Category Archives: Breastfeeding

10 Things I have learnt after 2 and a half years of Breastfeeding

Today Taya turns 2 and a half, which means I have been breastfeeding for 30 months now! If you’ve heard of the breastfeeding Boobie awards then that means I’ve been awarded my ‘diamond boobs with jade crystals’ and I have to say I’m pretty darn proud of myself. I’ve spent many an hour thinking about everything I’ve learnt while on this successful breastfeeding journey, stuff I had wished I’d of known when I failed with Logan, and stuff that I’d probably of liked to have known before feeding Taya. Not that any negatives would of put me off, but sometimes a heads up is nice to get you prepared! So here are my 10 things I’d like to pass on to others:

  1. Breastfeeding is hard work, and takes a lot of determination, patienceIt’ and perseverance. It may well be natural, and babies instinctively search for the breast, but it is a huge learning curve for both mum and baby. I’d advise anyone considering breastfeeding to research it as much as possible. Positions, latching on, feeding cues, signs of successful feeding, everything you can think of. Despite all this, no matter how much knowledge you take with you in to parenthood it is purely down to the strength of your will. It is not easy, but nothing ever worth doing is simple, you have to put the work in to reap the rewards. This was the hurdle I never passed with Logan, and the hurdle I was so, so determined to leap over with Taya. I can say that it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears (many, many tears!) but I wouldn’t change those first few difficult weeks for anything. I think it took a good 6 weeks to really fully grasp it, enjoy it even, but after that it’s fairly plain sailing.
  2. Everyone has an opinion. As with all other aspects of parenthood, everyone (and anyone) will have their own opinion about breastfeeding. If it’s really best, when you should stop, where you should do it etc. Becoming a parent forces you to become quite thick-skinned. Most of the time you just have to smile and nod, even agree. If only for your own sanity. If ever you feel that someones ‘facts’ or opinions are making you doubt yourself go and do some research or ask for support from friends/support group.
  3. Nipple-twiddling is the worst. When Taya discovered her hands nipping, pinching and pulling became a firm favourite, and my breasts took a beating. They’d be covered in little scabs, and it really hurt. I’d hold her hand but then she’d get frustrated. A fiddle necklace became helpful, but she didn’t take that much notice of it as I’d of liked. Then she started the nipple twiddling. Oh my days, it’s horrible! It genuinely makes me feel a bit nauseous. And she is obsessed. She has to have her other hand down the other side if she’s feeding. She’ll also often stick her hand down for comfort. It drives me nuts, but nothing stops her. I’m constantly moving her hand, or covering up the other nipple. Sometimes she does give up, other times, like when she’s very tired or grumpy she gets frustrated and it makes her want to do it more. On more than one occasion I’ve just let her get on with it as it’s just not worth the hassle. I’m guessing she won’t outgrow this one, so I’ll just have to find ways to cope.
  4. Washable breast pads are so much nicer. I went through a lot of disposable breastpads in the early days, and to be honest I think they irritated my nipples more than I thought. I wish I had swapped to washables a lot sooner. They may not always seem cheap, but they are well worth it. They’re a lot comfier and just bung them in the wash when you’ve finished using them. You’ll end up saving yourself a lot of money if you are a big leaker like myself!
  5. There is quite often an alternative medication. I see this getting asked a lot in the breastfeeding support groups on facebook. Often Drs or whomever say you can’t have a particular drug, but they are often not very informed. If you are ever unsure ask. Ask in support groups, or research. The Breastfeeding Network – Drugs in Breastmilk is a great resource with lots of information and fact sheets. They cover all sorts of drugs but also procedures, which I checked when I needed a colonoscopy. Sometimes these are handy to print out and take with you to appointments where you think you may hit a problem. If you can’t find your answer or are still unsure you can drop them an e-mail or use their helpline which is run by a qualified pharmacist who is also a BfN Registered Breastfeeding Supporter. It is an invaluable resource, and I’ve often mentioned it to Drs when talking about medication.
  6. Breastfed baby poo isn’t actually unpleasant. Okay, so this may not be universal, but I actually miss exclusively breastfed baby poo. After baby has passed the meconium it turns to a yellow, runny poo. Sounds gross, but actually isn’t all that bad. It’s most often got a sweet kind of smell and is easy to clean up. The only 2 downsides I ever found where that it did stain white clothes well, and that you do not want to get caught out when the baby poos without a nappy on… Imagine water soaker pistol but with yellow poo…
  7. Night time feedings may cause you to want to kill your sleeping partner*. Okay, that may be overreacting, although I’ve seen a lot of posts on Facebook support groups which lead me to believe this. It seems some mums don’t get the help they want and/or need. Oviously I suppose you could express a bottle for partners to help with the night feeds, but ultimately you should be pumping that missed feed anyway, so you’d be up no matter what. There are other ways a Dad could help out at night, but still, when you’re up numerous times in the night feeding the baby, at some point you will probably look over at your sleeping partner and think I hate you.** It’s inevitable, and perfectly normal, you’re not alone on that, but heaven forbid said partner then makes a comment on how tired they are in the morning.
  8. It’s okay not to enjoy it all the time. It’s often believed that because you made the choice to do something that you have to enjoy it. All. The. Time. Well you chose to do it didn’t you? True. However, it is more than acceptable to not like it all the time. As a parent do you enjoy every aspect of parenting all the time? No. Kids can drive you crazy at times, and everyone has a breaking point. At some point you will more than likely say “I can’t do this anymore!” and the best advice I can ever give is to never give up on a bad day. Every stage shall pass. The witching hour? It shall pass. The teething causing biting? It shall pass. The endless sleepless nights? It shall pass. The baby stage? It shall pass. In years to come it’ll all be a fleeting memory. It’s okay to not be okay with it. (Unless you hate it all the time, then I’d seek advice)
  9. Nursing Aversion is a thing, it’s unpleasant, but not your fault and more common than you think. This ties in pretty well with number 8, and I’m pretty sure most breastfeeding mothers will experience this at some point. Breastfeeding/Nursing Aversion can often make you feel guilty for even feeling it, so I think it is something that is often not talked about as much as it should. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about it. Sometimes I just want Taya to not feed, it makes my skin crawl and I just want to pull her off. At times I can distract myself and let her feed, other times I have to distract her, to try and get her mind off “Baba”. As said before, breastfeeding isn’t always easy. It’s like a roller coaster ride in fact, it has its highs and lows. If you’re struggling reach out, there is always someone to listen to you and offer some help.
  10.  Women are bloody amazing! The female body, it’s something that is quite often underappreciated. Women seem to have this obsession in picking out their flaws, in wishing that their body was ‘better’. From a young age it seems drummed in to you to obtain a seemingly unreachable ‘perfection’. But seriously, how amazing are woman’s bodies?! They grow small humans, and that in itself is no easy feat. Then, they birth them, and whatever way they do that I think is incredible. A mother sacrifices that ‘perfection’ that everyone has perceived to be the ultimate goal to bring life in to this world. Then on top of that a woman’s breasts are all you need to nurture and nourish your baby for the first 6 months of their life, your body knows exactly what they need and provide it for them. Now that seems pretty damn awesome to me.

I’m pretty sure I could have provided more points, but alas, my booby-monster wants her ‘Baba’ and who am I to deny her? I don’t know how much further we will get in to our journey before the dynamics change or we stop completely, but I am glad we were able to have this experience, and right now, I don’t want to stop. It kind of feels a very definitive end to the baby years, and I’m not quite ready to let that go at this time. So for now I am very glad I can continue to provide her nourishment, comfort and much more.
*Whereas the thought may occur to some, I admittedly have never wanted to kill my OH, and I’m sure no one actually ever does. 

** I don’t hate Kiba, maybe in the heat of the moment where my hormones have been all over the place and I’m incredibly sleep-deprived I may suddenly think it, but then instantly regret it. He means the world to me and does so, so much for me that I could never hate him. I love him more than anything. You know, just sometimes everything gets to you and you do wish your partner had milk producing boobs too! 

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The sleep thieves and I

Long time no see huh? I really do apologise and hope this post may explain, mainly to myself, why I’ve been utterly crap at doing anything the past couple weeks, and it also serves a huge, huge apology to everyone who has physically been with my grumpy arse, I’ve been in a foul and odd mood and I’m sorry if you got caught in it. I love you guys really. 

So, sleep thieves? I’m sure you all are aware of at least one in your life for some reason or another. I have 2 regulars, 3 if the kids each count as their own. The other is my Fibromyalgia, sometimes it causes insomnia, sometimes I’m just too damn uncomfortable to sleep, other times it’s the cause of medication. These past 2 weeks have been awful for sleep, and as you all know this has a great effect on yourself, and everyone around you. 

I’ve never understood “sleeping through” and the utterly ridiculous notion of expecting babies to sleep all night. It is not natural. They wake due to a biological design to prevent SIDS. Their stomachs are little and need filling up little and often, overfed babies “sleep through” due to their little bodies having to basically shut down so their stomach can catch up on digestion, it is not a sign of a good baby. It is normal for them to wake. I don’t know about you, but I still wake at least once a night, to pee, to drink or just because. So I’ve never expected the kids to sleep through, which they never have. I can count on both hands the number of times Logan has and a similar amount for Taya, although she did have a period of long sleep before the dreaded 4 month leap. These days Logan (6) goes to bed in his own room, and whenever he wakes, which can be anytime from 10pm through to 6am, he comes in to our bed for the remainder of the night. Taya (2) breastfeeds to sleep in the evening on the sofa with me. She’ll either stay in my arms or on a beanbag until we go up to bed. We co-sleep, we have her cotbed sidecarred to ours. There she’ll either sleep or sleep-feed all night. She’ll generally wake between 2 and 8 times. It can be tiring but it is so, so much easier co-sleeping, just roll over and pop a boob out, no need to fully wake up even. However the past couple weeks Taya has upped her waking to 10+ a night. It was so draining. I was exhausted, I was touched out, I didn’t want her touching me. But I kept reminding myself it is just a phase, it will pass. And it has, she’s slowly going longer again! I don’t see either of my kids ever sleeping through, but maybe they’ll get there one day, and if not it isn’t the end of the world. They’re only little for such a small amount of time, I’d rather cherish them, I’ll be able to sleep well in years to come. 

Old photo of our sleep setup. Taken at a ridiculously early time after Taya had a poonami. I still only get about the same amount of space.  

My second sleep thief, the one that causes the poor quality sleep is Fibromyalgia. I’ll go in to that in more detail another time, but just so you know now, I ache and hurt, a lot. I can cry from the painful aching at times, and getting comfortable at night is a never-ending struggle. 2 weeks ago I started to reduce my medication in preparation for changing to another, hopefully more helpful one. Whereas the actual aching and pain didn’t increase much (it hadn’t been working too well obviously!) the side effects, or withdrawal symptoms were horrendous. Despite the junior Dr telling me to just stop, I knew you had to reduce it slowly, although I could only do so 300mg at a time as she wouldn’t give me any lower, so I felt the effects. I’ve had a constant headache, I’ve felt sick, tired, grumpy, and I’m pretty sure I was a nightmare to live with. At night I was suddenly struck with more insomnia, I’d lie awake for hours, my anxiety would kick in and I’d worry myself to sleep. I’d wake up so sore from being in one spot for too long. I could go on, but I’m sure you get it, it was a horrible couple of weeks. I’m glad I’m finally off those tablets, and hoping that these new ones have a better effect. I can only hope. I still feel tired most of the time, a mix of my thieves all together and the general day to day aches take their toll, but I try and never let it slow me down. Sometimes I just have to, but mostly I smile and get on with it. 

So, here’s to some good nights ahead. I hope you all get some good sleep, even if you don’t get a full nights, make the most of the time you do get! Here’s some more photos of sleepy Taya, as I never tire of photos of her asleep 😍

Bringing Taya in to the world 

Today Taya turns 2. At 9:56pm to be precise. As a Mum I feel that birthdays come with very mixed emotions. I love watching them grow, meeting milestones and joining in on the adventures in life. Then on the otherhand no Mum wants her baby to grow up. Each year they become more independent, less snuggly, and as a Mum you never forget that tiny bundle in your arms, completely dependant on you, and it’s hard to imagine that one day they won’t need you. So on this day that I sit here reminiscing over the past 2 years, I’m going to share the story of bringing Taya in to this world. I’ll never tire of my birth stories, I’ll share Logans another time, but for now back to Taya. I apologise, this shall be a long one.

Just before I go on, please be aware that I tend to tell it completely uncensored. Birth is messy. Or in my case, afterbirth.

I found out I was pregnant very early in to my pregnancy. Very early. I remember going for what I thought would be close to 12 weeks, but no, I think I was around 5 or 6 weeks. I felt slightly crushed to be honest. I was going through a hard time already, my so called mummy friends turned on me, and abandoned both Logan and I, which at the time was devastating, I didn’t understand why, but now I’m glad. I now have the best friends anyone could think of. But back then I was also struggling with constant nausea, which is so debilitating, and now I had what felt like a lifetime till my 12 week scan, to know everything was going to be okay. Finally it came and seeing the squiggling baby on screen confirmed I could actually already feel her! We shared our news, after Logans preschool had already found out, as he’d got excited, and then the wait for the next scan came. I got bigger a lot quicker second time round, your body remembers being pregnant which is just kind of amazing. The nausea did ease once I was in the second trimester and I started to enjoy myself. Guessing the gender of “Jelly” (Logan named her!) before the scan is always on everyone’s minds. So many ways to “tell”, but my cravings were different this time round, with Logan it was pom bears, and salty stuff. With Taya it was sweet stuff, particularly frozen yoghurt. I know everyone just wants a healthy baby, but the urge to have a girl was very overwhelming at times, so when the 20 week scan I was on tenterhooks as the sonographer tried to make this wiggly awkward baby open her legs! Finally at the end just before they gave up theu were certain they saw girl bits! Happy is an understatement. In between my 20 week scan and birth I got to have a 3D scan, which is such an amazing experience, even though we didn’t get the greatest shots as she had her hands over her face, and was hiding tightly up against the placenta. Amazing all the same.

Kiba had always said he didn’t particularly want to be at the birth, and I respected his decision, not all men do, and I felt he’d be better with Logan. With Logan I had Kiba and my mum as support, but for Taya I asked my sister Sophie. She was thrilled. I was planning for a water birth at the midwife led birthing unit, a part of the hospital in case things went wrong, but more homely. I had a lovely midwife throughout pregnancy, and as things went on I got more and more excited about our new arrival. My due date, and zoo trip, came and went. On the 10th July we were invited out for a fish and chips lunch, it was lovely, but I was having more Braxton hicks than normal, however I didn’t think too much about it so carried on the day. Logans bedtime came, and as I was getting him ready the contractions started. I used breathing techniques to try and carry on in case they came to nothing, but soon came to the conclusion that this was it, that there was no point putting Logan to bed. I took him downstairs and told Kiba she was on her way. I phoned up the MLBU when contractions were 5 minutes about, which wasn’t particularly long after I had started! After explaining I was 45 minutes away and had to drop off Logan/pick up Sophie they told me to head to mums and then wait there until they were 3 minutes apart. They were 3 minutes apart as I got to mums.

With Logan at mums, Sophie and I in the back of the car, Kiba drove us to the hospital. If you’ve been a labouring woman in the car you know that it is the longest drive you’ll ever experience in your life. You’ll get every red light possible. You cannot get comfortable at all. Anyway, we finally got there, Sophie and I took it slowly up to the MLBU, Kiba met us up there with our bags, and I asked him to stay, although I knew what are plans were. He left and the midwife wanted to do my observations, weight etc, but I got the sudden urge to push, so she decided to take us over to the birth pool. By this point I was in my “zone” I can’t say I took any notice of the people around me (I never noticed the student midwife!) or my surroundings, I think the room may of been a pink colour? They had the lights dimmed, and the pool ready. I’m sure I got in in just my bra, but it annoyed me, so I took it off. I went with my bodies urges and pushed. I remember panicking a bit as Taya never stopped wiggling. I couldn’t remember Logan doing so, so it was a bit of a shock and didn’t feel great to be honest. I remember Sophie with a flannel. I remember encouraging words. I remember I’d taught myself to repeat over and over “I can do this” while I pushed, and it helped, it really did. I held my breath through the worst pain. I liked to duck my head in the warm water, it felt calming. Shortly before the crowning I felt my waters pop. Such an odd sensation. Then came the crowning. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is when the head starts to come out. This is when most mums panic a little, myself included, only briefly before I remembered I could do this, and this meant she was close. Crowning is also the worst pain personally. Your vagina is a ring of fire. You can then feel your own baby with your hands for the first time, but this is a weird sensation personally, something I don’t think I can describe.

 A few powerful pushes and she was out. My beautiful baby girl was here. The euphoria of that moment is truly indescribable, a moment you can never, ever forget. I’d love to witness it, not just live it, it must be magical, maybe one day I shall. I was granted my golden hour, skin to skin cuddles, and breastfeeds, in the water. Sophie phoned Kiba, he had only just got home with Logan, 45mind after he’d left us! Others were informed, as I birthed the placenta naturally and got to have delayed cord clamping, both things that I was worried about as they hadn’t gone well with Logan (I shall tell you his story another day) but it all seemed to go so smoothly. I’d done it completely pain relief free, I didn’t think I’d be able to, but I did, and in the water! Dreams come true! From first pain to her arrival it was between 3 and 4 hours. Time is fuzzy now.

We then moved back to the other room, Taya was weighed (7lbs 8oz) etc, and then it was my turn to be checked down below, you know, to see how it had coped. By the midwifes grimace, and the “Oh…” I knew it hadn’t fared well. I’d torn. I was swollen, very swollen. The midwife admitted she wouldn’t be able to do the stitches so went in search of a surgeon. I forgot about it as I cuddled my bundle of joy. Then the surgeon came in and I got an even bigger grimace and another “Oh…” and by this point Sophie was interested and asked if she could have a look, she’d just watch me give birth so why not? “Oh…” So it turns out I was in a bit of a mess down there. The surgeon said she’d try but it could be tricky with the swelling. I was given gas and air to cope. Now, I’ve never done drugs, but oh God, I’m guessing that’s what it’s like on drugs. Everything goes out of focus, I can’t see anything, can only just hear things and I go silly. I’m sure it was hilarious. It was still painful for me though. She did her work and said she’d come check later. Fast forward through more cuddles, breastfeeds, sisterly chats and bonding. Surgeon comes back and there are even more grimaces. 

It turns out that the swelling had caused her to stitch me up wrong. Yea.. So, my options were to have her cut it and retry with gas and air but keep perfectly still (apparently I kept jumping with the pain before…), or, have a spinal and go to theatre to have it done. It was a horrible decision. I didn’t want to leave my baby and end up staying in. However I didn’t think I could cope with the gas and air again. I’m sure I cried. In the end I chose theatre. I knew Sophie would look after Taya. I am terrified of needles, but again I used my mantra of “I can do it”. We headed down and I coped surprisingly well with having the spinal. I suffer with anxiety around people I don’t know, but they were all very nice. It felt very, very odd not having control over my legs. A new surgeon came in and started work, commenting on the uniqueness of the situation, apparently. She then found a problem from the stitching after logans birth! So she offered me a “designer vagina” in her words, and I accepted. Once it was finally over and I was wheeled on to the ward I had to ask where Taya was, I started to panic a bit as I spent a good amount of time without anyone. Then she came, with Sophie, with Kiba, Logan and my mum. I was gutted. I’d missed both Kiba and Logan meeting Taya for the first time, something I was so excited for, and I still feel sad about now. 

On the ward I became “the lady from MLBU” as it seems it’s very uncommon for people to end up staying in. I hated staying in. I pushed to get us home as quick as possible. Taya was born Friday night, I was admitted to the ward on Saturday morning, and I got home Sunday afternoon, where we announced her birth to the world. 

Everything went up from there, I healed well, and I manged to get breastfeeding established. We’re now at 2 years of breastfeeding, I couldn’t be prouder. These 2 years have gone so quickly. I often think of both my births. I love birth. I love to read about it, see photos of it. I’d love to witness it in the flesh. I’d love, and hope to train as a doula, to support women to get the births they want. If I could, I’d relive it all again, as despite the pain it truly is beautiful. 

Let’s celebrate breastfeeding!

To start off, I don’t mean to offend anyone, everyones feeding story is different and that’s up to you. Both of mine have very different stories to tell. This post is merely to celebrate what I personally have achieved, as it should be. I respect everyones choices, but the fact that I feel the need to state I’m not bashing anyones choices shows just how judged everyone feels for making an informed choice. But anyway, let’s continue…

This week is National Breastfeeding Celebration Week, with this year focusing on support, so I couldn’t let the opportunity pass to share my experiences. One bad, one good. 

When I was pregnant with Logan I had already decided fairly early on that I would be breastfeeding, I mean, that’s the natural thing to do isn’t it? I didn’t know alanyone who did breastfeed, but read up about it. When I gave birth, which wasn’t the most straightforward birth, he didn’t want to latch, he much preferred to sleep. I ended up having a very helpful midwife show me how to hand express, collecting the small drops of colostrum in a syringe to give to him. Another midwife cane to help later and she was rather rough, trying to shove my breast in to logans mouth. Luckily he did soon decide to wake up enough to feed and I was over the moon. We were sent home, even though I’d said that it was a bit sore, with the not so comforting words of “it’ll be okay, just keep going”. I lost count of the times I got told this, no one seemed to offer any real advice. I then became quite poorly and had to visit the out of hours Dr, where it turns out I had an infection, they never decided in what, womb or urinary tract, but they gave me antibiotics and sent me on my way. I remember feeling absolutely rotten, stomach pains and hot sweats, mixed with the pain of feeding Logan was not pleasant. Everytime I held him he wanted to feed which made me not want to hold him. Which then made me feel guilty. I remember many an hour crying as I just didn’t know what to do, who to turn to. My partner nor Mum didn’t know what to do other than suggest formula, and I felt guilty for even considering it but just felt so, so terrible and no one had helped me up till then, so after another big old cry I agreed. I didn’t want to resent this tiny baby any longer, I wanted to enjoy him, cuddle him. So that’s where my journey ended, less than a week after it had begun. I admit, I still feel guilty about it at times, I wish I’d of seeked more and better help, and maybe persevered a bit more. Maybe it would have worked out? Maybe it would have ended the same. Who knows, but what I do know is that Logan is a happy kid who doesn’t remember or care about my decision!

When I became pregnant the second time I did even more research, know better, do better, and found as much support as possible, mostly online support groups, but I also made a friend who was breastfeeding. Before that point I don’t think I’d even seen breastfeeding in real life really, crazy to think, but true for a lot of people! Taya had an easy, uncomplicated birth, and although I had to go to theatre later on thanks to a stitching mishap (And yup, that’s as bad as it sounds!) we’d had the golden hour and she latched and fed like a pro. She continued to do well and despite being a tad jaundiced we got home with no problems. I did have the initial sharp pain after she latched, which honestly was toe-curling for a while, but I pushed on through, even having to hold my breath at times. As soon as I hit a week, passing the point I gave up with Logan, I felt a bit more relaxed. They say the first 6 weeks are the hardest and I don’t disagree. It may be natural and what your breasts are for, but that doesn’t mean it is easy, it truly is 90% determination and 10% milk production. Taya was thriving on my milk though, and as the weeks passed it got easier and easier, the initial latch pain eased about 5 weeks in. I did have a very powerful let down, which honestly hurt at times, but again I just kept on going. I kept on going through every developmental leap, niplash, teething, sensitivity and being touched out. I reached out for support when I needed it, but generally I think I’ve had it pretty easy. We are now nearly at the 2 year mark, with no signs of stopping just yet! I couldn’t be more proud of myself. 

I would strongly recommend anyone to at least try breastfeeding. Do your research. It is what is best for your baby, and nothing can quite compare. If you’re struggling, with anything, reach out, there is now tons of support out there. Then if things don’t work out, don’t feel guilty, you’ve tried, that’s what counts. I think the key thing to successful breastfeeding is support, and that’s why I’d like to eventually train as a peer supporter, to help others on their journey.

I don’t have too many photos of me feeding, as I personally like to be discreet with people I don’t know, but I do have a few! For those who think it can’t be done discreetly, I beg you to argue with me that you know I’m feeding in all these photos! Feel free to tell me your breastfeeding stories, or share photos, let’s normalise breastfeeding!