Tag Archives: breastfeeding

The Pope Says Something Sensible

In the news today, I read that the Pope encouraged mothers to breastfeed if they needed to during a baptism. He reportedly said:

“You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry.”

Stands to reason, really.

Mary breastfeeds baby Jesus in the 16th century artwork, “Virgin of the Green Cushion” by Italian artist Andrea Solario.

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FYI: Breastfeeding & Urinating Aren’t the Same

This story is doing the rounds at the moment. A mother in London’s Claridge’s Hotel was asked to cover her breastfeeding baby with a giant napkin recently, because, you know, BREASTS.

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The Sun, a UK paper, published the above in response to the matter.

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Beyond The Willow Tree- My Breast Milk Pendant

I love jewellery. Rings, bracelets, bangles, earrings (though I rarely wear them)- you name it. It’s not an occasion without it and I wear it every day. I’ve worn a nose ring for over a decade and even purchased a diamond nose stud for my wedding. 

Lots of my jewellery holds special meaning. Pieces that belonged to my mum and grandmothers, pieces given to me by others no longer with us, pieces from friends and family and my husband. I even have an old necklace given to me by a boyfriend I had when I was 15- more than half a lifetime ago now. Each piece holds a memory. So when I first saw Melanie’s work at Beyond The Willow Tree, I was intrigued.

She makes jewellery out of breast milk. And baby hair. And placenta. And umbilical cord. Even from the ashes of our loved ones.

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My pendant

At first, I admit, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. So I had a look at the photos on her Facebook page and thought- Wow. The things she makes are exquisite. From pendants to European beads and bridal rings- there is nothing, it would seem, that she can’t make. Just the other day I saw that she’d done a custom piece, making a guitar plectrum out of breast milk– amazing!

Melanie is Beyond The Willow Tree. She is a passionate doula and mother of three herself. She discusses here how the empowering birth of her third child lead to the birth of her creative business. I hate to use the journey ordinarily but it really has been a journey. After two c-sections, she decided to attempt a VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 caesarians) with her third child and there it was; the idea.

I wanted a representation of the journey I took with my daughter in meeting her and to me what was a joke of putting her placenta into a wearable art form turned into reality. Forever I will have a part of her and I mixed together, in the form of jewellery that was purely created by myself to support her life. Nothing else in this world can ever become as close as this, apart from physically her and I.

For me, breastfeeding was a struggle initially, as it is for many women. I worked hard to make it work for us and we are still going 2 years on with no signs of stopping. It’s an intrinsic part of my relationship with my daughter, so why not a keepsake to mark that? I mentioned Melanie’s work to my husband and he got in touch with her and came up with a design. He asked me to express a bit of milk and took care of the details as a birthday gift for me. He also added a curl of our daughter’s hair, which you can see better here:

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See the curl circling the star?

I find the pieces that Melanie makes to commemorate loss especially touching and beautiful, particularly her work for the mothers of babes born sleeping. The way she talks about these pieces and shares them resonates with her sensitivity. I can honestly say she’s brought a tear to my eye more than once when sharing a special piece created this way.

The process is very simple. You simply post her the breast milk (or whatever you’re using) and she sends back the finished piece. She has created jewellery for people around the world.

If you want to get in touch with her to order your own piece, you can do so on her website here or via facebook and her blog, which is well worth reading to learn more about where her creativity stems from. I can personally vouch for the quality of her work and also for how lovely she is to communicate with!

**This is not a sponsored post at all, though it was written with Melanie’s permission**


creatingcontentment
”creatingcontentment”

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A Censored Confection

Early this morning, I was scrolling through my facebook newsfeed when I saw a post from one of my favourite websites to waste time on- Cake Wrecks. It’s the kind of website that instantly makes me feel better about even my most humble baked offerings. Today’s post was a first birthday cake smash cake and was presented like this: 

Image credit (See the “uncensored” version here.)

I must admit, I was surprised by the censorship. It’s cake- not real boobs!  But I can imagine that if enough conservative types reported the image, it could shut down their facebook page temporarily, so fair enough. 

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the comments to see what the reaction was. It was refreshing to see that many people saw the humour and the association with a breastfed baby. I know my little one would have tried to latch on immediately like she did with her first Barbie doll once she’d got it’s dress off!

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What was disappointing was the number of comments that were negative. Yes, I know, I should learn my lesson and stop reading comments! The cost of a curious mind, I guess! I can understand some might find a booby cake a bit crude or unappealing to their sense of humour. However, I can’t understand the people who said such a cake was inappropriate for a child- but more suited to a bachelor’s party.

Yep. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding children for 2 years and beyond. But breasts are for MEN. 

Riiiiight. 

Breasts are for MEN, not for CHILDREN. Not even for WOMEN, despite them being firmly attached to our chests. I’ll leave that with you…

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Melting Moments
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Guest Post- Breastmilk is the BEST Milk!

Nyssa Jewell’s story had a difficult start but almost two years in and it hasn’t ended yet!

I remember sitting on the couch with my baby in my arms, staring down at my Australian Breastfeeding Association book ‘Breastfeeding…Naturally’ and thinking “Yeah right. Give me some F!@#ing answers!” and wishing that book had a different title because it was all a lie.

My son was born via Caesarean section at 38+5 weeks due to breech presentation. He was born on a very busy day at the hospital and so he could not stay with me in recovery due to a lack of staff, instead he had skin-to-skin time with my husband in my room upstairs.

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Our first successful feeding photo!

Even though he was put to the breast as soon as possible and as often as possible, my milk took about 6 days to come in. The first 5 of those days was spent in hospital. I was encouraged to pump and syringe the colostrum to my son. One day I got 1 or 2 ml and took a photo – it was the most I’d ever had! And what a fab time that was, having strangers come to the bedside and squeeze my boobs like some sort of faulty dairy cow.

Aside from offering him the breast and then giving him whatever tiny amounts of colostrum I had, the midwives gave me formula, either in a little medicine cup or in a bottle (depending on who was working and whether they believed in bottles or not). He had lost more than the 10% that is expected and the pressure was on to get his birth weight back. As a first time mum I knew no better and went along with this plan.

Prior to being discharged, I refused to leave the hospital until the lactation consultant who had been promised to me finally came to visit. Surely something was wrong if I had no milk AND a baby who couldn’t latch at all???? Nope. The verdict was in. Nipples, fine. Baby’s mouth, fine. Bye bye!

Upon being discharged from the hospital on day 6, my husband took me to the pharmacy and we hired a Medela Symphony pump to use at home and bought a tin of formula just in case.

I opened that tin but never had to use it…

All I can say is thank goodness for my husband and my family who were there to support me through the tears, and a baby that just wouldn’t latch. We were sent home on a Saturday and on the Monday I rang the lactation clinic at the hospital out of sheer desperation. My sister had taken me for a walk to get some fresh air and I rang but they had no appointments available. I pleaded for some help over the phone and was finally given a cancellation appointment for the following day.

My mum, husband, baby and I arrived at that appointment to find a lovely lactation consultant who was so very gentle. She saw the gushes of milk I finally had, gave me a nipple shield (and some tissues!) and watched as my son finally latched on and started drinking. Relief!!!!

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From that day on, our breastfeeding journey was so easy. We used the nipple shield for a few months I suppose and then one day I tried him without it and he was fine!

At that lactation clinic visit, the consultant pointed out the posters they had about the milk bank, though she wasn’t supposed to directly advertise it for me, and asked me to think about it. A few weeks later I was back, meeting with the milk bank and signing up to be a donor. I think I donated about 2 litres of milk until my son was 7 months old (they don’t accept milk from mothers with babies any old than this). And that was in addition to feeding him exclusively AND having a stash for him for those brief moments where he had to take a bottle.

I was also the grateful recipient of donor milk when my husband and I went away for a few nights after our wedding when my son was 11 months old. How I wish I had known about donor milk when he was a newborn so I wouldn’t have had to give him formula.

 I do believe that when you know better, you can do better.

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My son is almost 2 now (21 months old in the above picture) and he is still breastfeeding – every morning and sometimes more often if he is sad or unwell. I have unfortunately experienced some breastfeeding aversion but I realised it was worse in the evenings when I was tired so we managed to wean off of those feeds and we are both happy.

I don’t particularly like the phrase ‘breast is best’ but I genuinely believe that ‘breastMILK is the best milk’ and if that comes from mum, great! If it comes from another mum, that’s great too!

There is still time to enter and win a great #WBW2014 prize! Click here for your chance!


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Guest Post- This Cherub Fed Like a Champ

Kerry and Angus had a great breastfeeding experience from the start…

I guess you could say I was one of the lucky ones; the cherub attached easily after being born and fed like a little champ. In fact, he was back to his birth weight in only two days!

I was relieved and pretty excited. I had plenty of support in hubby and friends and online mummies groups. I felt like that if it did get difficult at any stage I had all the right support to try and power through any issues, but there weren’t any, woohoo!

What was difficult, was expressing to have stores for a night out or so hubby could feed him. God that was a chore! As much milk as I had in those boobs it just wanted to come out via natural suction I guess, expressing took me forever and I hated it. I persisted mostly just to give hubby that bonding time and me the occasional break, which is important, I think. Well, important for me.image

Then the questions started….So how long will you breastfeed? From everyone. Hmmmm, I thought, I’m really just taking each day as it comes. I’d answer ‘I’m trying for at least until 1 year old, and then I’ll see how I feel about taking it to 2’. “2?!” They’d say. One or two of those “2?!” people were even very close friends. None of my friends have babies though, so I think that maybe it was just not something they’d thought about, or maybe weren’t comfortable with, because they hadn’t been around babies. “Yep, 2”, I’d say, “It’s world health organisation recommended!” Thought to myself- I’m going to see how I feel.

No mastitis, no biting, I had it easy. I did however start a formula top-up after his night feed at around 5 months I think, when he began fussing on the boob a lot and I was trying to get him to have a 7hr block of sleep. It worked for us, and I felt happy with my decision. Funnily enough it was my own husband who initially balked at the idea of offering the cherub formula. Once I explained why I wanted to try it and that we’d stop if it didn’t work, and that I planned to keep breastfeeding him at all other times, he was soon on board. I loved breastfeeding, it was so convenient! I of course loved the closeness it gave me with the cherub, when he fell asleep or would smile at me and a whole mouthful of milk would spill out because he’d be too busy smiling to remember to swallow first. I encouraged this, because it was super cute!

At about 12 months he was just restless constantly, he’d crawl to the cupboard and seek out his bottles. He loved the independence of holding them and feeding himself (Probably gets his independence from his mummy!). I kept breastfeeding until 13 months, but those formula top ups changed to cows milk, and then I just stopped. I was ready, Angus was ready. He’d never been the kind of baby to ask for boobs, I don’t think he even noticed. We didn’t wean, it was cold turkey. I was prepared for a long wean, but he was happy with cows milk, and deep down in the deepest corner of my sagging boobies, I was glad to have them back and wear a normal bra!

Occasionally I had doubts about whether I should have kept going as many in my online community still did and I didn’t want to not be providing the best for my cherub. Those feelings passed. Mostly though I feel it was all about the right support, people who know breast feeding is amazing but it’s ok to do whatever’s right for you and your bub, I had that, so I guess I continued to be ‘lucky’.

I’ve shared my positive experience in the hopes it will help someone else feel less daunted by breastfeeding.

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World Breastfeeding Week 2014: The Giveaways!

Just in case you’d missed them, we have some fantastic competitions running as part of the HandbagMafia and Five Degrees of Chaos World Breastfeeding Week Blog Carnival!
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Win a Calin Bleu cotton and gauze wrap worth $74.95
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Win A Breastfeeding Mini-Shoot plus 3 Digital Files worth $250 from C Holmes Photography
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Win A One-Of-A-Kind Upcycled Nappy Bag worth $38 from Rethread the Earth
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Win a Spectra S2 Hospital Grade Double Electric Breast Pump valued at $269 from Spectra Baby Australia, plus a copy of ‘Exclusively Pumping Breastmilk’
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Win a Boobie Bikkies gift pack valued at $129 from Boobie Bikkies
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Win a Mum-and-Bub Photo Shoot Plus Prints Worth $500 from Burbaby Photography
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Linking with My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday

Aussie Giveaway Linky
Hosted by Kellie O’Brien Media

Also linked up with Musings of the Misguided for The Lounge

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Lactational Women – Those who exclusively feed their babies breast milk without breastfeeding

A Guest Post by Ellen McNally

As well as breastfeeding her own children, Ellen has studied lactation and worked with women who have needed help with breastfeeding and expressing milk.

For a lot of women pumping is a labour of love. I have spent time with women in CICU (Children’s Intensive Care Unit) with some of the sickest babies in the country. You can see the heartbreak and devotion in the mother’s eyes whilst they pump away for their seriously ill babies, many of whom are fed their milk by kangaroo pumps, syringes and nasogastric tubes (often called just an NG Tube). The sentiment of these women all seems to be consistent “It is all I am able to do for them”

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Similarly, there are plenty of women who for cultural, emotional or personal reasons beyond needing an explanation exclusively pump for their babies. Often their barrier isn’t quite as obvious as those in the unfortunate position of having sick babies and toddlers but their labour is just the same.

Finally there are those who pump due to breastfeeding difficulties. Usually this is done at the recommendation of another and sadly is done too often in an off handed manner without any investigation into the cause of the difficulties or serious attempts to rectify these issues (and if this is you and not your preferred outcome, please contact an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant for further assistance )

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What nobody who routinely or casually recommends pumping to these women ever seems to tell them, is that pumping is really difficult. More so when you are predominantly or exclusively pumping than just casually pumping. As long a way as breast pumps have come in recent years, sadly they remain inferior models at extracting milk to a healthy baby.  When women have trouble expressing their milk, the best way around this is to attempt to fool the body into believing it is a baby at the breast, rather than a plastic or silicon shield. For some women this is simply replicating the suck pattern of a baby- the quick, light sucks when first placed to the breast to stimulate the let down and then slowly increasing the strength of the vacuum whilst slowing down the speed.

But unfortunately not all women respond so easily to pumping, regardless of how exceptional their pump is and sometimes women need to go to great lengths to extract enough milk to ensure their baby is getting adequate nutrition without introducing alternative milk sources (usually tinned infant formula but there is a growing trend of utilising donated milk from other women or milk banks too…). These women go to great lengths at providing adequate milk such as smelling their babies clothing whilst they pump, getting up at odd hours of the morning when their prolactin levels are at their highest (around 4-5am, for those interested..), looking at photos and videos of their child whilst pumping and even holding heat bags to their bodies- all in an attempt to replicate the breastfeeding experience and allow the body to believe there is a baby at the breast.  The other factor affecting exclusive or predominantly pumping Mums, is that it can be difficult to extract a whole feed in one standard session or in the same time an efficient breastfeeding baby is able to. So these lactational women (I use the word lactational because the efforts they go to are nothing short of sensational and extraordinary!) find they need to set routines and pump more frequently than most exclusive breastfeeders, which can be really difficult. These are Mums who are both expressing and separately feeding their babies as well as trying to find their feet within motherhood, possibly dealing with a sick child or recovering from a birth which may have included surgery AND trying to find a life something close to normal (or at least their own definition!).

Sadly, a lot of women struggle to maintain the balance of both, start introducing artificial milks and before long completely give away the breast milk; despite their wishes and hard work. It would seem in the drive to encourage mothers to breastfeed not enough knowledge of benefits are shared about it not needing to be all or nothing- which could go a long way to improving the feelings of failure or hurt experienced by too many mothers who are unable to exclusively breastfeed or lactate. When they seek assistance at this stage the answer is too often ‘Well at least you tried…. And this is how you use formula’

And whilst this all seems a bit on the biological side- the main purpose of this blog is to talk about understanding. Lactating is completely emotionally and hormonally driven. Too many exclusive or routine pumpers are left on the outer within parenting groups and even society. They sit in the abyss of not quite being breastfeeders, often judged or at least feeling judged for bottle feeding their babies rather than putting them to the breast… but also not quite formula feeders either. There is lots of information and support available for breastfeeding issues and hiccups but little education for medical professionals or even lactation counsellors about pumping, how pumps work and how to help those exclusively or predominantly pumping. This can make it pretty difficult when you are passionate enough about lactating to go to the lengths of pumping but have difficulty finding acceptable or a sense of acceptance within breastfeeding groups; unless of course you are able to connect with other in the same boat (Hurray for the wonders of the internet and social media!!)

Motherhood, particularly in the early days is really emotional. All women need to build connections, create acceptance and sponsor a lactational woman, regardless of how the breast milk is being delivered. Ask regularly how they are going, without judgement. Celebrate their triumphs and nurse them through their tough days. Be their cheer squad, helping to remember why they started, allowing them to change their goals but encouraging them not to end their lactational journey on the toughest days.

Hopefully if we can build a place, education and support for lactation in all its forms, it will go a long way to reducing not just post natal depression rates but the general heartbreak, burnt and sometimes even scarred psyche’s left in women whose lactation journeys ended sooner than they had planned, wanted or desired. That sadly can be a heartbreak beyond healing and something I have witnessed in women well into their seventies and eighties. Far too long and too deep, to not be acknowledged or spoken about.

**Thanks to the amazingly talented Steven Guzman at Burbaby Photography, today we have a photo shoot and prints package to give away – and the prize includes up to $500 worth of your favourite images! To enter, simply follow the prompts in the competition widget below. Standard terms and conditions apply, and in addition, you must confirm that you live in Sydney and/or are prepared to travel to the St George Area for the photo shoot.**

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Speaking Up for Public Breastfeeding

Around a year and a half ago, a man on Australian television discussed a woman who had been asked to leave her local pool for breastfeeding her daughter. This man felt that breastfeeding should be done with discretion– covered, perhaps, or in a private area. The woman in question, Bribie Island Mum Liana Webster, quite rightly, did not.

This other woman also heard his words. She was coming out on the other side of her own struggles with breastfeeding and after the worry and stress over low supply, dodgy latch, mastitis and general new-baby related exhaustion- she also took offence. She had been struggling from the start to get it right- now someone wanted to shame her for breastfeeding in public- because she didn’t have enough to worry about?! She was supposed to struggle with blankets or covers or sit next to nappy bins in parents rooms and hide away? She was outraged at the idea. She wasn’t the only one. She banded together with another nursing Mama, Ash Zuko, who also took exception to the words of this man and they staged a nurse-in that made headlines all around the country and was even reported internationally.

There were a few reasons I found Koch’s words offensive. The obvious reason was that women have the legal right to breastfeed anywhere and any time they need to. This right has been protected by Australian law for 30 years. 

The other thing that bothered me was that David Koch felt entitled to tell women what they should and should not do with their bodies. He put his discomfort/inhibitions (or the discomfort/inhibitions of others) above the right of mothers to breastfeed and children to be fed. By doing so on national television, he sent out the wrong message entirely.

Our breastfeeding rates here in Australia are not crash hot. By the time they reach 12 months, less than a third of Australian babies are still being breastfed- which is far below the “up to 2 years and beyond” recommended by the World Health Organisation. There are many factors that contribute to these rates- but it can’t be ignored that the way we view breastfeeding is one of them. Having a well known person publicly state that women should be “discreet” implies that those who don’t cover when feeding are somehow indiscreet– therefore shaming them (well, us, I should say!).

It’s just so backwards! The way I see it is that women who breastfeed publicly are doing the public a favour by showing breastfeeding as a normal way to feed a child. It is healthy, it is safe,it is free and it’s good for the environment. The more people see it, the more ordinary and commonplace it becomes in people’s minds. Young women who see mothers breastfeed grow up seeing this as the normal way to feed a child and they don’t begin their own breastfeeding journeys like I did- clueless! In times gone by and still in other cultures, women would and do grow up seeing female relatives and other women breastfeed- it’s how they begin to learn what to do- we are lacking that. So many women are like me- they have a baby and breastfeeding is something completely unfamiliar on so many levels. So those that breastfeed in public are, often unconsciously, doing their communities a service and should not be shamed for it.

This is where my blog began (see my first ever post which explains the origins of “handbagmafia”!)- the experience helped me to find my voice here (even if, at times, it’s a voice only heard by me!). I was lucky enough to meet some inspirational people through all this, both online and in person, who have inspired me to learn more about breastfeeding… and to keep on boobin’!

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In the spirit of this post, today’s giveaway is a fabulous Boobie Bikkies prize pack from baby and breastfeeding guru Pinky McKay!

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Don’t forget to link your Breastfeeding story here.

Linking with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

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I must confess…

I used to think breastfeeding beyond 12 months was kinda weird. I thought it was something only hippy, crunchy mums did. I didn’t have any clue why you’d do that. I mean, why breastfeed a kid that can ask for it? 

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Now that I think back, I never stopped feeding any of our other kids because they asked for food. So what’s the difference? 

My youngest daughter is almost 2. I don’t feel any need to wean her. The fact that she asks for milk doesn’t seem like a reason to stop giving it to her anymore. I don’t even know why it ever did. 

So i guess my confession is…I’m one of those mums!

We use cloth nappies- it’s cheaper and greener and…well…cuter! My daughter often co-sleeps. She is frequently carried in a sling. She’s never been left to cry.

I’ve done my research. I know now that breastfeeding through toddlerhood is very normal in many cultures. I know it is healthy for both of us. So I’ll keep at it.

We all parent in the way that works for us. I will say, my parenting style has evolved- my eldest child was formula fed when breastfeeding didn’t work out, she slept in her own bed and I did try controlled crying (for, like, 15 minutes total) but even my parenting style with her has changed over the years. I don’t think I was ever an awful parent- but I was a young one who had to muddle through it, often without support. To quote an extremely wise lady:

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So far, our World Breastfeeding Week blog carnival is doing great! Link your story here and enter to win a Calin Bleu wrap!

Read about the Lighter Side of Breastfeeding here and enter to win a Breastfeeding Photoshoot!

Read about Alex’s journey here and enter to win a Spectra Breastpump!

Read about breastfeeding and IVF here and enter to win an upcycled Rethread the Earth Nappy bag!

Read about Marissa’s experience using her village for support here

Linked with Button Brain for I must confess…

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