Tag Archives: parenting

Things you can do without in your hospital bag

Packing a hospital bag during late pregnancy is exciting and it is easy to go overboard (with raging hormones and emotions). I had spent hours browsing through online posts and magazines and packed and repacked my suitcase endless times before I was finally admitted. After spending a couple of days at the hospital with my newborn I realised how a lot of things I had stuffed in my bag weren’t needed at all while there were many others that we needed urgently now.

Here’s a list of items from my hospital bag that I didn’t find of much use:

Breast pads
These might be useful for some but I always found them difficult to wear. Also, given it took me a few days to establish breastfeeding I could have easily done without them in my hospital bag.

Books and music
After 3 days of labour that didn’t progress, I was finally admitted when I was totally exhausted. The gas and air couldn’t relax me so it is highly unlikely that books and music would have helped.

Make up and lip balm
Honestly, these were nowhere on my mind after a long labour. At that time, I was relieved to have safely delivered my precious one and was totally enamoured with her.

Multiple packs of nappies 
The first few nappies that my daughter wore were provided by the hospital even though my bag was overflowing with them. Simply because my full term baby was too tiny for the Pamper New Baby Size 1 nappies I had stocked.

Toiletries for baby
Baby soaps, shampoos and powders definitely don’t have to be in your hospital bag. In my case, the hospital nurses gave a water bath to my daughter four days after her birth. They also advised us not to bathe her too frequently in the first few weeks.

Maternity mats
Started placing them on bed in the weeks running up to my due delivery date but never found them useful as they always used to move to a side while sleeping

Instead, soon after the birth of my daughter we realised how much we really needed the following:

a breast pump, formula milk, a thermometer and a baby sling.






Breastfeeding blues

When I was expecting my daughter people had warned me about sleepless nights and constant fatigue that is a part of every new parent’s life. Personally for me, being able to breastfeed my newborn properly was the most difficult issue to handle as a new parent. My daughter was unable to latch properly and for the first few weeks after her birth she was largely formula fed. I felt inadequate.

It really upset me as I had never heard anyone talk about challenges with breastfeeding before and thus assumed it was something that was just naturally going to happen on its own. I had faint memories of my aunts and elder cousins feeding their babies in rooms full of many other women but do not remember any discussions about the lack of supply or correct positioning and latching. We were young to know and I guess such matters would have been quietly fixed with a ‘jugaad’ (a simple workaround) such as giving top-up milk.

My midwife said that getting the baby to suck on your breast frequently was important to build up the milk supply. So I ended up having my daughter sucking on my breast for hours and still ending up hungry at the end. There was help available from lactation consultants and midwives but I was already quite disgusted with being taught to breastfeed by a variety of people every couple of days. At that time I felt that something was either wrong with me or I was simply not trying enough.

I read online that a few mothers had tried breast pumps and were able to extract and store milk sufficient for weeks. My husband brought me an electric pump as well but it was not worth the effort. In fact, I felt worse as I was able to pump very little quantity that was not sufficient for one feed, forget weeks.

My body was tired after a long labour, my brain half-dead with sleeplessness and the added self-imposed stress of ‘cracking’ BFing . But I was adamant and after some very painful and teary weeks, my daughter and I got on with breastfeeding.

Later on, I learnt from friends that they had similar issues as well, as if it were a unique problem of our generation. A close relative who happens to be a neonatologist (a doctor who cares for newborn babies) joked that while her own research and dissertation was on the benefits of BFing her own experience with her daughter was a failure. Another elderly one confided how her milk supply did not build up (in those days almost 30 years ago) because of not being fed complete meals until a week after delivery due to cultural reasons.

Clearly, breastfeeding might happen naturally for a lot of mothers but others may take time getting used to it. Simply knowing this can take off unwanted stress that new parents go through as they grapple with a newborn in their new lives.

Born Indian. Confused migrant mommy

“By giving her a bottle of milk as a dummy to sleep, you are depriving her of the opportunity to learn to sleep on her own,” my very concerned health visitor advised me at the time of my daughter’s first-year health review.

Otherwise pleased with my daughter’s development, she was concerned about my one-year-old waking up a few times during the night.

She wondered why I hadn’t “trained” my girl to sleep.

Sleep training babies to snooze on their own without a cuddle or a milk bottle sounded to me like a perfectly logical yet peculiar process.

Logical because nothing can be better if a baby can be trained to sleep all night and peculiar because I surely hadn’t heard of sleep training from my cousins and friends who had babies in India.

I envied mothers who claimed their children slept from 7pm – 7am without a drop of milk in-between and tried to train my daughter as well.

However, impatience and lack of discipline on my part meant my efforts failed.

In all honesty, after getting through the chores of the day and a few work assignments, I lacked the heart and stamina to deal with a screaming child.

Giving her a bottle of milk was simpler.  And so, my husband and I spent endless nights trying to put our little girl to sleep by turning the lights out early and lying down in bed with her.

My daughter would sometimes fall asleep within minutes, or sometimes after both of us had dozed off.

Family and friends back in India laughed when I discussed my sleep training conundrum and suggested that I should simply ensure that my daughter had a full stomach before bedtime.

I lacked the firmness of fellow western parents who had successfully trained their babies to sleep.  I also did not have the patience (especially after listening to the health visitor) of a few other mothers I knew back in India who considered waking up during the night as normal for babies and were not thus looking for a solution.  They simply felt that it wasn’t a ‘problem’ that needed remedying.

As a first time Indian parent raising a child abroad, I face conflicting parenting choices and styles at every step.  Worse still, I feel uncertain about following one way completely while ignoring the other.

Take for instance, potty training.

Every other day my mother would Skype me from India and tell me stories of small children in her neighborhood who were all capable of peeing and pooping in the toilet unlike my one-and-a-half year old daughter who was still in diapers.

In my peer group in London, children were normally potty trained only after the age of two.

Mothers suggested how I should not even attempt potty training too early or else try using stickers as rewards to entice my daughter to sit on the potty if I were too desperate to train her.

My daughter turned two recently and has been sleeping through the night for a couple of months now.  She is also potty trained.

No, I didn’t try any Indian or Western techniques this time but guess she was just ready for it. I know that my daughter will be fine but as a mother facing different cultural choices, confusion is going to be my life-long friend.

(Published on the UK Asian http://ukasian.com/conundrum-born-indian-confused-migrant-mommy.html)