breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting, weaning from the breast

Is your baby on a nursing strike?

Babies are known to fool mums into thinking they are weaning from the breast.

The truth however is that between 3-5 months, babies can suddenly stop nursing and refuse to do so. That, is called a nursing strike! A nursing strike means that a baby will refuse to take the breast for a period of approximately 5-6 days. There are various reasons why they do that.

  • A cold or stuffy nose, which makes breathing difficult while nursing
  • An ear infection, which causes pressure or pain while sucking and swallowing
  • Discomfort from teething, a cold sore, or an infection (such as thrush)
  • A fever or a heat wave that makes bodily closeness less appealing
  • A newfound preference for bottles (if your child is given frequent bottles, they may like the faster milk flow, or be reacting to a reduction in Mother’s milk supply)
  • A major disruption in routine, such as moving or your returning to work after a maternity leave
  • Reduced milk supply – if you’ve been stressed out, your supply may be reduced
  • A change in the taste of mother’s milk, caused by the resumption of your periods, spicy or unusual foods, a vitamin or drug, or a new pregnancy
  • A new deodorant, soap, or perfume applied on or near the breasts
  • Strong let-down – the milk may be letting down too quickly for Baby’s liking, which may make him frustrated and refuse to latch on
  • Poor nursing habits – at around four months, when a baby begins to realize life is happening around him while he nurses, he may be squirmy or position himself awkwardly at the breast
  • Too much to do – busy six- to nine-month-olds are easily distracted and often opt to “snack” at the breast over settling down for a full meal
  • And sometimes for no perceptible reason at all!

To say nursing strikes are trying is an understatement! It can be a very stressful period for both mum and child. This previous blog post on nursing strikes gives you more information on how to deal with it.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, parenting

Parenting through unconditional love

Love is the absence of judgement – Dalai Lama

We judge so easily – without even knowing!
Unconditional love, is to love someone no matter what. Parents, feel that for their children; that is, till everything is sparkling and beautiful. When the going gets tough, unconditional love becomes difficult and judgement the go to.

Odd as it may seem, misbehaving children are children who are afraid, their attachment not secure, who need unconditional love most. Yet, we start seeing through judgement: the naughty child, the disrespectful child and so forth.

How do we consistently bring unconditional love to our interactions?

Well, to learn to love unconditionally more consistently, we need to first love ourselves. When parenting is not happening the way we envisaged, it is good to look within us and see what is keeping us from growing into the persons we wish to be.

Parenting means healing ourselves so that our children can truly experience unconditional love, a love without judgement and grow into adults who can also love unconditionally without judgement.

There are different areas we can work on to do this and here I am listing a few easy steps you can take to start the process.

  1. Show compassion to yourself. Working on us is the quickest way to be able and bring change to our families. So when you start putting yourself down….the ‘you’re not good enough’ into the equation, stop and think of what you are good enough in. This of course should be extended to all eventually; but practice on yourself, and as you learn to love yourself more, and be more compassionate of your achievements and the still in progress achievements, doing it with the rest of the family will be easier.
  2. Jazz up your self-care. That’s right we are still working on us! When we are happy, healthy and not over stressed, we are able to give of our well being to the rest of the family. If we are not, we are giving without refilling and eventually the engine will stall. Self-care is much more than nutrition, hydration and movement. It involves sleep, time for ourselves, time for things we enjoy, time with friends and time to think. Learn more and by attending the workshop.
  3. Let go of perfection. We are not perfect period. When we strive for perfection we are not making the bar way too high for us but also for our children. It is much better to strive to love more everyday instead. When we start looking at ways to love more instead of how to be better we are releasing perfection and making way to presence and appreciation. Again start by being aware of how you talk to yourself, look at your goals and adjust these to show love instead of perfection. Remind yourself EVERYDAY when you start falling back into old habits that your aim is love.

Want to learn more? Join Conscious Parenting for weekly prompts starting next week to help you move forward.

breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

The Elimination diet

Most breastfeeding mothers can eat anything throughout their breastfeeding journey. However, exclusively breastfed babies can be intolerant or allergic to traces of proteins that enter mother’s milk.

The most common culprit is cow milk protein, however there are other known allergenic food. Like, tree nuts, nuts, soya, wheat, egg and fish. The best way for a mother to deal with an allergy is to find which food(s) are causing the reaction and eliminate it from her diet. This is called an elimination diet.

How does an elimination diet work?

As mentioned above, an elimination diet works by removing the allergenic food from your diet. This can be very challenging, especially when the allergen is cow’s milk protein, because this is found in many other things that we do not think of and/or given unusual names we are not aware of. When doing an elimination diet, it is recommended to work with a dietitian that can support you not just through this challenging time but by helping you find alternative options that keep you healthy.

When a baby is sensitive to some food, it is very likely your child can be sensitive to other allergens as well. This can be very overwhelming to a mother and can feel very confusing to know where to start. Therefore, consider keeping a diary – mainly for food.

Keeping a food diary can help to quickly understand what is the allergen your child is reacting to. In it, you write the foods you ate throughout any given day and next to it your baby’s reaction.

An example can be ate pasta with tomato sauce. Later baby had a blocked nose, rash, explosive nappy, irritable, couldn’t sleep well…..

Because, some allergens can be found ‘hidden’ in other products – especially when it comes to cow’s milk protein – it might be prudent to also add unusual reactions that you believe are not associated with the food. Example, certain cosmetics contain dairy which can cause a reaction to your infant.

A mother has 2 ways to go about an elimination diet.

  1. Eliminating one allergenic food at a time, wait approx 6-8 weeks and if little to no difference noted add another food group. Example you took offdairy, you saw improvement within 72 hours but baby still has reactions. So you move on to another allergen, normally soya and so on and so forth till you notice no more reactions.
  2. Eliminate all allergens from your diet straight away and once baby has settled start introducing one food group at a time and see if there is a reaction or not.

Why wait 6-8 weeks to make sure about an allergen?

While a food protein will leave the breast milk within 2 weeks,it can take another 4-6 weeks for the baby’s gut to heal. Hence one needs 6-8 weeks to make sure about an allergen.

Help for your elimination diet

  • Tips for Avoiding Your Allergen by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE)—a guide to help identify hidden allergens in several elimination diets including milk-free, egg-free, wheat-free, soy-free, shellfish/fish-free, and nut free diets.
  • Dairy Elimination Diet 2012 fact sheet on the Infant Proctocolitis website discusses the places to find hidden dairy and the unexpected names used labelling .
  • Soy Elimination Diet is another fact sheet on the Infant Proctocolitis website and includes a list of soy foods, ingredients and places soya can “hide”.

What is important to remember when your child is allergenic, is to take one day at a time. Making changes to your diet is never easy but it always the better choice for your baby. Also knowing that this will not be forever helps to minimize the overwhelm.

discipline, positive discipline, encouragement, family life, parenting

10 habits that strengthens attachment

Attachment is what makes parenting possible.

Without attachment parenting is practically impossible.
Yet, it is difficult sometimes to keep our attachment strong. There are days were we are not as emotionally available!

Research has shown that for every negativity we produce, we need 5 positive ones to cancel them! That can seem like a lot of work especially when there are so many other things to do. So instead, try maintain your attachment by a few easy habits that are easy to incorporate in your daily lives.

  1. Give 5 mins attention to your child(ren) upon waking through hugs and snuggles
  2. Sit with them during breakfast, give them a run through of the day and ask what they are looking most forward to.
  3. Write a note and put it in their lunchbox to find at school
  4. When your child expresses unhappiness over something acknowledge their feelings a simple I hear you goes a long way!
  5. Before they leave for school hug them and tell them to have a good day or have fun
  6. 5-10 minutes before your children get home from school take a few breaths and centre yourself. Make sure you are ready to greet them!
  7. Once you are all together again, make eye contact, smile and hug your children, ask them about their day and have a moment to slow down after a hectic morning.
  8. When your child talks, stop and listen. Give feedback so they know you are listening
  9. 15 mins of special time each day go a long way in feeling loved. Just listen to their stories, play a game or have a short walk
  10. Lie with them in bed for a few minutes -even when they are older.

It might seem like a tall order, but this doesn’t add much to your day and cultivating these habits will simply help smoothen your days with less fighting and more cooperation. What’s more it strengthens the attachment keeping your relationship intact throughout their childhood and beyond.

raw reality

Life can be harsh at times

Sometimes I feel I am in a fog

No matter what I do everything seems wrong.

The kids are angry and I don’t know why.

I try my best but it feels it is not enough.

I want to understand, but the fog does not lift.

Old patterns start running high again.

Disappointment, frustration and anger are welcomed back at home

Peace and joy and love have gone out of the door.

I wonder at myself. Looking drawn and tired and detached.

The face of motherhood no one wants to talk about, no one wants to see.

The face of motherhood hidden out of sight, out of fear of judgement.

book review

Hold on to your kids : chapter 2

Currently reading Hold on to your kids by Dr Gordon Neufeld & Gabor Mate! If you wish to read this book feel free to collect it from the lending library. The second chapter of this fascinating book is called Skewed Attachments, Subverted Instincts.

This chapter starts with the story of parents reaching out for help after their daughter, became suddenly very difficult to talk to, insolent, secretive. Non of the usual discipline methods were working and her mother felt used and abused. Here the author likens this to us adults having a partner who suddenly avoid us, talks in monosyllables, is irritable with us and generally acts strange. If we were to ask for advice from friends, he says, they will not ask us if we tried a time out or made the boundaries clear. It will be obvious from the start that this is a relationship problem and not a behavioural problem. Not only that, we will probably be told that it is likely our partner has an affair. Now this though does not occur to us when the relationship is between child and parent!

In our culture, peer relationships have come to compete with children’s attachments to adults. Quite innocently but with devastating effects, children are involved in attachment affairs with each other.

We are now asked what is attachment? The simple answer it seems is that without it we can do nothing! AND, because of the culture we are living in right now, we need to become aware – conscious- of attachment as it can’t be taken for granted that it will remain stable as in olden days. While for us adults, attachment can be said that it is the most important thing for us, for children it is an absolute need!

Attachment we are told is closely related to orienteering because like orienteering, if we get lost or something we get anxious and our top priority at this point will simply be to find our way. This happens to us also on a psychological level and children are not able to do it on their own – they need help- attachment is THAT help!

In page 19 we are told how the thing children fear most apart for physical harm is getting lost. Orienting voids is intolerable to the human brain. Parents are the best compass for children – or another adult. Yet, more and more children are now orbiting around each other instead of adults. That is quite a lot to take in! Reading it made me feel really afraid for our children, for society. Looking at it from this perspective, I could really see how this is one of the biggest challenges we will have to go through as parents. It is also very sad that not a lot of this is talked about and many of us will go through this without having an idea of what is wrong and why nothing is working.

Next we learn about the six ways of attaching…. if I look at this through the eyes of a positive discipline educator, I can see how this all adds up nicely to what I preach in my conscious discipline classes.

  1. Senses: because for the first 7 years using the senses is the most important part of development.
  2. Sameness: we can see this clearly in toddlerhood up to 7 years where imitation is at its peak.
  3. Belonging and loyalty: we all need to feel to belong. Unless there is that feeling, we are not happy and we can’t connect to the people we are near to.
  4. Significance: closely related to the above, unless we feel we matter to others, we feel disconnected from the world around us.
  5. Feeling: as humans, being shown love, kindness etc make us feel that we matter and belong.
  6. Being known: lastly, because we are being felt, because we matter and belong, we are open to let those people know us. We need to feel known!

Six ways of attaching but only one underlying drive for connection. If development is healthy, these six strands become interwoven into a strong rope of connection that can preserve closeness even under the most adverse of circumstances.

It continues to say, that those children that became peer oriented, tend to not develop in certain areas and this adds to the reasons why WE the parents need to matter more than peers. It shows us, how of children seduced away by peers will turn against us and look more towards their peers for anything they seek for attachment. This is also why, children tend to act aggressively towards parents when they become peer oriented.

It is simply an intuitive mechanism that we have. Only, the original purpose was to keep children close to parents; but when this attachment fails, it turns against us as they will want to keep close to their peers.

One needs to sit quietly after each chapter to understand what we have read and really come to grasp with it! What are your views? share to care?

family life, parenting

And just like that….he’s gone!

He clung to me in front of the school like a leech.

He held his beloved breast that never left him – even though he doesn’t breastfeed now it still gives him comfort.

He asked SOOOO many questions this morning…. is it only today I go to school? is it only (showing me 10 hands) this long I will stay? what will I do? will we do crafts? and just before he entered if I will wait for him outside the school. He asked them over and over seeing if there will be a different reply. Feeling anxious that now suddenly the day arrived.

I answered him as truthfully as I could….no you go to school every day like your siblings now. You will stay more than 10 mins but once you start enjoying yourself it will seem like 10 mins only there. It will be probably similar to my school…story, circle time, crafts, baking. yes you will do crafts. No I will not wait outside the school but I will always come back for you. Everything seemed to satisfy him except what will I do…so than it occurred to me. It will be a surprise. Everything you do today is a surprise. That he liked – the unknown is a surprise.

Then the door opened.

I put on his bag and gave him a hug and said good bye and he just walked in….no looking back!