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 – 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…

Favourites: July Edition

For my July favourites I want to focus on my favourite household objects.  More specifically my favourite objects in my favourite room.


We have recently moved house and are working our way through the rooms getting them just the way we like them.  The first room was my dressing room / office, I might do a post on that another time.  We are just putting the final touches to the living room, this is the room that’s quickly become my favourite.

We don’t have a TV (we watch a lot of Netflix and DVDs) so we normally just load whatever we want to watch up on a laptop.  Our living room is very minimal and I love that your eye isn’t drawn to a massive black rectangle as soon as you step in.

For our anniversary we bought ourselves a new radio/CD player/Bluetooth speaker system.  We are in love with it, it looks really sleek and a bit retro and is super simple to use and set up.  The sound quality is great and it comes with a whole load of features like an alarm and a sleep timer that we’ve not really looked into yet.

We have a lot of green in our lives. Hubby’s parents recently adopted our cats and since then we have felt a real lack of life in the house – plants are the next best thing to pets I think. They lift your mood and they can be interesting to watch grow and change.  They will fill the four legged gap until we are ready to welcome a new fur baby into our lives.

I’m a knitter, and, as such, I make many many blankets, cushions and sometimes foot stools!  Knitted fabric is a wonderful texture and when it’s a nice colourful pattern it can be a real feature in your room, we have a table/basket (we got ours from IKEA) that holds all our blankets when it’s too hot for them.

Everyone loves a candle, right? I particularly like The White Company for candles. At the moment we have Ocean Tide.

We are planning to add a chair and a coffee table to this room and then it’s done done done!

What’s your favourite room and why? Let me know down below!

 

It’s wonderful to be alive

I’d like to confess to something that only a select group of friends and family, including my husband and parents, know.  Oh, and the listeners of a university radio station in whom I confided when the weight of my action became too much to handle alone.  A few years ago, on a bike ride with a friend, I killed a frog.  There was really nothing I could do to prevent it, at least that’s what I’ve had to start telling myself in order to sleep at night.  It was on the path and I was going very fast. I didn’t see it until it was too late.  Then I had to continue seeing it as my wheel spun in front of me. If it hadn’t been me it might have been funny.

This evening found me on another bike ride.  A bike ride that was all round much bumpier, slower and took more effort than it would have if I’d had the foresight to pump up my tires before I left.  I considered asking one of the passing cyclists if I could borrow a pump, but sadly I am totally incapable of interacting with strangers in that way, so I ploughed on.  I realise I could also have turned round and gone back home but where’s the fun in that?

I had a very romantic idea of cycling along to the nearest town, pulling up at a pub with an area out the front for me to sit in the evening sun and having a refreshing glass of coke. I’d prop up my bike, pop inside, helmet unclipped but still on my head, comment to the bartender about the pleasant evening, raise a glass to other outdoorsy people around me and head back outside to sit with my bike, not because I was worried it would be stolen, oh no! But because I wanted to take a perfectly filtered picture to add to my blog post about how wonderful it is to be alive.  My dreams were dashed as the only pubs I saw proudly advertised their wide screen TVs and surround sound for all your footballing needs and, thoughtfully, as little pavement as possible outside.  I imagine this is to give their patrons as little a way to stumble to a taxi as possible, after their team loses the match.

It’s amazing what a difference in surroundings you can find on a 5 mile bike ride.  What was most noticeable was the difference in smells; stagnant water, cut grass, petrol from a burnt out car, cut grass, horse poo, some kind of delicious food from an unseen location, stagnant water.  Fascinating and also very confusing to my senses.  I returned home with a craving for a plate of steaming hot grass and chips…

Something I’ve realised from living in Norwich is that, even though some drivers are totally mad and completely incapable of driving,  people are at least fairly accustomed to the sight of someone on a bike.  Tonight’s route had me cycle on the road for a very short amount of time, not enough to get up any real speed, and I was on a fairly narrow and winding road so drivers behind me were forced to drive slowly rather than speed past me.  I indicated to come off the road and the driver behind me actually came to an almost complete stop to allow me to make what was essentially a U turn back onto the cycle path. She was also kind enough not to laugh at me when, after taking my hand from the handlebar to thank her, I almost rode directly into a post.

Star Wars (spoiler free)

Very early in the morning, in a cinema in Norwich…

It’s been a dark time for The Franchice. Although the prequels were terrible, another attempt has been made to restore The Franchice to its former glory. Hoping to evade the dreaded CGI overload, a young couple shuffle to their seats in the arthouse Cinema City.

Continue reading “Star Wars (spoiler free)”

Greatest Works…

Frequently I will write really great blog posts. Only, I don’t actually commit them to any kind of physical form. And so, as the day goes by, I forget what I had to say and the words are lost forever.  Some days I write blog posts in a physical medium, they might not be as good as the ones I write in my head, but it’s better to write them down and post them, right?

In terms of connecting with people and sharing my stories with other like minded people, yes, it is better to physically write something for people to see, but sometimes is the act of private creation not more important?

In order for me to post something I have to be the first person to like it and, to be honest, generally I feel that I’m the only person who has to like it. I only ask my husband to read it to make sure it’s comprehensible (there is no hope of other people liking it if they can’t even understand it).

By “writing” blog posts that never get written I’m developing my style, my voice. And even though I’m hugely disappointed when I have the feeling that something great has been lost, it gives me confidence to sit down and write anyway and occasionally I’ll run to the computer fast enough to get the post down.

I carry a notebook with me, I’m trying to get better at making quick and detailed notes to look at later and sometimes ideas make it to the pages but I still  find the posts I write in the shower or while I’m carrying shopping are much better than the ones I manage to get down on paper.  By writing them down I cease to continue developing them in my head and when I come to write up the post the moment is gone.

So as I sit and write this, with wet hair that possibly still has some shampoo in it,  I realise that maybe I don’t need to learn to write better notes: I need to learn to run faster.