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Contented and happy

The definition of contented is;

  1. Happy and at ease
  2. Expressing happiness and satisfaction

This is a photo of me feeling all of the above; it was July last year on a Greek Island. It’s hard not to see why I didn’t feel contented it was so beautiful my children were playing happily in the shore, we had just eaten fresh squid and to be honest everything felt pretty much perfect. Ok hate me for all this self-proclaimed happiness on a grey Friday afternoon but I think anything that makes you feel contented is surely a good thing right? Maybe not.

This week controversial parenting guru Gina Ford released her newest book The Contented Mother’s Guide; online forums went crazy with the opportunity to slate any advice this childless expert had to say. When I had my first baby, I had already been warned of her first book The Contented Little Baby so carried on with my new born by listening to my instincts, friends and mother’s advice. By 8 months she still didn’t sleep for more than 2 hour periods, my partner and I had pretty much given up on any happiness there was to be had with a baby, I was completely and utterly exhausted. I remember meeting a new Mum friend in the park one morning (at a very specific time of 09:40) to see her lovely little baby smiling happily in her buggy having slept the entire night. She told me she was following Gina Ford’s 8 month old routine and had been for several months, and their lives were transformed. I borrowed a copy of the book and read it like crazy for the next few days; I couldn’t believe how wrong I had got it. Not that my initial mothering instincts had failed me but I could now see why nothing we had been doing was working. Now don’t get me wrong, there were parts in her book which quite frankly I could not master or be arsed with (‘Now drink your orange juice at 07:50 to ensure excellent Vitamin C intake’) um I think I’ll drink my orange juice when I want thanks. But I think really we should cut this woman some slack, she has looked after over 300 babies and found a method that worked, so what’s to criticise?

We all need routine in our lives, humans are creatures of habit and so are babies. When you become a mother for the first time you have no idea what to expect even if you’ve read all the books and done every course available to you, it is still a BIG shock. By the time you have your second baby you feel a little more confident that the baby’s head won’t fall off if you don’t hold its neck properly and giving it a chocolate biscuit isn’t going to turn it into a junk food addict.

But it’s her advice on sexual intimacy in her new book that really caught my attention (ha!) and she’s got a good point. ‘Arm yourself with post-birth essentials such as lubricant and massage oil and take things slowly,’ Ford counsels. No one tells you how dry you will feel down there especially if you’re breastfeeding and actually having sex for the first time after having a baby really isn’t that bad. Ok the thought of taking your clothes off to expose your new post baby body sounds horrific but low lighting, flickering candles and a few glasses of wine can help. Put the Moses basket as far away from the bedroom as possible (in our case it was the bathroom) and remember to remove your breast pads beforehand, not such a turn on. Just try not to ask too many times during the moment ‘does it feel the same as before?’ your partner may find it a little off-putting. He loves you no matter what and once you get going you may actually enjoy it, after all it’s how we all got here in the first place.