Baby Basics - Boob vs. Bottle
Sitting at the living room table working on the launch of Weeslice.com, I look down at my fresh-from-the-floor boyfriend jumper teamed with Laughing Cow streaked leggings and can’t resist a wry smile. My noughties wordsmith girl-crush, Carrie Bradshaw would surely balk at such a shambles. All the string pearls and homemade Cosmopolitans can’t change the fact that my stilettos have been replaced by rubber-soled loafers, the bodycon dresses are banished to the back of the wardrobe, and my passionate encounters are now a hurried Tuesday night with the – “did your bum just make that noise, or was it the baby??” – lights off.
Twenty months into being a mum of two under two, I am in no way an expert, but I have learned one or two things along the way that have made my life easier. The first rule of parenting club? Don't be too quick to acknowledge your baby’s good habits; they sense your smuggary and immediately decide that naps are overrated and poos are best saved for trips to the swimming pool. With that in mind, here is the first of my Top Tips to help you through those testing and tremendous first few months!
Boob or Bottle – Make it Work for You
This is a debate fraught with emotional politics. Having spent 72 hours, grey-faced, teary-eyed with bleeding burger nips and a hangry baby, I know all too well the crushing disappointment when you get home from hospital and nature’s intentions just don’t work out. Take the time, let it go with a big Claire Danes cry face and move on – all that matters is you keep your sanity intact and your baby has a full tummy. It’s going to be okay. Promise.
If you can breastfeed, give yourself a huge pat on the back; we are bombarded with the benefits of ‘breast is best’, but there is less noise about the painful potential set-backs you might face. Stock up on products that will soothe your screaming nipples: Lanolin HPA Cream (£8.39), Multi-Mam Compresses (£10.99) & refrigerated cabbage leaves are your best friends here. If you get mastitis (a swelling of the milk ducts, leaving you feeling like you’re transporting a bra full of detonated cannonballs) try to fix things yourself before it gets truly ferocious and requires antibiotics. Feeding, massage, and hot baths/showers should help to get things moving.
If breastfeeding is in your long game, it might be worth considering a pump. This will enable you to do a bit of forward planning and have the option to involve partners/family in the feeding, giving you a break from time to time. Entry level pumps are hand operated and purse-friendly, but unless you’re after biceps like Madonna, it might be better to invest in an electronic beast.. even if it does make you feel you're doing work experience at Wiseman Dairies. Feeding bubba is going to take it out of you in the early days, so clear your diary and don’t be afraid to be selfish - eat, rest, repeat.
Irrespective of your chosen feeding method, it’s a good idea to join a loyalty scheme that's going to support your purchasing - the Boots Parenting Club gets my vote here. With the exception of formula, all baby products are eligible for extra points which means that when the statutory maternity pay kicks in, you suddenly have lots of free money accrued to spend on false lashes and flapjacks. Purchasing the necessary kit to assist with bottle feeding will really rack those points up; you’re going to need bottles, teats, and a method for making the milk/keeping everything clean. You can go classic and use cooled water from a kettle, or for the lazy/flash/disorganised/impatient among us, there are machines like the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep (£60) which will do the leg work for you. Keeping everything sterilised is a full-time job in itself, so I liked having a separate brush I could keep pristine; the Dishmatic Non-Scratch Scrubber (£1.99) is a must-have for me. Again, there are a number of sterilising kits available so do your homework and select one that will work best with your lifestyle. Kettles, microwave boxes or an all-singing, all-dancing steamy plug in – there is an option for every budget. I have heard folklore of babies refusing to drink from certain bottles (the teat styles vary from brand to brand) so it may be an idea to resist a shopping blow out until you’re up and running.
Finally, make sure you touch base with the support networks available to you. Your midwife might offer you the option of a"buddy"; someone who lives nearby you can contact for support if you hit any feeding stumbling blocks. There are a number of national support groups with both online and local coverage such as the La Leche League. Social media is also your friend here; take to Facebook and you will find a ton of groups which will enable you to either sit on the sidelines and peruse anecdotes or, if you prefer, get fully involved in the debates and potentially meet some likeminded chums along the way.
Next: The Elusive 'Undisturbed Night's Sleep'