Superhero Mammy Milk 

In my continued celebration of breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week it is time to talk about the benefits. Breastfeeding has loads of benefits, so many that to list them all would take most of this post. Instead I want to focus on the one that makes me feel most like a superhero. The antibodies.

An antibody is defined as a blood protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen. Antibodies combine chemically with substances which the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood. (Thanks Google Define for putting it so nicely!) 

Breastfed babies benefit from antibodies that a mother has in her system as a result of illnesses the mother may have had in the past. This passive immunity is fantastic for keeping our little babies healthy while they are breastfeeding. 

This is incredible in itself. However, what I find to be even more amazing is that within just one hour of being exposed to an antigen that the mother’s body hasn’t encountered before, her body produces antibodies that pass to her baby through the breastmilk. WOW, JUST WOW. 

It is amazing what a woman’s body is capable of doing, and certainly something to be celebrated! 

Advertisements

World Breastfeeding Week

As it is World Breastfeeding Week I feel it is important to make an effort to celebrate breastfeeding and contribute to the movement to normalise breastfeeding in our society.

I have had a positive breastfeeding journey so far with my four month old son. However, it has not always been plain sailing. I refuse to describe the days where I have struggled as a negative side to breastfeeding. Whilst I have struggled, I have never contemplated giving up nor felt that the difficult times were reflective of my experience as a whole. I want to acknowledge the difficulties I’ve faced, without discouraging other women. Therefore I feel I must be truthful about the less than easy times, but recognise them for what they truly have been which are only bumps in the road.

So…

Bump 1: Cluster Feeding

My son was perhaps three days old when he spent the entire night attached to my breast. Every time he fell asleep and unlatched he would sleep for ten minutes before wailing for milk once more. I had a less than easy delivery and was suffering myself only three days postpartum. Sitting to feed him was agonising.

My son fed almost non stop from midnight until seven the next morning. My husband woke and sent me straight to bed where I slept until my son woke for his next feed.

This became our routine and helped me to manage the sleepless nights. I would stay in the lounge feeding all night so my husband could sleep, and when he woke we would swap so I could go to bed. This really helped and I would recommend it to everyone. 

In hindsight I know that the cluster feeding throughout the night was my son stimulating my milk to come in fully and increasing my supply to meet his needs. However I did not know this at the time, so I read other mothers stories and used their advice to get through the nights. 

I have compiled a list of the best tips that truly helped me to get through the long nights. I hope they can help someone else in the same position. 

Survival Tips

1. Water, water, lots of water.

2. Surround yourself with snacks.

3. Get comfortable so you don’t feel the need the move mid feed.

4. Get into a good book, or TV series. Something to keep you awake.

5. Always remember, cluster feeding will pass. 

When I reach a bump I often think of something my husband once said to me – nothing worth having is ever easy.  

Support, Don’t Shame.

Today I had the unfortunate experience of coming across an article in the Daily Mail written by Anna May Mangan shaming the Slummy Mummy movement.  This article doesn’t deserve to receive any additional publicity, and so I am not going to include any links to the article.

However, what is important is to take note of the phenomenon that is encapsulated in the content of the article: mothers shaming other mothers.  Sadly this subject is not limited to the confines of theory, it is very much present in daily life.

I characterise the Slummy Mummy movement as being a truthful depiction of motherhood, outlining the good but expressly sharing the bad and more importantly the ugly.    However, Mangan questions the movement sharing her interpretation that it represents a deceitful view of motherhood and outlining it as a “race to the bottom” amongst mothers.  Mangan even goes as far as to quote mothers who have posted what annoys them most about their children on a Mumsnet discussion board.

Motherhood is a different experience for everyone.  Every child is different.  Ever mother is different.  So how can anybody judge what tools other mothers use to vent the stresses that come with parenthood?  Better to have the thought out there floating around the cyber ether under a usually anonymous screen name, than screaming it directly at your child out of frustration when you’re having a bad day.

We do not need to judge each other for the ways that we find to cope every day. Parenting is difficult, and we probably judge ourselves enough without the input of others.  We need to support each other through the difficult times, and celebrate the good times together.  We know the age old saying, it takes a village.  If half the women in that village are shaming the other half, then what hope is there?

Read this fantastic response written by the author of The Unmumsy Mum.   http://theunmumsymum.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/dear-anna-response-to-that-daily-mail.html  

 

Spa Day Separation

I left my baby for the first time last weekend, and although daunting at first it was not as bad as I thought it would be.  I was due to attend a close friend’s hen do and the dilemma of leaving my baby presented itself.  Whilst I had opted to join the ladies for just a spa day rather than the full weekend, I still felt a little uncertain about what it would be like to leave my baby.  After all, since the day he was born I have not been away from him for a prolonged period of time by choice.

With the freezer full of frozen breastmilk, bottles in the steriliser and a pep talk given to my husband, I was dropped to the train station to begin the day.  My husband ushered me away from the car once the goodbyes became excessively long and then I was on my own for the first time in nearly a year; although my baby is only 8 weeks old tomorrow, I consider that from the point that I found out I was pregnant, I was never alone.

It was bliss.

I enjoyed the luxury of reading my book on the train without being interrupted by a crying baby, I was able to eat lunch with two hands as I didn’t need to simultaneously hold or entertain my son and I was able to relax in the calming atmosphere of the spa.  As a side note I would highly recommend that anyone thinking of leaving their child for the first time does so to attend a spa day.  The massage certainly helped me to relax and enjoy myself sans bébé.

This time alone helped me to remember that even though I have taken on this wonderful new role of mother in my life, I am still the person that I have always been.  It was a treat to indulge in a massage and regain a bit of the life I once knew.  It also gave me the chance to recharge my batteries.  It is important for us as mothers to take time for ourselves.  Happy mothers make for happy babies after all!

Whilst it may have been my first day away from the baby, it was also my husband’s first time looking after him alone.  I was sent numerous video and picture updates throughout the day where both my husband and son looked as though they were doing just fine without me.   So after a fantastic first day away, I returned home to a happy husband and baby who had also had an extremely good first day together just the two of them.  Both my husband and I needed this day of firsts to be a win.  Now I feel more confident to leave my son, and my husband feels more confident to care for him alone.

All in all a good first day away.  Although I enjoyed myself and am very glad I took this first step, I doubt that I shall make too much of a habit out of swanning off to the spa solo.  Maybe next time it’ll be the hair salon…

Breastfeeding: Volume One

As a new mother the options for feeding my baby were presented to me very clearly. Breast or bottle – you decide.  My midwife asked the question of what I intended to do, and I advised that I wanted to try breastfeeding if I could.  I was instantly admonished for including the “if I could” element to my answer.  I had included it in my answer as I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to breastfeed, in case there were factors beyond my control that would have stopped me from breastfeeding.  Of course we are all told that Breast is Best, and since becoming a mother I have noticed that this sentiment is even included in the small print at the bottom of the screen on the Aptamil Follow On Milk advert.  However we cannot foresee the future and problems that could arise.  I didn’t want to end my journey before it had begun, but I also didn’t want to put myself under pressure as if I had not been able to breastfeed then I would have felt that I had failed my baby.

Nearly seven weeks in, my breastfeeding journey is going very well and my baby is thriving.  Perhaps he is doing more than thriving as his weight gain is well above average and he is following the 91st percentile at the moment!

Whilst I appreciated my midwife’s belief in my ability to nourish and sustain my baby, I do feel that my answer should have been accepted.  There are a range of reasons why breastfeeding may not work for some people which are extremely valid.  For new mothers I feel that there is already an abundance of pressure, both internally and externally to be able to adapt to the new role that is thrust upon you once that baby is born.  Added pressure and anxiety about breastfeeding is not necessary in these circumstances.

I personally feel very passionately that I want to breastfeed my child as long as we are both happy doing so.  After all, I certainly don’t want to be getting up in the middle of the night to sterilise, prepare and cool bottles of formula!  Even though I feel so passionately about breastfeeding I couldn’t help but notice that throughout my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option discussed.  I attended NHS antenatal classes where every single couple who attended confirmed that they would indeed be breastfeeding.  No information was given on bottle feeding at all.  In addition to this, I was told that if breastfeeding hurts then you are doing it wrong.  Only one midwife acknowledged the truth that breastfeeding was going to be uncomfortable and painful initially as it was new.  I had never had a tiny human suckling with all their might for the smallest drops of colostrum hanging off my boobs before – of course it was going to hurt at first!

It is essential that we have the right support in place to help mothers on their breastfeeding journeys, and equally healthcare professionals must acknowledge that whilst breastfeeding may be best there is an alternative option that women may choose for a whole host of reasons.  I strongly believe that with the right support where women are given the honest truth about breastfeeding, and there is a culture where there is less pressure to get it right first time or give up more women will choose to continue breastfeeding.  As natural as breastfeeding is, it can be difficult and non-judgmental support to continue through the difficult times is what is needed.

Where I live I am lucky to be able to access breastfeeding support groups should I ever feel the need for additional support.  I am proud to say that today I attended the first week of a ten week course to become a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter at these groups.  I hope that I can be a source of help and provide guidance to other mothers on their breastfeeding journeys to help them continue for as long as they are comfortable breastfeeding.

 

Heffwit has a baby!

So some of you may have clocked my noticeable absence from the blogosphere.  Well that happens to be because of my new presence in the babysphere!

That’s right! In March 2017 I became a mother for the first time to my beautiful son.  He is absolutely gorgeous and has brought more love into mine and my husband’s lives than we could have ever imagined.  I now spend most of my days sat in the same chair breastfeeding, followed by changing countless nappies and outfits!  Needless to say I’m kept busy but have decided to return to blogging to document the new challenges that I am facing.  Not only must I navigate the demands of motherhood which are endless,  but also the demands of a legal career that I am due to begin very shortly.  Whilst I am yet to start my training, I am still eager to ensure that I am able to give my son the love and attention he deserves whilst embarking on the next phase of my career.  Therefore, the majority of this blog is likely to focus on how to balance my role as a mother and a career woman.

However, as I am yet to start training there is plenty of time for mushy baby blog posts and interesting comments from other working mothers who are striking the balance just right!

My little one is stirring so that must be all for now.  And so the challenges begin…Hs-21

Photograph by TC Photography UK.

Repost: Discover Nightswapping, a new way of Travelling

A fantastic post by Les Petits Pas de Juls (lespetitspasdejuls.wordpress.com) covering a great new method of travelling.

Expand your horizons with Nightswapping, and explore somewhere previously unknown.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

(scroll down for the english version – vean al pie de página para la versión en español) Au début de l’année, je suis tombée sur un nouveau site de voyage.  Il a immédiatement attiré mo…

Source: Discover Nightswapping, a new way of Travelling