Our guest Alexis, who is a doctor and a mum, from the previous episode, stayed back to do a little bonus podcast for us. She talks about the stresses placed on parents. And how social media can contribute to it. And her advice is simple – Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Relax, it’s just a baby, it won’t break.
Nappy Leaks is hosted by Vashti Wadwell and Vicki Simpson. Vicki Simpson has been advocating for and selling cloth nappies in Australia for over a decade. She is the owner, creator and chief Nappy Nerd here at Bubblebubs. Vashti Wadell is the Member Secretary of the Australian Nappy Association and is the owner of Australia’s first bricks and mortar nappy store, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane, Australia. She has been using cloth nappies for 12 years and currently has one child still in nappies.
Transcript: Relax it is just a baby.
Andrew: Hello Vashti.
Vashti: I’m good thanks Andrew, how are you?
Andrew: How are you doing Vicki?
Vicki: I’m good Andrew.
Andrew: And we’ve managed to keep back Alexis. This is our question and answer one. And what happened after we stopped recording last podcast is we all had a big discussion about social media and the impact that’s giving on young parents at the moment. So I thought it would be good to add this on to the question and answer episode.
We’re going to answer a couple of questions in this episode but we’re going to get some feedback from Alexis first. So Alexis when young mothers are coming in to you how are they coming in? Because you’re a doctor, you’re seeing young mothers. You said before that three out of five of them are coming in because they’re stressed.
Alexis: Yeah, definitely I think so. Maybe more than that. But there’s a general theme of anxiety presenting in mums with new babies, continuing on for the first two years probably, until they figure out their parenting style. But I think what really comes out of these presentations is that they’re all coming in, not all but a lot of them are coming in really anxious about their performance as a mother, their breastfeeding, their, you know how they’re looking after the baby, the baby’s sleep, the baby’s feeding and all that, which is all normal parenting concerns and that’s where we’re really privileged as GP’s to be able to be part of that process with them.
But what I’ve noticed is that a lot of that anxiety stems from the social media influences around them. So you know I’ll talk to them about well what are you reading, what are you looking at and they’re belonging to multiple groups and multiple [indistinct – 01:43] and multiple chats on Facebook and Instagram and everything and it’s feeding an anxiety that, you know you’re already extremely stressed and exhausted and, you know I had no idea what I was doing, probably still don’t (laughs), with my child and…
Vashti: I’m still working it out.
Alexis: … and I disengaged from social media before I, I cancelled all my accounts. I didn’t have many, I had Facebook, but I cancelled all that before my baby because I didn’t want to be exposed to all of that hype around how to be the perfect parent, because there’s no such thing.
And I’ve noticed that the trend with people that, women or parents, and dads as well, mums and dads that are really engaged in social media end up with a lot of expectations put on them where they’ll see this perfect Instagram photo of the model mum with the sleeping child or, you know breastfeeding while they’re doing some beautiful pose (laughs) and just, the reality…
Andrew: Yeah. Something that Vicki and Vashti say on the podcast over and over and over again, it’s whatever works. Don’t stress yourself out.
Andrews: Don’t feel that you’ve got to…
Vicki: Every parent’s the perfect parent for their situation.
Alexis: I could not agree more, but that’s not the message that’s coming across in this generation. And so it’s really great as a GP to be able to say OK well what are the issues, how can we eradicate the issues and then find out what works for you.
Vicki: And what sucks is you have to do that in 15 minutes.
Alexis: Yes (laughs). But it’s a beautiful part of the job. And I think once, and particularly like for example the pressure placed on mothers by some midwives in hospital for breastfeeding and they come in just exhausted and worn out and at their wit’s end and hating every moment of this…
Vashti: And their boobs are falling off (laughs) or nipples are falling off.
Alexis: And being told that it’s OK not to breastfeed or it’s OK to give some formula and it’s OK to hold your baby this way or that way and just telling them, not telling them sorry but working out with them what works for them and to make it more of a natural process. And I find that if you remove a lot of the influence of social media and the unrealistic expectations that puts on people they’re more able to focus on themselves and their baby and what’s actually comfortable for them.
Vicki: And everything falls into place.
Alexis: Yeah, yeah. So I just think it’s really interesting that, I’ve just seen how much social media can negatively influence. At the same time there are really supportive great groups on there and advocacy and support are accessible at their fingertips on their phone, but to an extent, and how is that monitored, you know. I see the mums who are, it’s gone beyond that and it’s now stressing them out and we just kind of go well OK what’s going to be good for you and the baby, ‘cause at the end of the day that’s actually all that matters. It doesn’t matter…
Vicki: And they see that beautiful photo, like I’m looking at a photo on our backdrop there, that photo, I mean he’s beautifully posed in this newborn position and stuff, that took 25 minutes to get the baby into that position. You know they see, we’ve got this awesome photo of baby lying on innate(?) stack of candies and it’s the most pristine picture. Three seconds after that picture was taken she lost her [beep], I’m not allowed to say that am I (laughs). She completely cracked up.
Andrew: Poo, you have to say poo, I told you before.
Vicki: Oh she lost her poo (laughs). And I think that’s, we so forget that the perfect Instagram mum, or I used to relate it to Pinterest, is you know that perfectly organised Pinterest mum is not the same one that is creating these amazing games for their kids and it’s not the same mum that is actually creating these awesome meals every night and stuff like that. But we put this all together as one picture and have these expectations of ourselves.
Alexis: Unrealistic expectations.
Vicki: Yeah, look I had to see a psychologist over it myself because I put, you know I had to have the perfect beautiful braided hair or you know fancy hair for my kids to go to school and then I had to have the perfect lunchbox and I had to have the perfect dinner and you know the perfect house. Nobody can do that. And you know I really, you know struggled with that myself so I can imagine that it’s even worse now.
Alexis: Especially when people come in thinking there’s something wrong with them or their baby and I’m like there’s nothing wrong with you guys [indistinct – 05:59] your expectations.
Vicki: The expectations.
Andrew: Is it always first time mums?
Alexis: Oh that’s hard to say. More often than not because we are, and I’m saying we because I’ve only got one child currently (laughs).
Andrew: As we record this you’ve only got one.
Alexis: [Indistinct – 06:14] what happens in the next ten minutes. And because you know I was, I had no idea. Luckily I had a supportive mum and friends and I used that. But some people don’t have that, social media is their only way to have that. And there are some great examples of women and husbands, men/women that post online of the reality of parenthood and that’s really great. So I’m certainly not dissing social media but I think there is, you can’t deny that it does create unrealistic expectations of parenting.
Vicki: Even within mothers’ groups, online mothers’ groups where you’ve been pregnant together and…
Alexis: [Indistinct – 06:49] tool.
Alexi: And I think, yeah a lot of it’s first time because you don’t know what you’re doing. I still don’t know what I’m doing (laughs), I’m just playing it by ear.
Vicki: It’s like adulting.
Vicki: Everybody’s faking it until they make it.
Alexis: Yeah, and I just feel like if I don’t have a group telling me how to do it then my husband and I will work out how we want to do it. And it’ll work out and if we need help we’ll ask for help. But yeah it’s just so easy to become so stressed and overwhelmed and blame yourself. And so a lot of mothers come in feeling really guilty that they, you know don’t have enough milk or they’re not feeding their baby properly or maybe they’re not in a good enough routine. And I just feel like none, they’re not at fault, they’re doing an amazing job and the best job they can, they just have all these expectations placed on them where they think they need to be perfect.
Andrew: Sometimes it is overwhelming too, I remember I think it was Abbey and Abbey was just crying and crying and crying and crying and both me and Vicki are attending to her and we tried all the things, it was nappy, feed, all the things that you think it could be. And we went through the entire list and the baby’s still crying and Vicki goes what do we do now, the baby’s still crying?
We’ve done everything. And I said let’s start again. So we started again and the second thing in, bang, baby stopped crying.
Alexis: That’s what my mum said to me, she said just try all these things and then if that doesn’t work just try them all again.
And then just keep going until they just stop or something works.
Or they actually stop and you think something works.
Vicki: And actually on that, I remember when you were at work one day and I was just having a terrible time with her and I remember recording her and, thankfully I’ve deleted that because looking back now it was horrendous to actually be recording your baby crying or screaming, but what I actually did was I didn’t pick her up I actually walked out after that because I couldn’t cope.
And I thought, you know one of my friends had said take the baby outside, that the fresh air will help and stuff like that and I thought you know what if I pick her up and I take her outside I’m going to drop her on the pavers. And I thought you know what, I’m going to remove myself from that situation.
So I went outside for a couple of minutes. She was perfectly safe in her cot, admittedly crying. But I composed myself and then went back in to that situation. And I think, you know we get so overwhelmed as first time parents in particular, you know when the baby’s crying you just can’t, you can’t cope and it’s like but I can’t let my baby cry because people have said you can’t let your baby cry. And whilst it’s not great it’s better than throwing them on the pavers.
Vashti: It’s not just first time parents though, I remember with Mikaela, I was still in the hospital with her so my second bubby and I think it was night three so milk was just coming in and she was just screaming and screaming and screaming and eventually I rang up Brent and it was like two o’clock in the morning and I said you’ve got to come back in here. ‘Cause the nurses didn’t come in and I’m sitting there feeling well this is my second baby, I should know what I’m doing, like I don’t…
Alexis: And they do leave you alone.
Vashti: Yeah, they do. And like I’m sitting there going my room is right next to the nurse’s station surely they’d come in if they think I needed help and no I don’t feel comfortable calling them for help. And I rang Brent I said come in and he came in and you know then the midwife came in and said would you like me to take her for you.
And they took her off and they gave her a bath and she let out the biggest amount of wind, it was not funny. Apparently the midwife said she turned the trough into a bubble bath (laughs). And that was it, she had wind. But like I hadn’t even been able to go to the, she’d been screaming at me, like I’d been holding her for about four and a half/five hours and trying to feed her and I had to go to the toilet with her in my arms and things like that because she just, she was just so unsettled. And that was as a second time mum and I felt horrific as [indistinct – 10:28] mum but I got to the point where it’s like…
Vicki: I think you need to recognise, like one of the best things you can do for yourself is recognise when you’re at your limit:
Vicki: You know at that if I don’t do something now I’m actually going to cause harm. Because I’m sure we’ve all been there, you know where you’re at that stage where you’re like, kind of like at the edge of the cliff…
Alexis: This is freaking me out OK, ‘cause I’m about to have my second.
I’m by no means a parenting expert, I just, I think it’s going to be a whole next level, a whole new thing.
Vashti: It is, look it’s a whole next level but you will also, you do have a little bit of an understanding on what to expect. You’ve got an idea but it’s different in the same respect.
Alexis: Yeah. I’m a little bit more confident but, yeah, no its still going to be just as [indistinct – 11:06].
Vicki: Remember mother nature throws the amazing things at you, just when you don’t think you can cope any longer that baby will smile at you for the first time and you go oh my god I can do this, I can manage this and, you know like mother nature is amazing like that. Just when you don’t think you can go on any longer something else amazing happens. Or they’ll giggle for the first time and you’ll go oh my god I love this kid so much. Doesn’t matter that they didn’t sleep.
Andrew: I think the worst thing that can happen is you’ll have to double your stack.
Alexis: Yeah, yep. Vashti’s going to be pretty stoked about that.
Vashti: You’ve got enough nappies. I’ve already told you, you don’t need to buy any more nappies (laughs).
Alexis: That’s true, I have been told. You know you’ve got too many when the owner of a cloth nappy store tells you to stop buying them.
Vashti: It’s not just that, you don’t need them, you’ve got enough. I say that to lots of customers.
Andrew: So let’s get to at least one question, what’s the most environmentally friendly fabric?
Alexis: Yeah, hemp.
Alexis: Yeah. No definitely hemp. Hemp’s just, it goes…
Vashti: It goes a bit crunchy.
Alexis: It does.
Vashti: It’s a courser fibre.
Vicki: But it grows super-fast, it doesn’t use a lot of water. It does need to be blended with cotton which isn’t hugely environmentally friendly.
Alexis: It has to be blended.
Vicki: Yeah, it’s yucky on its own.
Vashti: It’s way too course. You’ll see, if you go to the markets those really course jumpers, the hemp jumpers and things like that.
Vicki: And they’re very heavy too.
Vicki: And it doesn’t need to be chemically treated like bamboo does.
Andrew: Excellent, OK. Well that’s, we’ve run out of time. And again we’ve gone over time so…
Vicki: Surprise, surprise.
Andrew: Thank you Vicki:
Vicki: Thanks Andrew.
Andrew:Thank you Vashti:
Vashti: Thanks Andrew.
Andrew:Thank you Alexis:
Alexis: Thanks Andrew.
Andrew: Bye bye.
Vicki Simpson is the current President of the Australian Nappy Association and has been making and selling cloth nappies for 13 years. You can contact Vicki through her website bubblebubs.com.au or call 1300 792 232.
Vashti Wadell is the Member Secretary of the Australian Nappy Association and is the owner of Australia’s first bricks and mortar nappy store, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane, Australia. She has been using cloth nappies for 12 years and currently has one child still in nappies. You can contact Vashti through her website nestnappies.com.au or phone 07 3217 5200.
If you have any comments about the podcast you can email us at HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org. If you found this podcast helpful, then the way to thank us is to leave feedback in the iTunes store. I am your host Andrew Simpson.