Muddies To Be: The final session!

Goodness, doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun, toasting marshmallows and learning almost everything you need to know about labour, giving birth and navigating the first few weeks of having a newborn baby. Week six of our midwife-led antenatal classes will be here before you know it, and our final session will look at caring for your newborn, and caring for yourselves.

There will be a host of dolls for you to practise dressing a baby, changing a nappy and bathing the baby.  (This may take a competitive turn….)  We’ll talk about ways to bond with your baby and sooth your baby (skin-to-skin contact ticks both boxes).   The ways in which you can reduce the risk of SIDS will be explored, from safe sleeping practices to how to safely use a car seat.  And we’ll also look at the screening tests your baby will be offered in the first week of life – what are the conditions being screened for, how is the test done and when will you get the results?

Skin-to-skin is a great way to bond with you baby and soothe her.

Mental health after having a baby is increasingly being recognised as an important factor, and we know it is something people struggle to talk about.  We will discuss the fluctuating emotions you may feel after having a baby; what is normal and also what might be a sign of postnatal depression.  This is something that can affect both parents, and support is available should you need it after having a baby.  We’ll talk about when and how to access that support, as well as how you can support each other.

Just as important is your physical health, and how you can aid your recovery from months of pregnancy and the actual birth of your baby.  There will almost certainly be more pelvic floor exercise chat!  It’s a really good opportunity to think about what support you can put in place before the baby is born; to consider what you might need straight away and what can wait a few days or weeks.  How to cope with interrupted sleep and sleep deprivation will also be a topic of conversation – the value of a nap will be thoroughly explored!

We really can’t wait to get going on Muddies To Be once lockdown eases, and are really looking forward to seeing some of you in the woods. We really think our antenatal classes are unique, combining the benefits of being outdoors in the woods with the knowledge of a midwife and experience of a mother.  If you have any questions, or would like to book, please get in touch via the website or Facebook!

Muddies To Be: How to feed a baby

As we feed ourselves with marshmallows, tea, and biscuits, session five of Muddies To Be will be all about how to feed your newborn baby.  It’s an issue that has a range of factors that can affect your decision, and we will be discussing the benefits and drawbacks of infant feeding by breast, bottle and doing a bit of both. 

And then there is the literal how of how to feed your baby.  We’ll discuss the way in which the body makes breastmilk, and how it responds to the frequency your baby breastfeeds.  This will once again be Fran’s time to shine as Demonstration Diva (we’ll come up with a better name by the start of the course!) to show you the many positions you can hold a baby to breastfeed (they all have a few crucial things in common).  And I will get in on the act to give you an idea of how to promote bonding when bottlefeeding a baby.

We’ll talk about how to make up bottles, and your options for sterilising the equipment.  Hand and pump expressing will also be discussed (and likely be demonstrated using one of our bizarrely fluorescent knitted breasts!).  We are working on a ‘Play Your Cards Right’ style game as a fun yet informative way of discussing how long you can store expressed milk and formula milk.

So you know how to feed your baby, but what about when to feed your baby?  We’ll talk about feeding cues, and roughly how often you can expect to be woken up at night by a hungry baby. 

And we’ll also talk about how you can tell if your baby is feeding well, as well as when to get help and support if the baby is not getting enough milk, or you have sore or painful breasts.  There is plenty of support out there from health professionals such as your midwife and health visitor, to specialist infant feeding groups and helplines.

Finally we’ll look at how you as parents can look after yourselves when it comes to infant feeding – ways you can support each other and help make dinner time for your baby an enjoyable time for all and not a stressful part of your day.

As always, if you have any comments of questions, please get in touch through the website or Facebook.

Muddies To Be: The first hour, the first day

You’ve finally got your baby in your arms – time to rest and enjoy bonding with your newborn right?  Yes, absolutely.  But there is also quite a lot that happens in the first hour, and indeed the first day after the baby is born. That is what session four of Muddies To Be – our unique outdoor antenatal classes – will be about. It will be a golden hour (and a half) in the woods, discussing the golden hour after birth.

We’ll start by talking about skin-to-skin contact with your new baby, and the host of benefits it has for your little one and you.  In terms of acclimatising the baby to life outside the womb, there is no better place for a newborn than snuggled up on the chest of his or her parent.  You can enjoy the rush of oxytocin skin-to-skin brings as the last stage of labour occurs.

Skin-to-skin the golden hour brings benefits for mother and baby.
Skin-to-skin after birth is great for both mums and babies.

The placenta is no longer needed to protect and nourish the baby, and your body will want it out.  We’ll discuss the options you have for delivering this amazing organ, and what happens with it afterwards. (I will almost certainly tell a mildly amusing anecdote about a friend’s placenta). 

Following on from that, we’ll cover what happens when the midwife checks the perineum for tears and what to expect if you have stitches.  How to look after those stitches and the pelvic floor in general will most definitely be discussed. I am a big an of pelvic floor exercises for helping tears to heal, and muscles regain their strength after nine months of supporting the weight of a baby.  So that section may well be given lots of time!

There is a whole host of brand new baby stuff to talk about. We’ll start with cutting the cord (and probably an anecdote from my student days). There are the initial baby checks, including measuring his head and weighing him. There is the top-to-toe check, the question of vitamin K and the first feed. We will cover what the purpose of these things are, when they might happen and what your options are.

What about going home after a hospital birth? To make sure you and the baby are fit and well, there will be check for you both. For mothers, making sure your bladder is working well is important. (If you thought the days of giving a midwife a wee sample were now over, think again!) You’ll have a general check to make sure your body is recovering normally from childbirth. Midwives at a home birth will make similar checks.

We’ll talk about the role of the birth partner in all this. From baby bonding, to hospital visiting, Muddies To Be wants to make sure you have all the information you need.

There will also be more checks for the baby in the first day or so. The newborn hearing screening can be carried out anytime in the first four weeks, but can be done from when the baby is a few hours old. There is also the Newborn and Infant Physical Examination and this happens in the first 72 hours of life. We’ll talk about what this looks at and the options for having it done at home or in hospital.

As you can see, this is a jam-packed session, but it won’t just be us talking at you for a golden hour (or golden 90 minutes).  There is always time for tea and a chat at Muddies to Be (and the all-important toasted marshmallow), a woodland craft or two, and a stroll about the woods to stretch the legs and pick up some interesting facts along the way.

As ever, if you have any questions or comments please get in touch via the website or the Facebook page.