Monday, 25 October 2010

Tips for a Tummy Bug

For the second time in a month, it appears that Alice has a stomach bug. My heart sank when she was sick again this morning, but I have learnt from my last experience and I am finding it it much easier to cope. A while ago, I ditched my usual cleaning products in favour of all natural stuff, but found it a challenge when all I wanted to do was bleach every conceivable surface to be sure I'd killed off the bug. With a few modifications, I came up with a more environmentally friendly and healthier alternative to caring for a sick baby.
  • Have a jug a water at hand with a few drops of tea tree oil for antibacterial/antiviral action and some lavender oil for the lovely smell. It's easy then to grab a cloth and mop up any unpleasantness straight away.
  • Try to use a sick bucket/bowl. This might seem incredibly obvious to most people, but I was mopping up from the floor with so many muslins my wash load was huge before I realised there was a better way.
  • Have a bundle of rags or muslins in every room and replenish before you need them.
  • A bucket with a lid filled with yet more water and a couple of drops of tea tree oil is very handy for chucking in any cloths or clothes that are waiting to be washed.
  • If you're breastfeeding, try to do so little and often. It's hard to stop them midfeed, but is easier on their stomachs. Try having a toy nearby to distract them with part way through.
  • Put some cinnamon in a pan of water and boil to get rid of unpleasant smells and freshen the house.
  • Use a waterproof sheet over your mattress, and have at least one spare set of bedding and nightwear next to the bed for quick changes in the night.
  • Put away toys that are difficult to clean and wipe the ones left out with the tea tree and lavender water every so often.
  • Cover upholstered surfaces with towels or flat nappies to protect them.
  • Wash your hands frequently!
With any luck, these tips should help to prevent others getting the bug and keep your home naturally clean. If you know of any other ways to avoid or deal with bugs, post a comment!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Much more than milk

A friend recently lent me the latest edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and I barely made it past the first page before I realised that this was a book I needed to buy myself so that I can highlight, underline and otherwise scrawl all over. There's a little gem of wisdom in every line. Even the introduction gave me a question to ponder that made me look at my breastfeeding relationship and what I value most about it.

What if you had to choose? You can either bottle-feed your baby with scheduled feedings and little body contact, but with your milk in the bottle. Or you can breastfeed your baby, responding to his cues, but only formula comes out of your breasts. 1
It is a hard question, as I take great comfort in knowing that Alice is getting the food designed to suit her needs. Particularly when there has been illness around, I have been relieved to know that she's getting all the nutrition she needs along with a dose of antibodies to help her along. For me, the answer didn't take too much thought as I can not imagine bottle-feeding a baby. Breastfeeding has moulded my mothering and shaped our relationship into what it is. Being the only one to nourish her in the early days could be hard, but it was immeasurably rewarding. It forces me to sit and focus on Alice, to make me get my priorities straight. It has also given me confidence in my body to do the best for my baby, and has made me trust my instincts as a mother. I know that our bond would be weaker if I had fed her in another way.

Thankfully, I don't have to make the difficult choice between the health giving benefits of my milk and the close relationship forged through nursing. It is credit to the La Leche League and other breastfeeding organisations that they are helping so many other mothers and babies reap the rewards of a happy nursing relationship too.

1. Wiessinger, D. et al. 2010. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 8th edition. London: La Leche League International, xxi.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Before having Alice, I was pretty hard on parents. I was convinced that I would be able to sail through parenting and would always manage any behaviour problems with ease, that is if my child ever showed any sort of misbehaviour. My fine skills would mean that any child of mine would rarely, if ever display any sort of undesirable behaviour. Now, at thirteen months old, Alice is showing me that I might have been a bit hasty to judge so quickly. Most of the time, she is a sunny, happy little girl. She's confident and full of humour. Unfortunately, as she displayed even as a newborn, there's no middle ground with her, and when she's not happy, she makes it very, very clear.

Tantrums are the usually result when I pick her up when she doesn't want me to, try to carry her when she wants to walk, or take something away that she was playing with. I try to limit how often this happens, but there are always times when it can't be avoided. She will alternate going totally rigid with becoming floppy and throwing herself on the floor. She's impossible to pick up when she's in this state. She screams like a banshee and writhes around and all I can do is sit near her and stroke her back until she's back in control.

I cope quite well when we're in private, but if this happens in a public place, I can't help feeling the eyes of other people on me. I am tempted to be harder on Alice when we're in public, putting on the stern face, or yanking her to her feet, as I want to show bystanders that I am doing something about her behaviour. My child may be all but foaming at the mouth, but I'm not a pushover, oh no! It's at those times that I need to remind myself that she is more important than the opinions of others, and she needs calm reassurance to regain her control.

If nothing else, I've learnt to be far less judgemental about the decisions of others. I don't always deal with her tantrums as well as I should do, but I'm sure I will have many opportunities to practice my skills over the next few months!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tummy bug

As I type, Alice is sleeping on my lap recovering from a particularly unpleasant tummy bug. There's been a lot of it around lately according to my doctor, and I'm hearing about lots of cases from friends. She started being sick at 4am on Monday, and has pretty consistently vomited every 2-3 hours since then. Today we've also had the added delights of diarrhoea to contend with. I must admit, I have rarely had negative thoughts about reusable nappies until this week!

I took her to the doctor yesterday who gave me a prescription for a rehydration drink, although she agreed that Alice wasn't dehydrated at the time. Despite the frequent bouts of sickness and diarrhoea, over 24 hours on she is still seeming to be reasonably well hydrated. Her tongue isn't dry, she still makes tears, and she is getting wet nappies. I can only put this down to the breastmilk. Since Sunday evening, she hasn't touched solid food, or even water. Breastmilk is the only thing she will accept. I have decided to ignore the doctors advice to express milk and add water to it. It seems a strange idea to me to dilute the milk that seems to be helping her, not to mention that drinking from a cup doesn't have the emotional comfort that getting milk straight from the tap does.

Having a poorly baby makes me feel very powerless. There's not much I can do to help, but feeding her is giving her the strength she needs to get through without too much trouble. Apparently, I'm not alone. According to the NCT, babies who are not breastfed are 5 times more likely to be admitted to hospital with gastroenteritis and in 1995, the Department of Health estimated that the NHS spends at least £35 million per year treating gastroenteritis in bottle-fed babies in England (Breastfeeding: Good Practice Guidance to the NHS, Department of Health 1995).

Anyway, after all my handwashing, laundry and covering everything in tea tree oil, I'm not feeling too good myself. If only breastmilk could protect me from the ill effects too!