Tag Archives: Breastfeeding

Breast friends? The good and the bad about breastfeeding

breastfeedingI almost called this post ‘my love/hate relationship’ with breastfeeding, but that would be too strong. I’m nursing an injury tonight from a teething Baby D who sneezed whilst feeding and bit down on my nipple. Ouch. I swore, he cried, and that was it for the evening.

I’m still breastfeeding him at a month short of a year, which has sort of crept up on me. Because I’m starting to work for myself there was no need to wean him earlier and I’ve generally found it a positive experience, convenient and useful – especially when he’s teething or under the weather. However, him not taking a bottle has meant there’s no let up and I’m not sure how weaning will eventually go.

I breastfed both of my little ones and I’m pleased I’ve done that – seven months first time around, 11 months and counting this time – but I was pretty sure I’d carry on come what may. We’ve been through thrush in my milk ducts (excruciating), tongue-tie and a shallow latch, and it’s pretty much never been pain-free with Baby D.

A family member recently said I’d inspired her when it came to breastfeeding her two, which was a lovely thing to say. For me it’s something I wanted to do, but haven’t necessarily felt the need to trumpet. I’m really happy to talk about it and give tips or advice or even have a bit of a moan after a nipple injury, but it wouldn’t be the first thing I bring up and I’d never comment on someone choosing or ending up with bottle over breast.

And the reality is, it can be hard. It can be painful and tough for both of you, particularly at an overwhelming and exhausting time. I credit a breastfeeding counsellor for helping me turn a corner with Scrip and continue when I was at a particularly low point. So I’ve been thinking about the good and the bad from my 18 months’ experience of breastfeeding two little ones:

The good

  • The closeness – particularly with Baby D as he’s a real wriggler and this is the only time he’ll be still in my arms
  • I love the snuggles in the early, hazy days where feeding mingles with sleepy cuddling
  • I love the contented look they have when feeding well. Baby D now catches my eye and sometimes gives me a cheeky grin (with his mouth full!)
  • It’s good to feel you’re protecting them with natural immunity
  • It’s helped me lose some of the weight, whilst eating cake or croissants
  • It’s a good comforter and a great way to get them back to sleep (not that it should be at this age, probably…)
  • It’s hassle-free – particularly in the middle of the night. No need for fussing with bottles
  • It’s free
  • I feel proud I’ve been able to stick with it

The bad

  • It’s something just for mums – and as D’s not been taking a bottle until very recently, I haven’t been able to share this closeness
  • It can be hard – it doesn’t always come naturally to you or the baby, so it often takes work. Baby D wouldn’t latch on one side for weeks and it could take literally half an hour and lots of tears for him to do it
  • It takes a while to get used to doing it in public
  • It can be painful and not just when you’re starting. After being tongue-tied Baby D has never had a very full latch and my nipples have suffered
  • It’s easy to worry you’re not producing enough milk or it’s not the right quality
  • You may get more green nappies!
  • Your body’s still not your own, even after pregnancy – you have to watch what you eat and drink
  • The early daily pumping can get exhausting
  • You get big, painful boobs when they’ve gone too long without feeding
  • Exclusive breastfeeding means they may not take a bottle, which might make it harder for you to have a break
  • You need to plan what to wear and stock up on nursing bras

Part of me is looking forward to winding it down and hopefully shifting the last of my stubborn baby weight. But the other part will miss it – especially if we don’t have any more children. So we’ll carry on for a bit longer and see where we end up. My mumnesia means I’ll no doubt just remember the good parts.

Breastfeeding bars for energy and nutrients – Nutrimum

Nutrimum breastfeeding barsNext week marks the six month mark for baby D, and six months of me breastfeeding him. I’ve always said I’d like to try and get to this stage for both children and I’m pleased I have. It hasn’t been an easy ride this time and I have to admit it’s still not always comfortable with him, I think because of his tongue tie. But I’ve mostly enjoyed it and he seems to be doing well.

My weight loss this time has been gradual – certainly a lot slower than first time around when I was back in regular clothes by now. I’m still rocking the maternity jeans with belts and rotating my breastfeeding tops and oversized t-shirts. I’d like to lose more and more quickly – but I know that’s not a great idea when breastfeeding and I also know that whatever I do my body isn’t letting go of much weight around my middle while I’m feeding.

I’m still pretty hungry but I’m over the initial coffee and cake (or pain au chocolat) stage now and trying to snack on fruit, nuts and seeds. I also have an oaty breastfeeding bar most days. I did try and make my own – through Pinterest and online research I found some homemade ideas – but I’ve found there’s always a taste compromise with the healthier bars.

So I tend to go for a Nutrimum bar which is tasty and filling. It also gives you the right amount and range of vitamins and minerals so you don’t need to take another supplement when breastfeeding. They come in two flavours – Cranberry & Chocolate or Red Berries (my favourite). I don’t remember anything like this being available first time around, three years ago.

I first discovered Nutrimum through Boots Parenting Club and then I was invited to a Nutrimum event which was a Q&A and cookery session at Food at 52 – a great venue, even if it is the other side of London from here. In the company of TV Dietician, Lucy Jones, and Midwife and Blogger, Clemmie Hooper, we made a day’s worth of meals designed to be simple but nutritious for pregnant and breastfeeding women. We put together scrambled eggs with feta, rainbow salad with chicken (or tofu for the veggies like me), a fish dish and a smoothie packed full of good ingredients.

It was interesting to see how we could easily get more nutrients into meals – even basic ones – but also to hear how it’s so difficult to get all the vitamins and minerals we need through food alone. I took a supplement throughout pregnancy and I take one now when I remember, but I do find it reassuring that the bars not only stave away hunger for me but also give me everything I need. I also like the taste – they’re sweet enough to feel like a treat.

My only criticism is that they’re expensive at £5 for a box of 5 – especially costly on a mat leave budget. But if you’re buying separate supplements and snacks, it might work out around the same cost.

Nutrimum also offer pregnancy products – there’s more on the Nutrimum website. Thanks for a fab and very interesting evening!

(Un)hired help

If having a baby brings you closer to your partner (which I’d say it has done overall, but maybe not during the third wake up call of the night, with Calpol all over your carpet and a screaming baby in your arms), it also brings you closer to his family.

Scrip and NanaI know this is a difficult terrain to navigate, but although I’ve always got on with my in-laws, I’ve also always had a very clear line dividing my family and my husband’s. Which I’m sure is normal. I’m a version of myself with them – I wouldn’t be as honest or free with my opinions as I would be with close friends and the family that’s surrounded me my whole life. They’re quite different and I’m aware of the differences.

But having a baby has changed that. It’s made me relax a bit and appreciate them more. I’ve needed them more than I have before – they’re closer in distance than my own parents, and being retired, they were able to dedicate quite of bit of time to helping us in the early weeks, and looking after Scrip for us nowadays.

They really were particularly helpful when we were acclimatising to being new parents. For the first time I couldn’t move the pile of washing or polish the bathroom taps before they arrived – I didn’t have the energy or the focus during the hazy early days. And I couldn’t even refuse when they offered to cook or tidy the kitchen – in fact, I was grateful.

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The Surest Start

Before I had Scrip, I’d heard of Sure Start or Children’s Centres in passing – mostly with the tagline of ‘New Labour initiative’ – but other than vaguely thinking they were a good thing, I didn’t know much about them. Now I think they’re an essential part of British parenting.

Children’s Centres have personally helped me – I’ve been to breastfeeding drop in sessions in a couple of different ones in my borough, which supported me in a way that no website or doctor’s appointment could have – as well as new parenting sessions, which gave an extra level of reassurance when I needed it most. I’ve also been to play sessions and many of my friends have taken advantage of baby yoga and baby massage.

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In a world of fluffy, expensive, private Gymboree-type classes, Children’s Centres offer all sorts of simple sessions for free – from an introduction to nutrition to reading, speech and stay and play.

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