What is Reflexology?
- and also aiding sleep and relaxation.
What is Reflexology?
Why are the simplest solutions often kept hidden from us when we become mothers? With my firstborn (my son, Jackson) I did as I was told and have many regrets these days that I didn’t trust my instincts over the advice of health professionals, friends and family. In those days I had no one to tell me otherwise.
With Lola, things changed, although the journey was very tough. When she was two weeks old the babymoon ended abruptly and she became an unhappy baby. Unhappy, that is, when she wasn’t with me. Her latch became poor, she fed very very frequently, and she hated being laid down- I was either carrying her, or bouncing her to sleep in a bouncy chair- she couldn’t sleep in a basket etc. By 10 weeks old she was finally diagnosed as having Gastro Oesophageal Reflux (the “silent” type- not so-called because of a silent newborn, far from it. The silence refers to the fact that baby doesn’t actually vomit) and a posterior tongue-tie, and the medical advice I received (and took) was to give her infant Gaviscon for the reflux, and a tongue-tie release.
One dose of Gaviscon later, my poor baby was completely constipated and in distress. That was stopped immediately. I carried her about and rocked or fed her to sleep or just to calm her- all the stuff we’re not “meant” to do.
The tongue-tie release was done professionally and compassionately at a private hospital with a peaceful paediatric wing, on the NHS! Lolly fed immediately after, but I couldn’t say I noticed a difference in her latch. In fact, I think it “regrew” if anything- at nearly two (and still feeding) she still has it to a degree, even though the TTR was “successful”. I went to La Leche League, local breastfeeding counsellors and actually got great help from a couple of my peer supporter-trained Hypnobirthing clients, and so we continued- we plodded on, from one day to the next. I wasn’t going to quit whatever happened, but I wanted to try and make the whole thing easier on us both.
Lola was not that “good” baby people like to coo over and pat you on the back for. People called her “clingy” and “hard work”, unlike my “good” baby, Jackson- it made me very protective of her. She made my Hypnobirthing work a real trial, even though I worked from home! I had gone back to work a week after she was born, feeling fine in myself, but obviously knowing nothing about how to bed-in and set up good breastfeeding habits! At 11 weeks old we tried osteopathy- and for the first time, someone else calmed her. Sue, a wonderful osteo who I now refer all of my clients to, laid her hands gently and respectfully on Lola and did some gentle manipulation on her skull and diaphragm. It was truly miraculous, Sue explaining what she was doing (very refreshing after having various health professionals just manhandle my precious baby without a word of explanation) and Lola relaxing and sleeping on the treatment table- lying down! After one more treatment the reflux was vastly improved- Lola never liked traditional tummy time (BabyCalm have a solution for these babies!) but she could at least have her nappy changed without getting distressed!
And then, after finally cracking (my mother in law often commented on how patient she thought I was with Lola) and bursting into tears while on the phone to one of my previous Hypnobirthing clients who is also a peer supporter and a lovely friend, she suggested I brought Lola over to her house as she had an idea.
I’d heard about slings, but had no real idea what they would be used for other than maybe taking your baby hiking?! Chris had always wanted a carrier, so he’d bought a BabyBjorn when Jackson was a baby. I’d stopped him using it because I always thought it looked entirely wrong for a baby to be supported by his crotch! So I went to my friend’s house and she showed me her collection (a library in fact!) of wraps and soft carriers. I was worried I wouldn’t know how to put one on so she reassured me that a Close Carrier would be a good thing to try “babywearing” out with and wouldn’t get me in a muddle. So, feeling silly, I let her show me how to get myself into this odd, jersey cotton contraption with metal D-rings either side of my hips, and she showed me how to lower Lolly in (who was characteristically malhumoured by now) and tighten it. “That tight?”, “Yes, and close enough to kiss”…
Just as she did in the osteopathic clinic, Lola was calmed, instantly. I moved around a little, she nestled in, feeling closer to me than ever before (hence the product name I guess) and actually, she seemed happier than when actually being held. It’s like she should have been supplied with a sling at birth! It was honestly the missing ingredient! Since then we really turned a corner. I knew a marvellous way of helping her sleep, helping her stay calm so she fed more efficiently and therefore less frequently, keeping her safe and being able to get time to brush my teeth without listening to a screaming fit, not to mention being so much more mobile- I like to travel light, never been a handbag girl, so being able to go shopping without a pram (getting all of that “isn’t she a good baby!”, “oh how cute is she!” that she’d previously missed out on!) simply changed our lives. We used a couple of other types and still have a Connecta for the odd times I want to back carry her, and for all the carrying and feeling safe, secure and close to her mother, Lola is a very happy, sociable little girl- very much braver than her big brother too!
I passed this amazing knowledge on to my wonderful Hypnobirthing parents who come from all different walks of life, and like me, some of them never would have known about how the right sling can transform your everyday life. In time I read more, learned more, passed more knowledge on, to the point where I needed to make it official. Having spoken to Sarah a couple of times for professional advice before, the subject of BabyCalm came up, and Sarah suggested I train up as a teacher and help her and the other brilliant BabyCalm teachers rev up the Maternal Revolution. So I did! And amongst all of the amazing things that BabyCalm is, and does, I look at what we do and think, “if only it was around for my little Jackson and Lola, we could have had access to easier and simpler solutions to the problems we faced in those early days of their babyhood”.
By Melissa Wadey – Mother and BabyCalm & ToddlerCalm Teacher in Kent
Find out more about Melissa and her baby and toddler classes HERE.
Every year, families around the world get together to celebrate ‘International Babywearing Week‘. What is it, you might ask? And why the need to celebrate what is actually something simple: carrying your child? Is there anything novel about that?
For thousands of years, women carried their babies everywhere: in the house, at work, outside… It was the best – and possibly the only way – to keep them safe and warm. Then it became usual to place babies in various contraptions away from their mothers – from buggies to car seats, rocking chairs, cots, even walkers. As usual with these things, you might have noticed that the tide is turning. More and more parents (re)-discover that it is practical and convenient to carry their baby. And it is actually a good thing.
Parents can be at a loss to understand their newborn. Why is he fussing? Is he hungry, tired, does he need a clean nappy? Carrying your baby close helps you understand his signs much quicker, establishing the early foundations of communication and satisfying his needs before he gets to the full-on cries. A much nicer experience for the whole family.
The extra cuddles and closeness give the baby just the reassurance he needs to transition from the womb to the outside world. It can be bright and noisy out there but snuggled up against mummy or daddy’s chest, it’s alright. The closeness allows baby to sense his parents’ reactions much better and gradually makes sense of his experiences.
If you have to be separated from your baby for work or other reasons, carrying him closely in a baby sling while you are with him – perhaps on the way to nursery – is a good way to catch up on closeness. It is also true for working fathers who might not be able to see their little one as much as they want during the week. A baby sling is not just for parents: try lending a baby carrier to your childminder and show her how you use it. She will be able to comfort your baby throughout the day even if she has other children to care for.
‘Babywearing’ is not just for newborns and babies. There are numerous child carriers who have been designed to fit toddlers. They allow you to carry your child right up to about 20kg (45lb). You can help him catch a nap on your back in the middle of a busy day, or encourage him to walk independently knowing that if he gets too tired, you can pop him on your back. A baby sling is a good way to keep young children safe in busy surroundings – at the market or when you’re travelling on public transport for example. Perched on your back, they have a good view of their surroundings (probably less scary that if they were much lower on the ground, surrounded by what must surely seem like giants!).
So why celebrate International Babywearing Week? Because parents all around the world are choosing to parent their children a different way, a way that suits the whole family. Because carrying their baby or their toddler in a comfortable baby carrier allows parents to live the life they want to live with their child.
To find a babywearing event near you visit: www.babywearing.co.uk
A Guest blog by Victoria Ward from Babywearing UK.