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The Differences in Crying

It has been so long since i posted on here! Time has been busy lately. Oak is now nine months old, work is busy, I’m writing a book and I’m in my second year of uni!

I actually don’t have a picture of Oak crying. The title picture is him feeling sorry for himself during his first bout of man-flu at 8 months and the picture above is of him teething…but possibly crying as well…I can’t really remember. We have been lucky enough that Oak didn’t cry very much in the first few weeks. But when he did, it was our job to work out what he was crying about! As he got older, and I expect the same for you, the crying became more about tiredness. Or over tiredness. Those were troublesome but you generally find your way with those. I try as much as I can to help out when Oak cries. I want him to learn that I am there if he is upset. And if I am not enough. Super-mum is right behind me.

Hearing your baby crying will play a big part of your life over the next few months. There will be different types of crying and over time you will get used to all of them, you will also be able to pick up on the signs your baby makes before they even start crying. In this post we will go through each type, explaining why they are crying, what the signs are before they start crying and how to deal with crying.

Types of Crying
– The Hunger Cry
– The Sleepy Cry
– The ‘I need a poo!’ Cry
– The Uncomfortable Cry
– The Pain Cry
And
– The ‘I don’t know but something made me cry and that’s going to make me cry more and OMG that noise is frightening so I’ll cry more and OH I CANT STOP WAAAAAAAAAAA, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (catch breathe) WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!’ Cry that seems to never end.

The Hunger Cry is an obvious one. Your baby is hungry and the only way to communicate they are hungry is to cry. Your baby doesn’t know just yet that he is hungry, he just simply feels an ache in his body which we would interpret as hunger pains and for a new baby, that is a new and horrible feeling that he would not have had in the womb. As they get a little older they become more able to deal with the feeling of hunger and will try to get your attention, either by what sounds like fake coughing or sucking their hands, fingers. Course of action? Feed your baby!!

The Sleepy Cry will happen usually on a day where your baby has been vastly overstimulated. In our house that happens frequently when I’m home. Most babies will have a time during the evening where they are at their most grizzly (a word that should really be ‘grumpy’). During these times, the best course of action is a quick jaunt in the buggy around the block. The motion will gently rock them to sleep.

The ‘I need a poo cry’ is similar to the hunger cry in which your baby doesn’t not understand what it is feeling and as time goes on will get easier. Any gas or poo will feel like pain at first and you will see your baby straining or going red in the face. Sometimes it can simply be a whimper, sometimes it can be a wail. If breastfed your baby can take up to a week for a poo to come through so don’t be surprised if your baby finds that uncomfortable.

The Uncomfortable Cry. Some people would say your baby is ‘colicy’. This is usually general uncomfortableness and is in the gastrointestinal area, but can also be because your baby is too hot, too cold, needs to poo (in the first couple of months). It can last for a few seconds or a few minutes but is generally short lived. Tummy massages or hugs will usually help your baby in some way. In terms of temperature either remove clothing or add clothing. 18 degrees Celsius is the perfect temperature for a baby to be wearing a layer or two. At 21 degrees start thinking about removing a layer. Around 25 degrees and baby should be in a nappy only. Above 26 degrees get the fans out. Same goes for when it gets colder. For every 5-10 degree drop below 18 degrees ad another layer. If it is actually freezing. A Single layer under a thermal all in one should be ok.

Teething is also (for most babies) incredibly uncomfortable…and can also lie in the pain cry category. For Oak, it was a bit of both and he was lucky (or unlucky) enough to have lots of teeth come at once. I think five at once is his best so far.

The Pain Cry. As a dad you are going to know about this fairly quickly. At roughly eight weeks your child will recieve their first round of immunisations. In the docs office I held Oak and opened up his sleep suit to expose his thigh. The doc was pretty good about it, said he would do it as quickly as possible. He got the three needles ready. And I held Oak on me.

The first needle went in and out as smoothly and quickly as you can imagine. I watched little Oaks face as what just happened got processed in his little mind. Shock was first. Only for a split second. Then pain and fear erupted on his face. All his features screwed up and the noise that came out of my boy was enough to make me well up instantly myself. It’s a wail. A sound that did undeniably mean he was hurt. Not a bump on the head sound. A real scream. Real tears. And then the next needle went in. He was so upset. Tears streamed down his face. A real high pitched scream came out and the doc put the last one in… straight away I picked up Oak and the doc put a plaster over where the needle marks were. I bundled my sobbing boy into my coat and held him as close as I could. A proper dad hug. Trying to send as much calming love as I could to the sobbing bundle on my chest. I think I cried a little. I definately felt tears in my face. I have never heard Oak cry like that. He stopped sobbing and crying for about four minutes. They were hard minutes. He fell asleep on my chest.

The second round of injections were a few weeks after. It wasn’t as bad but the pain cry happened again and it upset me. Same with the third batch at sixteen weeks. I think I got so upset simply because he was in pain and he had no way of dealing with it. It was his first experience of excruciating pain.

There is a bright side to these experiences your child has, even if it’s hard to see. Apart from the immunisations he will have to dangerous viruses or diseases, his body feeling pain like that is important for his nervous system. Also, if you are there to hold him or her during and after that experience, your baby will know that if they are within contact with you, the pain will go away. That is an important psychological tool later in their development, knowing that you will come to their aid. Or that they can go to you if hurt.

Lastly.

The last cry is quite a different board game. One that can be incredibly difficult to manage and it is very important that you be able to deal with this type of crying.

This cry can go on for hours. Sometimes your baby will be able to be soothed. Sometimes not. They may make themselves sick they cry so much. It is with these cries that you need ultimate patience and love. I can remember only two instances where Oak went through these cries and I used to have to prepare myself physically and mentally for them and even then, it was incredibly tough.

It can cause you to become upset with yourself. It can cause you to become angry. You may feel urges that make you feel guilty. You may feel disgusted with yourself. At first you will be fine. Your baby is crying, they do that. Then baby doesn’t calm down. Baby cries enough to make them cough or hack. It makes baby cry harder. After 10 minutes you can feel your face flush. It may take twenty minutes. (It is in this moment you need to swap with your partner or vice versa) On the occasions where you go beyond your barrier of patience, the crying may persist for much longer than you can tolerate and you may have the following feelings and thoughts.

You may feel like screaming at your child.

You may feel like shocking your baby out of crying (that wont work by the way).

You may feel like throwing your baby onto the bed or downstairs…Or somewhere. Anywhere.

You may feel like squeezing the baby tighter than you should.

You may feel like hurting your child.

-Such is your DESPERATION to stop your baby crying-

The above underlined is the important part here. Desperation is the point in which you are possibly capable of things abnormal. So it is important to recognise and talk about this with your partner and other parents. Because this doesn’t get talked about as far as I know.

No one told me about these moments. I shocked myself with the thoughts I had when Oak was in these states (few as they were). I was lucky I knew about relaxation and medatitive techniques.

So, start learning now about breathing exercises for relaxation. In through your nose deeply, slow out the mouth. Repeat. Repeat. Visualising something specifically calming like the ocean or clouds. Rocking your baby. Changing positions that he or she is held in every few minutes to see what works for baby. Use a birthing ball to sit on and bounce gently up and down on it. A number of times I could get Oak to stop crying with prolonged repetitive movements.

But this type of crying is physically and mentally challenging so it is important to know about it before it happens and understand how to deal with it.

Learn to meditate. Learn to communicate with your partner if it is getting to much.

Do not put your baby down and leave him or her alone for a prolonged time because you can’t handle it, your baby needs you. If you are alone and it is getting too much, put baby in his or her cot. Go get a drink of water. Breathe. Breathe some more. Compose yourself. Repeat to yourself that you love your baby. You want your baby to be calm. To make your baby calm you need to be calm. Repeat affirming words to yourself. Go back to baby, hold them another few minutes or as long as you can until you feel that you need to put baby down again, remembering gentle, calm movements. You are doing a great job.

You are being the best parent you can be.

And slowly, with time, your baby will sleep.

Up to your neck in shit.

This is all about poo.

Poo, shit and stools. Different colours, textures and smells.

Poo and nappy changing. Clothes changing because of poo. And face wiping because of poo.

Pooing in a public place and pissing on your Wife’s face. All these things and more!

Its best to get stuck in now and get your hands dirty, because later on your baby might be literally up to their neck in shit.

First things first, I will be talking about all types of baby poop but primarily I will assume that your child is breastfed (however I will not leave out formula fed children).

For the record, I love changing nappies. I changed my sons first nappy and since then it has become quite the bonding time between us. After Oak was born, having his nappy changed was the only time he used to cry. Now that he is nine weeks old each nappy change has become one of his favourite times of the day!

The first few days…

The first poo to arrive in your infants nappy is called meconium. It is more black than green in colour, similar to tar. It has the texture of say, a mixture of paste and treacle and it is almost odourless. It is made up of what your baby digested during his time in the womb, namely mucus, amniotic fluid, bile, water, epithelial cells (the cells in which nutrients or gases in your body can pass to other areas such as oxygen in your lungs passing through to your blood stream) and Lanugo (this is thin, almost translucent hair that covers your baby’s body during gestation from about 16-18 weeks and is normally shed around a month before birth).

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It is quite hard to clean up as it is so thick and sticky, but persist. I think Oak still had a couple of bits stuck to his skin by the end of the first week. you should find that within the first week your baby should have passed all the meconium and his poo has changed to a much different colour, texture and smell…

Breastfed poop

Towards the end of the first week your babies poo will get lighter from its initial colour until it becomes an almost sand-like colour. It can be slightly greenish or slightly brownish. But generally a yellow shade is normal. The consistency should be similar to a mixture of say smooth peanut butter and gravy. It has a particularly sweet smell which is an added bonus of breastfeeding.

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Formula fed poop

If you choose to not allow your baby to breastfeed then expect the colour to be similar to breastfed babies but it will be thicker with a consistency much closer to peanut butter and it will generally smell much stronger (a much closer smell to normal poo). Your baby will also pass stools much quicker than breastfed as formula isn’t digested as well or as much.

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How often is normal?

Formula fed babies will generally poo quite often since their bodies cannot digest cows milk as readily so it moves through their digestive system much quicker. Between three and five poos a day is quite normal.

Breastfed babies poos are a little more complicated. In the first week your baby should poo fairly frequently, perhaps three times a day. But then you may find he may only poo once a day, even once a week is normal. So if four or five days have passed, do not worry, It is on it’s way. If you go beyond a week then let your health visitor know about it as your baby may be constipated.

The first few weeks

After the first week, poos will not have any particular rhythm to them so pay attention to how much your baby is feeding. Normal feeding means normal pool but sometimes your baby will ‘cluster feed’. Cluster feeding is where baby will feed almost every hour for up to a day. Or feed for multiple hours in one sitting. This happens periodically throughout the first few months of your babies life, so when this does happen, expect a bigger poo!

Onto real food!

It is up to you when you wean your baby from breastmilk to solid milk, either beyond a year is best or just allow your baby to self wean. The can be anywhere from one year to four years or sometimes more. Once you start feeding you baby mushed up vegetables and fruits, your likely to notice a drastic change in consistency and will smell much more like adult poo.

solid food

Once your baby moves onto trying solid food such as whole foods and fruits, you may notice undigested bits of food, similar to if you ate sweetcorn. This is because their digestive system hasn’t matured enough yet, but give it time! If you see undigested food over a few days, do let your GP know just in case there is an intestinal problem.

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Constipation

Constipation is not uncommon and there are a number of solutions. It is not as common for a breastfed baby to be constipated as breastmilk has components that act as a laxative however it is still possible. A Stool passed while constipated with usually be harder, and will appear as a number of pebble like structures. It will almost certainly cause your baby discomfort so expect uncontrollable crying once it is passed.

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Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be a little more serious, it will have a much more watery consistency and will likely go through your baby’s nappy. It is indicative of a bacterial infection and if left unchecked can cause dehydration so let your GP know as soon as you can to get advice.

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Slimy Poo

Poo that looks like or has the consistency of slime may indicate your baby is swallowing a lot of mucus! This could be caused by infection or allergy, so if it happens for a couple of days let your GP know.

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Pale poo

Pale poo can be a sign of jaundice which is common in newborns, however if your babies poo is consistently chalky white you should talk to a GP as soon as possible as it can be a sign of liver problems.

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Blood in poo

I have included three different pictures of how blood in babies poo could look like. A normal looking poo with a small amount of redness can indicate a milk protein allergy. Constipated Poo tinged with blood can indicate a small tear in the anus or haemorrhoids. Diarrhoea mixed with blood can indicate a bacterial infection. Normal poo mixed with black blood can be indicative of blood that has been digested. It will most probably look like small poppy seeds and is usually caused when a breast fed baby has been feeding from a mother with cracked and bleeding nipples.

Regardless of the reason, seeing blood in your babies poo will likely cause distress to you and your Wife or partner. Phone your GP as soon as possible.

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THE POO EXPLOSION

For all the other parents out there that have been witness and had to clear up the aftermath of a poo explosion.

For you new dads or dads to be, you may need to literally roll your sleeves up for these. they can happen at any time. You will know that its happened almost immediately. The sound that will come out of your babies arse will be a squelch mess…. but don’t be fooled, wait a few minutes, it may not be over and you will thank me you kept the nappy on for ten more minutes. The clean up isn’t actually as bad as it looks like its going to be. But there are two types of explosion. The first is a quick clean up job and it has been contained but may have crept out of one leg of the nappy. The second will be the full maelstrom, out of both legs and the back, up the back, possibly in the hair (possibly out the front). They will wave legs and arms about getting it all over their hands and then face. It might even get thrown onto your face, or the walls! It may be the most horrendous thing you have ever seen in your life. But it is your baby, you love it and you just won’t care. The job needs to be done. You will likely be standing there, a wipe in hand…….Put it down my friend. Run a bath. Those wipes have no power here!

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I will also warn you, always make sure that when you are out, a couple of changes of clothes and at least half a pack of wipes is necessary. So far I have had to deal with changing Oaks nappy after a poo explosion on the floor of a church and in a library. So they really do pick the worst places to go!

So how many nappies will I need?

This all depends on the size of your baby. Oak was 6 pounds 3 ounces so his first nappies looked a little big for him but they still fit. We will use averaged weights for babies here so not to confuse. Each ‘day’ should be taken as a 24 hour period.

Over 36 months you will use approximately 6000 nappies (and pull ups) give or take a few hundred. This is obviously variable between child, if you are potty training early then it can cut up to a couple of thousand nappies out of the equation. Whilst age helps here, going by weight is preferable for nappies. For the first few weeks you will know what size to use because he will be weighed by the health visitor or midwife. after that the best measure is how easy the nappy fits around the thigh closest to his or her pelvis. If it feels at all like you are over stretching, its going to be uncomfortable for baby, and you are seriously risking poo explosions (see above).

Newborn Size (stage 1) – 4-11lbs

At birth and for the first four weeks or so you will be changing nappies quite frequently, perhaps 12 times a day. You will get through roughly 350 in the first four weeks.

Stage 2 – 6-13lbs

Around the first month you will likely need to move onto the second stage of nappies. You will notice your babies nappies are a little harder to get on and you should switch over. Make sure you have been prepared and got the nappies ready for the switch. This stage will last roughly two months and you will be changing slightly less per day so 600 is a good number to aim for.

Stage 3 – 9-20lbs

This stage follows the same example as before, but with slightly less changes per day again. It will last 3-4 months and require around 600 nappies.

Stage 4 – 15-40lbs

Beyond this point physical development is more variable between babies but the stages are much more spaced out meaning you’ll be sticking with the same nappy stage for longer. This stage will require roughly 1300 nappies and you will be changing roughly six time a day. Typically this stage lasts from 7 months until 14 months old.

Stage 4+ (or 4/5) – 20-44lbs

Designed to be a secondary nappy for the upper part of development in babies, this will be the most numerously bought nappy stage at roughly 2000 nappies. This stage is designed for babies between 14 and 24 months old.

Stage 5 – 25-55lbs and Stage 6 35+lbs (750-1000 nappies after 24 months)

After stage four, usually its whatever fits best, there are also pull-ups you can use from certain weights that may or may not work for you.

Generally speaking, there is no set age your baby will move from one nappy size to the next, its completely dependant on weight and body size. Your baby could be newborn but be straight into size 3 nappies (if your baby is born that big).

What kind of nappies should I get?

This really comes down to personal preference.

There are different types of reusable nappies that you can wash and dry at home. These are the most ecologically friendly option and cost the least to use (greater initial cost, but much cheaper once considered they may be used for over a couple of years).

There are disposable nappies. These are simple and can be bought at a low cost in bulk, however, they are not very eco friendly as they can take an incredibly long time to biodegrade.

Eco-disposables are a better option than normal disposables as they are much friendlier to the environment. They break down quicker give off less methane. However, there are a few eco nappies out there and some may not be as good as others. They are also more expensive than normal disposables.

We use Naty Eco nappies at home. So far, we have had very few leaks, they are super absorbent and Oak never complains and so far after four months, not a bit of nappy rash (yet!).

Disclaimer: The nappy size guide above from Naty nappies.

Nappy changing is demanding, and you may feel frustrated some times because they might throw up two or three times which means you have to change their outfits two or three times. they might piss on you. If your unlucky they may even shit on you (always remember to wait a good ten minutes after hearing your baby do a poo before changing their nappy!). For their first few weeks they may hate having their nappy changed, usually because they are exposed and feel the cold and their only way of expressing being even slightly uncomfortable is to cry. Eventually, after a few weeks, you are gifted with your baby getting used to the routine of a nappy change. Like Oak they may even come to enjoy the time. That is why I like it. It gives me tome to bond with Oak, making stupid sounds to make him grin and blurt noises back at me.

These faces make it all worth it for me.

 

 

 

The Big Clean up

So, at about 5am Sarah had been taken into hospital to have some stitches put in by a surgeon. At about 10am I had to leave as we had an Ocado (weekly food shop) delivery on its way for 11am. So, after getting home with Sarah’s father and feeding Obi we sat down for a cup of tea. It was probably the most we have ever talked in one go. We are very different people and the fact we were both now father and grandfather was a great talking point. Both excited, both completely shattered.

Once the delivery arrived Sarah’s dad went back to the hospital to stay with Sarah until they had finished doing whatever it was hospitals do (little did we know that Sarah would not be leaving until after 10:30pm that day). So, I put the shopping away and started cleaning up the cups and dishes that had been left around. Then for the first time since getting home, I went upstairs…

Now, this will only really matter if you have had a home birth. If not, then you won’t have to deal with any mess at all, apart from poo (But that is something I will talk about next time). If you are having a home birth gents, understand that midwives and the like do not clear up your home for you. So you need to be prepared mentally that you going to see your Wife or partners faeces (not always, it didn’t happen to my wife) and quite a lot of blood, blood clots and placenta (a picture of our sons placenta has been added to the birth story blog if you want to see one).

…I was greeted with a smell of cold iron before I had even taken a step into the bathroom or bedroom. Sarah had lost roughly half a litre of blood during delivery of both oak and placenta. 500ml might not sound like much but if you were to take a 500ml bottle of water and tip it onto the floor, you would quickly see that it is a substantial (but not dangerous) amount of blood to lose.

Inside the bedroom, the tarp was still down on the floor with towels and medical towels (imagine very absorbent sanitary towels the size of a dish towel). On the bed was also towels and medical ones. All had a large quantity of blood on them. Most things got put into a bin liner and our home towels got put into a wash bag ready to see if they can be salvaged in the washing machine.

The birthing pool needed emptying so I started filling up the one ten litre bucket I had (we had two but the other was used by Sarah during labour when she couldn’t get to the loo…I’ll leave that to your imagination). At the fill line the birthing pool had roughly 600 litres of water so you can imagine, with a 10-litre bucket, filling, walking to the bath to empty, took a substantial amount of time when you are trying to be careful not to spill any. I think it took roughly two hours, maybe a little less. I was shattered at that point and went downstairs to made a cup of tea and finished the washing up.

Upstairs I pulled up the tarp after cleaning it up with a towel and rolled it up and took it downstairs. I then went to the toilet to take a piss. What I was greeted with when putting up the toilet seat was nothing short of a massacre (or a bloodbath, both are equally accurate). Sarah had given birth to the placenta over the toilet so anything else evacuated her body with it so it was a considerable amount of…..mess. So I got to work with my Eco cleaners! Toilet, beeday (however you spell it), sink and bath. None were spared the wrath of the Ecover spray!

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Our bed ready for Sarah to come home.

After I finished cleaning, I took a trip to the pub across the square for a cheeky pint. Within a few minutes half the square knew Oak had been born, so drinks all round!

I went back home and tried to get some sleep before Sarah came home however I had reached that point were sleep would not come. Sarah’s dad text me to let me know that they still did not know when they would be out of the hospital and this was perhaps 5pm.

 

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Grandad and Oak in hospital.

 

I cooked myself some beans and chips and started watching fellowship of the ring. I finished my food and went upstairs to finish tidying up the bedroom and went back over to the pub for a glass of port. By 9pm I was getting a little worried but Sarah’s dad let me know that they should be back by 10. Then that got pushed back until 10:30pm. Nearly 17 hours after her stitches where finished, Sarah walked through the door with Oak and her parents.

Sarah went upstairs to wash and I held Oak. He was so small and quiet. He had his eyes open and although I knew he could not see anything but a blur, I knew the contrasts of the cream walls and black beams were drawing his gaze. I made some tea for Sarah and me while her mother bathed her. Sarah’s father sat on the stairs due to feeling a little faint for not eating during the day or drinking that much so they left once Sarah was in bed.

I showered and got into bed with Sarah and Oak. He was staring at her, listening to her voice. Sarah had a little cry of happiness. His head was so small! Everything was small! We made a human and here he was.

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He fed a little. And for the first time in forty-eight hours I got some sleep.

An hour later I woke up and Sarah was still awake. So, I spent the next few hours rocking him to sleep so Sarah could get some rest. That was pretty much the first week in a nut shell, in the first seven days of Oaks life I worked out that I got roughly twelve hours sleep. But overall, Oak was a quite a peaceful baby who just wants to be held. He didn’t cry very much and before the first week was out, he had taken a trip to the pub!

 

The second minute, of the third hour, of the third day, of the third month.

The sound that erupted from my Sarah will stay with me forever. It was a guttural yelp of pain that simultaneously made my stomach twist and (im pretty sure) my heart to stop beating for a few seconds. This was my point of helplessness and the only one. I stood there and watched my wife out of the pool on all fours and there was nothing I could do.

I felt tears behind my eyes and my chest tightening.

And then I heard the midwife…

…….

Hold on a second! Let’s back it up a little shall we?

…….

Now, It is up to you as a couple to decide on where you have your birth. Sarah and I decided on a home birth as it reduced the stress of having to work out when we need to phone up a medical centre. It reduced stress by us not having to travel away from our home. It meant throughout Sarah’s labour, she would be in our house or bedroom, surrounded by our smells, surrounded by the lights around our fireplace, with our own music choice. Our wonderful Obi would be at our side if she wanted to be, and Sarah would have her own bed afterwards to cuddle up to our baby.

At home you are allocated two midwives. Once you call your local NHS hotline number that your midwife will give you, they get in contact with two midwives on call. They then call you when they are on their way from wherever they are. That can take 2 minutes, or it can take two hours.

19:50 02/03/17 – Just over seven hours until delivery.

Stage 1 labor

Sarah text me to ask what time i would be home. I had just got off the train so I text back saying about five minutes. Once through the door Sarah looked bright but a tad pensive. She had her phone out and was timing the space between Braxton hicks. Usually, over the previous few days there had been periods of an hour or two of Braxton hicks every ten to twenty minutes or so. These were between five and ten minutes. My presence must have had an immediate impact because the space between Braxton hicks reduced to roughly four minutes. It was at that point we realised that this was probably the real deal and we should let everyone know.

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20:20 – 02/03/17 – Just under seven hours until delivery.

I sent a text to Bryoni our Doula first. There was a bit of back and forth about how Sarah was doing. Surges were coming with intervals of just below four minutes and becoming more intense so we asked Bryoni to come to ours. In that time I started sending texts to our families letting them know that tonight may be the night.  Bryoni was with us within twenty minutes and I put the kettle on to make some tea.

Bryoni made Sarah feel at ease and within a few minutes she said it might be an idea that we call the midwives (generally, I believe, midwives want you to call when there are about two surges within ten minutes regularly. We were pushing three every ten minutes). The only reason we left it until that point was because Sarah was so calm. Her breathing was good. She was utilising all the skills she had learnt over the last nine months.

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21:00 – 02/03/17 – about six hours until delivery.

The phone call to the midwives last a few minutes as Sarah being calm was quite a negative thing as midwives have to interpret over the phone how labor is progressing. The only reason they sent out the midwives to us was because Sarah had two surges in a seven minute phone call. When your centre feels you need assistance from midwives, they will phone midwives on call around your local area. Before they leave they will give you a call to tell you they are on their way. For us, that took forty minutes before we got a phone call which made Sarah a little anxious. These particular times made it fantastic to have Bryoni around. Just having someone else there to keep Sarah calm and to rub her back during a surge was invaluable. Especially when I had to call the centre to see what was going on (forty minutes seemed like forever). One of our midwives was coming from Whitstable, so we presumed 20-25 minutes.

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About 20:20 I began texting the rest of the family to let them know that thing were actually happening and that Sarah was in Labor. Pretty sure no one slept that night.

22:30 – 02/03/17 – less than five hours until delivery.

Yeah you read that right. It took fifty minutes to reach Chilham from Whitstable. Knowing I can cycle that quicker made it feel worse. In that time anxiety was building for all of us. Bryoni and I had started filling the birthing pool as Sarahs surges had started to become quite intense and regularly between two and three minutes. Between us were able to keep Sarah in the right mindset and keep the pool filling to the correct temperature. By the time the midwife turned up we were more relieved than annoyed. It was just good to have some professional help now that Sarah was progressing rapidly. Roughly 10-15 minutes later our second midwife arrived.

They asked us a few questions about how Sarah was doing, took her blood pressure and jotted a few notes down. The surges were coming stronger and I could tell Sarah was physically exhausted by even this point. We had continually tried to make sure that Sarah was drinking water (with Science in Sport electrolyte tab) and eating whatever she could stomach (which ended up being a Jam sandwich). At every point Bryoni was there to reassure Sarah and make her feel at ease. We took turns in rubbing the base of her spine during surges and Bryoni would speak words into Sarah that would calm her.

23:30 – 02/03/17 – less than four hours until delivery.

Exhausted with the strength of her surges, Sarah asks if she can use the Birthing pool to the midwives and the midwives say it needs to be at 37 Degrees (We had it at 35.8C) I put the hot water on again to heat it up a little more while Bryoni assisted Sarah with words and rubbing her lower back. The midwives went downstairs and I made them a cup of tea. The temperature had got quite close to 37C So Bryoni helped her over to the pool. The change of scenery to Sarah and the warmth of the bath helps her relax a little and takes the edge of the feeling during surges. This part of Sarahs labour looking back seems to have just flown by with Sarah altering positions in the pool to help with how uncomfortable surges were becoming.

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01:55 – 03/03/17 – less than an hour until delivery.

Two hours disappeared in the birthing pool until things really began moving. Sarah asked for gas and air to help with how uncomfortable her surges were. During surges I could see the strength involved with what Sarah was having to go through. Those minute moments will remain some of the proudest I have of my wife. It was incredible to watch her.

Transition to stage 2 labor

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When Sarah asked for the gas and air, I felt a little down about it, as if we had failed in the idea of no pain relief, but that subsided pretty quickly when I realised that it was Sarahs body and I didn’t know what she was feeling. I also remembered that gas and air pretty much just takes the edge off and apart from smiling during the rest periods, Sarah could obviously still feel the surges.

After a couple of surges with gas and air Sarah was laughing. The midwives asked Sarah if they could do an examination again but Sarahs face was saying a definite ‘No’, but the midwives made a good job of saying that it’s in Sarahs best interest and that it may help her know where about she is in her labor (even though in our birthing plan it stated pretty plainly Sarah doesn’t want to know). Luckily, at about quarter past two, and the reason for Sarah to be laughing, was that Sarahs waters had broken in the pool. All the while, Bryoni was there to support Sarah and I, never leaving our side for anything.

02:20 – 03/03/17 – about forty minutes until delivery.

After realising that no examinations were required, the midwives started setting up for delivery. Sarah had begun bearing down during surges. My arms were round hers, her left hand gripping my left arm as the waves of the surges built up, and subsided and rested. Built up, and subsided and rested. The membrane that houses our baby had begun showing. (In case you want to know, it looks like pale seaweed floating in and around your Wife or partners foof) The midwives got their trusty mirror and flashlights out to have a good peak…..Bryoni also managed to get her hands on a flashlight. Not sure where from. But she then assisted the Midwives because from that point I did not leave Sarah, stroked her hair and back. And spoke words of encouragement to her.

02:40 – 03/03/17 – less than 25 minutes until delivery.

The midwives can see the top of our babies head. Sarah is exhausted. Yet the strength never fades her. Every time she bared down, I feel so amazed, so moved by how strong my wife is. She grits her teeth and growls each time, and each time Bryoni and the midwives say words of encouragement, praise and comfort. They are all amazing.

02:50 – 03/03/17 – less than 15 minutes until delivery.

After a few surges, the midwife checked the heartbeat of the baby. Our babies heart rate had dropped and the midwives told Sarah she needed to do some big pushes to help our baby out. They told her to breathe. She bared down and pushed with all her might. But our baby only budged a little. The midwife checked the heart rate again and we hear a strong, normal heart rate on the monitor. Sarah carried on her big pushes for a couple more surges. No movement. So the midwife checked the heart rate again. We heard a slow thudding and the midwife told Sarah that they needed to get her out of the pool for delivery. There was no questioning at that point and we just followed orders.

02:58 – 03/03/17 – Less than five minutes until delivery.

Sarah had a surge roughly the same time she got out of the pool. Then, about two minutes after she touched the floor. She had another. She was on all fours and I was stood by the bed pretty much paralysed. There was nothing I could do. There wasn’t enough room for me to be close to Sarah. Bryoni was stood next to me on my left and then I heard something that still makes my heart skip when I think about it….

03:02 – 03/03/17

The sound that erupted from my Sarah will stay with me forever. It was a guttural yelp of pain that simultaneously made my stomach twist and (I am pretty sure) my heart to stop beating for a few seconds. This was my point of helplessness and the only one. I stood there and watched my wife out of the pool on all fours and there was nothing I could do.

I felt tears behind my eyes and my chest tightening.

And then I heard the midwife…

“The head is out”……

(now gents, I will warn your here that there can be quite a substantial amount of blood involved. There are unfortunately, or fortunately for some, no pictures of our bed or floor during and after delivery. But to some it can look like a great deal but you need not worry yourselves unless midwives are literally swabbing and calling ambulances. Everything is normal. Blood, shit, sweat and piss. It can all happen here. So don’t be a fool, be prepared. This is where your wife or partner will need you to be your strongest. This is the hardest part for most men. We are not used to helplessness, but it hits us head on none the less. Fight it, control your breathing. Deep,in through your nose, slowly out through your mouth. Again. Focus on your breathe. Your baby is coming….)

Immediate relief followed those words I heard. Sarahs face showed a quiet disbelief that suddenly a huge milestone has been reached. A single minute later our baby calmly slid into the world safe and sound in our bedroom. The midwives I am told are unwrapping our baby from his umbilical cord. They threaded our baby through Sarahs legs for her to hold and covered it with a towel and gave our baby a quick rub down. Sarah face was a picture of delight, relief, love, just a picture of more emotions than I can put down here.

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She was amazing.

The lead midwife asks the time. I looked at my watch.

03:03

The third minute of the third hour of the third day of the third month.

“what is it? What do we have?” asked Sarah.

He’s a Boy! He’s our Oak! And he is. He made a little whimper after the towel rub. But then all was quiet. All he did was open his eyes and look at this strange new world of his.

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Stage 3 labor

What?! yeah boys that’s right. The birth of your child isn’t the end. After a few minutes I cut the cord. Now your babies life support machine has to be born (or ejected). Now this can take a few minutes if your Wife or partner wants it to be induced, or it can take about an hour if born naturally. We opted to birth it naturally, which Sarah did in our toilet.

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She collapsed in the doorway after for a few minutes because of blood loss. The midwives and Bryoni helped her stand and walked her to our bed so they could examine her. The lead midwife said that the tear that Oaks head had caused was a little too much for her skills and we would have to go to hospital for a surgeon to sort out.

Cutting that part of the story short. We got there about 05:30.The surgeon did a magnificent job at 07:30. I came home with Sarahs dad at 10:00 because we had an Ocado delivery coming (figures). But it did mean I could clean up the toilet and bedroom before Sarah came home. Sarah was kept in hospital for way longer than needed and didn’t come home after surgery until 22:30 that evening.

And that’s where the real stories of fatherhood can begin….

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A Lesson in Labor.

I thought I would write this so you guys knew what your Wife or partner would be going through during labour. Most of us have no idea and will obviously never feel what labour will be like. Some guys will say stupid things like, it can’t possibly be as bad as being kicked in the nuts! And well, while technically accurate. Being kicked in the balls is an acute pain that’s extremely painful followed by stomach, bowel and chest pain thanks to our vagus nerve going crazy…and then its over in a few minutes.

After speaking to many women, the consensus is that in the beginning of labour, the physical feeling is quite similar to a Braxton hicks (which is your wife’s body’s way of preparing for childbirth. She may have felt these from the second trimester), period pain and pressure around her pelvis or lower back.

Braxton hicks can be minor, mild or intense cramps where the muscles of the uterus contract for around a minute. In later stages of pregnancy you will be able to feel and see braxton hicks contractions for yourself, the front of your wife or partners abdomen will go hard and and sometimes contorted.

Dehydration can bring on braxton hicks as well as a full bladder, but there can’t be enough said about making sure your wife or partner is hydrated properly throughout pregnancy.

Contractions (or surges) are more prominent than Braxton hicks because they are more regular. Labor contractions happen when your Wife or partner produces a surge of oxytocin (which is why around due dates, a quiet night in with a happy film, good food and a quick fumble can bring on labor).

Labor surges are more feel more intense and there can be a sense of pressure in the back and a tightening sensation around the uterus. Each surge lasts around a minute and during that time what would feel like a wave of pressure gets stronger, once the surge ends, the pressure ends and your wife is able to relax a little.

to put that in perspective for you, imagine doing a weighted squat and holding the squat for a minute while engaging your abs for the full minute. do it if you want. Then relax for Three minutes, then do again for the minute. Then rest for three. And repeat, except every 20 minutes add 2kg. And do that for eight hours.

basically your wife’s body it contracting a huge set of muscles for a very long time. The upper part of the uterus contracts to push baby down whilst the muscles around the baby essentially ripple down and the muscles around the cervix loosen to allow baby to move through the birth canal. (just a note, all this can be done without pushing. Pushing may make labor more uncomfortable but it may move quicker)

generally the closer the baby gets to being born, the more uncomfortable each surge will be.

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If you remember back on the blog about pain, we learnt about how pain is subjecting, and the production of cortisol in the body can cause psychological pain to be experienced physically. So how you speak and act around your Wife or partner during surges is very important. Calmness is the way forward. Slower, deeper speech and slow, full, deep breaths are important for reducing stress.

The next piece will talk your the the physiology of labor and the uterus in detail. You can skip if you want. But its pretty awesome.

 

Physiology of the Uterus and Labor

The uterine wall is composed of 3 layers:
internal – myometrium (2 muscle layers) – endometrium – next inner layer
external – epithelial (skin)
The 2 muscle layers of the myometrium are fibers going in different directions and forming a protective web.
The INNER layer is circular and is perpendicular to the long axis. Spirals UP around the body of the uterus.
The OUTER layer runs parallel to the longitudinal axis.
Most of the muscle cells in the (skeletal) body are striated muscle cells.
The uterus and heart are smooth muscle cells. They are arranged in bundles of 10-15 cells in a matrix of connective tissue and collagen – NOT piled upon each other, but rather are in a wash of elastic-type tissue. This matrix transmits the forces of the contractions.
The myometrial cell contains myocin & actin. The myocin heads must attach to the actin, which is spiraled. Once attached, as the actin spirals, it pulls the myocin. Then releases, relaxes, until the next contraction.
Each myometrial cell makes a change (during labor) – EACH CELL contracts & becomes progressively tenser & shorter. The shape of the uterus eventually changes, bunching up on top.
If the uterus stayed a spherical object, the pressures of contractions would be distributed evenly; instead the fundus elongates > ovoid shape > heavier pressure to midpoint; the lower segment actually has very little pressure. The cervix itself is not conducting any contractions, it is reacting to them. The fundus (top segment of the uterus) has the heavier distribution of myometrium & smooth muscle cells, vs. the cervix, which is more connective tissue and collagen.
A normal contraction spreads downward within 15 seconds from the fundus to the cervix – she feels it AFTER the initiation. The actual contraction lasts longer than her subjective experience of it (or palpation or TOCO), and the interval space is shorter (which is why 2 min. apart contractions are hyperstimulation). Contractions exert slow pull, without rebound – they do not return to full resting tonus. The myometrial cells STAY FORESHORTENED in teeny increments. They never go back, they get shorter & shorter.

What causes Labor?
Connective tissue and collagen are easily influenced by hormones
Chemicals ATP & ADP increase at term & are causative to contractions.
The cervix is 85-90% connective tissue covered by a thin layer of smooth muscle. Collagen fibers keep the cervix firm; they decrease at the end of pregnancy, known as softening. Myometrial contractions (labor) have little effect on cervical ripening. Ripening takes place BEFORE contractions occur. Most women will begin labor with a ripe cervix due to hormonal changes – estradial, relaxin, prostaglandins, etc. No one really knows what starts/causes labor. Just theories, measurements.
We don’t know what makes labor start but for labor to occur we need the myocin and actin within the myometrial cells to start up, pull, slide over, shorten the cell, then relax it, never going back to its exact original size. Picture little heads attaching to a spiraling receptor site. Thousands of these produce an increase in bulk- like a bunching-up zipper.
In labor, we also need an increase in “gap junctions” – a nerve-conducted impulse. When the walls of 2 cells touch each other, the result is depolarization. The positive ions (sodium, calcium, potassium) are shoved inside & push the negative out. There must be positive & negative ions in the myometrial tissue at term (pre-term pregnancy has premature gap junctions).
Hormonal influences on initiation of labor must also be in place. The fetus, the membrane and the placenta all participate in producing hormones. Progesterone, which suppresses uterine responses in pregnancy, drops during labor. Even the fetal membranes hold less progesterone during labor. Of 16 prostaglandins (we don’t know all their functions), one of them increases calcium binding. Estrogen, which increases oxytocin receptors, rises at 34-35 weeks to a peak that remains though labor and aids in making gap junctions. The increase in estrogen also increases oxytocin receptors.
All these systems need to interplay for it to work.

Uterine Physiology & Second Stage
Once the uterus is drawn up & the cervix is gone, pressure is directly on the sacrum. Uterus is higher & denser at the fundus, pressure comes straight DOWN, not funneling to sides. A uterus can have enough force to deliver a baby. In second stage, the uterus exerts the primary effort; Mom the secondary effort. At full dilation all the power is concentrated in the fundus. Each muscle cell is shorter, but thick & strong. The pressure of contractions is only going DOWN = expulsive contractions. The fundus has no more cervix to work on.

The uterus may have a pacemaker (like the heart), capable of creating rhythmic contractions. We don’t know where yet but speculation is logical because to coordinate the upper pull of the uterus w/the lower, you must have a pacemaker.

(Adapted from a lecture by Virginia Jackson CNM)

The female body is amazing. And as the nurturer of your baby it should be literally worshipped by you.

Hopefully this has given you a short insight into what a woman and her body go through during labour, how it may feel and how communication can help her.

next up is our birth story….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding for the boy’s…

I will admit that when it comes to nutrition for new born babies, toddlers and older children, I am fairly militant. I do not believe babies should consume anything other than breast milk for at least a year. I believe if you cannot breastfeed, then donor milk should be sought out as soon as possible. that is not to say I do not think formula milk has its place, quite the contrary. I have seen miraculous things done when prescribed to premature infants due to the higher protein content and high fat content. But I stand by that there should be the only one way to obtain formula milk. Prescription.
As a Vegan I morally and ethically object to formula milk as a ‘choice’ for infants. I understand we live in a culture of choice and that must be accepted, but at the end of the day, human milk is made for humans.

A mothers milk is not only uniquely designed for your child, it constantly changes and adapts to your infants body and requirements. It is the most singularly bioactive food on the planet. Nothing comes close to what you infants body requires. Nothing, nadda. This isn’t some vegan verbal diarrhoea it is completely based in fact.
Therefore, like the post about pain, we are going to delve into the world of infant nutrition. I simply want to inform, and so by being informed you can discuss this topic with your Wife or partner should you need to. Your infants nutrition is the most important part of their development and therefore, you should know everything you can.
First we will take a look at formula milk and what ingredients are used to make it as well as what is in breast milk. We won’t look at individual parts of milk unless needed but collective components will be explained. We will briefly discuss the application of cows milk in infant human diet and development as well as adaptive donor milk application. Then we will talk about societal change and how the sexualisation of the female form (primarily breasts), bad communication and general lack of breastfeeding community around mothers has cause massive problems with communion and support among younger women.
Before we being, a few messages from formula companies:
Aptamil (leading brand) – Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breast milk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use the an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill.
SMA – Breast milk has so many benefits – most importantly it provides the right quality of protein, at the appropriate quantity.
For the first six months of your baby’s life, the benefits of breast milk are many, but it is the unique composition of nutrients in breast milk that make it the gold standard.
Cow & Gate – Cow and gates is word for word the same as Aptamil, but at the bottom of their main page in very small writing is “Breast milk is best for your baby. Follow-on milk should only be used as part of a mixed diet and not as a breast milk substitute before six months”.
So, from the companies saying their milk is a perfect substitute, they also say it isn’t as good and your infant should be breast fed. Food for thought.
In the following table Breast milk in its mature form has been broken down into individual components. On the right is a leading brand of liquid formula.

Just to consider, in the first few days of your babies life your wife or partners breasts will produce a thick yellowy substance called Colostrum. This has a different component makeup to transitional and mature makeup, its protein content is higher, and specifically contains a higher concentration of growth factors and components that strengthen your babies immune system. The breakdown of colostrum does not have a separate list since the components of that are still in the breast milk list.

Breast Milk Leading Formula brand (0-6 months)
Water Water
Carbohydrates (energy source) Skimmed milk
Lactose Carbohydrates (energy source)
Oligosaccharides (see below) lactose (from milk)
Carboxylic acid Galacto-oligosaccharide (from milk)
Alpha hydroxy acid Fructo-oligosaccharide
Proteins (building muscles and bones) Proteins (building muscles and bones)
Whey protein Whey protein concentrate (from milk)
Alpha-lactalbumin Fats
HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumour cells) Anhydrous Milk fat
Lactoferrin Rapeseed oil
Many antimicrobial factors (see below) Sunflower oil
Casein coconut oil
Serum albumin phospholipid (from egg)
Non-protein nitrogens Fish oil
Creatine Single cell oil
Creainine Amino Acids (the building blocks of proteins)
Urea Taurine
Uric acid L-Carnitine
Peptides (see below) Nucleotides (chemical compounds that are the structural units of RNA  and DNA)
Amino Acids (the building blocks of proteins) Uridine 5′-monophosphate sodium salt
Alanine Cytidine 5′-monophosphate
Arginine Adenosine 5′-monophosphate
Aspartate Inosine 5′-monophosphate sodium salt
Clycine Guanosine 5′-monophosphate sodium salt
Cystine Vitamins
Glutamate Vitamin C
Histidine Vitamin D3
Isoleucine Vitamin E
Leucine Vitamin B3
Lycine Vitamin B5
Methionine Folic Acid
Phenylalanine Riboflavin
Proline Vitamin B12
Serine Vitamin K
Taurine Vitamin B6
Theronine Bitamin B1
Tryptophan Minerals
Tyrosine Calcium
Valine Potassium
Carnitine (amino acid compound necessary to make use of fatty acids as an energy source) Choline
Nucleotides (chemical compounds that are the structural units of RNA  and DNA) Sodium
5’-Adenosine monophosphate (5”-AMP) Magnesium
3’:5’-Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (3’:5’-cyclic AMP) Iron
5’-Cy monophosphate (5’-CMP) Zinc
Cy diphosphate choline (CDP choline) Copper
Guanosine diphosphate (UDP) Manganese
Guanosine diphosphate – mannose Sweetners and non-essentials
3’- Uridine monophosphate (3’-UMP) Maltodextrin
5’-Uridine monophosphate (5’-UMP) Inositol
Uridine diphosphate (UDP) Soy lecithin (emulsifier)
Uridine diphosphate hexose (UDPH)
Uridine diphosphate-N-acetyl-hexosamine (UDPAH)
Uridine diphosphoglucuronic acid (UDPGA)
Several more novel nucleotides of the UDP type
Fats
Triglycerides
Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (important for brain development)
Arachidonic acid (AHA) (important for brain development)
Linoleic acid
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
Conjugated linoleic acid (Rumenic acid)
Free Fatty Acids
Monounsaturated fatty acids
Oleic acid
Palmitoleic acid
Heptadecenoic acid
Saturated fatty acids
Stearic
Palmitic acid
Lauric acid
Myristc acid
Phospholipids
Phosphatidylcholine
Phosphatydylethanolamine
Phosphatidylinositol
Lysophosphatidylcholine
Lysophosphatidylethanolamine
Plasmalogens
Sphingolipids
Sphingomyelin
Gangliosides
GM1
GM2
GM3
Glucosylceramide
Glycosphingolipids
Galactosylceramide
Lactosylceramide
Globotriaosylceramide (GB3)
Globoside (GB4)
Sterols
Squalene
Lanosterol
Dimethylsterol
Methosterol
Lathosterol
Desmosterol
Triacylglycerol
Cholesterol
7-dehydrocholesterol
campesterol
7-ketocholesterol
Sitosterol
β-lathosterol
Vitamin D metabolites
Steroid hormones
Vitamins
Vitamin A
Beta carotene
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B8 (Inositol)
Vitamin B12
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
a-Tocopherol
Vitamin K
Thiamine
Riboflavin
Niacin
Folic acid
Pantothenic acid
Minerals
Calcium
Sodium
Potassium
Iron
Zinc
Chloride
Phosphorus
Magnesium
Copper
Manganese
Iodine
Selenium
Choline
Sulpher
Chromium
Cobalt
Fluorine
Nickel
Metal
Molybdenum (essential element in many enzymes)
Growth Factors (aid in the maturation of the intestinal lining)
Cytokines
interleukin-1β (IL-1β)
IL-2
IL-4
IL-6
IL-8
IL-10
Granulocyte-colony s factor (G-CSF)
Macrophage-colony s factor (M-CSF)
Plateletderived growth factors (PDGF)
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)
Hepatocyte growth factor -α (HGF-α)
HGF-β
Tumor necrosis factor-α
Interferon-γ
Epithelial growth factor (EGF)
Transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α)
TGF β1
TGF-β2
Insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) (also known as somatomedin C)
Insulin-like growth factor- II
Nerve growth factor (NGF)
Erythropoietin
Peptides (combination of amino acids)
HMGF I (Human growth factor)
HMGF II
HMGF III
Cholecystokinin (CCK)
β-endorphins
Parathyroid hormone (PTH)
Parathyroid hormone-related pep (PTHrP)
β-defensin-1
Calcitonin
Gastrin
Motillin
Bombesin (gastric releasing pep also known as neuromedin B)
Neurotensin
Somatostatin
Hormones (chemical messengers that carry signals from one cell, or group of cells, to another via the blood)
Triiodothyronine (T3)
Thyroxine (T4)
Thyroid s hormone (TSH) (also known as thyrotropin)
Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH)
Prolactin
Oxytocin
Insulin
Thrombopoietin
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)
GRH
Leptin (aids in regulation of food intake)
Ghrelin (aids in regulation of food intake)
Feedback inhibitor of lactation (FIL)
Eicosanoids
Prostaglandins (enzymatically derived from fatty acids)
PG-E1
PG-E2
PG-F2
Leukotrienes
Thromboxanes
Prostacyclins
Enzymes (catalysts that support chemical reactions in the body)
Amylase
Arysulfatase
Catalase
Histaminase
Lipase
Lysozyme
PAF-acetylhydrolase
Phosphatase
Xanthine oxidase
Antiproteases (thought to bind themselves to macromolecules such as enzymes and as a result prevent allergic and anaphphylactic reactions)
a-1-an
a-2-an
Antimicrobial factors (are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects, such as bacteria and viruses)
Leukocytes (white blood cells)
Phagocytes
Basophils
Neutrophils
Eoisinophils
Macrophages
Lymphocytes
B lymphocytes (also known as B cells)
T lymphocytes (also known as C cells)
sIgA (Secretory immunoglobulin A) (the most important anti-infective factor)
IgA2
IgG
IgD
IgM
IgE
ComplementC1
ComplementC2
ComplementC3
ComplementC4
ComplementC5
ComplementC6
ComplementC7
ComplementC8
ComplementC9
Glycoproteins
Mucins (attach to bacteria and viruses to prevent them from clinging to mucosal tissues)
Lactadherin
Alpha-lactoglobulin
Alpha-2 macroglobulin
Lewis antigens
Ribonuclease
Heamagglutinin inhibitors
Bifidus Factor (increases growth of Lactobacillus bifidus – which is a good bacteria)
Lactoferrin (binds to iron which prevents harmful bacteria from using the iron to grow)
Lactoperoxidase
B12 binding protein (deprives microorganisms of vitamin B12)
Fibronectin (makes phagocytes more aggressive, minimizes inflammation and repairs damage caused by inflammation)
Oligosaccharides (more than 200 different kinds!)

Well that’s exhausting!

So, to state the obvious, there appears to be substantially more components in breast milk than formula. This I can’t imagine would be news to anyone.

So lets delve a little deeper. There are considerably more types of carbohydrates, fats and proteins found in breast milk and as you would imagine, specifically designed for human children.

In liquid form, formula milk contains skimmed milk (or skimmed milk powder for the powdered form of formula. This is because normal cows milk usually contains substantially more protein than human milk. This is because protein helps build muscle in mammals and cows need a lot of if to grow to a large size very quickly. So cows milk is processed so protein is reduced to give it the same(ish) amount of protein found in breast milk. The difference is breast milk contains more than just a couple of different proteins. It contains many active proteins and numerous amino acids to compliment your babies physical growth.

Human babies grow differently to other mammals in that our brains grow incredibly rapidly in our first three month, in fact by day 90, your babies brain should have doubled in size. For our brain to grow this fast, we need good sources of fats. Because most of the fats and fatty acids in breast milk cannot be replicated easily in a lab (if at all), in formula, cheap oils are used instead, from dairy, eggs and fish (note: omega 3 is found in the algae that fish eat, not naturally occurring in the fish) plus a few different other oils like palm and coconut oil to name a couple. Whilst in small quantities they are fine, drinking them as a substitute just isn’t going to cut it, and to process them down to powdered form is never going to be good. The more processed something is, the worse it is going to be for your body.

For all the cells in our bodies to replicate and grow we need energy, and the best thing for this is carbohydrates. Breast milk contains lactose, and oligosaccharides. Now as far as I am aware All Mammalian milk Contains lactose, however oligosaccharides are species specific. HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides) are only in human milk and cannot be synthesised. So formula has to rely on oligosaccharides from cows milk and fruit oligosaccharides. Human oligosaccharides, apart from helping the bacteria in his intestines and bowel, also play an significant role in the immune system development.

Just to show the power of human specific oligosaccharides, in mothers with HIV, mixed feeding has the highest transmission prevalence. Where as  exclusively breast fed babies do not contract The virus thanks to breast milk oligosaccharides containing Lewis antigen glycan which inhibit the transmission of HIV.

So we have touched on a few components that breast milk and formula have in common and their differences therein. But breast milk has a few tricks up its sleeve that sets itself so far apart from formula that it makes it seem ridiculous that its sold in supermarkets at all.

Breast milk for the first few days of your newborns life is called Colostrum. Colostrum, unlike mature breast milk is higher in proteins and antigens. It is designed specifically to boost and build your babies innate and active immune system. As well as introduce growth factors that allow your babies organs and systems to mature properly such as the vascular system and nervous system.

Breast milk also contains many hormones which your baby will not begin to produce on their own yet such as ghrelin and leptin. these two examples help regulate food intake by your child as well as energy regulation throughout their body. They uniquely allows your baby to know when they are full or hungry and this is something formula fed babies cannot do. The difference this makes can be substantial, as formula fed babies on average take in more calories than their bodies require since they do not know when they are full.

Apart from a naturally complete vitamin and mineral compliment rather than synthetic or processed ingredients, to top breast milk off as the most amazing food for your baby, it literally kills tumors. It has inhibitors that stop cancer cells reproducing. It also contains antiproteases that inhibit allergic and anaphylactic reactions, mucins that stop bacteria from sticking to mucous and makes the phagocytes more aggressive towards anything trying to invade your child body as well as reducing inflammation and aiding repair to physical injuries.

Breastfeeding reduces your wife or partners chances of ever getting breast cancer. Although I have only read briefs of that fact, I dont know enough about the reasons why to put it down here.

So there you have it. By all accounts that should be enough information on Breast milk for you and your wife or partner to discuss on how you would like to feed your child.

Now, some women cannot physically breastfeed. And although it is a very small percentage, it can happen, and that can be devastating to a new mother. In those circumstances formula or donor milk are your only choices and which direction you take is up to you. Donor milk is obtained from women who produce too much milk. this is Frozen and stored. Donor milk can now be obtained from mothered of different backgrounds, health, race and diet. Your views on whether you would use donor milk are yours though and everything should be open for discussion.
At the end of the day, any nutrition is good and as long as your baby is being fed, then your ln the right track, but if its being breast fed, then you are setting your baby up to a much healthier, happier future.

I would definitely recommend to your wife or partner no matter her circumstances to see a breastfeeding councillor and find a breastfeeding support group especially if she doesn’t have that kind of support from the women around her.

Generally, there is a growing problem among younger women not having the support required to breastfeed and many stop after a few days or weeks. Younger women usually feel insecure about other women looking at or touching their breasts to help newborns latch onto the nipple effectively. And if problems occur, there is no one to encourage, affirm or support.

The UK has the lowest breastfeeding figures.

Let that sink in for a few seconds.

A human baby should be breast fed at least six months and definitely up to twelve months. 24 months would be ideal, and the natural age for human children to wean is around four years. Society has taught you that that particular snippet of information is ridiculous. And yet, its true.

81% of women in the UK try breastfeeding. Just over 30% are still breastfeeding at six month. About 0.5% of babies are breastfed at or beyond a year.

Reasons for this are wide, but research shows that support is a factor, as well as the sexualisation of breasts meaning women feel anxious about breastfeeding in public. There are however movements that help empower women to feel less self-conscious and emboldened to know their bodies are designed to nurture and given their child the perfect nutrition.

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Poor communication can also play a key role in allowing a woman to breastfeed. Oxytocin is a hormone that reduces stress and helps people bond. In addition to this, it allows women to lactate and form a stronger bond with their babies. However, if the stress hormone cortisol is coursing through your wife or partners body, it inhibits the production of oxytocin, meaning lactation may not occur, which in turn causes stress and more cortisol, and the cycle continues. So, the way you communicate with her is incredibly important. Your very words can be immeasurably destructive or they may be powerful enough to enable her to breast feed. You must be the defender of her hormones. Her bulwark. Her shield to the stresses of everyday life. Men do not see the importance of their roles after childbirth let alone during it. This is one of those roles that no other can fill. You are the man. The defender. The guardian.

 

Ethically? Shop bought formula is made from cows milk dude. so unless what came out of your wife has four legs, hooves and makes a mooing sound, feeding with formula is pretty weird.

Breast is best. Always.

Know your Groups from your Classes

Right gents. I was going to include communication and choices but it looked like it would end up being longer than the post about pain, so I have incorporated the other two into future posts.

In this post I will give you a crash course on the options of groups and classes open to you both that will help you prepare for the main event of labour and everything after. At first the idea of classes will seem alien and like all things unknown, unwelcome. But trust me, if you are new to the pregnancy game, you are truly unprepared.

Classes are not just brilliantly educational. Attending them with your Wife or partner will also make you appear more attractive. That’s right, taking an active role in your Wife or partners journey will show her you mean business. Now that’s manly. So be a man. Be proud. Your journey with your son or daughter starts right now, months before they have even entered the world. What makes this even better, is it enables you to start having a relationship with your baby before he or she is even born. And to top off the cake, your relationship with your Wife or partner will be closer and stronger.

Antenatal Classes

The NHS offer free Antenatal classes or there are NCT (National Childbirth Trust) Classes around the UK that may charge a small fee.

these classes will generally teach the following:

  • what happens in labour
  • coping with labour pain and different kinds of pain relief
  • exercising after pregnancy
  • your feelings about the birth
  • your feelings about becoming a new parent
  • caring for you baby
  • feeding you baby

Discuss with your Wife or partner if you want to do an NHS course or NCT course as it may be beneficial to you

Sarah and I did not do either NCT or NHS course as we discovered a different type of course which suited us much better. Everyone is different.) enough.

Breastfeeding Groups

You will not need to go to this for obvious reasons but it would be important for your Wife or partner to attend even before baby arrives as it will allow her to meet other new mums/soon to be mums and veterans of motherhood. Community is an incredibly important aspect of breastfeeding as it enables women to help each other when they find feeding hard as Sarah did. Lack of Community around breastfeeding is probably the prime factor into why breastfeeding numbers are so low in the UK (one of the lowest in the world) so these classes are invaluable if you plan on breastfeeding.

Sarah attends a breastfeeding support group. It enables her to have a community around her and she always comes home happier and informed with stories to tell.

Home birth support groups

Self explanatory really. Home birthing is becoming popular again after a few decades of neglect. I you have a low risk pregnancy then Home birthing is just as safe if not safer than a hospital birth. The added benefits are being in the comfort of your own home which automatically make your labour calmer and therefor safer. Not having to worry when to travel to hospitals and run the risk of being turned away because you haven’t progressed enough. Not having to resort to hospital food. And of course ‘you’ my friend. Having a birth at home will give you an important role which will help you stay at ease and feel more empowered. These groups give you more information on home birthing and you will meet other parents who are either already having a home birth, couples who are thinking about it and want more information and couples who have had home births and are helping by letting you know as much information as they can about their experience.

We did not join a Home birthing support group as we had most of the information we needed from the Hypnobirthing course we did. However if we had known one was available we would have probably attended one.

Social parent groups (bumps and babies)

A social get together for parents and soon to be parents to chat and share experiences with each other. These are great at helping you build a support network especially after your baby is born.

We are lucky enough to have a good support system around us and know many couples with children, but we still may look into these classes.

Positive birthing classes

These classes are design to empower you in group sessions to have a positive birth. This will usually be a group that is inundated with positive birth stories by veteran mums. (There will most likely be at least one yoga teacher, for sure a hypnobirthing teacher, as well as lots of woven fabric clothing) It will feel quite hippyish to an outsider, but I guarantee that your Wife or partner and yourself will leave feeling energized. I absolutely recommend this to first time parents-to-be and anyone else.

Attended. Loved it. Contemplating starting a positive support group myself just because its so impactful.

Hypnobirthing and relaxation classes

Hypnobirthing is a mixture of pregnancy and labour education, self-hypnosis, relaxation techniques and empowerment. This is what Sarah and I chose as the course to do. We went with Kent Hypnobirthing which is run by an awesome mother called Ray.

A quick disclaimer, hypnosis is not the bullshit you see on television where someone waves a watch in front of your face or makes you fall asleep. It is about taking relaxation and breathing to a new level, relaxing to the point where the mind becomes susceptible to suggestion, which is why it is so good at helping reduce pain in labour. Its also why you as the Husband or partner are so important as your voice will be something that help ground your Wife or partner during intense moments in labour.

After the first scan, we went to ‘The Yard’ in Faversham for lunch (which is flipping fantastic by the way). Just before we left, Sarah went to the loo and picked up a card for hypnobirthing from the wall. I can’t remember of it was for Kent hypnobirthing or not but Sarah had heard of hypnobirthing before and she start doing her research.

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We found out that Kent Hypnobirthing was putting on a free taster session at Macknade Fine Foods near Faversham (It’s a farm shop and a dream come true for anyone that likes fruit and veg). So we booked up. We met three other couples and it lasted roughly three to four hours. In that time I learnt more about pregnancy and labour than I ever thought possible. It was brilliant. We signed up to the full two day course then and there without hesitation.

In the full course (which was approximately 16 hours) we looked at Labour in other mammals and why as humans we have taken something natural and wonderful and turned it into something cold and alien. We looked at the history of home birthing. Some basic science behind labour. We learnt relaxation techniques, self-hypnosis, breathing techniques, building birth plans, and instilled positivist at every turn. We also had a laugh as well.

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I could not recommend Hypnobirthing more highly to any couple. Even if you are having your baby in a hospital. Hypnobirthing helps you learn that even if your birth does not follow your birth plan, it is still the outcome that is important and reaching that outcome is the goal no matter what hoops you end up jumping through to get there. If there is a hypnobirthing course near you and you can afford to do it. Don’t hesitate, you won’t be disappointed. And at the very least, get in contact with the person who runs the course as they may be able to at the very least give you some advice.

The best thing about the course was that it made Sarah and I closer. We now talk and touch more than we used to. Which is really helpful to Sarah and makes me feel like a better Husband which is really empowering.

 

Next time we will be learning about the magical world of Breastfeeding.