Breast is best BUT….

These days you can’t scroll down your Facebook feed without seeing a HuffPost Article on Breastfeeding or a picture of someone breastfeeding in public. And while it’s great that there is so much encouragement to breastfeed, I think people need to stop and consider those who *can’t* breastfeed.

When I was pregnant, no one told me how difficult it would be. No one told me about the cracked and bleeding nipples, no one talked to me about latch and no one described the guilt I would feel at not being able to do it. My cousin just had a baby and I was talking to her about feeding when she described similar issues. And the guilt she feels and as we spoke, she said she was glad she wasn’t the only one. I was quite surprised because she did quite a bit of reading before giving birth and yet she felt alone. And I’d felt the same way 3 1/2 years ago.

So when I see pictures and posts that are pro-breastfeeding, I wish they’d describe how tough it can be. Because even these posts make out like its the most natural thing in the world. And the fact is, it isn’t for everyone.

These days science has advanced so much that formula is almost as good as breast milk. It carries all the same nutrition and minerals. Some people claim that breast milk builds your child’s immunity and helps create a bond between mother and child. I’d just like to state, in my humble opinion, that is utter rubbish! S has a great immune system, even though he was practically formula fed from birth and for those that know us, there’s no lack of a bond there. In fact if you lined up a bunch of school kids, I’d bet you wouldn’t be able to spot those that were formula fed and those that were breastfed.

This post is not anti breastfeeding. If it’s possible, I’m all for it. I just think there needs to be more support for those that can’t. For those that want to but aren’t able to. For those that feel such guilt because society makes them feel that if they don’t breastfeed, they’re doing a disservice to their children. The fact is, they’re not. Whether they can’t or won’t, it really is each individual’s choice.

So to those sitting on a bit of a high horse because they were able to feed until 6 months, 12 months or even 2 years, I encourage them to reach out to friends and family who are pregnant and talk them through all the challenges. And reassure them that their kids are going to be amazing, EVEN if they aren’t breastfed!

At the end of the day, all babies really need is this little thing called LOVE!

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Expert dental advice

While I was in India a few weeks ago, I was chatting to my cousin’s wife who is a paediatric dentist when the thought dawned on me that many of the questions I was asking were questions that most mom’s have, especially new moms. So at my request she kindly agreed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about children’s dental health.

1. When should I start brushing my babies’ teeth?

You should start brushing your babies’ teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts in the mouth. This is because the main organism causing decay (str. mutans) are seen as soon as the first tooth erupts. You should use a soft finger brush initially and soon shift to a soft baby tooth brush. However, oral hygiene should be practiced much before that i.e. cleaning the baby’s gumpads after every feed (bf/ff)

2. Can decay/cavities be caused by bottle-feeding or by breast feeding?

Both. One of the main causes of cavities in children before the age of 5 yrs (early childhood cavities) is bottle-feeding. The formula milk given to babies has sugars, which is given at naptime and before bed, and in the absence of oral hygiene measures, the sugars remain in the mouth (swallowing is also absent as the child is sleeping). This gives a good 6-8 hours for the bacteria to produce acid in the presence of these sugars. Breast milk also causes cavities. It is true that breast milk has antibodies that fight streptococcus mutans (cavity causing bacteria), however, with lack of oral hygiene breast milk also causes decay.

3. Can decay spread from mother or caregiver to the child?

Yes, decay can spread from mother/caregiver to the child. This happens while kissing, blowing food, sharing spoons, etc. Studies have shown that mothers with active decay have children with increased amounts of streptococcus mutans.

4. When should I take my child to the dentist or when should the child have their 1st dental visit?

The first dental visit as most organizations recommend should be at the 1st birthday or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts. In this visit, the dentist will check the baby’s teeth; explain the oral hygiene procedures, dietary information, etc.

5. How can I check my child for decay at home?

You can check for white/black spots on surface of the teeth in the front teeth. Apparent black spots with loss of tooth structure indicate tooth decay. However, the decay between two teeth will be difficult to see by the naked eye. Also, white spots seen indicate early decay. At this stage decay can be reversed. Also, stains maybe misleading. Hence if you are unsure, a dentist visit should be made.

6. My child has a thumb/ pacifier sucking habit. Should I be worried?

Thumb sucking and pacifier sucking habits are considered normal up to the age of 3 years. Pacifier habits are however easy to intercept, as long as that pacifier habit is not replaced by thumb sucking. Thumb sucking after the age of 3-4 yrs., can cause malocclusions in children (open bite, deep palate, constricted arches, etc) At this stage, a paediatric dentist needs to intervene. An appliance is usually given to the child (a reminder appliance) which stops the habit.

7. My child won’t stop snacking on junk food or candies. How is this harmful?

Starchy foods like crisps can be harder on a child’s teeth than candy. Starchy foods get stuck in between teeth and in hard to reach crevices giving bacteria plenty of sugar to feed off! It is difficult to motivate children to stop/keep away from crisps and candies. But, with healthier choices it does become easy. Snacking foods given to kids should be nuts, cheese, fruits, salads, whole wheat breads, etc. Perhaps keep a “treat box” for your child that they’re allowed to indulge in once a week. In this way, the sugar attacks are greatly reduced. A child is also less tempted when sugar/junk food isn’t readily available at home.

8. Which foods prevent cavities/tooth decay?

Just like there are foods that can cause decay there are foods that can prevent tooth decay. Fibrous foods have a cleansing action on the surface of the teeth. (Vegetables, fruits, and salads). Nuts like almonds, peanuts, cashew nuts, pine nuts, etc. indirectly prevent tooth decay. Cheese has proven to be a very good source in cavity prevention as well.

You can find more information here.

Thanks Netika!! 🙂

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Cesarean Awareness Month, April 2015

I remember when I first got pregnant and was looking for a doctor in Hong Kong, one of the things people always talked about were C sections. Apparently private doctor’s there are known to push for a C section. Perhaps they make more money out of it or maybe they think it’s the easy way out. Either way, there seemed to be a lot of stigma attached to it and I didn’t quite understand why. But of course, what people said did influence me and by the time I was 9 months pregnant, I was adamant I was going to have my baby naturally (i.e. vaginally)

After about 20 hours of labour, my doctor came in and told me she was pretty certain I was going to have to have a C section and all I remember thinking was no, I can’t have a C section, I just can’t and I didn’t really know why. So I tried the whole “natural” thing. I pushed for about an hour. My dear doctor tried everything she could to give me what I wanted. Forceps and Ventouse! But S was spine to spine and he had a big head…there was no way he was coming out that way. Eventually the epidural wore out, I went into distress and was rushed in for an emergency C section. When they placed my baby boy in my arms, all I felt was relief. That he was safe and I finally got to meet him. In that moment, it didn’t matter how he got there.

A day later I sent out my birth announcement and it took me about 3 days to respond to all the messages of congratulations. As I read through them, I noticed that some people congratulated me and when I hadn’t responded after a day or two, they went on to say “Did you have a natural birth or a C section?” And I just didn’t get it. Why does that matter?

A few weeks post partum, I was on Babycentre when I read about women who had delivered naturally who had 3rd degree tears, women who had prolapse and other’s whose pelvic floors pretty much didn’t exist anymore and in that moment I thought “I’m actually so glad I had a C section.” I had an amazing doctor who did a great job with my stitches and although I needed some help getting out of bed for the first week, it healed well and 6 weeks after S arrived, it’s like nothing ever happened.

So why the guilt mama’s? Let me tell you…it takes great courage to have a C section. Lying on a table and being prepped for what is essentially major surgery is terrifying.  I remember as they tested how numb I was using cold water, I could still feel pressure around my abdomen and I only remember constantly saying “I can’t feel the cold water, but I can feel what they’re doing.” Having to give up on wanting a natural birth and being rushed into surgery was scary but knowing I was that much closer to seeing my little boy made it worthwhile.

But given all of that, if I had to do it all again, I think I may just choose to have an elective cesarean the next time! Want to judge me? Go ahead..

For all those of you feeling twinges of guilt or fear at the idea of giving birth via C section, for those of you who feel that way already having done so and for those of you who chose to have an elective cesarean, I say screw the idea of natural child birth and be happy. It doesn’t matter how you deliver your baby, what matters is that they entered this world safely. Children who are born vaginally aren’t any happier or any more loved than those born via C section..and surely that’s all that matters?!

Happy Easter

I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend. We were blessed with great weather here in London last week. The sun was shining, the skies were clear. On Friday, S and I headed down to Surrey to spend an afternoon with a friend and her gorgeous little girl. The kids are only a few months apart and it was so cute to see them playing together, holding hands and of course catching up with my friend R. I spent a lot of time with my awesome cousins this week too. With busy lives and upcoming weddings, we don’t get a chance to catch up as often as I’d like but when we do, it’s always such a laugh!

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I went to a boarding school in Dublin from the age of 14-18 and so was introduced to “Lent”. I’ve never really had the will power to give up anything, or over indulged in anything that I feel the need to give it up but this year I decided to give up carbonated drinks. Initially I thought I’d give up alcohol but then met R and another friend for lunch two days after Shrove Tuesday and was easily convinced why I shouldn’t give up wine and in fact join her and give up carbonated drinks. Maybe it’s a mummy thing! I thought it’d be hard when I was out to dinner and wanted a diet coke but instead I just replaced it with hot water or green tea and it’s felt good.

I’ve had a busy few weeks catching up with things. As of last week, I am a certified life coach…woo hoo! I am currently working towards an NPL (neuro-linguistic programming) and hopefully CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) qualifications. Wish me luck! Essentially these are modules I’ve always wanted to study but somehow never had the chance. I hope to complete them before the end of the year and maybe even add a couple more therapies to my portfolio.

How was your Easter weekend and did you give up anything for Lent?

Water Baby

Ever since S was born, he has always loved water. He was never one of those new borns who cried every time he had to have a bath or a baby who didn’t like being taken swimming. In fact, quite the opposite. I once put him in the bath just to calm him down and it settled him immediately. He is a total water baby!

When he was 15 months old I started taking him for swimming lessons. I was a little nervous about submerging him initially but when I saw how he coped, it put all my fears to rest. It took him a few times to get the “ready, go…dunk” signal but now he knows when it’s coming.

Yesterday I took him swimming, he was having the time of his life in the baby pool (he could stand) and so was walking around pulling his inflatable toys about. Suddenly some children started splashing near him and S lost his balance and fell forward. My heart was in my mouth and I leaned in to pick him up when suddenly I see him kicking and moving his arms, “swimming” in his own little way to the edge of the pool. PROUD MUMMY MOMENT!! I knew he enjoyed his swimming lessons and of course the water in general but I didn’t realise how much he’d picked up from the 8 classes we went to.

Even after falling in, S didn’t cry or want to get out of the water. In fact he kept bending his knees trying to attempt it again. He never ceases to amaze me!

In my opinion, knowing how to swim is very important and the earlier children learn, the better. It’s one of those abilities you never know when you’ll need, it can be a real life saver!! Drowning is one of the biggest causes of accidental death in young children. Getting into the pool early and often is the key to success when it comes to teaching children how to swim.

It’s also important to have an accredited swimming teacher, especially if your child is young. A few months ago I saw a YouTube video teaching babies between the age of 6-12 months how to turn over in a pool and float on their backs. It’s amazing to watch how such a young baby stays safe in the face of a water accident.

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*Water temperature for a baby should be around 30 degrees.