Monday, 25 January 2010

Explaining childbirth to a two year old - bees and birds need not apply

Michela has been airing more views on life, the universe and everything. Take life. I showed her a photo of myself when heavily pregnant and told her she was inside it, then showed her a scan. Why? Because she has asked me again the 'embarrassing' question, 'Where do I come from?'

The first time she asked this I thought she was geographically challenged and confused (she was born in London, then we lived in Rugby and now in Cambridge), then I realised what she really meant when she explained to me about Pinga, sister of Pingu being born from an egg. It is such a cute piece of animation - the midwife turns up on ice skates and she has a big spoon to break the egg.

I thought about cabbages, storks, birds and bees and decided I would not go for fairy stories but stick to the truth as much as I could. So I said, that yes, she was an egg in my belly, then became a prawn (the only animal I could think of that is small, pink and resembled her actual size), then grew very big and there was no space so she had to come out. I asked: 'Where do you think you came out from?' and she replied seriously: 'I came out from a booboo.' I couldn't help laughing (booboo is her pet name for breast). I said: 'But the booboo has a tiny hole, you were too big for that.' Michela was adamant and for days she kept saying: 'I came out of a booboo' at all times.

When the entertainment value wore out, I decided to set her straight. I wouldn't want her to go to primary school like I did thinking I came out of my mum's right leg (my mum gave me the talk a bit too late when I was a teen and knew already what was what). So I said she came out of my bottom, which is a word she knows and because we use it for nappy changing as in 'Stay still I need to clean your bottom'.

My moment of truth had hilarious results when Michela put two and two together while we were shopping at a local supermarket. At the till she announced: 'I came from my mama's bottom.' Then she added: 'There is a hole there, I came from the hole.' Nobody said anything but my partner and I nearly fell off laughing at her logical approach (we never mentioned any hole and yes we were amused but slightly embarrassed).

Another deduction that had me bursting into laughter and her dad look sheepish was when Michela saw my partner in the bath, pointed at his bits and asked: 'What's that?'
My partner said it was a willy and Michela announced to me: 'Dada has a big willy' which embarrassed my partner and made me laugh until tears came out of my eyes. She has not announced her discovery in public places yet. We have joked about it at Christmas - children do say the funniest things.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Norvegian study proclaims breastfeeding is a waste of time

Myself and my daughter Michela 'wasting our time'.

If you haven't heard of this, click here to read all about it from the horse's mouth. This study triggered furore in articles, blogs and social media circles. The Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative responded calmy outlining the shortcomings of the study. Click here to read why this small study is flawed compared to larger studies and the simple and unrefutable fact that breast milk has been the only nutrient for babies for centuries (formula arrived in the XXth century). Also bear in mind that Norway has a 99% breastfeeding rate (I found the figure here) and draw your own conclusions.

I'm not surprised that a study has popped out to diminish breasteeding, it's not the only one, what I am really annoyed about is the reaction from some bottle feeding women on various forums. They have an outdated view of breastfeeding organisations and think breastfeeding women are smug and keen on making them feel small and guilty.

Some women are so bitter they leave negative comments under articles who promote breastfeeding. Yesterday I left a comment under an article to say that most breastfeeding organisations are supportive of mums and some even provide bottle feeding information on their sites. There are mums who know this and who ring breastfeeding lines to ask how to stop breasteeding. It's not a taboo subject, if you go cold turkey the pain can be excruciating. Yet there are plenty of formula feeding mums who have an axe to grind.

As a breastfeeding helper I have never treated a mum who mentions formula like an outcast. The aim of my training was to give all the information and leave formula as a last resort because there are mums who cannot breastfeed - although fewer than people think. While researching breastfeeding I came across La Leche League International (LLI), which has a website full of information. I knew of the UK charity but before I trained and received its excellent Book of Breastfeeding Answers, I didn't know you can breastfeed if you have terminal cancer and even HIV.

And did you know that breastfeeding is recommended for smokers? Click here for a great leaflet about breastfeeding versus alcohol, smoking and drugs. Drugs mentioned in this leaflet are medicines, but the LLI has a page on illegal drugs and on this page I found out that you can breastfeed if you are taking methadone to detox.

Formula mothers, the world is not against you and breastfeeding mums encounter as many negative comments from strangers and even family member. I know because of personal experience and because mums told me about their lack of support and negative attitudes towards their decision to breastfeed.

Do you think breastfeeding mums are smug or did you experience negative comments and feedback from your loved ones when you chose to breasteed? Feel free to leave a comment under this blog.