My Breastfeeding Journey

I’ve just read that it’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and I thought I would share my breastfeeding journey with you. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject as for me breastfeeding wasn’t as easy or come as naturally as I had hoped but I think it’s always nice to read different people’s stories and opinions.

Before my daughter was born I was very keen to breastfeed, I knew all the benefits for both the baby and for me some of which I will list on here further on and of course it just seemed like the most natural thing for a mother to want to do.

I was a little naive and assumed that immediately after birth my baby would nuzzle in and suckle away – this does actually happen for some people I’m sure and I really hope it does for me next time. Unfortunately it didn’t happen that way, although we had immediate skin to skin contact and some help ( nipple pinching ) from my midwife my daughter didn’t seem fussed. I assumed she was just worn out from her (probably traumatic) journey into her new world and so I just continued to try but try as I might she would not feed so I hand expressed for day 1 and 2.

Just born:

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On day 3 ( still in hospital) she had lost over 10% of her birth weight and I was told that unless she put on a certain amount of weight and started feeding I couldn’t go home. I felt like such a failure. Here was something that my body does naturally and I couldn’t get it right. Out came the hospital double pump and I spent the next 24 hours without sleep trying to plump up my little un. It worked but as she still wouldn’t feed from me the *horrible ( *totally lovely actually) midwives made me stay in hospital for 5 whole nights until they were satisfied that I could ( and would ) pump regularly and feed my baby using a teeny syringe. This was a really hard time, I was exhausted from labour and having a newborn with no help at night from my partner or family and it would have been easy to just give up but I really wanted to feed

On my last night in hospital I was very weepy and feeling lonely and an older midwife who I hadn’t met before came and sat with me on my bed, she gave me a hug and told me I was doing everything right and then she told me a secret. Before she told me she pointed out that this was not NHS advice and really she shouldn’t say but it had worked for her daughter – what was this magic piece of advice I hear you say? Nipple Shields. I was sceptical but on the way from hospital with my newborn tucked in my babasling I hit Boots and bought an electric breast pump and a pack of nipple shields.

Just before we left to go home ..don’t I look happy?

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On our first night at home at six days old my daughter fed for the very first time from me using these wondrous nipple shields and she pretty much didn’t stop for days and it felt amazing. I remember feeling so lucky and proud to be feeding my child. She was always a fussy feeder and most times would only feed with a nipple shield unless she was super tired – I guess she got used to the feeling. I continued to express and it meant that when she was a little older my partner could give her a bottle of breastmilk at night when I was really tired. I always loved the times we spent feeding especially when she got older and would reach up a hand to touch my chest or hold my hand. Some of my favourite memories are of us feeding.

At about 4 months Izzy had a lot of problems with constipation and some bowel issues ( going 16 days without a movement became the norm) and we had to see a consultant. We were encouraged to try giving some formula each day to see if it made a difference and whilst it did make a difference she began getting harder to breastfeed. I really wish we had tried some other options but at the time with a child who was in horrific pain I just listened to the doctor. It was only 1 formula feed per day but at 6 months she just plain refused to feed from me. I didn’t seek advice at the time and wish I had but I continued to express until there was in milk left at about 8 months so she carried on having a breastfeed by bottle each day for that time which I’m glad about. The time when I was exclusively pumping was the hardest. I was determined to provide milk for my child and would spend hours each day attached to the pump sometimes for a depressingly small amount of milk. I tried lactation teas and fenugreek but it seemed my supply was gone.

Even though our breastfeeding journey was far from simple I am so glad we did it. I know that I provided the best start I could to my childs life. I am not anti formula at all in fact Izzy still has a bedtime bottle of growing up milk but I know that for me (not everyone) breastmilk is what I wanted to give my child and its what I hope to do this time around too. In fact I’m aiming for a year – I am fully aware this may not happen.

Benefits for baby

*less chance of diarrhoea and vomiting and having to go to hospital as a result
*fewer chest and ear infections and having to go to hospital as a result
*less chance of being constipated
*less likelihood of becoming obese and therefore developing type 2 diabetes and other illnesses later in life
*less chance of developing eczema

Benefits for mum

*lowers your risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer
*naturally uses up to 500 calories a day
*saves money – infant formula, the sterilising equipment and feeding equipment can be costly
*can help to build a strong bond between you and your baby

This time around I am going into this eyes wide open – I know it’s not always easy. I will seek advice and help if I need it straightaway from someone qualified to give it. I’m lucky to have met a wonderful friend and breastfeeding pro ( @midwifetomum on twitter) who I know will be an amazing support to me. I will try my very best and not feel guilty at how long I feed for. I am hoping to not need nipple shields but I will certainly have some ready just in case.

I cannot wait for that first feed. This time I will get photos of this special time.

How was breastfeeding for you?

Babies on board at Camp Bestival 2013

When you think of music festivals ..do you think: LOUD NOISES, dirty toilets and drunken teenagers falling over your tents guy ropes? This could be correct in some cases and is the reason why some festivals are not really my thing. Camp Bestival is not one of those festivals.

At least once a week on Twitter someone will ask me if Camp Bestival is suitable for babies/toddlers/children? I always answer with a resounding YES. CB is all about the family. Yes if you go right next to the stage when Dub Pistols jump on there will be loud noises but there are a hundred places you can go which are a lot quieter and calmer right at the same time. I used a lot of toilets during the 5 days we were there last year in all the different fields from the posh ones in the Camping Plus field to the busy ones next to the main stage and I honestly didn’t come across a dirty one – some can get a little *fragrant* but they are toilets and it really wasn’t an issue. There are even special children’s toilets and they are always well supplied with toilet paper and anti bac gel. There aren’t many drunken teenagers.. I didn’t see any – there is the occasional tipsy mum and dad though 😉

Baby on board

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If you are taking a baby – like I did last year then you will find baby changing facilities as well as a baby chill out tent where you can relax and feed your child in peace. Last year there were lots of free Bepanthen goodies which was nice. There are babies and toddlers everywhere – it will make you broody even if you have your own children with you. I had serious pram/stroller envy as there are so many cool ones on display.If that wasn’t enough most people have carts/trolleys which are covered with fancy paint jobs and fairy lights…and it really is adorable seeing all the little ones snuggly asleep while the parents munch on burritos and sip Pimms watching their favourite bands.

Tips for festivalling (made that up) with a baby/toddler:

* Clothes and bedding for all seasons – last year we had incredible weather.. It was gorgeously sunny everyday and my main concern during the day was keeping a hat/bandana on my daughters head and topping up the sun cream but at night well it does get chilly quickly and we had a padded sleepsuit for her as well as a Grobag and snuggly blankets for when she was in her pram. This year we are going to be using a Readybed and probably a fleecy sleepsuit too.

*Food – you will be able to buy all sorts of food at Camp Bestival and some of it really is superb but it can get expensive so packing snacks/pouches for young ones is a really good idea. Be sure to take a camping kettle if you are making up feeds or needing to warm food. Last year we cooked some really lovely meals on a tiny camping stove and I’m sure food just tastes better when you are camping.

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* Toys/books – you may find your child will wake earlier when camping due to the sunshine pouring in, the general hustle and bustle outside or just being in a strange place – it’s worth taking some small toys/games to occupy them while you continue to doze or make breakfast. We actually only had one night of slightly disturbed sleep the first night and then it was all fine – miraculous!

Don’t forget comforters, favourite blankets/teddies or dummies if you use them.

* Ear defenders – if you plan on going to watch the live music and want to protect those teeny ears don’t forget these. I think we paid approx £11 for ours. ( Edz kids from amazon)

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*Sling or baby carrier – we used carriers and a hippy chick last year and they were great.

* Nappies/wet wipes – take more than you would normally use as it would be just typical for them to get an upset belly wouldn’t it?

* Calpol/teething gels etc – hopefully you won’t need this but if you do get one of THOSE nights you will be so glad you brought these.

* Trolleys/carts – you can buy/make these beforehand or hire them at CB. We only hired one for the journeys to and from the car on the first and last day. The price was very reasonable and made things so much easier. If your child is out of the pram/stroller but still likely to get tired little legs in the evening I think it’s definitely worth hiring one for the whole festival.

* Suncream/rain covers/broliies – be prepared!

I will probably think of lots more tips so this post may be ever changing 😉

I know that many of you will still be worried at the thought of taking a young baby away but I really can’t encourage you enough to go – as a family we have said it was one of the best holidays we have ever been on and we do travel quite a lot! There aren’t many places when one day could include: Kool and the Gang, Rizzle Kicks, Mr Tumble and Dick n Dom alongside incredible food.. fabulous festival activities like the wall of death and bedtimes stories from Howard Marks. Each day is an amazing experience and you just will not be able to fit it all in.

Some lovely photos here of fellow Camp Bestival friends enjoying baby time :

So jealous of Abi and Bo in this pic!

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For those of you trying to decide I hope this pushes you in the correct direction and those of you already coming please say hello if you see us. We love making CB friends.

Read about last years CB here

Ticket Info here

I will leave you with two of my favourite photos from last years festival:

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Please ask any questions you can think of and I will try my very best to answer.

* We have been given press tickets to this years CB – thank you 😀

Sleeping Beauties

Drum roll please … It’s time for my very first guest post and by none other than Sophie author of Contented little mummy the nimble fingers behind Stepford Stitchers the creator of THE cwtchie and the person behind twitter handle OptForOptimism. She’s a busy lady but luckily she found time to write about her experiences with sleep training Gina Ford style. I know this is a HOT topic in the parenting world and it’s really interesting to read even if you don’t agree with it entirely which of course some of you won’t. Life would be boring if we were all the same… Anyway I shall stop waffling and let you read:

Sleeping Beauties

Sleep training for me came about when I was pregnant with my first son. Determined to not be like my friends, whose children were up several times in the night, I read Gina Ford’s Contented Little Baby book throughout pregnancy, and became familiar with what was expected and what were the results.
We waited until he was around 10 days old, and began to put the routine into play. I breastfed and Ford made this easier by designing several routines in her book for breastfed babies, bottle fed babies and multiple babies. She teaches of encouraging milk supply, how to cap over supply and how to simultaneously feed two babies at once. Her routine works by setting strict nap times, and wake up times throughout the day. We found by adjusting them slightly (with an earlier bed time) that it worked very well for us. In the early pages, she explains why feeding on demand isn’t always successful, and the demand a hospital birth can put on the mother to do so. After ten days I followed the routine religiously, making one fatal error. I used to walk Elijah in his pram for his long midday nap, or put him in a bouncy chair in the sitting room. This resulted in him not sleeping in his bed for naps during the day and only sleeping in his bed at bedtime. This lasted until he was 20 months old and he dropped all of his naps all at once.
With my second son, born a brief 20 months after the first, I started the routine again from day ten. This time all naps were done to the book. Literally. Not only did this help me to work and get house work done, but also to give some one on one attention to Elijah. I breastfed Isaiah until he was 8 months old, where as I only managed 5 with Elijah. The set feed times meant that my milk let down on time.
As Elijah is broaching 3 years old, we put his bedtime back a little as we found he was waking early. This is our routine for the boys, currently aged 2.5 years and 9.5 months.
7.30am Wake up, dress and breakfast by 8am.
9.30am Isaiah has a 40 minute nap.
10.30 Isaiah has a snack and some juice.
11.45am Isaiah has his lunch
12.30pm Isaiah goes down for his afternoon nap
1pm Elijah has his lunch and then walks the dog with his dad for an hour on the farm.
2.30pm Isaiah wakes.
4.45pm Isaiah has his supper.
5.45 Isaiah has a bath, his milk, a story and is put down in bed by 6.10pm

I found Ford’s bedtime winding down routine sacred.
Take baby up to the bathroom. Run the bath, bath baby and dress baby. Then leave baby to crawl/lie in his room while you tidy away and prepare the bed and his feed (warming up milk or getting your boob out!). Once you are ready, dim the lights right down, and limit all talking. Feed and wind, and put the baby down awake. If baby wakes throughout the night, leave them to settle themselves (for no longer than 15-20 minutes, after this time, go up to baby check nappy, temperature etc. Do this with minimal eye contact and minimal lights; and preferably with no talking). This isn’t always the case if something is bothering them, so take into account if the baby is teething or has an upset tummy they may need to have some medicine or attention administered. Nine times out of ten, the baby wants attention, or to play. I limit this during any scarce wake ups that occure and ensure that bedtime is associated with sleeping.

6.30pm Elijah, my husband and I have our supper.
7.15pm Elijah has a bath, drink, story and is put down in bed by 7.30pm
Alone time. The babies don’t wake until the morning.
Does it make life hard sometimes? Yes. It’s strict. The first 6 months of Isaiah’s life were dedicated to taking it in turns in leaving the house so his nap time wasn’t disturbed.
For us, the day time naps are crucial at the set times in order for Isaiah to go down to bed and sleep a full 14 hours. I work full time from home, so alone time to catch up with my husband and just be adults is absolutely crucial, without the issue of a baby being awake at 9pm and then in our bed all night long.
Bed times aren’t a new technique, and most misunderstand Ford’s routine as being “cruel”. Most don’t know her teaching style, and have no intention of enlightening themselves. That’s fine, and that works for them. For us, this works. The ability to be parents by day and adults by night. Are my babies traumatised? No. Restless? No. Am I a tired wreck with bags under my eyes? Absolutely not. We had children to enrich our lives. They do that, and tremendously so; however, we’re still people, and still need time to be people, and for this purpose, Ford works. That, and the fact she does indeed produce contented little babies. And parents for that matter.

Losing the mummy tummy

Twitter is a funny old world. I seem to chat to other mums, mums to be and dads more than anyone else on twitter these days and obviously there are many contrasting opinions on everything from pregnancy to parenthood but a few days ago I read a tweet from someone who seems pretty sensible stating how they were on a strict calorie controlled diet whilst heavily pregnant as they didn’t want to gain as much weight as their friends had while pregnant. I was shocked. Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to eat all the rubbish you want ( well maybe a little) but eating enough is SO important for your growing baby. When I was pregnant I did have a few worries about how my body would look afterwards as I’m sure everyone does but I didn’t once consider dieting.

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Pic: At 6 months pregnant.

When my daughter was born I kind of expected my stomach to just vanish and all the other chubby bits which appeared in the last trimester to come off with ease but I’m not one of those lucky ladies. For the first 6 months I was breastfeeding so I didn’t think about dieting as I know how important it is to eat well at this time but I started to cut back on the naughty stuff. A month after I finished breastfeeding I thought it was time to get back in shape so I started eating healthily and exercising ( a lot ) and the weight very slowly started to go down but then it was my birthday and a holiday to France ( there’s always an excuse) which resulted in a 2lb gain and I thought enough is enough so I am now on a strict but healthy diet and I have so far lost 7 &.1/2lbs. I am disappointed that I didn’t complete the 30 day shred but I got to day 25 so I know it’s achievable and I’m starting it again from the beginning as of next week. So far I have attended a jubilee party and a birthday BBQ and not wavered from my diet so my willpower is strong.

Losing baby weight is hard. I’ve dieted a few times over the years and this is the hardest weight I have ever had to lose but to have Isabelle in my life I would have happily put on 5 stone! Thankfully it wasn’t that much.

I really want to have lost a stone by June 17th so I can take my OH out for a meal for his first Fathers day and eat without guilt.

Help motivate me to keep going please with success stories and exercise tips. If anyone would like a copy of the diet I am on send me your email addy.

*If anyone needs inspiration to diet just go to the South of France. Nobody is overweight.

How do you learn to be a parent? Warning: just born baby pic.

I was going to write my birth story this week as I love reading others and thought it would be good to share. I didn’t.. Mainly because although it was an amazing experience and the most wonderful thing in the world happened as a result of it I don’t want to relive the birthing experience or scare my friends. Instead I will sum it up briefly before moving onto my actual topic ( how do you learn to be a parent).

So… my waters broke at home at 3pm September 15th just as we were about to go shopping and it was weird – anyone whose waters have broken will tell you that and totally not what I expected. After a quick visit from my lovely midwife I decided to pop to tescos to get some last minute bits ( she was 3 wks early I was unprepared) which was probably not my best idea.. But I got a tens machine which I don’t think I would have managed labour without even if I did scare the pharmacist by telling her my waters had broken.
By 12.30am I was at the hospital with contractions 2 minutes apart and by 9am Sept 16th the prettiest baby girl I’d ever seen was in my arms. It was not all plain sailing I was sick all through my labour which I kinda expected after 9 months of constant nausea and various other things but she arrived SAFELY and I was fine afterwards so that’s all that really matters.

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Fast forward 14 hours and I am on the ward finally alone with my little girl and this is when it starts to hit me.. I am in charge of the life of another person. Wow. Suddenly I realised I may have gone through the trauma of labour and the general horrors of pregnancy but I had no clue as to how to be a mother. Don’t get me wrong I read ALL the pregnancy/baby books, bought all the apps and even watched #oneborn religiously. I have younger siblings, nieces and nephews who I have babysat trillions of times but they all came with instructions clearly set out by their parents but now I was the parent and it scared me.
I sat on my bed with my baby who refused to breastfeed and wondered if I was already doing it all wrong. For those five LONG days and nights when Izzy refused to latch and I refused to admit defeat and go onto formula the thought that it was me that was stopping this natural thing from just happening nearly drove me insane. Looking back this was not helped by the fact that I was not allowed to go home and she refused to sleep in the hospital so I was the most sleep deprived I have ever been in my life. There were a million questions rolling around in my head like: how often do I change her nappy? When do I use nappy cream? What if I fall asleep when holding her? Will she ever sleep? Will I ever sleep again? HOW CAN I MAKE HER FEED? On the fifth day after lots of pumping, syringing milk into my babies mouth and convincing the nurses/doctors that I could keep this up at home Izzy gained weight! I was allowed to go home and that night she breastfed for the first time and pretty much didn’t stop for days. – I was so relieved.

Now 7 months later, I still have days when I feel like we are waiting for the real parents to turn up and quite often I just stop myself from calling my mother to ask what she thinks I should do – I still do it just not all the time. I’m learning, growing, becoming a mother myself and I’ve discovered I know what my baby wants and most times I know what to do or where to look for info if something goes wrong but who knows what new mums did before the Internet, twitter and baby centre existed. I have been very lucky in that I have a brilliant, supportive boyfriend who is so fabulous with our daughter and to have a great network of family and friends and I do wonder how other people cope when they don’t have such strong support as no matter what anyone else tells you parenting is the hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve done a skydive. 🙂 It is also the most fun, rewarding, happiest and emotional time I have ever experienced and I look forward to more and even at some time hope to have another baby so it can’t be too bad.

Sorry if that was one long ramble as I am fairly tired but once I started I couldn’t stop.

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