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4 months, Baby, new-born, newborn, sleep, sleep regression

The dreaded 4 month sleep regression

Sleep – the holy grail of a new parent! I feel that sleep is actually the most stressful aspect of being a new mum. I definitely had the fear that I was getting into bad sleep habits, “accidental parenting”, as the baby whisperer calls it. I was worried that I had come up with techniques to manage sleep but eventually my randomly stacked pile of jenga blocks would come tumbling down leading to sleepless nights. As we approached the 4th month mark, I also had the fear of the dreaded 4 month sleep regression.

The 4 month sleep regression is a permanent change in your baby’s sleeping habits whereby their sleep patterns change from always being in a deep sleep to sleeping like any adult, in a sleep cycle from light to deep sleep. This is the only sleep regression your baby goes through that is a permanent change, all other regressions as 8, 10 and 12 months etc. are all phases. This means that the 4 month regression is often the worst sleep regression you will face. I found from 12pm onwards, my little one would wake up roughly every 2 hours (if not slightly more often) and he would be wide awake. Hence our problem – its not morning!

If you google 4 month sleep regression you get a string of pleas for information from new mums about how long the regression should last and how to survive it. I am no sleep expert, but thought it would be useful to describe my own experience. Please remember every baby is completely different and all react to things differently.

I found that my little one got into a sleeping routine when he would sleep through the night (or at least practically) most nights per week. So when the 4 month sleep regression hit us, I was exhausted! I forgot what sleepless nights were like and I quickly transformed into Zombiemum.

My strategy with respect to the regression was focussed on the day and night routine.

Day routine:

I tried to start introducing a day sleep routine. I roughly followed the EASY routine (being Eat, Active play, Sleep, You-time) by the Baby Whisperer. She actually provides day schedules for you but I found that trying to stick to a generic schedule just didn’t work for me. My little one was a cat napper, so I was stressing about not getting the 1.5 hour naps that the EASY routine talks about. Once I accepted that my baby might just sleep a bit differently, I became a lot more relaxed about the routine. I tried to keep track of how long he took between naps, as I never liked him to get over tired. I would typically get between 1 and 2 hours awake at any one time. Any more than that and he got over tired. Typically he would get between 2.5 and 3 hours sleep a day over 4 to 5 naps. I moved all his day naps at home from sleeping in my arms while I watched TV to sleeping in a dark bedroom to try and improve his sleep. I also introduced sleep associations into each nap, which consisted of singing twinkle twinkle little star while putting him in his grobag. I do this for every nap or sleep which helps him understand that it is time to go to sleep.

Night time routine:

We introduced a bed time wind down routine to help our little one learn that it is bed time. I play a nice relaxing track from youtube (link). During this time our baby would get nappy off time, his skin would be moisturised, he would get a leg massage, be put into his PJs and would get a short story read to him. We would then sing twinkle twinkle little star while putting him in his grobag and he was then fed to sleep.

Middle of the night wake-ups:

During the night I tried not to get into a cycle of always feeding my baby back to sleep. I knew he wasn’t always hungry, he was learning to resettle himself at night. So I did my very best not to feed him more often than once per night. I always first tried to resettle him with the soother, putting my hand on his chest or beside his face. I would also resort to rocking him if I felt he was just not settling, but tried to avoid this. If he wouldn’t fall asleep, I fed him to sleep. Using the soother helped me to start pushing his feeds  out at night also. So if he woke at 2am the first night, I would not feed him until 3am. Then the next night he might wake at 2.30am and again I would try and push out the feed.

I also introduced a dream feed, typically at 10pm when I was going to bed myself, which gave me further confidence that he was not hungry during his early night time wakings.

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Our 4 month regression lasted on and off for about 3 weeks. But the worst was the first week. I found that just as I was at the point of exhaustion, he would sleep through the night again.

My biggest piece of advice to anyone going through the 4 month regression is this too shall pass! 🙂

 

 

Baby, Gentle Birth, GentleBirth, Labour, Uncategorized

My positive birth experience

I have spoken a bit about my labour preparation in a previous blog post on Labour – why women fear the big day. With so many negative birth stories being put out there, I wanted to do a post on my positive birth experience.
I was due on the 29th of December. Being due so close to Christmas, there was a real feeling in the hospital of doctors trying to kick start a few labours early, or at least that is how I felt when I was offered a sweep (where the doctor/midwife will try to separate the membranes of the amniotic sac surrounding your baby from your cervix) at my 38 week check-up. I was surprised to be offered the procedure as it’s typically undertaken once you are overdue and I didn’t feel there was a good reason for this medical intervention so I declined it. I felt that my baby would come when he was good and ready but just in case, I started drinking my raspberry leaf tea (2 cups a day) from that evening onwards.
Exactly 1 week later, I woke up at 5am with what felt like my waters breaking. Not wanting to call the hospital too early, I thought I would go back to bed for a couple of hours, after all, it was 5am. Once I got into bed I felt some mild contractions starting (in the form of period pains). At 6am I rang the hospital and the midwife told me I had to go in to get checked out (even though I felt I was only in pre-labour and wanted to labour at home). She suggested I come in but not to rush and to have breakfast and a cup of tea before I went anywhere. So I did just that, had some raspberry leaf tea, ate some breakfast and had a shower. We finished packing my bag with our last minute items and headed for the car. It took me a while to get out of the house as the surges seemed to be coming fairly strongly at this point but we were on the road by about 7.45am. I checked with a contraction timer and the surges were lasting 55 seconds every 2 minutes. So the 25 minute journey to the hospital was not comfortable.
The walk from the car to the hospital seemed to never end, with my constant starting and stopping. I had 2 big gushes of my waters right outside Holles Street hospital at the lovely black railings. We got admitted to the hospital and brought to a delivery suite. Being a bit disorganised, my birth preferences weren’t written down but my husband explained our preferences in detail. The midwife was very understanding of our preferences and happy to take them all into account for the labour. There was no continuous monitoring at all, rather intermittant monitoring to check baby was doing ok. The only time I was lying on my back was for my initial examination, which showed I was 1 cm dilated (it was 9am at this point).
After labouring on my hands and knees against the bed while my husband collected our things from the car, the midwife suggested I get into the shower to help with the surges, which I thought was a great idea. By the time I got out of the shower 15 minutes  later I was having the urge to push. Holles Street like to examine you every 2 hours to check dilation but the midwife waived further examinations given the signs of pushing. In my head I kept telling myself my affirmations from my gentle birth app, knowing my body knew what it was doing. I didn’t take any epidural or request one, as I felt I could do it myself.
For the pushing phase I was in my own zone. I couldn’t really communicate much with people, though I was aware of what was happening, I just couldn’t really concentrate on anything other than each surge. My husband expertly spoke on my behalf the whole way through, ensuring our birth preferences were remembered. I laboured on my hands and knees and also my side, following the midwife’s instructions. I did use the gas and air for a handful of breaths, but I couldn’t really use it as breathing through a tube while trying to take big breaths is practically impossible. At this point, there was a lot of coached pushing, which was not in our original plan, but I felt that given how strong my surges were, I would just go with it. I pulled back a few times taking breathers when I needed them. Aside from an eagerness to use coached pushing, the midwife was great and worked well with me and my husband to follow our preferences. With the help of my amazing husband and our lovely midwife, my beautiful  little boy was born at 11.38 am, only 2.5 hours after labour was established.
The experience of labour was extremely empowering and I think my best achievement to date. The preparation that myself and my husband did with the gentle birth class with Melanie (see link to her website here) and the gentle birth app was the best thing we could have done. Going into the labouring process, I felt that I was ready and well prepped for my marathon, which turned out to be more like a 10km race given the full process just took 6.5 hours from initial contractions to birth. And my beautiful little boy was the best early Christmas present I could have asked for.
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Baby, MikaB, teether, teething, teething jewellery

Teething jewellery – does it help?

I was recently at the RDS pregnancy and baby fair in Dublin, which I really enjoyed I must say and would highly recommend to any mums or mums to be. At the fair I came across the MikaB teething jewellery stand. My little one started teething at about 3 months and was looking to eat everything. So I stopped for a browse to see what I could find.

MikaB have a great range of soother holders, teethers and teething jewellery in a variety of colours. At the fair I was afraid to invest too much in the products as I was not sure that my little one would actually want them and they were a bit expensive if he didn’t. So I bought the soother holder, pictured below.

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Right from the start, he chomped away on the soother holder. It seemed to provide him with a lot of relief for his gums and he just loved it. Within a day, I was already on her website buying both the teether and a necklace for me to wear.

Our little one loves the products, they are made from non-toxic food grade silicone, similar to what any soother is made out of. He loves the owl teether and the soother clip, both of which he can clasp well and shove in his mouth. He has not found the necklace himself when I wear it, but if I put it up to his mouth he chomps away on it. But I think in time he will be pulling away and chomping on the necklace unaided. The necklace has an easy release clasp so if he does pull at it, instead of pulling my neck off, the clasp will open, a feature I really like.

When wearing the necklace I did notice that a lot of lint gets stuck to it during the day, but I think that is inevitable when something is rubbing against your clothes. A quick nightly wash in warm soapy water will do the trick and it is as good as new for the next day.

This is the collection of teethers I have for our little one. I can’t recommend them enough, as we have gotten great use out of them. If you are interested in investing in the teethers and giving them a go, you can get them online at this link.

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The MicaB teething accessories that our little one loves
30 day shred, Baby, Exercise, Fitness, mum, newborn

Getting back my pre-baby body – the journey so far

My first blog post, which I posted about a month ago, on getting back my pre-baby body explained what I was doing at the time to get back to fitness. This covered the workouts I was doing from 6 weeks post labour until now. I did not do any workouts before my 6 week check with the GP to ensure she was happy with my progress and my abs had come back together. It is important not to start any crunches at all until your abs have come back together (to within 1 finger width) as otherwise you could force your abs further out and apart, which will result in many physio visits to fix. You can get your GP to check your abs at your 6 week check or ask the physio in the local health centre. Most GPs do not do this check automatically, so make sure you have it on the list of things to ask them.

I have been very careful with the workouts I have chosen over the last 10 weeks. So now its time to stop and take stock of where I am and what the next steps in my journey will be. I enjoy documenting any fitness journey as it really reminds me of how far I have come.

My pregnancy journey at 15 weeks post labour
From top left to bottom right: 38 weeks pregnant – 2 days post labour – 8 weeks post labour – 15 weeks post labour

At this point I am feeling fitter, stronger and ready to start kicking things up a notch. Along with a few mums in my local area that I met through the local health centre, we are all doing Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. This is a workout program lasting 25 minutes every day for a period of 30 days, which is ideal for anyone with a young baby to tend to, as they won’t go much longer than 25 minutes entertaining themselves.

The program has 3 levels, 10 days at each level. The only equipment required are dumbbells (you can improvise using small bottles or tin cans) and an exercise mat. I do the workout at home but you could easily do it outside as long as you have access to youtube (see the link to level 1). It is also great to get a group to commit to the challenge together, as a way to keep yourself motivated.

I have not paid much attention to my actual weight, as weight loss right now is not something I am concerned with. I am still breastfeeding and your body naturally carries more weight to ensure you have sufficient stores to meet your baby’s requirements, plus losing weight can mess with your milk supply too. However I am tracking how I look. So the bottom right photo is my current before photo as my journey continues.

I have workout one complete, only 29 more workouts to go. I found the workout a challenge, which is good. I also know I will be sore in the morning, but as they do say – no pain no gain.

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My first workout with baby trying to join in too!

 

Once I am finished the shred, I will do another photo collage to let you all know how I got on and a full review of the three levels involved in the program.

Baby, Exercise, Fitness, Gentle Birth, GentleBirth, Harmony Yoga, Labour

Labour – why do women fear the big day!

Being pregnant is such a miracle and the most natural thing in the world. Feeling how your body changes and adapts to growing a new life is fascinating. What I don’t understand is why is there this sense of impending doom.

I found that once I was visibly pregnant, people wanted to tell me about their own birth story, which of course had a dramatic and negative climax. Why would you tell me that? Why! Right from the outset I was put in a high risk pregnancy category due to previous medical issues which could affect the labour process. So as you can imagine, I was already on edge.

However I actually found labour to be a very empowering experience and one that I came out of thinking – that was incredible, I would totally do that again. Sadly a lot of the women on the post natal ward didn’t seem to have the same opinion.

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I believe what made my experience different to theirs was positivity and preparation. Some of the things that I did to prepare were as follows:

  • Stay fit and healthy – I want to try and keep a decent level of fitness throughout my pregnancy to help with the labour process. The further into the pregnancy you get, the harder it is to move overall, but I did as much as I could from avoiding lifts to going to aquafit, anything to keep moving.
  • Pregnancy Yoga – This is a great way to stay flexible, stretch out your aching muscles and learn some good breathing techniques. It will also go through positions in which you can labour so you have loads of options available, as you never know how long you will be labouring for and what positions will just feel right on the day.
  • GentleBirth classes – I did a GentleBirth class with Birth to Baby and this was one of the best things I did to prepare. Not only was this good preparation for myself, but it was fantastic for my husband who learnt about the birthing process and knew what to do on the day. I started the class with no birthing preferences and finished the two day course with a list of things that I was hoping for on the day.
  • GentleBirth tracks and affirmations – as part of the Gentle birth class, you get free access to the GentleBirth app. They have positive affirmations, hypnobirthing tracks and the GentleBirth book. The app assigns you daily training tasks which I tried to fit in every day. Capture
  • Stay away from negativity – I decided not to listen to negative stories as much as possible. I also didn’t watch any birthing programs or movies on TV such as Call the Midwife and One Born Every Minute. While these are great shows, I found that they had a negative spin at times that I just wanted to avoid.

Labour is a marathon. Getting yourself into a positive mind frame is the best way to prepare, and remember you will have a little bundle of joy waiting for you at the end of the run.

 

Baby, Harmony Yoga, massage, mum, new-born

The benefits of Baby Massage

“Parents massage their babies? Really?” I thought to myself when I first heard of baby massage. Straight away I assumed I would be useless at it and might just give it a miss…. which lasted all of 1 week after Baby was born.

WIND! Baby is what I like to call a “windy” baby. No matter how long I winded him for, he would still suffer from trapped wind. Like all new-borns, he struggled to understand how to relieve the windy pains and at times would get quite upset. My heart went out to him and I immediately turned to the almighty GOOGLE to see if I could find any way to help relieve the pains. And I was reminded of the amazing art of BABY MASSAGE.

I did a course of 5 baby massage classes with the amazing Gail from Harmony Yoga. It was the first course myself and Baby did and it was the best decision I made. Not just for the amazing tea, biscuits and chats you have at the end of the class, but also for the following benefits we experienced:

  • Relief from colic (or as I like to say: windy pains) – There is a set sequence of movements to help move along trapped wind. This was my number one reason for trying baby massage and I must say it works a treat.
  • Helps babies to sleep – I try to get Baby into a night time sleep routine where we do a massage, put on pjs, have a feed and go to bed. The massage really relaxes him to settle him for the night.
  • Great way for parents to bond with their babies – Everyone thinks that bonding with your baby is the easiest thing in the world, but with all of our second guessing we do, it can be hard to just relax, trust your instincts and let that bond grow. Baby massage is a activity to do together.
  • Helps baby understand how their body is all connected – the last move of every section shows baby how their body is interconnected.
  • Keeps skin soft and moisturised – By using natural oils in the massage, it helps to keep babies skin moisturised, which is great if they have any dry skin.

Baby massage can be started straight from birth, so it is a great first class to sign up to. An added bonus is that you might be able to reclaim a lot of the cost through your health insurance! And you might even meet some nice mums along the way too! 🙂 20170331_085830

aqua aerobics, Baby, Exercise, Fitness, mum, Post-partum, Swimming, Walking

Getting back my pre-baby body

Ok, I am just going to say it straight, getting back to fitness after having a baby is hard! I always thought that I would be back running in a matter of weeks. Well that certainly didn’t happen. I really underestimated the changes your body goes through during pregnancy.

For at least the first 6 weeks after labour just rest. Everything has changed with the arrival of our little ones and you need to give yourself time to get used to them, and to rest your body. I waited for my 6 week check with the GP before I even considered working out.

The body produces a number of different hormones during pregnancy. Relaxin, one such hormone, is responsible for relaxing the ligaments and pelvis. Your body continues producing this hormone for up to 4 months after you finish breastfeeding your baby. The side effect is that it is really easy to pull or strain a muscle and with all the care a baby needs, us mums can’t afford that at all. When getting back to exercise, it is really important to go with an “easy does it” approach.

  • Walking

Walking is a fantastic form of exercise. Not only is it easy on your muscles and ligaments, its also out in the fresh air and it often sends those grumpy babies to sleep. Try to walk to the local supermarket, coffee shop or baby group rather than drive. You will be walking for hours a day before you know it.

  • Aqua aerobics/aqua fit

Aquafit is a great low impact exercise which works wonders building up both muscle strength and your endurance, while alleviating pressure on your joints. I go to aquafit classes at night which gives my husband some time with baby and me a well earned break/me time.

  • Swimming

Swimming is a great way to start building up your core strength gently. If like me, your stomach muscles have really weakened, it’s one of the best ways to gently start building up your core strength again.

Whatever form of exercise you chose, always listen to your body. If you feel pain doing any type of exercise, my advice is to stop doing it and either ask your public health nurse or a physio. Please also remember to enjoy whatever route back to fitness you take.

Walking
There is nothing like a walk in your local park