Friday, 30 July 2010


Believe it or not, I've just been to a beer festival! Admittedly, I only had half a pint of mild, but it still feels quite liberating to be able to have a social life when you have an eight week old baby. How is this possible? My Moby sling.

The Moby is a type of wrap: a six metre long piece of material that you tie around yourself to create a baby carrier. It's slightly stretchy, which allows you to tie it first then slot the baby in, and although it looks complicated it's actually very straight forward - I can tie it and get Baby Badger in place inside 90 seconds!

I can't sing its praises enough. Baby Badger was born three weeks early and was underweight, so she couldn't be carried in a conventional carrier (and has only just become big enough to go in my husband's Baby Bjorn), but she was fine in the Moby. Putting her in the Moby is an almost guaranteed way of calming her and putting her to sleep; I guess it's almost like being back in the womb.

To find out more about slings and other types of carriers, look for your local slingmeet - they do demos of the different carriers and for a small deposit lend out slings so you can try before you buy.


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Alien Baby

While Baby Badger and I were in hospital for the second time, she received treatment for jaundice. She was only borderline for requiring treatment, but since we had been admitted for the weight problems the pediatrician thought she may as well deal with both issues at the same time.

Actually, it's all really one issue: here's my understanding of the whole thing (no guarantee of accuracy in the medical detail)... While in the womb your baby has extra red blood cells and once she's born these extra blood cells are broken down into bilirubin which is then processed by the liver. Jaundice occurs when the liver can't keep up with the bilirubin and it presents as a yellowing of the skin and eyes. It's quite common in newborn babies, and they generally sort themselves out in the first few weeks, but if they aren't feeding well it can be difficult for them to flush out the bilirubin. That was the case for Baby Badger.

The treatment was phototherapy using a biliblanket, pictured above. The biliblanket emits a particular frequency of ultra-violet light, which helps break down the bilirubin. That shows that there is some truth to the rumour that putting a jaundiced baby near a sunny window helps clear the jaundice; in fact that's what the community midwife had recommended I did to Baby Badger when we first came home, but it wasn't enough to keep up with her bilirubin levels. If you do use daylight in this way please take care not to let your baby overheat or burn

The biliblanket was put up the back of Baby Badger's vest with the tube coming out between her knees, over the end of the bassinet and into the box of electrical tricks. The effect was to give her the appearance of a blue aura, which at night looked more like something out of Alien! The treatment ran for a day or so while they monitored her bilirubin levels via heel prick tests (poor little mite), then she was monitored for a further eight hours to check that the levels didn't rebound, which thankfully they didn't.


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Just call me Clover

Baby Badger was born 24 days early and was more interested in sleeping than feeding. Who can blame her - she was robbed of three lovely weeks' slumber in the womb. She was a good weight for her age - 5lb 14oz - but lost 12oz in the first four days. That was 12% of her initial body weight, which is more than the expected 5-10% that breastfed babies often lose.

The community midwife gave me two options: either try to get her to feed more and monitor it myself; or take her to the special baby unit at the hospital and get her checked over, with the expectation that we would have to stay the night. I was reluctant to go back into hospital, but didn't feel confident that I knew what I was doing in terms of feeding, so the midwife made the hospital appointment and in we went. A pediatrician took some bloods and checked her over, and we were admitted for the night with a written feeding plan: feed three hourly and top up with a bottle, then express, the top up being the expressed milk from the previous feed.

Once up on the ward I was introduced to Clover. Clover is a hospital-grade double breast pump, looking like something left over from world war two (at this point I was very glad I was in my own room). The nurse showed me how to assemble the pump and how to sterilise the pieces and left me to it. What followed was three days and nights of almost constant feeding, pumping and boredom, interspersed with visits from family, but I would do it all over again: Baby Badger put on a couple of ounces and, just a importantly, latching on improved, I learnt how to pump and I came away much more confident that I was providing for my daughter.

Baby Badger is now seven weeks old and 8lb 1oz, so it was all worth the effort! I no longer have to pump to top up, but at least know that it's an option if I want an evening off.

I'll leave you with some top tips from my experience:
  • If you want to exclusively breastfeed and the staff suggest topping up with formula, tell them you'd rather top up with breastmilk and ask for a pump.
  • If you're struggling to get much milk when you express try a different pump. The first one I was given in the hospital seemed to be all about ferocious sucking, but I was swapped to one that had a two stage action to mimic baby's sucking and my milk yield improved.
  • Once home I used a Medela Swing Electric Breastpump
    electric breast pump. It's not the cheapest option (manual pumps are far cheaper, and your local midwifery or Sure Start centre may be able to lend you one), but it was worth the money.
  • Milk yield is much better in the morning when you're less tired.

Image: graur razvan ionut /

Tuesday, 20 July 2010


I'm sitting on the sofa, typing one handed (because the other is holding a feeding Badger in place) thinking "why am I starting this blog?". Because the hubby suggested it? I guess partly yes, but that can't be it; after all I rarely do as I'm told. It's because I've already experienced so much in the first few weeks of Baby Badger's life and maybe by sharing I can shed light for another new mum. At the very least it's a harmless way of venting after another sleepless night!

I never saw myself as a mum, but here I am, mother of a six week old little girl. Planned, of course, and very much wanted, but surreal nonetheless. Over the last six weeks it's mainly been about feeding (initially not enough, now seemingly endless) and the challenge of not enough sleep. I'll fill you in on the details next time...

Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz /
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