Saturday, 31 December 2011

And then the witch doctor he gave me this advice

The moment you first decide that you want to be a parent [if planned] - or the moment you first find out you're pregnant [if unplanned] - is the moment when you no longer associate doctors with feeling sickly.

Whereas prior to parenthood, you'd only visit a doctor if something is wrong with you, you now end up making your doctor's clinic a second home.  Some might even end up with their doctor's and/or midwife's personal telephone number saved on speed dial!

When I discovered I was pregnant, I had a very short period of time to find me a doctor since I was only a few days away from going abroad for about a month.  I tried to get an appointment with a few different doctors recommended by family and/or friends, but at the end, I managed to get an appointment sorted with a doctor who happened  to be a family friend - and highly recommended by quite a few people.

The more time went by, the more apparent it started to become that soon I will no longer be the patient.  The focus will be shifting on Creature the moment s/he is born.  This could only mean one thing - it was time to start looking for a Paediatrician - a good one - preferably one whose office is close to where I live.

Where to begin, though?

First off, I had to start asking around.  

Well, you can ask your obstetrician or midwife for recommendations. Hospitals, insurance companies, and medical schools also provide referrals to doctors.  Friends, family, neighbours, co-workers - they're all good points of reference.  If there are any pharmacies in your area, you can ask them too - especially since quite a lot of pharmacies tend to have a clinic attached to them.

Not having had to deal with this sort of situation beforehand, I had no idea what to look out for when trying to choose a paediatrician.  I came across various hints & tips online.  The following questions can do the trick if the paediatrician happens to be recommended by someone else:
  • How does your child respond to the doctor?
  • Does the doctor seem to enjoy working with children?
  • Does the doctor seem to know about the latest medical advances?
  • Does the doctor welcome questions?
  • Does the doctor take time to discuss problems and listen to your concerns?
  • If it's a group practise, do you know and like the other doctors?
  • Is the office staff patient and helpful?
  • How long do you usually have to wait?
  • Is the waiting room pleasant and kid-friendly?
  • Is parking plentiful and convenient?
  • Is there anything you don't like or wish was different about your child's doctor or her practise?

On the other hand, if you go for a more direct approach, you can try and arrange a meeting with the paediatrician that you'd have found.  In which case, you may wish to prepare a few questions to ask in advance.  Here are some hints & tips on what to ask:

  • Which clinics is the doctor affiliated with?
  • Do the doctor's hours suit your schedule? You might prefer one who works certain days of the week or who offers evening or Saturday-morning hours.
  • Does your doctor do house-calls?
  • How does the office handle telephone enquiries? Does it set aside specific times for parents to call in with questions or is there an open advice line during office hours? And if staff members handle the enquiries, do they dispense their own advice or relay the doctor's?
  • Does the doctor accept and answer questions by email?
  • How long does it take to get a non-emergency appointment with the doctor?
  • If there is more than one paediatrician at the clinic, how are appointments handled for children who are sick? Is there good chance your child will get to see his own doctor?
  • Are there separate well-baby and sick-baby waiting rooms?
  • Is the staff warm and helpful?
  • How do you reach the doctor if your child gets sick after hours? When your doctor is not on call, who covers?
  • Does the doctor have a subspecialty or an area of interest?
  • Do you and the doctor have similar views on topics such as circumcision, breastfeeding, immunisations, alternative medicine, and parenting issues such as attachment parenting, co-sleeping, single parenthood, and daycare? If not, is the doctor open to — and supportive of — other opinions and approaches?
  • Pay attention to such intangibles as the doctor's style. Do you want a doctor who offers choices and lets you decide which one works best for you — or would you be more comfortable with one who gives a lot of direction?
  • Take note of the overall atmosphere of the office. Is it clean, warm, and inviting?
  • If you drive, was parking a problem? If you don't, how easy is it to get to the doc's?
If you choose a doctor, but eventually you end up being unhappy with the service you receive, don't hesitate to discuss it with him/her, and if need be, switch to another doctor.

If you want to read further, you can clicky here for 7 signs of a good doctor, and here for 7 signs of a bad doctor.

To make your life easier, once you have actually selected a doctor you'd like to meet in person, go over this check list before you head off for your first appointment.  Following the first meeting with your child's doctor, you can then refer to this check list that will help you understand better what to expect, and help you find the right questions to ask, and things to look out for, throughout the following appointments over the next three years.

At the end of the day, the most important thing of them all is this - follow your gut instinct.  If you feel something is wrong, but the doctor says everything is ok

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

"Aaaaaaaah!!! The Germs!!! THE GERMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

That's the kind of message society tends to shove down people's throats nowadays.  Admittedly, health standards have improved in this day and age, but sometimes it feels as if it is being taken to ridiculous extremes.

Being exposed to certain germs and bacteria is actually healthy, to allow us to build a stronger immune system.  Living in a bubble-wrapped world takes its toll on our health in that aspect.

As you know by know, if you've been reading the blog, I am one for recycling as much as possible when it comes to baby stuff - by making use of 2nd hand goods as often as I can.  This means one thing though- someone else's poopy baby has used that item of clothing/furniture/toy.  So, how to clean it all - especially non-machine washable stuff?

Cleaning is not enough - you actually have to disinfect and sterilise to the best of your domestic capabilities.

The best advice I have come across so far when it comes to non-machine washable items such as prams, push chairs, cots, and toys, is this: White Vinegar.  Surprisingly enough, Vinegar should be your number 1 best friend.  Clicky here, and you'll see why.

It is a fairly simple process really- all you need is:

  • White vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Clean spray bottle
  • Vacuum cleaner with hose attachment/ Lint roller.
All you do is you either vacuum the small pieces of dust and/or lint - or use Lint roller.  Once that is done, fill the spray bottle half full with vinegar, and top it up with he hot water until it is nearly full.  Shake it well.  Et voila! Go spray happy on the fabric bits [the more you soak them the better results you get] and wipe down any plastic/metal bits such as handles, frame etc. with the Vinegar solution.  Once the process is done, just plop whatever item it is you're cleaning out in the sun and allow it to air dry.  If you need it to dry quicker, you can always use a hair dryer to help speed up the process.  The vinegary smell will fade away - but if it bothers you, or you need it gone quicker, some fabric refresher [such as Febreeze] can do the trick.

Some websites recommend the use of a few drops of Lemon or Tea Tree Essential Oils - however they might be too harsh for your baby's delicate skin -especially if you don't know how to properly use them.

There are other methods I've come across, but the above seems to be the simplest and most cost effective one of them all.  For other examples on how to clean 2nd hand items, you can clicky here.  Also, clicky here for some guidelines on how to clean fabric items which cannot be machine washed [such as the uber-padded bits of car seats, the cloth insides of Baby's bed]

Anything non-plastic, non-metal, and non-fabric [i.e. wooden, wicker etc] needs to be cleaned slightly differently.  The good news is that there are quite a few products that can be store-bought - and they don't have to be different from the products you use on your non-baby items! Here is a brief guide on the cleaning & disinfecting process.

One extremely popular brand of disinfectant is Milton.  I came across the name several times whilst Googling - and when I mentioned to my mum I needed to clean the pram and car seats, she immediately said "Milton." as well - so there must be something to it.  Here is a link that explains how this alleged wonder-product can be used.

The most important point I would like to make though is when it comes to washing liquids - be it shower gels, shampoos, or clothes detergents.  Make sure you go for specially designed brands whenever you can - simply using something which is "suitable for sensitive skin" isn't enough.  My being a "hippie" variant means I try to go for as much organic and non-animal tested and vegetarian-friendly products as possible.  Knowing that there is a chance Creature will have extremely sensitive skin due to it being the case in other relatives means that I would like to minimise the chances of contributing to his/her having reactions to these detergents.

One brand I quite liked whilst shopping around is Earth Friendly Baby - which hits the mark on all aspects of my check-list.  I will try and remember to let you know what the results were once I actually start using the products.  I've come across some pretty good reviews though.  Fingers crossed!

 To conclude - when it comes to washing your baby - at first a daily bath is not necessary.  Unless there has been a Nappy Explosion.  Until their umbilical cord stub falls off, you can just give Baby a sponge bath.  It is important to keep the umbilical cord stub as dry as possible to prevent the risks of infection.  You can either get a Tops 'n Tails bowl, or a small basin, to help you with the sponge bath process.  Once you're ready to give Baby his/her first proper bath, ideally, you should have someone with experience with you.  Slippery Baby is Slippery.  One gadget a friend of mine swears by is a Bath Support.  She says it makes her life much easier,especially when she has to bathe Baby on her own.  More on this another time though.  In the meanwhile, happy cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilising!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Who's your daddy?

Usually in my blogs, I tend to share information.  Today, I'm asking for information.

I was brought up within the traditional family model - mother, father, siblings, and a dog.  That family model nowadays is becoming more and more uncommon.  You have single parents, no parents whatsoever, two mums, two dads, step-parents etc etc.  Previously these different Family Models were pretty uncommon.  For a parent to be a single parent, usually they'd need to be widowed back then.

I now find myself facing single parenthood myself.  I can't help but think, "How will I explain to Creature why other children have two parents, and s/he doesn't?" or "How will I manage to deal with things such as Father's Day, or compositions given at school entitled "My Father"?"  What about the real possibility of bullying?  There are so many questions to which I don't yet have an answer! I know that I cannot have an answer for everything - and yet, it doesn't stop me from trying.

I know these things are a few years away, however the reality of the situation is as it is, and the sooner I come up with a vague outline of a plan, the better. 

So - what can you lot tell me? Any advice? Besides from not stressing out, that is - I appreciate it, but your telling me not to stress out won't make a difference.

'Cause if you feed me Seymour, I can grow up big and strong

I have recently been looking at various Formula Milk options to try and figure out which one to buy for Creature.  I must say, it is a perplexing process - not only do I know next to nothing about it, but I won't know if Creature will like it - or have any allergic reactions to it even.  In the meanwhile, I've gathered as much information as I possibly can about it all.  You'll find it all explained as clearly as I possibly could below.

There are three different types of formula:
  • cow’s milk-based formula
  • hydrolysed protein formula
  • soya-based formula

Cow's Milk Based Formula
The majority of Formula Milks are based on cow's milk, which is modified to resemble breastmilk as closely as possible. The cow's milk is modified by adjusting carbohydrate, protein, and fat levels and adding vitamins and minerals.  There are specific brands that modify the milk especially for Premature babies too!

One thing that perplexed me is reading "Stage 1" and "Stage 2" on on milk's containers.  So, what do they mean?

When the milk is modified, it is broken down into curds (casein) and whey. The ratio of casein to whey can vary according to the type of baby formula milk. This is what Stage 1 and Stage 2 are referring to.
Stage 1 milks consist of mostly whey, with a casein:whey ratio of 40:60, which is more or less the same as breastmilk. They are thought to be easier to digest, and are suitable from birth up until your child's first birthday.  Stage 2 milks consist of mostly casein, with a casein:whey ratio of 80:20. They take longer to digest and are often promoted as being for hungrier babies.

 In truth, your baby will only ever need the Stage 1 milk, nutrition-wise, but you might wish to switch to Stage 2 as your baby grows - perhaps to prolong the gaps between feedings. Be careful not to switch from Stage 1 to Stage 2 too early, as it might cause your child to become constipated. "How early is too early?" you might ask.  Well, many milk manufacturers market their second-stage milk as suitable from birth, you are better off waiting until your baby is at least four weeks old. Your can decide to completely skip the second-stage milk if you want, and once your child is 1 yr old, switch directly to cow's milk.

Cow’s milk is low in iron and vitamin C, so it shouldn't become the main milk before your child is at least 1. You can, however, use small amounts in cooking for your baby once s/he has started weaning.

Hydrolysed-protein formula 
Hydrolysed-protein formula milks are based on cow's milk and have the same nutritional value as standard formula milk. The difference is that the protein in the milk is hydrolysed, which means it is broken down so your baby is less likely to have allergic reactions to it. These milks are also generally lactose-free, so babies with an intolerance to cow’s milk can digest them easily.

If you think your baby has a cow's milk allergy or intolerance, see your doctor who will be able to prescribe a hydrolysed-protein formula for your baby. You can usually buy these from your pharmacy. You can also buy special lactose-free formulas, which your doctor might suggest is your baby has a lactose intolerance. 

Soya-based formula

Soya-based formula is made from soya beans. It is modified with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to make it suitable for formula milk. If you would like to opt for Soya-based formula milk, speak to your doctor beforehand.  Soya formulas are usually marketed as suitable for babies from birth, however health professionals don't recommend them for babies under the age of six months.

It's not recommended that your baby has soya formula if she has a cow’s milk allergy. Babies who are allergic to cow's milk are often allergic to soya, too.

There isn't any particular health benefits that your baby would get from soya formula as opposed to other formula milks. Quite the contrary! Soya formula milks can actually damage your baby’s teeth over time, since they contain glucose syrup.This means that if you do choose to give your child Soya formula milk, you'll have to take mega extra super special care of their teeth.

If your baby doesn’t seem content with the formula you first started her on, talk to your doctor before changing formulas.

"What about older babies?"

Oh,b there are a vast variety of 'specially-lalbelled' formula milks out there, so I can understand your confusion...

Here's a brief list of different older-baby-formulas and what they mean:

Follow-on milks are milks with higher protein and mineral content than ordinary infant formula. They are sold as suitable for babies from six months old.

Goodnight milks are follow-on milks with added cereal, which are marketed as milks that help your baby sleep better at night. However, there’s no evidence that they help babies to settle at night, nor that they take longer to digest. Don’t give goodnight milk to overweight babies, nor to babies less than six months old because cereal isn’t suitable for younger babies.

Growing-up milks are marketed as a better option than cow's milk since they contain added iron and other vitamins and minerals. They are promoted to be used for babies from about one year old. However, growing-up milk isn’t needed. Once your child is 1 year old, s/he can have full-fat cow's milk as her main drink. Since by that age, your child will also be eating a varied and balanced diet, any essential vitamins and minerals ill be obtained from solid foods,  thus rendering growing-up milks obsolete.  

If you decide to raise your child as a vegetarian, you might wish to switch to an iron-rich formula once you start the weaning process if you find it difficulty in finding enough vegetarian foods that are rich in iron. 

One important thing to check for is any particular brand having had negative publicity.  I came across an article today about a brand called Enfamil where there have been illnesses linked to its consumption, so there is doubt on whether it might be tainted or not. 

When purchasing formula milk, you  will find prices tend to vary a fair bit, depending on brand, type and retailer. Hydrolysed-protein formula milk tends to be the most expensive option.  If you find some time, go around different shops in your area [if you work, you might want to check the surrounding area over there as well] and just take note of Shop name, Type of Formula, Brand Name, and Price.  If you are the type to carry a note book with around at all times, jot down the above info - or alternatively, your mobile phone will do.  This will then allow you to compare prices, for you to be able to get the cheapest deal without compromising quality.

It can take on average 30 minutes to prepare a bottle.  This depends on your sterilisation method and the type of formula milk you choose.  Here is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare a bottle, and here is a guide on how to store pre-prepared formula milk safely in a fridge.

Can you do me a favour?

I hate having to rely on people.  I always have hated it.  I would much rather do my own thing, and whatever outcome it leads to, it'll be my fault/thanks to me. 

I have been living on my own for around 5 -6 years now.  I grew accustomed to coming home to peace and quiet after a long day of work with no one to nag at me, or to throw drama all over the place.

The day I told my family I was pregnant, things changed.  As time went by, I had to start asking people for favours, to help me out in doing this and that - things that I normally would do myself.  Let me tell you - it is bloody frustrating.  Especially when you get a "sure I'll help" and then they either cancel on you several times, or they never show up....  or show up late without having warned you that they are running late.  Sitting and waiting for whoever it is to show up, so that you can get whatever it is done is infuriating.

Not to mention the phone calls. Pre-pregnancy, I might have spoken to my mum for a maximum of once or twice a week.  Now, it is once or twice a day.  Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about her caring.  I will probably be way worse than her, were I in her shoes.  But - sometimes I just want to be left in peace, rather than being woken up by my Morning-Person-Mum who is listing stuff to me that I'm expected to remember. 

I look forward to the day where I get left in peace again.  That will probably be the day my child will start complaining about me.

Alive and Kickin'

Last night was yet another insomnia-ridden experience.  This meant,I got to watch my Belly Show. I finally managed to capture a brief moment of it on video - which you can see below:

I uploaded this video clip to my Facebook account, and most of my friends who have never experienced pregnancy first hand seemed to be somewhat traumatised.  I've been told by a handful of them that they didn't think there would be so much movement going or, nor that it would be THAT clearly visible.  To be fair, I', sure that on some level - be it conscious or subconscious, they made the link to the famous Alien scene.  Not sure which one I'm referring to? Shame on you!! Here you go!

When I was first told it would be visible, I myself made the connection with the chest burster scene and thought I would probably freak out if I see something moving inside of me.  Instead, I just tend to giggle at it all most of the time, with a "Ouch, stop that will you?" thrown in every so often, especially when Creature throws in a mega-kick or punch.

As painful as the movement tends to be most of the time, it means that all is well and I don't have to worry.  Before I started feeling movements, I used to worry all the time whether Creature is ok in there.

Other mums tend to tell me "I miss being pregnant - I miss feeling the movements inside of me."  One of my mum-friends actually went to the extent of saying that she envies me for being pregnant, and that she was really upset after giving birth - on both occasions [seeing as she is a mother of two] - just because she felt deprived of the movements.

I can imagine getting nostalgic about it, one way or another - however the trick with nostalgia is to recall both good and bad stuff related to the topic.  That way, you can move forward instead of getting stuck to dwell in the past.

I keep picturing what the first few moments will be like, once Creature is born.  I have half-jokingly said that if I have a boy and call him Duncan, I want to listen to Princes of the Universe the moment he is born.  The plan has changed to a gender neutral one now - once they hand him/her over to me, I just want to go.... "IT'S ALIIIIIVE!!!!! ALIIIIIIVE!!!!"  Think the midwife and medical stuff will mind? :D

Thursday, 29 December 2011

It's the final countdown!

At almost 35 weeks down the line, I'm more concerned with my personal countdown rather than the NYE one.  I'm afraid my plans for NYE will involve plenty of rest and watching a movie or ten on my laptop - and that is probably going to be the plan for the next few years.

Today I had my fortnightly doc's appointment, where I found out some interesting stuff.  First of all, I was quite pleased to discover that my weight dropped by 300 grams rather than increasing, since 2 weeks ago.  This means that since the beginning of my pregnancy, I've gained a total of 8 kilos.  Yay!  Blood pressure and everything else was ok.

When it was time to have the ultrasound scan, Doc said he is pleased with my weight and that all the meat substitutes [since I'm Pescatarian] I'm eating must be doing the trick as Creature is growing perfectly - and is actually a bit advanced! "How did the doc know?" you might ask me.

When an ultrasound scan is carried out, the ultrasound technician/doctor carrying out the scan will take various measurements of different body parts.  The machine they use will give the measurements and associate them with the progress of the pregnancy weeks-wise.

  The first measurement that is taken is called the Biparietal Diameter [BPD] which is the diameter across the developing baby's skull, from one parietal bone to the other.  Creature's BPD today was that of 9.77cm - which is 40 weeks' dimension.

It is big for  a reason!

The second measurement to be taken is the Abdominal Circumference  [AC] - pretty self-explanatory, really - which is the single most important measurement in assessing foetal size and growth.  It is important that this measurement is taken as accurately as possible.  Severe intrauterine growth retardation can be missed if the AC is not measured. Creature's AC today was measured to be 32.42cm - which is usually associated with a 36 week 2 day foetal age.

Last but not least, the Femur Length [FL] is measured.  If you're not too familiar with your bone structure, the femur is basically your thighbone.  Creature's FL today measured at 7.08cm - which is also considered to indicate a foetal age of 36 weeks 2 days usually.

This basically means that Creature is going to be a brainy, tall, round-bellied individual!

As an additional piece of info for you lot, here's a glossary of the most common pregnancy-related terms.  It may help you understand better what doctors and midwives and pregnancy-related literature are going on about.

My family are convinced Creature  will be born preterm because of his/her size.  I feel like a ticking time bomb right now.  Everyone is stressing out about my needing to have everything ready, just in case.  To be honest, I've got most stuff prepared - the rest, I'm guilty of procrastinating.  We'll see what happens.  In the meanwhile, I'll ignore their buggering and badgering and just take things day by day.

To keep, to give up, or to get rid of?

This morning, a very lovely lady I have the pleasure of knowing posted on Facebook a quote, and later a scanned image, of an article featured on one of the local newspapers.  It emerged that this article was based on an British health agency's study.  Same article can also be found on Yahoo! News.

To bring you up-to-date on the situation locally, Abortion is not legal over here.  However, anyone wishing to abort only has to jump on a catamaran or a plane and pay for it in one of our neighbouring countries.  They will not be turned away, since their money is as good as others'.

"Are you pro-life or pro-choice?" you might be thinking.  The truth? I am pro-using-your-own-brains-to-make-the-most-suitable-decision-whilst-assessing-things-on-a-case-to-case-basis.  Simply put, I will not object to someone undergoing abortion, but neither will I recommend it.  If keeping the child, or giving him/her up for adoption, is a more feasible choice, then to me, that person should choose one of these other two options.  If on the other hand, neither keeping, nor giving up the child, is a feasible solution, then so be it.  Abortion will be the lesser of all evils in that scenario.

The one reason I do not call myself pro-choice, in truth, is because I would not wish Abortion as an experience upon my worst enemy.  Yes, medically, there is no mental health risk linked to it.  There is, however, heartbreak, guilt, and a generic feeling of violation.  As if someone has ripped your very essence out of you.  It is like an extremely amplified combination of mourning the death of a loved one, and having your heart broken by the love of your life.  Needless to say, it is a big deal.  One that you will have to carry with you for the rest of your life.

Different countries have different regulations indicating until when an abortion can be conducted.  Whilst discussing the topic with a French friend of mine who lived for about 3 years in the UK, she explained to me one of the oddest things ever.  The law in the UK makes it legal to have an abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy so long as certain criteria are me, though in special circumstances, it is legal to have an abortion until later on. The Abortion Act 1967 covers the UK mainland (England, Scotland and Wales) but not Northern Ireland. The law states that:
  • abortions must be carried out in a hospital or a specialised licensed clinic
  • two doctors must agree that an abortion would cause less damage to a woman's physical or mental health than continuing with the pregnancy 
The law states that an abortion is legal after 24 weeks:
  • if it is necessary to save the woman's life
  • to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman 
  • if there is substantial risk that if the child were born, it would suffer from physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped. 
Here is what perplexed me - Premature babies, born as early as 23-24 weeks, can be revived should the parents express the wish to attempt a resuscitation, after discussing it extensively with their doctor.  Premature babies born from 25 weeks onwards are resuscitated without the parent[s] needing to request for it.

Basically, the lines blur across one another.  There is a time through the pregnancy where one can decide to abort - but if there is preterm labour, once the child is here, the doctors would be obliged to try and save his/her life.

So yeah. Personally, I think that the very latest that abortion should be carried out is within the first 12 weeks.  Basically, as long as it is still referred to as an embryo, not a foetus, then I find no moral objection.

On the subject of men and their being opinionated about the whole thing - I mean this in the most loving of ways - You guys will never ever have to deal with this experience in the same way as your ladies might have to.  At the end of the day, it is her decision, not yours.

Before you jump at my throat saying I'm being too harsh - let me attempt to rephrase that.

Under no circumstances do I see it fitting for a man to tell his pregnant partner that she should abort, unless she expresses the justified feelings herself.  She will be the one to have to deal with its consequences - not you.  If you are able of finding an alternative to abortion, please do let your lady know about it.  Discovering you're pregnant is quite a traumatising thing - even when planned.  So be supportive.    At the end of the day though, if she is still of the opinion that she should abort, then it is up to her.  I'm sorry you will have to deal with a decision you do not agree with, but that is what you would need to do 0 deal with it.

I know, you probably are still hating me.  There is no sugar-coated way I can put it to make it sound less harsh, so just think it over.  I tend to be rather blunt in my words, so struggle to put something nicely when I don't really see the need to.

One more thing I wanted to point out is - the morning-after pill is not available in Malta either.  Should the Powers That Be decide to legalise it and introduce it in Malta, I would say to price it at some ridiculous price which is still affordable - Let's say, 10 or 20 euros.  That will ensure that it will not be used as a contraceptive but rather as a remedy for an emergency situation.  Condoms break, and rape happens.  Having friends who work, or have worked in pharmacies, tell me about the number of Language School students [i.e. foreigners coming over to Malta to learn English, usually during summer] they have to break the news about the morning after pill not being available and see their life crumble away, has enforced my opinion that it should be introduced.  After all, these students would have been able to obtain the pill were they back home.  Instead, they now will have to face a possible unwanted pregnancy and all the consequences related to it.

To conclude - no one can ever really be pro-life, nor pro-choice, unless they have to face the situation themselves.  I have known pro-lifers opt for an abortion, and pro-choicers choosing to keep the baby.  Finding out you're pregnant is the one thing that will bring things into perspective - and just because you chose to, or not to, abort once, does not mean you will make the same choice again in the future.

Those were the days!

"Ah! I miss the good old days!"

Sounds familiar?

Having been born in the mid-80s, growing up I was surrounded by all things cheesy and awesome - cartoons, movies, music - you name it.  Maybe it is nostalgia, but I honestly believe that there isn't that kind of quality being produced nowadays.

I do know that I would like to introduce Creature to my 'childhood' favourites - and I say 'childhood' because in truth, I still enjoy them nowadays.  However I think I will have to come to terms with the fact that s/he will also need to familiarise him/herself with the 'crap' that is being produced nowadays.  The reason? They'll end up being social outcasts if they are not up to date with it all.  It would pretty much be a Parental Imposed Handicap - and I really don't wish to do that to him/her.  Especially since it will probably already be hard enough getting through to others without their prejudice against me appearance-wise becoming an obstacle.  Well, not the children anyway - they tend to be pretty amused by my being colourful and shiny - it mainly would be the parents.  Having said that, I look very much forward to see how it will all be playing out hen it comes to parents interacting with myself in an environment where they cannot do otherwise. *insert evil laughter here*

Thanks to the Internet culture that is thriving in this day and age though, being familiar with the 80s and 90s is still a must.  How else would you get certain puns and memes?  Not sure what I'm on about? Clicky here.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The awkward moment when you wanna purchase 2nd hand stuff

As mentioned on a previous blog, purchasing 2nd hand items can be a penny saver.  This, however, does not come without its own awkward moments.

I have met different stereotypes of Second Hand Sellers. I will attempt to draw a clear picture for you lot of a few of them.

The Grandmother
Walking into her house, you will notice that her grandchild must be at least 6 years old by now. The tell-tale signs? House is in order and full of china knick-knacks and statuettes covering any given surface - such as coffee tables and other places where you wouldn't normally dream of placing similar items when younger children are involved.

Once she shows you into the room where the Stuff To Be Sold is being held, you already know that most of it won't be to your liking.  It will be pretty old, and possibly smelling of mothballs after being kept in storage for a long time.  And then it happens.

"See how cute this onesie is?" Grandma asks you sweetly. "How about this top? Oh look at these cute shoes! We bought everything brand new! We even got these from England!"

With every second that goes by, you feel yourself slowly taking steps away from her, desperately trying to come up with an escape plan that won't make you seem rude.  "Err, yes. That is very pretty. I'm afraid it isn't the right season/size/gender for my child though. Yes, yes I do like that. Hmmm yes, it is a real shame, you;'re right!"

Somehow you finally manage to escape, but not without having purchased a few things that you know you will never ever force upon your child.  You just felt you needed to buy something off her just so that you don't break her heart.

The Bossy Mum
This is the one mum that you know doesn't take any funny business.  And forces her partner to actually contribute to night-time feedings... or else!  You can tell by the way her children, who obviously must be in the same room as the two of you for her to supervise, barely utter a sound, unless she speaks to them first.  She is the Second Hand Seller equivalent of those kind of salesgirls who follow you around and give you their opinion in a very judgemental, yet matter-of-fact kind of way. 

You will need to be extremely assertive and not allow her to patronise you, lest you end up buying her trunkful of pink, frilly, baby girl items - in spite of you having a boy.  She will convince you that it is healthy for a boy to wear the pink frilly stuff. "He will need to get in touch with him feminine side.  The boyish boy stereotype is sooo overrated.  And if he turns out gay? All the better! Who wouldn't want a gay son?"

Try not to piss your pants as you make your way out of her domain with your tail between your legs.  She can smell your fear, and will take advantage of that by making sure you continue buying Second Hand Stuff off her for the rest of your life.

The Chic Mum
She's the one to overprice everything, and try to justify it by telling you exactly which country the item was purchased from, what brand name it is, which outlet it was, what its value was around the time of purchase, and to top it all off, she will assure you that your child will be unique by wearing said item.  Surely, no one else on this tiny, overpopulated island can have her stylish tastes!

If your budget allows it, get one or two things off her and keep her number.  You might need her for a special occasion outfit in the future.

The Moving Mum
"Mummy leaving island/moving house. Must sell within a week. Everything must go!!"


Time your visit well.  You could contact her earlier in the week to check what items are available.  Don't go there immediately though, or you will seem desperate.  Well, unless you really are desperate!  By contacting her, you will ensure you have wedged your foot in the doorway.  By actually going over later on in the week means that the Desperation Levels have shifted, and Moving Mum is now the desperate one,  so much so, that she might knock off an extra few Euros from the original asking price, or throw in some freebies - just to make sure you don't bail out on her and actually purchase the Stuff.

Careful she doesn't throw in this kind of freebie!

My lingering question though remains this - If the Second Hand Sellers don't reply to your text message/e-mail/call immediately, what is the etiquette for a 2nd attempt? Or a 3rd attempt even?  How does one deal with the necessary pestering without making the Seller hate you without them ever even having met/spoken to you before?  Should you leave 10 minutes in between one call and the next? 15 minutes? An hour? What is too little, and what is too long? 

I personally end up envisioning what might be the reason for the Seller's delay in answering - feeding kidlet? That may take an hour. Changing a nappy? That can take anywhere between a few minutes up to half an hour or so, depending on how messy it turned out to be.  Putting kidlet to sleep? Can range between 10 minutes up to several hours.  Or perhaps, they're doing a non-parent activity and simply aren't in a position to respond. Or they didn't notice your message/call.  If anyone could shed some light on what is the messaging/phone call etiquette I would be pretty grateful as this seems to be one topic Google knows nothing about.

Dude, that's so gay!

Everyone tends to say "If s/he were my child, I would..." whenever homosexuality or gender dysphoria is mentioned in connection with musings over how parents must feel/react when their child comes out.  Few people admit they would freak out, lest they be labelled prejudiced, discriminatory or homophobic.

I myself have plenty of LGBT friends - yes, I actually know transgendered people as well - both male-to-female, as well as female-to-male.  I tend to look at everyone as an individual and form my opinion entirely on them as such, regardless of sexuality, race, age etc.

This does not mean though that I would immediately be accepting, or have a positive reaction, should Creature come out to me one day and say "I'm attracted to my own gender," or "I feel I was born in the wrong body and want to undergo a sex change operation."

I cannot imagine how I would react.  Eventually, once the shock would fade away, I suppose I would be ok with it.  It would be very hypocritical of me otherwise.  But, being ok with it, and accepting it, are two totally different things.  Especially when it comes to gender reassignment.  How do you wrap your head around the fact that you gave birth to a girl/boy, and will now have to get used to the idea of having the opposite gender as your child? Even talking about them will have to be something to adjust to.  Instead of saying 'my daughter' you would now have to say 'my son' and vice versa.  It must be rather confusing.  Hell, I sometimes get confused as to which gender to use when talking about transgendered friends, since I got to know them in their birth-assigned gender!

I can only hope that if the day comes where I will have to face such a situation, I will be able to do so in a supportive and accepting manner.

It is all about the penis

To snip or not to snip? That, is the question.  At least, itis for parents who have a son.

Circumcision is sometimes  required for medical reasons - but a lot of young boys are subjected to it as either a religious rite of passage, or as a cosmetic surgery through which parents believe they will be doing their son a favour.

Locally, as far as I am aware at least, this type of surgical procedure isn't as common.  In the US though, it seems to be the norm.  This is my understanding from several discussions held over the years - both in jest and in seriousness - with friends all around the world.  This map seems to confirm the theory:

In some cultures, males must be circumcised shortly after birth, during childhood, or around puberty as part of a rite of passage.  Religious male circumcision is considered a commandment from God in Judaism. In Islam, though not discussed in the Qur'an, male circumcision is widely practised and most often considered to be a sunnah. It is also customary in some Christian churches in Africa.

There is strong evidence that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men in populations that are at high risk.  The World Health Organisation [WHO] currently recommends circumcision as part of a comprehensive program for prevention of HIV transmission in areas with high endemic rates of HIV.

Reading about it has made me cringe and mutter 'ouch' a few times in a really whiny tone.  If you wish, you can clicky here to read up - but I don't suggest you do if you're easily impressed.

Earlier this year  there has been some controversy raised in the states about whether Circumcision should be outlawed and classified as genital mutilation - even when it is for Religious reasons - or not.  There are a number of ethical issues related to the topic.  Let's have a look at a few:

  • Infant circumcision infringes upon individual autonomy and represents a human rights violation.
  • Using circumcision as a way of preventing HIV in high prevalence, low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is controversial, but it has been argued that "it would be unethical to not seriously consider one of the most promising new approaches to HIV-prevention in the 25-year history of the epidemic"
  • Some argue that the medical problems that have their risk reduced by circumcision are already rare, can be avoided, and, if they occur, can usually be treated in less invasive ways than circumcision.
  • Circumcision may result in psychological harm, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Circumcision may affect the infact-mother bonding and trust-building process negatively.
  • It is unclear what effects Circumcision has on one's sex life.  It seems to be common belief that it leads to loss of sensitivity and therefore a reduction in pleasure, joweber it has not been proven to be the case as of yet.
 Cosmetic circumcision

As of the early 1900s, in the US, Circumcision became accepted for non-religious purposes, however why, is still unclear.  In an increasing germ phobic society, the penis became "dirty" by association with its function, and from this premise circumcision was seen as preventative medicine to be practised universally.  Many practitioners at the time thought circumcision was a method of treating and preventing masturbation.  In truth, none of these reasons are valid.  Most parents who decide to snippety-snip their son's foreskin nowadays do it so that the boy can be like his father/other malte family members, if they happen to be cicumcised - or out of being under the wrong impression that being circumcised means the child will be 'cleaner' and less likely to get Urinary Tract Infections [UTI] and other uncomfortable ilnesses.

Ultimately, some males choose to undergo this operation themselves just because they think that being circumcised will make their penis look bigger.

At the end of the day. whatever choice you, as parents, make, it should be an informed decision.  I personally don't think it is fair to impose such a procedure on a child who cannot as yet speak for himself.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Patience is running thin, I'm afraid!

I'm currently in my 34th week, and I can't wait for it to all be over and done with.  Whose genial idea was it to make human pregnancy 40 friggin weeks anyway?  It is waaaaay too long.

I miss sleeping on my belly - in fact that is one of the first things I plan on doing the moment Creature pops out.  I also miss being able to do daily activities without running out of breath after 5 minutes.  Oh, and eating a meal without having to stop half-way through to get up in order to stretch and try to lessen the back pains.   Or bending down to pick up something without getting dizzy.  And I'm so over mint-flavoured stuff! Whoever decided that the Gaviscon chewable tables should be mint flavoured out to be locked up in a mint-coloured room, surrounded by mint-scented stuff, forced to eat minty stuff and drink mint tea, and brush his/her teeth with mint-flavoured toothpaste.  That way, s/he'll know what its like having to rely on them chewable tablets to try and limit the heartburn.

I know I will then probably complain about the stinky nappies, the constant crying, and a variety of other stuff.  Honestly though... I just miss my body, and am really looking forward to having my internal organs shift back to their place and being able to move about, and sleep, comfortably.  As far away from minty stuff as possible.

Unless we're talking about THE Mint.  Then by all means, THAT Mint is always welcome!

Recalls and Safety Concerns

A few days ago, I wrote up a blog about Safety and mentioned that it is always a good idea to stay up to date on any recalls - especially if you're given stuff, or purchase stuff 2nd hand.  Then, last night, I wrote up a blog about Sleeping Furniture Options.  Well, guess what? Just an hour or two ago, I receive an email from a parenting newsletter I'm subscribed to listing the Biggest Recalls for the year 2011.  Needless to say, I thought I'd share it with you lovely people.

Item number one on the top 40 list happens to be drop-side cribs [or rather, cots, in British English].  My curiousity was peaked to find out whether this applies to all drop-side cots or just specific brands.  The main reason for that is that the one I have been given happens to be a drop-side cot.  This means that it is a topic that hits home.

The reason behind the US Government issuing a ban to take effect as of June 2012 re:sale and/or distribution of drop-side cots is that between 2007 and 2010, 150 reports of babies dying due to a fault in the drop-side cot have been reported.  A quick Google Search has given me a bit more insight on the topic.

This article gives a list of the most common issues when it comes to safety with this type of cot.

If you happen to own one of the recalled cots, hold your horses and don't throw it out just yet.  There are a number of steps you can follow.

  • Check the CPSC website to see if your baby's crib has been recalled. Get a repair kit or exchange the crib if it is under recall. Do not try to repair a recalled crib on your own.
  • Make sure that your baby's crib is assembled correctly and works properly.
  • Check crib hardware periodically to be sure it hasn't loosened, broken or gone missing.
  • If you buy a used crib, be certain all of the hardware and parts are included, and find an instruction book if there isn't one with the crib.
According to the Which? website - no similar ban has been introduced within Europe as of yet since EU standards are different to US standards - however good sense tells me to keep myself up-to-date as if one country is willing to issue a ban, then there must be some degree of intelligent reasoning behind it.  Here's some more advice from Which? regarding choosing cot beds with safety in mind.

If you need some tips on how to research recalls, you can clicky here.

It has a penis! Now what?

If I have a boy, I have no idea how on earth I will teach him how to pee standing up, for example.  Nor do I know how I will have the heart to teach him how to shave.

From what I hear, according to school dress code policies, facial hair of teens is discouraged. Which is my problem.

Those who know me, know I have a strong love for Beards.  I 'bully' guy-friends into growing their beards as big, bushy and long as possible! How on Earth am I to be the one responsible for my son's murder of his first beard?? Or the one after that? Or the one after that?

Oh! Which reminds me! You know that Old Wives' Tale about how shaving your beard will make it grow back thicker? Bullshit. Don't believe me? Clicky here. And here. And here too.

To conclude.....

Monday, 26 December 2011

Where did Baby sleep last night?

Sleep. The one thing you probably won't get much of in the first few months of you baby's life.  And yet, you will be faced with an important decision - where should your minion sleep?

I was faced with the same dilemma myself at first.  Let us look at what options are available, and go through their pros and cons.

Moses Basket


The Facts
  • Secure, lightweight and cosy sleeping environment.
  • Is normally used for the first 3 months of a baby's life.
  • Can be made out of palm, maize, or wicker - with wicker being the most expensive but sturdy, long-lasting option.
  • Can easily be carried around the house.
  • Usually come complete with a set of bedding, a fabric-covered hood and their own foam mattress.
  • Baby may feel more secure in a snug Moses basket than a large cot.
  • Easy to move from room to room.
  • Can be set up on a stand or rested on the floor as desired.
  • It is used for a very short period of time.
  • If handles aren't long enough to meet in the middle, it might not be as secure, and you will need to hold it from underneath as you move it from room to room.
  • Baby's limbs can sometimes get entangled in the handles.

The Facts
  • Can be part of a 3-in-1 travel system, which when attached to the wheeled frame become a pram, or can be purchased as a stand-alone from specialist website.
  • Baby may feel more secure and snug in a Carrycot rather than a large cot.
  • Like the Moses basket, it can be carried around the house from room to room.
  • Also like the Moses basket, it is usually used for the first few months of the baby's life.
  • Can be a money-saving option if it is already included in your 3-in-1 travel system.
  • Can either be left attached the the wheeled frame, or detached as a stand-alone.
  • Might provide a better sense of security for Baby.
  • Is usually quite heavy when empty, let alone with baby inside it.
  • Most of the time, you will need to get a separate mattress for baby to sleep on.  Carrycot mattresses for night-time sleeping needs to be firm, to provide support for Baby.
  • Can be a hassle to attach and detach Carrycot from wheeled frame on a daily basis.



The Facts
  • It is not even remotely related to MTV.
  • Usually made of wood.
  • Can be purchased flat-packed, for your own sweary-assembly-times!
  • Bigger than a Moses basket/Carrycot, but still smaller than a cot.  This means it still provides that snug, secure feeling for Baby.
  • Is usually used for anywhere between 4 - 6 months.
  • Comes with a rocking/gliding action feature.
  • Rocking or gliding action may help your baby to settle to sleep in the first few weeks.
  • Used for a longer period of time than Moses basket/carrycot, so better value for money.
  • Looks cool.
  • Once Baby learns how to sit up by him/herself, Crib is no longer a safe option for him/her.
  • More expensive than Moses basket/Carrycot.
  • Not portable.
  • Might need a separate mattress.
  • Rocking/Gliding motion is a personal preference, so your Baby might not like it.


The Facts
  •  Looks like a simple sling, and hangs from a wooden/metal frame.
  • Can be gently rocked to aid Baby to sleep.
  • Can be bought complete with sheets, mattress and a mattress cover.
  • Is used for the first few months of Baby's life.
  • Very cosy sleeping environment that may help young babies settle themselves to sleep.
  • Looks cool
  • Expensive
  • Not widely available
  • Will be outgrown after a few months.
  • Might not be as safe an option if Baby tends to move around a lot in his/her sleep.


The Facts
  • Will last Baby from birth until baby is approximately three years old.
  •  Usually made out of wood.
  • Some feature a 4-position floor which means it can have it's depth adjusted as your baby grows, moving the floor further down to increase distance from floor to top of side-barriers.
  • Mattress usually is purchased separately.
  • Most have a drop-side feature, granting easy-access to the Baby.
  • Most are sold in flat-packs, meaning they require sweary-assembly-times!
  • Better value for money as they last for a few years - and if you get a cot that can be transformed into a junior bed, it will last even longer!
  • Plenty of room to attach Cot Mobiles for your baby's amusement.
  • Take up a considerable amount of space, meaning unless you have a large bedroom, baby might have to sleep in his/her own room.  Not fun for those midnight feedings!
  • Having too small a mattress means there is a gap between the mattress and the cot's frame, which can be dangerous.
  • Drop sides must be childproof - but not adult-proof as otherwise, they can be a safety hazard in the former scenario, and a nightmare in the latter.
  • It can be a painful experience if Baby bangs their head against the cot's slats. Which will happen at some point in time.
Travel Cots

The Facts
  • A half-way between a cot and a playpen.
  • Can be easily stored away when not in use.
  • Can also be easily moved from one place to the other [such as houses, or when travelling].
  • Have a mesh window on the side which allows you to see Baby pretty easily.
  • Easy to store away when not required
  • Can be a penny-saver if used as both cot and playpen.
  • No head-bashing-against-slats incidents.
  • Can be subject to quite a bit of wear-and-tear if faced with extensive use.

Safety tips!

Remember always to position your baby on their back. Try to maintain a room temperature of 18c at all times if possible. For the highest safety conditions, buy a good quality cot bed mattress.

Some parents prefer to use a Sleeping Bag rather than blankets to begin with, to avoid risks of the bedsheets smothering baby.  This, is what Baby would look like in said Sleeping bag.

Personally, I have been given a Moses basket which I may or may not use.  To begin with, I will probably opt for the Carrycot-on-wheels [i.e. pram] option, especially since Creature is due in early February [i.e. cold weather], and will then switch to the Cot once s/he outgrows the Carrycot.  I opted to buy a Travel Cot as well, since I have a love for travels.  Whenever at home though, I intend to use the Travel Cot as a playpen alternative.

For further reading on the above-mentioned options, you can clicky here, here, here and here.

So on this note, I bid you good night! Here's a little something to help you drift off

Stop screwing up your child

Earlier today,  I was catching up with a fellow nerd friend of mine.  Just general chit-chat, really.  The topic of educational issues came up, and we were discussing Parental Imposed Handicaps.

Allow me to clarify what  I mean by that.

In a previous post, I mentioned Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder [FASD] which is a term that describes Foetal Alcoholic Syndrome, as well as a plethora of defects that a baby can be born with [including, but not limited to, physical deformities] due to foetal exposure the alcohol consumption.  Just to recap, for you lazy buggers who don't bother with clicking links, Foetal Alcoholic Syndrome pretty much means that your child will constantly behave as if they are drunk.  They will be facing learning difficulties [such as dyslexia and being slow learners], as well as social handicaps [such as being slow to catch on in social environments, slurred speech etc] and can be quite uncoordinated in their movements.  Think of how many IQ points you lose whenever you get drunk.  Now imagine living in that state for the rest of your life - without the buzz you get off alcohol.  Fun, eh?  Oh, and it also affects the child's facial features.

The issue with FASD is that it is the mother's fault and therefore can be very easily go undiagnosed - at least, officially.  Few mothers will admit to being the reason their child has disabilities which could have very well been avoided.  And most will get defensive should anyone make an attempt to bring their attention to the issue.  This means tat the child will not get the support s/he needs.

Another Parental Imposed Handicap that came up was a case of children being brought up in too much of a sheltered environment.  In this day and age, most children grow up way too quickly, so a certain measure of control over what they are, or aren't exposed to, is a good idea to have.  However, when it comes to being TOO sheltered, it pretty much can be a severe social handicap.  Imagine being a 15 year old boy, who cannot understand how an unmarried couple can make babies - or hose parents don't allow him to read the newspapers, or watch the news, to protect him from "the evils of the world.  Or being a 15 year old girl whose mum decides how your hair should be cut, what clothes you should wear, who still bathes you every night.  Yes, these parents do exist.  And I pity their children.

Parenting is a tough game to play, but there are a few guidelines one can keep in mind in order to equip their child with the necessary life skills.

Let your child be aware of what is going on around him/her.  Take responsibility for your actions, and make sure your child takes responsibility for his/her actions too.  Don't justify him/her with "S/he's just a child!" whenever they do something they know they shouldn't have.  Allow your child to learn from his/her own mistakes.  As much as it hurts to see your child get hurt, sometimes they need to earn their battle  scars to truly learn the lesson.   Learn when to step in, and when to take the back seat - a child has to learn how to fight his/her own battles, whilst knowing that they will still find your support should it be needed.  Don't limit yourself to destructive/constructive criticism only - a healthy mixture of  both is needed.  If your child does something wrongly, don't just scold or punish them - explain why it is wrong, and how to fix it as well as what to do to prevent repeating the same mistake in the future.  Make sure your child knows there are no stupid questions - this will encourage them not to be afraid to ask you stuff.

I could go on and on and on with tips on what to do and what not - but I won't.  What it all boils down to is this - Life is hard enough as it is - don't make it any harder unnecessarily.

Sacrifices and Priorities don't always go hand in hand

"You're too good for your own good."

Does that sound familiar to you?  That, is pretty much the reason why I seem to get screwed over time and time again.  I have this crazy notion [ *gasp*] that everyone is an individual and therefore deserves a chance to prove themselves to be decent.  Unfortunately this means that by the time their true colours show, someone gets hurt.  And that, isn't them, usually.

Whilst having a conversation with a friend last night [or rather, too-early-this-morning] we were discussing how it seems almost impossible for someone who is "too good" to be otherwise.  In theory, it is simple enough.  It is only a matter of time and practise.  Once you get out of your "too good" comfort zone, and learn how to force yourself to be more assertive, and to put your priorities before others', then you're sorted.  You will be wrecked by feelings of guilt for a while, but eventually your comfort zone will evolve and it will become second nature for you.

He pointed out to me "Ah, but you can achieve that easily by cheating.  By bringing Creature's priorities first, you can justify being 'egoistic' whereas in reality you will still be bringing his/her needs first and foremost."

That gave me some brainfood to chew on.

Being a parent means that yes, your number one priority becomes your child.  However, your life does not need to end the moment the child is born.  I look at my mum, for example, and get pissed off at how she brings everyone else's needs before her own - at her own health's cost.  I end up telling her off and trying to get her to set her priorities straight.  I am sure that the vast majority of parents out there can relate.  Gods know how many times, growing up, we swear to ourselves that we won't do the same mistakes our parents did.

To me, that means one thing. Yes, your child priorities should come first.  But, don't forget your own needs, and every once in a while, do something for you.  "Me" time is still important.  If you don't look after yourself, both you and your child will suffer long-term consequences.  Your child will grow up and look back at his/her childhood, and realise how much you have sacrificed for him/her.  S/he will be grateful, sure, but not without feeling guilty and wishing they could turn back time and make you take better care of yourself. 

Spare your child that unnecessary guilt trip - it is your choice entirely; they have no reason to feel guilty about it.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Tits or GTFO

Chesticles, Boobies, Tits, Hooters, Jugs, Bazongas, Titties, Breasticles - call them what you will.  Fact is, everyone  loves boobs. 

To some, getting pregnant means they finally get "big boobs" - and they are happy with the growth and hope to keep it even after it is all over and done with.  These are usually the kind of women who lacked in the bra-filler department pre-pregnancy.

Then you get those who already have quite a bit of boobage going on, who curse the growth caused by pregnancy and hope that their breast will go back to what it used to be after the whole ordeal is over.

When it comes to The Partner, they're usually pleased with the... ahem.. new developments.  Let me tell you this though - it is not fun to go through.  I find myself in the second category of women.  It is pretty much a matter of days til I end up with my nipples saying hi to my belly button.

And guess what? Not only do the boobs carry on growing throughout the pregnancy - but if you opt to breastfeed - yes! They grow even more!  They won't stop til the day you stop breastfeeding.  If you were on the smaller side before the pregnancy, you will probably lose whatever you gained, and then some.  If you were on the bigger side, forget about losing whatever you gained. All that'll happen to your boobs is gravity.

Throughout the pregnancy, you'll get itchy boobs from the skin stretching itself, your nipples and areolas will go darker and threaten to take over your boobs, and then it will finally happen.  You'll start leaking.  Word of advice here: wear loose clothing, and preferably, padded bras.  Wearing black, and other dark colours, can help you hide the leaks should it happen at a really inconvenient time.  Get breast pads.  Or if you need some sort of emergency padding, those make-up removal cotton pads can work just fine.

If you're as unlucky as I was, prepare yourself for some serious upper back pain.  I don't have any advice on how to lessen it - though if you have a partner, or someone available on a daily basis, asking them for back rubs should be mandatory.  Try to rest as much as you can, as the moment your lower back starts hurting as well, you'll be seriously screwed.  It has been painful enough to interfere with my ability to work [since I work in an office environment where I'm seated pretty much all the time, my back started to hurt after 5 minutes into my shift.  And it hurt enough to bring tears to my eyes.  Considering I have a pretty high pain tolerance... that is saying something.]

If you have nipple piercings, get longer barbells.  Your nipples are going to swell up, thus needing more room.  If you decide to breastfeed, be prepared to say goodbye to your piercings.  Babies want to be fed every 2 hours or so, and you will have to take out the jewelry in order to nurse [choking hazard, and it can also damage their soft palate, if you don't remove it].  Your nipples are going to be sore after you finish nursing.  Putting jewelry back in, only to have to remove it again shortly after, will not be fun.

If you decide not to breastfeed, you will have some not-so-fun times ahead where you will spend a few days with your boobs being engorged and sore as hell.  Apparently, cabbage can help soothe the aches.  Refridgerate said cabbage, then get a leaf per boob. 

For more info about your boob changes, feel free to clicky here, here, here and here