July has been “plastic-free” month and as it draws to a close I wonder just how possible it is to raise babies without resorting to buying/using lots of the stuff. There are many parents who adamantly tell you that they will only let their little darlings play with beautifully-crafted wooden toys prior to birth. How many of them find their living rooms cluttered with brightly-coloured, noisy tat once the babies start to engage? It’s relatively easy to look at that aspect – but where else does plastic play a part? And what options do parents have?
Probably one of the biggest baby plastic offenders is the disposable nappy. It is a shocking thought that every single disposable nappy ever used is still sitting in landfill, and that nappies contribute to a significant percentage of the rubbish that we throw away nationally – each baby will go through approximately 6,500 nappies in 2 1/2 years. Consider the expense both to your purse and to the environment. So, what are the alternatives? These days we are fortunate that there are amazing washable nappy options – there are Nappy Consultants who run “Nappuccino” events – yes that’s right – a coffee morning for mums and mums-to-be to look at the range of options out there – beautiful, quick-drying, colourful, no-pins-required, soft, comfortable, absorbable pants that little bottoms deserve to sit in! And whilst we are at it – rather than buying endless tubs of chemical-filled baby wipes it’s possible to make your own by cutting up some old towels in to small flannels, store them in a recycled tub in a solution of water and a few drops of essential oils, then wash alongside your nappies when you have used them. Simple, cheap, effective!
Due to the effectiveness of disposable nappies the natural age for potty-training seems to have been delayed. I’ve heard so many mothers bemoaning the fact that their grannies claimed to have had dry children by the age of one, when theirs are still resolutely refusing to come out of disposables aged 2, 3 or even 4 years old. When it comes to potty-training we aren’t limited to plastic either – there are options like the Becopotty – made of bamboo and waste plant material it can be used and reused for as long as you like. However, once you are done with it it can be planted in the garden, where it will begin to biodegrade without releasing nasties into your soil. Or, if you are feeling brave then perhaps you will consider Elimination Communication and aim to go nappy and plastic-free from the very start with your little one? It works for millions of families across the world – what harm is there in learning your baby’s cues for weeing and pooing and avoiding both nappies and the potty-training nightmare completely?
Archives for July 2016
“What do we need to buy for our new baby?” A question commonly asked in antenatal sessions. And, whilst reassuring parents that they don’t have to take out a second mortgage or find a second/third or fourth job to purchase everything the retailers advise, we do recommend muslins!
Inexpensive and versatile, muslins are often found in every room of the house when a new baby is around. It’s amazing what they end up being used for – certainly many outfits have been saved by the judicious placing of a piece of cloth! One of my children still loved cuddling a muslin (known as Clothy) when she was going to sleep until she was about eight years and the final one fell to pieces! In this hot summer weather a top tip is to wet a muslin, ring it out and place it over a baby’s skin – the heat of the day and the baby’s body temperature will dry the muslin very quickly, but leave your baby feeling a bit cooler and more comfortable.
Nurturing Birth have joined forces with Faye and Lou for a chance for you to WIN a pack of SEVEN colourful rainbow muslins which are made from luxuriously soft, 100% cotton muslin.
They are made from 2 layers of muslin, making them highly absorbent.
Where white muslins can become grey and dull, Rainbow muslins stay bright and colourful.
For a chance to win, simply connect with us on social media, and let us know why you’d like to get your hands on some of these muslins – here’s the question… what would YOU use them for?
One lucky winner will be selected at random during the first week in August and Faye and Lou will dispatch the prize parcel
Ts and Cs
- Entries must be submitted via the rafflecopter form below by 28/07/16. No purchase necessary.
- Your details will be passed on so Faye and Lou can dispatch your prize. One winner will be chosen at random. There is no alternative prize and the prize is non-transferable, non-refundable and non-exchangeable.
- The winner will be drawn on the 03/08/16
- This prize draw is not run in association with Facebook.
My 11-year old daughter and I sat down to watch an episode of one of her favourite American TV dramas the other evening – something of a chore for me because I think the acting is so incredibly bad. The heroes had, as always, saved the day and all seemed to be well until the final tense moments when the pregnant lead suddenly clutched her belly, rolled her eyes and said “the baby’s coming!” Cue titles … and my daughter turning to me and saying “Mummy, I don’t think you should watch the next episode because she will be lying on her back and screaming and you will get cross”. Her comment made me laugh out loud because it is so accurate – I regularly do shout at the telly when watching soaps, series or films depicting pregnancy, birth or the early days of parenting – it also made me proud that my 11 year-old recognizes that what is shown on screen is a fictionalized and dramatized version of birth. She has learnt, at an early age, that birth doesn’t have to be all drama, screams and fear – she has heard many stories of babies born in calm, quiet, supported situations. But, it does make me think …
Before I became a doula I worked in the film industry – my role was finding new writers, developing up and editing scripts and preparing for production. It was a challenging and exciting job and I loved looking at plot construction – how to make something interesting, inspiring, captivating in a short space of time. I still adore watching good films or dramas and appreciating the work that has gone in to creating tension and intrigue. However, when it comes to drama featuring birth, I want it to be, well, less “dramatic”. Because what I experience when I work with women is a huge amount of fear. The thing I realise is that despite being a drama, the way having babies is depicted on the majority of films and TV shows is affecting the beliefs people, and especially, women have around birthing. Research has shown that this level of fear around birth didn’t exist prior to the screen era. When all you see is a woman lying on her back and screaming in pain it is no wonder that the majority of mothers-to-be want to grab the epidural before the first twinge. That is not to say that epidurals are necessarily a bad thing (that should be the subject of another blog), but it would be good if there was significantly more emphasis on physiology – how the unique cocktail of hormones we produce in our bodies, in a calm, supported environment, can help us have more positive, even pleasurable, experiences.
The recent “In the Club” had me gnashing my teeth – over a short 6-week period the births shown included a woman who didn’t realize she was pregnant having a baby in a hospital toilet and showing no signs of having birthed afterwards (one little telltale damp patch on her t-shirt a few days later doesn’t cut the mustard in my book), a 16 year old suddenly giving birth in a broken-down lift (same episode) and a mother with twins going through unbelievable drama, but spectacularly able to bring her brand-new premature babies into a social setting within an hour of their births! None of it realistic. Yes babies are born in lifts, car parks and often toilets, but for it to be nearly all of the births shown – not fair on women!
I have banned myself from watching One Born Every Minute – my issue with the programme is that it is presented as real-life, but it is more drama than documentary, and I doubt the intention behind it is to support women having better birth experiences – I have heard many stories of births being too boring to show! Those are my kinds of births – the ones in dimly-lit rooms that the cameras can’t see properly! The only programme I have really enjoyed in recent months is Call the Midwife – there is an attention to detail in the programme and interesting storylines exploring some of the issues that come up around pregnancy and birth. Sadly in the most recent series the programme-makers have done a good job of showing how birth started to be more medicalised, institutionalized and less personalized. The recent National Review of Midwifery highlighted continuity of care as being essential to good experiences for women, and in Call the Midwife the joy is seeing the relationship between the midwives and their patients.
So, this is a call to anyone involved in drama or documentary production to be aware that what they show can have a lasting impact, and request that they explore alternative ways of depicting birth, which will always be exciting to watch, whether dramatic or not. And, if anyone wants to discuss birth, or how to portray it realistically, then we are here to have those conversations! Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s lovely to see the UK experimenting with a scheme that has been so successful in Finland for many years – a new family are given a sturdy cardboard box, fitted mattress, bedding and other assorted baby essentials so that they have a safe sleeping environment for their newborn. The aim is to reduce incidences of SIDS, also known as Cot Death, something that is a serious concern for new parents. See more here. What new parent wouldn’t benefit from being given a selection of newborn-sized clothes, reusable nappies, wipes, muslins, and a simple environment suitable for a baby to sleep in? There is no doubt that having babies can be an expensive business, so getting a government or charity-funded gift of essentials at this point is fantastic.
However, we want to raise a couple of issues. In various articles we have read it talks about the scheme being a way of preventing or discouraging parents from sleeping with their babies. Co-sleeping, or bed-sharing as we prefer to name it, has become a very controversial topic in recent years. Every woman is advised by the NHS not to sleep with her baby, BUT research-based studies from the Durham University Sleep Lab and as listed in La Leche League’s recent book Sweet Sleep, show that if the “Safe Sleep Seven” are observed that bed-sharing can be beneficial and safe for both mother and baby – in fact, given the type of mammal that we are i.e. primates, it is probably what is expected of us biologically. As doulas, we are aware that the vast majority of women end up sleeping with their baby at one time or other, even if they had no intention of doing it in the first place. So, we would petition that there be really good evidence-based information (the Infant Sleep app is a great source) given to all new parents so that they can make an informed choice about where their new baby will sleep, be that in a moses basket, cardboard box, cot or shared familial bed.
Historically bottle-feeding paraphernalia was included in the Finnish boxes and it is interesting to note that, compared to its Scandinavian counterparts, Finland has significantly lower breastfeeding take-up and continuation (in 2012 Finland was placed 26 out of 36 on Save The Children’s State of the World’s Mothers report – a league table of Developed Countries looking at percentage of hospitals that are baby friendly, state of policy support for the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, breastfeeding practices and maternity leave allowance. It scored lower than the UK’s shameful 25th place). Could it be that the deliberate separation of mothers and babies in a breastfeeding dyad is impacting successful breastfeeding? And, has the inclusion of bottles in the cardboard box up to as recently as 2006 affected the way that Finnish mothers feel about breastfeeding – has it undermined the view of breastfeeding as the norm? Surely these things need to be examined before the scheme is rolled out across the UK.
If you are a new mum looking for support at night, including up-to-date evidence-based information about babies sleeping then visit http://nurturingbirthdirectory.com/listing/night-support/
Recently we shared our thoughts on what makes good feeding support for new families – that blog arose from our experiences working with new mothers and encountering too many situations that were seemingly preventable. It is a sad fact that the subject of breastfeeding has become divisive in the UK and a large part of that is due to the bad or traumatic experiences too many women have suffered in their attempts to feed their babies. Those women have not ‘failed’, but they have certainly been failed by the system. So, Nurturing Birth are thrilled to be part of the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition discussions, alongside many of the big name breastfeeding advocates in the UK, such as the Royal College of Midwives, Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, AIMS, First Steps Nutrition, Baby Milk Action, Maternity Action, and Save the Children. Today Unicef have launched a Call To Action campaign on behalf of the Baby Friendly Initiative to change the conversation around breastfeeding, and encourage more discussions within government. We urge you all to join the campaign and raise your voice so that women are better supported in feeding their babies. The research is all there to show just how beneficial breastfeeding is, not just for each individual baby, but for our ongoing health services and economy.
On Tuesday night I was really privileged to see The Quiet House at Park Theatre, a play exploring a couple’s experiences of infertility and IVF. It was incredibly powerful, with fantastic performances from the two leads and made me so aware of how invasive and difficult the journey can be. Dylan, the husband, talked of how he felt impotent – his role being limited to “wanking” in to a cup, and how painful it was for him to watch his wife having to do daily injections, deal with the surging hormones, and feel the physical pain, whilst all he could do was watch. We could see her visceral suffering – her all-consuming desire to have a baby – the feeling that what the couple had between them, despite such love, was not enough. We saw how it affected their daily lives and how isolated and alone they were in their journey. It made me so aware of the lack of emotional support for couples facing infertility. As doulas we often work with couples who have been through fertility treatment – apparently one in six couples needs support getting pregnant – and it is clear how medicalised and interventionalist the route has been compared to those couples who have enjoyed love-making as their route to pregnancy. Couples have often lost faith in their bodies and their ability to birth. There is often such fear of risk, knowing how difficult it was to get the baby there in the first place. It makes me sad that there isn’t more awareness of the role of the doula around fertility – surely emotional, practical and informational support is essential at that time? Despite being an emotional watch I would urge anyone who can get to Finsbury Park to see the production before it finishes on 9th July. It’s eye-opening and powerful.