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Is the Gina Ford regime actually possible?

99 replies

Sam29 · 11/01/2003 10:59

Bought The Contented Baby Book last weekend thinking that it would suit me as a first time mum to be who knows nothing at all about babies...... got to the section where she sets out daily routines and was terrified to death! Is this actually possible? Do you ever get to leave the house? Whilst I like the philosophy of getting baby into some kind of routine I'm not sure whether structuring every minute of every day is something that is humanly possible!
Anyone done this and survived?

OP posts:
Jimjams · 15/01/2003 15:25

susanmt I think this is what worries me about GF. The people I know who have suffered PND often already had worried that they weren't a "good enough" Mum, and I'm always concerned that if their baby didn't follow a GF routine then that would have made those feelings worse. Having had 2 kiddies I now know whether or not they will fit the routine depends a lot on them. DS1 would have done them like a dream, DS2 no way and he would have let me know as well!! I haven't really done anything different with either of them. I know that personally bad days are always made better by seeing others, whether that's at coffee mornings or meeting saomeone for lunch or whatever. If I had to stay in to follow routines I would have gone crazy. Just as a matter of interest- what happens with baby number 2- how do you follow routines when toddler number 1 is following their own lives (genuinely interested- not stirring ).

Scatterbrain · 15/01/2003 15:29

Arghhhhhh !!! Read the GF threads !! You don't have to stay in - you don't have to stay in - you don't HAVE TO do anything !!! You can be flexible !!! Arghhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!

tiktok · 15/01/2003 17:14

Thanks, Bloss, for interpreting the (ahem!) inconsistencies in GF for us - you do rather prove my point that using one's common sense is healthy and helpful whenever any method or routine or guideline or whatever is offered

Actually, the interpretation of what GF really means make the thing sound even more complicated and confusing, but that's what happens when you try to put common sense into words!

I will say this, that bfcs hear about the problems more often than the benefits - and bfcs speak to mothers with a range of bf experiences, good and bad. It's not just GF, though - several books have the real potential to confuse, distress and undermine mothers, when their babies won't baby behave as they should.

Just this last week or so, I have spoken to mothers who have called, worried because they can't get the Baby Whisperer stuff to work, Clare Byam Cook's stuff to work, GF to work, and one mother who was concerned by some stuff in What to Expect when You're Expecting.

elliott · 15/01/2003 17:54

Surely a lot of new mothers are so exhausted and overwhelmed that almost anything has the potential to exacerbate their feelings of inadequacy!
There were plenty of things I read that made me feel awful - top of the list was an NCT book whose sole advice on the problems of sleep deprivation was that 'many women really enjoy the intimacy of night feeds' (hmmm, give me sleep anytime!) and also Penelope Leach which made me feel that I could never live up to her ideal of baby-centredness. At least with GF I found it so ridiculously extreme that it was easy to ignore/laugh at the bits I didn't like. I'm actually really surprised at how helpful I have found parts of it (but that certainly doesn't include the bf advice, which I can well imagine might cause lots of problems, tiktok). In particular I was completely clueless about babies sleeping needs, I naively assumed that babies just slept when they got tired...!!
But to the point of the thread - personally I would only try to get a baby into a routine at the point when they become unhappy without one. With ds this was around 10 weeks, when he stopped being able to just fall asleep anywhere, and was becoming desperately overtired. If they are happy to be flexible, I'd take advantage of the freedom that allows!!

aloha · 15/01/2003 19:20

Funnily enough, one of my most 'maternal' friends followed GF (in a loose,commonsensical way). She tried to go into an office to work when her dd1 was six months old, cried all morning in the loo, begged her dh (the only person she trusted to look after her baby) to bring her in at lunchtime, moped all afternoon, rushed home and never returned! Her kids are fantastic, she reads and plays imaginative games all day with them and is still b/f her 20month old and yet she kept them in a routine, let them cry themselves to sleep sometimes etc etc. She actually lent me her copy of GF (which I read but didn't follow) with the words, 'there are some great case histories of terrible babies which will make you feel better about yours!'. I do suspect the 'maternal instinct' is not the same in everyone - and, indeed, why should it be so narrowly defined as 'the perfect understanding of every wriggle and squawk of your newborn'. Perhaps a better definition would be, simply, 'love'. A quality both Forrest and Bloss have in abundance!

Bozza · 15/01/2003 21:47

I think in answer to Sam's original question yes it is possible but you have to decide if you want to go down that route or not (with the option to change your mind once the reality of motherhood hits, of course). I think initially a lot of it depends on the type of person you are (think this has been mentioned) but will then subsequently depend also on the type of baby you have.

I didn't even know about Gina Ford until DS was already in his own routine. Some guidance on routine (nobody ever mentioned it to me) would have been helpful. Since DS was about 6 months we have had a flexible routine. That is we have a routine, and if I want to do something I manipulate the routine to fit in. For me, as the type of person who likes to get out and about, this works really well but took some arriving at. DS also likes to get out so it works for him too.

jasper · 15/01/2003 22:07

aloha you are a sweetie
Are you a middle child by any chance?

Rhubarb · 15/01/2003 22:35

Can I just say that I take no offence to Forest's comments. Just for her info, and anyone else who might be interested: I had no intention of having children. I was never a maternal person, having been surrounded my foster children all my life (my mum's idea) who got more attention by being bad than I ever did by being good. I had no interest in children whatsoever and am ashamed to say that I was probably a very bad aunty. When I became pregnant it was a huge shock, an absolute accident, but for reasons of my own, I decided to go ahead with the pregnancy. I suffered from very bad depression during the pregnancy and basically denied, right up until the birth, that I was even pregnant. At one point I asked the doc if it was possible that my bump was cancer! (sorry if this is offensive to anyone, but I don't care!) I live 30 miles from my family, and didn't know dh's very well. So when I did give birth, I was shocked and confused. Yes I did bond with her, straight away actually, but that does not mean to say that I knew what to do with her! I had no idea how much sleep she needed, or when to tell she was tired or hungry. We muddled along for 3 months, with no routine at all and a very unhappy baby and mother. Then I read GF, I welcomed her strict routines as I actually missed the routine of the hospital, it made me feel safe and secure. So I followed GF to the letter, and was astounded to find that it worked, and dd actually seemed happier! She hardly cried at all now! It took a few more months before I regained my confidence, and then I was able to chop and change that routine to suit our lives.

I was not meant to be offensive myself to either Tiktok or Anais, I just wanted to point out that GF is more suited to first-time, under-confident, clueless mothers, which isn't how I picture either Tiktok or Anais, they both seem like confident people to me so I can see why they hate the strict routiness of GF. But I didn't want them to pooh-pooh it to any other mother, I wanted them to see that for some mothers' it is a Godsend.

OK it probably won't work for mums who suffer from PND as Susanmt said, but GF cannot possibly know whether a reader has PND or not. It is up to your HV, as you said, to spot that and treat it before it gets serious. GF could exaggerate the problem, but so could nappy adverts that show happy contented babies and serene, flawless mothers to someone who has PND! All parenting books have their limits, and they are of such a genre that you will either love them or loathe them. But surely most people must see that whilst they might loathe them and their methods, not everyone will agree, and that they do have their uses to some people? That's all I wanted to say, GF appeals to a certain type of mother, if you are not that type then don't buy her books, try something else, but please don't put anyone else off from trying her, that other person might be as desperate as I was!

Shall I do loads of smiley faces now?

Clarinet60 · 15/01/2003 22:47

Abbey, how did you know you were suffering from PND the second time? The reason I ask is that with my first child, the symptoms were unmistakable, but this time, could be attributed just as easily to lack of support at home.
I'm confused and would like to hear from someone who has had it twice.
I may start a thread on this if I can stir my lazy self.

Clarinet60 · 15/01/2003 22:50

Sorry Rhubarb, you must have been posting as I was typing. Respect. And how are you, my old mate? Long time no hear!

Rhubarb · 15/01/2003 22:53

I'm very well my old mate! And your good self? Respect to you too for coping with PND which, luckily with treatment, I never had to cope with. Did you get treatment for yours?

jasper · 15/01/2003 22:56

Rhubarb, in full swing you are an impressive creature

Clarinet60 · 15/01/2003 23:01

Yes I did the first time, as the whole thing was pretty dramatic and I was almost non-functional. I got lofepramine and it worked like a dream, albeit at a pretty high dose.
This time it's much stranger, as I feel normal some of the time and I'm loathe to flood DS2's body with drugs unnecessarily. In fact, I haven't even been to the GP, that's how unsure I am that it is really PND. I always wondered why some women didn't get treatment - now I know.
Too much info probably - anyway, night-night all, I'm tired.

Jimjams · 15/01/2003 23:15

Sactterbrain tell me more!!! I am genuinely interested, because the poeple I know following GF didn't go out, and didn't interfere with the routine and did stay in....... If you can read it and then extract the bits you like then fine I'm all for it, I'm just worried about people who read it and then worry about every minute of every day. For instance I'm reading the continuumm concept at the mment. Interesting reading and bit of it I think "yes" but other bits I think "oh for heavens sake these people live in the jungle and you're not even a mum, so don't tell me what to do". I'd be worried about anyone follwing any book to the letter, be it GF, Penelope Leach of the continuum concept.

I still want to know how GF gets around having 2+ kiddies at the same time. Some one tell me please ( I am interested honest)

Rhubarb · 15/01/2003 23:19

JimJams, when I first read GF I used to stay in and follow her routines to the letter too - but it was something I needed to do, for myself as much as for dd. I needed to feel safe and secure, and her routines did that for me. But you will find, with your friends, that a couple of months down the line they will be more liberal with the routines. I actually think that staying in with your new baby is a good thing anyway as it helps you to bond.

There is a mums and tots group set up in London that meet around the GF schedule that your friends could go to. But don't worry unnecessarily, if they are happy and their children are happy, then maybe that's the way they want to live their lives, GF or no GF.

susanmt · 16/01/2003 01:10

I think, looking at the messages since I posted, that my problem with it is GF's insistance in the book that ALL babies work this way. They don't. The book (now I don't have a copy any more, I couldn't keep it in the house after what it did to me) suggests by its very tone that all babies fall into this routine if you impose it - but my dd didn't. I think if GF was prepered to say that this is only one way of doing things them I would be happier about the whole thing, but she is not. The point at which I was taken away by the men in white coats (only partly joking!) I was found by dh sitting weeping and shaking on dd's bedroom floor because she would NOT go to sleep 2 hours after she had woken up - she was a 3 hour baby!
The 'Gina' Mums I have 'met' on Mumsnet have mainly one thing in common - they don't follow it to the letter. If you read the book it seems to insist you do. many people out there do not have the benefit of Mumsnet's brilliant help. I really feel that if I had been on Mumsnet when this happened it might not have. But it did - so you can hardly expect me to be positive about the book or its concept, given the damage it did to me and my family. No GF supporter, even here, has ever really conceded me that point.

tiktok · 16/01/2003 01:18

Droile, there are a number of safe antidepressants including SSRIs you can take when bf, so don't feel you have to do without meds that might help - if you want to know more, I have some references you can share with your doctor, if necessary.

susanmt · 16/01/2003 01:20

I have taken SSRI's throughout my breastfeeding 'career' - I certainly know that sertraline (Lustral) is safe, and I am sure there are others.

hmb · 16/01/2003 07:07

There are a at least 3 publications looking at the effect of dothiepin in breast milk, and the possible effect on the babies. There is some passed into the milk, but very little, well below the does an adult gets. They have also looked at long term effects on development of the child and concluded that there were no long term(or short term) effects on the child. In fact it may be better for the child for the mother to be treated for the PND.

SoupDragon · 16/01/2003 08:05

Susanmt, everytime I hear your story I want to send you a hug. I think Rhubarb tried to make the point that it wasn't GF per se that caused so much hurt to your family, it was how your PNDed brain viewed it. It could quite easily have been a book about Attachment Parenting for example which would have made you feel inadequate as a mother. It's difficult to fathom quite how the PND brain views things - I was convinced that DS1 didn't love me as he wouldn't feed very well at 1 week old! I guess the fact that GF doesn't make it clear that you can tweak the routines, coupled with your PND and a baby that didn't "fit" was a recipe for disaster.

I agree that GF does not suit all babies or families as she claims. Some babies need strict routine, some don't. I was certainly a "first-time, under-confident, clueless mother" to use Rhubarb's words but no way on earth would GFs routines have been any use to me. I'm way too disorganised to have made them work for a start.

I do completely disagree with one thing Rhubarb says (and yes, I know and accept that it was just her opinion ) "I actually think that staying in with your new baby is a good thing anyway as it helps you to bond." If I hadn't got out and about with both my new babies, I think I would have gone mad My trips down to the local shops/friends houses were all that kept me sane in the early months.

Anyway, I now realise, from mumsnet, how easy my 2 boys were/are both as babies and toddlers. That certainly does nothing for my confidence as a mother as I still feel I don't have a clue what to do with them or how to cope but it doesn't mean mumsnet is a bad thing Well, it is a bad thing if you take into consideration all the things I should be doing instead of chatting here...

Abbey · 16/01/2003 08:16

Droile Hi. When I got pregnant the second time, I was still a sufferer and was treated accordingly throughout the pregnancy. Saying that though, I remember going wonky and was lucky enough to have the support of a very good HV. Perhaps yo should speak to your HV if he/she is supportive or speak to your doctor. Sometimes the people around are also more clued the second time round and would spot the signs.

This is probably a stupid thing to say but it did not occur to me that I would not be able to breastfeed DS whilst on Prozac until a new MW put me straight. I had intended to stop the medication as soon as ds was born. Whilst at the time I was absolutely devastated, in hindsight a more stable me makes up for having to bottlefeed.

PS I seemed to be having a 'moment' when posting my last message. Sorry to anyone 'I' may have offended.

susanmt · 16/01/2003 09:36

Droile, if you are planning to have any mor children and are worried about depression, it might be worth asking your GP to refer you to a psychaitrist. I was still under my (marvellous) psych (not literally ) when I got pregnant the second time - in fact he was the only person apart from me & dh who knew we were trying for another baby. I was closely monitored throughout my pregnancy, went on to antidepressants in the third trimester and have sucessfully breastfed ds while still on them. I didn't need hospital treatment this time around, mainly because everyone (including me) was so aware of the possibility of PND. Still had a dreadful HV (a new one who - can you beleive, having seen my records, suggested GF to me - most of you will have read about my successful complaint to the practice about this!).
I think, looking back at the first time, that the resaon GF was the thing that sent me over the edge was the fact of its total inflexibility (and I know people are flexible about it, but I didn't perceive it as flexible, and anyone writing books for parents of young babies has to take into account the fact that up to 10% of them could be suffering from PND - I found Christopher Green's 'Babies!' to be a very sympathetic read concerning PND). If there was a big health warning or similar at the start of the CLBB that said 'If this isn't for you, don't do it, it doesn't work for everyone' then I would be more sympathetic to Gina Ford. As it is I feel I have to speak out and tell my story - I never want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.

Bugsy · 16/01/2003 10:43

I think that if we had support after our babies were born, then none of us would need books to tell us what to do. I had no baby experience, an exhausting birth and hospital stay and a really fractious, angry baby first time around. I clung to the CLBB because I had nothing else. DS was a very difficult baby and like Susanmt, I would be reduced to tears by my inability to get DS even remotely approaching Gina's routines. However, I don't think that GF did this to me, I think I was suffering from exhaustion, shock, isolation, possibly mild PND and definitely post-traumatic stress disorder (which 11 months later I was treated for).
Someone else rightly pointed out that many of us, pre-children, were in paid employment working in jobs for which we were well qualified. I can honestly say I had no qualifications and no natural maternal instinct, I was really clueless. When newborn DS screamed (and I mean really scream - he never just cried or grizzled), I could feel my blood pressure rise and feelings of panic wave over me as I would have no idea what was wrong with him.
GF was helpful to me, her book is full of sensible tips, weaning advice and both of mine settled into her routines after the first 16 weeks.
I wish that I had some other support that I could have fallen back on but my mother stayed for 4 days, which was great but not nearly long enough and the HVs were not in a position to help, because they pop around for very short visits. DH was even more useless than me, plus he went back to work after 10 days. So like thousands of other women, I was left completely alone with a really difficult baby and GF was something to hang on to.
Many apologies to Sam29, who probably thinks we are all barking mad. I know I would have done had I read all this stuff before my baby was born!

forest · 16/01/2003 11:07

Thank you Rhubarb for answering me honestly and I'm glad you didn't take offense at what I said. I never meant to offend anyone and I have never doubted everyones love for their babies but reading through GF threads I find you never get to the real mum only discussions about how great routines were/are. I feel since I last posted many of you have explained how the structure GF gave to you was a life-saver rather than the usual my baby was sleeping through at x weeks and so on. You have all, therefore, made me see that there is a place for such routines.
I would still worry though if someone was trying to stick to such a rigid routine and was getting upset that their baby wasn't following it. But, I won't bleat on again about using your instincts

forest · 16/01/2003 11:08

And thank you Temptress for your kind words.

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