Mama, you got this!

I’m not a medical professional, I’m just a Mummy of 5, who has breastfed 4 of them. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule. So if in any doubt then please seek the help of a qualified professional; a lactation consultant, La leche league advisor or local peer supporter.

Onto the myths!

Lets start with the biggest one of them all.

Formula milk is just as good as breastmilk

No. No its not. Formula milk is made to provide the vitamins and minerals that a baby needs to grow and survive. It is a vital tool in helping babies who have no other means of nutrition and has ensured the survival of countless infants.

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Picture courtesy of http://www.wisdomandbirth.blogspot.co.uk

However, it isn’t alive! It doesn’t contain antibodies that change according to what your baby has been exposed to and needs protection from. It doesn’t contain hormones, growth factors or enzymes. It doesn’t change consistency and composition constantly, adapting to such things as the weather and the time of day; producing more thinner, thirst quenching milk when the weather is hot, and more antibody rich milk when baby is poorly for example. It doesn’t contain a substance (HAMLET) that kills cancer cells, or help prevent against cancer in the mother and child, or help reduce the chances of allergies, diabetes and obesity. Breast is best is not correct, a slogan thought up by the formula companies to suggest an unobtainable ideal. Breast is biologically normal.

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Photo courtesy of Kat Wreford Via Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies Facebook group. The milk on the left was expressed on a normal day, the milk on the right on a day when both Mother and baby were ill. The “poorly” milk closely resembles colostrum, from all the extra antibodies present.

Formula has its place, its okay. But it just doesn’t measure up in comparison.

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Poster shared via http://www.themilkmeg.com

You can’t breastfeed if you have small breasts

Not true! The size of your breasts is down to how much fatty tissue you have. The actual mechanics of milk making, the alveoli, ductules and milk ducts, are roughly the same size in all women. So having small breasts does not mean you can’t breastfeed!

If anything it is more of a challenge the larger your breasts are, as tiny newborns might struggle to latch on to a bigger nipple and take enough areola into their mouth. This doesn’t mean that you will struggle to breastfeed if you have larger breasts though! You just may need a little help to get that latch right.

 

Breastfeeding is supposed to hurt, until your nipples `toughen up’

Not true! Yes it may hurt when baby latches on initially, but if the pain continues then that usually indicates a problem. It could be that baby has a tongue tie, or that your latch needs adjusting slightly. Usually just the smallest change in position, or simply latching baby off (by breaking the suction with your little finger in the corner of their mouth) and trying again can do the trick.

If the pain carries on then its best to get some expert help. Many children’s centres or clinics run a weekly breastfeeding group, where you can go to have a coffee and a chat with other Mums in the same boat, and they will have a trained peer supporter who can watch you feed and give you any help you need. Some of these clinics even have a trained lactation consultant attending, who can check for tongue ties or other issues that may be causing problems with breastfeeding.

 

If you have a big baby you won’t have enough milk 

Again, not true! Our bodies are wonderful things. They grow these beautiful little people, keep them safe and secure for 9 months (sometimes more or less). Yet when they arrive we tend to doubt our ability to carry on providing all the nourishment they need.

Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis. The more you feed your baby, the more milk you will produce to satisfy their needs. Sometimes it can seem like you are feeding your bigger baby too frequently, and well meaning people may tell you they are too big and they need more milk than you can provide. But don’t listen! This frequent feeding is completely normal. They are just putting their order in for how much they need you to produce, and you will provide it so long as you let them nurse as often as they want to so they can “demand” your “supply”.

 

If a newborn feeds too often you’re doing it wrong, or you don’t have enough milk

You guessed it, not true! As i mentioned above, breastfeeding is supply and demand. In those first few days your newborn’s stomach is so tiny, they only need around half a teaspoon full of colostrum at every feed. But having a stomach this tiny, and breastmilk being so easily digestible, means that they are soon hungry again. It is completely normal for a newborn to feed 8-12 times a day, and those feeds can seem to blend into each other. As baby grows, so does their stomach. But they still only need tiny amounts of milk at each feed to fill them up. So the feeds stay frequent, although they may start to space out slightly as baby grows. Just go with it. Scheduling feeds can have a detrimental effect on supply, and no-one wants a screaming, hungry baby because they are not “due” a feed for another twenty minutes. Your baby knows best when it is time for a feed, and will be happier being fed on demand. And a happy baby means a much more harmonious existence! Its hard, it really is. But its completely normal!

 

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The first six weeks in a newborn’s life are pretty much one big growth spurt. They may seem to settle into a bit of a feeding pattern for a few days, but then suddenly go back to wanting to nurse all the time. They may seem fussy at the breast, sucking for a minute and then bobbing off, crying. But then wanting to latch back on straight away. Don’t panic! This is absolutely normal. Infact, its pretty amazing really! Baby knows that they are growing fast, either physically or developmentally. So they are telling your body that it needs to make more milk. This can last for a few days or a few weeks, but your body will get the message from baby and start to produce more milk. It can be soul destroying, and you may start to doubt yourself. You may have that well meaning partner, friend or family member telling you to just give baby one bottle, to give you a break. Or saying you’re obviously not enough so they need more. But this will just prolong the agony. Giving a bottle means your baby isn’t suckling, and if baby isn’t suckling then your body isn’t getting the message to make more milk. So the fussing and frequent nursing continues, and you feel worse. You give more bottles, which just exasperates the problem further. Before you know it you have fallen into the top up trap, and your breastfeeding journey is all but over. This is usually what happened to people who will tell you they didn’t have enough milk 😦 I fell into this trap with my first son. I was told to top up with formula because my son was sleeping through the night and she (the health visitor) said he wasn’t getting enough calories. Being new to breastfeeding I took her word for it. So I started waking him up when I went to bed and giving one bottle of formula. Then, when he went through a growth spurt, I worried that I wasn’t enough for him, so he started to have one more bottle in the morning. But of course his fussing continued, so gradually we started to give him a bottle after a breastfeed, to “top him up” as he still seemed hungry. I didn’t know about the top up trap, or that I had fallen into it with a big bang. I limped along still breastfeeding him until 6 months, but by then my supply was pretty much gone and we switched to formula completely. I wish I had known then what I know now! I never would have given him that first bottle. At 10 months old my son had an accident which made me never want to give a bottle again. When i fell pregnant with my next baby I researched breastfeeding as much as I could, and thats when i found out about growth spurts. So when it came to the growth spurts with my next three children I was prepared. It didn’t make it any easier, I still had nights where I sat and sobbed from exhaustion and doubted myself. But I carried on, and I got through it.

The other big growth spurt is at around 4 months. This one is a monster, and is often accompanied by a period of sleep regression too. Just because we don’t have enough to deal with with the fussy, grumpy baby during the day! These two things combined often lead to parents mistakenly believing that their baby needs real food. But in most cases this isn’t true. Its just another killer spurt, and it will pass after a few weeks.

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The Wonder weeks is a great book and accompanying app, it explains when to expect a growth spurt or developmental leap and what to expect from their behaviour.

 

Breastfed babies never need winding

Tell that to my children 😉 They have all been very windy babies, from both ends. My two younger girls and my youngest son all had reflux. I had a catch 22 situation, because they fed so often to ease their pain but then ended up needing winding. But when I winded them, particularly my son, if I wasn’t careful the whole feed would come back up!

The idea behind this myth is a sound one, in fact it is often true that breastfed babies don’t get alot of wind. A baby who feeds from the breast with a secure latch should not swallow much, if any, air alongside their milk. Unlike a baby who feeds from a bottle. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to wind your breastfed baby. You should still burp them after every feed, even if they don’t bring any wind up. Because if they do have wind and you leave them, you will have a very unhappy baby! Sometimes a very small baby will fall asleep at the breast before they have finished their feed, particularly if they are suffering from jaundice. Winding them is a good way to wake them up a bit, to encourage them to finish the feed.

 

If your diet is rubbish then your milk will be too

Despite what the formula companies would have you believe (anyone seen the adverts showing a baby nursing on a burger in place of a breast?!) this is not true! Mother’s diet has little impact on the success of breastfeeding or the quality of her milk. Mothers in famine hit countries still manage to produce milk and nurse their infants, often providing them with the only decent nourishment they receive in their early years. This wouldn’t be possible if what she ate impacted her milk supply. Obviously eating a balanced, healthy diet is recommended. But if you have the occasional takeaway or live on rice and beans then don’t fret too much, you can still breastfeed just as well as the next person. the truth is your poor diet is more likely to impact on you than baby! Look at a baby like a small (adorable) parasite. They take all that they need, and if mother is lacking then they leave her without. If you think your diet might not be the best, there are vitamin supplements made especially for breastfeeding women. So you can replace anything you may be lacking.

 

You can’t drink alcohol and breastfeed, you have to “pump and dump”

Dr Jack Newman, one of the world’s leading experts on breastfeeding, shared a very interesting post on his Facebook page. In the post he quotes a unnamed mother who blogged about her experiment with having her milk tested by a professional lab after drinking varying amounts of alcohol. The conclusion was that not enough alcohol is present in breastmilk to prohibit feeding your baby. The amount quoted was likened to mixing one shot of vodka with over 70 litres of mixer. A drop in the ocean, and not anywhere near enough to cause harm to baby. If you want to read the full post the link is here.

The general rule of thumb is that as long as you are sober enough to hold your child safely, you are sober enough to feed them. Now go enjoy that well earned glass of wine!

 

Theres no need to breastfeed after 6 months

Nope, not true. At around six months of age your baby’s needs will change. They will start to need more than just milk to satisfy their nutritional requirements. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t need your milk anymore. Breastmilk continues to offer the same benefits to a baby who has started solid foods as it does to a newborn. It still contains antibodies, anti viruses, hormones, enzymes and all the other good stuff. It still changes to meet the needs of your child on a feed to feed basis, and even during a feed. Its still free 😉 There is no need to stop breastfeeding when you hit six months, or when you start solids.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, and then continuing breastfeeding alongside solid foods to age two and beyond. I’m guessing they know what they’re talking about more than your Mum’s cousin’s Husband’s Sister 🙂

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Breastfed babies need extra water when its hot

Not true, and actually quite dangerous! Babies under two months who are given extra water to drink are at risk of jaundice, from higher bilirubin levels. They are also at risk of a serious condition called Oral water intoxication. Breastmilk is made up of 88% water, so there is really no need to provide extra water to a baby who is fed on demand, even when its really hot. Offering extra water can fill baby’s little tummy, meaning they don’t want to nurse and are at risk of malnutrition as they are not taking their milk feeds.

Breastmilk is fantastic stuff. Your breasts will produce more thinner milk to quench thirst in hot weather. Baby will probably want to nurse more frequently; to have a “drink” rather than a full feed. But as long as you let them nurse they will be fine. From six months its okay to start offering a cup of water with meals.

 

 

So there you have it. I hope I’ve managed to allay a few fears, and right a few misconceptions. If you need more information, or a more scientific viewpoint, there are some great resources on the web. I have to give a big shout out to the lovely members of an awesome Facebook group, Breastfeeding Yummy Mummys, who helped me decide which myths to tackle by sharing some that they had come up against. They have helped me, and many other women, through some tough patches.

La Leche League are a great organisation, who have been running in the UK offering breastfeeding help and support for 45 years. They have a helpline that is manned by volunteers who are trained to offer help and guidance. I’ve only had to call them once, but I’ll never forget that lovely lady who listened patiently to me sobbing down the phone the day my milk came in with my first breastfed baby that he wouldn’t latch on. We were both so stressed out, but she calmed me down and just listened to me, and then offered helpful advise on positioning and exaggerated latches which really really helped. The number is 0845 120918. Please don’t hesitate to call if you need help, its what they’re there for.

 

Kellymom.com is a great source of information on all things breastfeeding (no, its not me!). Its my go-to website if I’m unsure of anything.

 

To read more about the WHO recommendations on breastfeeding visit here.

 

For more from Dr Jack Newman visit his Breastfeedinginc website here or his facebook page here.

 

Thanks for reading!

Kelly.x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural parenting shoots -Babywearing

Since I made the decision to be true to myself and my style, I have been full of ideas. It’s like a floodgate has opened in my mind and suddenly my creative juices are flowing. 

In keeping with the natural parenting direction I have decided to take I have been shooting some Babywearing photos. 

  
Babywearing was my saviour when my youngest was small. Having a newborn with a tongue tie and severe reflux, who can’t be laid down and wants to be at the breast constantly would challenge any parent. But when you already have four children who need you, school runs and after school clubs to do, dinners to cook and the mountain of mess they leave in their wake, a sling is a must! He lived in it. I cooked cleaned, fed, helped with homework, read stories and ate dinner with him in it. On nights when his pain was especially bad I wrapped him on and went walking in the dark with him. It saved my sanity, it strengthened our bond and it enabled me to not be stuck on the sofa for the first six months of his life! So babywearing has a special place in my heart. 

I wanted to capture all those things in my photos. The closeness, the convenience of a sling in places where you would struggle with a pram (have you ever tried pushing a pushchair on a shingle beach? It’s near impossible!), the comfort of the child. This has resulted in a series of images I adore.

  

  
  
  
I’ll be offering these shoots as half hour mini sessions soon. Watch out on the website for pricing and details!
Kelly.x