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The ec journey

Everyone's EC journey will be a bit different. Here are some generalised observations and recommendations.

Freddy on why an upright baby can hold it better

In Germany it´s common to go to an after-birth-course with a midwife to learn some exercises to get you back in shape, especially the pelvic floor. We call it "Rückbildungsgymnastik".

Well, a few weeks ago, my midwife talked to us about bladder-function and I got some information, which is interesting for ec-ing as well.

By design of your bladder, it is easier to "hold it", when you are in an upright position. When there is pressure on the "exit" of the bladder, the muscle around it pulls it shut reflexivly. The higher the pressure gets, the tighter the bladder is shut automatically. This is why it helps to jump up and down when you´ve got to go urgently, but the bathroom is occupied.

In an upright position, the content of the bladder is putting the pressure on the right places - when lying down, there is no pressure, so you´ve got more trouble to keep things watertight.

This has several implications for ec:
* Already with Wolfgang I could help him to hold it a bit longer by moving up and down when he was upright in the sling.
* This also explains why children have to go less often when carried upright in the sling than when lying on their back
* And it´s another explanation for the "baby obviously has to go - you hold him over a receptacle - nothing - you put him down - and he pees immediately after". While holding him to pee, he´s more upright, when you put him down on the floor, he´s vertical and the sphincter-muscles release because there is no more pressure. I found out, that it is sometimes difficult for Jutta to release in an upright position, especially if she had had to "hold it" for a little before offered the opportunity to go. I these cases it helps to put her down or hold her horizotally for just a short time (maybe 10 to 30 seconds) and then try again.

Maybe this piece of information is helpful for somebody. Please tell me, if it works for you as well.
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BTW, I'm making use of this again with Carsten. When I want him to go, for example because we are about to enter a store and a pottytunity will be hard to find in the next 30 minutes or so, and he doesn't pee the first time I try, I'll hold him in a lying down position in my arms for a little while, often even holding his bottom slightly higher than his head, then put him back in position and presto: pee! Works like charm if he has to pee at all.

"Freddy's Top 11 Hints to avoid unnecessary misses"

1) Take care to get enough sleep yourself!

2) If you think the baby might have got to pee, the baby probably *does* have to pee - so go and pee him!

3) Things that shorten pee intervals: Having slept for an hour or more. Having nursed for a longer time. Having had a lot of water. -
Offer the potty at least every 30 minutes or so for 2 or 3 pees.

4) Watch out for a tired baby. If he needs a nap, put him on your back - he can either sleep there or at least will probably not have an accident on you!

5) Potty before letting baby loose on the floor - especially after such safe "accident-preventing" activities as babywearing or nursing.

6) Really keep timing in mind if your child is very busy and unlikely to bother about pees. If the baby is tuning out, you've got to tune in!

7) If baby keeps popping off the breast, is very restless nursing, it's definitely time for a potty break!

8) Keep baby close, when you are asleep.

9) A sleeping baby with his bum up in the air is a baby with a full bladder.

10) If he fights peeing at night he might either be too hungry to pee or his bladder is hurting, because it's holding so much pee, and it's difficult to release. If this happens, try peeing while nursing, so he can relax and fully empty the bladder. Or get up and pee him in the tub - this usually means a "full pee" here as well, even if the potty has just been refused.

11) If you are moving the baby at night anyway, try a pee-pee-break over the tub, too.

General hints and observations

newborn

Your baby will need to go very frequently - anywhere from every ten minutes to every half hour. That is a great opportunity for you to get plenty of practise in observing and cueing your baby. There will be lots of wet nappies or diapers and that is why backup is a very good idea. Some people recommend just observing your baby nakey butt at this stage rather than pottying, but I would suggest holding them out whenever you get the sense that they need to go and you are quite likely to catch something.

Please note that it is more important to recover from birthing and to get breastfeeding well established at this stage so leave EC till when you feel ready. Of course, other caregivers can hold out your baby and get the process started - as long as that doesn't take away their time from caring for you!

Best potty at this stage is a potty bowl or other small receptable that you can hold between your thighs in order to fully support your baby against your body. Holds - the classic hold may be ok for your baby, but often they are too floppy for being that upright, so a reclined or cradle hold may work better. You can do this over the potty bowl or bathroom basin or laundry tub or anywhere else.

Clothing - enough to keep warm or protected from the sun, as little as possible to make it easy to offer potty opps. Onesies and growsuits with lots of snaps can be difficult to manage and tiresome to undo and then resnap only to do the whole thing all over again in a quarter of an hour. Long Tshirts or baby gowns are good; leg warmers are good for keeping legs warm while not being complicated to remove. Open crotch pants are handy to wear either with a nappy on over the top or a prefold slipped in to the elastic at front and back - or for wearing commando style.

Nappies and diapers - around home you can keep your baby on the nappy/diaper rather than the nappy on the baby! If you are using prefolds or terry flats or similar, then leave them open or threaded through your baby's legs so that you can quickly and easily know when they have gone or need to go. The prefold or nappy belt is great - tuck the nappy or prefold into the elasticated belt at front and back, then when you want to offer the potty, slip the cloth from the front of the belt. When the baby is finished, replace it in the belt. If the cloth gets wet, you can easily replace it with a dry clean one.

sitting

Frequency of pottying - every 15-30 minutes

Potty - continue with a potty bowl or begin to introduce a toilet reducer seat and a single piece moulded plastic potty. When buying a potty look for one that is low to the ground. Continue with in arms pottying and encourage use of a variety of potty places.

Clothing - easy to remove - as for younger babies.

Diapers - fitted nappies, prefolds, prefold belt. All in one nappies and diapers are generally more absorbent than required for EC babies so fitted or prefolds with a separate cover (only when required) are more manageable.

crawling

Frequency - every 20-40 mins

Potty - floor potty, toilet seat reducer, Continue with in arms pottying and encourage use of a variety of potty places.

Clothing - leg warmers to protect the knees

Diapers - prefold belt, fitted nappies with no cover at home, training pants

walking

Frequency - every 30-60 mins or longer

Potty - toilet seat reducer, potty, in arms, squatting

Clothing - elastic waist pants, long tops and leg warmers

Diapers - training pants, transitioning to small underwear; prefolds or fitted nappies.

developmental milestones - pauses

Each time your baby approaches a developmental milestone, you may find that EC seems less important to your baby and you get more misses. This pause can be a matter of days or weeks. Generally, after your baby gets that new tooth, or learns that new skill, pottying is back on track as good as - or better than - it was before.

These potty pauses can also be a time to prompt you to offer your baby more choice and also to increase your communication with her. When you find that you KNOW he needs to go, you offer the potty or toilet and he refuses to sit or sits there for a bit then gets up and straight away goes on the floor or in his nappy, there are two good things happening: 1 - you are in tune with your baby and 2 - your baby is communicating with you. If you like to count catches and misses, then be assured that this is a CATCH.

It may be time to offer your baby a different hold or potty or potty place. It is also , particularly from one year of age and onwards, likely that your baby wants more autonomy. Give choices about which pair of pants, which top, whether to go on the toilet or on the potty, whether to go before you or after you, this toy or that toy...

Click through for some suggested conversations that you may have with your baby at these times.

approaching graduation

Phase 1: Staying dry pretty reliably with caregiver's help
Phase 2: Signalling rather consistantly, needing occasional reminders
Phase 3: Independence in going potty
Phase 4: Self sufficient, including wiping

These phases are not necessarily achieved in linear fashion. You may see glimpses of a phase but it may be a while before you are there consistently. Or there may be some movement back to a previous phase when other developmental milestones are happening (teething, walking etc).

In my interpretation, phase 2 is the point at which baby has pretty much taken over initiating the communication end of things but you are still helping them eliminate in the appropriate place. For us this occurred around the 13-14 month mark.

Phase 3 is when they take themselves to the potty (or other appropriate place), needing only minor direction (or none) from you. This stage is often reached earlier for babies are left nakey butt most of the time, as the ability to get pants up and down is a skill that often comes later (closer to age 2 in my experience). Deirdre