Saturday, 30 June 2012

Breastfeeding Bloggers Share Their Stories

Here two mummy bloggers kindly share a couple of their breastfeeding experiences.

Diary of  first mum talks about her breastfeeding Journey here
“I planned to breastfeed way before I was even pregnant. I knew that was what I wanted to do so when I fell pregnant I did a ton of research, read every book, blog, forum and magazine I could lay my hands on. I went to breastfeeding support groups, asked a trillion questions at antenatal classes and went to each midwife appointment armed with a notepad full of questions, all before I even had a baby to breastfeed. I was completely determined to succeed with it and saw no reason why I wouldn't be able to….

A post about why this blogger choose to use a feeding cover in public
New mums are often worried about breastfeeding in public for the first time.  Thankfully it is rare for anyone to ask you to cover up, move somewhere else or make any other disapproving comments.   As someone who has lived on the cusp of London for most of my life this doesn’t surprise me:  in London people rarely pay attention to those around them, let alone speak to them. Even if they are doing something incredibly annoying like playing their music far too loud on a tube carriage rammed full of commuters we stay quiet.  So why would anyone worry about breastfeeding?

10 Styles of Breastfeeding

Did you know feeding styles vary from baby to baby depending on what the baby needs at the time. You may notice your baby prefers one of the following styles. (The first five names were coined by researchers at Yale University.)

Barracuda: Immediately latches on and feeds vigorously for ten to twenty minutes.  Barracudas seem simple to manage: They know what to do, and do it well. 
  • Top Tip Make sure they’re latched on properly – sore nipples and the toe curling pain that goes with that can often make you want to stop.  If it’s not right, pop your finger in the side of babies mouth to release the suction, unlatch and start again – even if you have to do it a few times until it’s right.

Excited Ineffective: Goes wild at the sight of the breast, grabs it, loses it, and then screams.
  • Top Tip Feed this baby at the earliest sign they’re hungry. Feeding this little one takes priority to prevent their cries of frustration. Skin to skin contact can help settle baby while feeding.
Procrastinator: This baby will wait for the real milk, thank you very much, and she'll pass on the colostrum. Later, they may cry for the breast, then latch on for just a suck or two before quitting. They may seem like "easy" babies (they sleep a lot and cry less) but need more attention to make sure they eat enough.
  • Top Tip put her to the breast every other hour whether she's interested or not, and don’t let her go more than four hours without feeding.  A reliable sign of a well-breastfed baby is a bright-yellow, seedy poop – around day five.
Gourmet: This baby will take a delicate taste of the milk, roll it around in her mouth, and perhaps play with the nipple a little before getting down to business. She doesn't like to be rushed.
  • Top tip Take your time - Yes, nipple-fingering and mouthing make breastfeeding in public difficult to do discreetly, but it also stimulates your hormones and encourages milk production. So even if you want to say "Drink it already!" take a breath and let him do his thing. Grab a magazine or a book -- or simply watch and giggle at this little nurser's lip-smacking and tongue-wagging -- and try to relax.
Rester: This baby likes to nurse a few minutes, rest a few minutes, nurse a few minutes more, take a nap, and then come back for more. Make sure you find a comfortable seat and surround yourself with books, snacks, or whatever you need to keep you happy for what can be a long feeding session.
  • Top Tip Try undressing or unswaddling your baby so she's less cozy and more alert. Or play with her feet to interest her in drinking and delay her dozing. Give her whichever breast feels fuller. The other breast will let you know when it wants its turn.  In the first month change your mind-set to 'this is the only thing I really need to do today.' " Lying around with your baby is the most important thing you can be doing right now, so go with the flow and feel good about it.
Billy Goat: This baby butts, tugs, and pummels you while she feeds. She may be frustrated with your milk flow, which may be too slow or too fast for her taste.
  • Top Tip consider expressing into a bottle for some feeds to help soothe her
Regurgitator: This baby nurses contently for about twenty minutes, then throws half of it back up on your shirt. Then, of course, she's hungry again.
  • Top Tip – a muslin cloth is of course essential, express if you have chance and try taking a break half way for five minutes and then feeding again.
Barnacle: This baby latches on tightly and nurses constantly, almost around the clock.
  • Top Tip  Invest in Lansinoh, which will help soothe over-worked nipples
Sightseer: This baby doesn't want to miss the passing scene, so her eyes and head wander about while she's nursing. If you have a sightseer, you'll be surprised by just how far your nipples can stretch. Sightseeing tends to emerge in the fourth or fifth month.
  • Top Tip -  feed somewhere quiet with minimal distraction.  A feeding chair in a quiet corner of her bedroom often works well.
Desserter: About twenty minutes after a full nursing session, this baby comes back for a couple more sips — for dessert.
  • Top Tip – Offer baby the breast again after winding.

Friday, 29 June 2012

The Importance of Support

The simply amazing mummy over at (she has a three week old you know) has very kindly written about the need we mums have for support – and she don’t mean supporting our breasts… rather the very real need we have for support from other breastfeeding mums and counsellors – especially if feeding isn’t textbook

The Importance of Support
Before my daughter was born 22 months ago, I had read about all the benefits of breastfeeding, and knew I’d like to breastfeed her if possible.  What I hadn’t realised was just how much I would enjoy it, and how important in the bonding process it would become.

Apart from all the health benefits breastfeeding offers, not to mention the convenience (no getting up in the middle of the night to sterilise bottles and make up formula, or battling with staff at restaurants to warm up milk), the five or ten or twenty minutes spent with my little girl while she fed was just so precious.  It gave me chance to focus on her and nothing else, to watch her face and notice how she had changed and grown, and gave me time to simply be with her.

At nearly thirteen months old, my daughter decided she had had enough.  I had gone back to work three months previously, and had dropped to two breastfeeds a day, and eventually she stopped wanting breastfeeds at all.  It was her choice, which made me feel good about stopping, but I missed our time together!

Baby sucking chest and looks into the camera one eye Stock Photo - 7107001

Just over three weeks ago, I gave birth to my second child, a boy.  There was no question as to whether I would breastfeed him or not, and was confident it would be as easy as it had been the first time.  He took to it as well as his sister had, and I was relieved that I was able to breastfeed again.  When my little boy was two weeks old, he woke during the night for a feed, and once he latched on and the let down reflex kicked in, I had horrendous burning pain throughout my breast and in my nipple.  I tried to let him carry on, but just couldn’t bear the pain.  I switched sides, and attempted to hand express from the painful side, but no milk would come.  My breast was hot and swollen and incredibly painful to touch.  My first thought was that it was mastitis and I began to cry as I remembered hearing stories from other mums who had stopped breastfeeding due to mastitis being so painful.

The following day I rang a local breastfeeding support group called Mum2Mum.  I spoke to a breastfeeding facilitator who was extremely helpful and told me it sounded very much like I had a blocked duct.  She suggested that I take ibuprofen for the pain, use hot and cold flannels before trying to hand express, and to encourage my baby to have two really good feeds on the painful side.  I did exactly as she said, and later that day I was much more comfortable and my milk was flowing freely again.  Mum2Mum also sent a facilitator out to see me at home, to observe feeding and to take a look at my breasts to make sure it wasn’t mastitis.  She was very helpful and although my son’s latch was good, she noticed his position wasn’t great and showed me how to reposition him so that he wouldn’t pull my nipple as he had been doing.  Thankfully, it wasn’t mastitis and the advice given to me over the phone had made a world of difference.

Support for breastfeeding mothers is so important.  It never really occurred to me how much support I had with both of my babies, not just this time from the Mum2Mum group to whom I am hugely thankful, but from my own mum and my partner’s mum, both of whom successfully breastfed all their children.  Just knowing that they had done it and been successful was a subconscious support for me.  There are many new mums whose own mothers didn’t breastfeed, and who aren’t lucky enough to have a good support network around them, who don’t fully realise all the benefits of breastfeeding, or for whom breastfeeding has not been an option.  It is for these mums that National Breastfeeding Awareness Week is so important; to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding, to let them know there is no reason to be embarrassed about it, and to let mums know that there is plenty of support available for them.

Got Milk?

We're delighted to take our blog international this week with Sash - an Australian writer, living in Indonesia who's a mother and insatiable traveller. Writer and founder of the blog Inked in Colour, here she blindly navigates her way through first time motherhood, battling large rats, dodgy electricity and the never-ending distraction that is wanderlust.

Herefor us she writes about her expereinces breastfeeding in Indonesia and the influence western culture has had on women there....

Got Milk?
It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I even gave breastfeeding a second thought. I always just assumed it was something that everyone does. I even worked as a nanny for two different babies, one who I fed formula and the other expressed breast milk, and even then, I thought nothing of it. When I was pregnant, still, I thought little of it… breast feeding was just something I saw as a given. People said to me about a thousand times during my pregnancy… no one tells you how hard breastfeeding is, no one tells you, be prepared, it doesn’t always come naturally. I heard this so many times that instead of being what no one ever tells me, it was the thing that EVERYONE told me.

No one told me it was natural, and that it could be not only enjoyable, but easy. But it was. It is.
Breastfeeding Bo has been a pleasure. She easily took to the boob and we were very blessed with no feeding troubles, no pain, no cracked nipples to speak of. And now, four and a half months into her glorious life we are still going strong with absolutely no stopping on the horizon. I love feeding her, I love the way she looks at me, the comfort it gives her, the calm, the love and the incredible peace that seems to envelop us.
Yes, it gets exhausting. Yes, some nights I wish I could just sleep instead. Yes, there are times I wish desperately that her dad could take over so I could shower, brush my teeth, eat, sleep, think, clean the spew from my shoulder… Yes, I have also heard call from formula mama’s that it helps their babies sleep through the night, and for me, with up to three or four feeds during the night, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been tempted to try. But at the end of the day, I’d never swap it for anything – not even fifteen minutes to go to the toilet, alone (but, gosh, wouldn’t that be nice?).

Living in a remote village in Indonesia one would think that breastfeeding is the norm, and I’m sure it was, in the not too distant past. But these days, things are different. There is a huge shift in this part of the developing world where people who live here are so desperate for a better shot in life that they will do anything to feel like they are getting there. Indonesian law is actually on the side of breastfeeding, there are laws in place that protect the breastfeeding mother from discrimination in the work or home, but is that enough to keep women breastfeeding? 

Formula is perceived as western, western is perceived as powerful, wealthy and modern… and that’s what people want. It’s the new way, but of course it is not the only way. There are still more traditional women who can be seen boob out in the rice field, a little brown face poking out of a batik sling, latched on to his mama. Mothers milk is still a coveted thing by older generations. Bo, being the well rounded Buddha that she is, is often mistaken for a baby three times her age… and people are shocked that she is exclusively breastfed. My husband’s grandparents are proud. They are from a different era, the era when breast was not only best, it was the only option.

Breast is best, for us. It has been from the very beginning. I understand that for some women, the breast is not the best option. I understand that some women can’t, find it difficult to or have circumstances that just don’t make it possible. I also understand that some women choose not to. Being the pro-choice woman I am, I can’t find a single fault in that. I can’t say that I love the fear that is often put into the minds of breastfeeding mothers, the fear that they don’t have ample enough supply, the fear that their baby is not sleeping as long as formula fed babies, the fear that their baby is gaining too much or not enough… I think it’s truly a bit cruel. I can’t say I love all of the paraphernalia that our western world attaches to breastfeeding – the endless industry of breastfeeding gadgets all advertised without a single breast in view.

I’ve found in my simple life out here that all we need is me and Bo. We have no use for fancy pillows or colour coded wrist bands or feeding “aps” or anything like that. When I think of the sanitation issues that come with living in a place like we do, I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare that I would have pumping, let alone sterilising bottles or keeping formula from getting damp. It’s just us, and the simplicity of that is what makes breastfeeding so special to me.

Breastfeeding is a hot topic and always will be – it’s at the heart of what makes a woman a mother – feeding and caring for their child. It’s not surprising that it is an extremely emotional issue.  I agree that there needs to be better support for breastfeeding mothers, but I also think there should be better support for all mothers in general.

Motherhood isn’t easy, it’s a bloody tough gig with very little rest and no overtime. If we could all find it in our hearts to stop judging each-others choices and just concentrate on making the right choice for ourselves and our children and support each other instead – the world would surely be a much nicer place.

Got milk? Give milk. Simple.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How Long is Too Long?

The lovely Ruth Davies has also provided us with a guest post.  Here she talks about the difficulties experienced if you feed for too long....

After having what can only be described as a physical fight with my 2 ½ yr old daughter one morning this week I am beginning to wonder if I’ve breast fed her for just too long? 

I don’t mean we had fisticuffs or anything but I had to keep restraining her as she tried desperately to latch herself on. She’s strong both in her will and considering she’s little, her physic too; when I’m trying to feed my 8 week old son she can make it incredibly difficult for me to stop her. I often can’t move as have him one side and inevitably, if she fights hard enough and for long enough, I have to give in and let her feed the other side. We’d got it down to just one feed a day before my little boy was born but towards the end of my pregnancy and since she has been wanting ‘milk milk’ all the time. I’m a soft touch as it’s been hard for her having everything change, especially as I’m feeding him, so I’d started to give in and 5 weeks in, I’d got in a right pickle with it again; all the hard work of getting down to just one feed a day had been lost!
Recently the topic of breast feeding older children has been significantly in the media due to that picture in ‘Time’ Magazine. If you haven’t seen it, it depicts a beautiful woman feeding her nearly 4 year old son who stands on a stool to reach her boob. Its provocative headline ‘Are you Mom enough’ looks everybody in the eye and says ‘I dare you to argue with me, I can do this if I want, I’m loudly and proudly breast feeding this child’. And that’s good. I think. For them anyway! I never in a million years thought I’d be the woman still breast feeding a child who can speak in sentences and I know exactly what the me from before children would have to say about it! But I’ve done everything the way I have with the very best of intentions, I never knew it would go on this long you see! 

If people want to breastfeed their older children then fine, I don’t care what anyone else does but it’s not for me – except it is me! I’ve been accused in the past of feeding her because I want to keep feeding her and not because it’s best for her. I can assure you it’s not that. I’ve wanted to stop for a good year now! I’ll admit when she was six months old and I thought stopping was just around the corner, I had a little sad feeling thinking our special time was about to come to an end. However, I have actively been trying to stop now for at least a year and believe you me; it’s not as easy as just saying no!

I wanted to do everything perfectly, be the perfect mummy and give her the very best of everything. I struggled to feed her in the first place, she didn’t latch properly and I got cracked nipples meaning we had to finger feed her for 2 weeks (she has always refused a bottle no matter how hard I’ve tried)! At the end of this fortnight I got mastitis and was very ill but eventually and with a lot of help from my midwife Suzan I got her latched and we have, quite literally, never looked back. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, everyone knows how hard it can be to start breast feeding but it’s never discussed how difficult stopping often is! 

Being this perfect Mummy I was adamant on lots of things. She would only have breast milk. Formula at any stage under a year was a complete no go and I was not going to be a failure at that task I’d set myself! And I wasn’t. But because she’d never take a bottle it meant only I could be the one to feed her. I expressed all the time and tried and tried but just as with cow’s milk and formula which we tried after her first birthday and still do try, she has never accepted milk in any cup or bottle and I’m sure we must have tried them all by now! It was binding because I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without her for a long time. She loved it which is brilliant, she got all that goodness from me and I’m so pleased but she doesn’t need that goodness now and yet still she won’t stop! As I said, she’s very wilful and does not forget things, she’s stayed away for 3 nights in a row but as soon as she sees me that’s what she wants and such a fuss ensues that it’s really never felt like a good time to put my foot down entirely. I wanted her to self wean, everyone said she would but they were wrong and now here I am not only feeding a giant child but doing something else I never would have wanted to do either; I’ve ended up being a tandem feeder as well! I really do try hard not to do it at the same time, I want to have that special time now with my baby boy but like I said it can be very difficult fighting her off; I hate to see her upset at the best of times so now, when her whole world has changed by having a new sibling, it feels especially harsh to fight her off but I can’t go on like this. I’ve managed through sheer force again to stop her all day and am only allowing it just after her bath of an evening but it’s really tough and she wants it constantly.

Even as I type I have her climbing on my lap with a ‘Mummy, can I have some milk milk, yes I can, YES I CAN Mummy!’ and it can often reach a screaming crescendo with one or both if us in tears. Sometimes she physically hurts me, grabbing, pushing and pulling and I know I’ve accidentally hurt her as I’ve pushed her away for the twentieth time so that she doesn’t squash the baby…This makes me feel terrible and ashamed in every way and I have to think where did I go wrong? What have I done within my perfect plan to be her perfect Mummy which means I am angry with her and she is angry with me because of the breast feeding? Did I feed her too long? Well I guess for me, yes but when would have been a good time to stop and how the hell would it have been done? 

It’s recommended to feed for a year but I didn’t want to abruptly stop on her birthday, I always want to have every aspect of my parenting to be as gentle as possible. 18 months and she was still going strong. I tried to cut down but she wouldn’t have any of it and because of her eating habits and slightness I didn’t want her to not have the milk. At two I was pregnant and things were changing, I didn’t want to rock the apple cart too much and she was slowing down. By two and  a half with a new baby in our lives it seems cruel to do it now when everything has changed so dramatically! So, in the last three weeks I’ve got it back to one feed a day, with lots of upset along the way which is not getting any less… and for the most part I don’t end up with one baby one side and another on the other but it does happen.

I just need that last push, someone to give me that perfect piece of advice which will help me get her to stop but until then, I’ve made my bed and am lying in it. I just hope when she’s nearly four like the child on the ‘Time’ magazine cover, we’re not still fighting about it then. She doesn’t mind her brother feeding, not at all, thank goodness. I don’t have that problem and while my son latches on perfectly he also takes a bottle of expressed milk with not even a grimace… I’m even, shock horror, considering a night time formula feed upon hearing a friend is doing the same and her 3 and a half week old is going through the night! I feel a bit guilty thinking I might do the same because it wouldn’t have been a consideration for my daughter and he’s such a good baby anyway with his sleeping but you know what, I kind of feel a bit more relaxed this time! I’ll feed him, just as with her, for as long as he needs it but I appreciate I was probably quite militant last time and I’m going to try and be a bit more relaxed with him.

I’ve learnt a lot during my breast feeding journey and I think the most important thing to remember is that as long as you are doing your best for your baby and thinking of your own needs (sanity with children is kind of handy) then they won’t miss out on anything. Even though I have a toddler still feeding I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I’ve done things because everything along the way worked for us at the time and she obviously still needs it for some reason, comfort is an important part of being her Mummy too! 

I love breast feeding, I am in the camp that breast is best and I’ve seen the stuff work wonders from clearing up a rash in hours to sustaining an otherwise poorly and refusing to eat baby. I wouldn’t judge you if it wasn’t for you; I just think it’s great if everyone tries their hardest to be the best parent they can and for me it was and is still, important to give my baby this magical time for the both of us. I definitely don’t want to be feeding another 2 and a half year old if he doesn’t need it and I WILL be having a break in between babies next time! Famous last words?