Tag Archives: motherhood

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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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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Guest Post- Let’s try this again!

Alexandra Lyons is mummy to two beautiful girls and director of Oui Bebe – she makes amazing modern cloth nappies and more! Today happens to mark three months of exclusively breastfeeding her second daughter which is a wonderful, hard-won milestone- one of many to come, I’m sure.

I began my second journey into breastfeeding on the 4th of May 2014 after the very speedy labour and delivery of our second daughter. Throughout her pregnancy I spent hours researching breastfeeding – from techniques to positioning, to getting the perfect latch.

Making more milk was always at the front of my mind after I failed miserably at breast feeding our first daughter. That journey came to an end at 12 weeks after an emotional roller coaster of breastfeeding, expressing and comping with formula.

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Insight into my first foray with breastfeeding is important as it helped to lay the foundations for this relationship. During my first antenatal appointment I met my midwife, I broke down in a river of tears when she asked me of I was going to breastfeed. I spluttered my way through the experience I had with big H. She assumed I would say no, but “Absolutely!” was my response. I was going to make it work this time. I had always assumed that I had very low supply. What I now realise is that I may have a small storage capacity coupled with smaller than average supply. But still adequate to feed my babies.

The real problem was a huge lack of support. I lacked the pep squad who stood behind me telling me what to expect from a newborn, I was an uninformed new mum, struggling to feed my baby. I’d made the decision earlier in my pregnancy to encapsulate my placenta as evidence suggests it supports lactation. I had fenugreek, brewer’s yeast, nursing tea, frozen lactation cookie dough and Domperidone at the ready at home. So on the 4th of May when Mini H came hurtling into the world during a completely natural birth – with not even so much as a paracetamol passing my lips- our journey began.

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I picked her up and placed her on my chest where she lay until she found the breast, rooted and self attached. The first 24 hours were hard. Mini H was attached to the breast for about 23 of those hours. I was exhausted. She was a sleepy feeder. She would suck feverishly for seconds and exhaust herself. Falling asleep on the breast only to come off and wail in desperation if I took it away. I remembered this behaviour from our eldest. I cried. She had a strong suck and her latch looked good.

That was the first point at which I thought why am I putting myself through this again? But I pushed through. I wanted so desperately to succeed. My milk came in about 36 hours after her birth, my breasts were hot and swollen but not painfully engorged. It felt as if I had a good deal more milk than I had experienced previously with Mini H’s big sister. Mini H was a very unsettled newborn. She fed for anywhere between 18-22 hours a day. She didn’t sleep anywhere but short catnaps and only ever at the breast. She couldn’t be put down, I did not have a sleepy newborn. I’d been ripped off. “It’s normal newborn behaviour” was the word from the many different healthcare professionals, so I persevered. My midwife was excellent, visiting every few days, sitting and chatting while I sat in a haze with this tiny pink bundle attached to the breast. Mini H was weighed for the first time since birth at 10 days old. She was only 50g off regaining her birth weight. “My boobs work” was my immediate thought, “I can do this”.

Mini H continued to gain slightly under the ‘ideal’ amount for two weeks – she started falling down the percentile charts. I was getting worried. However, her output was good, and she was alert so there wasn’t cause for alarm. I persevered. She would still fall asleep on the breast, was constantly feeding and I couldn’t put her down. She hated the car and the pram. She was not a happy, settled baby. Doubt started to creep into my mind. Maybe I couldn’t do this? Maybe the boobs didn’t work this time either. I pushed through another two weeks. It felt as if my milk supply was dwindling. I wasn’t engorged anymore, but I did know that as the weeks progressed my body would adjust. Maybe my body had started adjusting already? I put it down as normal. Her weekly weight gains were still decreasing every week. I was trying not to be concerned, but the seed of doubt was growing.

A girlfriend had suggested seeing a chiro to see if they could help as she may have been out of alignment causing her pain or affecting her ability to feed effectively. After the first visit I felt like all my questions had been answered! Our chiropractor was also a midwife with expertise in tongue and lip ties. Mini H had an undiagnosed upper lip and posterior tongue tie affecting her ability to drain the breast effectively. The ties meant she had to work overtime and would tire easily, fall asleep at the breast despite not having a full tummy, thus the constant feeding cycle perpetuated.

The next hurdle was trying to find someone in town who was qualified to release them. Living in a regional centre made this difficult. For obvious reasons I wanted to get the procedure done ASAP to give us the best possible chance at a successful breastfeeding relationship. I opted to see a private dentist as the public pediatric surgeon wasn’t available until the following week. I spent hours researching ties prior to our appointment and decided that if he agreed to release them that I would get them done then and there. The first feed post release was so different to the 5 and a half weeks prior. She had a deeper latch and better suck. I continued with the post revision stretches for 2 weeks, we had twice weekly chiro appointments working on her soft palate, spine and sacral-cranio area.

Then I noticed an increase in feedings and fussiness again. My mummy gut was telling me something still wasn’t right. Breast feeding shouldn’t have to be as much of a struggle as I was still finding it. We were 8 weeks in. My milk was supposed to be established by now – it was supposed to be easier. The posterior tongue tie hadn’t been taken far enough. The tongue was still restricted. Her ability to drain the breast effectively was still being affected, thus the fussiness. At 8 weeks and 3 days I took her back to the dentist to see if he would revise further. When he assessed mini H he admitted he didn’t release the tongue enough. He had taken a portion of the anterior tie that she had. Frustrating for mini H and I, as we had come to him for a posterior release- not an anterior one, but like I said our options being in a regional centre were very limited.

Once home and recovering again from her release we had our first breastfeed where Mini H unlatched herself when she was full. I was optimistic but cautious. It happened again at the next feed, and again. She had never unlatched voluntarily before. The following morning I woke up with what I can only describe as the worlds most natural boob job. I was engorged again. She was draining the breast well and my milk was coming back. Relieved would be an understatement. At the time of writing this post Mini H is 11 weeks old. Her weight gains have increased, her fussiness has lessened, she unlatches herself and she spends less time at the breast.

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Whilst some babies and mothers can nurse successfully through a tongue and lip tie I honestly don’t think we could. I never had the plentiful supply that some women are blessed with, I always had just enough, and the ties were causing us problems. I still continue to take an artillery of herbal supplements and Domperidone but I hope in the near future to wean off them slowly. I have every confidence that we’ll continue on in our breast feeding relationship and I look forward to a day where weaning is a mutually agreed decision; not one I have to make for my sanity or due to a failure to thrive diagnosis.

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Guest Post- Weaning through IVF…or not?

For privacy reasons, this lovely guest poster has elected to remain anonymous.

My son is almost 2 years old. He was conceived through IVF with donor sperm as my partner and I are both women. It has always been our plan to have another child but when we started talking about the realities of beginning IVF again I realised I may have a difficult decision.  Our IVF clinic didn’t want to have a conversation about treatment while breastfeeding a toddler. Their line is that he had to be  weaned.
Six months ago when I had this discussion with a nurse at the clinic I thought that weaning by age 2 was achievable and something I may be ok with. After having a tough time establishing breastfeeding and working damn hard to overcome our issues it isn’t something I treat lightly. And the closer I got to the looming date the more difficult the decision was.  
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At 18 months he was nursing around the clock – more than half of his feeds were overnight in bed (90 mins apart). I made the decision to night wean in the hope I would finally get a few hours of unbroken sleep occasionally and to see if we could start to cut down on feeds. We followed Dr Jay Gordon’s plan when my son was 19 months old and found it surprisingly easy and calm for all of us. He still asks for boobie sometimes when he wakes through the night but will resettle with a cuddle.
A side effect of night weaning was that we fell into a breastfeeding routine of morning feeds in bed, afternoon nap feed in bed and evening feeds in bed. He was too busy and distracted to want milk outside of these times so it was easy to cut down the duration and frequency of feeds by getting out of bed in the morning or having his afternoon nap in the car, carrier or pram. By 22 months we were down to 2 feeds a day (morning and night) and seemed on track to meet the deadline to start IVF.
Around this time I started to enjoy the closeness of breastfeeding again, and realised that emotionally I didn’t feel ready to break that bond between us. So with an IVF cycle booked in for the month before his second birthday and drug regime planned out I took to the internet, chatted to ABA counselors and lactation consultants and consulted with pharmacists who specialise in drugs and breastfeeding. 
I found some interesting information which challenged the views of my IVF clinic. I’m hoping that this information may help another mum facing the same difficult decision that I have been.
When I asked the clinic nurse why I had to stop breastfeeding I was told that:
a) Increased prolactin may reduce success rates, and
b) Risk of treatment drugs transferring through my milk to my toddler.
These are two very different points so I will discuss each separately.
a) I’m not an expert on prolactin levels. The people I have spoken to who do know about these things (ABA and lactation consultants) have all agreed that the level of prolactin in a nursing mother’s blood is very low (almost insignificant in trying to conceive terms) when your nursling is having no more than 3 feeds a day and not nursing overnight. This information may have been misguidedly supplied by the clinic assuming that all breastfed children are under 6 months and relying exclusively on breast milk for their nutrition. My 22 month old son eats a wide variety of food and drinks a lot of water. He nurses twice a day most days. This is unlikely to impact my likelihood of success with IVF.
b) Transfer of drugs through breast milk. This is well outside my professional knowledge so I talked to a few pharmacists who specialise in drugs and breastfeeding. Monash Pharmacy and the Pharmacy at Royal Women’s Hospital both gave me the same information about the specific drugs prescribed to me. I won’t go through these in detail as I believe you should have these discussions yourself if you’re considering going down this path, but I will summarise some of the findings.
Hormones – these are naturally occurring during pregnancy and may decrease milk production. In a similar way to falling pregnant naturally would. Your toddler may choose to wean if there is no milk supply. (This is a risk I am willing to take).
Steroids/other support drugs – the dosage I’ve been prescribed is well below the level at which there could be an impact on my toddler. One of my drugs has a possible side effect of decreasing blood pressure. I will be taking this for 5 days and during that time I need to watch out for crankiness in my toddler, which could be an indication he has a headache from low blood pressure. It is unlikely given the dose, but it’s something I will be watching out for.
Injections – I don’t need any for my treatment cycle, but these are generally safe. The reason they are given as an injection and not orally is that they are not broken down in the stomach. Therefore even if it transfers into your milk, your toddler’s stomach will not process the drug.
The best source of information I found was a paper written by ABA counselor Jeanette Elliot in 2008 titled Breastfeeding through IVF treatment: a case study. I believe this is available for purchase through ABA.  Jeanette did a talk on this topic at the 2007 ABA conference which was recorded and can be listened to here.
For me the most valuable point Jeanette made was to consider all the outcomes and how I’d feel with each, knowing there was no risk to my son.
1. Continue breastfeeding my son and fall pregnant
2. Continue breastfeeding my son and not fall pregnant
3. Cease breastfeeding my son and fall pregnant 
4. Cease breastfeeding my son and not fall pregnant
Of these outcomes the one that would devastate me is the last one. I do not wish to risk ending the breastfeeding bond with my son early for nothing. Other people may see this differently and feel the “what if” from outcome 2 would be harder to deal with, in which case weaning would probably be recommended. It’s a very personal decision that another person cannot make for you.
There’s a lot more I could write but most of my thoughts are covered by Jeanette’s podcast which is well worth your time to listen to. 
The decision I haven’t made yet is whether to tell my clinic that I am still breastfeeding. It hasn’t been discussed recently and I’m contemplating a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach.

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Guest Post- Using Your Village

Breastfeeding was something I was determined to do with Bennie. I won’t pretend for a minute that it was easy and although it was me putting in the hard yards, I was never alone in it. I had my husband and some wonderful friends to support, encourage and advise me. Marissa is a mum of three and breastfeeding has never come easily but this time around, things are different…

I was going to write about my previous struggles with breastfeeding. I was going to write about poor advice, scary nurses and mummy guilt. I was going to write about how, three babies in, I have overcome my struggles and am now breastfeeding my third baby. I was going to explain how proud I am, how great it feels to have finally succeeded at something that has been so difficult for me.

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I was going to write a lot of things, and then I realised one important thing: I could never have made it this far without my village.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. For me it has taken a village to feed a child. From the obvious people in my village like my husband and my parents, to the less obvious ones like strangers on the internet, this village has been behind me every step of the way.

Before I had Jared, I started thinking about how I was going to breastfeed him. I have two other kids, one of whom is in primary school, and at times the logistics of adding the 24 hour requirement of my mammary glands into the equation just seemed impossible. I considered formula feeding from birth. I considered giving him colostrum and expressing a few times a day for as long as I could. How would I do it all? How would I care for a five year old and a two year old, at the same time as feeding an infant? How would I manage school run? Cleaning? Cooking? Eating?

My village came to my rescue. When I was tired after a night with a constantly feeding my son, my parents picked up the slack and took my daughter to school. My husband took extra time off work, and cooked and cleaned while I sat and fed. My brother and best friends entertained my children.

My village was varied. The ladies I talk to in my Facebook mother’s group supported me through long feeds at 2am and crazy sleep deprivation. They offered loads of practical advice and support, empathised with me in hard times and celebrated the good. One of my best friends is a breastfeeding advocate, and the other is a midwife. Both were on hand with emotional and practical support. When Jared didn’t gain “enough” weight, they encouraged me to keep trying. When he was hospitalised with various health issues, they researched and helped me understand the issues.

I recently read this article. The author laments the loss of the traditional village and yearns for a time when we supported and helped each other through hard times. I don’t think the village is lost, I think it has evolved. We may not be washing clothes together at the riverbank while our children play; however we are still offering laughs and kind words to our fellow mothers through blogs, forums and social media.

If the concept of breastfeeding your child is daunting, prepare you village now. Prepare it even if you are not considering children or breastfeeding. Gather it around you in whatever form it may happen to come. Ask your village for help and receive it gratefully when it inevitably is provided. Breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural and amazing thing to do. We are biologically designed to breastfeed. This I know, I have been told hundreds of times and seen on many information handouts. But we are not designed to do it all alone.

Don’t forget to link up your blog post for #WBW2014 here

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I Almost Got Caught in the Top-Up Trap

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Bennie was a big baby, just over 4.4kgs when she was born (Around 9lb 12 oz in the “old money”) and 58 cm long- I made the midwife triple check because it seemed ludicrous that someone so tiny could be so apparently large.

As soon as she was born, I put her to the breast, but she wasn’t terribly keen on feeding. She had a few drops of colostrum and that was it. It was the middle of the night and we were both pretty exhausted and eventually went back to the maternity ward to sleep. We had a couple more attempts at feeding but she was just so sleepy! The next day, a midwife said that she thought Bennie had probably had swallowed a lot of amniotic fluid and just wasn’t hungry yet. It took a couple of days for her latch to get sorted, then we were home free. The latch pain continued to be an issue for some time, though. 

When she was a week old, we had a home visit from a midwife who weighed her. I’d noticed her nappies weren’t always saturated- she was probably getting 3-4 wet ones per day. A turn on the scales showed her weight had dropped to 3.8 kg so we were instructed to top up with formula and visit the local lactation consultant clinic. Two or three lactation consultants checked and one mentioned a slight tongue tie- but made no mention of revision, so we plodded on, not realising until much later this may well have been a factor in her ability to feed adequately. 

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There was no mention of donor milk or milk banks, no one talked to me about expressing techniques (to this day it’s not my strong point!) and the information on using formula to comp feed was varied depending on who you spoke to. No one spoke to me about a supplemental nursing system except a friend I had made online- someone who gave me more advice and encouragement than any health professional I had seen. 

The one thing the Lactation Consultant clinic did help with was the latch- they showed a few positions and one in particular sat with me until we got it right. This was far more helpful than the hospital approach where they jammed my boob and her head together and hoped for the best (well, this is what it seemed like they were doing!)

My GP had given me motilium (aka domperidone) at my request, to help increase my milk supply, but my other doctor within the same medical practice refused to issue a second script, telling me to switch to formula because “It’s the same as breast milk these days!” and while formula is a fine alternative- it is just NOT the same as breast milk. (Incidentally, the first doctor also told me not to breastfeed my daughter when she had her first and only bout gastro to date as “she shouldn’t have any dairy”- good thing I’m not a cow, then, right?)

The LCs at my local clinic wouldn’t tell me exactly how much formula to offer when trying to comp feed and not one of them actually explained to me that using formula was going to reduce my supply further. Things like nipple confusion were not discussed either.

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I took matters into my own hands and started reducing top ups. I stopped offering the dummy at rest times and consciously began to feed to sleep for every nap. I ate lactation cookies and drank nursing tea. I took herbal supplements and ate foods reputed to boost supply. 

It took until Bennie was about 4 months old until we weren’t topping up at all any more. We’d gone from topping up at most feeds at our worst point (a case of mastitis tanked my supply at one point and I had to work hard to get it back!) down to 1-2 top ups each day when I stopped offering top ups altogether and just kept breastfeeding. We decided to offer 1 bottle of formula at night to give me a break as although my supply was greatly increased, I seemed to have a smallish capacity which meant feeding was very frequent. She also liked to feed for a long time- around an hour per feed until she hit about 5 or 6 months. She didn’t have a bottle every single night but it was handy to know it was there if needed and that she would drink it happily.

I won’t lie- I felt my efforts to breastfeed were not well supported by my health care providers. More than one GP was dismissive and unhelpful with issues relating to breastfeeding. The lactation consultants who I saw were very nice and some helped me with latching- but I felt they did not discuss all options with me and didn’t offer much in the way of information. What saved my breastfeeding relationship with Bennie was determination on my part and the support of some very well read and encouraging friends who were happy to troubleshoot with me. It has cemented my belief that more women would breastfeed and breastfeed longer with more consistent education and support- something that might come around if more family doctors decide to do a bit of study in the area of breastfeeding. They are often our first point of call with any issues and I know in my case, I was definitely let down.

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This is what a breastfeeding toddler looks like…sometimes. Most of the time, it’s more like this:image

Bennie is 22 months old now, and still breastfeeding. She will stop when she’s ready to, I guess. I haven’t really set a time frame. I’m grateful I was able to stick it out and grateful for the knowledgeable ladies who helped me through the hardest parts because it’s so beneficial. I don’t just mean nutritionally- though there is that! For this little girl, it’s a big source of comfort and connection and I’m happy I can give her that.

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Bloggers, below you’ll find a linky where you can add your breastfeeding posts. If you don’t have a blog but you have a story to share, get in touch with us and we’ll give your voice a platform.

How to link up

  • If you’re new to linking up, it’s very easy!
  • Scroll down to below the other linked posts and find the blue button that says ‘submit your link’ and click it.
  • Paste in the URL of your post, enter the title of the post (or your blog name) and your email.
  • Click submit.
  • You will be given the option to choose which image will be displayed as a thumbnail for your post.

A few little guidelines:

  • Your post must be breastfeeding related. This blog carnival is a celebration breastfeeding- and that includes the struggles and the hard times as well as the successes, whether you breastfed for a day, a week, a month or several years!
  • We’d love you to read other blog entries, leave comments and share your faves on  Facebook or Twitter- take the opportunity to discover new blogs! Please keep comments positive, respectful and supportive, every breastfeeding experience is important.
  • Let your friends know about the linky – while not mandatory,  a link back would be much appreciated it can be as simple as ‘Linking up with HandbagMafia and Five Degrees of Chaos for their #WBW2014 Blog Carnival’

Link! Blog! And Boob!

”creatingcontentment”

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When breastfeeding ends…

Yesterday, I read this article about the sadness experienced when weaning and it got me thinking.
My first child was weaned at a few days old. I did feel sad that I wasn’t able to breastfeed her- but the predominant emotion was guilt. I knew it was considered bad to formula feed by the midwives because they kept referring to me as an “artificial feeder” and shaking their heads- they pretty much stopped coming near me once I switched to formula. I had a severly tongue tied baby. I knew I might as my mother in law had warned me that they ran in the family and told me what to look for. My daughter could not latch at all, couldn’t lift her tongue at all. Breastfeeding was excruciating and fruitless- she lost weight, turned yellow- you name it. At 21, I didn’t know what else to do so I bottle fed and it was fine for us in the end. Not one of my health care providers mentioned tongue tie revision, expressing, nipple shields- in fact, as a first time mum, not one of the midwives I saw listened to me about the tongue tie. I think it was day 4 before a trainee lactation consultant, rolling her eyes and shaking her head, deigned to have a look then agreed it was actually a pretty extensive tie. That was all the “action” that she took though, so we went straight to formula. There was such a short, painful and fruitless breastfeeding relationship to mourn that I don’t think I really did. I thought about it from time to time, told my friends about the awful breastfeeding-pressure from the midwives (that came with no help, unfortunately) and moved on.

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My eldest ‘baby’.

Ten years later, with my second baby, we are still breastfeeding at 22 months. It has not been a trouble free exercise but I am better educated and better supported than I was 10 years ago so the experience has been vastly different.
We aren’t considering weaning-we aren’t even close to that point. Little Miss has had an ear infection and has spent the last few days eating very little- it’s times like this I’m super thankful to still be feeding her because otherwise, she wouldn’t have had anything much at all of any nutritional value. At this point, weaning will probably be her choice.
This isn’t because I want to cling to the breastfeeding relationship or keep her a baby; she is more and more a little girl every day and less my little baby. There is definitely nutritional benefit to breastfeeding her through toddlerhood and there is also the emotional comfort it brings her and it is these reasons that keep me breastfeeding- it’s good for her, it makes her happy and calms her, it comforts her when she feels sad or sick or is in pain- and all this costs me nothing.
The thought of no longer breastfeeding though… It does make me sad, because, like the author of the article I read yesterday, she is most likely my last baby. Even here I find it difficult to say she definitely will be. I’m holding out hope in case we win the lottery, I guess. It’s not a choice I’m making because I feel like I’m done having babies, it’s a choice we are making because we simply cannot afford to have another baby. I am blessed with an older daughter from a past relationship, I have two step children from my husbands first marriage. The three are close in age and get along really well. Then we have Bennie, our one baby that is “ours”.

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The three ‘big’ kids

Once breastfeeding stops, I’m officially out of that phase of my life- the door to babies will be closed and yes, that makes me sad. When the time comes, I can see there will be benefits- I will wear normal bras, take whatever cold and flu tablets I want, buy clothes without considering how I will get my boobs out of them in a hurry- I might be so over it that weaning will be a happy milestone for us! But for now, weaning is still very tied in with a phase of my life, my “child-bearing years” I guess, and I’m glad it’s not over just yet.

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All 4 of our kids

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

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