The Wonder Weeks Blog #3: One of the reasons mothers stop breastfeeding?

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiIt’s not your imagination– all babies go through a difficult period around the same age. Research by Dr. Frans Plooij Ph.D. and Dr. Hetty van de Rijt Ph.D., has shown that babies make 10 major, predictable, age-linked changes – or leaps – during the first 20 months of their lives taking place around weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, 55, 64 and 75.  During this time, they will learn more than in any other time.  With each leap comes a drastic change in your baby’s mental development, which not only affects his mood, his health, sleeping patterns and the “three C’s” (crying, clinging and crankiness) but also… baby’s drinking and comfort seeking habits.  Unfortunately these Wonder Weeks are often a reason for mums who do not know about these wonder weeks, to stop breast-feeding their child.

With every new wonder week a baby gets a totally new perception of the world.  Every Wonder Week is like waking up on a strange planet.  A baby did not ask for this, did not see it coming, but suddenly this whole new world was there.  What would you do?  You would retreat to a well-known and safe place.  For a baby that is mum.  How would you do that?  By literally clinging to your mum.  Being one with her, holding on tight and the best way to do that would be via literally sucking yourself to your mum.  This is where breast-feeding and Wonder Weeks meet.  Whilst on the one hand Wonder Weeks are in fact something good and signal progress in development, on the other hand, when the Wonder Weeks are misunderstood, they are often the reason mums give up breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding“My daughter was crying so much that I was afraid something was terribly wrong.  She wanted to breastfeed constantly.  I took her to see the paediatrician, but he couldn’t find anything wrong with her.  He said she just needed to get used to my milk and that many infants went through a similar crying phase at 5 weeks.  I thought that was a strange thing to say, because she hadn’t had any problems with my milk until then.  Her cousin, who was the same age, kept crying, too, but he was being bottle-fed.  When I told the doctor that, he pretended he hadn’t heard, I didn’t push the subject though . I found out about wonder weeks later on, but I keep on wondering why nobody told me about these wonder weeks earlier.  ” Julitte’s mum, 5th week

Wonder Weeks and the milk doubting mums:

As the baby gets more Clingy, Cries more and is more Cranky during a wonder week, many mothers start doubting themselves.  Are they doing something wrong?  If a baby wants to drink so often, does this mean they do not have enough milk?  Or is their milk not good enough?  Mums who know their baby is in a wonder week, don’t doubt themselves or their milk.

“Around the third wonder week my daughter suddenly started nursing less.  After 5 minutes, she would start playing around with my nipple.  After that had gone on for two weeks, I decided to start supplementing my milk with formula, but she wouldn’t have any of that either.  This phase lasted 4 weeks.  During that time I worried she would suffer from some kind of nutrition deficiency, especially when I saw my milk supply starting to diminish.  But now she is drinking like she used to again, and my milk supply is as plentiful as ever.  Now I know this is normal behavior during a wonder week. I never doubted my milk again since I know when these wonder weeks are.” Hannah’s mum, 19th week.

Wonder Weeks and the exhausted mums:

Even the mums not doubting their milk sometimes give up breastfeeding.  Simply because the impact of the leap on the behavior of their child is wearing them out.  The mums that know about Wonder Weeks tend to be less exhausted as they know what is happening and that Wonder Weeks are actually a good thing.

Wonder Weeks and the mum of a six month old:

One of the most difficult leaps is the one of relationships, around six months after due date.  The exact same time breast milk alone is not enough anymore and most parents start to give solid food as well.  Mum is exhausted from the leap, doesn’t sleep or sleeps very poorly, while at the same time her child needs food.  Just days after giving the first ‘meals’, the baby is in a much better mood.  Often mums explain this whole sequence of events wrongly and seem to think their child was in need of other milk than theirs.  While in fact the child just went through another leap and finished the leap when he turned six months.

Wonder Weeks and nipple cracks or abrasions:

Pain is, logically, one of the reasons mums want to stop feeding their child.  When a child is in a Wonder Week he wants to drink many times more often than is normally the case. As this is one of the only times a baby is quiet, a mum doesn’t really pay as much attention to the feeding process as she normally would and this can often result in the wrong feeding positions resulting in discomfort for mum.

Making parents aware of Wonder Weeks will enable parents to understand their baby’s behavior much better and will help many mums to continue feeding their child and to make sure these Wonder Weeks are not a reason to give up.

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!

www.thewonderweeks.com

The Wonder Weeks: How Your Baby’s Brain Grows

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiNature is a remarkable thing.  I am sure, as new parents, you have already experienced this. But the innate abilities babies are born with never stops amazing me.

When a baby is born it is perfectly capable of sensing “what”, for example hot, cold, loud and bright, and “how much”.  A baby placed on its mother’s tummy will root around, searching for more warmth until it finds the hottest spot – the nipple.  It may take the better part of an hour but the test has been done!

The “how much” perception may even precede birth; we call it “intensity”.  The “what kind” perceptions comes a little later — we call them “sensations”.

Sometimes I am asked what I mean when we say “mental development” and “leaps in mental development” when it comes to describing what’s happening inside your baby’s head.  From a scientific perspective we mean the natural growth of the brain and entire nervous system, from a few neurons making connections in the embryo all the way to the fully functioning brain and nervous system of an adult.  Just like the various physical parts of the body, the brain grows, adds new functionality and matures.  As it does, in stages, on nature’s schedule, the cranium grows, neurons are added and successively higher perceptual functions emerge.

This is what is happening with every leap… more functionality, more skills to learn and master.

We know with indisputable certainty that all babies, no matter what, make 10 major, predictable, age-linked changes – or leaps – during their first 20 months of life.  With each leap comes a drastic change in your baby’s mental development but this development can also manifest itself as poor sleep, bad appetite, crying, clinging and crankiness.  It is hard on your baby and exhausting and frustrating for mum and dad.

Why?  Well, each leap sets the stage for the subsequent development of skills.  Suddenly your baby can think, feel, notice and understand what is happening around him in a new way.  These new, higher levels of perception begin to emerge one after the other in rapid-fire and, amazing as this is, it is also scary for the baby.  These cognitive changes can influence what the baby can do and how he behaves. That is why, before he is comfortable exploring his new abilities, a baby often cries more, is more clingy and crankier.

image_How_Your_Baby_Brain_Grows[1]You see, each stage or period of mental development described here is accompanied by an initial period of confusion as neural connections in the brain are rearranged.  To your baby, this is bewildering.  He’s taken aback — everything has changed overnight.  It is as if he has woken up on a strange planet.  In each case your baby seeks reassurance, which means “back to mama”.  Your baby will cling, cry and get cranky.  The clingy periods alert and worry you as parents, resulting in more intensive care giving and interaction with your baby.  This facilitates the new learning and helps your baby to make the leap into the new world.

When parents understand, even before these periods occur, what each of these developments mean for a baby’s understanding of the world around him and how he uses this understanding to develop the new skills he needs at each stage of his development, they can use this understanding of their baby’s developmental leaps to help him through these often confusing times in his very new life.  They will be able to understand better the way their baby is thinking and why he acts as he does at certain times. They will be able to give the right kind of help, when needed, and the right kind of environment to help him make the most of every leap in his development.

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!

More information: www.thewonderweeks.com

Getting through the Newborn Haze

Newborn

For the first 6-12 weeks of Parenthood you may feel like you are stumbling through the wilderness, into the unknown abyss and down a rabbit hole. Things you thought you once knew, you question. Self-preservation becomes a thing of the past, along with dinner and cleaning oneself. It’s best to be prepared for this; for the euphoric highs but also for the hormonal lows.

The first nappy change

Probably the most terrifying test post-giving birth, especially if the Midwife is watching you. Even if you’ve changed hundreds of nappies previously (either in practice or for another baby) there is nothing quite like putting the first nappy on your new baby. You will find yourself doubting whether you’ve done it correctly, you may hesitate when faced with the task… or you may have completely the wrong size nappy in your hospital bag (this happened to us).

Food and drink

After spending hours in labour, chances are you won’t feel massively hungry and you may find this feeling continues for a few days. It is so important to try to eat something as (if you choose to breastfeed) your milk supply is affected by how much you take in. Not only that, but you will bleed a lot for the first 6-12 weeks after giving birth, and you will need to keep your iron and energy levels up to prevent dizzy spells.

Same with water; you will lose a lot of fluid in the first week. You need to keep hydrated for milk supply and well-being.

Day three

I wasn’t prepared for the dreaded “day three”, also known as the day your milk comes in. You will be incredibly hormonal on this day; reaching the heady heights of happiness swiftly followed by a host of tears and gloom. You are not alone and it will pass. I promise!

Have a bath or shower daily

Try to have a daily bath or shower. Chances are you will be pooped, wee’d or sicked on a number of times within a 24 hour period; this combined with leaky boobs and general unwashed-ness will make you feel thoroughly rotten. Hand the baby over to your partner, a family member or a friend and try to relax for a bit.

The Newborn Haze isn’t forever, and it’s a haze for a reason; you won’t remember much of it once you come out the other side! Take lots of photos of your cute bundle of pudge to look back on and exclaim: “He/she was NEVER that tiny!”

Hannah

RIP Guy Lewis – father to 3, husband to Hanna and Gymboree Brighton Owner and Manager……

Yesterday I had the privilege to join many others to say goodbye to Guy after his tragic and unexpected death earlier this year.

It was a beautiful, emotional service with some very moving tributes and music choices including ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ at the end, which at least made us smile – so very Guy. We were reminded in the service of many things about Guy not least his kindness, his unbounding energy and commitment to everything he did, his love and passion for his family and his continued drive to ‘seize the day’.

Guy and Gymboree at BabyExpo

This morning, like many I expect, I have woken feeling sad and a little numb having witnessed at 1st hand the pain of the parents who have lost their son and the wife and mother whose 3 tiny, beautiful children will grow up without their lovely dad. I can only imagine how they are coping.

I first met Guy about 7 years ago – I was new to the area, a very new mum and a bit of a disaster really. Motherhood had not panned out quite as I had planned – I seemed to spend my days as a sleep deprived zombie, often covered in sick, I was incredibly lonely and felt a failure on all counts. Then I signed up to Gymboree and suddenly I could start to see some light. Guy would greet you with a massive smile or a hug, little ones were enchanted by him and when we first met I couldn’t believe he didn’t yet have children of his own such was his rapport with the whole class. As with many kids’ activities, I met other mums and made friends, we had a purpose to our day (even if it did take 2 hours to get out of the house) and George loved the classes – he came home stimulated yet sleepy (yay) and he loved meeting the other babies and toddlers. Guy’s warmth radiated and the classes were an oasis and we grew alongside Gymboree.

Gymboree at BabyExpo

Yesterday there was a mention of the thousands of parents who had come into contact with Guy over the 8+ years he ran Gymboree and I hope he knew how important he was. I now know many mums felt the same as me in those early stages of baby and toddlerhood and such classes DO become a lifeline.

BabyExpo is hosting the What’s On 4 Junior awards with Konfidence this year – these awards reward and celebrate the very best activity providers and as always I am so moved by some of the testimonials from nominating parents paying tribute to those class leaders who made such a difference to their and their child’s lives and development.

So, if your lives were enhanced by a fabulous activity, community volunteer, party entertainer or class do make sure you nominate them in the What’s On 4 Junior Awards – just click here – there’s a category for everyone from ‘Best pre/post natal’ to ‘Best after school club’ and you could win 2 tickets to join us at BabyExpo for the champagne awards on June 30.

There’s just a month until nominations close so seize the day and do it now ;-)

Guy on the main stage at BabyExpo with Lucy Piper, Jo Tantum and Phil Gallagher from Cbeebies Mister Maker

I am delighted that Guy’s legacy will live on in Brighton with Gymboree continuing to run under the care of widow Hanna and class leader Bobby and you can see them at BabyExpo on June 30 alongside further Headline Sponsors Sing & Sign, Water Babies and Busy Bees. Guy will be there too in his own way I am sure.

Introducing Baby Expo MK’s Mummy Blogger: The Mummy Adventure!

Our Mummy blogger Bex has just announced that she is expecting her second child and we couldn’t be more thrilled for her. She usually writes over at The Mummy Adventure but for the next few months she’ll be sharing everything from bump to baby with us.

At 23 babies were the last thing on my mind but it appears life had other ideas. When I found out I was pregnant I was over the moon, devastated, excited and terrified. It was not in my plans but I knew that I would love this child and a few months later my beautiful boy was born. Dylan turned my life upside down – or the right way up depending on how you look at it.

It seemed being a mother was what my body was meant to do as I was lucky enough to have a problem free labour and birth and the most beautiful little baby I had ever seen. My body adapted as did my dreams as we settled into our new life. I always knew I wanted a big family although quite when was never for certain. Having grown up with a brother and sister very close to me in age we decided to start trying for number two when the little man was 9 months old.

Six weeks later we found out that I was still as fertile as before and another 6 weeks on I am proud to say baby number 2 is due in February 2013. We are so excited although the idea of having two under two is also pretty scary right now!

For now my priority is enjoying my time with Dylan as I am sure life with one will seem such a luxury once the little squish is here! We have so much to do before February including picking the all important double buggy and it is already going so fast! Unless I decide my enormous shoe collection can be sold (no chance!) we need to move as our third room is currently a walk in wardrobe and yes my priorites are fine! We need a whole new set of little clothes as even if squish is a boy everything will be out of season. We also really need to find a way to squeeze more hours in each day and any help with that one would be more than welcome!