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

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.

Getting ready for baby

*This post was written before I had my daughter Bea and I have since written a follow up post on what we did actually use. To read it please click here.

This week is my last at work and although I’m feeling ok from a tiredness point of view I am looking forward to having some time to devote purely to getting ready for baby. At present (36 weeks) I have the sum total of a pram, 1 blanket, 1 cardigan, 2 sleep suits, 1 baby bath and a rocking crib with 2 sheets. No nappies. No car seat. In fact there are plenty of essentials still missing.

I had no idea where to start with baby stuff and even had to ask my sister in law what you even put a baby to bed in (clothes-wose) after getting very confused about swaddling and blankets or no blankets advice. I found the John Lewis Nursery checklist very helpful and not at all excessive in terms of things to buy and so I edited it and created my own version here.

Do bear in mind that the different sections of the list may not apply to everyone. The feeding section for example is geared towards breast feeding as I intend to give it a good go, and I’m not sure a play mat or bouncer are essential for the first few weeks of a baby’s life. Although I’m lucky enough to live close to supermarkets and John Lewis, and there’s always Amazon, I don’t want to be unprepared so these are my basics to stock up on so I can concentrate on baby for the first few weeks.

You can download the list by clicking on the image above if you want to, or just click here.

I’d love to hear if you think any of it is unnecessary or if I have missed any essentials off that you found you couldn’t live without in the first few weeks?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Family Lifestyle: Family Fraud

Today Esme is broaching a subject that is very near to my heart as a blogger, the reality behind the on-screen facade. It’s extremely hard as a blogger to bridge the gap between those who want pretty escapism and those who find a perpetually positive approach at best saccharine and at worst perpetuating the media factory of idealism that makes the average reader feel inadequate. I personally prefer positivity as I feel I really have little in life to complain about, but thats not to say that like all of you I don’t have the same daily trials and tribulations. Being a new Mum is difficult enough without holding yourself up to ‘blogger mums’ so I’m glad Esme is keeping it real today…

I’m a fraud. I think you should know that I’m not what you think I am. Perhaps I should explain…

Nearly all of us bloggers are guilty of presenting an image that is not a complete representation of our lives, but, of course, most of the time that’s fine and kind of the point of blogging: it’s escapism and offering something to aspire to. Ever since Rebecca started Florence Finds that’s what this blog has been for me, an opportunity to look at some pretty clothes, dream about perfecting my beauty routine and a bit of a break from the daily grind imagining that one day I too could be as stylish and organised as her. When Rebecca asked me to write a family column here, I jumped at the chance. But when she titled it ‘family lifestyle’, I have to admit I was a bit scared – there was no way my real life could live up to what she would want.

The fear of coming across as Rebecca’s boring mum friend soon went away as I realised I had lots to write about, but when I started thinking about my next columns I realised that I had inadvertently already begun to portray a side of my family that is not completely honest. Don’t get me wrong, we really did go to Belgium, we do love the National Trust and Freddie really is that cute, but the smiley, happy, loved-up family days such as the Welcome to the World party are not our everyday and I would never want any new or expectant (or hoping one day to be) mums to think I’m something I’m not.

I adore my life right now, but it is not all baby giggles and trips away. We are by no means a perfect family and I am not a perfect mum: money is tight, my husband works more than I’d like, my baby does sleep through the night, but can be a complete nightmare during the day if he wants to. I get very stressed sometimes, am generally found to be wearing my least dirty terribly fitting jeans with a baggy t-shirt to hide my 9 months post-baby tummy and find myself doing that mum cliche of collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day with a glass of wine more often than I’d like to admit. I am not stylish, back in my pre-pregnancy jeans or able to juggle looking after a baby full-time with being a housewife (not mentioning an actual wife) and keeping in touch with friends as often as I’d like. I definitely don’t ‘have it all’.

I know that when Freddie was first born and I was struggling very, very hard with breast feeding, reading something like this ‘New Years Resolutions’ post on the stylist Emily Henderson’s blog would have made me feel completely inadequate and feel like I was failing even more than I already felt I was. Now I’ve got a few months under my belt (and a few more than Emily Henderson, I might add), I can step back from that post and knowingly declare to the mums who may have read it that they are not to worry. And because the last thing I would want to do is write something that would make someone like the new mum I was feel bad, I wanted to write this post so you all know the truth.

So what is the truth? Am I worthy of writing a column titled ‘family lifestyle’? Of course I am, as long as I give you all something you can believe in – a bit of the ‘sunnier’ side of life as a three, along with the starker reality.

Is that alright with you?

Love, Esme

Have you ever found yourself feeling inadequate after reading a blog, and do you have any favourite blogs that ‘keep it real’?

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

Christmas Gift Guide #2: For Mums (of all ages) by Esme

Today’s gift guide is from Esme, who is bringing us a list of pampering and spoiling suggestions for new mums and in fact, mums everywhere of all ages. Hint: Forward the link to your OH and thank Esme later ;)

Under £20

£20 – £30

Splash out

Can you add to this list readers – We’d both love to hear any suggestions you might have. It’s looking like the Joules pyjamas are pretty hot this year!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

First Time Mum: Changing bags

Hurrah! Becky is back with more of her fascinating insights to being a first time mum. I know that lots of new mums don’t want to lose their style identity along with their sleep when a new arrival comes along, so finding the perfect changing bag that is both functional and fashionable can be a difficult task. Thankfully Becky has done the leg work for you and shares her finds today…

During the later stages of my pregnancy, the piece of kit I was most looking forward to purchasing was a changing bag. After all, having a baby is a genuinely valid excuse to purchase a new bag.

The bag had to fulfil 3 criteria:
1. My taste
2. Less importantly, but a definite consideration was my husband’s taste, and
3. It had to be practical to take everywhere, every day.

Here’s a roundup of my favourites…..

1. Ashley, coral // 2. Elizabeth, leather // 3. Tania Bee // 4. Firenze // 5. Coromandel // 6. Isabella, leather // 7. Amanda Quilted // 8. Satchel

When my husband and I couldn’t agree on a ‘purpose built’ bag within our budget, I widened my search to create our own changing bag. I’d been given a separate changing mat and put the nappy change essentials into a washbag which could be thrown into any of my existing large handbags. Then I treated myself to a new bag in the sales and we bought my husband this.


Bottle warmer and matching changing mat, BabyMel // Jonathan Adler for Skip Hop changing mat // Kissing stags toiletry bag>/span>

Both bags sit packed and ready to go in the hallway. We just transfer the mat and washbag into whichever bag we’re taking out. I can’t say that accessorising my outfit is back on my radar yet but I’m sure with time it will be, and I’ll be pleased to be able to swap and change the bag with my mood and outfit.

One last thing… a tip I was given was to join the Boots parenting club. You get more advantage card points when you buy baby items (nappies, cotton wool etc. all included) and you get a free changing bag for joining. The bag itself isn’t great, but it includes a really large and lightweight changing mat which you can stuff into any bag or take away with you on holiday.

So readers, do you have a favourite changing bag? Any tips for choosing the right one? Or what are your essential or unusual changing bag contents?

Much love,

Becky x

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