Monday, November 3, 2014

Mummy problems in the UAE

As a mum, there are two things that I hate, HATE, more than anything in the world, both only discovered recently (well, since I had a baby).

I have to tell you the story first so you can get a feel of all that anger and pain.

After waiting for what felt like an hour outside an elevator at Dubai Mall (Dubai’s busiest and biggest mall) with a very fussy baby, three people see that its about to arrive and come barging in front of me. After that, there was very little space for me and my pram to go in. The three people that went in made sure to spread out and completely ignored my existence so I don’t even ask them to budge. So then I had to wait for another billion years until their majesties got off on their floor and the elevator came back around.

I just don’t understand why anyone who is perfectly capable of taking the escalator needs to take the elevator. Especially that where I was in Dubai Mall, the escalator was RIGHT NEXT TO THE ELEVATOR!

I think priority should be for anyone unable to use the escalator, which includes people using a pram!! Every time this happens I have to hold back my anger. My husband, too. I think one of these days we will both explode. I fear we will explode on the same stranger.

The second thing which annoys me even MORE are people using handicap/baby changing toilets when they clearly shouldn’t be.

These are designed for a) anyone handicapped and b) mummy’s who want to change their baby’s nappy. Just because there is a long queue for the loo does not mean people who do not fall under category a) or b) should EVER use these toilets.

I’m not sure if mummies in other countries encounter the same problems, but these are my biggest mummy problems in the UAE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An open letter to my son

My boy,

Your earliest memories of me may be tearful ones. Ones of me letting you go as you squeal and squirm to clench on. Ones where it seems like going to work is more important to me than you. Nothing is more important to me than you. Nothing. Not the job, not the career, not the house, not the car, not the world. You’re my world. You may sometimes think or be led to think that those who left their work to be with their babies full time, to attend to their every call and cry, must love them more than I love you. That’s not true. I love you just as much, if not more. Let me tell you why I made this unbearable and sometimes shameful decision. A decision I regret several times a day. A decision my heart cries over and I'm left overridden with deep guilt and self hatred.
Days like today remind me of the reason I chose to continue to work. There are things you won’t understand until you’re much older, and I hope you never need to deal with. You were born in a world where women believe they are equal to men, but some men still don’t think so.
I want you to see your mother independent and fully relying on herself. I want you to know that the words independent, Arab, and women can coexist in one sentence. I want you to feel you can always lean on your mum and she will never have to lean on anyone else.
You see, my boy, that’s why I have to work. The easier option is to stay home. The easier option was to quit work when I was two months pregnant and curled up in a ball of pain, or when I was seven months pregnant and standing out on the curve for what seemed to be forever, dripping in sweat, waiting for a taxi to take me to work, or when you were two months old when I had fallen absolutely and utterly in love with you but had to return to work because my time with you was up. I want you to know that I am sad for every second I am not with you. That I think about you always. That building a shrine of you at work has not helped ease the pain. But I will do everything in my power to make it up to you. And if I don’t, then you can stop calling me your mum.

Yours truly
Your mum

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Social life after the baby

Two months ago Hassan (my hubby) and I were invited to a colleague's house for a movie screening. We had this idea that maybe our then 3 month old would be kind enough to sleep for at least half the movie and give his parents a much needed break. A break to feel normal and that we weren’t missing out on anything. But as soon as we reached said house, Omer could not stop screaming. It could have been the lighting at the place, the change in surrounding, or just the sheer volume of change in the world - a world little Omer is yet to come to terms with.

After a few minutes (which felt like a year) we decided to leave because nothing would calm Omer down. He had screamed to the point of no return. So we went home.

I am sure that everyone else there who heard about our failed attempt felt sorry for us and probably happy that they don’t have to deal with that just yet. They might not have felt that, but that’s what I imagined went on in their minds. I could be wrong.

Anyway we get in the car and Omer still wont came down. Me and Hassan are panicked and stressed, until it happened.

“Ekko,” Omer cooed, then he smiled. Then it was all OK. It totally made up for everything. EVERYTHING!

A baby changed our life, but not the worse. True, our social life has turned into play dates and returning home after a huge poop explosion, a baby meltdown, or for Omer’s oddly timed bed-times, but it has all been compensated by family life.

I don’t miss going to the movies, I don’t miss going out with Hassan when I want, where I want, or not having to worry if a place is baby friendly. I love waking up at night to a playful Omer. I love hearing Omer’s dad try to imitate animal sounds and fail miserably. I love hearing other parents talk about their kids, I love always having something, rather someone, to talk about. I love it all, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I know a few who would not be ready for such a dramatic social change, but I think deep down me and Hassan were ready (even though we will always say we weren’t).

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pregnancy weight: Gaining 32kg then dropping 20kg

If someone had asked me what my weight was a year ago, I would've found a way to get out of answering. Even though I weighed way less back then, now I have no trouble announcing it to the world because my weight gain is but a small price to pay for being a mum.

When I got pregnant I was 53kg (116.8 pounds). I’ll admit I had just lost a ton of weight for no apparent reason (well, I was 58kg (128 pounds) so only 5kg(11 pounds)). The only change in my life was that I had cut fizzy drinks out of my diet, a decision that regrettably has since been reversed.

So I was 53kg and I was pretty happy, why? Because if I gained the average 14kg (30 pounds) I would reach 67kg (148 pounds). That seemed like an easy gain to handle. I’ve been 67kg before so I knew what to expect. But not to my surprise thanks to my North African genes, I reached 67kg very early on in my pregnancy! I gained weight like crazy in the first trimester, which made no sense since I was throwing up a lot of the time.

I started dreading weighing myself before my antenatal appointment. I knew I was gonna see a horrendous, unjustifiable increase. I was gaining half a kilo to a full kilo a week (how crazy is that?) but I didn’t go on a diet since my doctor seemed OK with the weight gain. I knew I was not over eating so I didn’t lower my intakes. I ate my fish and vegetables as normal, and yes OK I had the occasional chocolate bar. (I admit! it was two a day).

By the end of the 9 months I was 85kg (187 pounds). That’s EIGHTY-FIVE KILOGRAMS!! And the baby was what? 2.7kg (7 pounds)? Say the placenta and everything else around the baby were another 2kg (they weren't, but let’s just say they were). That left me at over 80kg when I gave birth.

Was I depressed about my weight? Naturally. Jumping from a UK size 10 to 18 in 9 months was not easy, but I wasn’t going to let my new body weight eat me up. I knew I was still in there, under all that fat. I knew (hoped) I would lose it eventually. And although I’m still 12kg more than I was to begin with, I’m happy with my current weight of 65kg (143 pounds) at four months postpartum. That means I lost 20kg (44 pounds) in total. Not bad.

So how did I get here?

After giving birth I breastfed exclusively for a month. Even though my mum was stuffing me like a Christmas turkey everyday to produce enough milk for her grandson, I still lost around half a kilo a day for two weeks. I’m guessing that was just extra body fluids. By the end of the second week I was down from 81kg to 74kg. Pretty good for someone who did nothing to lose weight.

But after that my body just didn’t seem to want to lose anymore weight on its own. I barely lost two more kilos over the next two weeks. I was 72kg one month postpartum. That meant I lost a total of 13kg (You see if I gained the average amount of weight during pregnancy I would have probably gone back to my postpartum weight by now. Thanks, genes, thanks.)

I had two months before I needed to go back to work and I did NOT want to end up buying all new clothes. Shopping for a pear-shaped body was never easy, and now with all that weight gain I looked like a disproportional joke. I was determined to reach at least 65kg so I could fit in Medium/Large and keep certain body parts under control. You all know what I’m talking about here.

I started going to the gym in my building. I went for 30-50 minutes three times a week for two weeks. I lost around 2kg. It was still far from ideal but everyone said I should cut myself some slack. So I did. When I reached 69.9kg I stopped going to the gym. I was officially in my 60s! (yes, 69.9kg is in the 60s. It starts with a 6, doesn't it?!).

And slacked I did, for several weeks. I did watch my food intake though, so instead of eating a cake, I had a banana. I continued eating and drinking (not alcohol, breastfeeding mothers) as usual. I weighed myself daily just to make sure I wasn’t gaining anymore weight. By three months PP I was 67kg. That’s another 3kg down by doing little more than switching foods.

After returning to work, I slowly lost more weight. After the first month I reached 65Kg, which is where I am now. I’m not sure why, possibly because working distracts me from eating, or I just find little time to eat now. But it happened, I’m happy.

Could I have lost weight faster? If I wasn’t breastfeeding then yes, absolutely, but I  wasn’t going to switch my baby to be exclusively being bottle-fed for my selfish desire to fit into my old clothes. I could have also done a bit of research and followed certain diets to lose weight, but I barely had time to do anything other than looking after my boy.

The point of this post is to tell you all that you will probably lose the majority of your baby weight by the time you are 3 months PP, even with stubborn genes. So don’t stress, you will shrink down. So don’t throw out any of your pre-pregnancy clothes just yet. There is hope!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

14 things to do when your wife is pregnant

I was delighted to hear that I’ve had some male readers! So for those out there who plan on starting a family, read on.

1. Get excited! When she tells you she is pregnant, you better show her that you’re ecstatic. Just remember your wife will be watching your reaction and will probably never forget this moment. She is also buried under a mountain of fears and excitement. Do NOT add to the fears!

2 . Show interest Read with her. I’m not saying go and buy daddy or pregnancy books, but show that you are genuinely interested in that tiny little fetus. 

3. Do the nursery 
If you are planning a nursery, be the handy man you like to think you are. Your wife may want to do everything herself. If so, then just offer help. If it’s clear she is too tired to work on the nursery, tell her to kick her feet up and you go do the work.

4. Buy everything she craves
Don’t question her cravings. Even if she tells you she wants a pickle and nutella sandwich, you go do it for her! And just so you know, pregnancy cravings are unlike any other cravings. Pregnancy cravings are more like if-you-don’t-get-this-for-me-now-I-will-destroy-you.

5. Buy her a mother’s day gift If it’s mother’s day and she is pregnant, buy her something. She will be touched. She might even curse you less, if you’re lucky.

6. Buy her more gifts She will tell you she doesn’t want anything, or that she wants to save the money for the baby, but buy her something small every now and then. She might feel ugly and disgusting, so make her feel special. Surprises are nice and anything to take her mind off the morning sickness/stretch marks/acidity/labour is always good. 


7. Be a house-husband Do the chores. Do NOT wait for your pregnant wife to tell you to go wash the dishes, trust me, you don’t want to anger it. Once your wife tells you she is pregnant just have it set in your mind that you will be doing everything: the cleaning, the dusting, the vacuuming, the dishes, the laundry. Everything! for at least nine months, then a couple after that.

8. Book a couples' maternity massage 
Pamper her, do whatever it takes to make her happy. A couples' massage could be a great treat for both of you. If in Abu Dhabi I recommend the Zen Spa at the Beach Rotana (it is DIVINE). A pregnant woman won't be able to go in her first trimester, so make sure it's safe before booking an appointment.

9. Let her win every fight Your wife is pretty much a walking steaming hot incubator. Don’t add to the fumes. Plus, stress isn’t good for the baby.


10. Let her name the baby She carried it for nine months while you did nothing! And what's coming next will make the pregnancy seem like a walk in the park. Let her have this!! 


11. Keep your fridge well stocked She will be waking up in the middle of the night, hungry. To avoid having to make trips to a 24/7 supermarket, make sure the fridge has everything she could possibly crave in a 24-hour period.

12. Don't expect a pregnancy glow What you see in movies is not real. Pregnant women in those movies are not pregnant. SURPRISE! They are photoshopped models with a pillow up their shirt. The pregnancy glow is mythical. Just appreciate the fact that your wife is growing a human and compliment her once in a while. That's all we want.

13. In the labour room Your role here is vital! Your encouragement and telling your wife what’s really going on is so important, I can not stress this enough. It will give her the drive to keep pushing. A woman who reaches this stage of labour will be exhausted and will need all the encouragement she can get. Plus, she cannot see what's going on down her.

14. Finally, let her curse You may find that your wife has lost some of her.. let’s say femininity. So if she wants to curse just let her get it all out now while the baby is still inside.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

13 tips on surviving your first trimester

Apparently, just over half of pregnant women suffer from morning sickness, and half of those end up actually throwing up. That would make me one of the unluckiest bunch.

I remember when it hit me. I was 6 weeks along and on holiday in Turkey with my hubby, and then all of a sudden it was as if someone turned on a button in my head. Suddenly my body realised it was pregnant and didn’t seem to be handling it all that well.

First of all, whoever came up with the term 'morning' sickness clearly never had it. It is all day long sickness. As soon as you wake up and even before you open your eyes, you're nauseous. My sickness was most intense from week 6 to 13. I only discovered ways to ease the nausea by the end. I'll be sharing them in this post so at least you guys can prepare.

1. Get rid of anything scented

With a heightened sense of smell you will not want to smell ANYTHING because you will be smelling EVERYTHING! And all the smells you loved before pregnancy you will probably no longer stand. Just prepare by switching from a spray on deodorant to a roll on of some sort. Get a shampoo that smells of nothing, it's hard, I know, but try. I couldn't find any myself so just ended up using a different shampoo every week. Get unscented soap bars and don't use perfume as much as you can. And don’t forget to let your colleagues at work know what's going on. Don't be like me and put up with it for months without saying anything and then taking it out at the people at home.

2. Chew gum

A lot of people gave me tips to get rid of that all day nauseousness (which I am grateful for) but nothing seemed to work! Ginger bread cookies didn’t help. Stuffing my face with crackers as soon as I woke up didn't either. I was STILL nauseous nauseous nauseous!! To make it worse I had this disgusting after taste after every meal. Chewing gum was the only way I survived it. It might not work for you, or it might just be the answer!

3. Snack

Try to keep eating to help with the sickness. Healthy food, obviously, or you’ll gain weight as quick as me.

4. Toothpaste

The worse part. Every time I brushed my teeth when pregnant I would throw up! The toothbrush would make me gag and the toothpaste was so disgusting that it made me sick. I could not stand the mint!! And all toothpastes seem to have that flavour! Argh!! I needed a solution, I could not go on 9 months with or without brushing my teeth. So I ended up using children toothpaste and the smallest toothbrush in the store. The children's toothpaste was not super strong minty flavored, it was so mild that it was tolerable. This got me through the first six months.

5. Stay away from milk and ice cream

You may crave them, but they are the most likely things that will make you feel so gross and throw up. Even though your body needs the calcium! Compensate with taking calcium pills.

6. Get hair packages

If your hair is unmanageable unless straightened, consider going to a nearby salon and ask if they can give you discounts or a package for hair blow-drys. That way you won't feel too guilty for spending a fortune on your hair when your too tired to do it yourself.

7. Take time off work

Take time off between 8 and 11 weeks when morning sickness reaches it speak. You probably won't enjoy your holiday, but beats being at work.

8. Stay away from fast food

Again, you are likely going to crave for them, but it will make you feel so gross that it's just not worth it. Besides, these things aren't nutritious for the baby. Go for grilled salmon instead!

9. Take meds if you have to

I was too sick to function and needed to take really strong pills because all the over the counter meds didn’t work on me. I also needed them to keep food down. I ended up taking Zofran. Beware of side effects though. You will probably need to take stool softeners. That’s all I’ll say.

10. Keep a record of all symptoms

You need to keep your doctor informed. Even if they don’t show much interest or ask. Tell them everything! Everything!

11. Read blogs and watch video logs

Pregnancy vlogs helped me a lot. At least through that I knew what to expect. It was also reassuring to watch 40-week pregnant women still functioning and smiling to the camera. I also recommend downloading the babycenter app and joining a birth club. And to keep you motivated, watch proper pregnancy updates from babycenter and NHS. When you see your baby’s amazing journey inside the womb you might stop thinking that you have it rough.

12. Change your bed side

Move to wherever is closer to the door/toilet. You'll know why soon enough. Also, remove any obstacles on the way to the toilet.

13. Don't worry

Don't read awful stories about pregnancy and what could go wrong. Worrying about it won't help in any way. It could actually make things worse. Just don't worry, you'll be fine.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

What I haven't told you about having a baby

I sympathised with other pregnant women while pregnant. Every time I saw or heard someone was pregnant, the first thing I would think was ‘that poor thing’.  During my early months I would watch those about to pop at the gyno clinic, wobbling, sweating, and plain agitated. I shuddered at the thought of that would be me in a few months, but at the same time I was jealous they were ahead of me and were almost done with pregnancy. Pregnancy was THAT bad.

As horrible as this will sound, it was so hard to even get excited about the baby, and it just never really hit me. I could not imagine how this bump, which had left me lose all control of my body, and which took a real emotional and physical toll on me, would one day magically become a baby. And that I would love that baby more than anything in this world, so I'm told.

Now when I hear that someone is pregnant, I get a gush of excitement and possibly a veneer of jealously! Don't get me wrong, I do NOT miss being pregnant, but I know what's coming for that miserable pregnant lady. She will never know what hit her.

Since I've been told that my last two posts have pretty much had the same effect as contraceptives, in this blog post, I'll be telling you guys what you should look forward to when expecting.

Let’s begin with the dreaded labour day. The moment your baby is placed on your belly in the delivery room after however many hours of labour (48 in my case!) you will be overwhelmed by this new manifestation. You will forget the pregnancy and labour INSTANTLY. It’s magic.

You will breathe a sigh of relief. You'll then look at your baby and cry that it's over and your 'bump' was now in your arms. Then you will laugh, and cry because you cannot contain it. You will catch your hubby's eye. He will be looking at you in awe at your reaction.

It is surreal. Hassan (my hubby) told me that my reaction was something he would never forget. And the feeling doesn't stop!
To be completely honest, it is hard. Kind of like being in the shower and just as you put shampoo on your hair, you hear your baby cry through the baby monitor. The cry will be so loud and sharp that you’ll slip, taking the shower curtain down with you. You’ll run outside and forget the shampoo in your hair for hours. Or you’ll be so sleep deprived, you’ll end up brushing your teeth with soap instead of toothpaste, or when your baby cries at 3am, you will be so out of it that instead of comforting them, you’ll randomly go to the toilet and start getting ready for a shower. It is hard. Sometimes you’ll cry, but things will happen and it will be so worth it. 

The first time you see your baby smile in their sleep, the first time your baby grips your finger, the first time your baby tries to eat your finger, the first time your baby starts pulling your hair and laughs as you screech in pain, watching your husband fall in love with what you both created, hearing your baby's first laugh, your baby waking up as soon as you put them in their crib, then you letting out a sigh but secretly you're happy you can play with them a little longer. The list is endless. It will all make you forget every bad moment you experienced during pregnancy, and every stitch you needed after pushing a 10 pound baby out.

Usually when you make a life-changing decision, you justify it first - like wanting to get married or change career paths. You’ll be scared, but excitement will be the dominant emotion here. When I was pregnant I could not justify my pregnancy. I was scared. The excitement didn’t come till much later, and even when it did, it didn’t last. My husband wasn’t a fan of kids and timing wasn’t right. I was happy, obviously (under all the exhaustion) but could not see the bigger picture.  All I could see were stretch marks and foods that made me nauseous and clothes that no longer fit.

I complained non-stop throughout the nine months to my desk buddies at work. I feel awful for putting them off pregnancy, possibly for life. I feel bad because they didn't get to hear the other side of it: the first ultrasound when we saw the little peanut, or at the ultrasound where our little boy showed off his acrobat skills and did a summersault, the first kick, or the first cry after being pushed out into the real world and into his parents’ arms.

Now that he is here, I sometimes wonder why I didn't have him sooner. My hubby feels the same way. This I will never be able to justify. Not why I got pregnant, but why I waited.

My baby Omer, born on May 20, 2014. For those wondering, this was taken by the talented Dahlia, of Dahlia photography

If you’re still unconvinced, here's a list of things to look forward to.

While pregnant

Finding out the gender
I found out at 12 weeks, which is pretty early, but that's because he's a boy. They either see it or they don't. That's why with girls it takes much longer to know and make sure it's a girl and it's not just hiding! Usually around 16 weeks.

Buying baby clothes
This was my favourite part! Who doesn't love buying ridiculously cute baby outfits?

Eating like a pig
Eating for two is a myth, but no one will argue with a hormone-raging pregnant women!

An excuse to do nothing
Abuse it. That's all I'll say.

The first kick
I felt the first kick at 15 weeks. My doc said it was impossible. HE WAS WRONG! I also changed docs soon after.

The 4D ultrasound
This is when it'll start feeling real. You better film this! It will happen after you hit 25 weeks usually. It will be the first time you'll try to guess who the baby looks like!

A baby shower
I never planned one but had an amazing one thrown for me by a wonderful woman, Leah.

Giving birth!
It's scary! But super exciting (you wont realise this till much later). The moment you go to the hospital with your baby bag and you know that in a few short hours you will finally meet the thing you have been dreaming about for months. Leaving your home thinking the next time you come back here, you will be three.

With baby

The baby
Need I say more?

The post delivery ward
It's like a baby hotel in there! For the first time you will enjoy your stay in a hospital! You'll be there not because there's something wrong with you, but because everything is right! Nurses will come to your room with a big smile on their face and tell you the one thing you will hear over and over again for the next month: CONGRATULATIONS! And it never gets old.

No period
At least till you stop breastfeeding.

Becoming a family
You are officially a family. You now can take full advantage of family car parks.

Stronger bond between you and hubby
There has been a lot of debate on this. That a baby can either make or break a couple. I think it helps a couple get closer with a greater love tying them together.

He's all yours
And life will never be the same again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

9 things to do before getting pregnant

I won't lie, learning that I was pregnant came as a big little shock to me. Even if you plan on getting pregnant, as soon as you see the positive sign on a pregnancy test you will have an OMG! moment. You will realise there is no turning back. That’s it, it happened. A ton of thoughts and emotions will begin to race through your head, and your pregnancy hormones will make everything worse!
One thing you could do, though, is prepare yourself.

1) Book a holiday

Rekindle with your significant other and go away somewhere, anywhere. Holidays from the UAE are less expensive than other places, take advantage of that! It might be the last time you get to travel alone as a couple. You need this time together. Trust me.

2) Go to the dentist

Before I got pregnant I went to the dentist, I didn't know I was about to get pregnant, I just needed to go. I'm so happy that I did. I spent the first four months of pregnancy puking everything and didn’t even want to think what damage that did to my teeth. If I hadn’t just been to the dentist, I would have needed to while pregnant! You really don't want to do that. Even if it's just for a cleaning, just go and see your dentist.

3) Detox

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a coke/pepsi addict. I would always have a can of coke in my hand instead of a glass of water. Do your body a favour and relieve it from any bad eating or drinking habits. You don’t need to do anything drastic, just do what you know needs to be done to get healthier.

4) Take vitamins

Why not? It's good for you, and what your body doesn't need it will pass anyway. But stay away from high dosages of vitamin A, which could actually cause birth defects. And to help prevent birth defects, start taking folic acid for at least a whole month before getting pregnant. You can get this at any pharmacy.

5) Go on a diet

If you are a little bit chubbier than you'd like to be, start dieting. You will get much bigger, and as happy as you'll be that your little one is growing inside of you, seeing your weight jump up so quickly won't be easy. Do not, however, join a gym. I joined Gold’s Gym at A Wahda Mall and till today have not set foot in there.

6) Dye your hair

Go for a look that would need very low maintenance. You won't want to be making regular trips to your hairdresser and smelling all the dying fumes while pregnant. Good options would be going back to your natural colour or going ombré.
And while you're at it, ask your stylist to give you tips on easy hair dos. When you feel like death, you will want the easiest hair dos possible. If you are in Abu Dhabi, I recommend Beauty Spot salon at Eastern Mangroves Hotel.

7) Clean your home and set up a cleaning service

I mean clean everything. Inside out. Anything that needs fixing, get it fixed, any furniture that needs to be sold, sell it. Make space in your closet, you need the space for your maternity gear. And this will come as no surprise, you might not have energy to clean while pregnant. Get a cleaning service. I used They are pretty good.

8) Hold back on shopping

If you must because there’s a sale or something, then only buy loose clothes! I shopped the weekend before I found I was pregnant at Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi (this time last year!). I went all out and ended up not wearing any of it! Even if you don't ballon up as fast as I did, you will want to wear loose comfy clothes, and you’ll be too tired to shop in your early months.

9) Teach your hubby how to cook

I craved big breakfasts during my first few months. I needed them to help with my morning sickness. Somehow it worked. I actually convinced my hubby on some weekends to take me to random Rotana hotels in Dubai just for the breakfast buffet. I don’t blame my hubby, but it would have been great if he knew how to make big breakfasts! Now is a good time to teach your hubby (or buy him some cooking books!)

Monday, September 15, 2014

10 things they don't tell you about breastfeeding

When I was pregnant I had a reoccurring nightmare that I couldn’t feed my baby! It was awful. I did everything I could during my waking hours to ensure my nightmare wouldn’t become a reality. In spite of all the information out there on breastfeeding, the reality of it is very different. Here are the 10 things I found.

1 - It’s frustrating

Ever wondered how your body just knows when to start producing milk? That’s after your placenta is delivered following the birth of your child. But before the milk, your body produces colostrum. This is great stuff for the baby, yes, we all know that. But it’s very little, well, in my case anyway. No one told me how frustrating it would be to wait for the milk to actually come in! It took me three days. Three days of crying and wondering why it was taking so long! Three days is actually pretty good. My pediatrician said it could take around 5. It seemed like my nightmare was becoming a reality and I could not feed my baby. A doctor at my hospital here in Abu Dhabi told me I should give him formula (Aptimal) until the milk sets in. All adults with me looked at the doctor in horror. ‘What if the baby gets used to the formula and doesn’t want her milk later?!’ they all said. To be honest, at that moment I really didn’t care. All I wanted to do was feed my tiny 2.7kg baby. And guess what? he didn’t get used to the formula and I later fed him just fine :)

2 -  The contractions

So this was a big shock to me. When you start feeding your baby, you start getting contractions, and they’re pretty strong!! I had to actually take pain killers (brufen) to ease the pain. This only lasts a day or two, so no need to worry! Plus, it’s actually a good thing because it means your uterus is shrinking back to its normal size. One of the first benefits of breastfeeding. Still, it was a shocker.

3 - It’s loooong!

I thought babies nurse for like 10 minutes and then are done. Pretty much all I did for the first month or so was breastfeed. I had no idea that so much time would be taken up by breastfeeding!! I actually thought something was wrong with my baby. He seemed to constantly feed and not get bigger. Obviously all babies are different, but my friend Google here tells me a lot of other women go through the same thing. It would have been nice if someone prepared me beforehand.

4 - It hurts

A lot. And for weeks, not just one like they tell you.
They say it shouldn't hurt and if it does then it is a sign that baby is latching on wrong. My question is, how many ways are there for a baby to latch on?! There's nothing wrong with the latch, it just hurts. And be prepared, your nipple will likely crack and possibly bleed.

5 - Make room for nursing bras!

You will literally not need to wear any kind of bra except a nursing one for however long you plan to nurse. I know, it sucks. Especially that good options are limited, I've found. The ones I found here in Abu Dhabi were at Destination Maternity (located in Al Wahda Mall's new extension), but they were pretty pricey!! And uncomfortable. And looked awful. I ended up ordering a few online from boob design
I totally recommend them, and yes, they deliver to the UAE! usually within a week.

6 - Buy some nursing tops

When your baby is screaming for milk, you will want to give him boob access ASAP! Nursing tops are not pretty, I know, and they are expensive!! But you need them. What I did was purchase nursing tank tops from H&M here in Abu Dhabi (Al Wahda Mall). They sold black and while in a set, and grey polka dots in another. I bought the two sets. They were around 200 AED (US$55). They are life savers. You can wear them under any cardigan or jacket and it wont look too dull :)

7 - Engorgement? Mastitis?

Get yourself familiar with these terms. It might save you a lot of trouble in the future and help you avoid them. And if like me, you experience the latter, then get familiar with how to spot it early for quick pain relief, because, yes you guessed it, it's painful.

8 - Get a nursing pillow!

Honestly these things are wonderful, and yes I know many say you can just use any old pillow, but it's not the same! A nursing pillow is defiantly much better, especially when your baby is a fragile little newborn. I didn’t like the one they sold in Mothercare, they were a little too stiff and I didn’t feel it would be so comfy for a bony baby. I ended up getting one from the Babyshop. They are pretty good because they take the baby’s shape.

9 - Losing weight?

Fine, it does help, but very slowly. You actually have to eat a lot more to keep your supply up, and while nursing you cannot diet.

10 - Supplementing with formula

I had to do this because my supply was low. I ate everything doctors told me to eat to boost my milk supply. I even bought ancient remedies and pills and I don’t know what. Nothing worked, my baby wanted more milk. So I would give him formula after nursing him at every feed if he was still hungry. And I was trashed for it. My pediatrician told me that giving a baby formula was "like leaving him in the middle of the road and just praying that no car would hit him". She really did say that. And it scared the hell out of me and made me cry. But, really, it’s no big deal.

And yes, it is a pain that I’m having to breastfeed as well as bottle-feed - which includes bottle washing then sterilising, and all the other stuff that comes with it - and yes it takes longer. But it’s all worth it. It’s worth the pain, the trouble, and the long long hours. And when they tell you breast-milk is better for your baby, they’re not exaggerating in anyway. I had to stop nursing for a week while on antibiotics and had to pump instead. It was a nightmare. My baby had gas, tummy pains, and constipation. And I know he’s just a baby, but I could tell he was not happy. So however little breast-milk he is getting from me, I am thankful for it, and I would not want to stop until he was ready to move on to cow’s milk.

Happy nursing everyone, and let me know if I missed anything :)

A whole year later

It's been almost a year since my first and last blog post, haha! But today I'm starting fresh with a new commitment to blog (almost) daily, with a set sched to follow according to my totally made up pages.
As today is Monday, my blog will be on life as a new mum.