Saturday 29 June 2013

Giveaway: Earth Mama Angel Baby Breastfeeding Goodies

This is my final post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. After this, I promise not to talk about breastfeeding for at least a week. Today’s topic is Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths.

I’ve heard a few people say that breastfeeding is painful, and that’s why they didn’t carry on, so I wanted to address this. I’m not going to start preaching, and saying that breastfeeding isn’t painful, because it can be. I know it can be. I had teardrops landing on my newborn’s face as she fed at 3am. I know it can fucking hurt.

But, and this is what I want to get across in the post, it doesn’t have to. If you are finding breastfeeding painful, there’s something wrong. Maybe your newborn has a lazy latch, maybe you have a blocked duct, maybe it’s just inexperience - but whatever it is, it’s fixable.

When I was pregnant, my lovely friend Felicity bought me a Breastfeeding Support Kit from Earth Mama Angel Baby. The kit really came in useful, and I used the contents a lot during the first few months. The best product (probably ever in the history of products) was the Natural Nipple Butter. When Ebony was still teeny tiny, and neither of us quite yet knew how to breastfeed, I would finish a feed and reach straight for the nipple butter.

One of the best things about the product was that it’s edible, so I didn’t have to worry about Ebony’s next feed. The other great thing about this product is that it’s vegan. Most similar products contain lanolin which is taken from wool, so it’s not vegan friendly. It’s estimated that up to a third of wool actually comes from the slaughterhouse. I avoid animal products, and so I was really happy that this product was vegan certified. The product is made with natural, mostly organic, ingredients. It is nice to apply, and works unbelievably well.

I found it instantly soothing, and it definitely helped to speed up healing or discomfort. I truly can’t recommend it enough. I still have my tub lying around, just in case.

The myth I’d like to dispel is that breastfeeding is painful, well, that it has to be. It doesn’t. And if it is, get help. Contact your midwife/health visitor/local peer supporter/breastfeeding warrior friend, and tell them you’re in pain. And, while you’re at it, get some Natural Nipple Butter to help soothe your poor, poor nipples.

When I decided to write this post, I contacted Earth Mama Angel Baby and asked if they would like to offer a prize, and because they are super nice people, they said yes. So, one lucky reader will win one tub of Natural Nipple Butter, and another lucky reader will win one box of Milkmaid Tea. All you need to do to enter, is fill in the Rafflecopter below. Good luck. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To find out more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, click here.

There are loads of bloggers taking part in this event, so please check out some of the posts. Mum 2 Baby Insomniac, Petit Mom, Little Scribbles, Simply Hayley and sorry about the mess are all taking part in the event, so feel free to pay them a visit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Friday 28 June 2013

Breastfeeding Beyond a Year

Breastfeeding wasn’t really something I’d given much thought to before I became pregnant. I knew I was breastfed, and that it was better than formula milk for babies, but other than that I was clueless. During the pregnancy, I was very worried about breastfeeding. I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to do it, that it would hurt and that I’d feel like a failure.

I soon found that, after the first few tricky weeks, I really enjoyed breastfeeding. It was amazing to me that my body could produce something that could nourish a baby. I planned to breastfeed until Ebony was one, thinking that by that time I’d be heading back to work and would have to give up anyway.

During the first few months of Ebony’s life, the only time I ever got to myself was in the bath. So I had a bath everyday. Admittedly, most of them were interrupted by a hungry baby wanting a feed, but at least I got a chance to relax a bit. I spent these precious moments reading parenting books, because I’m the kind of person who really knows how to relax.

I read The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr Sears, which I would strongly recommend if you haven’t read it. In the book, he talks about the importance of natural parenting instincts such as breastfeeding and babywearing. I was already doing all of the things he talked about, but reading his book helped me to see the importance of these practices. In the book, he talks about how attachment parenting methods can be used to ease the process of returning to work. He explains that many women find breastfeeding a good way to reconnect with their child at the end of time apart.

I already knew that the benefits of breastfeeding do not suddenly disappear at the baby’s first birthday. Stronger immune systems, higher IQ and, of course, all the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding are noted in breastfed toddlers. The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding until the child is two or more. And the global average age of weaning is four years old. In this country, we actually have quite an unusual culture of breastfeeding with many women choosing not to do it, or stopping when the baby is still very young.

When I read Dr Sears talk about the bonding benefits of extended breastfeeding, I realised I might like to continue after my return to work. It seemed like it would be a nice way to reconnect with Ebony, and have some quality time, at the end of a long day.

In the end, I decided not to return to work. Ebony is seventeen months old now and she is still breastfed. This may be unusual, but it feels right. She still gets a lot of comfort from the closeness, and very rarely requires painkillers (because of the natural pain relief properties of breastmilk). I don’t worry about her diet, because I know she is still getting a lot of nutrition from breastmilk.

As she gets older, Ebony breastfeeds less frequently. She can now go up to six hours without asking for a feed. Other times, such as when she’s teething or having a growth spurt, she may feed more often. For the time being, I’m happy to follow her cues and let her decide when to feed.

The only downside to breastfeeding a toddler, is that they can talk. Where your tiny baby would discretely tug at your top, a toddler will screech “BOOBIES!” at the top of their voice. Repeatedly. No matter where you are.

To find out more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, click here.

There are loads of bloggers taking part in this event, so please check out some of the posts. Mum 2 Baby Insomniac, Petit Mom, Little Scribbles, Simply Hayley and sorry about the mess are all taking part in the event, so feel free to pay them a visit!
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Thursday 27 June 2013

Blog Challenge: Great Adventure #5

This week’s great adventure post is a little late to make room for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. I thought that I’d delay this post, rather than post twice in the same day because I don’t want to bombard you.  

The fifth week of this challenge started off as the hardest yet. Even though the skies were blue and the sun was shining, I was more reluctant to leave the house than I was in the torrential downpour of week three.

I think I was just exhausted. Too many late nights during the week meant I just wanted to stay in and hide from the world. But, thanks to the challenge, I forced myself out of the house. Getting a seventeen month old ready to leave the house is hard enough on a good day. There are shoes to find, coats to zip up, coats to zip up, coats to zip up (not a typo - Ebony really loves unzipping things these days) and bags to pack.

We set off in the direction of Etherow Country Park. This beautiful park is only a 20 minute walk from our house, and we hadn’t been down for ages so I decided to force myself to go. It was well worth the effort, because it was a lovely adventure.

As soon as you reach the park, you are greeted by a gaggle of geese and a raft of ducks, desperate to see if you one of the duck-feeding mafia. We weren’t, so they left us to it. We sat and watched the ducks for a while, while Ebony tried to converse with them in a unique mixture of quacks and twit-twoos.

We set off to walk around the lake, but didn’t get very far before we came to a small wooden bridge. The problem with small wooden bridges is that they have gaps between the planks of wood. And the problem with that is that Ebony can spend a scarily long length of time bent over, staring through the cracks to see what lies beneath. So that’s what we did, for no fewer than 10 minutes. The great thing about the great adventure, is that it all happens at Ebony’s pace. We have no destination, and we’re not constricted by time, so she can explore as she wishes.

I actually think she could have stayed staring through the gaps much longer, had a duck not wandered past. Ebony chased after it while telling me to “SHUSH!” Etherow Park is great for nature lovers, there are so many different species of birds and animals to see. We saw quite a few baby ducks swimming with their mothers, and we got really close to a squirrel who seemed unperturbed by Ebony’s deafening shushes.

Ebony really enjoyed looking at the lake, and seeing all of the ducks this week, so it was well worth the trip out. I’m really glad that we went out, because if we weren’t doing this blog challenge we probably would have stayed in that afternoon, and missed out on the sunshine.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Breastfeeding in Public

I think one of the big problems standing in the way of breastfeeding, is fear. The thought of breastfeeding in public is so terrifying, that some women simply can’t imagine trying it. They might breastfeed in hospital and find it ok, but as soon as they’re back home and going about their daily life, they want to keep their baps covered and so give up.

I understand this, I’m not one of those confident, unapologetic, breastfeeders who whips both breasts out in the middle of a cafe. Although, I do feel very impressed by those women. I’m more of a please-please-don’t-let-anyone-see-anything breastfeeder. And I found it especially terrifying in the early days.

I was worried that people would be able to see everything, or that (as once happened, on a particularly impressive early breastfeeding experience) Ebony would pull off and I would squirt milk in five directions simultaneously, probably into the coffees of unsuspecting elderly strangers.

I soon found though, that many people couldn’t even tell I was breastfeeding. On a few occasions, people would come right over to see the baby without realising she was being fed. Yeah, that’s a bit awkward when that happens. But, it left me feeling reassured that I was quite discrete. 

As time went on, I felt more confident about feeding in public. I often carried a thin scarf because it was spring, and so if I felt I was in public view, I would use the scarf to cover myself while Ebony latched on. I tried to sit in corners and quiet spots in cafes and restaurants, so that I wouldn’t feel so exposed. I would wear vest tops underneath my clothes so that I could pull the vest top down, and the other top up and feed without having my entire breast/post-pregnancy tummy of horrors on display.

I would love to be on of the women who doesn’t care whether people see. I agree wholeheartedly that people should get used to seeing breastfeeding, and that if it was a more common occurrence then it would become normalised and more women would be encouraged to try it. I also believe that breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a baby, and that anyone who objects to seeing a breastfeeding mother is a complete and utter twat. But, I can’t help but feel self-conscious. And so I’m glad I used all of the above techniques to allow myself to feel comfortable breastfeeding.

Apart from one negative experience, I have found the reaction to breastfeeding in public to be really positive. From people not noticing, to other mothers coming over to congratulate me for breastfeeding for so long - I’ve always felt really supported and proud to breastfeed. Whenever I see breastfeeding mums now, I try to give them the nod so that they’ll feel supported too.

But is the nod an actual thing, or am I just going round creeping out breastfeeding women?

To find out more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, click here.

There are loads of bloggers taking part in this event, so please check out some of the posts. Mama Geek, Me, The Man and The Baby, life, love and living with boys, Pobbing Along and Mixed Bag of All Sorts are all taking part in the event, so feel free to pay them a visit!

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Tuesday 25 June 2013

How to Find Breastfeeding Support

Being a new parent can be pretty scary. You read non-stop during pregnancy - trying to soak up every bit of information available to you, you attend classes where you are forced to go through the humiliation of changing a doll’s nappy, and you ask all your parent friends every single question that pops into your head. And yet, in spite of all that preparation, you feel out of your depths when the baby arrives.

This tiny, squishy ball of perfection is relying on you. You feel a love so strong and encompassing that it makes everything else disappear into dust. Everything is suddenly very primal and you know you could fight off wild animals to protect your young.

You’re also tired. Like, really tired. You haven’t had a good night’s sleep for at least six months, and since the baby arrived things have gotten worse. You only manage about two hours at a time and then you are woken by the hungry screams of your newborn, again.

You really wanted to breastfeed. It sounded so natural and lovely, and you know it’s the better option. But it’s hard to remember that at 4am when you’re sat up in bed, a starving urchin clamped onto your sore nipples, while your partner snores loudly next to you.

If you’re finding breastfeeding difficult, please seek support. All of those problems - mastitis, improper latch, exhaustion and oversupply - are easily solved when you know how. Don’t try to suffer through alone, or give up at the first hurdle. Don’t feel that you are alone, because you’re not. There is a whole network of breastfeeding support available to you, you just need to find it.

Your local area should have a breastfeeding support group - contact your Health Visitor to find out the details. These are drop-in sessions run by trained breastfeeding support workers who are present to answer any questions you might have. The drop-in sessions are attended by all kinds of different women, and many new mums make friends at the groups.

It’s nice to find other women who are suffering from the same tiredness as you - and that’s why breastfeeding groups are so great. You have access to professional support, but you also have access to peer support in the form of the other breastfeeding mums. Whoever you feel comfortable talking to, you’ll be able to find support at these groups.

Did you attend a breastfeeding group, and if so did you find it useful? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

Contact your Health Visitor (or midwife team if you have not yet been discharged) to find out the details of the local group.

To find out more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, click here.

There are loads of bloggers taking part in this event, so please check out some of the posts. A Baby on Board, The Secret Life of Kate, In The Playroom, Red Rose Mummy and Oh So Amelia are all taking part in the event, so feel free to pay them a visit!
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Monday 24 June 2013

Breastfeeding Tips: Setting up a Breastfeeding Station

When I talk about a breastfeeding station, I’m not talking about one of those over-priced cushioned nursery chairs you see in the catalogues. I mean, if you want one of those chairs then by all means get one, but that’s not really your breastfeeding station. That’s just the place you’ll be angrily breastfeeding from at 6am, furiously wishing you’d created a better breastfeeding station.

The key to a good breastfeeding station is that it’s somewhere you want to be. It’s not somewhere you don’t mind sitting for a forty minute feed, it’s somewhere you long to be the rest of the day. Your husband, your mother, the postman - they should all look longingly at your breastfeeding station, wishing they had the goods to call the station their own.

Here are some tips to consider when creating the ultimate breastfeeding station:

  1. Location, location, location - Kirstie Allsopp is the Queen of breastfeeding stations. Her and Phil are on a mission to transform the nation’s breastfeeding stations. And, being a very wise woman, Kirstie knows the most important factor to consider is location. You could plonk yourself in Junior’s room, but then you’re stuck in a nursery for seven hours a day, staring at the garish pink wallpaper you thought was cute. And it was cute, until you were forced to stare at it for seven hours a day. When it comes to selecting the location of your breastfeeding station, you want to use a selection criteria worthy of Sheldon Cooper. You want the comfiest seat, with the best view of the TV, in the perfect micro-climate of the living room.
  2. In-flight entertainment - the pregnant amongst you might be thinking “Entertainment? Surely gazing lovingly into my babies’ eyes will be entertaining enough.” And sure, it will be, for the first day. Then you’ll be bored of watching Junior chomp away, and you’ll be craving some light relief. This is where the breastfeeding box set comes in. You’ll need a selection of TV box sets to work through during the first few months of breastfeeding. I watched West Wing, New Girl, Six Feet Under, Superman and Grey’s Anatomy. That might sound like an excessive amount of TV, but babies eat A LOT. And yeah, you could whack them in a sling and get on with the housework, but who wants to do that? Make yourself comfy and settle in for some TV.
  3. Close enough to kiss - do not let that remote out of your sight. So many times I would sit down and get the baby latched on only to realise the remote was out of reach and I was stuck watching Pointless AGAIN. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, what you really need is one of those mitten strings fed through your clothes - TV remote dangling out of one sleeve, and the blu ray remote attached to the other. You will also need to keep close your phone, iPad, book and magazine - delete as appropriate.
  4. Risk it for a biscuit - breastfeeding makes you hungry, VERY hungry. Of course, nutritionally rich, healthy foods are best, but you're breastfeeding so you can have what you want - no-one tells you off when you’re breastfeeding so sod it, have a biscuit. Breastfeeding also makes you really thirsty, so make sure you have a drink handy before you park at the breastfeeding station. Cold, cold water was my favourite tipple during those early months.

If you follow the tips above, you should have wonderful, fulfilling and comfortable breastfeeds.

Or, more likely, you’ll be sat on the knackered sofa that smells of dog, trying not to wet yourself AND die of thirst as you breastfeed your aggressively hungry baby, whilst you sit opposite (and just out of reach of) the wonderful, comfortable breastfeeding station you set up. You will sit, staring at the tantalising pack of ginger nuts resting upon your favourite book, while Pointless fills the room like an unwelcome guest.

But hey, at least you’ll have that nice breastfeeding station to admire for the next 40 minutes.

To find out more about the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, click here.

There are loads of bloggers taking part in this event, so please check out some of the posts. Tigerlilly Quinn, Circus Queen, Baking Betsy, Great British Family and Hex Mum are all taking part in the event, so feel free to pay them a visit!

Sunday 23 June 2013

Giveaway: Keep Britain Breastfeeding T-shirt

It's National Breastfeeding Week and to celebrate, I've teamed up with Lactivist to offer one lucky reader the chance to win an amazing Keep Britain Breastfeeding T-shirt for their little one. 

I'm a huge fan of Lactivist (what an awesome name), so I was really pleased when Lisa got in touch about running a competition. I'm passionate about breastfeeding, and feel this is a great way to recognise this on my blog. 

The Keep Britain Breastfeeding design is printed on a fairly traded, organic cotton t-shirt. The t-shirt is unbleached and the poppers are nickel-free. The t-shirt sizes available are 3-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months (although this is subject to change depending on stock availability). 

Lactivist are offering a discount on all purchases to celebrate National Britain Breastfeeding. Use discount code KBB13 to get 10% off.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Saturday 22 June 2013

Blog Challenge: Great Adventure #4

Can it really be week four already? How time flies when you’re having fun. I’m really enjoying the blog challenge so far, and actually the weather hasn’t been too bad overall. I need to get hold of some waterproofs for us both sharpish though, because at some point we will be heading out into a torrential downpour.

My (not so) little sister wanted to join us on the challenge this week. Rosie is a keen photographer so I was hoping she’d be able to take some inspiring photos of Ebony enjoying the great outdoors. As it happened though, Ebony had an unusually long nap and Rosie had to leave before we were able to set off on our adventure, so I’m afraid it’s another week of crappy iPhone photos here.

We walked Rosie to the train station, and started our adventure from there. We headed towards the Chadkirk Chapel area, which is surrounded by beautiful countryside. I had Ebony in the carrier because, in spite of knowing exactly what I mean when I say “Please hold hands.”, she mostly runs towards huge fun shiny things (cars) in the middle of big running spaces (roads). So, until we are well away from all the exciting and potentially fatal things, Ebony stays in the Ergo and I point things out to her. Things like, “Look Ebony, a bird.” and “No, it’s not nice to hit Mummy in the face.” and “Please don’t smear food all over my face.”

We eventually reached a footpath, so I took her out of the carrier and let her explore. Her keen sense of adventure and natural curiosity took her straight to the gravel, which she ate. Then a dog walked past, so we followed him for about five minutes while Ebony waved intensely at the dog’s bottom.

After quite some time of waving at bums, I managed to convince Ebony that the Chadkirk Estate might be a nice place to look round. The gardens are filled with flowers of all shapes, sizes and colours. It really is a beautiful place. Ebony ran manically across the gardens coming to a screeching halt at a flower, smelling it, and then heading off in another direction to repeat the process.

There were lots of bees in the garden, so I took Ebony close to have a look. She has started to repeat words more frequently now, and she seems to be learning a few new words a day at the moment. “Bee! Bee! Bee!” she screeched at the bees pollinating the plants along the path. When she tried to grab hold of one of the (scarily massive) bees, I decided it was time to move on.

From Chadkirk Estate we headed straight into Kirk Woods. I’ve developed a real love for woodlands recently. Aside from being completely and utterly terrifying, they are also beautiful and peaceful. They feel untouched in a way that not many places do. In the four short weeks of this blog challenge so far, I have noticed how quiet the woodlands are. We might be there for over an hour and only see one other person, it’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of these naturally beautiful areas. Although, I do appreciate how quiet they are (when I am not terrified of being murdered).

Kirk Woods were less toddler-friendly than the woods closer to home. There were lots of sheer drops running alongside the paths, and the woods were quite steep for walking up. Ebony had fun running about, while I ran after her sweatily screaming things like “Oh my god, no, be careful of the edge!” After walking through the woods for quite a while, we came to an opening in the trees. Thousands of yellow buttercups stretched out in front of us. We stayed there for a little while, exploring the meadow and picking buttercups, and then we decided to head home.

Week four was another successful great adventure, and we really enjoyed it. What did you do?

Join the Great Adventure
All you need to do to take part is head out into the great outdoors once a week - every week - and have a great adventure. If you write a blog, please link up your posts below. I’ll be posting once a week, but you can post less often if that works better for you.

The Rules:
- You must have a great adventure once a week, every week, for as long as you can handle. No excuses! You don't have to blog every week though, you could do a monthly (or whenever you remember) round up if time is limited.
- You must leave the balls, toys and bikes at home. This is just about the kids and nature - no distractions.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

When are you having another?

I haven’t written many ranty posts recently. I think this is probably because Ebony is a bit older, so she no longer looks like sweet, touchable, grabbable pollen to the swarms of old people buzzing over to give their unsolicited advice, opinions and germs.

I think people like tiny babies because they can’t make you feel unwanted. New babies are basically indifferent to everything. As long as they have milk and they aren’t sat in a nappy of festering turd, they’re pretty much happy. An old person can look across at a baby, and head over to say hi safe in the knowledge that, should any crying occur, it would likely be a lack of milk or bodily functions causing the problem.

Once a baby becomes a toddler, they are basically a person. An easily frustrated person  with a stumbly, swaying walk, who teeters dangerously close to a complete breakdown at all times. Toddlers are basically just very small drunk adults. And old people know that, so they stay clear.

However, there are always some strangers who cannot override their urge to TOUCH THE LITTLE PERSON. And today was no exception. After a morning of hardcore swinging, sliding, gate closing, gate opening, climbing and raising throwing, I took my (now exhausted) toddler to the pub (my park) for lunch. As we entered, a stooped figure sat huddled at the bar lifted her head to watch us. Her glazed eyes followed us as we walked across the room. She was clearly hungry for some infant interaction, and even as we were metres away, I could see her hands twitching to reach out and TOUCH THE BABY.

“How old is she? Is she your only one?” she asked in the way that only a lunchtime drunk could. “When are you having another?”

Why is that a socially acceptable question? I must get asked that question about ten times a week at the moment. Every single person in the world seems to be waiting with baited breath for me to reproduce again. I feel a bit like a minor celebrity trying to promote my latest work - a film perhaps - but all the bastard press keep asking me about is my reproductive organs. “WHEN WILL YOU BE USING THEM AGAIN?” the whole world screams in unison as I run around after a seventeen month old toddler who is eating crayons while hitting the TV with a shoe and weeing on the floor.

Unable to fight the urge any longer, the drunk woman reached out and grabbed Ebony’s hand. “Aaaaaah, there’s just something about that age where they LOVE grabbing onto your hand, in’t they?” said the woman, desperately trying to cover the fact that she was in fact the weird hand grabber.

Ebony, now able to differentiate between normal and complete and utter weirdo, pulled a disgusted face before turning to me, rolling her eyes, and turning back to the woman with a look of contempt as she pulled her hand from the woman’s grubby embrace.

I have to say, I’ve never been more proud of her.

We like to read: Brandur

For this week’s we like to read, I thought I’d share another imagination-based book.

The book is called “Brandur” and is the sixtieth in a series of short stories. I think.

The entire story is written in Icelandic, and I have no translation so I can’t say for sure what it’s about. My friend, Kate, bought the book on her travels in Iceland and gave it to Ebony as a present along with a note saying Laurie and I would have to make up the story.

From the illustrations, I am pretty sure the book is about a kitten, who I call Brandur, who goes on a walk with his mother and siblings, and gets lost after being distracted by a playful mole. There are plenty of adventures along the way, and Brandur becomes friends with a puppy. The story ends well as the kitten is reunited with his family towards the end of the book.

I like the illustrations, and the use of colour. Ebony loves it because she is a crazy cat lady in training, so spends the entire story saying “KITTY TSH TSH TSH” at the pictures.

This is another fun story that forces me to fill in the blanks. As you can imagine, the length of the story depends greatly on the number of times I’ve read the story. During the first reading, there may be great adventures and hilarious in story escapades. But, on reading the story for the fifteenth time of the day, it may be a little more concise.

You can find the rest of this week's we like to read posts over at Tigerlilly Quinn.

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