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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Best Skincare Products For Babies

IMG_0938 (Edited)Ok, so let me start this by saying THIS IS NOT AN AD. It deflates me a little to have to say it but I’m well aware of how product endorsement/monetised blogging has changed everyone’s perception of what appears to be a real, honest post only to read all the way to the end and realise it’s not.

All of these products were either given to me at our baby shower or bought with my hard earned cash. Either way we’ve loved them and they’ve proved to be invaluable to us over the past year and two months.

When you bring home your newborn baby you literally have no idea what you’re doing. Even the most basic things- bathing them and changing nappies, – you have to learn. And whilst you’re waiting on that parental instinct to kick in (which it does, but it leaves you hanging just long enough to send you into Google overdrive) the last thing you need is unreliable products. Or too many. Or not the right ones.

We were really lucky to have received so many gifts before Little Ored’s arrival, all of which left us needing to hardly buy a thing in those first few months. But I do remember having been given about three different types of nappy rash cream – wondering which one to use, if I should use any at all?

Newborn skin is so delicate and so we were super conscious about what we we were putting on it. For example, did you know that most baby wipes contain a form of antifreeze (WTF) which is why our midwife suggested using only cotton wool and water to clean during a nappy change in those early months?

It’s not just about having products that work but also about having products with safe, natural ingredients too. So here’s what we used and what we still use even now!

1. Kokoso – Coconut Pot

This was given to us as a baby shower present from a BFF after I mentioned to her that I’d seen it on TV (yep, she’s a great friend and a great listener)  and it turned out to be an absolute Godsend.

This natural, organic coconut oil moisturiser is designed for multi-use meaning it’s pretty much all you’ll ever need. It’s great for dry/sensitive skin, eczema and baby massage as well as preventing nappy rash. And it’s also cruelty free, ethically produced and made from sustainable, recyclable, BPA free packaging. Hurrah!

We have been using it on Little Ored religiously since he was a newborn. First we used it to help with all of the crazy flaking that all newborn skin goes through and then when that cleared up we switched to using it as a nappy balm. We use it every time we change his nappy and since we’ve been putting it on his bottom he’s never suffered from nappy rash again. Ever.

Comes in a changing bag friendly size making it easy to take out and about too!

2. Earth Friendly Baby Shampoo & Bodywash

Made by the people at Lansinoh, Earth Friendly Baby makes a wide range of skincare products that are all made from organic, natural ingredients (something like 99.2% of the ingredients are naturally derived).

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans alike, EFB is against animal testing and the range is made in the U.K. with recyclable packaging.

A bottle of lavender bubble bath was gifted to us at the baby shower and since then we’ve become devotees. We buy both the lavender and chamomile (which smells dreamy) but annoyingly it’s not stocked as widely and readily as other baby brands so I usually have to order it online.

3. Aveeno Baby

I’m always at odds when using Aveeno products on Little Ored. Because whilst they’re fantastic, Aveeno as a brand are not completely cruelty free, testing on animals when required to by law (in countries such as China, for example).

My personal and ethical dilemma aside, Little Ored started suffering from a bad rash around his chin and underneath his neck when he first started cutting teeth and weaning. In other words there was a whole lot of dribble and bibs just seemed to irritate it further. So on the recommendation of a friend, who was going through something similar with her little one, we bought a bottle of moisturiser. After eating or after an exceptional bout of teething related dribble, we’d clean up him up with warm water and apply the Aveeno to clean, dry skin and within a matter of days the rash cleared up completely!

Now that’s he older we don’t need to apply the product in this way anymore but we do still use it after bathtimes to keep his skin super smooth. And the great news? A little goes a long way!

4. WaterWipes/ Co-op Baby Wipes/ Nutmeg Wipes

Remember how I said that most baby wipes have antifreeze in them? Well whilst cotton wool and water may have been great for indoor changing it just wouldn’t have been practical for when we were on the go, so we stocked up on Water Wipes. Made with just two ingredients- fruit extract and water- these wipes claim to be the purest on the market and they were great for Little Ored’s sensitive newborn skin.

We probably used these particular wipes until he was around 7/8 months old and then we started seeking a cheaper alternative (one pack of WaterWipes costs £2).

So now we use own brands at either Co-op and Morrison’s because both are cruelty free.


Tips and Tricks

  • Avoid using body creams and washes on newborns

There’s probably a lot of conflicting advice on this so I’d say do your research, but our midwife told us that recent studies suggest that applying products to newborn skin can increase the likelihood of childhood eczema. I think the consensus is that newborn skin needs time to adjust to life outside the womb. So for the first 3/4 months we didn’t use any kind of wash or moisturiser, only applying Kokoso to the parts where Little Ored’s skin was flaking to stop it from becoming sore or painful.

  • Do a patch test

You never know how skin is going to react to any kind of cream, but particularly skin that is delicate. If you’re unsure, apply a small amount of product to a particular area and leave for 24 hours.

  • Check the ingredients

Whichever brand or product you opt for, make sure you read the ingredients first. If there’s anything you don’t recognise or you’re not sure about, don’t be afraid to Google it whilst you’re still in the store. Be 100% sure before you buy!

  • Stock up on offers

Besides the wipes, most of the products we buy are somewhere in the middling price point (£5-£10) but when there is a discounted offer on, I tend to buy a couple as I know it will get used eventually.

  • Be prepared

Like I said, we were fortunate enough to receive a ton of skincare products at our baby shower and this saved us having to do any kind of mad rush to the shops in that whirlwind which is the first few months of parenthood. Whether you’re having a baby shower or not, make sure you’re stocked up on the necessities before your baby arrives as it’s one less thing to worry about.

I hope you’ve found this helpful! What products do you swear by for your babies/toddlers? Let me know in the comments below!

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The (Im)Possibility Of Being A Present Parent

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A few weeks ago Little Ored and I were travelling by bus en route to our Monday morning baby class when I was approached by an elderly woman. “It’s so nice to see a young Mum playing with her child instead of staring down at her phone.”

I was taken aback. Firstly by the apparent compliment on my parenting skills and secondly by how old she actually thought I was (I’m a few months shy of 30 and let’s face it that’s not that young).

All joking aside, I’ve always made a point of putting away my phone when I’m with Little Ored but even more so when we’re out and about. What would be the point of taking him to soft play, for a walk along the beach or out to lunch if I then spent the entire time ignoring him? We treat Little Ored as we would any adult, and if I wouldn’t sit on my phone for the duration of dinner with a friend then I’m not going to start doing it with my son.

Of course I’m no saint. There are occasions when I reply to a text, listen to a voicemail or check Google to find out when the next train is due. Or the more obvious and frequent reason I reach for the phone- to take photos. But I’d honestly say that for about 80% of the time when Little Ored is awake my phone is either hiding in a coat pocket or buried underneath a mountain of toys and baby wipes on a tabletop/kitchen counter.

Having a one year old means that for the most part, I’m too busy to even have my phone in hand but of course there are occasions when I have to remind myself to put it down, and that’s because I’m actively choosing (and trying) to be present in my son’s life. Screen time- specifically social media- is a BIG distraction from real life relationships and I don’t want my son or any future children growing up with the feeling that Mama isn’t really listening. I don’t want them ever feeling as if they have to compete for my attention. Likewise I don’t want to miss out on the funny/cute/ new things Little Ored does because I was too busy thumbing through Instagram.

And Little Ored loves that I’m right there with him, building blocks just so he can knock them down later. Chasing him into the tipi as he squeals with delight or dancing with abandon when his favourite song comes on the radio. Or, as is always the game of choice on any form of public transport, playing ‘ticket inspector’ on the bus.

But I can’t help but wonder how fully present any parent can really be when it’s almost impossible to shake off our responsibilities, be it work, running a household or both? So whilst my phone may lay untouched for hours on end, that doesn’t mean I haven’t found myself promising repeatedly that “I won’t be long,” whilst unpacking the third machine load of the day.

I always thought my phone was the enemy but now I realise it plays just a small part in the day to day demands on my time. For there will always be dirty dishes in the sink. Clean clothes that need folding. Errands to run. It’s a juggling act for any parent and I’d argue that no parent can be 100% present, 100% of the time.

Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t strive to be the best I can be, but it’s all about finding the right balance that works for me and my child and that’s all anyone can do as a parent. I guarantee they’ll be moments when sitting in front of the TV for an hour or two is the only way to appease a grumpy one year old. Other times I’ll need to hoover or cook lunch leaving Little Ored to amuse himself for longer than I’d like.

But if I can eliminate the unnecessary distractions (I finally deleted my Facebook account two weeks ago and I’m still basking in the glow of freedom) then at least I know that for the most part, Little Ored is getting the very best of me.