How to Breastfeed…

I’ve thought about writing a post like this for a long time, but Breastfeeding is such an emotive topic I’ve shied away from discussing it. That and well, breastfeeding sometimes doesn’t leave you much time to write blog posts about breastfeeding. ;) Theres so much I could include in this post that somehow my thoughts have never quite made it to the page, but I decided to bite the bullet and make a start.


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Let’s get it out of the way before I begin. I am an unashamedly passionate breastfeeding advocate. But to be completely clear, that is simply because I hope for everyone to have the lovely experience I have had feeding my two girls. I’ve had a relatively smooth ride feeding my babies, but I appreciate that not everyone does and in my experience, although it’s improving all the time, breastfeeding support is often not as good as it could be when people really need it. These are the key principles and resources that I felt helped me both prepare and persist with breastfeeding, as a new mum and feeding a second time around, along with the many months of even less glamorous feeding a not so little baby or toddler. I’d love to hear if you have any amazing tips that you found invaluable too.

Make your wishes clear from the outset.
If you do want to breastfeed, make your wishes clear to the delivery team around you from the outset and your family and friends. Write it down in your birth plan that you want to have immediate and uninterrupted skin to skin, and want to try and breastfeed within the hour if possible. This is totally possible even if you’re having a C-section – when I had Bea the team were so supportive bringing her straight to me on the table, where she stayed for the duration, and getting me feeding straight away in recovery. The sooner you can start the better, in terms of calming and nourishing your baby, and it’s good for expelling the placenta if you’ve had a vaginal birth. The sucking stimulates hormones which promote the uterus contracting down once the baby is out, also reducing the risk of haemorrhage.
You may wish to consider what your wishes are if you or the baby are unexpectedly taken ill and have to be separated – this is a good discussion to have with your partner and make your wishes clear to them if you can’t be present to express them.

Prepare the people around you.
When I planned to breastfeed for the first time with Bea I had no immediate family members who were breastfeeding or had breastfed for any significant length of time. The culture was very much around bottle feeding and that had a big impact on the kind of help I was offered. For example, if you bottle feed and you’re tired, someone else can give the bottle to the baby and cuddle them while you go get some sleep. People also always love feeding a baby and often put pressure on to be able to do that for you, encouraging you to express or add formula in for that reason.
If you are breastfeeding then the kind of help you need is completely different, you need to bond with and focus on the baby and feeding him or her, and the offers of help need to be around looking after you as you might not be able to! Ask friends or family to bring prepared food, do a quick shop, take the dog for a walk, put the recycling out, put a wash on, hang it out or clean the house. If it’s not your first child ask them to play or do an activity with your older children either in the house or take them to the park. Your priority needs to be the baby and their priority needs to be facilitating you doing that and helping to do all the things you can’t, (or maybe can do, but it would be lovely not to so you can spend those precious first few days and weeks enjoying your new bundle,) as a result.
I also felt I needed to prepare my mum particularly, who I knew would be worried if I was struggling with tiredness because of all night feeding marathons or frequent wake ups. I wanted to make really clear that I expected that and was prepared to deal with it, and that I didn’t see tiredness as a reason to stop feeding or to give a bottle, so it wasn’t put forward as a well intended offer of help. (I should add here, in the end my mum didn’t have to worry as Bea was a dream sleeper despite being breastfed, it was Cora who brought us the challenges second time around!)

Arm yourself with knowledge
The first few days after having a baby can be really tough. You’re physically exhausted and often sore and after having gone through a long period of exertion in labour, just when you need some sleep and rest to recover you enter a period of intense sleep deprivation. Aside from the physical drains, your emotional reserves are low as the hormone rollercoaster kicks in, and you may feel anxious and doubt your decisions or your ability to breastfeed. Getting a few key facts straight in your mind can help you feel more equipped to make decisions when other health care professionals start to get involved or even give you strength to keep going on that 4th night of sleep deprivation when your milk still hasn’t come in and you can’t think what to do for tiredness and worry.
A bit of reading in the weeks before you are due can be really helpful with this I think, and I particularly rate this book: The Food of Love. It’s funny, real and just quite brilliant.

Key things to remember are:

  • Your baby has a super tiny stomach when it’s born and that slowly slowly slowly expands over the course of weeks as the quantities of milk it receives increase. It doesn’t need a 100ml bottle of milk at birth to feed it.
  • The Colostrum your body produces before the milk comes in is in tiny, tiny amounts but the nutrients in it are so complex and fat rich that it’s enough to sustain your baby in those initial days before your milk does come in.
  • Milk is produced by the body according to demand so even though your baby may be on the breast and sucking a lot in those early days before the milk appears, it’s not a sign of hunger, but a normal reflex. Your baby is working with your body to tell it to produce the milk. Give the baby a bottle at this point and it stimulating that reflex and the body isn’t prompted to make milk. It’s not quite that simple as there are other factors involved in milk production, and one bottle wont halt the whole process, but it’s a really important connection to make that your supply is made according to demand, from your baby.
  • The milestone of your milk ‘coming in’ – the point where your breasts actually start to produce breast milk for the baby can take several days. It can be sooner with a second child or when your body is particularly quick off the mark, but after a C Section when your body was caught by surprise that the baby was coming out, or if you had a long labour or traumatic delivery and are exhausted, that can slow things down to. As a point of reference, I had my first daughter on a Monday via C-Section. I think my milk came in on the Friday. This is how human beings were designed and it works just fine, don’t feel pressured into giving a bottle if you don’t want to because your baby is ‘hungry’.
  • Babies don’t go to the breast just for food. Breastfeeding is about so much more than nutrition. It is safety, comfort, connection, soothing, pain relief and more so when your baby wants to latch on, it might not be because they’re hungry. Trying to get to grips with that when you’re touched out, tired and fed up is one thing, but also having to fend off comments from others about how baby ‘can’t possibly be hungry‘ or how ‘you’re making a rod for your own back,‘ can be really stressful in an already confusing time so having some knowledge about normal infant feeding habits can really give you some confidence to stick with it. Little Peach is a really great Insta account for breastfeeding mums with sound advice and inspirational daily snippits.
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Happy World Breastfeeding Week followers! I've been feeding this little one for almost 5 months now and was already pregnant with her when I stopped Feeding Bea at just over 2. When I first started thinking about breastfeeding my sole motivation was an 8hour flight we had planned when Bea was 4months and not wanting to faff around with formula on flights. On my two and a half year breastfeeding journey since, I've become a passionate breastfeeding advocate and I love seeing mums and nurslings succeed and have fulfilling Bf relationships. It's not about what's right or wrong or even best, but that I wish every woman could experience the joy I have from breastfeeding my girls. #WBW2017 #normalizebreastfeeding #breastfeedingweek #breastfeeding #joy #love

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Make a nest
Breastfeeding can appear to be the most natural thing in the world. Once you’ve got the whole thing down you can latch a baby on in your sleep (in fact they will do it themselves,) and feed one handed striding around the park whilst herding a toddler too, but that’s not how it works with a newborn. BOTH of you are learning then and you both need time to get a few things right. Guiding the baby to latch on, making sure its a great latch to prevent you getting too sore and help baby to stimulate the milk as much as possible, all takes some serious co-ordination and frankly a lot of getting your boob out. You need to be able to see it, Baby needs to be able to get at it without clothes rucked up around you… The majority of new mums don’t feel that confident wrestling with a screaming babe and a bare breast with great uncle Arthur visiting or in the local Costa Coffee, so this is a time for battening down the hatches a little, holding off the visitors and just resting. Make sure you have your partner on feeding duty – that’s feeding (and don’t forget hydrating!) YOU by the way. Get super comfortable, keep things warm so you can do lots of skin to skin to promote milk production, and soak it all in. Milk production is also strongly linked to your physical state. If you’re exhausted and physically drained from labour, your body needs the rest to get the milk going and the oxytocin rush you will get from uninterrupted bonding with your baby is super important too.

This isn’t advice just for the first week either. Sometimes things get more difficult when your milk has come in as baby gets a taste for the milk and has some catching up to do. If you have lots of visitors holding the baby, again aside from it being exhausting you can’t learn your baby’s ‘cue’s’ as well because you’re not as close, which is really important in the first few weeks. Getting to know your baby and when they want to sleep or feed makes your life so much easier! And when baby wants to latch on again for the 5th time in an hour you shouldn’t have to explain yourself or listen to comments from well meaning relatives which put you at risk of committing a violent crime in your sleep deprived state. ;)

Have support on standby
If you did NCT or a local birth preparation course hopefully you had a breastfeeding session and took away some information about feeding support when the baby arrives. Local midwives often have ‘infant feeding’ teams who come and visit to help you but anyone who has been trying to get to grips with breastfeeding a baby knows that when it isn’t going to plan you feel like you need hand holding several times a day, not a couple of times a week. There’s no substitute for good experienced advice when you actually have the baby in your arms either.
La Leche League, (UK site here – LLL UK) connects mothers to local support groups and practitioners and has great blog posts. Breastfeeding Consultants/Lactation Consultants Local breastfeeding nurse, breastfeeding café’s or 4th trimester meet ups all offer practical and emotional support throughout your breastfeeding journey, from newborn to weaning, so familiarise yourself with where to find them before you need them and USE THEM. The NHS BF page has lots of pointers to help too.

It takes a village
What frustrates me about breastfeeding is there is always someone ready to talk about how hard it is but there are few people willing or able to talk about their positive experience. There aren’t enough people talking about it, or doing it, to make it normal. We should be able to talk openly about our experiences, be that sore nipples, (I can recommend a cream for that!) choices around Co-sleeping, (I have World Health Organisation guidance on that which you can use to practise safe co-cleeping!) the challenges of feeding an older baby or toddler (Seriously, solidarity sister!) the sleep deprivation during a growth spurt, how to keep breastfeeding when you go back to work, how to get baby to take a bottle, how to go about weaning from the breast if you want to… the list goes on and on and on. There might not be a solution but what I’m trying to say is a problem shared is a problem halved. If you know people who have or are breastfeeding, lean on them. Use their knowledge and experience, – I’m willing to bet they will be desperate to help; be that the girl next door or your mother-in-law, if they’ve breastfed for any amount of time they will often really ‘get’ what your facing and they might even be able to help. Its take a village to raise a child and that phrase is never more true than when applied to Breastfeeding.

Writing this has made me think of some many more breastfeeding posts I’d like to share. I have never written about my breastfeeding ‘journey’ with Bea and Cora to date, or about how I kept going when I went back to work at 7 and 10 months respectively. Do let me know if you’d like to read those, and if you can add to my list above. And if you found this because you are breastfeeding and needed help or support, or you are planning to, You are Amazing, Keep Going!

Rebecca x

How to Wear: June

Happy Monday Readers!

Hope you have all had good June’s. Mine as you probably will have guessed has been spent introducing our new Bubba to the family and learning to be a new Mum again. My goodness you forget! However, the tiredness and lack of sleep is much MUCH easier to cope with second time round ;)

This week is set to be a scorcher which I’m pleased about as it’s No 1 sons birthday and it means we can make good use of his present (a playhouse!). Can’t wait to see his face once Rich and I have managed to actually put it up :/
Now on to how I’ve worn June…

First things first. It’s been a joy not being in Maternity Clothes but… dressing has not been without it’s challenges. Oscar is exclusively breast-fed which I didn’t do last time down to several reasons, some beyond me, but it’s meant I’ve had to learn what to wear on the top half – something I didn’t have to do with Calum. Also, it’s massively surprised me how quickly I’ve been able to get back into about 50% of my wardrobe. Again, not something that happened quickly last time. It must be those extra 500kcals a day that BF is supposed to burn. OK, some of my waisted skirts I can’t do still, but wearing my old jeans (and some new ones) has felt amazing. It is “9 months on, 9 months off” after all and I still have a way to go to my happy weight but I’m much more relaxed about that (that’s a whole other post in the making!)

The M&S Limited Edition jeans have made an appearance as have my Gap Always Skinny… Worn mostly with Shirts for ease.

Jeans M&S / Top Zara

Jeans and Shirt Gap / Sandals Topshop

Jeans Gap / Shirt Zara / Shoes J Crew

Jeans M&S / Shoes Clarks / Shirt Primark

The other item that’s made an appearance is one of this seasons must wears which is of course the Jumpsuit. I’ve got a couple that are a “shirt” style at the top which works perfectly, and actually, they aren’t as tricky to navigate as people think. I found wearing a sling with one on much easier too.


Jumpsuit H&M / Shoes Clarks

As I mentioned at the start of the month, shirt dresses are a great option, and I’ve worn a couple of those too. This New Look one was great… Easy to wear and feed with even if it did crease (damn that Viscose!)

Dress New Look / Shoes Dune

Finally, I’ve been wearing a new summer favourite colour a lot – Khaki – and easy trousers with BF tops – getting dressed quickly with a Toddler and less-than-a-month old bubba is a must!


Top Zara / Trousers Dorothy Perkins / Shoes Topshop

Sling Hana Baby / Shorts F&F / Shoes Dune

Vest Next / Trousers Zara / Shoes Topshop

*Please excuse no make up in any of these photos. Time is of the essence!

So that’s June peeps. The Longest day has been and gone and we’re now over half way through 2015. Unbelievable.

See you back here in a couple of weeks for what to buy July – they’ll be some “buy now, stash for AW15″ bits making an appearance ;)

Erin xx

Would you…: Keep Breastfeeding at work?

*Warning, if you’re not a mother or not Breastfeeding, you may not enjoy this post! But it’s a normal thing to do, so I’m not holding back on talking about it here.

A few people have asked what I’m doing about feeding now I’m back at work. I’ll share my situation here but each situation when it comes to breastfeeding is as unique as the mother and child combination, so I would love if you would share your experiences and solutions in the comments if you can add to the conversation – I know many readers will be interested and grateful.

Bea is exclusively breastfed and has been since birth. She’s never had any formula as we have been lucky enough not to need it. I’ve not spent a lot of time apart from her and expressing doesn’t bother me that much, apart from it being a bit of faff. We have only infrequently given her bottles, (the bulk of my expressing here and there went in the freezer to bolster my back to work supplies,) mainly when I went to evening practice meetings each month for work. Apart from a brief period around the 4 month mark when she wouldn’t take a bottle, she has taken it when she wants milk, but not in the same enthusiastic way she would breastfeed. We initially started with a Medela calma teat (which is supposed to require the latch a baby needs to breastfeed, to get any milk out of it,) but switched to a slow flow normal teat when she was a bit fussier with a bottle, as I felt if she could taste the milk she might then take the bottle. It worked, but I don’t know if that was just the passage of time rather than the change of teat.

So back to my back to work plan… I’ve kept a close eye on Bea’s feeds since she was born, but continued to track them well after BF was established, mainly to see what I would need to provide for her once back at work. I’ve been asked how I tried to reduce her feeds and I didn’t really try, but two things probably had the greatest impact. Firstly, I didn’t push her to feed generally as she got older and so noticed that she went longer between feeds. That might sound like straight forward demand feeding, but I noticed myself that even though she was fed on demand, you do get into a routine of feeding when you expect they will need feeding rather than waiting for them to be hungry or cry. On occasions where it went a bit longer and I realised she didn’t need a feed until 2.5 or 3 hours after the last one, I tried to adjust things going forwards. Secondly, as she got older and consolidated her three short naps into 2 longer ones (around 6-7 months) that stretched out the feeds again (as she went down for a nap not long before she would normally feed and then I fed her on waking, after more time had elapsed.) Weaning also stretched things out a little more, but it hasn’t made a massive difference really, the meals have just had to be shoehorned in between the feeds.

On the expressing front, as I said, I have stockpiled quite a bit in the freezer (as you can see from my photo’s!) which should also give you an idea of how much milk varies – even on frozen portions you can see how the milk changes in consistency and amount day to day, which I thought might be useful to show if its something that worried you. I was very worried about expressing at work as I have always got the most milk, quickest, by expressing on one side when Bea feeds from the other, I think the let-down is stronger that way. When I have occasionally tried when Bea isn’t even around, its been much slower going and less productive, so I was worried if it would work when I was away from her and back at work. Having done it for the first time yesterday (I didn’t get time on my first day back!) I’m happy to report it was easy! I managed a full bottle easily which is great as I can then use that on friday when I’m back in work again. I’m also lucky that I have my own room at work so I have simply let the staff and my colleagues know I am still feeding Bea and will need to express at some point when I’m at work (so they know why there’s a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door,) and lock the door for privacy.

At the moment, Bea is having 4 feeds a day; Morning, after morning nap, after afternoon nap and before bed. (She’s 8 months but has done this since about 7 months.) Although when she is with me that varies – if she’s distracted at one feed and doesn’t have much she might have one or two more smaller feeds throughout the day, as and when she needs it. So I’m feeding her before work and before bed, and leaving 2 bottles. The only thing that is a bit hit and miss is how much she takes, or what I should be leaving her. Obviously I have no idea how much she takes from me, but I leave 2 full bottles and so far, it’s varied how much she has taken and how often. Sometimes she wolfs a whole bottle (we use the small 150ml ones) and other times she’ll have only a bit and want more later when she wouldn’t normally have a bottle. And there’s always more in the freezer, but obviously at this point, she is having 3 meals a day too.

I did a lot of asking around before getting to this point because feeding her back at work really worried me – mainly that I could get her feeds down to a level that I could keep up with to express enough for her. A lot of mums suggested just going to formula, and although I didn’t want to do that*, I knew if it was coming down to her nutritional needs and me not being able to meet them, then I’d have to do it. Others said their babies just didn’t take a bottle and some moved to giving small amounts in a sippy cup or doidy cup if the baby would take it. Other still said the baby jut waited for them to get back and fed more in the evening (and sometimes at night :/ ) and had just water in the day. So I guess there’s a solution for everyone.

And that’s it, our story. I’ll post a little update when I share more about being back to work, and see what Bea is doing then. I’m hoping as my freezer supply dwindles she may drop another feed and the expressing will take even less effort!

Please do chip in with your experiences readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*Just to clarify, I have NOTHING against formula, I just haven’t felt we’ve needed it so far and because BF is all about supply and demand, especially at this time when supply is naturally decreasing due to reduced feeds, I didn’t want to affect it further. I hope to keep feeding Bea at least until she is one and beyond if she wants it, so I don’t want to do anything to reduce the chances of that happening at this early stage.

7 months with Bea…

It feels like Bea’s sixth month has been full of big changes. We moved her into her cot, dropped her dream feed, she slept through the night, stopped sleeping through the night, there have been ups and downs!

Early in the month, as you all know already, we started weaning. That was a massive adjustment for me, trying to fit everything in between milk feeds and solid feeds. Between that and Bea’s new found mobility, it seems to be all go. Gone are the days I can go out for a coffee with friends without moving EVERYthing away from within Bea’s swiping reach!

It’s funny, it seems that (as with all babies I suppose) with some things Bea seems to do them really early and others she doesn’t get until late. Only at 28 weeks did Bea start banging things with her hand – slapping it down onto the table top or banging a toy down, when I have friends with much younger babies doing it much sooner. At 29 weeks she really discovered splashing in the bath. Before that she used to lie there looking very chilled out and now it’s all about slamming her legs down at 90 degrees to create maximum tidal wave style splashes!

28 weeks also marked the end of me being able to leave Bea and find her in the same position. She’s been rolling for a couple of months already but now, rather than crawling, is using rolling as a means to get all around the room. Once she added spinning on the spot on her tummy to turn 90 or 180 degrees, she could pretty much get anywhere.

At 29 weeks, she started pushing herself around backwards, using her arms to push her whole body back along the floor. I was sure this was a precursor to crawling and pretty much all month I would say I’ve felt it was sure to be something she did in the next week or so. But at 32 weeks now, we’re still waiting!

29 weeks also marked another sleep hiatus. Another cold stopped Bea sleeping and we were having lots of night time wakes. I always feed her if she wakes, partly because it’s a guaranteed way to get her back off to sleep and partly because I think, if I had a cold and woke up, I’d have a dry mouth and want a drink. When it turned into 4+ times a night however I got worried and even more so, when as the cold started to improve, Bea was still waking at 12 and 4ish, with habitual regularity. I had no idea what to do. Sometimes I wish I had done something to produce a (generally) good sleeper, so I knew what to do when it went wrong, but I don’t.

We have always put Bea in the cot rather than our room for the first part of the night (bed time to dream feed, when we move her in with us) and after a run of waking at about 12am I decided to just leave her there rather than wake for a dream feed, and get up when she inevitably did a couple of hours later. Instead she woke up at past 8am. We concluded that in fact it had been us waking her up rather than the other way around and she’s been in her cot all night ever since. I was so sad, but in a way it spared me making the ‘big decision’ and knowing it was better for her helped, even though it inadvertently came from desperation on our part!

I’d love to say that was the solution to the sleep issues but after 10 days of sleeping through until 7 or 8am-ish, we’ve been back to waking in the night again and then back again to sleeping after I restarted the dream feed. I actually don’t think it has anything to do with whether she sleeps or not, but it’s a vain attempt to improve things that sometimes works!!

The other big thing has been a few afternoons I’ve spent without Bea. At the time of writing, I go back to work in 2 weeks and I was already getting nervous about leaving Bea. Not just because I didn’t want to leave her, but because the people who would be looking after her (my mum and Pete,) hadn’t really looked after her at all yet. – I had left her with both of them, but only at night when she had slept anyway, so I was worried they wouldn’t know her little cues and quirks, or how to manage her routine (which is a bit haphazard!) I had booked a course for work in anticipation, and my mum spent 2 afternoons while I was at the course, looking after Bea. Fortunately it went very well – Bea was happy as larry and her afternoon with Pete while I went to a Spa was similarly successful. So I’m feeling happier that she won’t feel too disrupted without me.

Every week I go to my Yoga group and we all start by talking about something good that happened that week and something bad. The bad part is always sleep! How is sleep going for those of you with babies? And how did you start to get them ready for your return to work?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
6 months, 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea

2 months with Bea

Wow. Where did the last 8 weeks go? Seeing your little baby grow is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying – time is going so fast!

So much has changed already in the last month. Last time I updated you all Bea was a tiny newborn, all snoozy and helpless. In the last month she has grown feisty and smiley and like a tiny best friend I always have around. :)

I was recommended The Wonder Weeks App just after Bea was born and was a bit sceptical – it talks about babies all having developmental ‘leaps’ (where they learn how to do something new,) at certain ages. The night before Bea was 5 weeks she was way fussier than usual and fed more, in a really out of character way and I was clueless as to the cause. Then the next morning she woke up and smiled at me! It was the best thing ever and now Pete says he will do absolutely anything to make her smile. (I also bought the book but admit I haven’t had much chance to read it! – The Wonder Weeks. ) The smiles were a bit hit and miss at first but from 6 weeks we reliably get them every day, always best in the morning.

That 6 week mark was a real turning point for us. After the smiles started we noticed Bea seems so much more alert and awake. Now it’s like she sees us when she looks at us and she looks for my voice and smiles when she hears it. She’s so much more sturdy now and looks around all the time at things when we’re out and about. Her sleep patterns are changing too, with longer and longer stretches at night, we’re now onto one ‘night’ feed between 3 and 5am then another morning feed between 6 and 9am which is pretty great. Those long ‘wake’ periods she had in the night have also settled thankfully.

At 7 weeks we had to go for her first injection – in Manchester all babies get a BCG (TB vaccination) as newborns and I was surprisingly (to myself at least) nervous about it. The thought of my little baby being hurt was awful and she did cry, but it was over in a second and she settled straight away. I managed not to cry, but it was a close call!

At just 8 weeks now she seems so big (although she is still wearing all newborn or 0-1 month clothes.) She is so much more vocal about what she does and doesn’t like now – often whinging a bit when she needs a cuddle to get off to sleep. Her sleeping has got better and better and we have had 2 nights where she has slept straight through but to be honest I prefer when she doesn’t, as a ‘full night’ means she wakes at 7 after a late 11ish feed and I get less sleep in total that way. The first time gave me the fright of my life though when the alarm went off and I realised she hadn’t woken me at all! I’m also seeing daytime patterns emerge with 2 sleeps in the morning and 2 in the afternoon before what I call ‘the witching hour’ starts and the evening cluster feeding begins.

The other big change this month has been her interaction with Pete and I. Since Pete went back to work there is a definite difference in the way she responds to both of us and when she is tired or fussy it’s me she wants and settles better with. I feel in equal measure disappointed and delighted by this – after all it’s selfishly so lovely to be her favourite person, but I always wanted Pete to be a completely equal partner in parenting and interchangeable with me. I suppose that was naive looking back as with maternity leave and breast feeding I was bound to have the upper hand at this stage and I hope in the future she will love spending time with Daddy just as much. For now though, when Pete is home, he’s left ‘holding the baby’ – it means I end up cooking often or doing housework instead but its worth it for him to have quality time with Bea and work on his quota of smiles. ;)

In some ways it has also been a month of adjustment. Although I have no desire to do anything else right now, it has been a big mental shift towards becoming a ‘Mum’. Now I’m at home I feel under pressure (although not from Pete, only myself,) to keep the house in order too, doing housework and preparing meals or shopping. I have at times felt insignificant in the world knowing I have so little impact in a wider sense as Bea and I go about our daily business together, despite my belief that mothering itself is an unmeasurable contribution to society as a whole. It has been a passing thought though and I’m finally getting into my groove of balancing all the different aspects of this new stay-at-home life.

I hope you have enjoyed the update and perhaps some of you can identify with my thoughts?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Would you… Use a Dummy?

One of Bea’s most/least endearing behaviours is her vast repertoire of noises, made mostly when asleep in her crib, leaving me wide awake at night. She doesn’t do it as much in the day as she is often either in my arms or in the sling and having listened to these noises extensively over the last 7 weeks, they seem to mainly be made when she is getting herself to sleep or in light sleep. It’s probably the only thing about having her that has been a challenge so far, as it’s so frustrating to listen to when I’m trying to get a couple of hours sleep before the next feed!

When I was little I had a dummy, so did my sister and like so many things pre-baby, I never really had a problem with them before. I still don’t on other children. The only time I register it really is when you see some kids with a dummy in 24/7, but really, each to their own. One long night listening to her I thought, I wonder if a dummy will keep her quiet? She’s not a particularly ‘sucky’ baby and doesn’t for example need to fall asleep on the breast, she will happily be rocked off cuddling or in the last week or two in her crib by herself at night. But, if you put a finger in her mouth she will also drift off sucking that too and even better, soundlessly!

There’s a lot of chatter about dummies – some people just don’t like them, there’s the ongoing debate over whether it can cause ‘nipple confusion‘ in breast feeding babies and also if it can reduce feeding demand because the suck reflex is overused. It’s often recommended that you don’t use them before a certain age (6 weeks minimum) too. On top of all that is the whole dummy versus thumb discussion and which is better for a developing mouth and teeth? (FYI – Bea has found her thumb and does suck it but not at any particular time or as a comforter particularly…) I actually bought some dummies before Bea arrived and now I kind of don’t want to use them. Pete is dead against it as he feels it is too early and we’ll never get her to give the dummy up. Typically Pete’s judgement isn’t coloured by lack of sleep as he has ear plugs in when he is working the next day! My thoughts were that it would simply be a night time thing to get her to keep quiet (if it worked at all!) and drift off quicker so I could get more sleep. But would it then become something she was dependent on to sleep and cause her to wake if it fell out etc? Would I be making a rod for my own back?

So readers, I thought this was a good topic for discussion today… would you or have you given your child a dummy? Are you happy with that decision? Why did you give it and did it work? I’d love to hear your experiences…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The first month with Bea…

Yesterday my gorgeous precious tiny girl was 1 month old. 1 month! 31 days of her being in our lives. Just over 4 weeks since I couldn’t imagine having a baby and now I can’t imagine life without her.

So how has it been?I’m tempted to run off a list of cliches… magical, amazing, exhausting, but I don’t think my experience so far has fitted in with the usual comments as much as I expected. The first 2 weeks were in equal parts blissful and stressful. I was so happy to have this little thing in my arms and many an hour was lost just staring at her little face, marvelling at her perfect mouth or tiny fingernails. We spent a lot of time in those early days just being together, having skin to skin time and establishing feeding. I am breastfeeding, which is giving me an immense amount of pleasure. It was something I really wanted to do – for many reasons, but mainly non-emotional ones like the ease it would give me at night or when travelling and freedom to go anywhere with minimal baggage. We have been extremely lucky that it has just worked for us and I take no credit for that, Bea was born rooting and fed immediately in recovery after my c-section. She has basically shown me how it’s done and so far, touch wood, there have been no problems at all. Looking back now over the last month, thinking about her getting everything she needs from me is very special and I love the time we spend together feeding, the little faces she pulls and the cuddles we share.

The stressful part of those first 2 weeks was managing visitors – it was quite overwhelming having so many people and whilst on the one hand we wanted to show Bea off, I really wasn’t ready to share her yet, nor was I (with the benefit of hindsight) really that fit for visitors. Of course people brought help and food, but it really was hard for me. Possibly because we really didn’t have any control over it – I know some people limit visits from friends or even family in the early days or weeks while they get settled in as a new family but I didn’t have it in me to stop people seeing her as I didn’t feel it would be fair. Although he didn’t complain or seem to mind I think it was hardest on Pete as I had guaranteed cuddles when she fed, whereas it was him who missed out as she was passed around and he looked after me and visitors.

She has been a good baby, no question and so these early weeks have been kind to us. Don’t get me wrong, we have had our moments – one midwife told me to expect one unsettled day or night per week (which I thought was pretty optimistic at the time,) and I’d say we have had about 36 hours worth a week of feeding more and waking more that ha been difficult but fortunately she doesn’t cry much at all. Like lots of babies Bea tends to feed more in the evening from about 5 or 6 until 10 or 11 and then only wakes once in the night and once early morning, after which we go back to sleep until late morning and the next feed. I’m not sure how that’s going to work out long term as I’m not usually up until 11 and I need to be getting out to baby groups but the biggest thing I have learned this last month is to go with the flow. Those couple of hours when she just won’t go back to sleep at 3 or 4 am? I now settle myself down to feed and read and it doesn’t seem so bad. The most annoying thing is that she grunts so loudly, just after she’s got to sleep and when she’s about to wake up, but it can be for an hour or more and it drives me mad keeping me awake too when she is often asleep herself! We went through phases thinking it was colic or wind but it just seems to be her as she’s not uncomfortable with it at all.

Week three was definitely the hardest. Tiredness caught up with me, I was still sore but doing more physically than before and didn’t really understand Bea’s cues yet – apart from when she was hungry I was clueless and it was that week that I accepted, 2 nights of the same feeding pattern did not make for a routine and I just had to go with it.

Now we’re at 4 weeks I’m definitely seeing more patterns emerge. Bea has a wake, feed, play/awake, sleep cycle at least twice a day (the rest is just eat/sleep!) and I know when she is fussy because she is tired and ready to sleep instead of just hungry. It has actually helped being alone with her more (Pete’s Paternity leave was messed up due to my early c-section so he was off for the first, third and fourth weeks after she arrived and only recently went back to work,) as I can’t do anything else but focus on her and learn what she needs, without anyone else who doesn’t know her as well misinterpreting her. (One night in the early weeks my mum was holding her and she was crying. Normally I would have assumed she was hungry but my Mum thought it was wind so we persevered trying to wind her, until eventually I took her upstairs to cuddle and try feeding her – she immediately quietened down and it was then I really believed Mum knows best.) In some ways though it’s getting way harder… she won’t stay asleep in her crib or pram unless she is put down at the perfect stage of deep sleep – often far from convenient and so it is taking me an age to get anything done – even getting dressed in the morning! I’ve just bought a sling to wear around the house for the same reason (I’ll be writing more about that next week) and have high hopes for regaining the use of both hands!

To be honest though, I’m happy not getting much done. It feels right to just give myself over to this time with her so as long as I stay sane we’ll be doing more of the same. I’ll be on the sofa cuddling my baby if you need me…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

The BreastFeeding box

When I had my pseudo-babyshower (I just had a fun day with the girls for a manicure and dinner out, whilst swapping baby tips and advice,) one of my friends gave me a breastfeeding box. She had been given one by her best friend and found it really useful, so she decided to pass it on. It has been one of the most useful things I received pre-baby so I wanted to share the idea with you – either for those mamas out there who may find it handy, or if you want to buy a really useful gift for a mum-to-be. The bits are all stored in a click lock box and the idea is that you always have everything you need for a feed. I wasn’t sure how useful it would be at first but once I sit down to feed Bea I find I’m constantly asking Pete to bring this or that and the other, (invariably a muslin,) and particularly in the early days when I was less mobile and sore, I knew if I had the box, I had everything I needed.

  1. Lansinoh nipple cream – I used this from the first feed and used to apply after every feed, now I just use it twice daily, after a shower then before bed.
  2. Lansinoh Breast pads (disposable) – I was told not to bother with any others, just stick with these as they are the best and I did, until I forgot some when we went away for the night recently and I had to pick up some in Tesco’s, which were dreadful. These have something in the middle that absorbs moisture and sucks it in forming a gel. They can be really heavy with fluid when I replace them so obviously work well as they never soak through. The own brand ones didn’t compare in absorbency and didn’t stay put as well. I tend to change them a couple of times a day or night so keep 6-8 in the box.
  3. Hand cream – For frequent hand washing and because sitting feeding may be the only chance you get to put some cream on yourself.
  4. Lip balm – Because BF makes you thirsty and dehydrated.
  5. Hair bobble and kirby grips – In case you want to get your hair out of your face.
  6. Infacol (or similar if required) – We went through a phase of trying infacol and if you are using it or something similar then it makes sense to keep it in the box then you have it for every feed.
  7. Phone with breast feeding app! – My friend recommended this app – I think there are loads of them and this one is probably similar to others, but it has a lot of features and I find it easy to use. I use it to remind me which side to feed from, and to monitor when she is due a feed or how often she has fed. Hopefully one day it will show me a pattern!

Other things that were in the box I was given:

  • Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 breast therapy – I didn’t use these as I didn’t have too much soreness but they can be used hot or cold and I imagine would be really soothing – I threw mine in the freezer straight away for when I needed them.
  • Washable breast pads – I haven’t progressed onto these yet so I’ve taken them out of the box for now.
  • A pen and notepad could be really useful too.

It wouldn’t fit in my box but two other essentials are a muslin for wiping Bea’s face and for pushing under my breast between my skin and bra to catch any dribbles or drips so my clothes don’t get wet, and a pint glass of water or sports drink bottle to stay hydrated.

I’d love to know if you guys did anything similar or if there is anything you would have put in the box that I haven’t listed here?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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