Should we be involving men more in our pregnancies?

Somehow, during the antenatal period, we seem to side-line the fact that men, as well as women, are about to become brand new parents. Usually by 24 weeks (6 months) it is, visually, pretty obvious that a woman is expecting a child. People are congratulating you left, right and centre and often grabbing your bump like it’s some sort of healing crystal.

Due to men not carrying the baby, they are unable to feel it move or kick which often leads to them struggling to gain a sense of attachment or bonding with the baby. Women however, feel these movements every day and are intrinsically partnered with their baby, two hearts literally beating as one. As a nation we often throw baby showers which are frequently ‘female-only’ events. Yes – the woman is growing him/her and has to undergo nausea, urine frequency, heavy and sore boobs, tiredness etc – and we should be celebrated for that! However, should we be involving men more during pregnancy, in order to encourage them to be more engaged fathers?

If you’ve read the above question and thought, YES! Here are some ideas to get men more involved:

1.Attending Antenatal Appointments – even though I see men quite often attending, a lot of the time they don’t. These appointments are fundamentally to check the well-being of you and your baby. However, after 24 weeks you’ll hear the baby’s heartbeat at every appointment and this is an important moment when men can ‘check in’ with their baby’s and gain the realisation that there’s actually something in that bump! Furthermore, during these appointments, your midwife may advise on certain aspects and may discuss choices in labour. It is important for men to hear all of these, so that they can support you as a partner.

2.Daddy/DILF Shower – This is a bit of a silly one but really does work and can be a lot of fun! Why don’t you surprise your partner with a men’s baby shower? Basically you can just invite all his friends over, leave them with some crates of beer and let them celebrate their friend becoming a daddy!? You can buy a lot of fun bits online which you could include such as a baby piñata etc. This is just a way to make them feel special too, and celebrate the fact that they’ve got a baby on the way.

3. Decorating the Nursery Together – Generally, women have most of a say when it comes to interior decorating in their homes. However, it’s a really positive idea to make an effort to decorate the baby’s nursery together. Choosing wall colours, furniture and clothes is all part of the nesting process, usually undertaken by women. However, if we involved men more, it would likely be a positive experience for them to increase their excitement about the incoming arrival!

4. Antenatal Classes – I always advise women to attend antenatal classes when I see them during their pregnancy. If you live in the UK, you can get them free through your community midwives. Furthermore, lots of organisations such as the National Childbirth Trust run classes all over the country. You can go to classes which cover a variety of topics such as infant feeding, pain relief in labour, water births etc. I would strongly advise women to encourage their partners to go along with them. 75% of the time, men during labour just stand in a corner absolutely petrified as they have no idea what is going on. However, antenatal classes really give you a sense of preparation and men can get involved by learning techniques to help you during labour such as massage, and breathing exercises.

Does anyone have any ideas of other ways we can include men further during pregnancy!? I would love to hear any experiences you’ve had.

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Feeling Bumpy xx

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The Sleepyhead

Even if you are a very new parent, I’m sure you’ll already be aware of the struggle most face when it comes to settling a baby in a cot. Newborns, especially, don’t like the sensation of open space around them which is often encountered in cots or moses baskets.  During their time in the womb, they take the fetus/flexed position (knees and arms tucked in). They are surrounded by warm water and can hear constant background noise as well as the maternal heartbeat. Therefore, once born and in their strange new environment, they must learn to adapt. screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-14-53-20

One product which I have seen particularly effective is called ‘The Sleepyhead’. Made in Sweden, they retail for around £100 when bought new (I’m sure similar products from other brands are available). This is an item which does require splashing out, however, but from experience I’ve never been disappointed. It is usually used for babies from 0-36 months and the outer ring can be adjusted in relation to your baby/toddler’s size. They have a fully removal cover meaning you can bung it in the washing machine whenever required. They are also easily transportable meaning if you’re staying with friends, or going away, you can shove it in the car without any hassle.

This product allows the baby to feel cradled, as though being held. It prevents
them from experiencing that sense of excess space which often causes them to cry. I would recommend just using this at night however, as then they begin to understand that once they are experiencing this cradling sensation that its bed time. This may help to create a night time routine, however, it’s worth noting that routines do take time (further blog post relating to this is to come!)

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This is not a sponsored post, I’m only recommending it due to experience.

Breastfeeding Breakdown?

Breastfeeding. Since the introduction of formula milk, women have been provided with choice in how to feed their child. I am, as I’m sure 99% of midwives are, very much in favour of breastfeeding. Benefits include: providing an infant with gallons of nutrients, improved brain development and a reduction in the risks of obesity and diabetes (just to name a few). It also saves the total hassle of sterilisation, which requires organisation in terms of actually having a bottle sterilised for every feed. Organisation is certainly one thing brand new Mothers do not have time for. Alongside these factors, breastfeeding creates space in the day for a woman to sit, (hopefully quietly!), with the stranger that they have created, and spend some time together. You must allow yourself time away from the hustle and bustle to get to know your new tot, and, them get to know you – from the outside!

The crucial benefit of bottle-feeding is, of course, that you get to share the feeding. Those men have to get their hands on at some point, and night feeding is certainly something that almost demands sharing. It’s also useful for those moments when you’re caught out in a shop with a screaming, hungry baby, but, you cant quite find yourself a comfortable enough seat in which to whip your boob out. Totally understandable! Bottles, in this case, are lifesavers! However, ways around this include expressing into bottles and taking them in a cooler bag (there are lots of special, small ones for bottles). It does mean though, that if your baby wont take milk when its cooled, and many don’t, that you’ll have to find a nearby café who will provide you with hot water in order to warm up the bottle.

Despite breastfeeding undoubtedly being the best feed for infants, at least for the first 6 months, I’ve experienced women on the brink of a break down because they’re struggling to do all the feeding on the breast. This can be due to a variety of factors such as tiredness, a demanding feeder, a comfort feeder, and growth spurts – the list goes on! You are not alone. I forever tell women that if you’re feeling this way, substitute some feeds with the bottle! Firstly, stress actually causes your hormone oxytocin (which stimulates milk production), to lessen and therefore milk production is decreased. Secondly and fundamentally, a baby would prefer a happy mum who is giving a couple of feeds from a bottle than a frustrated (probably sobbing and scoffing ice cream) mum who’s feeding exclusively from the breast. Give yourself a break and create a feeding structure that suits you. Even if your baby is receiving one feed a day from the breast, that’s still better than none and you should be proud of every breast-feed that you provide.

You should never feel guilty or disappointed for not exclusively breastfeeding, even if you had your heart set on it during pregnancy. The struggles of breastfeeding are not discussed anywhere near as much as they should be. Breastfeeding takes patience and a lot of perseverance (through cracked nipples, swollen breasts and that initial pain when the baby latches on). Breast is best, but a bottle thrown in is even better if you’re on the brink of a breastfeeding breakdown.

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Feeling Bumpy xx