Saturday, 14 December 2013

The Rules

I am a natural rule follower. Breaking them, even other people breaking them, causes me anxiety. Like, sweaty, uncomfortable have-to-leave-the-room anxiety. In so many ways, it makes life much easier for me. I don't always agree with the rules, but I always know which course of action to take: the one that will not get me in trouble. The natural rebels amongst you are horrified right now, I can tell. My husband (not a natural rule follower) puts forward arguments about Nazi Germany and dictatorships and why it's important to break the rules, and I know I can if I HAVE to but I'd really rather not, thankyouverymuch.

This has given me an interesting parenting dilemma. I'm happy to follow many of the 'rules' about parenting. K will get all her vaccinations at exactly the time she is supposed to because I trust the science and I trust the people who make the rules (in this case the American Association of Pediatrics, which has remarkably similar guidelines to the Royal College of Paediatricians, who I DEFINITELY trust.) I put K down to sleep on her back* and I have not yet introduced a bottle that will disrupt her truly excellent breastfeeding skills.

But I am breaking one of the rules. I am not breastfeeding on demand. Now this is not to say that I am starving my baby, trust me, this baby is gaining weight like a champ (and in fact had gained over a pound at her 2 week check-up) but feeding on demand just does not work for her. When left to her own devices, K will feed every 2 hours-ish during the day. This is pretty normal, but she just cannot handle it. The occasions when she has done this have resulted in miserable evenings/nights of inconsolable crying thanks to stomach pains- knees at her ears- as she screams. She is sick, bringing up whole feeds and flooding herself and everything around her (ie. me, her dad, her grandad, the cat, ohmygodIhavetochangeourbedsheetsat2am) in milk. Not even partially digested milk, just straight up, not touched her stomach, milk. It is a deeply unpleasant situation all round. Now when she goes 3 hours between feeds during the day, magic happens. She sleeps longer stretches at night. She is content, happy and laid back. She isn't sick at all.

It took me ages (and a bit of input from my mum) to figure out that this was what was going on, but now I have, life is easier. She starts making hungry faces at around the 2 hour mark (usually 2 hours 20 minutes, actually) and we distract her. It helps that she doesn't really cry a whole lot. If playing and cuddles aren't cutting it, I bring in the big guns dummy/pacifier. This almost always works to get us to around 3 hours (maybe slightly less, maybe slightly more) where she has a massive feed and is then satisfied to the three hour mark at her next feed. I do this dance maybe once or twice a day, she's mostly happy to go the whole 3 hours.

It is not what the rules tell me to do, but it is better for K. I'm trying to learn to trust my instincts more. This is hard for a natural rule follower. I'm not reading any parenting books. I do get the Lucie's List emails (which really helped us make sleep feel less chaotic, even if it didn't actually change anything) but I'm not reading anything else. We know the basics, we can google any issues that come up, and we are just trusting ourselves. Big adjustment, I love to read. But this is what works for us. Mostly, what works for K. And ultimately that is what counts.

I'd love to know what rules you plan on breaking/break/broke- no judgement here (unless you are not vaccinating your kid, in which case I'm heaping the judgement on. Sorry.)The main thing is, you are almost certainly not alone. So confess- I want to know what else I should ignore...

*mostly. If she is really vomit-y or choke-y (which she has been a few time) I'll swaddle her and prop her on a 45 degree angle. Which is what we do in the hospital so I'm pretty confident about it. Husband hates it.


  1. We fed on schedule was chaos for us without it for the first four months. Ernie was much more settled once we started doing it. Matters less now his tummy is stronger! I found rule breaking a challenge at first but we had to do it for our sanity. Ernie slept on his side wedged in for those first few months as he quite literally would not sleep on his back. It's scary to go against conventional advice when you're being threatened with SIDS but sometimes you have to let it go and do what works or you'll drive yourself crazy. I do think a lot of this advice is doled out in a didatic way, making new mums' job harder than it needs to be. Every baby is so different! Good on you for cracking it early- you've undoubtedly saved yourself a lot of stress!


  2. It's so hard, especially when people throw things like SIDS at you. And you want to trust yourself but you're brand new at it and you don't know shit (or so it feels).

    Ernie is a wee cracker, I'm glad you guys found what worked. x

  3. Wow, this is very useful. Good for you for finding out that she feels better and calmer eating every 3 hours, and it is also nice that she does not start crying before hand.
    As for the rules... I am not even sure I *know* all of them. So I will go by instinct / gut feeling , ask and research as much as I can. (For the record, about the SIDS, my mother in law says Mark sometimes slept on his belly... like Penny says, every baby is different and I think that also changes / moulds the way we parent). But it is hard when you are being told awful things can happen.

    1. Absolutely, don't forget most of us 80s babies were deliberately put to sleep face down as it was thought we would choke to death on our backs! Advice shifts from one extreme to the other constantly (same goes for weaning when you guys get to it!!)


    2. I slept on my front too. It's the extreme swings that make it so hard. I'm ok with weaning, one of my assessments at uni was doing a weaning home visit with the health visitor, a question and answer session with a lovely first time mum (of a 5 month old- she was starting early cause her baby was ready. The HV was super supportive.) I'm kind of old fashioned (prefer puree to baby-led) but we'll see what K prefers. Ah we'll all have healthy, happy babies because we care. That's enough, honest. x

  4. If I get to have kids I want to come back to this (also a rule follower) so may need a nudge (if we get to have kids)

  5. I hope I am confident to trust my instincts as much as you are. I think that's so wonderful and empowering! Also, thanks for telling me about Lucie's List, I think I will sign up!


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