Brelfie – Am I missing something?

I’ve been resisting the urge to write about the #brelfie hype.  I just find the whole thing unneccsary and creating attention for people who strictly claim, “We’re not attention seekers!”  Ok, but half the nation is submitting to this hashtag demand so if that’s not what you want, then what’s the actual point? 

First of all, I’d like to say I’m completely pro-breastfeeding.  It absolutely is better than formula.  I’m pro public feeding but don’t see why it can’t be discreet or probably more accurately, don’t see why you’d want to be anything other than discreet?  We’re don’t parade our toddlers centre stage to eat in a restuarant saying, “Look! I’m normal, he’s normal!  We’re feeding normally!” 

I’m going to discuss some of the ‘reasons’ people have given for indulging in a #brelfie. 

1.  Normalise Breast Feeding.

Really?  Breastfeeding mothers are actually using this as a reason for a #brelfie.  So if you think it needs to be normalised then you’re implying that you don’t consider it to be normal.  It is normal.  My 8 year old nephew knows that it’s normal.  My rabbit knows it’s normal.  There’s not a person on the planet that considers the most natural thing in the world to be abnormal.  So if your reason for getting involved is ‘normalising’ you can rest now.  Everyone already knew how normal it is.   If on the off chance somebody out there does think breastfeeding is abnormal and vile, do you actually think a bunch of Facebook photos is going to change that?  If a new mother is unsure about breastfeeding is seeing a bunch of campaigners going to make her say, “Oh right ok I’ll breastfeed now!”  Nevermind all the other issues that cause uncertainty towards breastfeeding.  We don’t need to normalise normal things. 

2.  Raise Awareness.

Similar sort of thing again, we don’t need to raise awareness of something that everybody is aware of.  People don’t see a breastfeeding mother in a restaurant and think, “Crikey, what the hell is going on there?!”  They see a breastfeeding mother arguing with the manager and creating a scene and think, “My god what an attention seeker!”  We’re all aware of nature’s intention for breasts.  We don’t need to see social media rants to be aware.  How about you campaigners raise awareness for something that people are unaware of?  Like Count for Kicks campaign.  As a first time mom you really don’t know what normal movement is and panic at the slightest change or might not be aware of the slightest change.  Or the NSPCC and raise awareness of actual selfish mothers, not mothers you deem to be selfish for formula feeding!  Oh wait, if you campaign for a charity then the attention isn’t on you… But that’s ok because it’s not for attention… 

3.  Sticking up for Breasfeeding Mothers.

I don’t get this.  So many mothers just get on with breastfeeding and don’t post a single social media update.  They don’t need defending, the secure mothers are fully aware of the varying opinions surrounding breastfeeding but concentrate on the only opinion that matters… Theirs!  Who exactly are we sticking up for because the worst thing is, these saintly mothers are the first to attack somebody that has a different opinion.  Updating their status to attack formula feeding moms, calling people horrible names on public forums – people they’ve never met!  If you’re so lovely you wouldn’t be getting into arguments that require you to stick up for breastfeeding mothers. 

4.  To Capture the Moment.

The humblebraggers that claim they’re involved because quite simply, they just want to capture the moment.  That is nice and I capture many intimate moments with my baby but if that is the sole intention of a breast feeding photo then it doesn’t need to be shared with the world.  I do have moments that I choose to show off, I’m willing to admit that I indulge in the occassional image crafting humblebrag but I’ll be honest about it.  The whole world didn’t care that I took my sisters to New York, but I’ll still show off about it.  You can’t claim it’s a perfect intimate moment then completely shatter the intimacy by posting it to the whole world. 

5.  I’m Proud of Myself!

Here we go… My baby was premature, my baby wouldn’t latch, my baby had a tongue tie, I nearly died, I had a miscarriage.  (Three out of five of those reasons purposely apply to me so I’m not being nasty.) Yes it is awesome when your baby is born with a tongue tie and the midwife says he might not latch, then she comes back and says you’re a complete natural.  It is great when you come round from a near death experinece and there is nothing more magical than feeling your baby suckling away.  If you are posting for this reason, ok I kind of get it but does it have to be viral?  Does everyone need to see?  Or actually is it just you mom, best friend and partner that ‘like’ your picture because they actually care.  Why not just send a private group message? The people that don’t care don’t need to see. 

I know I always say, “If people choose to look…” Ultimately, we all have the choice to unfollow, block or not click the link. In this situation, I just don’t understand why you would want to give people the option to look. You don’t know who is looking! I personally wouldn’t mind my family seeing a brelfie but my boss? My ex? No thanks, I’d find it weird. 

I’m sure there are more reasons, if I’m missing the point please let me know.  This isn’t a criticism of breast feeding mothers it’s a ‘seriously, what is the point of #brelfies’ discussion? Somebody help me understand!  I’m not for or against brelfies, I just don’t get the campaign. 

I absolutely don’t think this is an argument against brelfies, “Some people can’t breastfeed so it makes them feel like a crap mom.”  First of all, we can’t consider everybody’s individual circumstance when we post anything online.  Somebody will object, that’s just diversity in the world.  Somebody will object to me writing this.  Secondly, breastfeeding doesn’t automatically make you a good mother.  We shouldn’t use breastfeeding as a scale of good.  Although it is perceived to be the ‘good’ thing, there is always a bigger picture!  Is a formula feeding mom with a tongue tied baby worse than a mom that breastfeeds whilst on drugs, pumping god knows what into the child? So, it’s just not a scale of goodness.

That brings me on to my final point, I think the sad truth behind a brelfie is that so many mothers are constantly seeking validation.  We live in a digital age where everything we do is under scrutiny.  Post an innocent photo of your family and somebody will comment, “Ooohhh I’d tuck those wires in if I were you!”  Post an update about weaning, “Ooohhh he’s a bit young isn’t he?” Everytime we post anything on social media we are seeking valiation, I’m doing it right now.  I want to validate myself as a good writer/blogger. When somebody agrees with me it will validate my belief that I have a point. 

Unfortunately it happens in motherhood too.  There is one person that I need validation from about my parenting skills.  My little Oliver.  If he is happy, then I’m a good mom.  If he grows up telling me he loves me, I’m a good mom.  I don’t need to validate my mothering skills by posting a brelfie with the subtext, “Look at me I’m a good mom, I’m doing the best thing for my baby.” And I think that is the real point behind a #brelfie. 



The Q1 report

Wow, little Oliver is 3 months already! He is such a lovely little boy. He’s already got a perfect little personality and finds everything funny. I think every mother thinks their child is advanced and clever but I’m going to discuss his development in this blog. He might be normal and doing what he should be doing. Or he might be advanced or behind. To me he is a perfect, clever little baby! In business 3 months or periods is classed as a quarter so I’m going to write a report

Wow, little Oliver is 3 months already! He is such a lovely little boy. He’s already got a perfect little personality and finds everything funny. I think every mother thinks their child is advanced and clever but I’m going to discuss his development in this blog. He might be normal and doing what he should be doing. Or he might be advanced or behind. To me he is a perfect, clever little baby! In business 3 months or periods is classed as a quarter so I’m going to write a report

Oliver and the Seven Dwarfs.

Anybody that knew me pre motherhood will know how much I loved sleep. I could sleep 14 hours straight and not feel like I’d wasted anytime, I had afternoon naps whenever possible, I’ve slept at work, found it very easy to sleep in cars, trains or planes! I loved sleep! So a lot of people are shocked when I tell them I’m awake at 6-7am, up and active in the mornings during the week and in work by midday on a Saturday (I used to go in for 4pm!) so for this blog I’m going to write about stages/ emotions around sleeping and change of sleep patterns with a new baby. This blog will hopefully reassure new or expectant mothers that it really doesn’t last long! Oliver is nearly 3 months now and I have a consistent sleep pattern. (By the way, I’ve worked in nightclubs for the past 10 years so these timings aren’t as late as they seem, I’ve spent many years getting in at 4am and getting up after 12.)

You will be tired. Very tired in the first few weeks. If you’re lucky enough to have a short labour I imagine it would be slightly easier but if you’re a 3-dayer like me then the first couple of days are so weird because you’ll be so sleep deprived but I didn’t find it easy to sleep because I kept waking up just to look at him.

I had many nights where I felt drunk! It’s like your brain and body want to do completely different things. I woke up a few times because he was crying and my brain and all my natural instincts were saying, “Get up and feed him or cuddle him or something!” But my body was saying, “No, I’m asleep!”

The best advice I can give to new parents is… Work as a team! Don’t resent each other if one gets more sleep and don’t turn it into a competition, “I’ve done 2 nappies today, it’s your turn, I did 2am feed, get up!” Etc. It will not help! During the first week or so at home I would wake up and be really Grumpy with David for this stupid reason, he was asleep and I was tired and awake. Not really worth arguing over is it? He quickly realised that I was so tired from doing the night feeds and decided he’d get up slightly earlier for work and take over the first morning feed. That helped me so much because it just meant I didn’t have to worry when he cried in the morning, I knew Dave would see to him. I’d still wake up but not getting up straight away or dozing made a big difference. If you’re breastfeeding express one of the feeds and have a routine where you work together so you both get some sleep. Remember that women are generally more in tune to a babies cry so it makes sense for us to do the night feeds because the men probably won’t wake up if they’re in a deep sleep. Then that will cause an argument when you end up doing HIS feed. As well as being good for you as a couple, it’s good for you both to bond with baby. Feeding is a bonding experience for babies so seeing you both do it is really good for the baby.

Ok, so this is the wise old owl “shethinkssheknowseverythingaboutbabies” section. Again I would like to stress, this is only based on my experience but if my experience can help a new mother then I’m pleased to help. So, by the time Oliver was 8 weeks old we were sleeping 6 hours straight and had an established routine. I didn’t want to write about it straight away incase I was just having a lucky few days but over a month later we are still in the same bedtime routine and Oliver seems to understand what’s going on. In the first few weeks we had no set feeding schedule so that didn’t help because I’d never know when he’d get hungry, I was initially breastfeeding on demand but moved to formula after being drugged up and in hospital for over a week. So he is now on a formula schedule and feeds roughly the same time everyday, this will happen with breastfed babies after a while so don’t resort to formula if you don’t have to.

Once we knew when he’d be hungry, we knew when we’d have gaps to sleep. So initially he was on a rough 10, 2, 6 am/pm schedule and I’d do 2am, Dave 6am. Then we changed the times so his last bottle was 11pm then we’d go to bed. After a few days he started falling asleep halfway through his 3am, so I started reducing the amount he had at 3am and increased his 11pm and 7am so he wouldn’t wake up hungry. He started sleeping til 5am, then 6am and now we generally get to about half 6-7 before he wakes up. We’ve also noticed that he’s stopped crying for his bottle, he just wakes up and shouts like he’s saying, “Hello, I’m awake, I think it’s bottle time now!”

Now we have a proper bedtime routine and he goes along with it! Pyjamas on and clean nappy around 9pm, then chill out time watching TV or just relaxing and cuddles, he usually has a little sleep. The room is kept dark and quiet so he can relax. Then bottle at 11, clean nappy and into bed with his mobile on and he just drifts off to sleep on his own. In the early days he wouldn’t sleep unless I cuddled him to sleep then he’d instantly wake up when I put him down. You have got to be patient with a baby, they’ve spent 9 months being snuggled up and now you expect them to sleep in a cot with all this space around them? It must be scary for them! You’ve got to help them understand they’re in the big wide world now! Snuggle pods/ blankets really helped Ollie learn to sleep on his own.

Everything is suddenly a lot easier and happier when everyone gets some sleep. It is really important to take time establishing a routine if you want a happy household. Babies do not know the difference between day and night, we need to teach them. When I talk about timings, it is only a guide. We don’t live in a regimented strict routine, it is the routine that is more important than the time. Ollie will sleep just as well if we do the nappy, bottle, mobile routine at 11, 11.15 or 12. And please don’t think I leave him crying and hungry if he wants a bottle, if he’s hungry earlier he gets fed. However, because of the routine he is generally hungry at the same time everyday. Just like we’re hungry in the morning, lunchtime and teatime. Having a schedule does make everything easier, it means he can go to his Nan’s or aunties and I can tell them when he’ll be hungry rather than them trying to figure him out! I can go out and know how many bottles to take just in the same way adults might go out and plan to get lunch while they’re out.

Some people are against schedules for babies, it is not nasty or neglectful to put structure and stability into a child’s life. Is it nasty that schools have lunchtime at the same time everyday?

One problem that I experienced with this lovely bedtime routine is, Ollie snores really loud! So he’s all relaxed and peaceful and I’ve now got two lots of snoring going on and I can’t sleep. I asked the doctor about Ollie’s snuffly nose and he said it’s perfectly normal. They just have narrow airways so they get blocked easily. As he grows it will get better. He did prescribe some saline drops for him to help clear his nose so sometimes he has a couple of drops before bed and it helps unblock his nose.

My final tip on getting some sleep with a new baby is don’t be shy! Ask family for help. Ollie has had a few sleepovers at my moms, my sisters have stayed at my house to do one of the feeds, his Grandma and Grandad looked after him on the weekend of my sisters wedding. You’ll find that they actually like helping. All of your family want to bond with your baby so give them time to get to know each other and give yourself time to sleep!

And why we’re on the Bashful subject, don’t be shy about sharing my blog!

If any expectant/ new mothers have any questions please ask. If any mothers have any other tips or advice please comment.