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

Mama Body

I’m often thinking about motherhood issues I’d like to share here and rarely get time to sit and tap something coherent out but I’d love to encourage some honest discussion, so here’s the first in a series… more to follow.

Let’s cut to the chase today, how do you *really* feel about your body now you have had a baby?

I’ve thought about writing this for months… putting it off mainly because I wanted to reach the fabled ‘other side’ that I’d read so many other super mums accounts of. The holy grail of your pre-pregnancy weight, feeling like you’ve ‘got your body back‘ and regaining your pre-motherhood confidence. Turns out at 19 months post partum, I don’t think for me at least, that perfect triad actually exists. My body has gone through many stages – post partum ‘bump’ (that lasted weeks longer than I expected,) then months where I was heavy but truly didn’t care as I was so wrapped up in my beautiful baby. The first realisations that I wanted to try and get my weight down only started to creep into my mind around 10-12 months after having Bea and co-incidentally, perhaps with a slightly conscious moderation of my cake heavy diet, I started to very slowly move towards my pre-pregnancy weight. For a while I was happy with the slimmer silhouette I saw in the mirror then I started to look at the finer detail. And it’s fair to say I don’t love what I see.


Image of Amanda, via the 4th Trimester Bodies Project on Instagram

I’ve gone to write this so many times and hesitated. In part I suppose I hoped I’d miraculously lose weight/clean up my eating habits/suddenly find the desire or time to start exercising regularly and the whole issue would go away. In part because it’s like there’s some kind of shame in admitting that under your clothes (because in reality most of what I dislike isn’t really visible,) isn’t as attractive as the media tells us it should be. And whilst I know there are truly genetically lucky women (some amongst my friends,) who have lost weight quickly, through feeding or otherwise, and still look great, the media and just your average blogger posting about how they got their weight down/body back by cutting out sugar/rediscovering their love of pilates/breast feeding, really doesn’t help.

So the truth about my body is that it still doesn’t feel like my own. I’m still feeding Bea morning and evening. This week she has been particularly clingy and my body rarely feels like my own unless she’s asleep in her cot and then, ironically I miss her. My boobs haven’t done too badly for feeding her and don’t look a whole lot different, although I’m currently missing the fullness pregnancy and feeding imparted. I’m sure everybody feels differently about the parts of their body that are different after a baby, but for me it’s my middle that bothers me the most. My waist seems to be just… absent. And my stomach muscles, whilst still present, (I know – I regularly try to tense them to check they are still there!) are hidden under a layer of blubber and seem intent on just sagging out of shape when I am relaxed… so all the time. But the thing I hate the most is the skin. I got stretch marks under my bump in about my 35th week of pregnancy. I expected it because I suffered with stretch marks in my teens but they are so faded now I hoped they would disappear to the barely visible silvery lines the earlier ones left. Whilst they are less visible now and pale, they’ve totally altered the texture of my skin. Stood upright you’d never notice but any bending forwards reveals the crepe-like texture and loose skin I loathe.

Loathe is a strong word and not how I feel about my ‘self’ I hasten to add. Fortunately I have never based my self worth on my external appearance but even though I consider myself to be unusually self confident, there have to be things and times when you don’t feel perfect. Even as I write this I feel almost defeated in admitting it. I’m mentally straining for a positive comment or course of action to round off this blog post with, to say what I’m going to do about it, or how I’m going to change myself. But I think what I really want to say is it’s ok to feel like this. That maybe acceptance is the way forwards and the way to ultimate happiness about your body after having babies. Perhaps the cliched end is that I’d go through it all again and worse for Bea. Being a mother is so much better than having a perfect (if it ever was) body and I’d much rather spend time with her than time pursuing it. In my case, most of the time motherhood is distracting enough to prevent me dwelling on the reality of my ‘new’ body. But it’s a part of motherhood nonetheless.

Now it’s time to hand over to you. How do you really feel about your body? Have your feelings changed? Perhaps you feel differently to me? I’d love to hear your thoughts readers :)

Rebecca x

Thanking you kindly…

As a child I was always brought up to write thank you letters, and I mean to everyone. People we saw regularly, people we had already thanked at the time of receiving the gifts and people far away. As an adult, I try to keep writing them but admit, time gets the better of me and sometimes it’s frankly embarrassing after so much time has passed to send a thank you letter so late!


Image Via The Glitter Guide: 7 Sweet thank you cards
Now that we have Bea, its made me think a lot more about thank you’s and the act of writing a thank you letter. Personally, when I give someone a gift, I do it without the expectation of thanks. I don’t give to receive thanks in return, but simply because I want to. I might want to celebrate someones birthday or new baby, or just cheer them up and whilst a thank you is lovely to receive, I don’t count them or look out for them. In fact there are occasions when I would rather NOT receive a thank you letter… I’d would much prefer that new mum spend an extra 5 or 10 minutes cuddling her new baby than thanking me for the gift I sent.

Now we have Bea, a whole new world of thanking people has popped up, and I feel I ought to write thank you’s for all of her gifts too. But when she’s not actually writing them herself, I’m not actually teaching her to appreciate the thought, effort or financial generosity behind a gift (which I would plan to do in future with an older child,) and it is one more burden for an ever growing mummy to-do list. So I’ve decided that we will write thank you’s for geographically distant relatives and people we won’t see to thank. Those that we do see will be thanked in person on receipt of the gift and family/friends can have electronic thank you by way of photo or email messages showing the presents in use.

I’m curious to know readers, what did you do growing up and what do you do now, (or plan to do) with your children?

Love,
Rebecca

#JanuaryJoy: Get Organised

So often, ‘get organised’ New Year prompts are about diary management – something I’m always keen to improve… I must double book myself at least once a week. The thought of returning to work and having to plan not only where I am but where Bea is on a daily basis, frankly terrifies me and so I will be fascinated by todays post and all your comments. I’d love to hear how all of you (working mum or not,) balance your life and various commitments and any pointers you have! Over to Esme…


Have you read Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please? In it she talks about how motherhood changed her and some of the things she finds hard, and she suggests a mantra for mothers to use that I really like: “Good for you, not for me”. She calls us all out for saying things that, at first, sound supportive, but are actually us being judgemental over someone else’s choices or working patterns. She tells us that we should support each others decisions, even if it’s not what we would do. Taking this advice into account, it’s difficult for me to offer advice for how to regain balance in your family life, because maybe you want to make very different decisions from me. If that is the case then I hope that you will respect my choices, just as I would respect yours.

At the beginning of 2014 I decided to set myself up as self-employed in order to stay at home as much as I could with Freddie, while still bringing in some money. “It’ll be a really good balance,” I thought to myself and told everyone who would listen, “Once I’ve got a good set of clients and regular work coming in, Freddie will go to nursery for a couple of slots a week and I’ll work around him. I’ll have time for everything!”

Best laid plans, and all that. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t get enough work, or that Freddie didn’t settle into nursery, it was that after doing a temporary freelance full-time post in an office I realised that I wanted the structure of an office job again. I was very lucky to find a part-time job somewhere I wanted to work very quickly, and, suddenly, we had a very different routine to work out. Since I went back to working structured hours, I’ve been trying to work out the conundrum of being part of a family with two working parents. The only thing I can conclude is that there are not enough hours in the day to be able to do everything you would want or even need to do. Being a working mother and the ‘issues’ and the guilt that entails is part of the struggle (but not the subject of this post, so I won’t dwell on this), but really it’s about trying to find a way not to let anything slide. It is about finding a balance, a balance that works for your family.

When I became a mother I kept trying to work out whether I’d changed or not. Was I the same person as I was before? Had this new person coming into my life dramatically altered me? I came to the conclusion (and still think this now) that being a mother simply became another part of me, an addition to what was a whole person before. But if I used up all of my time being an employee, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger and a woman, how could I possibly fit in another incredibly time consuming role?

We haven’t got it all worked out. I don’t have it all, not even by a long way. But we do have something that resembles a balance that we’re happy with. The key for me has been realising that I had to find a new way of working things out, making the things that were a priority for me an actual priority. I also had to let go of spending all day with my son if I wanted to work. I will never be able to see every milestone Freddie reaches, just as I can’t be there to hear about every achievement my husband has at work. I can’t be at work for every meeting because I don’t work on Mondays and I have to leave by 4.15. I have to balance the emotions about missing out with the knowledge that me working part-time is what is best for me right now, and – by association – best for my family.

Making an effort in my marriage is important to me, so we ask friends to babysit and have even had our parents take Freddie for a night or two on more than one occasion. Having time to myself is important as well, so I say yes to meetings friends for drinks in the evening and book in the odd Esme-only Saturday morning to go shopping or just read in bed. I admit that my friendships have taken a back seat over the past almost two years, and I have to hope that those people who are true friends will understand and will still be there when I emerge from this period of having young children.

I work hard when I’m at work (and have been rewarded for it already in a small promotion in my current role), but I endeavour to always leave on time. This is partly because Tom’s job has long hours and quite a lot of travelling and so, between us, we balance the responsibility of dropping off and collecting Freddie from nursery and being the ones who see him in the morning and in the evening. Sometimes it’s both of us, sometimes it’s me every evening for two weeks. The balance isn’t always perfect, but we try. And when something goes wrong we just scramble together a temporary solution. There is usually an ‘exceptional’ day at least once a week.

This is our regular weekly routine:

Monday: My day at home with Freddie, Tom normally travels on Mondays and often leaves very early and returns late. I try not to do too many jobs around the house and concentrate on having a fun Freddie-focused day.

Tuesday – Thursday:
7.30 I leave the house and travel to work, arriving at 8.30
8:15 Tom takes Freddie to nursery and goes to work
4:15 I finish work, run to the station and travel home
5:15 I collect Freddie
5.45 Everyone is home.

Friday: Every other week Tom has Friday off and has a daddy and Freddie day, the other week my in-laws travel to look after him and Tom works a shorter day. If I have to work late, I make sure it’s on Fridays.

This year I’m going to work on being more relaxed about the routine, about finding the perfect balance. I want to say no to spending too many weekends away from home, but yes to sometimes pushing the boundaries of nap times, taking all my holiday from work to have adventures and the occasional ‘personal day’ or day with friends. Having reflected on the balance of work/family/relaxation we currently have by writing this post, I have to say that I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. Ultimately, we have a happy and healthy son who is developing well, and that is what matters. Isn’t it?

Because I’m nosey, I really want to know: how do you feel about your balance right now? Are you trying to readdress it?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or on Twitter @esmewwins

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

Becoming a Mother…


Day 2

This post has been a difficult one to write, in fact I started drafting it as ‘2 weeks with Bea’ and got not much further until now. I haven’t yet written about our new arrival, other than to introduce her because it has taken me time to find the words. How to start? To put my words into context, I would never have described myself as maternal – I don’t get ‘broody’ and I would even extend that statement into my pregnancy. I had very real fears that I wouldn’t like being a mum, or that I might resent my baby for the inevitable changes that were about to take place in my life. That probably sounds like I wasn’t ready to have a baby at all, but I had come to realise (much earlier, before we tried to get pregnant) that I would probably never ‘want’ to give up complete freedom to do what I wanted, lazy beach holidays cocktail in hand swinging in a hammock, regular dinners out or last minute plans. But I knew I didn’t want to go through my life without being a parent and building a family with Pete.


First Bath time // Day 5

So it has taken me by surprise just how different I do feel, now that I have a daughter. I should have seen it coming I guess, as everyone always says they fell in love the minute they set eyes on their child, but equally, some of my more honest friends admitted that becoming a mother was a shock, not least due to the physical ordeal and that it took them days or weeks to fully bond with their baby – I suspected I may be the same. In fact the change in me when I first saw Bea was seismic. I finally found the words yesterday when I realised it was like The Big Bang, everything changed in an instant. A whole new universe began and Bea is my Sun.

Now I look back at times I have offered well meaning baby sitting duties to friends with new babies, just to give them time to sleep or shower and they have refused. Now I understand that maybe they didn’t want to be without their baby, even for a minute. I remember trying to reassure chronically fatigued friends that expressing or topping up with formula so their partner could give a bottle while they sleep wasn’t a bad option if it helped them function better. Now I know how they didn’t want anyone else to comfort their baby if they could, even at the expense of their sleep. It shocked me how primal the urge is to hold her sometimes, how much it upsets me when she cries. If I sound crazy, I feel like it at times! I fell hopelessly in love with this little person before I even saw her, the second I heard her cry.

Even now, having written what is here, words fail me. No statement is powerful enough to express how I feel about her or how content I feel with Bea in our lives. I wanted to share these thoughts not just to hear from all the other mothers what they felt in those first heady weeks of becoming a mother, but to reassure those of you who (like I did,) wonder if they will ever be ready or willing to take that unimaginable leap into motherhood.

Tell me, do my words resonate with you or remind you of how you felt? Or do they make you feel more positive about a family in your future one day?

Love
Rebecca
xo

Note: This post is not meant to patronise those of you reading who have never wanted or do not want a family in future, merely to describe how I feel and speak to those who might feel as I did weeks, months and years ago about children in my future.

Family Lifestyle: Daily Essentials @12 months

Now that we have an almost one year old (say whaat?!), daily life is very different from those foggy newborn days. The changing bag gets re-filled with nappies and snacks, but the contents barely changes; we can pack the car for a night away and still be able to see out the back window because we’re not so worried about having to take everything and the kitchen sink “just in case”, and we can even go for a walk and stop for a coffee without needing much more than our coats. But we have definitely built-up a selection of family essentials that we use everyday and could not live without, they’re just not necessarily the same ones we were using when Freddie was tiny.

Becky did a fantastic post a few months ago on newborn essentials that you should all check out if you haven’t already, and I thought this would be a good next step. You won’t find nappies, a pushchair and a car seat on this list, because I figured that by this point you’ve probably got those sorted, but here are a few things that might make your days that bit easier (or give you something to look forward to if you’re still at the oh-my-goodness-we-only-brought-one-change-of-vest stage.)

Baby’s essentials
H&M baby socks
I bought a pack of these on a whim when Freddie was newborn and discovered that they are the best baby socks EVER. They simply do not come off! We’ve gone through 3 sizes already and find them thick enough for those first few cautious feet-dragging steps.

Sleeping bag
We loved the Arden & Anais muslin sleeping bags this past summer, but have used coser ones since then. I really rate the sleeping bags from Matalan, but as long as they’re easy to fasten and are warm enough for the time of year, then I’m not fussy.

High chair
We LOVE our Stokke Tripp Trapp and would definitely buy another for a second child. It’s lovely to have Freddie right up to the table with us and it doesn’t look out of place (or get in the way) in our kitchen.

Mum’s essentials
Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser
I included this in my Christmas gift guide, but wanted to put here it as well because I cannot rave about it enough. I bought this for myself the first time I went shopping without Freddie and wandered into SpaceNK, and said that I was sick of looking like I hadn’t slept in a week (which was only partly true) and instantly fell in love. Nearly every time I wear it someone tells me I’m looking well and it takes 4 seconds to put it on. Buy some now.

Waterproof jacket
I have this one from Seasalt in a different pattern and, while not cheap, is fantastic. For most of the mums I know, getting out the house everyday is an absolute necessity and while you can plonk the rain cover over the pushchair, it’s just miserable getting wet yourself when you know you need to do another loop of the park. High fashion a proper rain mack is not, just plain sensible it is.

Plain stud earrings
I stopped wearing dangly earrings and cut my hair short when Freddie was about 3 months old and started grabbing both, but I hated not being able to wear any jewelry – I just didn’t feel like myself. Luckily my husband was listening to one of these rants and bought me some gorgeous simple gold bird studs (they’re flat to my ear, so even when Freddie spots them he can’t yank them out) and I wear them everyday.

Dad’s essentials
A big jumper
Although it is getting warmer, if can still be quite chilly at 5.30 am. If you’re lucky, like me, daddy will often get up with the baby and give them breakfast, while you can have an extra hour in bed and a jumper like this pulled over pjs is what I usually find Tom in when I come down for a cup of tea.

Roobios tea
When I asked Tom about his daily essentials since becoming a dad, this was the only thing he could think of. Rather than having a normal cup of tea before bed, he now has this vanilla caffeine free roobios tea so that he can get as much sleep as possible. (I also liked this when I had morning sickness as an alternative to ginger, by the way.)

So, tell me readers, what have I missed? What are your daily essentials for older babies? And, as toddler-dom gets closer every day, what do I need to get sorted for the next stage?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

First Time Mum: The Breast Feeding Post

This week I’m away in Barcelona and then next week we’re celebrating my Brother-in-laws wedding in the peaks, so I’m running a reduced schedule here with posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today I hope you’ll give Becky a warm welcome back with a personal and in-depth insight into her breast feeding journey. I’d love you all to chip in and add your comments as I’m sure many of you will identify with her struggle, or relish the opportunity to read more about breastfeeding in readiness for attempting it yourself.

Hi everyone, I hope this finds you all well. Firstly I’d like to apologise for my absence……it’s been so long it’s embarrassing. Connie is unbelievably 16 months old now. Since my last post, and in addition to surviving my first year as a Mum, we also moved house to a completely new area and into a house that’s a bit of a project. I also returned to work, and made some rather enormous changes to my work life. It’s been non stop and unfortunately my writing time diminished as Connie started eating solids and became mobile. It’s funny that I now look back with longing at those endless hours of feeding.


Image via

I’ve attempted to write this post on a number of occasions but I’ve found it incredibly tough to tackle. Maybe that’s because breast feeding is such an emotive subject. I stopped feeding Connie myself a few weeks ago which has spurred me on to finish writing this post that I started in the early months of her life. It’s certainly been a turbulent journey which I found limited support for along the way. I hope that if I share my story here, some of you will also share your own stories in the comments box and between us all, we might be able to cover most problems for anyone that might be struggling and stumbles across this post late at night, in the dark, with only a hungry baby and Google for company.

When I was pregnant I had always had the intention of breastfeeding but never assumed it would be easy or come naturally to me. I certainly wasn’t prepared however for the tough and emotional journey I was about to embark upon. Most ante natal information focuses on the act of giving birth. Not surprising really as when you’re pregnant it’s hard to think beyond the delivery room. I did attend a couple of feeding workshops late on in my pregnancy but neither of them taught me anything that I remembered or used post natally.

I had a pretty straightforward birth. I had to go into theatre straight after but had time to feed Connie for the first time beforehand. It was all such a blur. The midwives helped position her and that was that. We stayed in hospital for another 36hrs but once I was up and about, the midwives and I seemed to think feeding was going fine so we were allowed home. Once she’d slept off the birth and we were home alone, Connie became an incredibly unsettled baby. She wanted to feed 24/7. She hardly slept, even on me. I kept asking if there was something wrong. Everyone brushed it off as normal newborn behaviour so I just persevered and became more and more sleep deprived. Surely not all babies screamed that much? A few days in, one midwife suggested she may have a tongue tie but another dismissed it altogether. We were referred and waited for a month to see a specialist. During that month I battled on with the constant feeding and we did everything in our power to settle our screaming baby. The knowledge that an answer might be on the horizon was enough to keep me breastfeeding. A month later, her posterior tongue tie was diagnosed and cut by a specialist midwife. It was a quick and simple procedure and I immediately noticed a small improvement in her feeding. Two weeks later life had got a little easier but I still had my doubts that our problems had been solved.


Miranda Kerr announced the birth of her child with Orlando Bloom using this picture, via Twitter.

Connie’s weight gain was very slow. Slow enough for the health visitors to question and put huge doubts in my mind whether I was doing the right thing continuing to breastfeed. The trouble is, the Health Visitors I saw seemed so programmed to support breastfeeding that I wasn’t sure if they’d ever actually voice any other opinion. Every week I questioned whether I should give up and switch to bottle feeding. Life certainly would have been easier but there are historic health reasons in our families which made me want to breastfeed for as long as I physically could. Not to mention that by this point, I had no idea how else I would settle her. Every week, there seemed to be a new glimmer of hope on the horizon which kept me going and feeding for another week.

A couple of weeks after her tongue tie was cut, her weight did start to increase but it was very slow. At her 8 week check the GP actually used the words ‘failure to thrive’ discussing Connie with a paediatrician over the telephone. I hit rock bottom but my GP was amazing and couldn’t have been any more supportive of me and my attempts at feeding. We were referred to the paediatrician but were advised there would be a long wait as albeit very slowly, Connie was still gaining weight. I went home deflated but thankfully the support of my GP spurred me on and I continued to feed with the addition of a formula top up at night. Everyone told us she would sleep for a little longer and be easier to settle at night with the top up. Sadly it made no difference at all. There were so many nights that I lost count of the number of times I got up to feed and settle her. Whilst waiting for the paediatrician appointment, I continued to look for answers and attended all sorts of breastfeeding clinics and groups to gather as much information and help as possible. Finally, at around 10 weeks old, Connie was diagnosed with silent reflux by a midwife at a breastfeeding clinic who’d watched an entire feed and her behaviour afterwards. Reflux is like heartburn for babies and is pretty common and easily spotted as the babies are often sick a lot. Silent reflux is the heartburn but without the vomiting so far less easy to spot. It was a lightbulb moment. I felt ecstactic that we’d finally found the root of the problem, devastated that my poor baby had been in pain for all of that time, and completely let down by all of the professionals we’d sought help from. We immediately bought a wedge for her cot and the changing mat and swapped the carrycot part of the pram to ensure she was never laid flat. I kept her upright for 30 minutes after every feed and we were given infant gaviscon (which turns out is a total nightmare to administer to a breastfed baby) but the positioning made all the difference for us. It was like someone had swapped my baby.

I’d originally planned to feed for 6 months but as it took almost 4 months for feeding to become a totally relaxed, pain and stress free experience for us both, I wasn’t ready to stop at 6 months. It certainly wasn’t plain sailing from then on. We still had ups and downs such as the appearance of teeth and biting (ouch!), the nosey phase – when she was far too interested in the world going by to feed during the day but made up for it at night, and the Peepo phase – when emerging from behind the muslin I had draped over her and me whilst feeding in public became a hilarious game for her and terribly embarrassing for me. The final hurdle to tackle was when I made the decision that I really did want to stop. There’s very little information and guidance on how to stop but I expect that’s mainly because all babies are different and somehow, you will find a way that works for you. I found this useful though.

So, here are the bullet points that I’ve made during my journey of things that affected me which I felt might be beneficial to share:

Calories – Put losing your baby weight to the back of your mind and eat. Every cup of tea you drink should come with two biscuits. I was constantly hungry and I took a tray of snacks and a flask of hot tea to bed to keep me going during night feeds.

Growth spurts – these happen very regularly – get comfy on the sofa and rope in as much help as you possibly can at home.

Undersupply – as a result of Connie’s weak latch from her tongue tie and associated upper lip tie, I was told by the midwife it was likely that the milk transfer was poor and therefore my supply wasn’t stimulated enough. I ate copious amounts of porridge and flapjack (for the oats), drank alcohol free beer (for the brewers yeast) and fennel tea (which I’d read might relieve her reflux). During one growth spurt which coincided with some very long days at work when she was at nursery, I even made these lactation cookies. I also took between 9 and 12 fenugreek tablets (610mg) a day as advised by a lactation specialist midwife. NB. Please be sure to consult a medical professional before using any herbal remedies.

Blocked Ducts & Mastitis – unpleasant all round.

Expressing – I hated doing it and never got on with my breast pump. I also had a baby who wanted to feed all the time so had very little time to do it and get a decent yield. I accepted quite early on that I was one of many women who struggled to express. This doesn’t mean you don’t have enough milk to feed your baby.

Medication – unfortunately it’s highly likely you will be ill at some point whilst you’re breastfeeding. I found these medicine and breastfeeding fact sheets invaluable.

Feeding safely in bed – ask a midwife to show you how to feed your newborn safely in bed. I was shown about a week in and just the knowledge that i could rest whilst feeding was enough to drastically reduce my fear of the early sleepless nights.

And most importantly, where I went for help and advice:

  • The National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212
  • The National Breastfeeding Network.
  • Your local La Leche league.
  • The NCT breast feeding support line – 0300 33 00 771
  • Local NCT breast feeding counsellors.
  • Your local Sure Start centre will have a weekly group meet.
  • The hospitals in your area will usually offer a weekly drop in support group.
  • There are many websites you might stumble upon from a google search but I can’t recommend the Kellymom website highly enough. Don’t be put off that it’s an American site. It has the answer to every question you might have, no matter how strange or stupid you think it is. Every topic covered is backed up by factual evidence too.
  • A local ILCA registered lactation consultant.
  • Milk Matters – a great resource for breast and bottle fed babies with feeding problems.
  • Facebook – you will find numerous groups based on feeding and also problems such as tongue tie, colic etc. I joined a few to begin with and then once I’d got a feel for the type of group either remained a member or removed myself as I found some of them a bit too full on.

It may be a cliche but despite being one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it has also been the most rewarding and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

I know each of us will have been on a very different feeding journey and I’m sure you can all add something to help any new Mum or Mum to be who might be reading this post.
I can’t wait for you all to get stuck in with your comments and to hear how you’re all progressing with your own baby journey’s.

If you would like to read another breast feeding story, Esme (who writes our family lifestyle posts) also wrote an honest account of her breastfeeding journey here.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

News Flash!

Ahem! So, today is quite a big day and I’m going to let the picture do all the talking… :)

I can’t believe that the time has gone so quickly already and I’ve been waiting to have a bump to show you all! It’s lovely to be finally able to announce that Pete and I are expecting our first baby! I’m almost half way along now and so glad the bump has finally popped out so I can start talking babies, motherhood and get advice from so many of the mums who I know read Florence Finds.

As always, the blog is a reflection of my life, so I hope I don’t put off those of you who don’t have or want children, yet or ever, but I’m not expecting to have a personality transplant now there are three of us, so much of the blog will remain unchanged. Hopefully, this will be a welcome addition, it certainly is for us. :)

Anyway, I’m going to write a bit more next week, for now, I’m so glad you all know!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I’m wearing the ASOS dress I posted about last week in a size 12 for extra room!

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