Woke Mama: Kate

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Want to know WTF a Woke Mama is? Each week, we’re introducing awesome women who are making the world a kinder place, one happy baby at a time.

Name: Kate

Age: 32

Baby: 1 year old Isaac

What does being a woke mama mean to you?

For me, being a Woke Mama is about seeing the bigger picture for our babies.

This hardly needs saying but in the last few years the world has become a scarier place. Instead of drowning in a sea of negativity a la Trump and Brexit, I think motherhood has encouraged me to think about how I can put some positivity back out there.

Being gentle for Isaac plays a big part in this. I want to give him every chance to grow up knowing that the world doesn’t have to be a scary place. Most importantly I want him to learn how to interact with others with empathy, kindness and respect.

The best way I can do this is lead by example and respond to his needs, letting him know I’m always there for him day or night.

What made you choose gentle parenting? And what is your favourite aspect of it?

When Isaac was born 2 months early, we spent lots of time doing skin-to-skin and kangaroo care from his incubator.

Before he was born I hadn’t thought much about what kind of parent I would be, but I saw no need to stop keeping him close after we left hospital. And so we began wearing him for naps and co-sleeping. I also worked hard at pumping to make sure he was exclusively breastfed.

I really think our gentle approaches have helped to catch up quickly from his ‘corrected age’ and he is now a healthy, bright and happy boy.

My favourite aspect of being a gentle parent is the flexibility it give us as a family. Using a sling means you can get lots of places pretty easily and we’ve done lots of travelling already. Because we’re pretty baby-led we can go with the flow, nap on the go and have less of a routine.

Most awesome moment so far?

Ahhh it’s so hard to choose! The day Isaac came home from hospital was so special (and terrifying!) We call it his ‘second birthday’.

But walking out of the doors of the hospital after 6 weeks felt amazing. It was a bright sunny day and we drove SO carefully on the way home. My husband played ‘At Last’ by Etta James over the speakers, a song that still brings tears to my eyes.

Biggest struggle so far? How do you cope with stressful moments?

Aside from having to leave Isaac in the hospital on the early days, my biggest struggle overall has been sleep deprivation.

When I was pregnant I expected that when the baby arrived I wouldn’t sleep much in the early days but I had no idea it would last so long or that breastfed babies rarely sleep through the night!

After reading up I have adjusted my expectations and this has really helped things. Having other mums you can talk to who are on the same wavelength also massively helps.

I’ve been determined not to do any sleep training with Isaac and speaking to other mums with a gentle approach reeeeally helps.

If going back to work, how will you juggle gentle parenting?

I’m going back to work this week and I have to admit I’m a little nervous.

Initially I was worried that as the time to send him to nursery approached I should stop wearing him for naps, get him more used to his cot or cut down on breastfeeding. However I’ve been reassured that none of this is necessary and that in a new environment he will adapt without too much trouble, so I’m hoping this is the case!

I think that continuing to breastfeed and co sleep will help us to maintain a close bond even as we spend more hours apart.

Any advice you would give to new mums?

Worry less about what you ‘should’ be doing, especially in relation to baby sleep.

Friends and family, baby sleep websites, sleep trainers and even health visitors all have a lot to say, but you need to do what feels right for you and just ignore any advice you don’t like.

Sleep deprived mums are very susceptible to the baby sleep industry, which makes big promises about getting your baby to ‘sleep through the night’ with books and products.

I wish I had known as a new mum how normal it is for babies to wake frequently.

I would tell any new parent not to worry, as adding anxiety and guilt to the already sleep-deprived mind is a recipe for disaster!

What’s on your soundtrack to your first year of being a Woke Mama?

Leon Bridges – Coming Home. It will forever remind me of my maternity leave and slow days with Isaac just pottering around the house.

Like what ya see? We’ll be introducing more awesome Woke Mamas. But we want to hear from YOU. Share your stories on social media using #WokeMamas or write your answers here

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