Breastfeeding- An Honest Update

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I’ve wanted to write an update re: milk making for so long now, but  finding the time to sit down at my laptop now that Little Ored is walking unaided (in other words, never sitting down) is almost impossible! This morning I attempted an update on my Instagram stories but my terrible and awkward rambling made me realise 1) I’m slightly more eloquent via the written word and 2) I needed to just sit down and write!

So with Little Ored taking his afternoon nap…

Here we are! 17 months later and we’re still in the midst of our breastfeeding story which both surprises and amazes me every day.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve been lucky. I was told the horror stories (especially during my pregnancy. Why do women do that to each other?) and I’d read the brutally honest accounts on Instagram. Subsequently, my story has felt like it never fitted in. Like it didn’t belong. But then I remember how it felt as a Mama-to-be, on the cusp of BF, with no idea how it was going to go and that’s why I feel like it’s important to share my story. Even if it only reassures one expectant Mother that breastfeeding can be a positive, incredible experience. That they can do it.

I still haven’t had painful latches, bleeding or cracked nipples but I can say they’ve felt a little tender at times-especially in those first 6 months pre weaning. I did have one horrible bout of mastitis which feels exactly like the flu (in other words, death), but luckily it cleared up on its own after 24 hours. I get asked a lot about what BF is like as soon as teeth are involved, and all I can say is that if LO is feeding/latching properly I can’t feel a thing. If he’s feeling particularly teethy however, it can be a different story!

As time has gone on I’ve become increasingly confident about breastfeeding in public and one day, when Little Ored is old enough, I’m going to give him one big apology for ever having hid his head underneath a sling whilst he nursed. But we learn and we grow. I’ve breastfed my son whilst carrying him on and off trains, in coffee shops, parks, restaurants, promenades, play groups and more. And every time I do it, I remind those around me of what women’s bodies are capable of. What the real purpose of breasts are.  I can count on one hand the times I’ve received disapproving stares/whispers. Is it because I haven’t noticed them or because people just don’t care like I thought they would? Probably a bit of both, but either way I’ve lost count of  all the times I’ve had people praise me for BF in public (especially by older people) and if that’s not encouraging/reaffirming then I don’t know what is!

Then of course there’s the bonding. The cuddles before bed. The sleepy snuggles in the morning. When LO first started hugging, Ored went wild. “You forget, I’ve never had this before. But you’ve had it every time you’ve fed him.”

How much longer I will BF for, I can’t say. I want to let LO wean himself so only time will tell. But what I can say is that being able to nourish and feed my baby, whilst simultaneously being able to sooth and comfort him, has been an incredible experience and one that I would recommend to any new Mama’s.

So here are a few tips that I would give to any expectant Mama looking to BF.

1. Go to some classes

Whether they’re NCT, NHS or some other reputable organisation, classes are invaluable and will debunk the many myths surrounding BF, whilst providing you with the best start. It was in our NCT classes that Ored and I learnt the ‘signs’ of a good latch and feed as well as all the incredible health benefits that BF affords both Mama and baby.

2. Get your partner involved

Whether it’s your husband, partner, Mum or best friend, whoever is going to be around the most in those early days is the person you’ll need to help you get BF down- so make sure to take them to the classes!

Ored was great at spotting when I had positioned Little Ored too high or too low and for those first two weeks when he was off on paternity leave, I’d often find myself asking for his help. His patience, guidance and ability to spot what was “off” straight away (which is so hard to do from a Mama’s point of view, i.e looking from above, downwards) stopped either LO or me from becoming frustrated and allowed for a quick latch. Practice does make perfect but with a knowledgeable partner thrown into the mix, you really can’t go wrong!

3. Be positive

I can’t stress this enough. Whilst I approached BF with an open mind and a ‘what will be will’ be attitude I also felt a surge of confidence after my NCT classes. I believed in my body and trusted that it was able to provide my son with what he needed. That positive, relaxed approached is undoubtedly what made those tentative first few weeks, where LO and I were both still learning, much easier. Oh and if you didn’t know already oxytocin, otherwise known as the ‘love’ hormone, is what is needed to help produce breast milk making stress, anxiety and pressure completely counterintuitive!

4. Ask for help

Whether it’s your partner, friend, Mum, midwife or GP. If something isn’t working, ask for help and get advice-don’t suffer in silence. Like I said before I was always asking Ored for help and I vowed to exhaust all options before opting for formula.

5. It can be difficult, but not in the way you’d expect…

Everyone told me about the pain I might experience but no one told me about how exhausting BF can be! Little Ored never took to a bottle so I’ve never been able to express milk and let others feed him. That means that for the past 17 months I’ve been the one, especially as he nurses to sleep.

So there’s been moments where I’ve felt frustrated, tired and wanted my boobs to myself for just five minutes, especially when he insists on pinching the other nipple while nursing (FYI, breastfeeding babies gets a lot more interesting the older they get).

But instead of feeling guilty for having those feelings, I’ve embraced them and worked through them in order to continue our BF journey. Sometimes those emotions act as a little indicator that maybe I need a little more ME time and so I make sure Ored knows where I’m at in order to help out a bit more where he can.

6. And lastly…

Breastfeeding is amazing. It reduces your risk of breast cancer whilst giving your baby antibodies. It contains melatonin which helps babies sleep. Breast milk is constantly changing to meet the needs of your baby, responding to illness and even your baby’s age (fat levels increase after your baby’s first year in the world to meet their growing needs). Not to mention the bond it fosters between Mother and child.

 

So there we have it, finally, my breast feeding update!

 

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Books, Books, (Boons) Books!

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If you follow me on Instagram (if not you’re missing out on a whole heap of baby spam! Scroll down on your phone or peek to the left on your laptop to find me) you’ll have seen that last weekend we made a trip to Lewes where we stocked up on even more books for Little Ored.

It’s funny how Ored and I won’t buy LO any more toys, truly believing that he has more than enough (which he does). But when it comes to books it seems that all three of us just can’t get enough!  Reading was the first “activity” we introduced to LO when he was just weeks old. It was a great way of getting Ored more involved with the bedtime routine, which has (and still does) largely revolved around breastfeeding. It also gave me a chance to share my love of books, gleefully strolling down memory lane to relive the books I used to read as a child. But above all it gives us the opportunity to connect as a family. To switch off and completely immerse ourselves in a world full of imagination.

Needless to say we love books, but they can be pricey, so I’ve started scouting charity shops. This is one tip I’d really recommend to other parents as I’ve found some great bargains including a Roald Dahl treasury, along with copies of The Midnight Library and The Haunted House by the relatively unknown Kazuno Kohara, who is without a doubt my favourite discovery in the world of children’s illustration.

But charity shops don’t always stock newer titles and by and large you end up seeing the same books again and again, so I gave myself a HUGE pat on the back when I first discovered Boons Books. Located in Lewes, East Sussex, Boons sell discounted books that are either remainders or overstocked titles. All of which are in new/near perfect condition yet sold for a fraction of the price compared to the RRP!

Their selection of children’s books is vast, stocking a huge range to suit every age including activity, learning and picture books. Best part? They stock the more cooler, current titles on their shelves! More The Bear and the Piano and less Meg and Mog (although I have to admit that in our house their both loved equally).

The stock rotates regularly so you’ll always come across new covers sitting pretty on the shelves. Likewise, be sure to snap up anything that takes your fancy as it might not be there on your next visit.

Annoyingly Boons don’t have a website but they are well worth the visit, as is Lewes. We’ve discovered some real gems- books that we probably wouldn’t have come across in somewhere like Waterstones- and for next to nothing!

Here are three of mine and LO’s favourites.

  1. Four Seasons In One Day- The Story Orchestra (£7, RRP £14.99)

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons are reimagined in this magical storybook, complete with ‘press me’ buttons which play a small sample of each piece. The pages are beautifully illustrated, with so much for your eyes to explore. LO absolutely loves this so it’s become a firm favourite of ours, and not just at bedtimes!

2. One Day On Our Blue Planet, In The Artctic – Ella Bailey (£4, RRP £11.99)

Teaming vivid and imaginative illustration with engaging non-fiction, this book follows an Adelie penguin chick as she navigates her way through the magnificent if dangerous Antarctic Ocean. This is a great way of bringing wildlife and animal species into the home in a way that is both fun and educational. LO is obviously too young to appreciate the latter part but I love that he points to all the different types of Antarctic animals at the beginning and end of the book.

3. The 50 States  – Gabrielle Balken (£10, RRP £20)

Ok so this is one of my favourites as LO is far too young for this at the moment. But WOW, what an incredible compendium of facts (ranging from statehood dates and capitals, famous faces to key moments in history) about all fifty states of America. Presented in quirky, colourful illustrations that make the knowledge within its pages and engaging, not boring.

As someone who knows only a basic level of American history, I’m looking forward to discovering new things with a curious young mind beside me.

 

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2018- New Year, New Goals

First post of a new year!

January, that time of year for self reflection. Resolutions set in order to make changes that will hopefully make us happier and healthier people, and I of course am no different.

2017 was an exceptional year (and will be a tough one to beat) as it brought Ored and I our bright, beautiful, kind, nosey- and let’s not forget- noisy babe. Motherhood has given my life more meaning than I could ever have imagined, but it has also made me hungry. For the first time in my life I’m starting to think of the future and what that means for our family, because there’s nothing quite like the refocus you have once you have a child.

Maybe you could call it a movie lightbulb moment (ding!) because suddenly, with total clarity you realise just who/what is important in life and who/what doesn’t deserve a second thought. And so I’ve entered the New Year with a spring in my step determined to achieve my goals and make 2018 a year full of love, happiness and success.

  1. Get in front of the camera

It’s difficult to admit but I have struggled with my post pregnancy body far more than I thought I would. It’s not a question of weight, it’s just that everything is different now. My old clothes may fit like a glove once more, but now my face seems a little…off and my hips still seem adamant to show just how wide they had to be to carry a babe…

And so if I’m really honest, this has played a big part in avoiding being photographed. Despite holding our son, I’d actively grimace whenever anyone dared to point a camera in my face and utter the word “smile.” Looking back I’ve come to realise that, rather sadly, I’m the only one missing out. These moments of babyhood will be gone in the blink of an eye and when I’m 60 looking back at photographs, it’ll be hard not to notice how little I appear in them.

So as of now, I’m making a promise to get in front of the camera. No matter how bad my hair may look or how terrible an angle Ored is taking them from. And guess what? The above photos were taken on the 1st so I’m already off to a good start!

2. Exercise

Since turning vegetarian last July my diet has never been better. I can now say I actually cook from scratch (hurrah) and even Ored is more involved in the kitchen, relishing in making homemade pesto. Opting for a baby lead approach to weaning meant that as a family, we all had to be on board, sitting together, eating together and making mealtimes a fun, but healthy, experience.

But having a baby on in my hands 99.9% of the time leaves little time to do anything else and so exercise has fallen to the bottom of that never ending list all parents – but especially Mamas- have of ‘things to do.’

And so it’s for both health and post-pregnancy confidence that I’m vowing to incorporate regular exercise back into my life, be it walking, running or swimming.

3. Write

I made significant headway with freelance writing before falling pregnant. I managed to keep the blog relatively up to date and at the tail end of last year I embarked upon writing my first novel (6,000+ words and counting). But the momentum has slowly ebbed and I know I have to pull it back before I find myself back in that most feared and loathed of spots- writer’s block.

4. Read

I love books and whilst I’m devouring a ton of children’s novels (its something we really enjoy doing as family before bedtime) I’d quite like to read some for myself again. Every year I always set myself the completely unrealistic goal of reading a book a week, and so fail miserably. So now I’m aiming for a book a month, utilising the evenings or breastfeeding sessions instead of being on my phone/tablet (can I add using less technology as a 2018 resolution?) But I’m flexible. Even if I only read a book every two months it’ll still be significantly more than last year!

5. Try something new

I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to return to work once my maternity leave finishes. That said I’d love to find something I could do working from home that allows me to be creative whilst spending time with Little Ored. Who knows what will be this time next year- but I’m excited to find out!

6. Be kinder

To myself, to others, to the planet.

So here’s to 2018- may it be a wonderful, magical year for us all!

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