The Dentist… What To Expect.

Isla has two teeth now, and a third is on its way. It’s so strange seeing little teeth when she laughs, I’m starting to get used to them now, she’s not my little gummy bear anymore.

I wasn’t actually even registered at the dentist here, I told myself I would register once Isla got her first tooth, or in time for her 9-12 month health check, whichever came first. The tooth came first, and then a second popped through a couple of days later. So, I registered at the dentist and had my appointment, I made an appointment for Isla and took away the registration form for her.

Yesterday was her first appointment. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. How long would we be in there? Surely only a matter of minutes… She only has 2 teeth! Will Isla open her mouth for the dentist? I have been trying to teach her what to do but she just laughs at me. Will she bite the dentist? Probably.

I have heard recently that some dentists have told mothers to stop breastfeeding during the night once little has teeth… What a load of rubbish! I can see why someone would say that, breastmilk is very sugary. But to stop feeding during the night? I feed Isla to sleep, she will not go to sleep any other way for me (she will for other people). I was prepared to stand my ground with the dentist and say that I would not be stopping breastfeeding during the night.

The appointment was very quick, the dentist had a feel inside her mouth, which Isla wasn’t too keen on, she asked me how many teeth Isla had, made some notes on the computer and said everything looked great. She asked if I was breastfeeding and recommended that I rinse Isla’s mouth out after every feed (haha, no thanks, some days Isla can feed every hour!). She was very pro breastfeeding, which was amazing, telling me to keep going as long as I can.

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She advised us to come back in 6 months time.

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6 Signs You Have a High Needs Baby

Friends and family might think you are over exaggerating when you tell them how long your baby screamed for, or how they will only sleep in your arms, don’t worry, I know you’re telling the truth! Some babies are easily satisfied and can just “go with the flow”, others are extremely fussy, hard to settle and require a lot of attention. These intense babies erupt into our world and create a storm of emotions for their parents. These babies are often seen as “high needs”.

Dr W. Sears & Dr M. Sears wrote an article in which they discuss 12 features of a high needs baby, according to Dr Sears, these 12 features are:

  • Intense
  • Hyperactive/Hypertonic
  • Draining
  • Feeds Frequently
  • Demanding
  • Awakens Frequently
  • Unsatisfied
  • Unpredictable
  • Super-Sensitive
  • Can’t Put Your Baby Down
  • Not a Self-Soother
  • Separation Sensitive

Following on from Dr Sears’ list, I would like to share with you the six things that made me realise I had a high needs baby.

1) You can’t get anything done

Remember when you could cook dinner, wash the bathroom, do the laundry and watch your favourite TV show all in one day? Ah yes, a distant memory. Now you find yourself having to do everything you used to do in the short bursts of sleep that your baby has. When your baby is awake you have to be talking to him, looking at him or holding him at all times.

2) Routine… What routine?

Your baby is very irregular. You look in awe at other Mums who have it down to a T, their babies are bathed, fed and asleep for 8PM every night. You can’t hazard a guess as to when your baby will go to sleep, wake up, want to feed… They are very unpredictable.

3) “Don’t Leave Me, Mummy”

When you walk out of the room your baby has a meltdown, she’s looking around desperately trying to find you. Yes, pretty much every baby goes through separation anxiety, but with a high needs baby, it is a lot more intense.

4) You feel like a zombie

What is sleep? Why do people keep talking about babies sleeping through? Are they playing a cruel trick on you? You can only get your baby to sleep by being rocked, cuddled or fed and then they’re awake again in an hour… You know you’re parenting a high needs baby when you drink a gallon of coffee a day and pray for anything more than 40 minutes sleep at a time.

5) People think your baby is “spoilt”

You’re the only one who can settle her, she cries for you, for a cuddle, sometimes for no reason. I have heard people say that Isla is spoilt so many times, that she will grow up to be a diva. You can’t spoil a baby! You can’t give too much love, and with a high needs baby, they need a whole lot of love.

6) Mood swings!

One minute you’re playing hide-and-seek, your baby is full of smiles and giggles, the next she’s inconsolable. You have a happy, chatty baby and you turn away to boil the kettle, boom! Because you’re not looking at or paying all your attention to her, she explodes.

And after all of this, they will become a toddler… That should be fun!

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Keeping Baby Cool During Hot Summer

We have had highs of 35 Degrees Celcius in the UK recently, something we really are not used to! Although now it is cooler and the sky is grey, the hot weather is set to return next week. It is extremely important to keep little ones cool. Here are some things that we have been doing to stop Izzy from getting too hot.

Lots of fluids! Breastfeed more often, when the weather is hotter and baby needs more to drink, our very clever bodies change the makeup of our breastmilk to meet our babies needs. If your baby is formula fed, you can give water (cooled boiled if under 6 months) between their normal bottles.

Give refreshing snacks (for babies over 6 months) such as cucumber sticks or a breast milk ice lolly.

Thin, loose clothing, such as a loose dress or a t-shirt which is a little bit big. When it has been very hot, you might even want to forget about the vest. On a night time, Isla has been sleeping in just a nappy & sleepsuit/vest (depending on the temperature in the room) with a very thin blanket.

Do not cover pram with anything, it might seem like you are doing good by keeping the sun off your baby, however, it can be extremely dangerous, as it actually makes it hotter in the pram for your baby, it prevents the air from circulating. I found this graph from Which? extremely helpful. pushchair overheat covered

Keeping your baby in the shade and try to avoid going out during the hours of 11AM-3PM, as this is when the sun is highest in the sky and therefore the hottest time of day.

Close the blinds. Open the windows. Keeping the blinds closed during the day can help keep the room cool and opening the windows will create a through draft.

A cooler bath before bedtime can keep baby at a nice temperature. Try and do relaxing things before bed, so that baby does not get worked up or excited.

Enjoy the hot weather!

My Birth Story

Our estimated due date was the 21st of November 2017. My sister had planned a baby shower for me on the 26th of October, good job she didn’t plan it a week later as Isla decided to make an appearance way before she was due.

I hadn’t had braxton hicks, I hadn’t had my show, and my waters definitely hadn’t gone. One thing I did have was excruciating back pain, I hadn’t been able to sit comfortably for over a week.

I woke up at 5:00AM on the 30th of October, my back was in agony, it was a constant pain and I couldn’t get back to sleep, I took some paracetamol and got up for the day. I made a coffee and got on the sofa with a blanket. The pain stayed and four hours past, I decided to take some co-codamol. I was moving between living room and bedroom, drinking water, I couldn’t lie down, I couldn’t stand up, I would walk around for 5 minutes, the daylight wasn’t helping, I had the curtains shut, I could’ve cried, in fact, I did cry.

I called my Mum, who said to ring the hospital if the co-codamol hadn’t helped, I did just that, the midwife on the line asked me how far along I was, “36 weeks and 6 days” I replied. They asked me to go to the maternity ward to be checked over, so we rang a taxi. I took my notes, my phone and my purse. I wasn’t even full term, there was no way I would need my hospital bag…

I was shown to a room and the midwife asked if she could examine me to see if I actually was in labour. My Mum was already on her way, she was one of my birthing partners. As it turns out, I was 2cm dilated, and strangely hadn’t felt a single contraction, just a continuous pain. Since I was not 37 weeks (yes only by a day!), I had to stay in the hospital and have babies heart rate monitored for two hours, as well as the contractions. I had these funny round things on a belt strapped round my big belly, which meant I couldn’t move very much, as every time I moved, they slipped a bit and we lost the babies heart rate. I am kind of a little bit glad that I got to stay on the ward when only 2cm dilated, as it meant I got to use the gas and air!

Two hours flew by, and the midwife came back to examine me again. She told me and my birthing partners that I was now 5cm (which is the size of a Babybell, did you know??) I thought to myself, “wow this is going pretty fast, I am actually going to have a baby really soon…” And then I got all soppy and told my Mum how I have never loved anyone so much as I loved this baby, and I didn’t even know her yet, I had never seen her or held her, but she was the most important person to me in the world.

Some more hours past, we listened to Ed Sheeran and Adele on Youtube, I tried to eat a chicken and bacon sandwich. The midwife let me take the funny belts off my bump and get in the shower for 5 minutes. I drank a ton of water and went for a wee several times in a bedpan. We watched the sheet coming out of the monitor I was strapped up to, wondering what all the scribbley lines meant.

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I was now at 6cm, things had slowed down. But we kept our spirits high, we laughed and talked and sang songs. More hours went by, and I was still only 6 hours dilated, a doctor came in and I was asked how I felt about an oxytocin drip as we seemed to be at a standstill, I was really terrified about having the drip in my hand, it was actually the thing that scared me most about labour. The drip was put in my hand, and oxytocin slowly trickled into my bloodstream. A doctor spoke to me about stronger pain relief, I felt a little bit pressured by him actually, which is when I remembered what I had learnt in my NCT antenatal classes, about a positive birth, taking control and making it your own. My birthing plan had been to have a lovely relaxing water birth, with just gas and air. So, when this doctor started telling me to “have an epidural” I firmly but politely told him that was the last thing I wanted. I asked for him to tell me a bit more about the Diamorphine, how it worked, how long it lasted, the pros and cons. Let me tell you right now, I wish I had never had the Diamorphine.

I was told by the doctor I could be in labour for another 12 hours at this rate. Oh, how wrong he was. The Diamorphine is supposed to take about 30 minutes to enter your blood and take effect.

I couldn’t lie in that hospital bed any longer, I was up and down, sitting on the birthing ball, but nothing was helping. And then all of a sudden, I really felt as though I needed to poo. I was saying to the midwifes “I’m going to poo myself”, obviously they knew that the baby was coming… I didn’t!

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I got back on the bed, I think I only pushed 4 times, and there she was… At 1.25AM on the 31st of October.

Why Is My Baby So Clingy?

Have you noticed that your baby has become quite clingy recently? Isla has always been a high-needs baby, but over the past month or so she has definitely been more clingy, crying more often and being more cranky.

The most likely reason for this is because at around 7 months babies go through a cognitive leap. During this leap, your baby will begin to realise that you and she are separate people. This is often referred to as “separation anxiety”, you may notice your baby becomes very upset when you leave her, whether that be for a few seconds to go to the loo, or a few hours to go to work. She doesn’t yet understand that when you leave the room, it isn’t for good and you’re coming back.

Up until now, your baby has thought of herself and you as one person, a single unit. And why wouldn’t she? After 9 months of being physically attached to you, it makes sense that it would take a while for your little one to start to learn that they are their own person.

So how can you help your baby through this?

  • Try and leave baby with people they know and see regularly (e.g. Dad or Grandma)
  • Have some routine to when you leave her and who you leave her with, for example, if you are going to work, it would be the same time each day. This way, your baby will begin to learn that when she is left with X person at breakfast time, Mummy will come back
  • When you leave baby, also leave something you wear often, such as a pajama top, your scene will be comforting to baby
  • It is a good idea to say “goodbye, I’ll be back soon” to your baby when you leave her, as she will begin to associate this with what is happening
  • It is better for your baby to see you leave, that way she will not panic when she realises you are not there.

Separation anxiety is generally something your baby will grow out of in time. Yes, it can be a very hard time for both Mum and baby, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Let’s Talk About Reflux

Vomiting and reflux are two different things. When a baby vomits, it’s muscles forcefully contract, reflux is when your baby brings up whatever they have just drunk/ate. Reflux is very common in babies, and usually isn’t something to be concerned about. It could be cause for concern if; reflux starts after 6 months, lasts longer than a year or your baby has any of these symptoms:

  • spitting up feeds frequently or refusing feeds
  • coughing or gagging while feeding
  • frequent projectile vomiting
  • excessive crying or irritability
  • green or yellow vomit, or vomiting blood
  • blood in their poo or persistent diarrhoea
  • a swollen or tender tummy
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • not gaining much weight, or losing weight

There may be an underlying cause for your babies reflux, so it is good to speak to a health professional if you are concerned.

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So what actually causes reflux in babies? It’s quite simple really, it usually occurs because a baby’s oesophagus is still developing. In some cases, it can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as gastro-oesophegeal reflux disease, a cows milk allergy or a blockage.

Signs and symptoms that your baby may have reflux include, spitting up milk (this may happen several times a day), appearing to be in pain during or after feeds, struggling with feeds (choking, gagging or even refusing a feed), persistent hiccups, a slow (or no) weight gain.

What things can you try to help your baby?

Giving smaller more frequent feeds and regularly burping throughout a feed. Hold your baby upright for around 20 minutes after feeding. If your baby is formula fed, you could try using a thicker formula, these are available without a prescription, but only try them if advised by a healthcare professional. If your baby is breastfed, you could try cutting out spicy foods, coffee and alcohol, although there is no evidence to support this, a lot of people seem to think it helps!

In most cases, reflux does not require treatment, for example, if your baby is happy and gaining weight. However, some babies will need medication, for example, if your baby is in pain or not gaining weight. Your GP may suggest something such as Gaviscon for babies, which is fine if your baby is formula fed, but a little bit tricky to administer if your baby is breastfed. Your GP might also prescribe Ranitidine or Omeprazole, which are weight dependent so it’s always good if your baby is on one of these medications that you get them weighed frequently and the dosage adjusted as and when needed.

With Isla, we were given Gaviscon at first, which as I mentioned above was really quite tricky to give to her, with her being breastfed. The GP told me I had to express and just give bottles, I thought that was ridiculous! But I did for a while, although it didn’t seem to help much, Isla seemed to be struggling to poop, so we stopped giving it. Then a few weeks later, Isla brought up bright yellow sick and I knew that wasn’t right, so I called 111 and got an emergency appointment. After seeing the GP and discussing how we had tried Gaviscon and it was no good for us, we were prescribed Ranitidine. We later found out that Isla also has a Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy (CMPA).

Have you any experience of reflux in babies? Was there an underlying reason?

My Baby Is Yellow: Newborn Jaundice

First let’s talk about what newborn jaundice is. Newborn jaundice is very common and is when babies have a high level of bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment produced when the normal break down of old red blood cells occurs. When a baby is born, it’s liver is not fully developed, therefore, it is less effective at removing the bilirubin from the blood. An estimated 6 out of 10 babies develop jaundice, however only 1 in 20 have a bilirubin level high enough to need treatment (Isla was that 1).

Some symptoms of jaundice in babies include; the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, yellowing of the palms of hands and soles of feet, dark yellow urine and pale coloured poos.

Most cases do not need treatment, symptoms usually pass within 10 to 14 days. Treatment is recommended when levels are high as there is a small risk the bilirubin could pass into the brain and cause brain damage.

Treatment for a baby with high a bilirubin level is often Phototherapy, which is when a special type of light shines directly only the babies skin. The light alters the bilirubin making it easier to break down by the (not fully developed) liver.

When Isla was born, I honestly didn’t think twice about her skin colour. In my eyes, she wasn’t yellow at all, I was a first time Mum, I didn’t know what to look for, I didn’t even know what newborn jaundice was! The midwife spotted it, she came on when Isla was 3 days old, a routine check up which all babies and Mums receive. She noticed that Isla was a bit yellow (I still couldn’t see it), so she took a little bit of blood to test back at the hospital. Unfortunately, the blood had clotted by the time she got back to the hospital and she wasn’t able to test it, she called me and asked if I would take Isla up to the hospital so she could get fresh blood and take it straight for testing. We walked up to the hospital, the midwife took the little sample of blood and off she went to test it.

When she came back, it was not what I expected, she told me that Isla had high levels and would need treatment. I was scared, what did all of this mean?

Isla has to be stripped off and wearing eye protection, they said she would have to have 24 hours under the light and then they would check her bilirubin level again. It was so weird because I had this tiny 3 day old baby, who I wanted to kiss and cuddle, and just hold! And I couldn’t do that, she had to be under this light in a plastic box, I could only take her out to feed her or clean her if she weed or pooed. The blue light made it extremely hot in the small hospital room, I couldn’t open the window for obvious reasons. I was sick with worry, no one had really told me what was going on and it had all happened so fast. I couldn’t sleep, with the heat, the light and the worry.

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24 hours passed, they took another blood sample. The levels were lower, but not low enough. Which meant another 24 hours under the light.

After a full 48 hours under the special light, her bilirubin levels had lowered enough that the doctors were happy that she could come out from under the light. She was still yellow (at the time I didn’t see it, still!) it took quite a long time for her pigment to change. In fact, it took about 3 months for her skin to be a “normal” colour!

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When I look back at photographs I see she was quite yellow, but at the time I had no idea!