One of the first questions people tend to ask you when you have a baby under the age of one is “Is she a good sleeper?” or “Is she sleeping through?” or, more simply, “Getting much sleep?”. I don’t mind these questions, don’t get me wrong, I will more often than not ask them myself as to talk about babies and not mention sleep is like talking about Gordon Brown and never mentioning his little Tony problem. So is Elphie a good sleeper? Well it’s pretty hard to say.
Picture credit: Anne Geddes
A recent Japanese study published in the journal Chemical Senses suggests that the smell of babies provokes a chemical reaction in mothers’ brains, leading to positive feelings and an urge to care for them. In fact, this scent may be one of the factors that helps new mums stay relatively sane: the researchers found that when blindfolded mothers smelled a baby’s clothes, the prefrontal cortex of their brains showed increased activity, thus calming them down. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that is control of rational thinking and general serenity – typical mum-like characteristics…
Interestingly, the effect only seems to apply to women who are already mothers:
“When confronted with clothes worn by infants, women with children had an 82 per cent detection rate and underwent significant changes in function… Meanwhile, the others had only 68 per cent success and showed virtually no variation in brain activity.”
As a point of comparison, the women were also given men’s clothes to smell, and the level of brain reaction was almost identical for both mothers and non-mothers.
I take it none of the clothes had sick on them then!
This research correlates with another recent study carried out by the University of Montreal, which shows that smelling a baby also releases feelgood dopamine; this deepens bonding and can also be related to how some mothers feel like “eating” their babies (me neither).
Thanks to the Daily Mail (who else?) who provided me with the original article!
Today is Elphie’s due date, the day she was supposed to enter a world that would have been prepared for her following three and a half weeks of holiday leading up to it. The blog would have been filled with stories of cankles and moaning about the heat and exactly how huge I had become. Instead tomorrow she will be a month old and no longer the little mite that quickly entered the world a month ago. She is now growing out of her newborn clothes, looking around her and becoming more vociferous in her demands for more ethereal needs to be met than simply being fed such as wanting attention or to be held (generally at 3am). But she wasn’t supposed to be here.
I think I am probably safe in drawing an analogy to Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer here – it was first broadcast in 2000 so it’s unlikely anyone has been storing it up, waiting to partake in a Buffy marathon that we could spoil. However if you have not watched it and have it on your TV watching to do list then I will try not to spoil too much (and if you think I can’t be trusted then you can always skip the next paragraph!).
The couple previously known as Elly and Fred are now referring to themselves in the third person and under the pseudonyms “Mummy” and “Daddy”. Previously of generally sound mental health, they have given up entirely on their previous identities in order to refer to themselves under these pseudonyms to a baby who does not understand a word they are saying and hence the aliases are entirely unnecessary.
“Mummy” is blaming Will “Daddy loves you” Smith for this unfortunate turn of events.
There is a lovely bit in Nick Hornby’s book Slam where the protagonist’s baby boy is born to the sound of Rufus Wainwright. He ends up being called Rufus, or “Roof”.
I read this book a few years ago now but this scene lodged itself in my head, and since then I always imagined my own labour would include some sort of soundtrack. In the book, the father’s CD is rejected (fast skater music), the mother’s CD is also rejected (too R&B) – the one they finally agree on is the grandmother’s, which is all soothing and gentle.
So according to all sources, the Duchess is considering a hypnobirth for her little Prince/Princess. The word “hypno” immediately suggests hypnosis; however, hypnobirthing is in fact nothing to do with Paul McKenna and everything to do with promoting a natural and pain-free labour.
The Hypnobirthing Centre describes the practice as a “completely logical and extremely effective established method that lets you discover the joy and magic of birth, and is much more than just self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy.” The idea of hypnobirthing is that your mind and body work together in harmony, creating a sense of deep relaxation and calm. This leads to a much better birth experience all round: a shorter labour and less need for drugs. Hynobirthing encompasses fear release techniques, visualisation exercises, reciting mantras and massage (you’ll need a partner for that bit). The “hypno” part of the word actually points towards self-hypnosis, which sounds a whole lot more appealing than staring into kaleidoscope eyes or at a swinging pendulum. As well as courses, there are CDs and books available on the subject so you can effectively self-train.
My brother is having a week of parties to celebrate his 40th as far as I can work out, and as the non- media / entrepreneur type, conventional and currently tea-total sister I was lucky to be invited to any of the shindigs, so to have two was a bonus.
So there I was, surrounded by glamorous folk who produced TV shows or ran internet empires, trying to seem vaguely interesting, when an Avril Lavigne alike of waif proportions declared her excitement over my pregnancy and pronounced me “enormous”. On my slightly askance reaction to this, she clarified “enormous in a good way – filled with baby!”.
Image courtesy of bellyitchblog.
Before you all get over excited or run for the hills, you are not about to get an insight into Elly-Fred bedroom acrobatics during pregnancy. There are some things better left unsaid.
The sex I am referring to is the boy / girl side. And maybe it’s because I am bitter about the whole not finding out thing, but surely there is something else people can ask me? Seemingly not – the number one question from people on the street (who suddenly feel an urge to ask random questions to a stranger) is “do you know what sex it is?”.
“Well, no, I bloody well don’t!”.
Recently, I posted a card to my grandmother-in-law for her birthday, and was informed a few days later that she’d had to go to the post office and pay something like £1.50 for it… because it didn’t have a stamp on. Cue lots of laughter, knowing looks, and “you’ve got baby brain” comments. The fact is, I did remember to put a stamp on and know exactly what happened: it fell off in transit, due to my thrifty but unreliable custom of saving unfranked stamps and then re-affixing them onto my own cards and letters using Pritt stick. My loyal Pritt had let me down!
While I rigorously defend myself against the accusation of baby brain regarding this particular incident, other things have happened too: little forgetful episodes… double-booking myself… going blank on people’s names. However, this could very well be described as Cath brain too – I don’t feel like this behaviour is particularly specific to pregnancy, for me anyway. Why else do I keep a diary and make sure my inbox never strays above 20 emails? I’d forget even more things otherwise!