The publication of a new report from the ESRI today linking breastfeeding with lower rates of childhood obesity in Ireland coincided nicely with a new experience I had last week.
My little boy has never taken a bottle. Scratch that, he took a small bottle of expressed milk once from his Dad, fell asleep and then promptly denied all knowledge of the event immediately thereafter! So it’s been breast all the way in our house for 10 months now and counting.
So last week I had my first encounter with a bottle of formula and a small baby. A good friend and mother of three needed to pick up her eldest from school and left her beautiful sleeping bundle with me. Her new daughter is both breast and formula fed and I had 2oz to give to her if she woke while her mama was out. No probs. Except then I found myself a little out of my depth. When I went to feed the baby, I found I wasn’t able to read her cues. I wasn’t sure if she was hungry or not. It took her a few tries to properly get into taking the bottle which she then drank readily but then I couldn’t tell if she was finished or not. 2oz looked like a small enough amount in the bottle but I really have no idea how much that is so I wasn’t sure if she needed to finish it all or not. In the end I left some behind. Her mum told me later that she had taken more for me than she does for her Dad. Is that a bad thing? Did I give her too much? Now, she was a little angel so there was no crying – like that desperate, insistent “I’m starving”! cry I remember my son having at that age when he was hungry – and she was a pretty chilled out little lady so I can only presume that she was a bit hungry, took what she needed and was satisfied.
But it got me thinking that in some ways, breastfeeding is like the precursor of baby-led weaning really isn’t it? At that age, my son let me know when he was hungry – and boy did he let me know – he’d stop when he was finished and when he didn’t want a feed, he was pretty clear about that as well. So he was totally in charge of his intake all the time. That’s what caught me off guard with the little lady. I was in charge – and I didn’t like it! Breastfeeding and formula feeding are really two very different ways of nourishing your baby. It makes sense that exclusively breastfeeding mothers and exclusively formula feeding mother would struggle to understand each other’s methods. I know I do but that’s my issue.
You can read the full report here. But if you’d prefer to skip the economist-speak, the Irish Times have a summary here. On an aside, I was shocked to read in that article that nearly half of all Irish babies are weaned on to solid foods by four months. I had no idea it was that high.
Putting away the laundry, I just realised that the 30 odd muslin squares that we have seem to be staying in the drawer for a long time instead of making their daily appearance in the washing machine. Who’d have thunk this day would come?
Ah, the muslin square, I’ll remember it with affection. A new parent’s best friend. Always within arm’s reach. There to catch the puke, mop up the puke, over Dad’s shoulder, under Mum’s boob, over Mum’s boob to stem the flow of an over enthusiastic nipple shooting across the room. A makeshift bib. A face cloth. A handy stemmer of the flow of little boy piddle when you turn your back for a second to reach for a fresh nappy…their usefulness is endless. You can never have too many in those early days. Praise the muslin!
PS I have IKEA ones. They rock.
I met an old friend today who I haven’t seen for the best part of a decade. He has gotten married and had two babies with another on the way since the last time we met. He was waxing lyrical about the joy of being a father and how it has changed his life and perspective utterly and he said a few things that struck a chord with me. Maybe two chords – one harmonic and one inharmonic. The first thing he said was he wonders what he was afraid of all this time. He had been terrified for years of becoming a father to the point where he considered returning to singledom at one point when it looked like there might a chisler on the horizon (false alarm). I find this totally understandable. I think if you’re not there, you’re totally not there when it comes to thinking about having children. For me, it was like a switch: not even slightly interested in children to all about babies!
The second thing he said was that he was so lucky to be married to the beautiful, wonderful wife and mother that he was. Because all of his mates’ wives turned into dragons after they had their children.
I need to think about this a little bit more. It’s not the first time I’ve heard something like this but it’s the first time I’ve heard it since becoming a mother. It’s funny, when you’re busy trying to make babies and have babies, the husband/wife father/mother dynamic is something that never crosses your mind. That is until your baby arrives and everyone’s life changes forever and those relationships change forever too. Suddenly there’s this whole other element of having a baby that never blipped on your radar. And apparently some men experience dragon mamas. I don’t know what to make of this or whose perspective to take it from. I think I’m going to park it for now, have a mull and maybe come back to it at a later stage. Anyone have any thoughts on the concept of dragon mamas or otherwise?
Hi there blog readers!
I’ve been thinking and talking, and talking and thinking, about writing a blog since I got pregnant in 2010. I wanted to record my pregnancy and share the experience with anyone who might care but I chickened out time and again with myriad excuses not to. Then my son was born and once the initial shell shock had subsided I thought I’d try again. This time I was thinking about sharing all the things they don’t tell you about when you’re pregnant and having a baby – both the good and the bad, and there are A LOT (more on this later) – but to be honest, I was too exhausted and genuinely didn’t have the time. Now my son’s nearly a year and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it so I thought “let’s give this a lash”! Continue reading What am I letting myself in for?