Monday, 12 November 2018

10 tips for breastfeeding mums

Breastfeeding Dot in the woods

If you're planning on breastfeeding your baby, or if you've just started on your journey and are looking for some tips, you've come to the right place. A little bit about me and my journey - our journey started 4 years ago with my first child. Despite all our attempts, breastfeeding didn't happen to us - there were no support groups where I lived, I didn't know about Facebook support groups etc. I pumped every 2 hrs for 6 weeks until I couldn't pump so much as a drop.

Then 2 years later, I fell pregnant with my 2nd child. This time I was determined to make it happen. Thankfully, the day he was born, he latched and we successfully fed. For the first couple/few weeks we combination fed (I'd say he was 95% breastfed, with 1-2 formula top ups a day), since then we dropped the top ups and at 15 months we're still going strong. I've learned a lot on this journey, both first hand, and from reading the wonderful messages and advice in the support groups I'm in. So without further ado, here are my tips for breastfeeding mums.

1. Possibly the most important tip, your breastmilk IS enough for your baby. As long as they are having plenty of wet and dirty nappies, then you're making enough milk for them. 

2. If they're feeding around the clock, and you feel like they're not getting enough - they're cluster feeding and upping your supply. Think of it like they're putting their orders in for milk for the next day or so - breastfeeding is about supply and demand - so when they're on the breast constantly, they're putting their orders in, it's not necessarily about quenching that thirst.

3. Positioning can have a massive impact on the comfort of breastfeeding - if they're slightly too high up on your arm, it could cause a shallow latch, which is painful. Another indication of a shallow latch is having lipstick shaped nipples after a feed. Always try to get face to face support for help with positioning, either from a breastfeeding/peer-to-peer support worker, or a lactation consultant. 

4. Try not to pump during the first 6 weeks if you can as it could give you an oversupply (remember the supply and demand thing?). If you need to pump for relief (or if you have blocked ducts/mastitis etc), then try to just pump enough for relief.

5. Join the Facebook support groups Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies and UK parenting and breastfeeding support - there's an amazing wealth of knowledge in there - personally, they've saved our journey more than once.

6. Keep hydrated! Get a pack of bottled water, keep it next to the sofa, and get a good Netflix series - you're going to become very well acquainted with the sofa over the next couple months, so make sure the essentials are close by. Not being well enough hydrated *can* have an effect on your supply, so keeping hydrated is important.

7. Get yourself some Lansinoh nipple cream, and apply it pretty generously to your nipples after each feed - it'll really help take the edge off any discomfort and dryness/cracking.

8. Don't bother with breastfeeding cookies, or drinks, or any other things that are trying to sell you food/drink to up your supply. Things like oats to up your supply has recently been debunked. The only proven way to help up your supply (after the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding), is removal of milk (that means pumping/expressing). 

9. Feed on demand, your baby will let you know when they're hungry, which will probably be most of the time at the beginning :) However, in those early days, try not to let your baby go more than 5 hrs without a feed, their blood sugars can drop low if they go too long without a feed. If they're having trouble staying awake for feeds (we had a nightmare with this!), try stripping them down to the nappy before a feed, change their nappy, stroke their arms/feet/cheeks etc to rouse them as they dose off on the breast. As they get older it won't be so much of an issue as they'll naturally be more alert.

10. You've got this, you CAN do this. And you know what? In a few weeks you'll be really glad you stuck with it, not just for your baby and all the benefits that come with breastfeeding, but because after those first few tough weeks, it gets much easier. 

If you've reached this point, and you're considering introducing formula, obviously that's completely your decision to make and should be free of judgement from anyone - you know what's best for your baby. Just ask yourself a couple questions - why do you want to introduce it? If it's because you don't think they're getting enough milk from you - as long as they have lots of wet and dirty nappies then they're getting enough milk. If it's because you're not pumping as much, well pumping isn't an indication of supply - some breasts don't respond well to pumping. And lastly, if you're thinking of introducing formula to help them sleep better at night, please read this first.


Monday, 8 October 2018

I now have a 4 year old

Squidge looking adorable on a lump of wood in the woods

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Squidge is now 4 years old. Where have the last 4 years gone? It’s funny, I’ve been fine at him turning different ages, not emotional, just excited for him, but this time I’ve found it quite tough. The difference in his development from age 3-4 has been incredible, and much more noticeable compared to previous years. He’s transformed from a toddler who no one other than me and a couple of others can understand, to a smart, funny, silly, loving little boy.

He still wants lots of mummy cuddles, and tells me he loves me 100 times a day (I never tire hearing that), but I can now see that he’s relying less on us as he’s able to do more for himself. I think what has made it more emotional is knowing we’re not having any more children, we decided to stop at two for lots of reasons – we’d need to buy a bigger house, new cars, I’d be 40 by then which brings its own risks, and we want to be grateful for what we have – two wonderful healthy smart little boys. But emotionally, I’m not done. I would love to have another, but it’s not on the cards.

Me tickling Squidge on my lap in the woods

Anyway, back to Squidge. This last year we’ve seen him become a lovely thoughtful big brother (ok, it’s not all rainbows and lollipops, he can get very angry with his little brother and too rough, but for the most part he’s great with him), his speech has come on leaps and bounds, he’s learning a second language (Welsh) and doing very well with it, he’s started gymnastics classes, he’s progressed so much with swimming classes that he now doesn’t need anyone to go in the pool with him! You just never know when these last times are going to happen do you?

He’s always been a pretty good sleeper, with the exception of the odd night terror (usually around 10:45pm) – he still gets those, but they only happen maybe once a month, whereas they used to be a couple times a week. He typically wakes up happy, the only exception to that is when we have to wake him up really early in the week for School and he’s still very tired. We physically can’t get him to bed any earlier than we do in the week, we’re not home until about 6pm (sometimes later), and the kids bedtime is 7:30 (they often don’t finish eating until 7:20).

Squidge running towards the camera

He loves playing with his toy cars, especially now that he's had an influx of new ones for his birthday (thanks to all his friends), he's getting into Lego too. One thing I'm having trouble convincing him to do is crafts - he used to love it when he was younger - getting card out and doing some painting or sticking, but he's just not interested any more. He prefers to play on the Xbox (car driving games) or iPad (Sago mini games) although to be fair he's spending less time on them now too - doesn't go on them every day etc.

He's just growing up so incredibly fast I can't keep up. Anyway, hubby is snoring behind me, I'd better go and do the washing up/express/make lunch for tomorrow :) 

Did you find it emotional when your little ones turned 4? Any tips on coping with stopping having babies when you want more?

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A magical weekend

Dot in his new Micralite pram
In the lead up to this last bank holiday weekend, I wanted to do something every day with the kids. It didn’t have to be anything big, but take them out somewhere and do something nice. There were a few things on my radar to go to and I made sure we did all of them. The weekend could have easily been a bad one if we’d let it, one of the mornings Squidge was acting up (Sat morning), and over the weekend Dot was really unhappy, crying a lot, after his failed dairy challenge (more on that soon). But we didn’t let it put us off, and as per usual, both kids were complete poppets when we were out.


Dot pulling a funny face

I don’t work Friday’s, and I usually treat a Friday as a cosy day at home with the kids, just me and them, I love Fridays. But this Friday I had errands to run, I had to go to the post office to return some things, I wanted to get Squidge measured for new school shoes, and Dot measured for his first shoes. And ideally, I wanted to go to Caerphilly castle to see the new maze and dragon’s lair. We managed to get the post office done, and the shoe shopping, but then it hammered down, and I didn’t fancy the castle (outdoors) in heavy rain. So we popped to the bakery, got some nice bread and headed home. I promised Squidge we’d find time for Caerphilly castle over the weekend.



Dragon's lair at Caerphilly Castle

To make the most of the weather, we decided to do this on Saturday as no rain was forecast. Squidge loved the butterfly zoo (he was too young to remember the first time we took him (maybe about 8 months old). But as much as he loved it, he was bored after 15 mins, he is only 3 after all, and was excited about the hedge maze. So off we went, he wanted him and Daddy to go left, and Dot and I to go right (me knowing I can’t get to the middle of the maze if I go right…), so off we went! Well, it went as well as you can imagine, Squidge and hubby found the middle of the maze in about 5 mins, I was stuck in there for 16 mins until they came to find me, lol. After that we sat down and had our picnic. It was still pretty early, about 1:30, so we decided to head back to Caerphilly and go straight to the castle (as I’d promised) to do their new maze and visit the Dragon’s Lair. Squidge loved it! He listened to the dragon’s story in Welsh and English, and then ran off to explore the castle to find the maze. He particularly loved the bit where he got soaked with water, he’d have stood there all day getting soaked if I’d let him.

I recorded a vlog of the day, you can watch it here :)


Roast dinner

We wanted a quieter day on Sunday, so after lunch we packed ourselves off in the torrential rain and headed off to a new-to-us t-rex themed soft play. Both kids had an absolute blast! It’s set up along one wall, so parents can sit and have a cuppa, while the kids play and you can keep your eyes on them. There was an area for smaller kids, and Dot loved that – his first experience of soft play, and playing with other kids. He was nervous at first, but then just wanted to go down the slide again and again and again : ) It was a pretty terrifying drive for me, I don’t like driving down country lanes at the best of times, but when I have to force the car to drive through puddles that look like we could swim through, I get very scared!


hubby and kids at the royal mint

the royal mint
An olympic medal

We knew we wanted to go somewhere, probably a national trust place, but we didn’t know where. Squidge had been to our favourite NT place twice in the last week or so, and the weather wasn’t looking great. We were tired from the weekend and didn’t want to do anything big. After a bit of Googling I found the Royal Mint Experience (in Llantrissant, 25 mins from us). Perfect – a tour of the mint, strike a coin, and back home. It was great! Fun to see them being made in the factory and Squidge loved it. We had a picnic sat outside on the benches after, and then headed home (via Tesco so I could buy what I needed to make an apple crumble for pudding).

All in all a lovely weekend. Kids were happy, in fact, so happy from the weekend, it took them an age to fall asleep Monday night, hopefully they’ll sleep better tonight as GBBO and a cup of tea is calling : )

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