To the mum tapping her brakes at the lights, we’ve all been there.

To the mum struggling to carry her newborn while her toddler is having a tantrum, I feel for you.

To the mum rocking her shopping trolley while the person in front faffs about with no regard or awareness that your baby is about to go from 0-100 REAL quick.

To the mum feeding her baby in the cafe while her own meal goes cold, I don’t remember the last time I ate a full meal – uninterrupted. You’re a good mum and your child will one day thank you (maybe).

To the mum who hasn’t washed her hair in over a week, you rock that mum-bun.

To the mum persevering through the pain of breastfeeding in order to prove a point or to keep others happy, do what’s best for you. A happy mum is more useless than a broken one.

To the mum who isn’t sure if that stain on her pants is food or fecal matter, you rock on.

To the mum who’s stuck on the couch under a sleeping baby while your phone is out of reach, I feel you sister.

To the mum stuck in the car with a sleeping baby/toddler not knowing whether to risk the dreaded transition. Stay there, get your phone out and relax.

To the mum swaying side to side in the coffee line, I still do it 18 months on. I don’t think it ever stops.

To the mum reading this while gritting their teeth because there child won’t go to sleep – breeeeeathe.

To the mum hiding in the bathroom crying so she can get one moment’s peace, we’ve been there.

To the mum scared to feed their child formula because of fear of judgement, just do it. Happy mum = happy baby.

We’re in this together mamas! I salute you! Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and realise this parenting gig is a tough one. We’re not alone and that there are SO many mums experiencing the same things as us each and every day but very few will openly admit it.

If you see a mama out in public, struggling, who could do with a helping hand or a hug. Reach out, you could make her day. You could be that one adult conversation she has been craving for all day.

You’re doing an amazing job, don’t question yourself mama. You’re doing just fine x

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Second time round I am going into this whole experience with so much more knowledge than when I was pregnant with Baxter and well, knowledge is power – right?

I will not allow myself to feel bullied, judged or pressured into anything. I’ll have my tin of formula in my hospital bag if I’m having issues and my baby is hungry. I won’t question my decision for a moment. I will give breastfeeding a go but I will not allow myself to get consumed by bad feelings, pressure and the potential onset of PND.

I’ve come up with a few points that I need to remind myself when times get tough.

  • Don’t be so hard on me – high expectations often result in disappointment, like the above, be strong, stick to your guns and don’t allow yourself to get pushed around.
  • Accept help when offered, even if they don’t do it the way I do – I am the biggest control freak and I NEVER accept help when asked. It’s just not in my nature, I am always the first to put my hand up to help others but when it comes down to people offering help, I always say no.
  • Have an open mind when it comes to breastfeeding – don’t put so much pressure on me. Same as above. I am sticking to my guns, I know what I want and what I won’t allow. I want my baby to be healthy, happy and not hungry. If it all works out, awesome. If it doesn’t, well I tried.
  • Don’t buy so much shit – so many clothes didn’t get worn with Baxter because I went crazy (everybody does with first babies, right?), at least his sister can rock them. The flip side is because we did buy so much crap for Baxter, we didn’t need to buy too much for his sister.
  • Enjoy those first few weeks – we know it’s going to be shit, so let’s try and enjoy them. It really is scary how quickly those weeks go so embrace the fourth trimester in a haze of sleep deprivation and hormones.
  • Try not to compare them – the births, the kids, everything. They’re two totally different children and will no doubt act it so don’t be disappointed if one doesn’t sleep as good as the other (this is a legit fear as Baxter is the bomb sleeper).
  • Don’t freak out during the adjustment period – Baxter isn’t going to be impressed with the new family member (nor is the cat) so I need to give him time to adjust and come around to the idea that he now has this little bundle to help me protect.
  • Just breathe – it’ll no doubt be a bit shit for a while, but they will love each other eventually, right? Don’t sweat the small stuff, what will be will be.
  • Spread the love – remember to give equal amounts of love to both kids, while the new baby is going to need lots of attention and will be very dependent on me, don’t change how I am and have always been with little B.
  • Don’t feel pressured with visitors – this got me last time, I knew people wanted to meet our new addition but I put a lot of un-needed pressure on myself to keep the house clean and was still finding my way with establishing feeding which didn’t help as I wasn’t comfortable with getting my boob out in front of friends/family in those hazy first few days.
  • Take care of myself – know my limits, you know your own body better than anybody and if things don’t feel right physically or mentally, talk to your midwife or GP. With a history of anxiety/depression and PND with my first, I’ll be kept a close on eye on this time around and I know what to look out for. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re struggling.

I know there will be plenty more that I’ve forgotten about and will learn on my journey to 2 under two (oh my god).

Bare with me while I learn to not lose my mind!

GUEST POST BY MELANIE HALL.

  • Parenthood is the most hotly debated topic in the world. Even more so than politics, religion, and which team will win the next English Premier League. Listen to all the advice (smile and nod – it usually comes from a good place), and take from it what you please. Lean on a handful of people that you trust most, and save your questions for them.
  • The only constant is change. I thought I’d “cracked” a routine with my newborn baby until she cried incessantly for 3 days straight. It took me that long to realise she was just more hungry than usual – her feeding “routine” had suddenly changed from 3-hourly to 2-hourly, with cluster feeding in the evening. Babies grow and develop every single day, so you just can’t expect any day to be the same.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. You’ll make mistakes (like the above) many, many times as a parent and I’ve been told that those “parent guilts” never go away. I have to keep reminding myself that the best i can do is your best.
  • Leave your ego at the delivery room door. It’s true that everyone’s a perfect parent until they have kids! A dummy may be your life saver, and you might be too busy or too tired to ever use those cloth nappies you bought. You’ll find yourself doing things you said you’d “never do”, but those little things (yes, they are little things) really aren’t a big deal as long as you and your baby are both happy and healthy. And don’t concern yourself with what other mums are/aren’t doing either – every baby is different.
  • Always get a second opinion. Actually, get a third. It took that many to figure out why my baby was struggling to latch – she was finally diagnosed with both tongue and lip ties. She had laser surgery at 4 weeks old, and now feeds perfectly. If something doesn’t feel right, keep asking until you find an answer.
  • Read your baby, not the book. Babies develop at their own pace, in their own time. Some will be below the curve, some will be above it. That’s how bell curves work. Most of the time it’s nothing to be concerned about. In the early days I was told that my baby MUST feed for at least 20 minutes, and must feed off both breasts in order to get enough milk. I stressed us both out trying to force this, until a 320g weekly weight gain proved she was getting more than enough from one breast, in a 10 minute feed. Our babies haven’t read the textbook, they’re just following their natural instinct – trust them.
  • Breast feeding is hard. You already know pregnancy is hard, everyone tells you how awful labour is going to be (I came out of it looking like I’d had an affair with Edward scissorhands), and you know to prepare yourself for sleep deprivation. But when it came to breast feeding, I definitely went into the whole thing with rose-tinted glasses. Black and bruised nipples, cracked nipples, bleeding nipples. They happen, and they really, really fucking hurt. With the aid of Lansinoh cream, hot showers, hot and cold compresses, gel pads, some expressing and syringe feeding, I managed to battle (yes, battle) my way through those first few weeks of breastfeeding with gritted teeth. If you are battling, just remember it will get better. It got a hell of a lot better for me after my milk came in, and better again after my baby had her lip and tongue ties treated. If it’s not getting better after a week or two, go and see a lactation consultant (they’re free through the hospital until 6 weeks, and free through Plunket after that) and have a look for a breastfeeding support group in your area (wharekai Pepe in Wellington is amazing).
  • You can’t spoil a baby. It’s true that babies aren’t wired to manipulate you. If they’re crying, it’s usually for a reason. Check the usual things – wet nappy, hungry, over-tired. If all else fails, give them extra cuddles, let them sleep on you, feed them for comfort – whatever works to give you both a break. And don’t sweat it. If everything you did at this early stage was “creating a habit” then they’d still be shitting in diapers when they’re 20!
  • Find your village. My village is a modern day one – it comes in the form of the New Mum Club Support Group on Facebook, it comes from my antenatal group girls who I meet with regularly for coffee, it comes from group classes at Lower Hutt Parents Centre and it comes from friends and family. They’ll guide, listen, deliver hot meals, and babysit while you nap. Parenting is a tough gig, and no one should have to go it alone.
  • Enjoy it. Some days you’ll bake cookies, do 7 loads of washing, and vacuum the house. Some days you’ll be glued to the couch wearing puke covered pyjamas. Embrace them both. And find a really good series on Netflix (shameless will make you feel better about your life). Before you know it your baby will no longer want those cuddles that stopped you from hanging out that load of washing today. Each stage is over far, far too quickly. Every day I try to find time to cuddle, sing, read, laugh and go for a walk outside with her in the pram. Whatever you do, just remember to enjoy it.

When it came time to start buying baby goods I had NO idea where to start and as usual the internet was full of outdated and overseas lists. Since having gone through it I feel I am in a better position to make my own list which some of you may find helpful. My Hospital Bag Essentials post was a total hit so I am hoping this one is equally as useful.

Anybody who knows me knows that I love to shop, and I purchased a lot of unnecessary shit which I never used or needed (will save this for another post).

DISCLAIMER:
Some things are nice to have and others are a must. The items I have listed are based on my own experiences. A lot of these items come with lots of discussion and controversy (car seats, baby wearing, feeding, sleeping arrangements etc). Do your research based on your own personal wants/needs. What works for one, may not work for another. My child is almost 1 now so it’s inevitable that I’ve forgotten something. I also haven’t added in clothes. Happy to do a separate post if there is demand.

BED TIME

  • Bassinet/Mattress (we got ours from Baby City and loved the one we had. You can also purchase a stand).
  • Cot (transitioned Baxter at 12 weeks) – We went with a cot with a drawer underneath for extra storage.
  • Sheets & Mattress Protector – I sometimes used muslin cloths as a sheet and got told you can also use pillow cases.
  • Blankets – (not polar fleece, they don’t breath). Jaime Kay has some lovely Merino cot ones and they’re often on sale, I folded in half for use in the bassinet. Good to have a few as babies like to spill in those early days.
  • Baby Monitor – We didn’t use when he was in the bassinet as he was in our room but as soon as he moved into his own room we’ve used it since. We have the video Angelcare monitor. One of our best purchases (look at it as an investment).
  • Comforter – We were dead against it for a long time as we didn’t want him to grow a strong attachment to one (especially one we couldn’t potentially replace). But at about 8 months we introduced a Kippin and it’s stopped him rolling around and playing in bed before he goes to sleep. He ONLY has it in bed.
  • Swaddles/Muslin Cloths – Without swaddling Baxter in the early days we would have never slept, that kid loved to move. Once moving into his cot at 12weeks we transitioned him in a sleep sack with no issues. Cotton on has lots of cute ones and Kmart also has them.

BATH TIME

  • Bath towels/Face cloths
  • Baby Thermometer – We got a floating one from BabyCity, was super cheap and we’ve used it the past year.
  • Baby bath – You can also use your sink and or a flexi tub. To be honest we found the baby bath awkward so opted for showers and just putting him in the big bath either with one of us or well supervised.

PLAY TIME

  • Bouncer – Saved my life in the early days, he would happily watch while I cooked dinner and done housework.
  • Play gym – Same as the above, great to encourage and support tummy time. Toys/colors provide stimulation.
  • Rattles/teethers

NURSERY

  • Change table/Mat – I know lots opt for no change table. We’ve found it super handy to store essentials, however, I know he will grow out of it soon.
  • Drawers – As above, in the early days, I stored essentials on the second shelf of the change table as its where I found me spending a majority of my time. Once he shifted into his own room, the drawers are a good send as the kid has SO. MANY. CLOTHES.
  • Nappies – You’ll no doubt try a few brands before you find what works best for you and your baby. Don’t go crazy buying ALL the newborn nappies, they will grow out of them quickly. If you’re planning to use reusable nappies, you’ll need at least 15 nappies suitable for your newborn baby. You will also need a bucket, nappy liners, and some nappy steriliser. It’s also probably a good idea to have at least one packet of disposable nappies handy too, in case you get behind with the washing during the early weeks.
  • Wipes – Same as the above. There are SO many out there on the market to cater for all needs and budgets. Some people prefer Chux cloth and water.
  • Sudocream – Works on everything.
  • Thermometer – To check baby’s temp when worried about fever etc. Room temp is included on a lot of baby monitors.
  • Nail Clippers – Lots of people bite them, my GP said no way, more chance of bacteria. It was hard at first as I was scared but I tended to clip then while feeding and it was far easier. Their nails grow SO quickly.
  • Nappy bin – We started out using ours a lot and no longer use it.
  • Nasal aspirator – Super handy when baby is full of snot. The Nosefrida is amazing.
  • Vaporiser – Works a treat when they’re blocked up. Also handy to vape essentials oils for their calming/soothing effects. We use the Ultrasonic Vaporiser with some Le’Esscience blends. Please note, not all blends are safe for babies so please seek professional advice.

GETTING AROUND

  • Car seat or capsule – we had a Mountain Buggy Protect that with adapters, attaches to our pram base which made getting around so much easier. It also had a click in base for the car to ease of use. Baxter is now in a car seat and we went for the Maxi Cosi Pria 85.
  • Pram – Shop around and see what fits your needs and budgets, test and check it fits in your boot too! We opted for the Mountain Buggy nautical urban jungle.
  • Travel cot – We got the CarryCot with our pram which was super handy when our for long walks and if we were away from the house for long periods of time.
  • Front pack – I tried on the Mountain Buggy Juno down at BabyCity and fell in love. So comfortable. It comes with a newborn insert so I used it from about 4 weeks onwards, it allowed to do housework and other tasks hands-free and Baxter slept because he felt close and comfortable. There are so many out there for different body types and needs so do your homework!
  • Nappy bag – I am terrible when it comes to handbags, I knew I would be no different with Nappy Bags so I have quite a few until I found one I loved. As Baxter was coming to work with me for about 8 months, I wanted a bag that could fit my stuff while also looking not too ‘nappy bag-ish’. I ended up with the OiOi Mustard carry all. It’s perfect for what I wanted, fits everything I need and looks chic!
  • Car mirror – I was SO paranoid when driving alone so having a mirror to enable to see Baxter gave me great peace of mine.
  • Disposable change mats – Some nappy bags come with them, in the early weeks I found the disposable ones from the supermarket so handy.
  • Muslin cloth – I would drape one over the capsule when out and about, you can get some cool clips from Kmart to keep it in place. There are also lots of covers out there on the market.

FEEDING (covers breastfeeding and formula feeding)

  • Breastpump – You can hire from the hospital and some midwives. I used a double pump as it was easier doing both at one.
  • Maternity bras – I lived in these even after I stopped breastfeeding. Farmers have an awesome selection. I see Kmart is upping their maternity range also so might be worth a looksie.
  • Milk bags/Storage containers – For freezing your breastmilk.
  • Breastpads – Disposable or reusable. Leaking is not fun for anybody.
  • Nipple creamLansinoh is amazing. Some hospitals also offer Iozone (not sure on spelling) UV treatments. Others say sheilds worked a treat. Different things work for different people.
  • Bottles & teats – We tried lots of different bottles and to start with Dr Browns were the best, worked a treat for less wind and he was easily able to go between bottle and boob with no fuss. I would recommend introducing a bottle (even with breastmilk) early to avoid issues down the track. Now he is a bit old he mainly uses Tommee Tippee bottles but we’ve kept all our Dr Browns one and we use the bigger ones for his night feed. Shop around and see what works for you. It pays to get a few of the next size up teat so you have them on hand when you need them.
  • Bottle brush
  • Milton tablets – We used these in water instead of the classic sterilizer as this is what they did in the hospital and it worked best for us. Can be purchased at your local supermarket.
  • Formula – It took us a few to find the right one, we were told by lots of people that the ‘gold’ formulas blocked their wee ones up and it sure did! Baxter was super constipated so we got one a bit thinner and that more closely resembled breastmilk.
  • Formula storage container – So handy if you’re leaving the house but also equally handy to have full at home as it makes it quicker to make bottles. We discovered these awesome little formula dispensers that fitted into Tommee Tippee bottles. LIFESAVER and less fumbling around.
  • Bibs (lots and lots of bibs) – More so now he is older. Once they’re on solids they’re a MUST.
  • Muslin cloths – Great for spills.

OTHER

  • Baby Nurofen – I will never use Pamol again. Baby nurofen takes effect quicker (about 15 min) and lasts up to 8 hours.

I will no doubt add to this list as time goes by and I would have most definitely forgotten things. Feel free to add your suggestions into the comments section.

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It’s so common these days that there’s a term for this negative phenomenon: mum-shaming, and I am fucking sick of it.

I am talking about mums shaming other mums. Don’t even get me started on the judgemental people who DON’T EVEN HAVE KIDS! I see it almost every day. Out in public and most commonly, online. We’ve all been guilty of it at one point or another, pre or post baby. We’ve judged another mum in the mall or the in the playground and it needs to stop.

We’re all in this together you know, this crazy roller coaster we call parenting. Nothing can make you question your abilities and decisions as a parent like a death stare in the local food court, a rude old lady coming up to you in the supermarket and telling you “that kid shouldn’t be out without a warm hat on” or “that child should be in bed”. Hey, Doris – go shove your opinions up your as$.

Get stared at for feeding your kid with a bottle (god forbid if that’s formula!)
Get stared at for getting your boob out in public.

Get judged for feeding your child packaged food.
Get judged for using non-organic ingredients.

Get judged for allowing your child to sleep with you.
Get judged for having them alone in another room.

Get judged for letting your child have a dummy.
Get judged for letting your child scream in need of comfort.

Get judged for buying your kid expensive toys.
Get judged for not stimulating your child enough.

Getting judged for choosing to front face your child after 2 years.
Get judged for still rear facing them.

Getting judged for going back to work ‘too early’.
Getting judged for choosing to be a stay at home mum.
Getting judged for enrolling your child into a daycare centre so you can provide a better future.

It many of the above cases, it’s a no-win situation.

I came across a great article which outlined why we might be doing this.

  1. You’re bored
  2. You’re angry
  3. You’re jealous
  4. You’re overwhelmed
  5. You’re exhausted
  6. You’re not sure of your own identity
  7. You’re dying to be recognised

Being a mum is fucking hard and having somebody question your decisions makes it even harder. Mum shaming is not always direct. It can be a criticism, unsolicited advice (generally with an ulterior motive), dubious facial expressions and general negativity (directly or indirectly) at another mum regarding her parenting choices or even worse, a personal dig.

I suffer from anxiety and depression and know too well how hard it is to hear that somebody thinks you’re not a good mother. Putting myself out there like this has led me to receive some truly awful comments and it really is disgusting that people think it’s OK.

If you have a few moments, watch this.

I think in order to fix a problem we need to recognise that there is one and collectively, do our bit to combat this nasty, rising habit.

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