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August

A beach near a lake, in the summer.

We are in the lazy, hazy days of summer.

The store is a quieter place. Many of our clients and our instructors are away on holidays, visiting family. So we cancel some classes. Right now, Monday Baby Massage, Monday Afternoon Postpartum Restorative Yoga, Wednesday Morning Postpartum Yoga, Motherhood Circle and Community Acupuncture are all on hiatus.

Our Baby Groups have been running until this week, but will be cancelled for the last two weeks of August. Pregnancy Happy Hour has been cancelled all summer, but will be back in the fall.

I’ve been travelling more than usual too. I was away at Music camp for a week last month, and later this month I have some trips planned to Toronto and Montreal to visit my kids, and other family. While I am away, Linda is planning to hold our annual “The Boss is Away Sale.” All sorts of cool things, baby carriers, diaper bags will be discounted, so that we can clear them out and make way for new Fall products.

But eventually, the summer will be all used up. The evenings will shorten again, Labour Day will come, kids will head back to school, and we will follow suit.

As of September 2nd, we will start up our new Fall Drop-In Schedule. All Groups will be back up and running. And from September 8-13 we are going to run a special “Bring a Friend for Free” promotion. All drop-in yoga and activity classes and all drop-in groups will welcome your AND a friend for the price of one! So start thinking now of all the friends you want to bring to Mothering Touch that week.

But for now, enjoy the rest of the easy living of summertime. Don’t rush the fall. It will come in its own time…

 

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How to bottle-feed a baby – Paced Bottle-Feeding

bottle-feeding

Whether we are exclusively bottle-feeding, breastfeeding-with-occasional-bottles, or doing-half-and-half, it makes sense to feed the baby in the most physiologic, relaxing, pleasant way possible, which helps parent and baby develop a comfortable attachment. This process is sometimes called Paced Bottle Feeding. It involves mimicking the flow that the baby might get at the breast, and allowing the baby to have control of their experience, the way they would at the breast.

This information is intended for babies from birth to six months or so. After that, the baby will be better able to communicate their needs.

General guidelines:

1. Feed your baby based on the baby’s cues, not on a schedule. Hunger cues are:

a. Lip-smacking
b. Tongue darting
c. Squirming
d. Rooting – looking for something to suck on with their mouth
e. Hands to mouth
f. “Barking”
g. Crying is a very late cue – really more a sign of distress than hunger.

2. In the first three months or so, a bottle-fed baby will need small amounts of milk, 2-3 ounces, about 8-10 times per day (24 hours). Gradually they will start to take more milk at a time and feed less often.

3. Hold and cuddle the baby a lot. Even when you are not feeding them. We often over-interpret baby’s crying as meaning hunger when really the baby is asking for physical contact, movement, stimulation.

4. Don’t change the baby before the feed (unless absolutely necessary.) It just makes a hungry baby angry to be changed when they want to eat. It’s better to take a little break in the middle of a feed to change a diaper. And babies often poop when eating anyway!

5. Have your baby skin-to-skin when feeding, if you like, and if it’s convenient. Do not swaddle the baby when feeding them. Let the baby’s hands be free to explore and participate.

6. Use a slow-flow nipple – this is a nipple which, when held upside-down with milk in it, will release one drop of milk per second. This makes sure the baby does not eat too much, too fast.

7. Plan to take 10-20 minutes to complete the feed. Every feed does not need to be the same length. We all have some long meals and some short ones. Taking a longer time to feed allows the baby to recognize the feeling of being full before they become over-full. This reduces “colicky” crying.

Step-by-step Bottle-Feeding:

1. Make sure you, the parent, are comfortable. Make sure you are not hungry yourself, and can sit and focus on the baby for the next 20 minutes or so without interruption. Find a cosy place to sit, with good support for your back and arms. Make sure you have the bottle and a burp cloth and maybe a box of tissues nearby, as well as a water-bottle for yourself, and perhaps your phone, so you don’t have to jump up if it rings.

2. Make the baby comfortable in the crook of your arm. Your elbow should be supported, and the baby’s head is resting against your forearm. The baby’s head should be higher than their stomach. The baby does not have to sit absolutely upright, but being on an incline is better than flat on the back. (Babies fed while lying flat are at more risk for dental caries and ear infections.) Being upright means the baby is able to release air they might swallow.

3. Touch the baby’s upper lip with the nipple and draw the nipple downwards over the bottom lip. When the baby opens their mouth, put the nipple in slowly, letting the baby draw it in. Do not force the nipple into the baby’s mouth.

4. Keep the bottle tilted so most the nipple is full of milk. But don’t worry if the baby sucks in a little air – this is quite normal.

5. Count the baby’s sucks and swallows. If the baby does not take a breath by the fourth or fifth suck, remove the nipple and allow the baby to have a break in the flow to swallow and breathe. Keep the nipple right there, by the mouth, so the baby can latch on again when ready.

6. The baby may be upset when you remove the nipple. Talk to them and tell them it’s coming back. They just need a little break. After you have done this a few times, and they know it always comes back, they will be calmer.

7. Other signs a baby needs a break are:

a. Opening eyes wide
b. Pulling the head back, or turning it to the side
c. Arching the back
d. Pursing the lips
e. Letting go of the nipple

8. Take the nipple out right away and sit baby upright or put baby up on your shoulder if you see these signs of mild distress:

a. Milk spilling from the mouth
b. Opening eyes widely
c. Stiffening of arms and legs
d. Flaring nostrils
e. Grimacing
f. Lips turning blue

9. Talk to your baby. Tell them a story. Talk about your plans for the rest of the day, or about what you did this morning. Make it clear that you are focusing your attention on them in a loving and relaxed way, and that you enjoy their company. Develop a habit of pleasant meal-time conversation that will last a life-time!

10. Switch sides halfway through the feed. If you were holding the bottle in your right hand to start with, switch so you are now holding it in your left hand, and the baby is resting on your right arm. This provides for symmetrical eye stimulation and development.

11. Let the baby decide when the feed is done. Signs of being finished are:

a. Falling a sleep
b. Turning head aside or back from the nipple
c. No longer sucking
d. Letting go of the nipple

12. Resist the urge to encourage the baby to finish the last bit of milk in the bottle. The baby is in charge of their body and their stomach. Letting the baby feel satiation cues and responding to them is a good way to set up good eating habits for later life.

13. Put the baby up on your shoulder to burp. Pat their back gently.

14. A baby will often fall asleep for a few minutes, and then decide they could use a little more milk. Take advantage of that little break to change the diaper. Then be prepared to give the baby a little more milk. That’s okay.

15. If the baby still seems to root around even when they have had a large amount of milk, consider that they might just need to do a little more sucking. Offer a pacifier and a cuddle and see if baby falls asleep.

Resources:

HealthyFamiliesBC.ca is a good website on family health – lots of information there on formula feeding and bottle preparation.

HealthLinkBC.ca is another source of British Columbian health information.

www.inspq.qc.ca/ is a Quebec resource with good, detailed information – in English.

Many of the ideas I have shared here are influenced by:
https://www.peelregion.ca/
https://kellymom.com/

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Pay it Forward

I find myself having to do something I always dread. I have to raise our prices. I always resist doing this – so years go by and our prices stay fixed. I really wanted to keep our Childbirth Classes, especially, affordable, because I know most expectant parents don’t have a lot of spare cash. But it has to be done. We will be raising the prices of our Childbirth Classes, and our Parenting the Newborn Classes on August 1. (So you might want to let your friends, who have not yet registered, know that this month is a great time to do so!)

At Mothering Touch we have always given bursaries to families who are in financial difficulties. These families are referred to us by their midwives, or family docs, or public health nurses. We negotiate a fee they can reasonably afford – sometimes that means $20.

As we raise our prices, I want to make more people aware of our Bursaries, and I would like to make more bursaries available. So we have come up with a plan. When folks register for their classes, they will be given the option of contributing $5 or $10 to our Bursary Fund. As they pay for the classes that help them to prepare for parenthood, they can support another family, who might not be as well off. They can pay it forward.

We’re going to put a Pay it Forward button on our front page too. So that families who have already taken their classes can make a contribution.

When you contribute to our Bursary Fund, you are giving a pregnant parent and their partner or support person the opportunity to get evidence-based information about childbirth, breastfeeding and early parenting, to go on a tour of the hospital where they may be birthing, and to attend two free prenatal yoga classes. You help connect them with Mothering Touch, and resources that will support them all the way through the first years of their baby’s life.

We hope many of you will consider donating to our Bursary Fund, and will pass the word along to families who may be able to benefit from it.
Have a great summer!

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ParentFest 2019 – Friday May 31, 2-8pm

Family walking by the sea

ParentFest 2019 is our NEW annual Parent-Celebrating Event. On Friday May 31,  the day before the United Nations Global Day of Parents (June 1), Mothering Touch will be honouring and celebrating and pampering parents of all genders.

The Global Day of Parents “… was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 2012… and honours parents throughout the world. The Global Day provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents in all parts of the world for their selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.”

Mothering Touch wants to join in this expression of appreciation, And so from 2-8 pm on Friday May 31, we will be having a party!

All day long, in our big activity room, all divided up into booths and dimly lit, practitioners of various modalities (massage therapists, acupuncturists, reflexologists, a yoga therapist, a photographer) will be offering their services for little 15 minute mini-treatments for $5 each. In the Nest, there will be delicious snacks and tea. We will have friendly doulas here to help host our guests, and to hold babies while parents have treatments. In the shop there will be a 20% off sale (on almost everything), live music, and free workshops!

In the afternoon, from 2-5pm, we want to focus on families with older babies and toddlers. Alyssa Klazek will be here with her guitar, playing for all of us, but also leading some sing-alongs. Because we want the whole family to come along to this event, we wanted to provide some activities for the older babies and toddlers too. So there will be bubble making equipment outside – next to the Valet Stroller Parking. And indoors, the two treatment rooms will be handed over to the babies – one to play in, and one to do some simple crafts – play dough and crayons.

In the evening, from 5-8pm, we would like to focus on expectant and pregnant parents, and very new families with tiny babies. Local doulas will be here to chat, and hold babies while parents get a massage, or some acupuncture. And in the centre of the store we are going to run free mini-workshops, hosted by our Mothering Touch practitioners – workshops on massage, reflexology and acupressure for labour, and on how to stay connected as a couple after you have a baby.

We hope parents in Victoria will come and join us to try out some new experiences, and that they will leave feeling pampered and appreciated! Happy Global Day of Parents!

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New Postnatal Yoga Program at Mothering Touch – Classes from Birth to Toddlerhood

Yoga for Toddlers

The Mothering Touch Yoga Teachers had a meeting a couple of weeks ago and decided to offer something brand new: A graded approach to Postnatal Yoga.

We realize that as parents recover from childbirth, as their bodies get stronger, they need more challenge. But they also need classes which accommodate their growing babies. A lovely, quiet, restorative class is great for someone who gave birth 6 weeks ago and has a peaceful new baby. But the more “senior” parent with the 5 month-old who has just learned to shriek, or roll, will feel out of place in that class. And the “advanced” parent, who gave birth almost a year ago now, needs a yoga class to come to where there is no judgement about a baby  who wants to poke the other babies in the eyes!

So we decided to set up a system to provide a Yoga Class for Every Parent!

Our first offering, for parents who are 6-15 weeks postpartum, is called Restorative Yoga for the Fourth Trimestre. It is a soothing, nurturing class, to help you come back into your body, and move with awareness as you recover from childbirth. Your little baby is welcome, and can lie along side, or on top of you, participating in some poses, or just napping.

Once your baby is more than 3 months old, we invite you to move on, to Postnatal Yoga for Strength. This class will focus on building strength, increasing stamina, reducing fatigue and releasing chronic tension in the spine. Babies from 3-9 months will be welcome, and expected, to make more noise, demand more attention, and be more distracting. But they will also be happy to be stimulated by the more active class.

After your baby starts to roll, creep, crawl and maybe even walk (9-15 months), we urge you to try the Postnatal Flow Yoga class. This more challenging class, will lead you through sun salutations, strengthening poses, and some restorative work, to get you in shape to keep up with your new toddler.  The instructor, and the other parents, will fully expect the interruptions created by

the mobile kids. But those interruptions are just the sorts of challenges you need to learn to overcome, if you are to have a regular yoga practice as a parent.

Finally, for parents whose toddlers have gotten big and strong, we have Yoga Despite the Toddlers. In this class the instructor will lead you through a flow, AND entertain the kids. You can get a yoga class in, without having to find childcare!

By now, your child has attended a lot of yoga classes. It’s time for them to get their own class. So as soon as they can follow some simple instructions – maybe by 18 months or so – you might like to try Yoga for Toddlers. This class is for the kids. The grownups can do the poses too, but it’s all aimed at helping the children develop a love of movement.

What will all these classes have in common? At that Mothering Touch Yoga Teachers meeting, we spent some time discussing the Mothering Touch Yoga culture. We all agreed, that we want our classes to be inclusive – so we make use of props to accommodate everyone regardless of their skill, level, ability, size. We want our teachers to be able to meet individual needs – so all classes start with a check-in. We want our classes to promote community – so they all in the round – participants can all see each other – there is no front or back row. We want parents to be able to feel comfortable in their bodies and feel supported in their search for balance and wellness as parents – so we make our classes as welcoming as possible to their children.

We hope you will come and join us in this unique new way to tell tell the story of your child’s first years through yoga.

(The New Graded Postnatal Yoga Program begins Monday April 29!)

 

 

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A is for Advice by Ilana Stanger-Ross – Book Launch – Saturday, April 6 – 6-8pm

A is for Advice by Ilana Stanger-Ross

Mothering Touch is pleased and proud to be hosting a Book Launch for one of our favourite Victoria midwives - Ilana Stanger-Ross. Her book, A is for Advice, is a brief and compelling reflection on pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum period for expectant mothers of all kinds.

Whether you prefer a water birth at home or a scheduled C-section in a hospital, whether you believe in painkillers or an all-natural labour, breast milk or formula, this book speaks to you and your pregnancy. Written in the approachable and friendly tone of a best-friend blogger but informed by the insight of a Registered Midwife, A is for Advice seeks to comfort and inspire, providing realistic and soothing advice at a time when most women desperately seek out information.

Through 26 lesson/letters of the alphabet (C is for Control; F is for Fear; W is for Water), A is for Advice offers practical and emotional insights into the often overwhelming transition to motherhood. Using a combination of humor, story-telling, research distillation, and personal reflection, A is for Advice speaks to concerns common to all women as they approach birth and motherhood. Eschewing the “birth wars” for a women-centred, feminist perspective, A is for Advice does not argue for any one type of birth experience, but rather empowers each woman to be her own advocate. 

Ilana Stanger-RossWhen I first met Ilana, she was a student-midwife and had just published Sima's Undergarments for Women. It is a charming novel about a bra-fitter. I found it especially charming, because I had just opened Mothering Touch and was learning to fit bras myself. I am very excited to read Ilana's new work. Please come and join me to hear her talk about it!

Ilana will be at Mothering Touch on Saturday April 6, from 6-8pm. We will start with a brief interview, and then give the audience a chance to ask questions. And of course, Ilana will be happy to sign copies of her book.

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Santa Claus is coming to Mothering Touch!

Mothering Touch is very lucky to be on Santa’s list of places to visit! He will be here on Friday, November 23 from 2pm until 6pm and Saturday, November 24 from 2pm until 5pm.

We are also lucky to have the fabulous photographer Christin Carruthers this year to photograph all those adorable little ones with Ol’ Saint Nick!

This event raises money for the Young Parents Support Network. So we ask for a minimum donation of $5 which goes directly to them and you get your picture taken with Santa.

About a week after the event, Christin will post a gallery of all the photos on her website.  You can find yours from there and download a low resolution photo for free. FOR AN EXTRA COST you will be able to purchase high resolution photos suitable for printing directly from Ooh Ooh Darling Photography.

On these two days we also have a Christmas Shopping Sale. Almost everything in the store is 20% off, so get some shopping done while you are here!

Don’t call us to try and pre-register. You can only sign-up ON THE DAY. But Santa and Christin are very quick and no one has to wait very long!

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How to Introduce a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby

(This is a piece I posted on my blog at evabild.ca back in 2014. I have been asked for it three times in the last week – so I thought I would post it here too! If you want to see what else I have written about babies and breastfeeding and sleep, go check out that website.)

______________________________

Let me start with a disclaimer. Not all babies need to have bottles. Babies who are doing well at the breast, and whose mothers are available and happy to provide the breast whenever the baby needs it, these babies do not need bottles. Not all mothers want to or need to spend time away from their babies. And some babies are peaceful and happy between feeds and can go 2-3 hours in the cuddly arms of the other parent or a grandparent while mom goes for a swim or a walk, or sings in her choir.

But some babies and mothers need bottles. Some mothers need time away from their babies, for their physical, emotional, financial or professional health. These babies need bottles. And the mothers, having followed the best advice from breastfeeding experts which is to offer only the breast for the first six weeks, sometimes find themselves at 6, or 8 or 12 weeks, trying to get a very breast-imprinted and irritated baby to take a bottle.

When babies are very new, in the first 4-6 weeks, they will suck on almost anything. A bottle nipple, or a breast, or a finger, or a pacifier, are all relatively easy for them to learn to use. But by 6-8 weeks, babies move on to using their mouths more for exploring and gumming and chewing. So when an 8-week-old baby is presented with a bottle nipple, that behaves in no way like a breast, the baby gets frustrated. Here is this thing in her mouth, it smells like milk, she can taste a little milk leaking out, but she can’t get it to work! Often, parents are given the advice to try the bottle with the baby when she is hungry, and that makes her even more irritated. And then Dad is holding her in his arms, in a position similar to the one in which she gets the breast, and instead she gets this hard rubbery thing which doesn’t work! So the baby howls, and the Dad or Parent or Other-Mother or Grandmother or Uncle feels very rejected indeed. So much for bonding with the baby by giving her a bottle!

Very often, parents will try many, many different sorts of bottle and nipples, trying for the one which the baby will “like.”  They often ask me what nipple I recommend. My hunch is that no matter what nipples they try, no matter what the order they try them in, the baby will finally take the sixth or seventh one they try. It’s not that they have finally found the right nipple, but that the baby got some practice.

So based on my basic knowledge of how to teach skills to children, and on some ideas I have gathered from clever, patient parents who have done this recently, here is the method I suggest. These instructions are intended for the Dad or other parent  – not the breastfeeding mom. This is a skill the baby needs to learn to do with someone else. That’s the whole point of the bottle, for someone else to be able to care for the baby. So let that start now.

Equipment

  • 1 baby in a good mood – not hungry, not sleepy
  • 2 bottles with plain, “slow-flow” silicone nipples (I recommend these because they are cheap and easy to find. If you have something else, use that. The only bottle  would not recommend is the “Calma” by Medela. That nipple is great for a newborn who has to be supplemented. But for a baby after 6 weeks, it’s going to be very frustrating.)
  • In one bottle – for the baby – put just 20ml of breast milk. (If you put more in the bottle, you will be bothered when it gets wasted and you will try to force the baby to take more. This is just going to be a practice session. Don’t expect too much. When you eventually teach this child to ride a bike, you won’t expect him to ride all the way to school on the first day, will you?)
  • In the other bottle – for you – put something that you would like to drink!
  • 1 car seat or bouncy chair

Procedure

  • Put the baby in the car seat or bouncy chair.
  • Put a happy, cheerful smile on your face and arm yourself with patience.
  • Talk to the baby and explain that the two of you are going to have a drink together. Remember, babies may not understand the words you say, but they are very good at picking up your emotions.
  • Suck on your bottle a bit and make some yum-yum noises.
  • Then offer the baby’s bottle to him. Let him explore it with his mouth.
  • As soon as he seems puzzled, take it away again, and show him how you suck on yours.
  • Make it a game. Sing a little song. Be really silly and happy. This makes babies relax.
  • Try a few times back a forth, baby’s turn, your turn.
  • As soon as the baby starts to look unhappy and has had enough of the game, stop right away. You want to create good associations with the bottle.
  • Remember, babies have a short attention span and they get tired and overstimulated quickly. So a five minute session is plenty!
  • Try again tomorrow, and the next day

Try every day, at the same time, if you can, but only when the baby is in a good mood. It may take a week, or more, but eventually, the baby will figure out how to get the milk to flow from the bottle. And you will have taught your baby a skill. Now that’s a way to bond with your baby!

If you try this out, do send me an email to let me know how it works for you! And let me know if you make any amendments or variations. I will give you full credit when I pass them on!

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Supporting the family – body and mind

At Mothering Touch, we try to support families throughout pregnancy and the first years of parenting on all levels, in all dimensions. As part of that quest, we have two practitioners working in our new Treatment Room, listening to and counselling families, helping keep healthy minds in healthy bodies.

Jenny Jackson, Registered Dietitian, has a particular interest in nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, as well as in helping to introduce solids to babies in the middle of the first year. She is smart, compassionate and funny! A joy to listen to. She came and gave a talk to the Doulas of Victoria last week – the conversation flowed for over two hours as we shared our passion for caring for childbearing families.

Theresa Gulliver, Therapeutic Counsellor, has a particular interest in mothers and step-mothers. She runs our Motherhood Circle here at Mothering Touch, and does a great occasional workshop called “Find your Joy as a Mother”. In private sessions, she is available to help parents find their way through this new identity and role.

You can book an appointment with Jenny or with Theresa through our on-line booking page.

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Put on your OWN oxygen mask!             

It’s become a well-worn cliche to say that you have to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others. But that doesn’t make it any less true. And it is the hardest lesson to learn when you become a parent. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your kids.

During pregnancy, parents are often quite good about self-care, going to exercise or yoga classes, acupuncture or massage. It’s easy to justify because caring for the pregnant parent means caring for the baby too. But once the baby is a separate person, moms often feel that spending time away from the baby and spending money on care for themselves is “selfish.”

My memory of those early years, is that when I went away and exercised or sang, or had coffee with a friend, or had a massage, I came back a kinder, more patient parent. I gave myself more generously for having been selfish for a couple of hours.

In order to encourage self-care among the parents in the Mothering Touch community, we have created a couple of treatment rooms, and we are offering various complementary therapies, provided by skilled and certified practitioners. Jenny Jackson, Registered Dietitian, is offering Nutritional Counselling. Jill Moran, Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Doctor is offering Acupuncture. Theresa Gulliver, Therapeutic Counsellor is offering Counselling Sessions. And  Dr. Shannon Dodson (who teaches our Prenatal Fitness Class) is offering Chiropractic for pregnancy, the postpartum, and for babies. In the next few months, we will add massage and reflexology to our roster.

You can book online from our website. Or you can call us and we will help you over the phone. and if you aren’t ready yet for your baby to be too far away from you, you could have your partner/sister/best-friend/mother-in-law sit in our lounge (we call it The Nest) and cuddle the baby while you have your special time in the lovely, peaceful, quiet, treatment room.

    ~ Eva

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Bras Across The Pacific

 

I was recently reminded of a story about a grandmother-to-be…

Sheila (not her real name) came into Mothering Touch looking for a gift for her grandchild-to-be.  She was very excited at the prospect of becoming a grandmother.  As she wandered around the store, cooing over the cute baby clothes, she noticed our extensive collection of nursing bras.  She wondered if she could buy a nursing bra for her daughter Catherine who was 8 months pregnant.  We asked her if she could bring her daughter in to be fitted.  “No,” said Sheila, “she lives in Japan.”  We started to think about how to help her find a nursing bra in Japan, but Sheila said that Catherine is 5 feet 10 inches tall and needs a very large cup size, and is unlikely to find anything to fit her in Japan.  Sheila was going to visit Catherine in a week or so and would stay until after the baby came, and she would love to be able to bring Catherine a pretty and comfortable bra that fit properly.

So we got Catherine on the phone.  In Japan it was already the morning of the next day!  She was delighted to hear her mother’s voice and so happy to hear about the nursing bras.  She had been looking online, but had no idea what to choose or how to measure herself.  We explained how to do it. Catherine hung up and went off to measure herself and called us back a few minutes later.

From her measurements, and from Sheila’s description of her body type, we made a guess as to what size might work for her.  We told her about the different styles and she chose three different bras and a tank top which she wanted to try.  Sheila bought them and walked out the store proud as Punch about solving this problem for her daughter.

Six weeks later, Sheila was back from Japan with beautiful pictures of her cute little grandson.  She was so proud of him, but prouder still of her daughter who was breastfeeding.  “She’s such a wonderful mother!” Sheila had experienced one of those high points of parenthood: when you witness your child moving competently on into the next stage of life.

Of the bras Sheila had taken to Japan, two fit Catherine perfectly.  She brought the other two back and exchanged them for ones that would fit well.  Then she said: “Can you help me to choose cloth diapers for them?  Catherine would love to stop using disposables.”  We were happy to help.

We are always happy to help people become parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles. We love that our job involves helping families to welcome new babies, all around the world!

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Can One Man do the Work of Eight Women?

Imagine if you lived in the sort of small community most people lived in until 200 years ago. Imagine if you lived within a few meters of where you were born and your parents and your in-laws, your grandparents and aunts and uncles and siblings and cousins all lived nearby. (Imagine also – for the sake of argument – that they are all nice, kind people and you get along with all of them. That would make life a lot easier, but I know it doesn’t always happen.)

Now imagine that you have a baby. Even if your culture cuts your available help in half by limiting child-care to women and girls, you still have an amazing number of people to help you out. Your mother and mother-in-law and aunts are there to give you the benefit of their experience. (And in those days, child-care practices didn’t change like fashions with every new book some kook published!) Your sisters and cousins might also be having babies, and might be able to nurse your baby for you if you didn’t have enough milk, or had sore nipples, or just needed to sleep. There would always be someone around to chat with, someone to make supper, someone to hold the baby while you go to the toilet.

And the men, while they might not have washed the clothes or cooked the meals, would probably have helped by sitting around in the evenings and holding the baby. There would probably have been an old grandfather who couldn’t walk anymore who sat by the fire all day and was really good at patting babies to sleep. And as the babies got older, the younger men working nearby would have been fascinating for the toddlers to watch and imitate. (I remember when trades-people came to our house to repair something, how my kids would follow them around, gazing in awe and asking questions. Sure gave me a break!)

Nowadays, in Canada, we live in little boxes, little nuclear families, far away from the family and place of our birth. I often meet couples who are about to have a baby and have just moved to Victoria. I always feel for these isolated young things. I was like that once. My husband Randy and I moved to Edinburgh just two months before our second son Simon was due. We knew no-one. It was a very lonely experience. It was very hard on our relationship, and hard on Daniel, our toddler. Luckily, my mother came to stay, for a month around Simon’s birth, to do the work of many, cooking and cleaning and doing laundry and providing comic relief.

But even for new parents who are not living in such a completely new place, even if they have parents or siblings or other family living nearby, the expectation in our current society is that they are supposed to do this business of having a baby on their own. Our culture values independence and privacy and boundaries. It forgets to value support, companionship, belonging. And it makes for very lonely, depressed and anxious new parents.

I work with new mothers every day. I identify with them strongly and feel a lot of compassion for how difficult their job is. But I actually feel even sorrier for the new dads. (In the case of a LGBTQ couple, the non-stay-at-home, non-childbearing parent often has very similar challenges.) The Dad, without any experience of birth, babies or breastfeeding, has to do the work that used to be done by a mother, a mother-in-law, an aunt, three cousins and two sisters, not to mention the old grandfather and the fun young uncles. Not to mention the work that he has always done, contributing to the home and the family. No wonder he feels overwhelmed! And no wonder so many new mothers are dis-satisfied with the contributions their partners make to the work of a new baby. There is just no way he can do it all. One man cannot do the work of eight women.