Breastfeeding Journey – Part Two

This is part two of my breastfeeding story. Part one is here. Or for a quick recap…

Our baby was bottle fed a mixture of expressed breast milk and formula, for the first 11 days of his life, and then with the help of nipple shields we packed away the bottles! Fantastic, big step forward!  But then nipple shields are just like bottle teats that you put on your breast so again, I was reminded by midwives about nipple confusion, I might always have to use shields, and because they can effect your milk supply my milk might not be enough and we might have to top up and then he’ll prefer the bottle because its quicker… We got in a lactation consultant who was fabulous and so encouraging.  She diagnosed his tongue tie, which we had released, and encouraged me to carry on offering him my breast without shields whenever I could. 

The tongue release didn’t have any noticeable effect, although I guess in some ways we’ll never know.  I continued to offer without shields occasionally, but had made my peace with them, I had accepted that he would use shields and I was OK with that. Really once I got into the swing of things with them, it was just as easy as feeding without (most of the time). Occasionally Aidan would grab one and throw it on the floor or there would be a bit of a panicked moment  if I’d not run the steriliser, but all in all using the shields wasn’t too bad.

Then, a few weeks we offered him a bottle for the first time since starting with nipple shields. I had mastitis and felt so ill, I was worried I might not have the strength to hold him so I expressed and my husband tried the bottle. Aidan flat out, completely rejected it, with full on screaming and thrashing. OK, good to know.  But he then went on to reject the nipple shield, uh oh, had we screwed him up completely?!

Nope! He latched on without shields and ate a full feed like that for the first time EVER in his life. It was totally random, no problems getting him latched on and off he went, like he’d been doing it since day one! He was about 15 weeks old. Barring a few days when he was feeling a bit under the weather and I guess just wanted a comfort and something very familiar, all of his day time feeds are now without shields. I then started using the shields only as a bit of a bedtime indicator but the last couple of days I’ve stopped doing that too.  What a complete turn around! At 18 weeks old my boy is breastfeeding without the help of shields. It feels amazing to be feeding my baby the way I had imagined.

A few things I want to say that I couldn’t pull together into the above.

  • At the time when my emotions were all over the place, hearing people say ‘it doesn’t matter how he’s fed’ really upset me, because it mattered to me. It’s OK to feel disappointed or upset if things aren’t working out how you imagined, whether that be with the birth, gender disappointment, feeding or anything else. It is 100% OK and normal.  Talk to someone about it, a partner, parent, friend or your midwife. No one will judge you for your feelings.  Sometimes it’s just important to vocalise your feelings and then it feels like a huge weight is lifted.  Once I told my husband that it mattered to me how we fed our son it helped massively.  He knew that I was going to need a bit of extra emotional support and he was fantastic.
  • Feeding with nipple shields is not second class breastfeeding.  If you look online you will find people who believe that the only way a baby should be fed is from your bare breast.  It’s true that sometimes feeding with nipple shields can change your milk supply, I’d recommend finding a good lactation consultant or a reliable breastfeeding support group with trained professionals if you’re going to use nipple shields.  They can offer lots of help and support.
  • If you are expressing and feeding your baby that way, your baby is still breastfed.  Just because the milk is coming from a bottle doesn’t change the fact that they are getting breast milk and you can still get that closeness and bond with your baby in the same way while giving them a bottle.  If you are feeding them exclusively breast milk this way then you are absolutely brilliant, huge respect mamma.  It is possible, here’s a link to an amazing woman I follow on Instagram who is worth a follow for so many reasons, she is expressing so her baby can remain exclusively breastfed while she works full time. Stretch_studentmidwife

I would 100% recommended anyone who is struggling with feeding to see a lactation consultant.

So I guess the next stage on the journey with be weaning! Stop growing up little bean!

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Breastfeeding Journey – Part One

I want to start of by saying that this topic and my story are, of course, very personal.  I have struggled, not only physically but mentally with breastfeeding.  Please be respectful of the decisions I and my husband made.

As part of World Breastfeeding Week 2018 I’d like to share with you our breastfeeding story so far.  I can see there being three parts to this story, hopefully the first two will be this week and the final one will come in a few weeks.  The second part will cover breastfeeding and mental heath as I have experienced it. This post will be our journey up to today.

Today Aidan is 6 weeks and 2 days old.  We have an appointment at the tongue tie clinic to, hopefully, have a tongue tie division.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Within an hour after Aidan’s wonderful and beautiful birth I asked the midwife if I should try and feed him.  First we tried a cross cradle hold as this felt the most natural.  My midwife was very supportive and gave me a few tips but Aidan didn’t seem interested. Vicki (the midwife that had taken over after his birth) suggested we try lying down.  I managed to get him latched for only a few little sucks.  He was considered a ‘reluctant feeder’.  He was born at 0640, this first little feed was probably around 0715.  He didn’t eat again until much much later that day.

For various reasons that I’ll talk about in a different post, we were separated around an hour and a half after his birth, and between me being away from him and him being away from me we couldn’t have any more skin to skin until after lunch time.

At no point was I prompted or encouraged to try and feed him again.  Of course I’m aware that he’s my baby and I need to feed him but in retrospect I felt unsupported in the early hours with breastfeeding.  He was known to be reluctant to feed and we had had trouble with latching, I’m very surprised no one came to see us try again.  It wasn’t until we were on the ward that I tried again to get him latched.  It became apparent at the point that it was going to take some time to get him feeding from the breast and so I was encouraged to express into a syringe* in order for him to get the colostrum.

Very late on his first night he was taken to NICU where he spent around 24hrs.  In the morning I didn’t get to him until 11am, I was given some support by the NICU staff to try and get him feeding but again in the end I expressed into a clean syringe for him.  The staff suggested trying to use a machine to express so that we could get a little more into him.  We still used the syringe to give it to him, but this way he was getting close to 5ml a feed rather than 1ml here and there.  Andrew and I were so proud when I started getting serious amounts of colostrum.

Once Aidan was taking around 10ml they suggested we use a cup to feed him instead. Feeding more than 10ml with a syringe isn’t very practical. The cup is just one of those small plastic cups they dispense medication in (a clean one every time).  Its a little bit squishy and your baby kind of laps the milk up like a cat would. It’s a bit scary to do as there is a risk they could breath it in and asphyxiate.  I think I only managed to cup feed him once and not very successfully. Not all the staff were happy for me to syringe or cup feed him unattended and some didn’t want me to cup feed him at all and so they would do it.  The number of different people who had fed him in his first few days was somewhere in the region of ten.  We were told in our parenting classes that the number of feeders should be kept as small as possible. Ideally, in a non breastfeeding situation, it would be no more than mum and dad.

This, along with a very hungry baby, led us to the decision to formula feed him on day 4.  We were warned of nipple confusion and told he might not ever latch if we started with a bottle, but we had seen no progress with breastfeeding and they wouldn’t discharge a baby that was only cup feeding.  I continued to express and we topped up with formula, he very rarely had more formula than expressed breast milk.

This decision was so hard and so easy to make.  Breastfeeding him was so important to me but he needed to eat and we needed to go home.  After a quick trip for Andrew to pick up everything we’d need for expressing and bottle feeding at home we were discharged after 5 days in hospital.

Expressing is hard work, I felt like I was doing it constantly, and it was really tiring.  Expressing took about as long as feeding him would take so it could take me an hour to express but then he’d drink it all in seconds. If people visited I would take myself off to express, sitting alone for an hour every 2 or 3 hours while we had visitors was pretty grim.

After talking to a few friends and getting some advice from other mums on Instagram, we contacted a lactation consultant and asked her to come out to our home to give us some advice.  I just needed to know if I was ever going to breastfeed him, I was still trying and by this point it was just upsetting me and Aidan.  I needed to know if it was worth pushing through or whether it was going to be better for both of us if I just accepted it wasn’t going to happen.

The day before we saw the consultant I spoke with my midwife. I asked her if she had any more suggestions for me. She said that at that point it might be worth giving nipple shields a go. There’s still a risk of nipple confusion but he was already using a bottle so he was likely already confused if he was going to be.

On the 28th of June I sat down with him to try the nipple shields, I was fully expecting it wouldn’t work, at least not first time.   He latch immediately with no problems and had his first proper breastfeed at just over 2 weeks old.  I cried, I was so happy to be feeding my baby boy the way I’d dreamed of.  That night he fed mostly on the breast with the help of the shields and only had a bottle on one occasion.

The following day our lactation consultant came round and she was fantastic, she was so supportive of our decision and felt fairly positive there was still a chance he could feed without the shields in the future.  She referred us to the tongue tie clinic because of a mild tongue tie (which, I might add, we’d been told by a midwife he didn’t have).  The LC recommended waiting until his tie had been cut before trying without the shields, she thought he might find it easier and it would be less painful for me.  When she left she said to try and not give him a bottle unless we really needed too.  I think he had 2 bottles over the few days that followed and since then we have packed them all away.  I did try him on my breast a few times and on occasions he was feeling co-operative we were able to get a good latch and even have a few sucks.

There are definitely times when I find the shields frustrating and want to pack them in and go back to bottles, but all in all they have improved our day to day life.  I feel able to go out for the day, not needing to worry about finding somewhere to express and storing milk.  The shields still needed to be sterilised so sometimes things can get a bit frantic if I’ve been a bit disorganised but we’re getting into a pretty good routine.

I plan on doing a follow up post once we’ve had time to see if there’s been an improvement after his division.

*I was doing this by hand, sucking up any little drops from my nipples with the syringe.

The Sunday Subject – Succulents

Good morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy The Sunday Subject. This week’s subject is Succulents.

The plant of choice for anyone who loves the life that plants bring to your home but is totally incapable of remembering to water the damn things.  Having said that, I killed my first succulent with love, over watered it and it rotted, most unpleasant.

Succulents usually come from a climate where water is scarce and have adapted to survive under these conditions.  Their thick fleshy leaves are designed to store water giving them the ability to thrive where only mist or dew is a regular source of liquid. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. Technically (or more accurately, horticulturally) there is a difference between cacti and succulents  but I think in the world of ‘having a little plant friend to call your own’  you’d be forgiven for grouping the two together.

There are over twenty five plant families that contain succulents and some of those of those families have well over two or three hundred succulents in them. I’m not sure I’ll have room for them all on my dining room table but I’m prepared to give it a go.

For some further reading on succulent cultivation, here’s a list of articles from World of Succulents or maybe you’d like to learn everything there is to know about succulents and Cacti, in which case perhaps this 8 lesson online course is for you!

Send me some photos of your plants! Succulents, cacti or maybe just a bunch of cut flowers, I’d love to see any and all!  You can do this via Twitter (@BeccyMundy) or via a DM on Instagram (beccy_mundy)

The Sunday Subject – The Notebook

Good morning, grab a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy The Sunday Subject. This week’s subject is The Notebook.

No, not the 2004 film starring Ryan Gosling. The notebook, every stationary lover’s obsession.  I myself have many (many) notebooks scattered around my home, some beautiful, others practical, most totally empty because they’re just too nice to spoil with pencil or ink!  Notebooks bring me a scene of productivity and organisation, two things I often find I lack.

From a cheap and cheerful ring bound pad from Wilko, to the sleek and stylish Moleskine. The uses of a notebook are innumerable. Whether you’re a writer, artist, parent, student or astronaut everyone has a use for a notebook.

Maybe you make your own.  During the 17th and 18th century notebooks were made at home as and when they were needed by folding together pieces of paper.  Children were taught how to make them in school because information management was so important.  It wasn’t until around 1890 that notebooks started to be made and sold.  Scraps of paper were stitched together to make a small pad.  These quickly evolved into the ‘Legal Pad’  that we have today.  As with all things the notebook developed over time and the production processes changed to include, glueing, covering, spiral binding, ring binding and of course in the 20th century we were introduced to the practical, if less pretty, electronic note taking world.

I have to say, that even with the benefits of digital note taking, I don’t think I’ll ever fully switch from paper and ink to pixel and key.  Notebooks are a work of art, there’s so much character in a well used notebook, you just can’t beat it.

If you’re interested in learning how to bind a notebook here’s a list of UK based classes and The Book Studio in Norfolk offers courses during the winter months.

Or maybe you could just fold together a few sheets of paper…

I’d love to see your notebooks, whether home made or shop bought.  You can share them with me on twitter (@BeccyMundy) or send me a DM on Instagram (beccy_mundy).

 

An Honest Opinion Of Myself – Pregnancy

My hands and ankles are swollen, my thighs and bum have expanded, my back hurts, I can’t get comfortable ever and I’m peeing about 100 times an hour.  And yet, I feel better about myself than I have in a very long time, possibly better than I’ve ever felt about myself.

Before I was pregnant, I would never have worn tight-fitting, figure hugging dresses and skirts but the second my bump popped I was in horizontal stripes, embracing every lump and bump I had. I’ve had my pale, poorly shaved legs out and my no make-up days have heavily outweighed my make-up days.  I imagine its partially down to hormones, partially down to “pregnancy glow”, but a huge part of it is down to – and please pardon my French – my body is doing something fucking amazing right now!

Being positive about your body is a choice, always, and when you’re on your knees at the foot of the porcelain altar for thirteen straight weeks it can be pretty hard to love yourself much. And not everyone enjoys being pregnant, and what it does to their body and that’s okay too! I’ve definitely had days when I needed something loose and flowy to help me feel comfortable – I’m about 4 weeks from D-Day, feeling a bit swollen from the heat wave we’ve had, and rapidly running out of even pregnancy clothes that fit comfortably.

Comfort, not ‘these shoes are really comfortable’ but comfort within myself has been my key to enjoying this journey.  Looking in the mirror and feeling like me. It’s not been about feeling pretty or beautiful everyday, but about confidence and respect for myself and my body and what it’s doing.  Pregnancy does not change who you are. You are still you.   

Give yourself a chance. A chance to see past stretch marks, swelling ankles and puffy eyes.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself ‘My body was designed to do this and I’m doing it beautifully’. Behind it all, there is a tiny little person (or persons!) relying on you for everything and you are doing a fantastic job of providing that for them.  So embrace it for all that it is, because it takes up so little time really and when it’s done, that little person will be worth it all…

… I hope, because the swelling is really starting to get on my nerves a bit…

A scarf would bring this together…

I kicked myself when I got into the city and realised I’d forgotten to wear my new favourite scarf. I think the outfit works without it but the scarf added something… I’m not sure what… oh wait. I know. Warmth!! I was so freaking cold taking these pictures!

This is my first real “put together” maternity outfit. I’ve been unconvinced by maternity wear, not sure if it’s a waste of money. I bought myself this shirt from H&M and I’m so glad I did. Putting on a well fitting item of clothing can really help you feel good. I’ve not wanted to post outfit pics because I’ve not really been happy with what I’m wearing, but on this day I felt like myself again and loved it. I’m not going over the top with maternity wear because I still think it can be a bit of a waste of money (except the jeans, they are so comfortable I just want to live in them forever). But having a few nice items in my wardrobe is going to be important for me I think.

Jeans – Jojo Maman Bebe | Boots (similar)- Clarks | Shirt – H&M | Coat (similar) – H&M | Hat -Accessorise

Goals for 2018

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I rarely make my yearly resolutions or goals public.  I normally think about some things I’d like to do, maybe I’ll write them out but then I’ll just see where the year takes me. I really don’t mind doing that and have quite enjoyed going with the flow.  However this year is going to see some big changes in my life and I think I need to introduce some forethought and planning into my year if I want to come out of the other side still feeling like myself.

In June we are expecting our first baby and one of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given so far is to try and continue living life the way you want to.  If you enjoy travel, travel with the baby. If you like eating out, you can take the baby along! Knowing myself if I don’t push myself to get up and get out of the house, I’ll just laze around all day and do nothing and that’s not good for me or the baby.  So I’ve set myself 8 goals for the year.  I’ve been fairly kind to myself I think, but still tried to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit.

1. I’d like to read 50 books*.  I did this in 2016 without too much trouble so lets give it another shot.

2. Visit 3 new places.  I’ve left this fairly vague for a reason, practically speaking I’m not going to be jetting off to new countries this year with a big baby belly or a tiny tot in toe.
But England is a beautiful country and one that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve seen very little of. Closer to home even, I’ve really seen very little of Norfolk and East Anglia so I need to plan some weekend trips out!

3. Sew an item of clothing.  I know how to sew, and I know how to sew clothes.  I made a dress for the evening do at my wedding so I know I can make things I like wearing and want to do this more.  But this item of clothing doesn’t have to be for me.  Maybe a tiny baby bonnet is all I’ll manage this year but that’s OK too.

4. Learn a new skill.  Again a fairly vague one but there’s a whole year for me to figure out something new I’d like to learn!

5. Do something new every week.  I work part time and so unless I make plans to do things my free time can end up being wasted.  I don’t feel like I push myself out of my comfort zone enough and what to try and make sure that I don’t waste my last few months of child freeness. When baby is here I’m sure there will be a ton of new things I’ll be doing.

6. Blog and Vlog more.  I’d like to pick up my YouTube channel again and get back into the good blogging habits I started at the end of last year. Lets see!

These next two are things I’d like to do BB (Before Baby)

7. Declutter.  We’re about to introduce a small human and all its associated paraphernalia into our home… There’s not a lot of space.

8. Do a waste free month.  This ones going to need a bit more thought but we actually throw away very little general waste so what can I do to reduce that even more?  This one really excites me and will probably come with a bunch of blog posts and videos *fingers crossed*

*I’m going to do a YouTube video about my reading goals for the year.  Got a few prompts for myself.

Casually Hanging out in a Multi Story Car-park

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Is this not the most natural place to take photos? No?…  I wondered why we were getting some odd looks. Hey look its those jeans again!  And these boots show up fairly often too…

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It’s officially autumn and that brings with it the joy of coats.  This year I knew what I was looking for when I went out shopping, I couldn’t spend too much but obviously wanted a coat that would last.  This one is perfect, cozy, pockets, a nice collar and a good length. It has it all!

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Here are a few other nice coats that have caught my eye.

coatcoat2coat3

 

Autumn Bucket List

I’ve seen a lot of people doing a kind of seasonal bucket list and I really like the idea.  It can be really easy to miss out on the changing seasons, what with work and life taking up so much time.  Having a small list of things you’d really like to do and planning time to do them is a great way to ensure you really appreciate your time.  It can be so easy to make no plans and waste a weekend or day off.  Here’s my Autumn to-do list!

  1. Have a snuggle picnic.  I totally made up the name of this. I wanted to go for a picnic during the summer and never did.  So I’d like to pack up loads of blankets and cushions and snuggle up in a park with an autumnal picnic!
  2. Bake Parkin and/or Gingerbread. Parkin is a traditionally northern English cake or biscuit.  Like gingerbread but made with black treacle.  Perfect for nibbling around a bonfire.
  3. Go fruit picking. Any Norwich based folks with tips on where to pick fruit hit me up!
  4. Have a dinner Party. For me, Autumn feels like the perfect time to fill your house with friends and delicious food.
  5. Carve a Pumpkin. Ok so it’s cliche but I do love carving pumpkins and it lends itself perfectly to my last one…
  6. Make pumpkin pie (and make mum try it). I love pumpkin pie and it shocks me that my mother has never had it. (although that would explain why I never had any until my 20s).  This year I’ll be sure to get mum to try some.  This is my favourite recipe


It’s taken me to the end of this list to see that I obviously like food in Autumn…. All food based!

What’s on your Autumn bucket list?

Black Boot Wish list

Whilst curating my capsule wardrobe I’ve noticed a few gaps.   This is one of the most exciting parts of the capsule wardrobe in my opinion.  I can spend a little more on the item because I’ve already thought about how I’ll wear it and it should go with most things I already own.

A big hole I’ve noticed is a heeled boot.  Or more accurately, a black heeled boot.  I wear black boots pretty much everyday and having a pair that I can dress up a bit more is a must this season.  Here’s my little wish list of boots.  Some realistic, some not so realistic.

WalkerRiver IslandRaid LorenaRaid KolaRaid AriaProenzaMiss KgMarni SuedeGabiFratelliFootgloveDuneCarvela

Top faves are the Gabi bootie by Alexander Wang , the Proenza Schouler Leather ankle boots and the Miss KG Gold Heel Boots.

Which are your favourite? Any great pairs I’ve missed?