Let's get something straight right from the get go... I don't do CIO... "cry it out" more like "scream it out". I was subjected to my neighbours baby girl screaming for what felt like hours every night for 2 months whilst her parents let her "CIO" to learn to self soothe. I can't bear to hear my child in distress, CIO is not for me.
So I have always nursed down as part of our ecological breastfeeding relationship.
My nursling had started falling into an irritating habit of late, she has always nursed down, and for the last 6 months we have nursed lying down (we co-sleep), but lately it's started taking over an hour to fall asleep. I was getting irritated so I knew something had changed and I had to alter our night time ritual. First thing we tried was dropping the afternoon nap, score, day 1 it took us 20 minutes to fall asleep that night. Day 2 it took an hour... mmm... Time for another change. Previously I would give her dinner, then a bath, then some play time, then I would try to nurse her down (full feed, both sides). But lately she had started having a full feed and then play about for an hour and then nod off. Tiring and irritating. So day 3 we dropped her afternoon nap, at 5 she ate dinner, then had a bath, then a lie down for a full feed. Once she had nursed her fill she sat up, so we went to play for an hour then I took her back to the family bed and she nursed down in 8 minutes! Brilliant I thought... Finally. BUT on day 4 she started teething, we don't teeth well in our house, her entire routine gets jumbled. So she missed her morning nap and was overtired but would not nurse down, despite 3 seperate attempts. I have a home made wrap sling which I decided to put her in to calm her and lo and behold she fell asleep in 5 minutes and slept for 1.5 hours (the longest daytime nap in a long while)! That night I put her in it again to nurse down after a few failed attempts and once again she fell right asleep. I let her sleep on my chest, assuming that when she woke I could put her down to go back to sleep. Uh no... She ended up staying awake till 11pm. Rookie mistake. So today I nursed her down for her daytime nap in the wrap sling and let her sleep on my chest (once again a long peaceful sleep) and tonight I nursed her down in her wrap sling and moved her straight into the family bed! So much easier and simpler... Why didn't I think of this before, why didn't anyone tell me?
Ps: I think the reason she falls asleep so quickly is because she gets "immobilised" in the sling which forces her body to relax. On the bed she rolls and sits up and shuffles about (she has just started crawling and is very inquisitive by nature). I will call it our gentle no-cry quick and simple sleep solution! Woot! Make your own wrap sling, instructions here (mine cost £7!)
Babies deserve to be handled gently, during pregnancy, during labour and birth, just after being born and throughout their young lives. Is that not a big part of feeling love for your children, ensuring that no undue harm comes to them? Causing undue stress or harm, which is not just a physical concept but extends to the emotional too, is not a loving act. It is cruel and unkind, expecially when the little person doesn't understand why the person they love most in life, the person who is literally their entire universe is making them feel so sad (ignoring their cries, shouting at them, towering over them, hitting).
Birth without Violence by Frederik Leboyer is an oldie but a goodie (read it online here). I read it during my pregnancy for the first time and it helped shape my ideas of my (then) upcoming birth, and helped bring to realisation my gentle kind home birth. Unkind acts in birth (bright lights, smacking and holding newborns upside down, vicious suctioning [see pam englands blog piece for the natural alternative to suctioning during a cesarean section], early cord clamping, vigorous unnecessary washing and or drying, seperation from mom and delayed breastfeeding) need to stop. Imagine if you will a birth that goes like this: Mom and Dad labour together, and baby is birthed into her father's loving hands in warm water, the light is dim, the air is warm, the room is quiet, she is lifted out of the water into Mom's waiting arms and gently cuddled and welcomed into the world. That to me is love and it can be a reality for your baby too.
Being gentle and kind is not only applicable to home birth, or natural birth, or vaginal birth but can be applied to cesarean birth - Pam England's latest blog piece discusses natural cesarean sections. A baby deserves a gentle kind loving birth, no matter which type of birth that may be. Mothering doesn't begin once you leave the hospital, its starts the moment you conceive, protect your baby. Room in with your newborn, he is used to being with you constantly, he is used to hearing your heart beat, the rhythmic inhalation/exhalation of your breath, your voice, don't force him to be alone in another room with a bunch of crying babies for nogood reason. It's not kind, the one thing your newborn needs is you. Plus the not uncommon practice slipping a newborn some formula to top them up (to give mom a rest after birth) is detrimental to establishing your breastfeeding relationship.
What if your baby is ill? The baby who needs a bit of extra care, needs extra care! There is definitely a place for modern medicine and technology, it helps saves little lives but be conscious of his treatment, does he really have to go through all of that? Is there not another way? Can they do their test whilst you hold him (nursing your little one can help soothe aches and pains associated with medical tests and restore peace and calm). Skin to skin contact and breastfeeding brought this tiny one back...have a read here... If Mom is otherwise occupied (you can keep your wriggly gorgeous warm newborn skin to skin on your chest whilst your cesarean incision gets repaired!!!) Dad (partner,loved one) is a very lovely replacement, much nicer than a lonely incubator in my opinion.
Keeping your newborn in skin to skin contact post birth will help get your breastfeeding relationship off to a good start. My newborn stayed with Dad for a bit whilst I got out of the pool to be checked and we missed our first opportunity to breastfeed, it was a struggle for 3 days thereafter to get her to latch. I will not be separated from my newborn until after their first feed in future. (We all have 100% hindsight, learn from my mistake).
"I hope it will be okay", "I am hoping to have a vaginal birth", "I hope my baby comes soon", "I hope to be able to breastfeed".
Starting on our mothering journey we are filled with hope, but something seems to happen along the way and that hope dissipates and some of us are left with feelings of desperation, despair and fear. If you believe and trust in your body, truly believe and trust in your bodies ability, you can achieve so much.
From the stories I have heard and been told, the medical fraternity who specialise in pregnancy and birth are more than partly responsible for parents losing hope. For some shocking real examples of this read "My OB said WHAT?!?"
If you are starting on your pregnancy journey, here's what I suggest you do to help you keep HOPE alive.
1. Take everything you read or hear with a pinch of salt (including this blog, nothing and no-one is objective, everything is subjective).
2. Doctors are just people and have off days, but this does not mean that they can say and do as they please, they cannot and you do not have to accept it. When you are forced to question your ability, your body, nature's way, there is something awry. Run away... stay away. (I met with a doctor 32 weeks into my pregnancy, I had to have a consultant visit due to a fibroid that I have, this doctor had never met me before, spent two minutes with me, without even asking me about my wishes for my babies birth when she turned around and said ... ahem.... "you will have a medically managed birth, you will come into the hospital, be put on a drip and your labour and birth will be managed, you will NOT HAVE a home birth". I was livid when I walked out. I walked away from her and her attitude and never ever went back. I had my baby at home, in water, I did not have a medically managed labour or birth. We are both perfectly happy and healthy and I have beautiful memories of my babies birth. In fact I hope to share similar birth experiences with all of my babies).
3. When you find yourself questioning your ability to birth your baby your way, remember that you have conceived and grown your baby in your body without medical intervention for the last 40+ weeks. Look down at your bump, feel your baby move and roll about and know that you ARE DOING IT every second of every day. Your beautiful powerful body...
4. Do not feel bad or guilty for wanting what you want. Its your birth, your body, your baby, your choice. PERIOD! If the provider you are with is not open to listening, find another one.
My greatest hope is that you get the birth experiences that you deserve and that your baby gets treated with the love and respect that it deserves!
Have faith in your bodies ability to grow and nurture your baby, do not live in fear of every cramp and every twinge in early pregnancy and do not wish the time away near the end. It'll will be gone sooner than you realise. We all strive for perfection when it comes to pregnancy, but have faith that your best (in terms of nutrition and exercise and health) is good enough for your baby.
Trust your bodies ability to birth your baby naturally. When your contractions come, don't fight them, surrender to them, have faith that every contraction is doing what it needs to do, that your body is moving your baby from under your heart to above it. For me ultimate faith involves few if any internal examinations during labour, throw away the labour timer, take down the clocks, your body works on its own time, work with it. Have faith that your baby and your body will choose the right time to initiate birth, have faith that your baby will be born, no need to rush the process.
Its the continuum of nurturing, from conscious conception, to joyous pregnancy, intense labour and wonderous birth onto bountiful breastfeeding. Keep the faith through breastfeeding or restore your faith in your bodies ability after a traumatic birth by breastfeeding your baby. Have faith in your babies ability to communicate to you, listen to their every attempt. Ignoring your babies attempts to communicate may cause your baby to stop trying (I don't even try to communicate with a person who just doesn't listen, do you?). Don't acknowledge others who tell you that you "respond too quickly"... there is no such thing.
Have faith in yourself, your baby, your mothering ability. Keep the faith!
"You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith" Mary Manin Morrissey