babein

Hey new mumma! You've totally got this.

Anne Freeman
Davie all sleepy smiles while being worn at 2 months old

Davie all sleepy smiles while being worn at 2 months old

When you’re pregnant people can’t help but comment. They’ll scoff at you saying things like “enjoy your sleep while you can” or “there’s no going back now” or that “your life will never be the same again”. My personal favourite was the complete nut-jobs that seem to revel in glee while telling you horrific labour stories and tales of breastfeeding misadventure.

My policy was never to engage but rather to smile a wry smile and cooly reply “well, if it was impossible, the human race would have died out by now” before turning on my heel and waddling away.

I mean really… are we having babies so that life can remain exactly the same? No! And do we know that there will be sleepless nights in store? Well… yes. We don’t live in a vacuum! We do have sisters, friends, colleagues that have tread this road before us. In short - we know babies can be hard work but we have them anyway because they also bring a truck-load of joy along with them and who wants life to remain exactly the same forever anyway? Obviously the good outweighs the bad because… You know, survival of the species.

 

The nicer strangers and friends simply tell you that you’ll need a lot of patience to be a parent. But here’s why I think this piece of friendly advice is wrong for new mums.

Having patience with someone, in this case your brand new bub, implies that you’re putting up with a lot of unnecessary bullshit while wearing a serene expression. Rather than patience, what I utilised in heavy rotation was empathy. Empathy is looking at your little bub and realising that the world is fucking crazy for them! It’s a big, bright, cold, still hell-scape when what they’ve come from is a snug, dark, warm, rhythmic utopia. This whole initiation into the world is one big scary trip! Empathy helps you understand that and not wonder why he’s crying “for no reason”. You would cry too!

 

Which brings me to a surprisingly helpful piece of life-experience that I drew from after I had Davie.

You remember back in the day when you were chillin in “da club”? The thick stucco of Mac foundation barely veiling your post-adolescent insecurity as you sipped on a cocktail trying to look sophisticated? And remember when your friend took one too many party pills and begged you not to leave them the whole night because they were tripping balls and weren’t sure what was real and what wasn’t? Well, look into your baby’s eyes. That look your friend had back then? THAT’S THE SAME LOOK YOUR BABY HAS NOW! Their world is a choppy sea of new and daunting experiences and the only life-raft they have is you. So if your baby “cries every time I try put him down”, don’t. He’s not clingy - he’s tripping balls and needs a wing-man. And that’s why I was so thankful for babywearing - because it allowed me to meet my bub’s need for almost constant contact with me while allowing me to, you know, pee and eat lunch and stuff.

 

So if you’d never dream of leaving your bestie in the middle of a bad trip. If you were the type of friend who would administer bottled water and stroke hair and give cuddles and mutter kind words until the trip was over then you’re going to make a fucking amazing mother and don’t let anyone tell you any different!

All the things I didn't know I should have asked.

Anne Freeman
Anne with 1-month old Davie

When I was pregnant my friends with bubs were so nice - each of them said “if there’s anything you want to know, just ask”. There was only one problem… I had no idea what to ask.
After I had Davie, my friend Torie was in her second trimester. I asked her “Do you want me to tell you all the things I didn’t know I should have asked?”

Here’s a list I wrote for her, a list I’ve since shared with several other friends. It’s not glamourous. It may even be on the boring side. But damnit if it’s not some handy boring information!

Breastfeeding
In the early days you will be feeding your bub every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours overnight. This is only really for the first few weeks so don't be daunted at the prospect.
My hot tip is practice practice practice in hospital. Ask every single midwife for their tips. If you don’t like a particular midwife, shout “next!” and show her the door! If you find one you get along with, ask her to hang with you awhile.
 
Here are my hot tips for a good latch: 
- Your bubby's tummy should be parallel with your own, he shouldn't have to turn his head to find your nipple. To help with this I used to position my arm between his legs and hold his neck while my little finger was positioned under his armpit. 
- Squeeze out some milk and rub it from his nose-mouth-chin so he gets a hankering for “nom time”
- Skin-2-skin will also help if, like Davie, your bubby is a bit clueless as to what he should be doing!
- Don't press his head towards the nipple, he will resist
- Ensure he is positioned with an "open throat", chin away from chest - think about the position your head is in when you drink from a glass. If you line up his nose (rather than his mouth) with your nipple then he will have to open is mouth nice and wide. And then BAM! Nipple him! Pressing the middle of his back gently will also aid this.
- Clenched fists and open eyes often indicate a good latch - he's all business and very determined! Then he may drift off to sleep once full. 

Burping Positions
For some reason some midwives in hospital say nowadays that breastfed babies don’t need burping. Well, why was my bub full of air then? Check out this guide.

Baby shifts
After your bub arrives, chances are you’re going be exhausted already. Add to that the feeding around the clock and you might need toothpicks to hold those eyelids open! My husband and I worked in tandem so that we each had our turn sleeping. There’s really no need for you to both be awake all night long, share the load.
We did our babying in shifts! In the early days I would go to bed after dinner (after feeding Davie around 7.00pm) and then wake up at 10pm. I would then look after Davie from 10pm - 5am, snoozing when I could while my husband got a proper sleep.
Paul would take Davie at 5am (tummy full from his 4.30am feed) and then give him a bottle of expressed milk at 7.30am, I would wake at 9.00am and express for the following morning's bottle feed before feeding Davie again at 10.30am. Doing this allowed me to have around 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day along with whatever naps I could grab throughout the day and night and Paul would get around 7 hours. There’s no single way to manage this, just communicate with your partner/helper and find your groove.

Breast Pumps
If you want to save cash the manual pumps are very effective.

If you want to splurge and have the option to do hands free expressing then go for the Medella double pump. Medella is the brand that the hospitals use and is widely regarded as the best. This is the one we have.  
Don't bother with a single pump, time is of the essence and the trepidation I felt about it feeling a little too "Bovine" went out the window! Ha!
You can also hire them if you choose not to buy.

For hands free pumping you can make your own expressing bra by cutting holes out of an old sports bra - no need to buy one of these fancy things.
 
Bottle washing
There is no need to sterilize if you're bottle feeding using breast milk. Simply wash with warm soapy water and allow to dry on a rack. Store clean components in a sealed Tupperware so they don't get dusty or have flies land on them!

Storing expressed milk
Expressed milk can be kept out of the fridge at room temperature for 6 hours or stored in the fridge for 3 days - we wrote the date and time of expressing on masking tape and popped it on the bottle to keep track.

Nappy Changes
Tiny new bottoms often can’t handle baby wipes. Cotton balls and warm water are so much gentler than wipes. Baby wipes tend to drag and can hurt brand new little bot bots - keep them for outings only and for when your bub is a few months older. 

Belly Button Care - Keep a bowl of water with a splash of Dettol in it by the nappy change area and clean your bub’s button at every nappy change. This will stop it getting infected while you’re waiting for the umbilical stump to drop off.

Apps
Download some Apps before you have your bub.
MamaBaby is great for keeping track of feeds and (in the early days) nappies. The midwives will tell you how many nappies to expect in the first week. In our case, Davie wasn't making enough nappies so it was vital to keep track and ensure they were increasing. Nappies = good feeding
The Wonder Weeks is a remarkable insight into developmental "leaps" and the signs that your bubby is going through them. I have had 3 different friends recommend this App and tell me how amazingly accurate it is! Knowing that sometimes your baby will cry for no reason is very reassuring that you're caring for them appropriately (i.e. you're not doing anything wrong!) and that all they really need is to be held and loved right now while they cry.

Stuff you just need
Buy a pack of old fashioned cloth nappies from Kmart - SO handy for all manor of babiness! Burping/spit ups/nappy changes.

While you’re at Kmart - buy a big packet or two of face washers also! I don’t know about your house, but we had NO face washers! You need them for bath time. 

Online grocery shopping
I can't recommend this enough! Don’t worry about going to the supermarket in the first few weeks/months, just chill with your bub while a nice delivery person brings everything right to your door. 
Coles has free delivery on Wednesdays when you spend over $100. Make sure your order is in on the Sunday before so you secure these popular time slots.

To-Do List
Write it on the fridge with a white-board marker and if people visit and ask "is there anything I can help with" you can simply say "choose something off the list" - it's less awkward than asking people to fold your laundry!! 

Good luck mummas. You got this!

 

 

 

Mummy wars and the fear of backlash...

All about Anne, StyleAnne Freeman

babein is on the brink of launch (yay!) and yet I’ve had this little nagging anxiety (boo!) since we did the lookbook shoot. The whole philosophy of babein is for stylin mummas to be able to parent attentively and affectionately without feeling like they’ve lost their style, their sass, their core fabulousness. I spent weeks putting together the looks for our photo shoot and, with the exception of a couple of pieces bought especially, all the clothes are mine. In fact, most of them are outfits I’ve worn on any given day while parenting Davie. They’re comfortable, allow for easy breastfeeding and are totally stylin. And yet I’m worried that someone, somewhere will pipe up and say that my lookbook shoot is unrealistic. That I’m somehow expecting mothers to live up to some ridiculous fashion standard which couldn’t be further from the truth. My overarching desire is to empower new mummas to be whatever they need to be, to be happy.
The thing is, we all express ourselves differently. I myself have always been a make-up wearer. I am no oil painting without it. When I first had Davie I tried life without make-up. I figured that it was what I was meant to do - give myself a break from preening and just relax into my little cloud of sleep deprivation and love. The only problem was that after tending to Davie all night - what I affectionately term “the night shift” - I would feel completely squashed and miserable the next day. Unless… I got up, dusted myself off, put on something cheerful and gave myself a quick going over from my trusty make-up case. My mood would lift, the cloud of exhaustion parted slightly and I would go out and greet the day. I guess it was a kind of Fake It Til You Make It situation but it worked. With my armour of eyeliner and lipstick I would interact with people while out and about, make conversation, crack jokes and feel, well… human. My improved disposition also made me a better mother - bubbly, energetic, fun! So make-up, a seemingly superficial thing, actually helps to bolster my psyche in a very tangible way.
The truth is I admire women who can go out into the world bare-faced and brazen and I wish that I could do so with confidence too. My 2 best friends Elysia and Marion, whose dazzling external beauty is only surpassed by their glorious internal beauty, rarely wear make-up outside of social outings and I’m in awe of them. In fact it was they who inspired me to give it a go myself!
The spirit of babein is about mummas being able to retain their own unique flavour of sass, whatever that may entail. Far too often we hear stories of mummy wars and mother-shaming because we don’t seem to support each other enough. No two mothers are the same, just as no two babies are the same and quite frankly we’re all just doing the best we can. There is no one “right” way to do anything - if there was the entire parenting book/product/blog industry would crumble! So I guess what I’m saying is, as with politics and religion, let’s just put our parenting and personal philosophies to one side and be nice to each other for a change. Let’s support each other without judgment, because no-matter how we each tackle our days, we’re actually freaking nailing it.

The mumma... that nearly wasn't

All about AnneAnne Freeman
Davis & Anne (AKA Davie & Annie)

I was never meant to be a mother, let alone the proud owner of a babywearing fashion label.

You see, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) when I was 22 years old, 14 years ago. At the time, my first question was "will I be able to have children?". I was told 'yes' but came to understand, over time, just how crucial good blood glucose control is during pregnancy. Despite my best efforts, my control wasn't perfect and to me, less than perfect just wasn't going to be good enough. So my boyfriend became my husband and we got on with creating a full life, without children.

Then in late 2014 we accidentally happened upon a science program called Catalyst which was featuring the Low Carb/High Fat (LCHF) way of eating, we researched further. I recall one quote explaining that those diagnosed with T1D these days are advised to treat themselves by eating a lot of carbs and then injecting a lot of insulin. He likened it to fighting a fire by dousing it in a combination of water and petrol. That was my lightbulb moment! For more than a decade I had experienced the highs and lows of that exact philosophy. Cut to a week later and I had changed my diet, cutting out all carbs including most fruit and starchy vege, and achieved perfect blood glucose control with barely any effort and while eating foods I loved (hello cheese!). Just over a month later I was pregnant and now we have Davis (Davie to his pals). Quite frankly, he's a tiny little legend. He's only 9 months old but he's got an absolute cracker of a personality and the world shines brighter for everyone around him. If it hadn't been for LCHF, quite simply, Davie wouldn't exist.

 Being pregnant was challenging, with my insulin requirements continually changing I resolved to micro-manage my blood glucose, testing my blood around 12 times per 24 hour period and administering up to 7 or 8 injections a day.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant I also began seeing an acupuncturist regularly which helped with my energy levels and general wellbeing. The overarching idea, however, was to avoid being medically induced into labour at 38 weeks, which is the policy for all T1Ds regardless of blood glucose control. My main concern was that my body wouldn't be ready and I'd end up needing an emergency caesarian section.

At around 32 weeks my acupuncturist began "getting my body ready" and gradually increased the intensity of treatment as the weeks progressed. At 37 weeks I got the "full whammy" of induction acupuncture, 3 times! And sure enough, on the morning that I was booked in to be induced, I went into spontaneous labour. And although I did end up having my waters broken and a syntocinon administered to speed things up after many hours labouring, in the end, out popped Davie slimy and squishy and beautiful! 

LCHF literally changed mine, and my husband's, life in the most profound way possible.

Not another f@#king chevron print!

StyleAnne Freeman

Have you noticed how much chevron print is in "baby-land"? Don't get me wrong. I like a chevron print as much as the next girl. But, as mothers, when did chevron print become our only option? From nappy bags to pram liners to blankets to dribble bibs, chevron print is everywhere. Are we to assume that all the stylish and sassy woman who become mothers have the style-centre of their brains expelled in the birthing suite along with the placenta and all of a sudden chevron print is the only thing that appeals to us? Why is everything so uninspired?

For me, uninspiring baby-wrangling tools are not only unappreciated, they're unnecessary. I believe that good design is right in the sweet spot of that holy-trinity style/comfort/functionality. When it comes to footwear, for instance, I don't believe that if you want comfort you have to don Crocs (which I'm told are very comfortable) and if you want style you have to strap on a vampy stiletto. 

Becoming a mumma doesn't mean that all the other parts of who you are disappear. You're still the same fabulous creature you ever where, it's just that now you have a little person in your life. It's less "brand new formula" and more "now with bonus baby!"

The good news is that if you seek out the less-ordinary, you will find an abundance of cleverly designed, super-stylish, life-enhancing products, so many of which are actually the brain-children of cluey mummas. Because not only are we the mothers of babies. We're also the mothers of invention.

 

 

How I became a babywearer

BabywearingAnne Freeman
Bub's first food festival at 1 month old!

Bub's first food festival at 1 month old!

One of my besties, Marion, had her bub Allegra a year before I had Davie. One day we caught up and she had, what appeared to be, a baby in her T-shirt. I learned that what she was wearing was actually a stretchy wrap. Allegra looked so cosy in there and she never fussed or cried, just nuzzled into her mummas warmth, totally content and, more often than not, snoozing. When I too was conscripted into mummadom a year later Marion, being the total doll that she is, bought me the same stretchy wrap. The first time I tried it out Davie was 2 weeks old - I had no idea then that you can actually wear your bub as soon as he hatches! I remember texting Marion saying "It just feels so... RIGHT!" And it did. It was almost like being pregnant still and Davie was so chilled out and happy in there. A couple of weeks later, when Davie was a month old, my husband Paul and I took him to a food festival in our 'hood. I posted a pic of the 3 of us on Facebook and another friend commented "Nice babywearing". 'Babywearing?' I thought. What an odd thing to say. I thought she'd made up the term and was trying to be funny because I'm something of a fashion enthusiast. Well, it turns out that babywearing is totally a thing and, as fate would have it, I was already on a life-changing adventure!