Oh Sorry, Does My Breastfeeding Photo Offend You?

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I remember the first time I breastfed in public. Tilly was 2 weeks old and I was at my partner’s footy game. I felt awkward, anxious and uncomfortable. Nobody was at all bothered by it, but in my head I imagined that everyone was staring at me.

It is totally overwhelming getting out and about with a newborn when you’re a first-time mum, and you worry that you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. The thought of having to whip out my boob in public was kind of terrifying and I secretly hoped that Tilly would just sleep through the entire outing.

On this occasion, I was the only person making me feel self-conscious. I’m very glad that nobody has ever made me feel uncomfortable when I’ve needed to breastfeed. But I don’t blame myself for feeling worried initially.

We live in a society that doesn’t bat an eyelid when someone posts a provocative photo of themselves on Facebook, but a photo of a breastfeeding baby is reported as inappropriate.

We live in a society where cafe owners ask mothers to take their babies into the toilet to breastfeed.

We live in a society where some wanker tweets, “If you breastfeed in public, don’t blame me for staring at your tits”.

We live in a society that makes us feel guilty if we formula feed, but then tells us breastfeeding is something that needs to be hidden away at your inconvenience.

If you are offended when you see a baby breastfeeding, it says more about YOU than anything else. I think we could all agree that the majority of women are very discreet and there really isn’t much to see; so what is it that makes you feel so uncomfortable?

Are breasts so overwhelmingly sexual for you, that the fact that their primary purpose has nothing at all to do with sex confuses you?

If a baby is hungry, why on earth should that baby have to wait until it’s more convenient for YOU to get the nourishment it needs? How selfish does that make you, prioritising your desire to make your awkward feelings go away over the needs of a helpless infant?

If a mother wants to share what is truly a beautiful and bonding experience in a photograph, why shouldn’t she? What is wrong with your mind that you could look at such a photo and think negative thoughts about it? It is not inappropriate, it is not sexual, and if you think it is then there is seriously something wrong with you.

Breastfeeding is natural and an amazing experience to have as a woman and a mother. I don’t understand why this is an issue in the first place.

Check out this link I came across of breastfeeding celebrity mums. It is beautiful images of motherhood like these that should be celebrated in our society, not seductive photos of women with their tits and asses hanging out and nobody batting an eyelid.

Gallery of Celebrity Mums

Courts xox

Dads and Labour

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My partner can at times be a man of few words, but I managed to get him to share some thoughts on what it was like experiencing labour for the first time when we had Tilly last year. He was such great support for me throughout the whole process, even if he did keep saying “Oh shit!!!” as Tilly’s head made its appearance hahaha.

Before we had Tilly, what did you think labour would be like?

I thought it would be quick, like a few hours. But I did see on TV that it looked quite scary. It’s pretty scary in person. I was worried, I just wanted you to be ok.

How would you describe the experience?

It was very emotional, scary and happy at the same time. It was hard seeing you in pain, and quite draining. The epidural was great, it made the situation go from intense to calm.

I thought your midwife was pretty average. She seemed experienced but she was no help, all she was doing was telling you how long it was going to hurt for and not finding a way to make it better for you which was frustrating. She should’ve offered you an epidural. Why do people not want to get one? What’s the big deal? It’s common sense to get pain relief if it’s sore. I’d do something if it meant it was less painful, who cares?!

What was it like when Tilly arrived?

Words can’t describe, it was amazing, the best day of my life. It looked excruciating when they pulled her out by her head… like this (demonstrates on Tilly’s head lol).

What was it like for you afterwards?

It was hard leaving you at the hospital. I wanted you both to be ok and for you to get some rest.

What do you think it will be like this time around?

I think it’ll be easier since I’ve experienced it before and know what to expect. I’ll be more cool, calm and collected.

What advice would you give to other dads for when their partners are in labour?

Know what to expect. I didn’t know what to do to help you and it was frustrating. I thought it might help take your mind off the pain if I counted with you.

Be a good support team. No one else is better support than you. It can be hard when you’re the only one in the room who hasn’t been in the situation before but you’re still important.

Do you think it might’ve helped you if we kept up with our antenatal classes?

Possibly, but I don’t regret that we stopped going. It was interesting but not enough for us to want to go every Friday night for however many weeks. A one day course might have been better.

I think the one thing I realised after this little conversation is how important it is for dads to feel prepared for labour. Obviously as mums we need the most preparation and care, but it’s tough for our partners too. For me, I lost all sense of time. It was like I zoned out into another world. But for him, before I had the epidural, it was hours of being with me in the hospital and supporting me through every contraction; I’m not surprised he found it draining. I sure wouldn’t like to see him in pain like that, even though there’s something amazing coming at the end.

It’s really important that dads know the things that they can do to support you, and also that they feel comfortable to do so. It is their baby too that is entering the world, so they first and foremost need to feel involved and that their input is valued by those in the room. I can imagine it might be easy to feel like you have to take a back seat when you’re the only man there. You might have an idea of want you want to do to help or an opinion that you want to voice, but not necessarily feel like you can. This was particularly true for when I had the epidural (you can read a bit about my experience with it here). Your partner needs to know what you want so they can speak up for you if need be.

For first-timers, this could be a valuable discussion to have with your midwife, your partner and whoever else you are planning to include in this amazing experience! Make sure Daddy feels included, informed and encouraged.

Courts xox

Image: Tilly’s first cuddles with her Daddy

Those Overwhelming Moments

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It would be pretty difficult to find a mum who hasn’t been so overwhelmed at times that they think they are a terrible parent, and regret the things they say and do when they feel this way.

We’ve all been there. Not that you’ll hear anyone admitting it. Have you ever seen a Facebook status saying, “My son was being such a little brat today. I really wanted to punch something but instead, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried while he banged on the door to be let in. But I feel much better now, phew!” Most people are pretty private when it comes to sharing their struggles and parenthood is no exception.

I’ve had a few friends lately express to me what a difficult time they’ve been having juggling their kid(s), household errands, work, financial, family and personal issues. It broke my heart when one dear friend said to me, “But other mums are in similar situations to me and they’re coping. Why can’t I?”

No, no, no!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Feeling overwhelmed and thinking negative thoughts about yourself and your child does not make you a bad parent. Worrying you aren’t coping definitely does not make you a bad parent. It makes you a normal human being.

It’s a tough ask being a mum. You can no longer put yourself first. It doesn’t matter if you are sick, tired, sad, lonely or anxious; your children need to be taken care of 24/7 and it requires a lot of energy that can be incredibly difficult to find. And let’s face it, our kids don’t always make it easy for us do they?

There are many, many times when I have felt overwhelmed. Just this morning, Tilly threw a wobbly when I wiped her face after breakfast and oh my goodness it was all downhill from there. I said horrible things I didn’t mean. I stormed off into the kitchen and ignored her. I sat with my face in my hands and tried to steady my breathing. I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs, jumping in the car and taking off for the rest of the day.

And once the whole ridiculous episode was over, I felt pretty guilty. Why on earth did I overreact like that?! How ungrateful and selfish am I?! But then I reminded myself that I am still a great mum. I’m not superwoman, but I do my best and I love my daughter more than anything in this world. I can be impatient, easily frustrated and snappy, but I’m still a great mum.

I might get a bit of flack for saying this, but there is an incredibly fine line that we can cross when our babies are upset and we feel totally powerless. Before I became a mum, I wondered how on earth anybody could ever shake their baby out of frustration. But now… I totally get it.

I’m absolutely not talking about the violent acts perpetrated by disgusting individuals we have seen on the news that have left families with devastating losses. I’m talking about your average parent, who is possibly already under stress of some kind or isn’t really knowledgeable as to how to manage what they are feeling or deal with the situation in front of them, and momentarily snaps. They are then left thinking, “Oh my god, what did I just do?! Imagine what could’ve happened?! What kind of a person am I?!” I thankfully have not crossed that line, but I see now why new mums are given so much information on what to do when they start feeling like they are about to break: Put baby somewhere safe, and leave the room for a bit to calm down. I think so many parents find themselves on the verge of a moment like this, more than anyone would want to admit.

If you are struggling to cope, you must reach out to somebody you trust. Don’t keep it inside and feel embarrassed. It is not moments like these that define you as a mother. You are so much more than that. The people who love you will want you to reach out to them for the help that you need.

Support and encourage each other mamas and dads!

Courts xox

Image from Pinterest

“Clothes Look Better On Skinny People, They Just Do.”

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Co-founder and CEO of NZ Fashion label ‘WORLD’ Denise L’Estrange-Corbet made some pretty ignorant comments in response to the Glassons mannequin debate on Channel One’s Breakfast Show yesterday:

“Let’s face it, clothes look better on skinny people, they just do.”

“I don’t know though if that [skinny mannequins] would make young girls actually think, ‘I want to look like that’.”

“Well no [the idealised body image is not changeable] I look at someone like Victoria Beckham… you can’t tell me she eats 3 meals a day, but that’s what people look to.”

“I really believe it comes to the parents and educating your children… You’ve got to be happy with who you are, you can’t just want to be thin because you’ve seen a mannequin in a shop window. I mean that’s just nuts.”

Talk about missing the point!

I myself am a NZ size 12/14. I’m perfectly comfortable with this now, but I haven’t always been. As a teenager it is incredibly easy to compare yourself to absolutely everybody whether it be celebrities, models or even your own friends. In today’s world, it is even easier to compare yourself to the idealised versions of themselves that people portray on social media. For Denise to say that teenagers don’t look at mannequins and think they wish they were as skinny as them is pretty naive.

Emily Robins, who took the initial photo of the Glassons mannequin, was exactly right when she talked about beauty being a social construct. The idea of what society considers beautiful is something that society itself has created, and is therefore changeable. A skinny figure wasn’t always the celebrated ideal. For Denise, her belief that skinny girls look better in clothes is her own truth, not necessarily everyone else’s.

This does not mean to say that skinny isn’t beautiful. Every body size and shape is beautiful. Clothes can look good on anyone for heaven’s sake! It’s about choosing outfits that suit your figure.

Denise’s fashion label is not interested in the teen/tween market. I understand that many in her industry think that clothes can better “hang” off skinny models on the catwalk and therefore more fully showcase the clothing. But the world of high fashion and a shop like Glassons are light years apart. Why shouldn’t Glassons take the lead on this issue? A significant proportion of their customers are young girls, so it would be perfectly reasonable to see them take this into account, and promote a wide range of figures rather than a single stereotypical body type.

I agree that parents have an important role to play in educating their children about a healthy body image and boosting their self-esteem. But you’d be in denial if you thought that would be enough. Teenagers are heavily influenced by pop culture and the media. It might not make a single bit of difference to a young girl what her mum says when she looks at the world around her and feels overwhelmed with inadequacy. The fashion industry can’t deny their part in that.

When I look at my daughter I can’t believe how beautiful she is. I can’t bear the thought of her not realising this. It actually makes me feel ill. I know there’s only so much I can do, but I will do my absolute best to make sure she understands how precious and amazing she is, and that nobody has the right to make her feel otherwise.

Courts xox

Hip Hop… You Make Me Mad Sometimes

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I love hip hop music. I always have. I know so many of the songs that we hear have pretty questionable lyrics to do with drugs, violence and sex but to be honest, I never thought about it much or felt particularly offended by it. I’ve always been too busy enjoying the beat of the song to pay that much attention to what it was about. My pre-motherhood self would probably be horrified to hear that my mindset on this topic has shifted somewhat.

I haven’t morphed into a prude. There’s still a lot of songs I like that many people would think inappropriate. But I don’t know… Sometimes it hits me that my daughters will be listening to some pretty demeaning lyrics one day and I can’t help feeling irritated.

I want to let them know that if a guy tells them to “wiggle their big fat butt” or that they “don’t f*** with mediocre bitches” or to “kiss their friend like they mean it cos I’m a dirty mother f***er”, well quite frankly they can tell them to go shove their head right up their ass.

I spent my teenage years listening to a lot of songs that were pretty degrading to women really. I figure I didn’t turn out so bad, so maybe I shouldn’t worry too much. But honestly, have you heard the absolute crap on the radio lately?! It’s actually like some of these artists were too high to bother coming up with a good beat or don’t even have any talent when it comes to rapping whatsoever. They just figured they’ll make a rubbish song about how all their hoes love them and that’ll earn them some good money. It’s depressing what teenagers consider to be good hip hop these days and amazing how much more commercial hip hop has become in a pretty short time span.

I mean, I love Nicki Minaj but is Anaconda actually that great a song? Not really. Catchy, yes. But a showcase of her talent? No. A club banger? Well I’d dance to it if I was drunk too, but mostly because it’s entertaining. You know, those songs that make you turn to your girls in the club, shout the lyrics at each other, pull out your funniest booty shaking moves and crack up laughing? That’s the kind of song it is.

These days when I’m listening to Mai FM or Flava, I spend half the time rolling my eyes and changing the station. No, I don’t want to hear Iggy Azalea tell me about trashing a hotel room because she’s so fancy. Ok?

I know I can’t stop my daughters from listening to the music they like, and I don’t necessarily want to either. I’m just going to make sure I tell them what a douche bag Flo Rida is for telling chicks to “blow his whistle”, and that women aren’t supposed to be paraded around like a collector’s item.

Teaching them to think beyond the surface of the songs and their videos is probably going to be the best bet.

Courts xox

Facebook Love

I have finally gotten around to making a Facebook page for this blog and am so glad I did. I know for me personally it can be hard to keep up with new posts from blogs that I enjoy, and Facebook seems to be a great way to keep people informed about what us bloggers are up to!

If you’ve been thinking about it too, have a read of this article that I came across which I thought was quite good: Should Your Blog Be On Facebook?

So feel free to head over to Facey and show some love! Would love to check out your Facebook pages too if you have one for a blog of your own.

www.facebook.com/blissandbabybrain

Courts xox

The ‘E’ Word… EPIDURAL

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I have a confession to make. When I gave birth to my daughter 15 months ago… I. Had. An epidural.

Yes I did. And it was a truly fabulous decision.

I had not planned to do this. In fact, I was one of those women that didn’t understand why so many mothers chose to have one. Just suck it up geez! I’d been witness to 3 natural births before and they’d done a fantastic job without one and my gosh that was going to be me too.

I’ll never be so judgemental again.

I was coping pretty well with my contractions. But for medical reasons, my midwife made the decision to speed things up with Syntocinin as I wasn’t dialating as quickly as they needed me to. I barely had time to process what was going on before I was all of a sudden experiencing the absolute worst pain of my life within what felt like minutes (it probably wasn’t but you seem to lose all concept of time when you’re in labour).

I had done a bit of reading during my pregnancy about ‘mindful birthing’ and what I read was really interesting and made so much sense. The problem was that all these great concepts flew out the window for me in the moment and I couldn’t remember any of it.

I knew I wasn’t coping. I knew I wanted an epidural. But I was too ashamed to ask for one. I remember my midwife saying to me, “Courtney you’re doing so well, most women would be screaming for an epidural by now.” Um… I am! In my head!

It was my partner who got that epidural for me. I can remember him keeping at my midwife about it, who didn’t seem to be taking him very seriously. He knows me well enough to see when I can’t bring myself to say what I want to, and in my foggy daze I nodded to him that it was what I wanted. I am so so grateful that he was able to vocalise what I couldn’t.

And what a different room it was once that little miracle kicked in. I was happy, my partner and my mum could relax, I gave birth to my daughter peacefully and I was surrounded by calm, joy and laughter. It was wonderful.

There were no complications whatsoever. I could still feel my contractions, I could still feel myself pushing, and I pushed her out within an hour (quite good for a first baby apparently).

Despite how well things went, I still felt embarrassed about that epidural. But honestly, why should I?!

I came out of the hospital with a perfect, happy and healthy baby. Isn’t that what’s important? Would I have won some sort of medal for bravery had I not had an epidural? A big round of applause and endless praise about how selfless I am that I could relish in for the rest of my days? Would I somehow have become a superior human being? A superior mother? No!!! My daughter isn’t somehow behind in her start to life because I wasn’t writhing in agony when I pushed her out.

I think it’s so great that people give birth naturally without the use of drugs and they are totally allowed to be proud of that. Gosh, I would be. But there are some women who use this a reason to put themselves on a pedestal and suggest that mums who do choose to use pain relief should feel guilty about it. I see it a lot online and it’s so sad. I have such a problem with some of the parenting forums I come across. Why women are so catty and competitive when it comes to motherhood or anything else is just beyond me.

Every labour is different. We should support and uplift each other in our choices, not make each other feel like we let our baby down because we somehow didn’t try hard enough.

I’ve heard some awful stories that involve epidurals. But guess what, I’ve heard some awful stories that don’t involve epidurals too. Home births gone wrong, emergency caesarians, umbilical cords wrapped around the wrong place. There is an element of risk to every choice we make when it comes to giving birth, and you can never fully plan for something that can be so unpredictable. What we should hope for is that every mother and their baby comes out of the experience safely, no matter whether they choose to use pain relief or not.

So will I have an epidural when I give birth in 8 weeks time? I don’t know. But if I do, I’m still going to be proud of myself for what my body has achieved by bringing this baby into the world. An epidural does not make my experience any less valid or meaningful than anyone else’s. All births are beautiful, let’s remember that.

Courts xox