I know I say it a lot, but I have given birth to five babies. That’s quite a few! I often wonder how on earth my body grew and birthed these little humans! Knowing all too well how hard it is to get pregnant and the worries for nine months until the baby is safely in my arms, having five children is really something I celebrate every day, even though being a mum is exhausting and has made my tummy very wobbly!
I hear lots of new parents worrying about some of the main aspects of pregnancy and parenting – that is the birth, feeding and sleep. So, I considered what I did with each of my children and how it has affected them as they have grown up.
Here’s a breakdown – from 2000 to 2016:
|Child 1 – 8lb 10oz||Planned hospital birth, epidural, intervention with ventouse, natural||Breastfed for 16 weeks||Weaned at 4 months. Mostly homemade/organic||6 months in our room – coslept & cot||Passed away age 12 expectantly. Was a good eater and sleeper, no major illness, fit and healthy, average build.|
|Child 2 – 9lbs 14oz||Planned hospital birth, distressing, fast, natural, PTSD||Breastfed 10 weeks||Weaned at 4 months. Mostly jars/packets||6 months in our room – coslept & cot||Some food intolerance, enjoys a wide variety of foods, poor sleeper, rarely ill, slim build.|
|Child 3 – 9lbs 8oz||Planned home birth, natural, hypnobirthing||Breastfed 6 months||Weaned at 6 months. Mixture of homemade and pouches||8 months in our room – coslept||Fussy eater, bananas and broccoli only, sleeps well, rarely ill, slim build.|
|Child 4 – 7lbs 14oz*||Planned home birth, natural, hypnobirthing, gas and air
(*was 10 days early)
|Breastfed 16 months||Weaned at 5 months. Mostly pouches and homemade||10 months in our room – coslept||Eats a good mix of foods and fruits, not keen on veg, sleeps well, rarely ill (for a toddler), average build.|
|Child 5 – 9lbs 9oz||Planned home labour, unplanned hospital delivery, natural, gas and air||Breastfed 6 months||Weaned at 5 months. Mostly homemade and pouches||Coslept while breastfeeding, in own room at 6 months.||Is enjoying weaning and formula milk, sleeps very well, generally healthy.|
Using gas and air and having natural births meant I recovered quickly. After the epidural with Child 1 it took me longer to recover (the phrase ‘hit by a bus’ comes to mind!). A fast, unprepared for birth with Child 2 caused PTSD problems for us both.
All children were breastfed from up to 10 weeks to 16 months. Child 2 didn’t seem to like milk (just realised an intolerance there) and Child 3 had terrible reflux which meant he needed thick formula at about 5 months old. They were all good weights at birth however. The heaviest children are now the slimmest (seeming to have grown up instead of out!).
All children have been generally fit and well. They’ve had colds and some pretty nasty bugs, but rarely need antibiotics. I hope my antibodies and my grubby house have helped with that!
I weaned Child 1 and 2 at 4 months, Child 3 at 6 months and Child 4 and 5 at 5 months. It hasn’t seemed to affect them when I weaned, although Child 2 has lactose sensitivity and most of us are gluten sensitive to a degree.
I fed them all pretty much the same – homemade or pouches; however, with Child 2 I used jars (pouches weren’t around then) and she is a brilliant eater today. Despite having a varied weaning diet, Child 3 is almost food phobic and very fussy, he would never believe he used to eat carrot.
It’s interesting that I didn’t cosleep with Child 2 for very long, due to PTSD and PND, and this child has the most problems with sleeping. Yet I coslept with the others and they all sleep well independently. That’s not to say that putting Child 2 in a cot was wrong, it’s all about my attitude I think. I was much more chilled about it by the time Child 3 came along. I love my sleep and it was important to me to get them settled in their own bed because cosleeping isn’t easy on mums, but when I did this in a much less stressed frame of mind – want to rather than need to – it seemed to go better.
NB: I appreciate that there are a number of factors involved in how our children develop, and there are other factors that I’ve not included, but these are the areas that are pressed upon us when we have children by the NHS.
I suppose I hope this would offer new parents some reassurance, that yes it’s important to listen to the latest research and recommendations but also to use your own judgement about what suits your child. Some of the things I did in the early days would be criticised today.
Regarding births, I had a much better experience when I took control of the birth. From Child 3, hypnobirthing worked for me as the primary pain relief, but just being able to control where and how I gave birth was crucial to my mental and physical wellbeing afterwards. You don’t always have to do things the convenient or conventional way.
As for food, while I do still buy organic where I can and try not to rely on ready made food, it’s really not always going to make your child into a fantastic eater. But, what we have always done is eaten our main meal together at a table without the TV on. Half the time it’s crazy or there’s arguments after tiring days, but it always brings us together over food.
In general, I have also noticed a correlation between the attachment to me and my children’s confidence and independence growing up. I coslept with Child 4 the longest and he loved this, there was no pressure to stop, but he moved into his own room really well and is a content boy who is happy to be parted from me. The same for Child 5 who is going through a bit of a clingy stage, but I let her cling. I am happy to hold and soothe as long as she needs and hope that she, too, will be a confident child.
I certainly don’t know it all, far from it! What I have learned is that each child is different and has different needs. (I’m now potty training my toddler and weaning my baby and having to remind myself how to do it!) But my advice to new parents would be worrying about the birth, how and what you feed, and how you or they sleep isn’t really worth it, but the love, stability and cuddles are!
Have you noticed anything similar about your children?
I’ve linked this post up with the lovely Farmer’s Wife and Mummy and Maternity Mondays. Why not visit her blog to find out what other new mummies are sharing?