My Breastfeeding Experience - Ductal Thrush

If you've read my previous breastfeeding experience posts you could be forgiven for thinking that breastfeeding as a whole has been the worst thing I've ever done. Hands down, it's been the most draining, tiring, commitment and determination requiring, and at times, painful, thing I've done but I promise it's not as bad as these posts perhaps make out.
 
I will write a positive breastfeeding post soon, I promise.

 
 
These days, breastfeeding for me is just a normal part of my day. A massive part, because it takes up hours and hours of my awake time. I've managed to get Quinn in to a routine of feeding about every two hours - but please bear in mind that she very very rarely sleeps in between those feeds so it feels constant to be honest. However I don't really think about it that much, it's just feeding the baby after all.
 
However - Quinn's latch is still shocking. A baby should open it's mouth super wide as it approaches the breast, and get a big mouth full of soft boob tissue in the mouth, basically - baby's lips and Mum's nipple should never meet. Someone tell this to Quinn. This is, in part, the legacy left behind by her tongue-tie, but she also has an upper lip tie, which means her top lip is connected to her top gum by a flap of skin that descends to where, eventually, her teeth will be, so she can't curl her lip up. There's not a lot you can do for a lip tie (they're only surgically altered in quite extreme cases) but it does effect her latch somewhat.
 
Good news is - breastfeeding, on a typical day, is no longer the eye watering, painful experience that it was. Bad news - the latch issues mean that I'm more prone to blocked milk ducts and mastitis, and pretty much have to accept this as my fate if I want to continue feeding. I've tried everything to correct Quinn's latch but she genuinely can't feed comfortably in any other way so I've had to just let her get on with it.
 
I'm so used to this now that on days when I notice a lump forming under my skin I immediately get a hot compress on it, massage (from the lump towards my nipple in long, firm strokes) and feed like crazy on that side to shift the blockage. This usually works a treat and I avoid infection setting in and mastitis developing.
 
But there is something worse than mastitis. So, so much worse. Boob thrush. The top reasons that people stop breastfeeding are as follows:
 
  1. perception that baby is unsatisfied/supply issues
  2. cracked nipples/painful latch
  3. post natal depression and/or anxiety
  4. pain from thrush
  5. Mum's return to work
  6. baby has colic/reflux symptoms eased by a bottle
Blocked ducts and mastitis don't feature (horrific as they are) - but thrush is the No. 4 reason that people quit breastfeeding. The pain is like nothing else.
 
I asked some other breastfeeding Mum's to describe the pain of having a thrush infection in your nipple. Results below:
 
"like someone piercing, and re piercing, your nipple constantly with a shard of broken glass"
 
"like someone pushing a hot needle in to your boob through your nipple"
 
"like a gerbil is eating your boobs"
 
"like running your nipple across a cheese grater all day"
 
"like dying, probably."
 
So yeah, seems like I'm not alone in finding the whole thing overly horrific. The pain of thrush is a very sharp, ouchy, needle-like pain, but at the same time, persistent. It doesn't really go away but is worse during, and especially immediately after, feeding. The pain of blocked ducts and mastitis is more like a hot bruise so they're pretty easy to tell apart once you've experienced both.
 
Some of the symptoms to look out for if you think you might have thrush:
 
  • baby may have white lumpy or furry looking residue on tongue. Sometimes this can be milk - so check their tongue before, not after, a feed.
  • Pain as described above
  • Nipples looking particularly red, sore and shiny
  • Damage to the nipple - yeast infections find it easier to "get in" if your nipples are already cracked and sore - however - using nipple shields can make things worse unless you're absolutely militant about boiling the hell out of them after every use.
Because yeast infections pass from one person to another so easily, if you're suffering from thrush in your breasts then baby will need to be treated for oral thrush too.
 
Suffering from thrush does not mean that you're dirty, or even doing anything wrong. Almost all breastfeeding Mums will experience a bout of thrush at some point on their breastfeeding journey because the yeast thrives in warm, moist, sugary environments - your baby's mouth being absolutely ideal. Short of not feeding your baby, it's very difficult to stop them from developing oral thrush, and it then becomes almost inevitable that it'll spread to your nipple with regular feeding.
 
The normal treatment for oral and nipple thrush is a clotrimazole cream for Mum, which is applied to the nipple and surrounding areola after feeds, and a treatment for baby too. Initially Quinn was prescribed Nystatin which is an oral suspension (like Calpol) but I found this made no difference what so ever - and most Mum's I've spoken to had little or no success in treating their baby's oral thrush with Nystatin. A prescription for Daktarin gel seems more popular - which is what I've used to treat Quinn successfully. It's an orange flavoured gel which you rub on to their tongue, gums and roof of mouth with a clean finger. Daktarin gel can only be given to babies under 4 months with a prescription from the doctor - but after that, can be bought over the counter.
 
Sometimes, the thrush doesn't go away. And here's my experience of ductal thrush. If the yeast infection continues to spread in to the breast tissue it may eventually reach the milk ducts and set up home there. This is where the pain gets to pillow-biting levels. Yesterday I actually screamed when Quinn latched on - and I never felt pain like that even when my nipples were bleeding and red raw in the early breastfeeding days. This is grim.
 
Symptoms are still as above, but the pain is a lot more intense - like someone holding a red hot poker to your nipple, and the application of a cream won't touch it.
 
I've since been to the doctor and been prescribed a 14 day course of Fluconazole tablets which on Day 7 as I write this, still aren't making that much of a difference. Ductal thrush is extremely persistent and hard to shift, and thus is responsible for the end of many a breastfeeding journey.
 
If you're suffering from thrush, as well as sticking to your prescribed medications, there are others things to remember in order to get rid of the infection.
 
  • Boil all bottle teats, pacifiers/dummies, teethers, nipple shields and anything that baby puts in their mouth - where older babies are concerned this is pretty much everything. Your normal steriliser isn't enough and items need to be in boiling water for 10 minutes to kill of the thrush apparently.
  • Replace all bottle teats, dummies, teethers etc. weekly. This gets expensive. 
  • Change breast pads after every feed and either hot wash your reusables or use disposable liners until the infection is clear. I initially used my reusables but I wouldn't usually change them after every feed and it's hard to keep on top of, washing wise, so I'm just using disposable breast pads for the time being.
  • Wash all fabrics that come into contact with the nipple daily on a hot wash - bras, towels, clothes etc.
It is perfectly safe to breastfeed with thrush. If you feed less regularly as a result of the horrific pain (as I made the mistake of doing) you then put yourself at risk of blocked ducts and mastitis and believe me when I say, from experience, you don't want both at the same time - so feeding through it does kind of become your only option. However, if you express breast milk whilst you have thrush you need to feed it to baby straight away - as giving milk that was expressed whilst thrush was present, after the infection has cleared up, could reintroduce it (and freezing doesn't kill the thrush)
 
See a breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant if breastfeeding is painful or uncomfortable (access these via your SureStart Children's Centre or ask your health visitor for contact details). If you suspect that you're suffering from thrush see a pharmacist. If baby is under four months, or you'd rather get treatment on prescription, see your GP.
 
 

3 month body update

FFS. So by now these body updates should be about how I'm living some uber healthy lifestyle and working towards my pre-pregnancy figure. Reality? The other day I looked at a photograph on my Instagram from this time last year, where I'm a size 6 and taking photos of myself in a mirror, in a bikini, above several comments from people asking how I got such defined abs. I looked at the picture and then spooned an extra mound of sugar in to my coffee before sloping off to the sofa with a packet of chocolate digestives.
 
 
 
I want to be one of those women who's like "my body did amazing things and I'm proud of my soft belly". Here's the thing - my body did do amazing things, I had an incredible pregnancy which was one of the loveliest spiritual experiences of my life. I birthed my daughter on my own, on my knees, in my bedroom, without feeling any pain. I breastfeed her around the clock and she's now almost double her birth weight at 14 weeks. I'm proud of me. My body is awesome. My strength of mind, determination to do what I perceive to be the best thing for my children, and my ability to soldier on through the tiredness and the various boob-related illnesses, rocks. I still don't love the soft belly though.
 
This is also entirely self inflicted. Yes, it's normal to change shape during pregnancy. No, I didn't expect to be a size 6 with amazing abs again immediately after having a baby. What I did expect though was to have the motivation and desire to kick out the sugar and other processed crap from my diet, exercise more and start working towards something vaguely resembling good health. Fail.
 
So - this month's body update is more of a psych evaluation, because I can't work out why I'm being one of those annoying people that complains about their weight and does absolutely naff all to alter it. I know I've said this before (and you'd think that putting it out there on a public platform would work too), but this coming month, I absolutely have to shop and eat smarter because whilst I've just maintained weight since giving birth, I'm going to start gaining it at any moment, and I'm already uncomfortable.
 
At the moment I'm a size 12 - which I appreciate is by no means an unhealthy size to be. I'd ideally like to be closer to the size 10 mark by Christmas. I'm probably never going to be a size 6 again, I've had two children, I'm 28 next week - and I only got that slim because I was so stressed I was seconds away from spontaneous combustion, so it isn't really desirable anyway.
 
I've already established that my worst habits are; sitting down too much because I breastfeed for about 14 hours a day, having two sugars in coffee, eating biscuits for lunch, and failing miserably on the vegetable front. This is basic health common sense and I'm usually so hot on this stuff, that I'm genuinely pissed off with myself!
 
I'm currently trying to decide whether to do the old "too small dress technique", i.e buy myself a nice dress for Christmas in a size too small and torture myself until it fits... there are probably 101 reasons why this is completely ill advised.
 
I'm 99% sure it's totally normal to feel like this a few months after having a baby. I always think, in scenarios like this "if this were my best friend's problem, what would I say?" - and I know I'd be a fountain of reassurance and positivity so I should really throw some of that kindness in my own direction... but still... I think I might have back fat.
 

Baby Massage & The Blissful Baby Box from Natalia Vital Touch

Initially, I was pretty sure that I had a baby who hated massage. Boyfriend was really keen to practice baby massage with Quinn - especially as she's breastfed so his bonding opportunities are kind of limited to cuddles when she isn't hungry - and changing the occasional nappy! To our dismay though, despite the hundreds of benefits to baby - Quinn would just scream through any attempt at massage, regardless of whether it was me of her Daddy taking part.
 
Quinn sees a chiropractor regularly, is in brilliant health, and it wasn't an "in pain" cry so much as a "get off of me, that's gross" cry - so I'd pretty much given up, and looked woefully at the coconut oil that sat beside my bed.
 
However - we've now found that if we massage Quinn during the day - basically when it's really inconvenient for us - she loves it! Bedtime/after bath massage isn't her thing, in fact there's a really narrow window of opportunity in between her letting her last feed go down, but before she's getting hungry for the next one, when she isn't tired, and in relatively high spirits - late morning is a good bet. This sort of goes against my vision of a bath/massage/feed/bed routine in the evenings but at least she, and I, are benefitting from the baby massage time. It doesn't really help with the bonding with Daddy thing either, as he works six days a week ordinarily, but ho-hum.
 
We're now starting a baby massage course at our local SureStart Children's Centre - which I'll report back on in a few weeks, just so that I can hone my skills a bit.
 
My favourite baby massage products at the moment are from Natalia, by Vital Touch, who I've mentioned a couple of times on the blog before (I used their products during my super incredible labour and birth). Vital Touch were kind enough to send Quinn and I their "Blissful Baby Box", which, like the "Labour and Birth Box", contains specially selected gorgeous, organic products, as well as an organic cotton wash cloth. I was particularly excited about the flannel to be honest because I love the one from my Labour and Birth Box, and haven't been able to find a wash cloth that soft anywhere else, so now I have two!
 
 
 
Also in the Blissful Baby Box, new families receive a bottle of organic sunflower massage oil - which is recommended by all baby massage practitioners. It doesn't smell as lovely as coconut oil (it basically doesn't smell at all) but it is absorbed into the skin without leaving too much grease - as long as you don't use too much, and it warms really nicely in your hands. The course that I'm attending at the Children's Centre provide sunflower oil for massage, but it isn't organic - so I'm being that parent and taking my own. The box also contains a useful book on baby massage tips and techniques, which is great if you're just going to practice baby massage at home and want to know baby's getting the most from it.
 
The real stars in this gift box though, and the products I'd definitely buy again and again, are the balms. You receive two balms in little glass jars and initially they seem like tiny trial-sized products, but believe me when I say - a little goes a long way. I use the Baby Special Skin Balm on everything at the moment. Quinn is a very chubby baby, and as such she has all sorts of rolls and folds - which means she's somewhat prone to getting red sore bits if she sweats or if I don't completely dry her properly after a bath. The Special Skin Balm soothes any red, inflamed looking skin in a single application - it's miracle stuff - I'm obsessed. Boyfriend made an attempt to saw off his leg at work the other week (he's fine, he went through his trousers but only sliced into his thigh and didn't do any proper damage) and he's been pinching Quinn's balm to put on his healing wound. The Bottom Butter is very similar but has a different fragrance and is by far the most luxurious nappy cream I've used so far. All you need is to swirl your finger against the solid balm in the jar and swipe over baby's nappy area with each change, but the balm melts in to the skin beautifully and it still smell's lovely down there at the next change! We've tried out a few organic, natural nappy cream options (because there's nothing I detest quite like Sudocrem) and this, I have to say, is my favourite so far. It's also safe to use with cloth nappies (some nappy creams will effect the absorbency of your cloth nappies).
 
Last but not least, the Blissful Baby Box contains a 100ml glass bottle of Baby Top to Toe Wash. I don't tend to use huge amounts of these kind of products on Quinn, I've always thought it far more beneficial to her skin to wash her with warm water and then apply topical oils afterwards (not that she lets me) than to use soaps in the bath, however, as this Top to Toe Wash is oil based and all-natural, I've made an exception, and whilst I haven't noticed any difference to her skin - it certainly smells lovely and it makes her hair really fluffy - which is always nice!
 
The Blissful Baby Box retails for £32, which seems a lot at first but when you consider the typical shelf price of organic skincare products with top end ingredients - and consider the fact that you're buying four full-sized products (plus a wash cloth and book) - it's impressive value. The balms alone will last forever as you really do only need the tiniest amount to apply to baby, same goes for the massage oil - I can be a little gung-ho with the Top to Toe Wash because it just pours out of a relatively wide necked glass bottle so it's difficult to just use a tiny amount - it kind of glugs!
 
Still, a hugely positive review from Quinn and I - if for that gorgeous cotton flannel alone! If you're looking for a luxurious new baby gift for someone who places any importance on organic natural products - you're on to a winner with this one.
 
Check out Natalia Vital Touch's other gift boxes, with products carefully selected for pregnancy, birth, new Mums, and newborn babies.
 

12 Week Update

This post has been a little late coming, and all shall become clear very shortly - but getting content up on the blog in general recently has been a bit of a fail - so hopefully this post will explain all!
 
As promised, this will be the last in the series of weekly posts that I've put up tracking Quinn's progress and development, I genuinely don't think I can maintain a weekly post on the topic for the rest of the poor girl's life, so for the time being I'm going to drop it down to a monthly update post and group everything together.
 
I thought as the last of it's sort, I'd make this post a general overview of what life is like as Quinn's Mum right now, as much as a look back on the past week's events, which should make it a good place to leave before we pick up again in a months time.
 
 
 
Yesterday Quinn had her 12 week vaccinations, which included a second dose of the rotavirus vaccine (which is given as drops) but didn't include another of the new Meningitis B vaccinations - which was the one I think caused us a lot of grief at the 8 week lot. At 8 weeks the poor little mite screamed the flat down with a fever the evening of her jabs, and was generally really grotty and upset with them. I'm glad to say that our experience with the 12 week vaccinations was quite the opposite, other than an initial 10 second cry when the needle went in, she's been a pretty happy baby, with no sign of a fever or any poorliness - thank goodness!
 
We took Quinn to London for the first time last weekend, not that she'll remember that first visit. No baby-on-the-tube for us as it was the most beautiful crisp, sunny Autumn day so we parked on the edge of Battersea Park and walked in to Chelsea and South Kensington to take Seb to the Natural History Museum. Quinn was in her Cybex carrier though and appeared to have a perfectly lovely day!
 
The highlight of Quinn's week, if she were able to tell anyone, would have to be finally managing to purposefully grab her own foot. This doesn't sound very interesting, but she's been carefully, deliberately leaning forward in an attempt to touch her feet (which she finds fascinating) - only to miss by a mile and end up frustrated and upset. This week though, propped up against my knees whilst I was laying on the sofa, she managed to make a grab for her toes with success. I then popped a pen on her knees to see if she could pick it up, but her grip isn't there yet. She did reach forward and manage to bash the pen off of her legs though, so her hand to eye coordination and awareness of space and distance is improving.
 
She's brilliantly interactive now, able to follow people with her head and eyes, turn towards sounds or movement (if it's of interest) and wants to carefully study everything. She's also very vocal, as you'll know if you've caught any of my recent videos on instagram!
 
Seriously though - right now - being Quinn's primary carer is such hard work, compared to her brother when he was her age, she is incredibly demanding. On the one hand, she is breastfed, and like most breastfed babies, she feeds a lot more often than a formula fed baby. Yes; she sleeps relatively well at night, but during the day it can be normal for her to feed every 45 minutes to an hour some days - which makes it tough to get anything done. Her interest in the world around her, but comparably poor fine motor skills, means that when you're with her you need to constantly have the patience to show her everything, to let her watch everything, to stop and look at things, to pass different textures through her hands so that she can experience them because she can't touch them herself. It can be lovely, and it can be exhausting - because if you're not able to indulge her and encourage this curiosity - then she melts into a small ball of chubby rage. Whilst she's being held, spoken to, and allowed to look closely at every leaf, every person's face, every pattern on the upholstery of every chair - she's a very content, very happy baby though!
 
This enthusiasm for experience also means that she doesn't nap. At all. Not even for half an hour - presumably because she's worried about missing anything. Seb used to sleep for hours on end, whereas Quinn will occasionally nod off in her carrier (not the pushchair anymore, more on that in a minute) but otherwise, she is wide awake, and tired. She'll then finally go to sleep at about 8:30pm - having been up since before 7:00am. This is not what I'm used to and not conducive to a) getting any housework done b) preparing myself healthy meals c) pursuing my usual avenues of paid employment or d) blogging. For around 14 hours a day, I am on an unending cycle of breastfeeding and looking at stuff.
 
The pushchair has been made almost entirely redundant until I reconsider the carrycot structure. It doesn't lend itself to Quinn being able to see anything outside of the carrycot and as such, she is appalled by it's very existence. If I can get the seat unit to recline such that she is safe, but able to look around a bit more - I might have a solution, in the meantime, she goes everywhere in her carrier. The carrier is fine, I love baby-wearing so it isn't so much an issue, but she is insistent that the view be varied - i.e you can only stand still as long as it takes her to study her surroundings, once she's had a good look around, you need to move on. Standing still, be it in a shop, at a road crossing, to talk to anyone, to wait for her brother to come out of school etc. is simply not on. *Face Palm*
 
Added to the sheer work involved in keeping Quinn happy at the moment, is the fact that she isn't particularly fond of anybody. She likes her Dad, my best friend Sushi, and her brothers, but only if she's been fed recently. As soon as she begins to get slightly peckish (and that window of opportunity is very small) then she shouts at them. This does not lend itself very well to anyone actually helping me to get anything done, unless they do the thing that isn't dealing with the baby (fine for housework, not so much for blogging).
 
This all makes is sound bloody awful and it isn't, I have an incredible bond with Quinn, in part due to the fact that she's breastfed and probably largely down to her birth. She is extraordinary, her thirst for experience is amazing, she wants to take everything in, in infinite detail, she wants to see as much as can be seen and listen to every word everyone says - I'm pretty sure she'll be fiercely intelligent. I love spending time indulging this side of her nature because when Seb was her age he was always asleep!
 
Our weeks are relatively busy, whilst I'd like to be getting some stuff done for myself we are enjoying our usual breastfeeding support group, baby sensory, Sing and Sign, and local baby groups, as well as getting to spend time with our friends (by which, I mean people talking to me whilst I breastfeed!)
 
All in all I'm loving this baby experience and whilst it's the complete opposite of my experience with Seb, it's totally awesome, but tiring, so so tiring!
 
I keep feeling bad that I don't get to spend as much time on my relationship as I did before Quinn came along. It's pretty obvious that this would be the case, but because she is exclusively breastfed we don't have the opportunity to do the whole "date night" thing yet and leave her with anyone, and I'm not really sure that I'd want to anyway, it isn't really on my agenda this time around and when I see other people going out and leaving their babies it just makes me feel uncomfortable these days - despite the fact that I did it regularly when Seb was little! By the time Quinn goes to bed though, boyfriend and I usually eat, chat for a short while and crash into bed pretty early afterwards. Quinn's gone from sleeping until 5:30am to typically being up around 4, which takes far more of a toll! We're both tired and whilst we aren't arguing as a result or feeling any less close and in love, it's just difficult to make as much of a fuss of one another as we'd like, which makes me sad now and again - not to mention, Boyfriend is crazy busy with work.
 
Other than that though, it's business as usual. I had the wonderful news recently that my best friend Sushmita is expecting her first baby (she has two step children from her husband's first marriage) so I'm glad to be surrounded by pregnancy stuff again without actually being pregnant! It means Quinn will have a new little friend in six months time (insert excited squeal!)
 
We are coming out of the end of the dreaded 12 week developmental leap, or third Wonder Week - so keep an eye out for my upcoming post about that.

Review and Giveaway: Wonder Weeks Book

I recently shared my experience of the 8 week "developmental leap", which all babies experience at around the same age. The post got tonnes of views and several readers got in touch, really keen to find out more about when to expect their children to go through a significant developmental leap, what to expect, and how they could make it easier for their babies.
 
I've been reading and using the Wonder Weeks book by child behaviourists Hetty Van De Rijt and Frans X Plooij (name wins) as I'm a sucker for a proper, physical book - though the website and phone app are really useful too. The book is so insightful and goes in to great detail on each of the ten developmental leaps that absolutely every baby goes through. Each baby's experience of every developmental leap will differ, but thanks to the author's extensive research, we're now able to pinpoint when every baby will begin to embark upon a new leap, and can prepare.

 
 
I found the book fascinating, it really opened up a whole new world for me in being able to understand exactly how and what Quinn was learning, and how her different senses were responding to her environment.
 
For example, had I not read the Wonder Weeks book, I'd have been clueless as to why Quinn's sleep pattern suddenly went totally up the creek at 8 weeks, and might have put a lot of her behaviour down to her vaccinations. I wouldn't have realised how she was interacting with her toys either (it appears random and insignificant if you don't know what you're looking for!) and I certainly wouldn't have had as much confidence in her as I do now that I can understand exactly what skills she is mastering this week - it's such a source of reassurance, and also excitement!
 
As well as heaps of information on what changes are underway at each developmental leap, and what new skills your baby is acquiring, there's also a lot of content concerning what changes in behaviour to expect, how these might make you feel as a parent, and how to help your baby to deal with the daunting period, as well as what to expect "on the other side", and what toys to invest in to encourage your baby's development, by appealing to the new skills she's just gained.
 
The book also contains really useful tick sheets, which allow you to record changes in your baby's behaviour as each leap approaches, as well as the different signs of development as your baby begins to express them. I found this really useful in recognising exactly what Quinn's interested in at the moment, and the way in which she most likes to interact with the world around her.


 
I'm not a great one for reading parenting books because I don't like the idea of following a particular "method" of bringing up my children, however this isn't a parenting advice book, it's simply an exploration in to infant psychology and behaviour, and provides parents with some guidance on what a baby needs at their particular stage in development, which is more factual and evidence based than rising from any special school of thought.
 
It doesn't matter whether you breastfeed or not, babywear or not, co-sleep or not - this book doesn't adopt a bias for any particular parenting approach, which is refreshing, and the information contained is relevant to absolutely anyone with a baby under 20 months.
 
I was so impressed with Wonder Weeks, and I'm so happy recommending it to other new parents, that I have a new copy of Wonder Weeks in paperback to give away to one reader. This prize includes postage and packaging to any UK mainland address. Unfortunately whilst overseas readers are welcome to enter, they must be prepared to cover the cost of postage in the event that they win the competition.
 
It's incredibly easy to enter, all you have to do is "like" Mother Hen Blog on Facebook. You can also gain a cool five bonus entries by following me on Twitter, and another five just by tweeting about the competition!
 
Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter, you have until Friday 16th October, and the winner will be notified on Sunday 18th October.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
 
 
 
 

Week 11 Update

This week didn't get off to the greatest of starts - but I have to say it's only improved since! At this week's Baby Sensory class, Quinn decided to have a complete.and.utter.meltdown! Of all the weeks she'd choose to do this, it would, of course, be pirate week - when I had her dressed in the most adorable pirate outfit. We ended up having to miss the session as she was completely inconsolable, and I still have absolutely no idea what the matter was! As she isn't a crying baby ordinarily, it was completely out of character - the only time she's ever cried like that was after her 8 week vaccinations.
 
The rest of the week has been far more positive though, developmentally, Quinn's taken even more huge steps (not literally). She's completely mastered her head control now, and has moved on to wanting to sit up. Of course she's not able to sit unaided but propped up with some strategically placed cushions she's one happy little baba. Unfortunately when not propped up with strategically placed cushions she is desperately straining to pull herself in to an independent sitting position, which is becoming increasingly frustrating for her!
 
During one such sitting session she suddenly realised that she had feet this week. Cue the most adorable session of staring at them. She has a partial club foot on the right side which we're hoping either rights itself, or can be easily corrected when she's a little bit older, but what this does mean from her point of view though, is that she can very clearly see the sole of that foot. She spent ages just transfixed by it, slowly curling and uncurling her toes in amazement. Eventually, and inevitably, she tried to reach out and grab the foot, and missed. This has happened at least fifty odd times since and every time she is so annoyed with herself!
 
We're finally pretty much weaned off of Gaviscon for Quinn's silent reflux and *touch wood* I think we're in the clear with this one. She seems to be symptom free so I don't think we need a repeat prescription. I'm obviously very happy about this. However, what I'm less happy about, is Quinn's absolute refusal to nap during the day. I don't understand how a baby can function on no naps. She is sleeping every night from 8:30pm until 5:00am but once she's up, she is up. What's that about? Obviously I'm grateful for the shut eye at night, but it's rendered me absolutely useless to anyone during daylight hours and is leaving me kind of stressed, especially as I've got work piling up behind me!
 
We managed to get back along to the breastfeeding support group that we used to go to every week, I've missed a few for various reasons but it's such a lovely group, even though I no longer have any problems with breastfeeding, it's nice to go along just for the social.
 
I had Quinn weighed again yesterday and at 10 weeks and 6 days (let's call it 11 weeks shall we?) she weighs a whopping 14lbs and 4ozs! She's a monster! But a lovely, cuddly monster.
 
We finished off our week with a visit to the chiropractor. I wanted to make Quinn an appointment as now that she's mastered the head control, it's more important than ever to make sure she isn't carrying any uncomfortable tension in her spine. She was not a happy bunny after having a tight crick in her neck snapped out - but she certainly seems a lot happier now that it's been put right again!
 
 
 
Next week will be my last weekly baby update at 12 weeks, I'm then going to move over to monthly updates so that they don't get too repetitive!
 
Have a great week everyone!
 

What to expect from the "8 Week Leap"

At 11 weeks, Quinn is now clear of the 8 week developmental leap that effects all babies somewhere between 7.5 and 9.5 weeks after birth. Extensive studies in to baby behaviour have identified a number of key developmental leaps which all babies go through in order to understand their new world and gain the skills needed to thrive within it. Thanks to this research, child behaviourists (and in turn, parents and child carers) are able to identify when, within a matter of weeks, all babies will begin to show signs of further development.
 
One such developmental leap takes place at around 8 weeks and can render even the most contented and happy baby a crying, clingy mess until the isolated fussy stage has passed.

Incidentally, if anyone wonders how to spot a baby with oral thrush - Quinn had a particularly bad bout when this picture was taken as you can see from her tongue - if your baby has that white fuzzy stuff it's worth seeing your pharmacist for treatment.
 
 
Developmental leaps are usually identified by increased demands upon a baby's parents. Babies in the midst of a developmental leap will usually be less content in their own company, crying more, and wanting to be held or carried as much as possible. They'll usually feed more often or for longer periods of time, especially breastfed babies.
 
During the 8 week developmental leap it's common for a baby's sleeping pattern to go straight out of the window - during the leap Quinn was waking for night feeds at around 1:00am, and staying up later in the evenings, typically proving difficult to settle. Now that we're clear of the leap, she's returned to her previous routine of sleeping 8:30pm until 5:00am.
 
Often a baby's behaviour during the 8 week leap can be so at odds with their usual temperament, and so alarming, that parents are convinced that the baby is unwell, and often take them to the doctors or even emergency hospital departments. Obviously if you're ever worried about your baby you should seek appropriate attention, but more often than not, the 8-ish week old baby is  perfectly healthy - just screaming and fretful.
 
I'd recommend every parent download the Wonder Weeks app to their Smartphone, or visit the Wonder Weeks website to keep track of their baby's developmental leaps and prepare themselves for what's to come, the book is also excellent.
 
So what happens during the 8 week leap?

The 8 week leap is defined by the transition your baby goes through from the soft, fuzzy world of the newborn, where everything is in soft focus and they enjoy an existence that, in many ways, mimics their time spent in the womb, to being more sharply aware of their surroundings. During the leap a baby begins to recognise patterns in their environment, and basically, everything that they thought they knew, is thrown out of the proverbial window, and they're thrust in to a new, more overwhelming world where they notice the rows of tin cans on the shelves in the supermarket, or their own fingers, or the changing pitch in your voice as you're speaking to them. The world suddenly becomes both significantly more interesting, and significantly more terrifying, for the baby during this leap.

What will the baby do?

Well, on a positive note, the baby will become more "interactive" as they pick up on these patterns in the world around them. They'll become more interested in their surroundings, more fascinated by faces, they'll become somewhat self aware - realising that their limbs are actually their own, for example. You'll notice your baby making lots of strange, jerky robot moves - these aren't random spasms, but in fact your baby trying to make deliberate movements. Spatial awareness isn't great at this point, so the baby may have the urge to touch your face, but the action may equate to them flinging their arm hastily in completely the opposite direction - so it isn't always obvious exactly what they're trying to achieve! Your baby's head control should improve to allow them to take in more of their surroundings by looking about, and they may become more interested in toys dangling overhead, the sounds your baby makes may also seem more deliberate and more like "chatter" as they gain control of their vocal cords.

There's some bad news too though, this sudden sensory overload, as well as the acquisition of new skills, mean that babies will usually become more difficult as they go through the leap. Most babies cry more, become clingy, feed more often and wake more through the night. This is due to the increased brain activity and also, their need to hang on to the only familiar thing in a world which is suddenly unrecognisable - their Mum. In many cases we're not just talking an unsettled baby - we're talking a distraught and inconsolable baby - so prepare yourself, and try not to panic when it hits. Parents of colic-prone babies may feel that the colic symptoms have come back ten-fold.

What can you do?

Comfort and reassurance is key here. Your baby is bewildered, and probably a little scared, as well as incredibly over stimulated. Now is not the time to "train" your baby in any way, shape or form, cuddles are in order. Increased feeding may well be for "comfort", but this shouldn't be discouraged, if your baby feels soothed by being on the breast, then you can't harm them at all by letter them suckle, although be prepared to lose entire days to this as you may find they scream blue murder when they're removed from the familiarity of their "happy place". (N.B you're not suddenly suffering from a reduced supply of milk, there's nothing wrong with you, and your breastfed baby isn't unsatisfied. The boob is just their favourite place to be, so when times get tough, it's only natural that they want to be there all the time). Bottle fed babies may also demand more food as feeding is a positive experience for them in a world of brand new unfamiliar experiences. A dummy might help if they'll take one. Investing in some overhead toys that babies can look at, such as play gyms, mats with a toy arch overhead, or dangly things to hand from the hood of your pushchair or car seat are great, and keep talking to your baby at every given opportunity. When it's tough, remember that this will pass, all babies go through the same leap at around this time and they still love you!

What to expect during a Baby Sensory session

There are Baby Sensory franchises up and down the country, and wherever you are in the UK, there may well be Baby Sensory classes available nearby. To check where your nearest Baby Sensory branch is located, you can use the "Find a Class" feature on the main Baby Sensory website. There are even groups operating in Ireland and mainland Europe.
 
 
 
I've been taking Quinn to Baby Sensory classes in Broadstairs for several weeks now, and it's one of the regular highlights of our week. If you've been keen to find out more about what Baby Sensory actually is - I thought I'd share some insight in to what we get up to in a typical session.
 
If you have a baby under 13 months, Baby Sensory can be hugely beneficial to their development, can encourage your bond with your baby, and gives parents and carers an opportunity to meet and socialise with people who have children of a similar age. I can't recommend it highly enough - especially for those who might be a bit nervous about going along to a baby group on their own for the first time.
 
If the thought of turning up unannounced at a Mother & Baby group fills you with dread, taking your baby along to a more structured group like Baby Sensory might be a comfortable middle ground. Because the session takes on a "class" like format, where activities are undertaken as a group and under instruction from a class leader, there's no risk of you being left sat alone in a corner with nobody to talk to. During any lulls in the class, or specific time for socialising, the class leader is going to be keen to chat to you in order to get to know you and your baby, and groups are generally pretty small, so you'll always have someone to engage with.
 
Typically during a Baby Sensory class all parents and their baby sit around in a circle on the floor, this allows everyone to see the class leader clearly, as well as engage with one another. At the beginning of each class, all parents and the class leader sing the Baby Sensory "Hello Song". By singing the same song at the beginning of each class, the group enable the babies to recognise the tune, and associate it with the following hour of Baby Sensory - so as soon as they hear the Hello Song begin, they know what's to come. Don't worry if you're not a fabulous singer, you can sing as quietly as you want to to your baby. Of course you won't be expected to know all of the words, and whilst there are signs, or actions, throughout the song, you're not rehearsing for a great performance - and you only need to try and join in as best you can! Keep an eye on the class leader, who'll know all of the signs, and copy those that you can pick up easily, even if it's only waving every time you sing "Hello". After only a couple of sessions, Quinn's face lights up when she hears the music, as she knows she's about to get an hour of my undivided attention.
 
 
 
The first 20 minutes of each baby sensory class focusses on very short activities that encourage your baby's sensory development. Babies under 13 months have a huge scope for sensory learning, through sight, sound, touch and movement they're able to take in enormous amounts of information about the world around them, and every new experience creates a new pathway in their brain. The more pathways that are created, the better equipped a baby is to make sense of the world around them. Activities might include twinkling lights, or shiny reflective surfaces, or textured fabrics, as well as simple songs which incorporate baby-signing, a simplified mixture of British Sign Language and Makanon signing, which helps parents and young babies to communicate before language has developed fully. Even a newborn baby is constantly learning a huge amount, and will benefit from Baby Sensory sessions. Some of Quinn's favourite activities at Baby Sensory include listening to the sounds created by different musical instruments, or having different textured fabrics fed through her hands to enable her to experience and recognise the changes in texture from say, silk to fur. She's enjoyed these activities since she was around 6 weeks old but you could start, and benefit, even earlier.
 
The second 20 minutes of the session are dedicated to exploratory time. For older babies this is a great opportunity to escape the confines of the circle and to discover the toys and activities available elsewhere in the room. Smaller babies will usually benefit from a little tummy time at this interval, or, in Quinn's case, a good feed. If you're new to the group, the class leader will make a point of taking this opportunity to talk to you in more detail about how Baby Sensory will be benefitting you and your baby, and getting to know you both a little better. If you're a group regular, this is a nice opportunity to have a chat with the other parents in the group.
 
After this period of exploratory time, there'll be another 20 minutes of structured developmental activities, under instruction from the group leader, before the class wraps up the "Goodbye Song", which aims to relax the babies at the end of the session.
 
It's a lot for babies to take in - and they'll quite often have a long, heavy sleep after each session as their brains process all of the new information that they've taken in during the class.
 
There are a number of similar (ish) classes run all over the country, but Baby Sensory is "The Original" if you like, and I prefer to attend genuine BS classes simply because each session is based on extensive research into infant development. Rather than singing some songs in a circle or banging the occasional tambourine (great fun, don't get me wrong) - Baby Sensory classes have been especially and carefully developed on a foundation of in-depth understanding of how babies learn. The sessions are designed to be fun, very silly, and a great social opportunity for parents, but they're also scientifically proven to assist babies in their on-going development. The classes aren't free (expect to pay in the region of £5 per hour) - but I do believe it's very much a "get what you pay for" kind of deal. We also go to some lovely baby groups where we sit about and sing nursery rhymes and I enjoy those too, but Baby Sensory is special. Most Baby Sensory groups offer a first session free trial, so that you can go along and find out what happens in a session before you start paying to attend; if you do nothing else this week Baby Mamas, I urge you to check out your local Baby Sensory branch.
 
 
 

10 Week Update

Quinn is 10 weeks old today and I've loved this past week with her, her development has suddenly sped up and we're moving out of that one sided newborn stage where you seem to give, give, give to your baby and get nothing in return. She's now a regular smiler, a screecher, and chatterbox. She's well and truly fed up with laying in the carrycot of her pram and goes in the Cybex My.Go carrier on almost every outing. Now that she can hold her head up on her own, I've done away with the head support and she can now look about all over the place very confidently, so that's her favourite thing to do! Whilst she can't grasp anything, she's trying, and is swiping her hand at toys (or my face) in front of her in an attempt to touch them. She's also developed an awareness and interest in the cat (just the one, The Kitten doesn't go near her!) and this week alone she's had huge gummy grins for two of her three brothers, Daddy, and even Grandma - who she doesn't get to see as often as either would like.
 
I bought Quinn a bath seat this week as she's only ever had baths with me up until now. With the seat, she and Seb shared their first bath - and both loved it! I'm using Moogoo Mini Moo Bubbly Wash for their bubble bath, and washing Quinn with an organic cotton flannel and Baby Top To Toe Wash, both from Natalia by Vital Touch - I'll review both products in separate posts soon.
 
I took both little people at the weekend and hit the sales to get Quinn some 3-6 month clothes. I did end up buying more from the boy's sections than girl's though - as a rule I'm really uninspired by the baby girl's clothes in shops! Here's one of her adorable new outfits! It's from Tu at Sainsbury's.