Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: dads

Breastfeeding – a dad’s perspective

Breastfeeding always brings me mixed emotions, on the one hand it’s a beautiful thing to watch Henry feeding away looking so cute and perfect, but on the other hand I’m thinking “hang on a second son, those boobs are normally my playground not yours”. That aside as a man you expect breastfeeding to be simple, it’s such a natural thing isn’t it? Mum takes out her boob, baby opens it’s mouth, it latches on and feeds. Simple.

Except it doesn’t always seem to work like that. This is my biggest frustration with the whole thing, it seems so inexact, so lacking in real rules or science. For example there is always a question about whether the milk is calorific or not, why not test it? It can’t be that difficult for some scientist to come up with a simple test for this right?

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The good news is that Henry has started putting weight on, topping up with formula once or twice a day seems to have helped. But we still don’t know really why this is needed and why just breastfeeding isn’t enough. We’ve been back and forth to the hospital to see the midwives and answered ‘the checklist’ each time, it goes something like this;

  • How’s the latch? Perfect, that boy sure knows his way around a boob and can suck with the best of them.
  • Have you got enough milk? Well it’s dripping onto the lady of the manors lap and a little squeeze is akin to a fire hydrant so yep I reckon we’re ok there.
  • Mum’s diet? Well not a lot of junk food but certainly not low fat, oh and we had fish and chips last night. Malnourished we are not.
  • Length of feed? That boy will happily chomp for at least an hour, more if you give him the chance.

It’s at this point that the midwife inevitably runs out of ideas and goes to ‘talk with her colleagues’. Well we finally had enough of this lack of any real answer or suggestion and today the lady of the manor went to a breastfeeding support group run locally.

DSC_0068There she met a lady who had some fancy official title but whom I shall just call the Chief Boob lady. This lady ran the checklist of course but she also inspected the ‘apparatus’ and observed feeding for more than 5 minutes. Then she did something different to the midwives, she looked for solutions and answers that didn’t end in ‘give him some formula’. She was positive and enthusiastic, she made the lady of the manor feel good that she’s made it to 3 weeks and is still feeding.

So now we have a few ideas, tomorrow we are going to see the chief mouth lady to see if Henry perhaps has a tongue tie and this is impacting the amount of the hind milk that he gets. We’re also going to see a Cranial Osteopath to see if Henry has suffered from what was quite a stressful birth and whether that could be impacting his feeding in some way.

It feels so different to actually have some good suggestions on things we can do. Feeding is going so well with no pain or discomfort at all for the lady of the manor, it’s stupid to give up on that just because it doesn’t seem to be quite filling him up at the moment.

If any of you have been through similar experiences I’d love to hear about them and what you did.

Book review; A Fathers Journey by Mary Kay

The first few weeks and months as a new dad can be a scary time, as I’ve written before I found it difficult bonding with Matilda during this period. I didn’t have much time off work and the lady of the manor was breastfeeding so finding regular opportunities for quality time wasn’t easy. Something we discussed recently was whether baby massage could have been/could be a useful tool for this, not only would it help Matilda relax etc it also would be something I could do. But this was as far as we went with the idea.

A Father's Journey.inddA new book called book called Baby Massage Experience with My Father; A Fathers Journey by Mary Kay is due to be released on 24th September and I’m fortunate to have a pre-release copy to read. The book is based on the experiences of the author and is about a couple becoming new parents. The father Mike has no experience of babies, lacks any confidence even in holding his daughter and ultimately struggles to bond with her. Both his mother and mother in law come to stay when the baby is born and their old school approach to being a parent whereby a father isn’t involved in the baby’s upbringing further fuels his feeling of being disconnected and unneeded. Add in a mother trying to cope with a lack of sleep and hormones flying round her body (starting to sound familiar) and you are quickly heading for a big problem unless support is provided.

This arrives in the form of their health visitor who suggests joining a baby massage class as a couple. To cut a long story short this finally provides Mike the opportunity to interact with his daughter in a supportive environment and gradually gives him the confidence to look after his daughter and a regular chance to bond with her.

The topics that this book covers are something that I’m passionate about, the common theme throughout is that dads are generally ignored when it comes to providing pre and post natal support. There are very few councils or NHS Trusts that provide any classes or support programs that even include dads let alone are focused on them. I’ve lost count of the number of activities the lady of the manor has taken part in, which not only provide her with skills and knowledge but also the opportunity to meet other mothers and build a support network. This just doesn’t exist today for most dads.

In a world where fathers are now expected (rightly so) to be part of their children’s upbringing and where both parents or just the mother even may work these support systems are essential. So reviewing this book I may be a little bias, but despite this if all new parents could read a copy then it would probably help both mum and dad realise they are not alone in how they feel and that baby massage could perhaps be a good medium for bringing about change.

I will be honest and say that I don’t think this book is going to win any literary awards, it seems to jump a little bit between being written in purely a factual style to being more like a piece of fiction. However the author captures well the emotions that both parents feel at each stage of the story. It isn’t a long book which I think is good, it has enough content to do justice to the story and communicate clearly the main points however it doesn’t delve into the precise medical detail behind issues. Both of these mean that it is more likely to be read (if you’re feeling stressed as a parent the last think you want to do is read 300 pages) while still capturing the essence of the situation.

So would I recommend it? I think I probably would, it addresses a very real issue for new parents today and would help new dads to realise that there are things they can do if they feel lost or helpless. It provides an insight into what baby massage involves and how it can benefit babies and parents alike.

If you are interested in ordering a copy you can find it on the M2BN publishing website here.

I cannot finish writing about this topic and support for dads without mentioning Dean from Daddy Natal. Dean is the only male qualified ante-natal educator in the UK and runs classes just for men and is constantly campaigning for local authorities to provide better (or any) support for dads.

This is a sponsored post, I was given a free copy of the book to review but have not been given any instructions on what to say. All the opinions here are my own.

The Gallery – Dads

This weeks Gallery theme is a good one because I get to write about me and I never get bored with that so I’m sure you don’t! I have been a dad for just over 8 weeks now and I am loving it, sure it’s hard work and I’d love to get 8 hours of sleep at night, but I wouldn’t change anything. Matilda is such a lovely, happy little girl and for 8 weeks old is sleeping pretty well. To be honest I wasn’t that excited about the actual baby bit of this process, what I’m really looking forward to is the next stage when she starts to crawl, walk, talk, go to school, the list is endless. But those first few hours will always be some of the best of my life.

I may officially have only 1 child, but Bracken is most definitely part of the family. He is always with you be it under the table when you eat, by your feet when you cook or curled up next to you on the sofa. I think him and Matilda are going to get on like a house on fire once she starts moving around, then we’re in big trouble!

How long can it take to learn how to breathe properly?

The first NCT class was everything I expected it to be; slightly eccentric teacher, dads looking like a rabbit in headlights, mums clearly worried about the whole labour thing and a a nice dollop of awkward silences peppered with nervous tension. In case you’ve been following the news in the past week or so the ‘C’ word was mentioned by the teach in the first 30 seconds. That is C for Caesarean not C for crying or child or even cut down on the chocolate fatty. So good to know we have an open minded teacher who is trying to give us as much information as possible.

However there was one issue, the teacher reminded me of Alice from the Vicar of Dibley. Starting in the first 5 minutes with the repeated use of Okee Kokee and continuing throughout the evening. Quite honestly I couldn’t take her seriously, it felt like I was being taught by a pre-school teacher. This of course greatly annoyed the lady of the manor, who tried to rise above my childish giggles.

Interestingly when asked the top question from the group was ‘what the hell are we going to do for 6 hours on Saturday’! Seriously how long does it take to learn how to breathe correctly! Plus the men were somewhat intrigued by the very secretive ‘ladies only’ session next week. Intrigued, but actually not really wanting to even imagine what may be discussed.

But actually a worthwhile evening in the end, met a few people in the same boat as us as it were. Plus discovered one of the couples live about 100m away from us. We only moved to the town a year ago and have struggled so far to really build any friendships given that neither of us actually works there. So the next few sessions will be spent figuring out if they are ‘our kind of people’.