Are you Thinking of Hiring A Sleep Consultant? Here is Our Story To Help You Decide

Hiring a sleep consultant is just not something that is spoken of openly, it is almost ‘frowned upon’  (well that was how I felt).

With our second baby (Little Sis), I started thinking of hiring a sleep consultant. We engaged with a sleep consultant (Good Night Baby) when she was 6 weeks old.

Now, you might think that it is too soon. However, it was a positive experience for me as I had someone who could guide me into how to start with healthy habits from the beginning.

Let me get a few things out the way before some people get upset.

At this age there is NO sleep training.  There are NO reducing of feeds. There is NO hard and fast rules about soothing your baby.

The only rule is to be gentle, loving and soothe baby when she needs it. The point of establishing good healthy habits from the start is that it negates the need to do any sleep training later on.

[bctt tweet=”The point of establishing good healthy habits from the start is that it negates the need to do any sleep training later on.” username=”cherralle_”]

My first born (who is four years old now) slept well from an early age.  Or maybe I just had the time and energy to try out different things? I am slightly OCD when it comes to routines.

Returning to work after maternity leave

One motivating factor for me is that I wanted my baby to be on a routine by the time I returned to work from maternity leave.

For me, this was important.

I trusted our nanny; however, I wanted to be able to know that my baby will get the sleep and feeds she needs during the day. I needed to establish a flexible routine that also helped my nanny in her day with my baby.

What does a routine for a newborn mean?

baby sleep consultant

For me it meant, being consistent and building healthy habits from the start.

With two girls home with me, I found it hard to be consistent.  Bedtime was stressful as  I was running around with the two girls.

When thinking of hiring a sleep consultant it is important to discuss goals with your sleep consultant.

Utterly overwhelmed, everything got to me.

You see, I am not a ‘natural’ when it comes to parenting – everything is just hard and so was transitioning to two.

I was also snapping a lot with my eldest (who was three years old at the time).  I wrote here about how hectic it was coming home with baby number two and then when I calmed down, I wrote here about my tips and learning about juggling a three-year-old and a newborn. You see, I evolved.

Establishing healthy sleep habits is good for baby and the family.

With Little Sis, I was more motivated to seek out a sleep consultant. I did not have the energy and time as I did when I had only one child. With two children things needed to happen. I operate well with some form of structure. I know myself.

How did it work?

As soon as I started thinking of hiring a sleep consultant I contacted Good Night Baby online, and I received a questionnaire to complete. Carla (the sleep consultant) emailed me, and we arranged to meet at my house.

We discussed:

  • the sleep space for baby, where she slept at that point.
  • Current bedtime and bath time routine  (this was a disaster so after this I implemented a consistent routine)
  • We chatted about my parenting style and how my baby was doing (I felt this was important because each baby is a unique individual)
  • I was given tracking document to fill out during the day to pick up patters. I appreciated this.
  • We also discussed follow up support, if I had any questions or concerns.

 

A post shared by Cherralle (@mydailycake_) on

A newborn action plan (which was not sleep training) contained:

  • Tips on how to soothe my new baby
  • What type of routine is suited to a little one
  • What to expect at the various stages as she gets older
  • Understanding sleep
  • How to put her down to sleep
  • We fed the baby as per usual, as at this age there is no reduction of bottles and baby stayed her 2.5 – 3-hour feeding routine for a long time until she started solids

 

Based on our circumstances, Carla developed newborn guide document for me. It had a structured way to approach the day, but included personalisation.

As the baby is a newborn, there are no hard and fast rules it is just a gentle approach to building healthy sleep. Example, at the time, I sat with Ava when she fell asleep with my hand on her, so that was factored in.

Accountability partner

A sleep consultant also served as an accountability partner to ensure that I could feel confident in doing what I needed to do. I did not think my husband, family or friends wanted to discuss my newborn sleep issues. As all consuming as it was for me, it was not interesting for other people. We are supposed to ‘enjoy every moment’ at that point. Right?

So, I liked having someone I could pop an email to in need. Someone who got what I was trying to do.

Once the littlest was on a routine, I also had more time to spend with Big Sissy too (she was only three years old and needed me too).

And did it work?

By the time I went back to work she was able to put herself to sleep for naps and bedtime. The naps were still 30 minutes only. But when I returned to work it lengthened by itself – like it was a developmental stage.

Little Sis is 18 months now, and she has always been a darling sleeper.  Of course she has her moments of regression and issues now and then. But we keep track of her routine and adjust it as she grows up.

A post shared by Cherralle (@mydailycake_) on

I bet as soon as I hit publish Murphy’s Law will change my darling sleeper!

Tell me, have you been thinking of hiring a sleep consultant?

Tips for Juggling A Three Year Old And a Newborn (Our Story)

Juggling a three-year-old and a newborn in tow will test your parenting skills!

I had written before about how chaotic it was for me when I came home with my second baby. It was a complete shock to my system.   My life was utter chaos. Sweet chaos. But chaos nonetheless.

It was hard on everyone, including Caitlyn (my three year old).

For the first few weeks, it felt as if we were only telling Caitlyn:

– to ‘be quiet.’
– that I can’t carry her
– that she cannot sleep with me.

Only telling her things she cannot do.

Patience was very thin; energy levels were low. I was not prepared.

[bctt tweet=”Juggling a three-year-old and a newborn will test your parenting skills.” username=”cherralle_”]

Caitlyn threw the most intense tantrums during this time

During one epic tantrum episode, a ‘concerned neighbour’ came by to ‘check up on us’. At this point, I already SOSed (whatsapped) my husband to:

‘Please, COME HOME NOW! I don’t care what meeting you are in.’

Ava on the other hand, was a relatively calm baby. She needed to be continuously held and needed a lot of cuddling to fall asleep (as a newborn that was expected). Till today, Ava remains a very affectionate toddler, I think that is her vibe.

Regression hit us hard

Caitlyn reverted to waking up at 4 am during those days, and she wanted only me.

I only have two hands!

My thinking was that Caitlyn was three years old and she can remember. How I engage with her will have a lasting impact on her relationship with me and her bond with her sister.

Although Ava needed a lot of care and attention, I had to find a way to maintain a connection with my eldest.

Creating space to find one on one time with my three year old was vital for me

Although I felt overwhelmed, I carved out playtime with Caitlyn during my maternity leave.

Caitlyn was also on school holidays when Ava was six weeks old. So I had them both to myself. All day! Luckily I was not alone during the day. I had a helper in the day.

Here are six tips on how to juggle a three-year-old and a newborn.

6 Tips For Juggling a Three Year Old and a Newborn

 

newborn and three year old

 

Wear your baby

Wearing your baby provides you with an extra set of hands. I had a cloth wrap and a Tiny Love – Tiny Hugs Carrier. The Tiny Love Carrier was freaking amazing!

I loved it so much.

I could carry and cuddle  our newborn baby while playing with Caitlyn.

RELATED: Are You Thinking Of Hiring A Sleep Consultant? Here is Our Story To Help You Decide

Recreate your family’s routine

Establish a new family routine. Before Ava came home, we had a lovely organized family evening routine. We had dinner together and cleaned up together.  However, we could not sustain it.

We changed our whole routine. Brought Caitlyn’s supper earlier, so that at least she can be done eating by the time the bath routine started for the baby (around 17h00 ish). Then Caitlyn still needed to bath.

At that point I was not okay to do bath them together.

Come to think of it, this routine did not work out. Only when we placed the girls on a synchronizes evening routine, we started to settle. Now they eat and bath together.

It does not matter how chaotic it gets, at least I know there is an end in sight. Early bedtimes are a non negotiable in our home (unless there is a special occasion).

Let your older child help out and get involved

Get your older child involved by asking her to fetch things for the baby.

When I put the baby down, and we sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ I also got Caitlyn to sing it with me. It was much better than saying ‘keep quiet please, mommy is putting the baby down.’

When it was time for the baby to sleep, of course my three year old never kept quiet. She always seemed to appear needing something (loudly) at the very moment the baby was settling down.

[bctt tweet=” #3 Let your older child help out, by asking them to fetch things or sing lullabies to the baby.” username=”cherralle_”]

When the baby is sleeping, spend alone time with your toddler

When the baby slept, I was with Caitlyn. No sleeping when the baby sleeps for me.

I watched TV with her, brushed her hair, ate with her, etc.

If you have a caregiver, use them

If you have a caregiver, leave the baby with the caregiver for thirty minutes will be okay.

I started leaving Ava for short periods from about six weeks old. If she was fed, rested and happy it was cool. Taking Caitlyn outside (just the two of us) for some play time was great (tiring but it was necessary).

Watch a movie together

If you have to keep the baby on you, that is okay. Chill watching a movie and kill two birds with one stone.

Caitlyn and I get to watch TV together, and Ava gets her cuddles in as a newborn too.

Figuring out how to juggle a three year old when I came home with my newborn, was a challenging and chaotic time.

Caitlyn and Ava at out Family Photo-shoot. Caitlyn is 3 Years Old and Ava is 3 months

 

To be honest my first reaction was to prioritize the baby’s needs and let Caitlyn take a back seat. However, these actions made me feel sad and it saddened Caitlyn too. So I changed the situation.

It was stressful, but we needed to go through it, to create our own unique rhythm as a family.

Now, these two girls are so in love with each other. My favourite cheesy ‘sisters’ quote is:

Sisters are friends forever

‘Bring The Wet Wipes!’ The Wail of Every Parent Faced with a Blowout {CLOSED GIVEAWAY}

“Bring the wet wipes!” My husband bawled from inside the girls’ room when he went to fetch our one-year-old from her cot. “She made a mess all over the place,” exasperation evident in his voice.

“Bring reinforcements!”.

So dramatic.

Anyway, that turned out okay.

I don’t know about you, but wet wipes are a necessity in my life with a toddler and a preschooler!

Not only for diaper changes but for life in general.

That is why I loved the adorable hamper that was sent to me by Cherubs.  It was so well presented.

I loved the little details and the extra sweet treat was packed for me.

I am giving away three of those hampers on the blog today. You can get your hands on one for yourself, for a mom to be or  a mom with a little one.

Read the below post and find out of to enter at the end!

Besides cleaning a baby’s bottom here are five other weird and wonderful uses of wet wipes.

Child with paint_clean with wetwipes

1. Get rid of deodorant marks on dark clothing.

Really handy to have at hand, when you are are rushing out the door!

2. When kids’ toys need a wipe down

Kids’ toys get grubby fast. If the toys need a quick clean, wipe them down with a few wet wipes to get the worse off.

3. Wipe down dirty cookbook pages

I always thought a dirty cookbook shows usage.
However, it can get quite grimy and then it loses that authentic vibe. Give your cookbook pages a gentle wipe down to get your cookbook looking good.

4. Wipe your remote controls

Talk about germ city! Remote controls can get quite dirty as everyone is touching them. And guess what a baby’s favorite toy is? Yep a remote, that they put in their mouths and take with them everywhere.

5. Wrap around an earbud

Wrap a wet wipe around an earbud to clean something that has a very teeny tiny space. Example, in between keyboards.

 

GIVEAWAY! WIN one of THREE gorgeous Cherubs baby hampers.

CHERUBS HAMPER DESCRIPTION_wetwipes

 

To Enter Follow This one Easy Step

Comment on this post. What is your most common use for wet wipes (besides wiping bottoms!)

That is it, you are in. Good luck!

Rules:

  • Competition is open until Friday 20 April.
  • Winners will be contacted directly by latest 25 April.
  • Only open to SA residents.
  • Prizes will be shipped by the agency.

Good luck!

Are Antenatal Classes Worth It? Real Moms and Experts Weigh In

Antenatal classes empower parents to navigate the pregnancy journey, birth and beyond. The classes cover pregnancy, childbirth and certain child care elements (like how to bath a baby).  However, are antenatal classes  worth it?

February’s Pregnancy Education Month campaign highlights how childbirth education empowers parents for a better birth experience.

My husband I attended antenatal classes at our local hospital.

We learned:

  • Different ways of giving birth and pro’s and cons of each (natural, C- Section, etc.)
  • Pain Management during the labour process
  • How the clamping of the cord (which my dear husband was ecstatic about)
  • Breastfeeding tips
  • How to bathe a baby
  • Things that will happen immediately after the baby is born, such as:
    • Assessment of baby’s vital signs after birth. And my husband was tasked to not lose sight of our two little girls during this time (paranoid first-time parent).
    • Skin to skin if no issues are at hand
    • Breastfeeding etc.

 

Here are perspectives from mothers and experts on the question of antenatal classes.

[bctt tweet=”Attending antenatal classes gave us solid information from experts and trained professionals #PregnancyEducationMonth #EmpoweringBirth ” username=”cherralle_”]

Are Antenatal Classes Worth It? What Real Moms Have to Say

are antenatal classes worth it

Shanne, mom of two.

How did pregnancy education classes empower you for your birth experience?

My husband and I attended antenatal classes when I was pregnant with our first child. We were provided with information on the different birth options (natural vs. c-section). As well as all the options for pain management such as epidural, hypnobirthing, etc. It was good to be provided with objective information on both options so that an informed decision could be reached. It was also useful to be equipped with practical examples of what to expect during birth and after that (the 4th trimester). We also learned about how to handle your newborn baby safely.

 What is one thing you remember from your education class?

I was surprised by how scary a c-section looked on video. Which reaffirmed my decision to have a natural birth (which I did x 2). I also remember the Sister soaking a nappy in water and being surprised by how much water it could hold.
[bctt tweet=”Antenatal Classes play a key role in understanding different birth options and how to prepare, for mom and dad. #PregnancyEducationMonth #EmpoweringBirth ” username=”cherralle_”]

Cherralle, mom of two (this is me!)

How did antenatal classes empower you for your birth experience?

We attended antenatal classes when I was pregnant with our first child. The classes shed light on the various pain management techniques that are available from breathing techniques to medication. Pain management was a big issue for me as I did not believe I had any pain threshold (little did I know!).

We could also practice how to bathe a newborn (with a life like ‘baby doll’). It is astonishing how tiny babies are when you hold them. My husband loved these classes as well as gave him a sense of involvement and he is proud of his role as an equal parent.

You can also read here, how all hell broke lose when we came home with our second!

What is one thing you remember from your antenatal class?

I remember the breathing technique they taught us in class. I remember practicing it and using it during my labours (in between crushing my husband’s hand).  The breathing technique came in handy for my husband. It came in handy for me as well, as I could not get epidurals for both my births. And I realized I had a very high pain threshold after all.

Sarah, Mom of One.

How did antenatal classes empower you for your birth experience?

We attended antenatal classes, and I would highly recommend it to any mom who has the means. It taught me the different options I have for giving birth. I wanted to give natural birth, but the classes educated me on a c section as well. I ended up having a C-section unexpectedly, and so I knew what to expect!

 
What is one thing you remember from your antenatal class?

I remember the video they showed us of a woman giving birth, and it looked so scary!

Are Antenatal Classes Worth it? What Experts Have to Say

‘There is a link between a lack of knowledge, fear and the experience of childbirth,’ says Lynne Bluff. Lynne is the national co-ordinator for the Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum (CBEPF), which is partnering with Bio-Oil and hospitals nationally for the ‘Empowering Birth’ Pregnancy Education Month campaign.

Good childbirth classes, says Bluff, will equip parents with the pros and cons of all the available childbirth options. As well as practical tips and techniques for the birth and afterward. Childbirth educators are usually nurses and midwives and parents who can share both professional expertise and personal experience. Classes are on offer at many hospitals, clinics, and private practices.

Pregnancy Education Month

Over 300 private hospitals and clinics around South Africa are running Pregnancy Education Month activities in February. For details, or to find a childbirth educator in your area, visit www.PregnancyEducation.co.za.

Share this post to add your voice to the Pregnancy Education Week Campaign!

Disclaimer: Content developed in collaboration with Childbirth Educators’ Professional Forum. Opinions expressed here are my own.

Dads Want To Change Nappies Too – Why We Need Family Restrooms

We are out having lunch somewhere and our toddler needs a nappy change. My husband takes her for a change but comes back quickly.

He can’t. Another changing station that is in the women’s bathroom. Dads want to change nappies too, but we are standing in their way.

When I told my husband I am writing a blog post on this topic, he was into it. “Finally, I have been waiting for you to write about this as it is a big issue for me,” he said. Okay dear, my blog exists to please you! He previously wrote on this blog about his parenting role in our home.

Related PostDon’t Call My Daughter Shy (or any other kid for that matter)

Why a family room and not a changing station in men’s bathroom?

Establishments that cater to families need to get with the times and get family restrooms. Don’t put a changing station in the women’s or men’s restroom, just add a separate little space.

Why a family restroom though?

  • Dads who have young daughters, need to take them to the toilet and need to accompany them.  These are little girls who are not old enough’ yet to go alone into a public bathroom
  • Moms, who have young sons need to take them to the bathroom. I see a lot of moms take their little boys to the women’s bathroom (this looks okay, moms with sons let me know)
  • Men’s bathrooms have urinals which are open – not hygienic and not appropriate to look at.

[bctt tweet=”Establishments that cater to families need to get with the times and get family restrooms” username=”cherralle_”]

One family restaurant we visited recently has unisex bathrooms + a small separate open area with a changing table. It is perfect, nothing fancy, it is not even a room, but it meets the needs of parents. It has privacy as when you change a nappy you completely block the view.

We have two daughters

Dad and baby _ father changing nappies

When we go out, 95% of the time my husband cannot take our four-year-old to the loo or change the nappy for our one-year-old without it being a mission. As a father, this is an issue for him. For any father this should be an issue.

If you are a father and this is a non-issue for you, then you need to take a good look in the mirror and reflect deeply on this.

Wanting to partake in basic care giving of your children and being prevented from doing this, should be your issue.

[bctt tweet=”If you are a father, and you are not able to change your own baby’s nappy at a mall or restaurant, it is an issue.” username=”cherralle_”]

Ways my husband had to sort out our daughters’ basic needs while out and about

  • Threw a towel over my little girls head and took her into the men’s bathroom to a stall where she could use the toilet (it was urgent). The towel was because he did not want her to see what was happening in there.
  • To change a nappy: waited for men’s bathroom to clear. Then took our toddler into the men’s bathroom. She had to stand on the flat part of the basin while he did a ‘standing nappy change.’ You guys know what a ‘standing nappy change’ is.
  • Use the disabled bathrooms to take our daughter to the toilet
  • Changed nappy in car
  • The last two are not bad options

Should we be okay with this?

Turn a blind eye and just carry on?  Accept that this is ‘just the way things are?’

These were only one father’s experiences.

There are always messages going about how ‘dads should be more involved’.

Well, if we think about it, society subtly (or not) discourages dads from getting involved in raising small children. And some go”oh well.”

Examples are:

  • changing stations in women’s bathrooms
  • Mom and Babes / Mom and Tots Playgroups (I know, I know, dads can go too, but clearly who is the target market?)
  • Three days paternity leave. Although, changes are coming about with the passing of the new ten days paternity leave bill. Plus progressive companies have already increased paternity leave)

Related Post: Dear Working Mother – Here is How To Leave Work On Time

It is encouraging to see family restrooms popping up all over Johannesburg

Places such as Sandton City Mall and Fourways Crossing have family restrooms.

In my view, establishments who cater for families  (especially newer establishments) who keep on placing changing rooms in the women’s bathrooms are not being customer-centric. Look at what families (your customers) need and give it to them.

Let’s give fathers space to play the role they want to (and give moms a break)!

A Guide to Planning Your Maternity Leave Like a Boss

Planning Your Maternity Leave Can Make a Difference

Navigating pregnancy and being a new mother is a challenge. Then add work, and it gets more complex.

Let’s face it, you may experience a shift in your career in the time that you are pregnant and once you have a new baby.

Picture this.

You announce you are pregnant at work and it is a very trying time for you, needing to figure out so much (plus morning sickness – hello!)

Firstly, research has shown that maternal bias kicks in the moment a woman announces her pregnancy. Maternal wall bias is when a woman’s proficiency is questioned, just because she is a mother, announces she is pregnant, and when she announces her engagement!

As a result, she is less likely to get promoted or allocated stretch assignments simply because she is a mother (or got engaged). I am not making this stuff up.

Vocalising your needs and aspirations is one way to counter maternal bias.

Would it not be amazing if you can take charge of your maternity leave. Plan what you can, and make yourself, colleagues and your manager comfortable.

If you can do this, you will be a rock star!

[bctt tweet=”Plan and close the loop. Create a maternity leave plan that helps you, your manager and colleagues” username=”cherralle_”]

Related Post: Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mom

 Why would you go about this journey without planning your maternity leave transition?

maternity leave planning to come back to work

For this very reason, I created the Maternity Leave Transition Guide. I have spoken to many young mothers who simply felt that they were ‘sidelined’ and that their contribution was not fully recognised in this time.

The Maternity Leave Transition Guide; contains a hand over template, check list, an excel to pull your work year together for this period. It also covers personal topics, such as; nanny vs day care; expressing at work – what you need to know and more.

Don’t let your manager wonder what your performance contribution was. Write it down.

Related Post: 7 Things A Working Mother Wants to Tell Her Boss

Plan as much as you can

Plan your maternity leave, with as much detail as you possibly can.  Document which projects you are closing off and which projects you are handing over.

That will not only give you comfort, but also your boss and colleagues.

Communicate your career aspiration

The reality is that unless a pregnant woman communicates her career goals, it will be assumed. It will be assumed that you want to take the ‘mommy track’ or ‘slow down‘. This is okay, if it is what you want.

It is not okay if you want to still drive your career goals. Ensure that part of your discussions with your manager includes a talking point around your career aspirations.

[bctt tweet=”When going on maternity leave, don’t let others make assumptions about your career. Speak up.” username=”cherralle_”]

Consolidate your performance and contribution. Be a rock star performer before you head off on maternity.

Proactively manage your maternity through documenting what you are closing off, what you handing over and to whom.

The Maternity Leave Guide will include an excel template to enable this.

Take what you need from these documents so that it make sense for your environment.

Download the Maternity Leave Transition Guide now

Download the Excel Hand Over template now

Share this post with a friend who is expecting, or share with a manager (who needs to get with the programme).

 

 

 

 

 

The Side of Motherhood That We Don’t Post on Instagram

Motherhood is not always joyous. I am not writing this for validation. And the trolls, please, this is my blog. Click the X and leave if you have an issue.

Social media is a highlights reel of life, and there are other sides to me, to all of us.

Parenting, is not always fun. It’s tiring, exhausting, and sometimes I want to do other stuff. But I am home and I do my part for my family.

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. And I decided to take on this responsibility.

  1. I accept that it is not fun all the time. By accepting when I am just tired, overwhelmed and didn’t feel like cooking or doing something, I can just feel and deal with the emotion.
  2. I have an outstanding partner in my husband. He allows me the space to disconnect from time to time and be alone.
  3. I am an introvert by nature. I need to be alone. Like really alone. And just read, or write to reframe myself. Even if it’s just 30 minutes in the middle of a day on a Sunday or whenever.

Caitlyn 1 week old
Maybe I am just not a touchy feely person, but some of the things never resonated with me.

  1. Birth was not a magical experience. I was lucky in both cases as I had short deliveries. But they were painful. I wanted pain medication so badly, so badly, but the anaesthetist could not come in time. Up until today, when I sneeze, I need to be careful that I don’t wee (moms who gave birth know what I mean). TMI!
  2. Pregnancy was never magical. The first one was okayish, the second was horrible. I was tired all the time, at times I could not eat, drink or sleep. Barely coping. I had morning sickness up until I was around six months pregnant.
  3. I could not cope with waking up multiple times at night after my kids were born. Both my children were sleep coached by 12 weeks.
  4. Breastfeeding was never beautiful for me. It was painful and disappointing. I spent thousands on trying to get this right. I had a personal breast feeding consultant, feeding bras; then I moved to pumping exclusively. I rented a hospital grade pump; I bought the hands-free kit, more bras. It is clearly a huge industry; there are a lot things that goes along with pumping.

[bctt tweet=”The ‘magic’ may not always be there. It is okay to have your unique motherhood experience.” username=”cherralle_”]

So why am I even saying all of this?

Because I believe that each motherhood experience is unique, and you should be allowed to feel what you need to without fear of judgment.

I cannot define my whole being by my motherhood. I need to be other things. In that sense I am glad I chose the husband that I have, because he partners with me in our family life.

[bctt tweet=”Each motherhood experience is unique and you should be allowed the space without fear of judgement” username=”cherralle_”]

Is motherhood fulfilling?

For me, yes.

To be honest, sometimes it’s also not fulfilling. Sometimes it’s draining.

I have two beautiful, smart and feisty daughters. And I have the pleasure of raising them together with my husband. That is a gift and I will risk my own life for my girls. Just because I admit that its not sunshine and roses all the time does not mean I do not love them. I do love them and I am proud to be their mother. When I see them making each other laugh, or Caitlyn bringing Ava a top when she is cold –  my heart melts.

Overall, I feel that we need to play open cards on the realities of parenthood. It’s not all sunshine and roses and ‘Instagrammable’.

But I am calling it, motherhood has two sides. The beautiful part that we put on Instagram, and the other part that we need to also admit that we feel and share.

Related Reading:

When I Came Home With Baby Number 2

6 Tips for Surviving Morning Sickness At Work

Bye Bye Mommy Guilt, Why You Should Feel Proud of Being a Working Mother

Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law And What Moms Have To Say

Pumping Breast Milk at Work in South Africa: The Law and What Moms Have To Say

Before I became a mother, I had a limited understanding of breastfeeding women’s needs when they returned to work from maternity. Yes, conceptually I understood it.

However, I did not grasp the significance of needing to pump breast milk at work. After I had my first child, I then understood.

In this post I will share an update on the law in South Africa with regards to pumping breast milk at work, and share two real life accounts from moms.

Related Post: 10 Things a Working Mother Needs to Survive

Pumping Breast Milk at Work: The Law in South Africa

In South Africa, the Basic Conditions of Employment (BCEA) provides two 30 minute breaks a day for moms who are breastfeeding. This is outlined in the Code of Good Practice on Pregnancy.  The Code does not outline exactly what the space should look like.

However,  in general it should be accessible, lockable, clean, have a basin for hand washing and cleaning up. It should also have plug points and have refrigeration facilities.

Why is a breast pumping facility at work needed?

Very often, mothers return to work while they are still breastfeeding .

To maintain supply, moms need to pump at work and therefore need a space that is private, secure and hygienic.

In South Africa, it is estimated that only 36% of babies are breastfed exclusively up until 14 weeks, and this figure drops to 8% at 6 months.

Also, returning back to work is one of the reasons why women stop breastfeeding before their baby is at least 6 months old. Certain conditions as shared in this article Women Share Their Stories of Pumping at Work and It Is Not Pretty may also discourage moms from wanting to continue. The law that we have in South Africa around breast feeding at work is very encouraging.

What are the challenges facing women who want to pump breast milk at work?

It is not common knowledge that the BCEA provides this protection for women. And even if it is known, there is a reluctance to raise this as it is an ‘uncomfortable topic’.

Companies are also often not able to set aside funding to create the space. Although my belief is that even with no funds, some sort of accommodation should be possible in most cases.

Related PostA Guide to Planning Your Maternity Leave Like a Boss

Herewith two moms’ real stories about pumping breast milk at work

 

pumping expressing breast milk at work in south africa
Image Credit: istock

Names have been changed.

Lara, Mom of 2

We have no breast pumping facilities at work. When I had to breast pump at work, I had to use a little kitchenette. One of my colleagues came along with me, and she stood at the door keeping it closed while I pumped. This is the kitchenette being used by the whole team on the floor. Anyone could walk in at any time.”

Angela, Mom of 1

1. How long were you able to breastfeed your baby for?
My little guys is almost 8 months old, and I am exclusively breastfeeding him, he has never had any formula.

2. Does your company have a breast pumping facility? And do you use it?
Yes my head office does have a designated mothers room to express. However, I am a consultant so I work at client sites and at both of my clients. I have had to get special permission to use the First Aid rooms because they do not have mothers rooms facilities.

3. What impact does it make having access to a breast pumping facility vs not (on your experience)?
It increases productivity because you don’t have to waste time with the logistics of getting access to the room and navigating through the whole experience. E.g. washing hands, rinsing equipment as well as storing the milk after. It also more hygienic because companies tend to take more care in keeping mothers rooms clean versus having mangy dusty rooms. Having a mother’s room also impacts one psychologically; moms tend to feel more valued and cared for as an employee if your company has taken the time to and money to invest in a well-equipped mothers room facility.

[bctt tweet=”Having a mother’s room also impacts one psychologically; moms tend to feel more valued and cared for” says a young working mom” username=”cherralle_”]

4. Does having a breast pumping facility at work contribute to you extending the time you can breast feed your baby?
No. I have always looked forward to nurse my baby, it’s such an intimate bonding experience that I believe God made our bodies as moms for so I would never stop for any other reason than my son not wanting to nurse any more when he is a toddler. When I started to plan to go back to work I had already made my mind up that it was non-negotiable that my son is exclusively breastfed and that would mean that I must express at work even if it meant having to sit in my car and hand express.

5. What impact did/does work place culture (if any) have on you being able to breast pump at work?
Breastfeeding is becoming less and less common, so it’s a surprise to many when they find out that I still express. Men seem to be very startled by it and get uncomfortable. Those that have had wives that didn’t breastfeed don’t get it all why you would do it. I think the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when they find out about me expressing is, “are you productive or how do you get work done”. Or that is what I read from them. Maybe that is me just being self-conscious about it. I think that we need to normalise expressing at work so that breastfeeding moms are discriminated or victimised in the workplace.

[bctt tweet=”Providing mothers with a space to pump breast milk at work, is a key element of inclusion.” username=”cherralle_”]

In closing, I firmly believe that providing mothers with a space to  pump breast milk at work, is a key element of inclusion. If a mom has decided to breast feed after returning to work, we must let common sense prevail. Due consideration should be given to a breastfeeding mom, even if there is no breast milk pumping facility. Some form of arrangement must be made. For those of us who see our colleagues and friends who are going through this, let’s also support them. Finally, as a mom, know your rights, MyWage has created a very informative  FAQ on Breastfeeding at Work containing additional information.

Do you have any experiences of pumping breast milk at work? Let me know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: istock

 

 

All Hell Broke Loose When I Came Home With Baby Number 2

Becoming a mother is exhilarating, wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I know because I have two beautiful daughters. When I had my second baby Ava, it was as magical meeting her for the first time as it was with my eldest, Caitlyn.

Although…going home with a new baby the second time around was completely different. I was so unprepared.

Related Post: Are Antenatal Classes Worth it? Real Moms and Experts Weigh In

 

The Birth

I had quite a ‘smooth’ birth. So I hear! Apparently I am lucky that it was a short birth. It still hurt like hell though.

I had slight cramps during the day, and I went in for a scheduled induction that evening which never happened.

I was about 2 cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital at around 8pm. My second daughter Ava was born somewhere around 11pm that night. My husband took the most ghastly pictures of me (it ain’t pretty and will NEVER see the light of day) but a beautiful moment nonetheless.

 

At the hospital

I felt great after the birth and was eager to get home to Caitlyn. I had a sense of confidence (or cockiness) – like ‘I got this’. It was a false sense of confidence.

So I left the hospital as soon as possible. Although the hospital requested that I stay an extra day. Ever so confident, I respectfully declined,

After the first night home, I regretted not taking the extra day in hospital.

It was a big adjustment for everyone. Firstly, breastfeeding was not working out. I just did not understand how something so ‘natural’ felt so completely unnatural to me. I tried, I really tried.

There were a lot of tears, mine, Ava and Caitlyn’s.

I  hired a hospital grade breast pump and for two weeks solid (it felt much longer) I pumped day and night 6 to 8 times a day. Pumping consumed our lives. I was refrigerating milk, sterilizing bottles, I even acquired a hands free pumping kit. The production line was in full swing.

I spent a fortune on my breast feeding journey. I had a breast feeding nurse; pump (free from medical aid); then hired a hospital grade pump; hands free kit; nipple protectors; cream – the works!

 

 

Joy escaped me

I had limited time with Caitlyn, Ava and my husband. It was an unhappy time. There was no joy. After two weeks I decided to stop it and just focus on being present.

I gave up on pumping. Of course, I felt like the worse mother in the world. The motherhood guilt settled in like an old friend.

Things got a bit better after that. I could rest a bit a more, go to bed early (as no scheduled pumps). Not being under constant pressure of pumping every 2 – 3 hours was amazing.

The shift from one child to two was hard

I was constantly exhausted, having two children to take care of kept me on my toes daily.

Caitlyn’s sleep deteriorated badly in this period, and for about two weeks straight Caitlyn got up at 4am to get the day started.  That is waking up at 4am to see to Caitlyn after Ava just gone back sleep.

I also underestimated the impact it would have on Caitlyn overall. Adjusting from being the only child, to having a new person in her space was a significant change. Caitlyn struggled quite a bit at the beginning and she needed time to adapt to the new world.

However, I am happy to say that as time passed their relationship grew.  Ava is 8 months old and they have already developed a strong bond.

And  I am thrilled about having two little girls.

I had to learn to let go,  not sweat the small things, and not stress too much about the routine. It took time to adjust, but now I honestly cannot picture my life without both my girls.

Herewith (yet another) picture of my two beautiful angels 🙂

 

Further Reading: 7 Reasons Why I am Pretty Certain We Are Only Having Two Kids

Two kids, baby