Wondered what proper breastfeeding should look (and sound) like?
Pregnant women and new mothers should check out these great videos: especially the Good Drinking vs Nibbling; Assisted Latching (getting the baby onto the boob – harder than you think!!) and The difference a good latch makes. Very hard to explain, but once you see it, you’ll know.

Nutritional supplements during breastfeeding
Aside from the usual vitamin deficiencies in their normal diet, pregnant and lactating mothers generally don’t get enough of these:

  1. DHA
  2. Iodine
  3. Acidophilus

And for a more controversial topic, Is breastfeeding not all it’s cracked up to be?

Machinarium

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) has a free exhibition of all the best games at the Independent Games Festival 2009. The exhibition runs until 14 February 2010.

Most of the games have free demos (linked via Freeplay). We’ve just played Machinarium, which is so much fun we’ve paid for a full version (something I never do!)

Check them out, and have fun!

(PS – there’s a game with “an extremely detailed physics simulation”)

Gardening Australia is currently showing a great story on Building a Worm Farm. It was televised in Australia on 14 Nov 2009. You can watch the whole episode on ABC iView until 29 November 2009; or you can catch the worm farm segment in streaming video: just click “Building a Worm Farm” on 14/11/2009 to watch. There are also some general factsheets: on Building a Worm Farm and Using Worm Castings.

What I’ve learnt: Don’t forget to add dry stuff.
We never used to put any cardboard, bits of paper, egg cartons or shredded newspaper into the farm, which is probably why the farm smelled so sour. We’re now spreading shredded paper around the farm. Hopefully the sour smell (and little flies) will go away.

A new way of collecting food scraps.
We started a worm farm 2.5 years ago, and we used to have a bin in the fridge that we threw scraps in, but we found that it would get slimy and smell of decomposing organic matter. The sludge that collected on the bottom of the bin was also annoying to dispose of. Nowadays we drop scraps into a small takeaway container on the kitchen countertop. Which has 2 advantages:

  1. No more slime! No more sour smells! There is no lid on the bin, so food scraps dry out. (This might not be a good idea if tend to get kitchen pests like rats or roaches. Or if you have a greedy dog!)
  2. We check the worm farm more often. The bin is about the size of a dinner bowl and we empty it more often and keep a closer eye on the worms as a result.

There is also an excellent article called Worm Magic in the December 2009 issue of Gardening Australia magazine. You can buy it now for $5.95 or get it from the library.

Cafe Caldera
Shop F214
Spencer St DFO
Melbourne

Last Friday we took baby on her 2nd tram ride to the city to shop for some much-needed stuff. First stop was Spencer St DFO. It took a while for us to pick out the stuff we wanted, and we ended up having a late lunch at Cafe Caldera.

We’d popped our heads in while walking past, and it was packed with the weekday lunch crowd. All the tables were taken, including the comfy looking armchairs (Oooo – great place to breastfeed!)

Q needed to be changed and fed, so I tried the DFO’s very own parents room. What a sordid space! The sink and toilet were dirty, the nappy bin was overflowing and there were discarded nappies all over the floor. It stank, and there was no way I’d use the facilities, let alone change my daughter! Obviously, I couldn’t feed her with the lovely scent of eau de baby poo in the background. Yuck.

We decided to finish our shopping and returned to Cafe Caldera at about 2pm, scoring the armchair seats in the back. I was shielded by the bar and the chairs were comfy and supportive. They provided us with a water jug straightaway, which was lovely! I ordered the soup of the day (lentil) and P had the fisherman’s basket. We ate off a small, low table – enough for 2 for a light lunch, or cake & coffee for 4. Food was nice: I’d say about a decent pub-cafe standard, and service was pleasant.

Here we are waiting for the food to arrive:

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Baby friendliness: There were no other babies in sight, but staff were pleasant and didn’t mind me breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding: Great privacy and comfort up the back where the armchairs are. There’s even a large, high window to watch the world go by while you feed.
Baby change facilities: Bloody awful! Not sure where you can change a baby in the cafe either. The Travellers Aid Society have a breastfeeding room at Southen Cross station. I’ve never used it but it may be the best bet.
Reviews: Can’t find any, sorry!

The damage:
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It’s hard enough leaving the house with a baby, let alone taking it to a restaurant. However, we love eating out and didn’t really want to stop having culinary adventures even though we had a newborn in tow. There seems to be a distinct lack of family friendliness to the food blogs I’ve come across, so this is my way of creating some positive change. I’m not sure if other parents will find eating out with kids relaxing, but I’ll attempt to take out some of the guesswork.

When you read the Eating with baby entries, please keep in mind that:

  1. P and I are very relaxed parents with a very relaxed baby who (knock on wood) seems to behave exceptionally well in restaurants. If you are going to stress out while eating out, it might not be a good idea to eat out: you may not enjoy yourself.
  2. We live in Melbourne’s inner south, so many reviews will be concentrated in that area.
  3. I find prams unwieldy and do not rate not rate pram friendliness, except on the rare occasions where we did take our pram. If you have one, you may not be able to navigate into some of these restaurants.
  4. I breastfeed, so I don’t do any bottle feeding related posts either. I try to feed discreetly but will also be looking at staff attitudes to breastfeeding and note if there are any concerns. I’m not the sort to whip out my boob, so all the restaurants will have an area I deem private enough to feed in. I have fed in every restaurant I review.
  5. Booth seats are the best! If you can find some, you’ll be alot happier eating out.
  6. Most of these restaurants were visited outside of peak times (ie lunch hour or weekends) when we had a wider seating choice. Booths may not be available if the restaurant is crowded, but always ask (politely) if you can have baby friendly seating – we have never been refused so far!
  7. Most importantly, enjoy, eat, play and have lots of fun!

Cafe Sweethearts
263 Coventry St
South Melbourne, 3205
(03) 9690-6752

The Specials Board

We’d happened upon this South Melbourne institution by chance on a Monday afternoon, and entered after spying the booth seats and a very happy baby perched on a high chair. We pointed to our little one, asked to be seated in the booths and the “Reserved” sign was promptly removed with a smile. Better and better!

The menu arrived and omg, this place has the largest eggs menu I’ve ever seen. The next time we visit (and there wil be a next time) I’m going to take a picture of it. We put baby down between us to sleep, and had a very enjoyable lunch.

Baby in the corner

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I was enticed by the extensive breakfast menu and ordered the divine blueberry pancakes with bacon and hash brown. The pancakes were scrumptious, blueberries popping in my mouth. The hash brown tasted like a gourmet potato cake: crisp on the outside, soft and well-seasoned on the inside.

Bluberry pancakes and bacon

My friend & P ordered from the lunch menu:

P's chicken burger
P’s chicken burger

Lamb pie
Friend’s lamb pie or something (trust me, I will get better at remembering what people ordered)

I kept stealing P’s excellent fries, and everyone enjoyed their food. We lingered over our cuppas as I breastfed baby in the privacy of the booth. It was a very stress-free eating experience and we’re looking forward to returning.

Baby friendliness: Pleasant staff, high chair provided.
Breastfeeding: Privacy to breastfeed if you ask for the booths (there is only one) and position yourself right. Otherwise it could be a bit of a challenge as the restaurant is quite light, airy and open.
Baby change facilities: The clean but tiny toilets will make changing baby a challenge. Nearest place to change baby would be the South Melbourne market, I think.
Reviews: Mietta’s summarises things; or you can read this lovely review instead.

After a happy, globetrotting pregnancy, our little baby was born.

And as the doctors stitched me up …

… they made sure she was okay.

I fell in love with her immediately (something I didn’t expect).

We started getting to know her, as she started to get to know the world.

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Just like other babies, she spends some time crying:

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But mostly she’s asleep, cuddly and adorable.

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She has her father’s feet,

and my eyes.

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Sometimes looking after her is exhausting,

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but it’s always worth it, especially when she smiles like this.

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One of the cool things about becoming a mom is the opportunity to shop for totally new stuff!

Here are some of my favourites:

Avent Breast Shells

I saw these odd things at the pharmacy and wondered what the heck they were. The reviews on Amazon were great, so I decided to buy some.
Every time I’m breastfeeding at home, I slip one onto the opposite breast and it collects all the drips. I pour all the drips into a refrigerated bottle (obviously, obeying all the rules about expressed breast milk). After 2 days, I generally have enough in the bottle for a top-up feed (if need be).
It saves time, money and washing up: what’s not to like?

MilkBands

At 2am, when I can’t remember my name, let alone how many breasts I have, this handy little band saves my sanity. All I have to do is flip it and it tells me which breast I last fed from. I don’t even need to turn the lights on to tell which side is which, as Left is Lowered and Right is Raised. Best $9 I ever spent.
Buy it from Mother’s Direct.

Miracle Blanket

She really enjoys being wrapped up tight, and seems to sleep better and wake up less often when she is swaddled. This is the only wrap that keeps her hands from wriggling out and whacking herself awake. Highly recommended, especially if you value your sleep.

Ikea Textur dimmable lamp


I got this idea via Kimba, and it has been very very handy at night time, especially since I can have it on as dim as I like (to check if she’s sleeping) or really bright when I’m reading.

Change table

3 requirements:

  1. Safety: a barrier of at least 10cm on all 3 sides so baby can’t roll off. Many change tables in the market are way below that height, and we were lucky we found a second hand one that was high enough for my satisfaction.
  2. Ergonomics: both P and I can comfortably use it, and we’re not breaking our backs changing her on the floor.
  3. Wheels: something we can easily move, with locking wheels. It has been very handy as we push the whole contraption into the bathroom and have everything on hand to bathe baby.

2 handy extras:

  1. Nappy & wipes holder + bin – I bought this at Ikea ages ago to use on another one of our shelves but it didn’t fit. Luckily it fit the change table! It is very handy having all the stuff in grabbing range.
  2. Mobile – a GREAT way to distract baby. She is mesmerised by the music and movement and forgets that she has a cold bum!

BabyHawk Baby Carrier

Every time I take Q out with this carrier, I get compliments about how pretty it is. What I love more: it’s washable, it folds up into a compact package and most importantly, it’s comfortable and great for my back. You can use it on a newborn without any extras, and even bigger kids seem comfy in it.

Motherhood is an unexpected joy for me. I never thought I’d love it as much as I do. But in spite of the sleep deprivation and absolute surrender of my time, thought and most importantly boobs to a tiny little newborn, it has been an amazingly beautiful time.

And here’s some science to back up the rewards of parenthood (not that being a parent isn’t reward enough!) New Scientist article From butterfly to caterpillar: How children grow up. A short summary:

The picture that emerges from this research is that babies and young children are not so much defective as different from adults. They have equally complex and powerful, but very different minds, brains and lives, suited to their distinctive evolutionary role. Babies are brilliant learners but terrible planners, with fantastically creative and visionary imaginations but absolutely no executive capacity. They are the R&D department of the human species, the blue-sky guys, while we adults are production and marketing.

Human development is more like reverse metamorphosis than simple growth, with babies as exploratory, bright butterflies while the adults are caterpillars, inching along their narrower paths. Science won’t tell us how to make babies smarter – they are already as smart as they could be – but it can tell us that taking care of them is not a badly paid chore but a crucial part of the human adventure.

A few weeks before we had Q, we learnt that she was breech. As far as the medical community is concerned, I had just gone from a very low risk to high risk pregnancy.

Therein started a very stressful week. (Actually, it was more like 3 weeks of hell that felt like a month, but more later…)

To cut the long story short, I ended up having an elective Cesarean.

Yes, me – the home birth advocate.

Sometimes in life things go awry and you take the best, safest opinion that you can handle. That’s what we did, with the available advice and information. I pulled and pulled strings until we saw both the head of research at the Royal Women’s Hospital, as well as another head of department. So theoretically I recieved advice from the best and most experienced obstetricians. Everyone (including 1 Oxford educated lawyer friend, my fabulous midwife, a string theorist and me) agreed that we should go for the elective Cesarean. It is something I am slowly coming to terms with, the decision was made so quickly (over a weekend, actually) but baby came out perfectly fine, and I am recoving very well, so…

In those moments, I learnt a good lesson: this child of ours will end up doing whatever she wants. Even before she is born. And there is nothing I can do about it. Knowing on an intellectual level and actually realising it are 2 different things. Now I KNOW.

A very good lesson indeed.

April 2014
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