Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Breastfeeding flash mob

Blogger Anna Collette Higgs of Part Mummy Part Me held a breastfeeding flash mob in central London during National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. As she explained in her blog post, 170 nursing mums turned up and fed their babies in public for 20 minutes to demonstrate that breastfeeding your baby is normal and to help boost the low breastfeeding rates in this country.

Well done them on taking a stand. Here are some images of the day. To all the breastfeeding mums who took part, we salute you - and obviously we secretly hope that you were wearing our nursing bras :-)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Common Breastfeeding Problems & How to Solve Them

To everyone who joined in our breastfeeding blog carnival last week to celebrate National Breastfeeding Awareness Week - thank you! We hope you had a great week of breastfeeding.
One thing the blog carnival highlighted was how many new mums battle to breastfeed for a number of reasons. So we asked Laura Nelson from The Breastest News to write an article for us on common breastfeeding problems and how to solve them.  Our thanks to her for this great article. If you have any tips for mums on any of these issues, please share them in our comments section below.

Sore or Cracked Nipples
Lets not beat about the bush here ladies. Breastfeeding can be hard to start with even for women who have breastfed before and usually for the first few weeks your nipples can be a little sore as they attempt to adjust to their new role. The most common reason for sore or cracked nipples is usually that your baby hasn't quite latched on correctly thus your nipples become sore and, if the latch is not corrected, can become cracked.

The best thing to do is take your baby off the breast gently by putting your finger into the corner of their mouth until they release their tongue from your breast. Then start again by making sure you are comfy, your baby is in a good position and then attempt to help your baby latch back onto the breast. Make sure they have a good mouthful of breast!

Don't ignore the pain as this could only make things worse! If your nipples start to crack and bleed it may be best to see a breastfeeding support worker who will help you improve your technique and help make sure your baby is latching on properly and effectively. There is no need to stop breastfeeding if this happens, I didn't and my son was completely fine. So don't let it deter you!

To help ease sore or cracked nipples I was told to squeeze out a little drop of milk after a feed and gently rub it into the skin. This did seem to soothe the soreness so I would really recommend trying it. I would also recommend you invest in a tube of lanolin cream. This stuff is safe to use whilst breastfeeding and does not affect your baby but oh what wonders it does for your nipples, brilliant product.

Some other suggestions would be to let your nipples dry before putting your clothes back on or wear a
cotton nursing bra to help the air circulate. Also make sure and change your breast pads often so they don't irritate your nipples.

Unsettled Baby
You'll know yourself if your baby is unsettled whilst feeding and this is often because they are not attached correctly so they are not getting enough milk to satisfy them. I made the mistake of attaching my son to the skin on my breast beside my nipple and I never even noticed until he screamed the place down with hunger as obviously he wasn't getting any milk at all! My poor breast was a bit bruised after that but it recovered really quickly so don't let that put you off.

So the best thing to do for your unsettled baby is remove them from the breast and start again.

If you are struggling and need some support check out the
NHS breastfeeding site 
for the best support near you.

Every woman who breast feeds will suffer from sore breasts at some point. This may be due to engorgement which is caused by swelling of the breast tissue as blood, lymphatic fluid, and milk collect in the ducts as the process of milk production begins, usually day 3-5 after birth. This is quite a common thing to happen and I suffered from it myself a few times when my son missed a feed if he was sleeping. The best thing to do is get your baby to feed from the engorged breast as soon as possible. It may be a little difficult for your baby to latch on as the nipple becomes flat as your breasts get fullier with milk so try a little hand expressing first before breastfeeding your baby.

Other suggestions to help relieve engorgement is to feed frequantly and for 15-20 minutes at a time, put chilled savoy cabbage leaves on your breasts (sounds crazy but it works!), try different positions to help empty the breasts and place a cold compress on your breasts between feeds to help reduce swelling.

Engorgement usually lasts for 24-48 hours so although it is sore it will pass and you'll soon forget all about it. As with anything if it lasts for longer than this or becomes worse/ extremely painful then please see your doctor.

Blocked Ducts
Blocked ducts are often caused by a build up of milk and skin cells which prevent the duct from being cleared properly during breastfeeding. Signs of a blocked duct are a tender or redish lump on the breast. It often only occurs on one breast and is not very painful, it's really just a little tender. Again I had this myself, it was more of a red rash type look on my breast than a lump and it did feel tender to the touch but really wasn't that bad.

I noticed that I would get a blocked duct if I accidently squished my breasts by sleeping on my front at night, I think this may have contributed to the ducts becoming blocked because they were being compressed.

The best way to treat a blocked duct is to have your baby empty your breast of milk so that it gives it a chance to start producing again, have a hot bath or shower to help milk flow and a gentle massage of the breast can often help remove the block. The key it to keep feeding as this really helps, I can definitely vouch for it.

If the block does not clear within a few days it may be best to see your midwife or doctor just to be on the safe side.

I have never had Mastitis myself but I am told it is the inflammation of the breast which is thought to be caused by infection. Symptoms include a hard, red, tender, swollen area of one breast and a fever. Other symptoms include muscle aches, chills, and feeling ill - kind of like having the flu!

To treat Mastitis it is best to continue breastfeeding often (do not stop) and take some pain killers to help ease the discomfort. I would also recommend you see your doctor ASAP as normally a course of antibiotics are prescribed to treat the infection. Also as with blocked ducts breast massaging may help ease the discomfort as well as a nice hot bath.

Signs of thrush for yourself include sore pink nipples after feeding for a while without problems. Also itchy nipples or shiny nipples with a white substance between the folds. Signs of thrush in your baby are often a white furry like substance in their mouth which if removed will leave a sore red patch. This will cause discomfort to your baby and may bleed. Be careful not to mistake this for simple milk residue after feeding but if you are concered see your doctor.

To treat thrush you will need to see your doctor who will prescribe you with cream or an oral tablet. Both yourself and your baby will need to be treated at the same time even if only one of you is showing symptoms.

Some babies are born with a small piece of skin which holds the tongue to the bottom of their mouth and often prevents them from feeding properly. However my son has quite a tongue-tie and it has never stopped him from breastfeeding properly so some babies are completely fine with it. If you do think your baby has a problem feeding because of a tongue-tie then speak to your midwife who will refer your baby to have the little piece of skin cut. It's a very small simple procedure and your baby won't need an anesthetic or anything.

So there you have it, some common breastfeeding problems and how to solve them. If all else fails go straight to your doctor or consult your midwife. They will be more than happy to help.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Breastfeeding Awareness Week: Blog Carnival

It's Breastfeeding Awareness Week this week. Sadly, the government has cut funding for this, but we're trying to help in our own small way by hosting a blog carnival here today. Below you will find links to a collection of blog posts all about breastfeeding. What you might notice is how many of the posts talk about how the authors battled with breastfeeding to start with - for a number of reasons - but how they persevered and how glad they are that they did.

For some people, breastfeeding is easy, simple and natural. But for others it can be more of a challenge and when they don't find it easy, they give up thinking that they've in some way failed. What many of these blog posts show us is that with support, patience and a bit of perseverence it does get easier. All the more reason for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

As makers of comfortable, supportive nursing bras and nursing tops for the last 25 years, we are fully commited to helping as many mums as possible experience the joy that breastfeeding brings. So take a read, tell other people about the list and let's help spread awareness about the importance of breastfeeding. If you have written about breastfeeding on your blog but you're not on this list, please feel free to post the link in our comments section below.

Overcoming the odds
Susan at Maternity Matters writes about how breastfeeding helped her to bond with her son after a traumatic birth.

Nicola from Bare Foot Blog an amazing post on how, despite everyone telling her she wouldn't be able to breastfeed, she persevered.

Lauren of Real Housewife of Suffolk County writes about breastfeeding when your baby has tongue tie.

Breastfeeding in public
Uju from Babes About Town offers this great guide to breastfeeding in London with a fab list of places that are breastfeeding friendly.

Danielle from The Aspiring Yummy Mummy has written about getting your breasts out in public. She intends to feed somewhere public everyday during breastfeeding awareness week.

Rose over at Nuture with Soul, is organising a breastfeeding flash mob for breastfeeding awareness week. You can get all the details here.

Meanwhile, Nicola from Bare Foot Blog has given us a list of unusual places she's breastfed her baby - go on, share yours with us below.

Incywincymummy explains how she felt like the odd one out at her baby group for breastfeeding.

Extended feeding
Mamamule gives us ten reasons why you should keep breastfeeding after the age of one.

Sarah of Catching the Magic writes about how extended breastfeeding was something she was unaware of before having babies, but is now a massive fan.

Battling to breastfeed
Rose of Nurture with Soul has also written about her own struggle with breastfeeding.

Helen from Cheeky Wipes gives us an honest account of how painful she found breastfeeding, but she stuck with it regardless.

Becky at Mummy Notes is another mum who battled with breastfeeding to start with but persevered with her own unique feeding style.

Rebecca of Mum of three Boys also battled with feeding following a really bad illness post birth.

Donna of Mummy Central writes about how she feels about not managing to breastfeed and wishing she'd had more help, support or advice

Debates & useful information on breastfeeding
Uju from Babes About Town looks at cultural differences and breastfeeding.

Nicola from Bare Foot Blog has written about why we need Sure Start centres - to help get through those rough breastfeeding periods.

Ruth from Dorkymum writes a controversial post on why breast is best, but there's no need to shout about it. We'd like to say: great points, well made.

Steffi of Mummydothat writes a great post about how breastfeeding research isn't a guilt trip.

Anna of Dummymummy has written a number of blogs for Real Parenting on the subject of breastfeeding including this one of the government cuts of Breastfeeding Awareness Week and this really useful list of places breastfeeding mums can turn to for advice and information. She's also written on her own blog about the funding cuts and has a link to the Lactivist petition to bring Breastfeeding Awareness Week back.

Isil from Smiling Like Sunshine has shared several relevant posts with us:
On why breast is best
Immune boosters for nursing mums
On whether breastfeeding advocay is anti-feminist

Jane of Acorn Pack Antenatal has written about the relationship between breastfeeding research and guilt.

Jane Blackmore of Northern Mummy with Southern children kindly asks people to leave her alone when feeding her 12 month old. She also asks whether breast is best.

Lushka of Diary of a First Child gives us her views on why we need National Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Denise of Snafflesmummy has created a fantastic list of breastfeeding tips - really useful for anyone about to embark on breastfeeding.

Mummy Mishaps shares her breastfeeding journey and getting used to feeding on demand.
Thanks to everyone who has joined in this carnival. Please help promote this great compilation of breastfeeding posts - you never know, they may just help a breastfeeding mum out there.

To find out more about Emma-Jane, go to http://www.emma-jane.com/, follow us on Twitter (@emmajanebras) or like us on Facebook to keep up to date with our latest news.

Happy breastfeeding everyone!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Breastfeeding in public - share your tips

There is nothing quite like the first time you decide (or need) to feed your baby in public. Whether it's in a shopping mall or restaurant or park, there suddenly seem to be eyes everywhere. Your breasts take on a life of their own, you don't have enough hands and before you know it, everything you have kept private until now is on display for the world to see.

Don't worry. It gets easier with practice. There are plenty of tips on the www.lactivist.net but here are just a few to get you going:
  1. Practice in front of a mirror. You’ll be surprised at how little actually shows.
  2. If you feel self conscious, sit at a corner table and wear a poncho or pashmina so you don’t feel too exposed.  
  3. To boost your confidence, make sure you’ve got the hang of it before venturing out in public.
  4. Go along to a breastfeeding group to get practice feeding in public while in a welcoming environment with plenty of other people doing the same thing.
  5. Take a friend – ideally someone else who is breastfeeding - for moral support.
  6. Put your bag on the table in front of you to shield you if you want more privacy.
  7. Invest in a good nursing top and wear it when you know you’re going to have to feed out and about.
The next question is where to feed? You still hear stories about nursing mums being asked to leave various shops or restaurants or being steered towards the toilets to feed their babies, so it's not surprising new mums are a bit anxious about where to feed.
The good news is that it is increasingly common now for retailers and shopping centres to support mums by being 'breastfeeding friendly'. The best Breastfeeding Friendly places are designed to make breastfeeding as easy as possible; with comfortable seating, magazines, water, and a positive attitude to breastfeeding.  

Mamas & Papas, ASDA, Mothercare and IKEA are just some of the many places supporting the campaign. And indoor shopping centres are great as most will have dedicated Baby Care rooms with baby changing and seating so you can feed in private.

On those days when the weather is fine, you can often find somewhere secluded to feed your baby in most parks and gardens.  And, if you have older children with you, it means they can play and you can still watch them while you feed.

There are even cafes now designed with mums in mind.  If you speak to your local NCT group, breastfeeding support group or even midwife or health visitor they should be able to let you know the best places locally that welcome breastfeeding mums.

If you know of any great breastfeeding friendly places, please let us know about them and don't forget to share your tips on how to breastfeed in public with confidence. And if you're interested, blogger Nurture with Soul is organising a flash mob in London during Breastfeeding Awareness Week, encouraging as many mums as possible to breastfeed out in public. You can read all about it here.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Breastfeeding: Routine or Demand Feeding?

In the lead up to National Breastfeeding Awareness Week (19 - 26 June), we're examining some of the breastfeeding issues that affect new mums. And today we're looking at the sometimes contentious issue of whether to feed your baby on demand or to a set routine.

One of the challenges with breastfeeding is that unlike a bottle, you can't be 100% sure of how much your baby has had to eat. Inexperienced mums might worry whether their baby is still hungry, if the baby is putting on enough weight and whether their baby crying means that they're hungry - or if it's something else entirely.

Take heart - we’re all unsure initially and especially if it’s your first, knowing how often and how much your baby needs to eat is difficult. It's even more difficult when there are two opposing schools of thought - routine feeding or on demand. Let's take a look at both:

Feeding on demand simply means feeding your baby whenever he signals that he's hungry — usually by squirming around and sucking on his hands and eventually crying. It works on the principle that your baby knows instinctively when she needs to feed and will take the amount she needs, no more no less.

As a result, during the early weeks you may feel like you’re feeding your baby constantly, especially if you’re feeding every couple of hours, which is not uncommon. Keep in mind that young babies have tiny stomachs — about the size of a walnut. Milk quickly fills their little stomach and is absorbed, so it's no wonder they need to eat again relatively soon.

If your baby seems hungry soon after eating, go ahead and feed him again. Keep in mind, too, that babies are just hungrier on some days than on other days, which often precedes a growth spurt.

Feeding on demand works well so long as you are able to determine when your baby is actually hungry and not tired, needs a nappy change or is bored. If this is the case, it can be easy to automatically feed your baby whenever she cries thinking she is hungry, but it won’t take you long to get to know your baby’s wants and needs. Most babies will be happy to settle into a feeding rhythm of around 3-4 hourly by 2-3 months of age.

The second school of thought is to have a routine with set times for feed, sleep, bath and play (depending on baby’s age) and regardless of whether they cry to be fed. Some mums will follow the routine rigidly and wake the baby up for a feed if they were asleep. We think: take a view and do what’s right for you.

This method can work especially well for babies that may not show obvious signs to be fed and very young babies who don't yet have the strength to wake up and demand to be fed. Sometimes a premature, jaundiced, or sick baby is too small and sleepy to cry, conserving energy for growth and recovery instead. If your baby's hunger cues are slight or non-existent, be sure to wake him at least every three to four hours and encourage him to feed.

If you’re a mother of multiples this method often works best and can be a great way to maintain some order at a time that is full of change and uncertainty. Routines are often used to improve sleep patterns too – another bonus!

So, routine or demand feeding?
There is no right answer. The right answer is what works for you and what works for your baby. Often a combination of both demand feeding and routine can work well - try to stick to a routine, but be flexible with it to accommodate your baby's needs on any given day.

It depends on you, your baby and your family dynamics. All that matters is that your baby is healthy, happy and thriving. Oh, and give yourself a pat on the back for giving your baby the best start in life by breastfeeding in the first place!

Don't forget to check out our range of nursing bras if you are breastfeeding. At least having a comfortable, supportive bra will be one less thing for you to worry about!

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Let Down Reflex

The sensation of the let-down reflex takes some getting used to.  It usually occurs just before you’re due to give a feed, if your baby is crying or sometimes even if someone else’s baby is crying!  But what is it?  Well, your breasts will feel full and create a throbbing, tingly sensation.   

After a few weeks you’ll absolutely get used to it.  Some mums have even reported knowing that their baby will wake up as the let-down reflex kicks in a minute or so before their baby wakes fully.  Just thinking about feeding your baby can trigger the let-down reflex. Some mums find that their breasts can leak when this happens. Our tip:  Invest in breast pads to prevent any embarrassing accidents!  We have a great starter kit that includes bra extenders, washable nursing pads, nursing band (so you don't forget which side to feed) and a laundry bag.

It is important to listen to your body and the physical indicator that the let-down reflex provides. Ensure you’re relaxed and calm as more milk will ‘let-down’ if you’re relaxed. If you’re tense or upset, only the front or fore milk will come out and your baby will be dissatisfied. A hungry, crying baby is never good for anyone’s nerves!  So, take five to get set up and get comfy.  Pour a glass of water, plump the cushions and have your phone and TV remote to hand.  You know you’re going to be nursing for at least 15 minutes – so use it as time to sit down, relax and catch up on Loose Women!

The Science Bit
The let-down reflex, also known as the milk ejection reflex, is set off by the hormone, oxytocin. It stimulates the muscle cells in your breasts to squeeze out milk. . It’s also the hormone that makes you feel love and calm which is handy given you produce more milk when calm.
In the first few days the oxytocin hormone also prompts the uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size so you may feel stomach cramps as you feed. The more children you have had, the more likely you will be to feel the uterus contract.

The good news is once you stop breast-feeding the sensation disappears, and you never know you might be someone that never even feels it in the first place.

Breastfeeding Celebrations!

All of June we will be celebrating breastfeeding as it’s national breastfeeding awareness month later (see this post for details http://emma-jane-maternity.blogspot.com/2011/05/help-us-keep-breastfeeding-awareness.html)