Paying it forward – Breastfeeding Support

Thanks for hopping over from Life with Baby Kicks and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 6 The People Behind The Breastfeeder; sponsors today include ARDO Breastpumps who are giving away a Calypso Single Breastpump, Breastvest who are offering an essential breastvest duo (1x black and 1x white) in your size and Mother Loves Cookies who are providing a box of delicious lactation cookies for our Grand Prize winner. Over £700 worth of goodies are up for grabs entries via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Breastfeeding support starts before the baby is even here.  R and I talked about it a lot.  We talked about it with his mum too.  R was born 8 weeks early and his mum also had over supply & donated her milk – she’d hold a container under the opposite breast from the one she was feeding from.  I love how normal breastfeeding is in their family, whereas my family are all really awkward about it.  R still squirms a little, mainly when his parents talk about breastmilk shooting across the room, but he’s mainly comfortable with it, although his sister being born just before his 10th birthday probably helped that.

The moment that Oliver was born the midwife was on hand to help me position Oliver and get him to latch.  She was fab and literally put him on my breast – although that didn’t really teach me what I should do, it meant that he got colostrum shortly after he was born.  Later on the ward more midwives helped and there was a breastfeeding supporter, although she was overstretched even more than the midwives.

Once home and struggling with the pain the health visitors etc told me I just needed my nipples to ‘toughen up’, I then went to my local ante natal clinic where I knew there were NCT volunteers, they helped me with better positioning and taught me about the ‘nose to nipple’ routine.  It sort of helped, but the biggest help was the online community of breastfeeding mums.  They weren’t overstretched and under paid tired workers and there were so many people that someone always knew the answer or could reassure you.

R was amazing too – he read about breastfeeding.  He supported every choice I made.  He changed nappies, cooked dinners, cleaned the flat, brought me everything I wanted and even cleaned my breast pump!  He let me rest at every opportunity.  He even got up in the night just to pick Oliver up and pass him to me, even though he was virtually next to me.  When I was exhausted he was always there to tell me how amazing I was or to take Oliver for an hour or two so that I could sleep.  He was so amazing that I really wondered how I’d cope without him when he was back at work.  And now I am worried about having another baby because he works away so much and I know how much I needed him then, so would definitely need him with a toddler in tow!

Once he was back at work he came home with some (well meaning) bad advice from a coworker but his boss’s (now) wife was a trainee midwife in her final year and gave him all the right information about night feeding, supply, positioning, literally anything!  I’ve no doubt that the ladies who give birth with her around are in great hands!

Then there’s Wendy at the Breastfeeding Network.  She dedicates her time to educating professionals on the safe use of medications, helping mums carry on breastfeeding when they’ve been given bad advice or being able to suggest alternative medications.  Without her we would have heartbreakingly forced to give up at 10 months, but we were able to go to self weaning.  For that I will always be eternally grateful.

Support is everything when it comes to breastfeeding, from the smallest things like someone passing the remote and letting you watch endless reruns of friends to the big things like getting the latch right, learning about breast milk supply and problems we didn’t encounter like tongue tie/lip tie.  I only wish funding were better so that more people can achieve their breastfeeding goals.

During my breastfeeding journey I count myself lucky, while asking for help I read more about breastfeeding and learned about different issues that many people face.  As a result, I now know a lot more about breastfeeding and I use that knowledge to help others where possible; one day I hope to become a peer supporter, perhaps after finishing having children and I have more time to be able to volunteer.  In the meantime, whenever I meet someone who needs any help I will do everything in my power to get the information that they need, even if that person has already moved on to bottle feeding because of their difficulties but still wants information.

For more on the people behind the breastfeeder please hop on over Fit for parenting where you can also gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.


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When are you going to stop breastfeeding?

Thanks for hopping over from Mush Brained Ramblings and welcome to my post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Day 5 Extended Breastfeeding we have over £700 worth of breastfeeding and baby goodies up for grabs including prizes from More4Mums providing a set of ‘Hot Milk’ Lingerie, a signed hardback limited edition copy of Milky Moments and a £30 voucher from Milk Chic  Full details of the Grand Prize can be found here and all entries to be completed via the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

I always hoped to breastfeed to six months, I thought that was how long a baby needed breastmilk for; I’m not sure why (subliminal marketing, maybe?), but then we got to six months and I saw that my baby was, in fact still a baby who still needed milk.  Why stop now?  So I changed my mind and said until one year.  But then a year came and although he was walking (at 9.5 months), had plenty of teeth and could clearly communicate when he wanted milk I realised that he was just a day older than he had been the day before.  He still needed milk.  He still needed me.

Oliver never pulled my top down, we taught him ‘booby etiquette’ and he’d take my hand and place it on my chest (not even my boobs, my chest) and say ‘mama milk’, or ‘mama muhmuh’ when he was smaller.  He had cows milk too, we always called it cow milk so that he understood the difference and never got a shock at being offered one and not the other.

As we approached one year people started asking when I was going to stop (actually, that started around 6 months) although nobody said that I should stop, I always felt like people thought I was weird.  My mother-in-law often used to ask and I always used to say to R that I thought she was thinking I was going too long.  It was only later, after Oliver self weaned, that I found out her perception was always that you should let the baby decide and that hers had self weaned pre one year due to weaning recommendations being so different – they had food and cows milk much earlier.  But all four of her children self weaned, including R who was born at 32 weeks.  R always says he thinks she’s really proud of me for breastfeeding so long, which is really lovely, especially as I’m not sure what my family think of it!

We had a few physical problems along the way, at 10 months I had a heart op to correct my heart rhythm issues and the cardiologist had to do something more than he originally thought.  It resulted on me being on medication for 6 weeks and the cardiologist telling me I couldn’t breastfeed and I had to stop.  Just like that.  Because, “he should be on steak and chips by now anyway”  (yes, he actually used those words.  About a 10 month old baby.)  Luckily the amazing breastfeeding community pointed me towards Wendy Jones and her team at the Breastfeeding Network’s Drugs in Breastmilk Helpline, and with her help and advice we managed to carry on feeding.

Then at 18 months I got mastitis – I’d never had it before, I somehow managed to escape it in the early days despite my over supply.  It was horrific!  I went to the out of hours GP and she gave me antibiotics and encouraged me to keep feeding so we upped the breastfeeding and Oliver helped clear the infection.

He doesn’t remember breastfeeding now, he self weaned in November last year, but we tell him about it.  He understands that babies get milk from their mummy’s boobies.  For me, it’s really important that he knows that.

For more extended breastfeeding experiences please hop on over to Sunshine Scribbles where you can gain further entries into the grand prize draw. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Keeping Britain Breastfeeding website. UK residents only.


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World Breastfeeding Week 1st-7th August

During World Breastfeeding Week my blog will be taken over by Breastfeeding posts as I join forces with Keep Britain Breastfeeding and their scavenger hunt.  We will be getting positive about breastfeeding under the hashtag #positiveaboutbf and there will be a blog hop.

You’ll find my posts here on the 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th covering a variety of set topics.

Hurrahh for Boooobiiiessss!!

If you’re sick about me talking about boobies, it’s probably best to check back after the week is done.  But seriously.  Boobs are fricking awesome.

Is it really the end of breastfeeding?

When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed, it was really important to me because I feared so much that I wouldn’t bond with my baby.  It was really hard, I cried a lot in the first few weeks and wondered whether it was worth the pain.  As the weeks went on it got easier and easier then it became like something I had been doing my whole life, it felt so normal, so natural, so easy…  Now we are reaching 23 months and I never envisaged breastfeeding this long, in fact when he was only 2 months old we went to a 2nd birthday party of a friend’s daughter who was still breastfed and I remember saying “I really hope I’m not still doing it when he’s that old”, although I suppose that was mainly because I thought breastfeeding would always involve sleepless nights, sore nips, frumpy clothes and being stuck to the sofa scoffing my face with chocolate.  But I got over that by the time he was a few months old.  So now we are here, he’s almost two.  Two is the age the World Health Organisation say you should feed to “or beyond”, so when anybody ever says anything about breastfeeding a toddler you always have this to fall back on to stop you looking quite as like the crazy mom who wants to keep her child as a baby FOREVER like the world seems to think of mothers who breastfeed past 6 or 12 months.  Admittedly, most questions come at around 6 months and 12 months then people start to give up asking as you near 18 months but I’m expecting the questions to start again.  

Breastfeeding is Awesome!
(Oliver at around 3 months)

I’ve never really known how Oliver would wean, whether it would be me leading the way or him, but I think I know the answer now.  I’m not in control of this, it’s about his needs, I always fed on demand, I had the sleepless nights, I had the cluster feeding, I had the comfort feeding when he fell over and hurt himself, and now, now we are at the point where he isn’t really bothered.  I fed him yesterday morning in bed and he hasn’t asked since.  I suppose we have found other ways of dealing with issues that would have been ‘nursed’ before.  If he falls over or hurts himself we kiss the part of him which hurts and when he’s tired we cuddle.  When he wakes up in the morning we usually have a cuddle, a little tickle and wrestle then get up and watch a little TV and have some breakfast then start the day.  Nap times are becoming an issue, I used to feed him to sleep but even if I feed him now he doesn’t often fall asleep.  We cuddle and he will sometimes fall asleep and be put in his cot, but sometimes he is disturbed as I make the transfer and his naps are pretty inconsistent so we are working on that right now.  

I don’t really know how to feel at the moment with this realisation, I’m a little emotional, it’s an important chapter of my life coming to an end.  What’s brilliant is seeing that he still wants to cuddle me without the breastfeeds which is something I always feared slightly because he’s so active, but I’m lucky, he’s a cuddly boy.  

Oliver cuddling me and his ‘Nelly’ Elephant this morning


Mastitis during extended breastfeeding

Many many months ago (17 exactly today in fact) I started my breastfeeding journey – the day my son was born I knew I wanted to breastfeed.  It was a bit of a rocky start, I had cracked, bleeding, toe curlingly painful nipples for about 3 weeks and then it was mainly just sore for another 3, by 6 weeks we were doing pretty well.  We have pretty much sailed through since then – the odd bite or teeth mark here and there is as hard as it has gotten.  Until Saturday night that is, when I thought I was coming down with the flu.  Oliver had been unwell because his canines and molars are coming through and just didn’t want to feed that day so naturally I was feeling pretty full.  I had leaked within half an hour of getting in to bed, I changed my top and thought nothing of it and went back to sleep.  I woke again an hour or two later soaking because I’d leaked again – this time I noticed that I was feeling pretty sore too.  I changed my top again and tried to get back to sleep.  Eventually Oliver woke at around 4am – I wouldn’t usually feed him at night but I knew I needed to, so I fed from the full breast and we both went back to sleep until he woke for the day at 7am – I decided to feed from the same side because it still felt sore.  It was then that I realised just how awful I was feeling.

When I woke up on the Sunday I felt exhausted, my throat was really sore, my whole body ached and I felt extremely cold despite having a 38 degree fever.  I thought I must have the flu and then realised that mastitis is described to have flu like symptoms.  I looked it up via the NHS website and was fairly certain that I knew what was wrong.  I told my partner and he left me to rest, meanwhile he looked up what he could do to help – he brought me painkillers, tea and glasses of water while he looked after Oliver all day, bringing him in every few hours to feed from me to help clear the breast.  He offered to make me lunch but I just couldn’t stomach anything I just felt so sick.  

I spent the whole day sleeping, then at around 4pm I decided to get out of bed and try to eat something in the hope that I would feel a little better, but by 7pm at dinner time I felt even worse.  We decided to go to the Urgent Care Centre to see the Out of Hours GP – 3.5hours later we saw the GP who said it was definitely mastitis and then gave me some antibiotics.  I took the first one as soon as we got to the car – I just wanted to be better as soon as possible.  The next day I was feeling a little better, but still very unwell.  I spent much of the day in bed again.  I feel very lucky that my partner was at home rather than at work, however, he was then leaving at 6am on Tuesday until Wednesday evening.

On Monday I had also decided to have a hot bath – my aches felt so much better, I was finally warm and I managed to express a little.  I now feel a little sorry for Oliver though as I saw what came out – it was sticky and yellow, a little like pus or mucus.  I squeezed out as much as I possibly could.

Luckily on Tuesday I felt a little better – I was taking the antibiotics and painkillers – I even managed to tidy the living room and vacuum up some of Oliver’s mess!  I still didn’t have a huge appetite, but I managed to eat a little.  By Wednesday it was all down hill again, luckily my partner was home earlier than expected which meant I could rest again – and I really needed it.  

Now, on Thursday, the soreness and redness has gone and there is only regular milk coming out.  I still feel slightly fluey, my temperature is around 37 despite being chilly, I’m a little achy and my throat feels very sore and swollen as well as having little appetite, but I am definitely getting better and the course of antibiotics will be finished by this time on Sunday.  

I had gotten to a point where I was complacent about breastfeeding, it was just so easy.  He hasn’t fed in the night for a really long time and is quite happy to drink cows milk from a non spill cup if I need a rest.  The feeds were cutting down and I was confident about my milk supply being perfect for him.  Now we are here, and it is feeling pretty difficult.  I feel like my supply has dwindled, but at the same time he is feeding so much more, even waking up at 4am and expecting feeds because I have been encouraging it to remove the blockage.  Now I am worried that when I go away in a few weeks that not only is Oliver going to really miss the feeds (away for 36 hours and he’s been fine before), but also that I risk mastitis again.  

So now I face a choice, do I risk upsetting him and forcing him to cut down feeds or do I follow his lead the same way I have for the past 17 months?