Tag Archives: feeding

More reviews! Breast Pumps!

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I was very lucky to have not one but two different pre-loved breast pumps passed onto me when I was expecting baby R. Some might find the idea of a second hand breastpump a bit odd or gross, but if anything is to be passed on, something that comes apart for every single little bit to be steralized is probably one of the cleaner and safer items!

At first baby D refused to Breast Feed. He was jaundice and sleepy. In fact he slept for about 20 hours a day when he first came home from hospital, which made feeding him a huge challenge. I had no particular problem with offering him formula if he genuinely needed it, but was keen not to be sucked in to using formula to supplement his feeds, and then not producing enough of my own milk due to the complex supply and demand nature of producing breast milk. So this is where the pump came in.

We would give baby R skin to skin for 20-30 minutes before every attempted feed. Then we would have a go at breast feeding. This involved stripping him down to keep him cool and awake, tickling his feet and chin, poking him, anything we could do to keep him awake. He was perfectly capable of a good latch (taught by the fantastic midwives at both the antenatal class and at the hospital) but would just fall asleep. After 30 minutes or so of failed feeding at the breast, we moved onto expressed milk which we would take out of the fridge (the 30ml or so) and heat gently. Then after that, we would usually need to do a small top up of formula, which of course has to be mixed with boiling water, then cooled. Once that process was finished and we were happy we’d got a decent feed into him, I then had the pleasure of expressing for the next feed.

The thinking behind this was twofold- and for anyone not aware of how breast feeding works this might be helpful. One midwife described the process as “like a toilet cistern. If you don’t empty it, it won’t fill back up” (I like to think of it more as finishing your glass of wine at a lovely restaurant so the waiter can fill it back up again!). So the process of removing milk from my breasts wasn’t just to be able to feed it to Baby R in a bottle for the next feed, but combined with the skin to skin time and the attempted feeding at the breast, would further stimulate the supply. So I got to know our pumps well over the next few months.

I’ll be honest- there were also pipe dreams….. maybe of my lovely husband being able to do a night or evening feed so I could have a little rest, or even (shock horror) the concept of me going out one evening baby free and daddy doing a whole evening shift. Sadly bottle refusal from 6 weeks old mixed with a healthy (?) dose of colic put pay to that idea. The colic didn’t last, the bottle refusal lasted over a year!

Ok so here we go with the reviews!
Medela Mini Electric Breast Pump
I had no idea what to expect from a breast pump, but when I showed the midwife what I had she was very impressed and said that they’re some of the best on the market, and what they call “hospital grade”- i.e the midwives and health visitors in the hospitals use these themselves. It was pretty easy to put together and use. It’s important to get the positioning right otherwise you can end up with a rubbed nipple- and with everything else they go through whilst you learn to breastfeed, it can be very uncomfortable. I also had the issue that the standard size flange (the bit that goes over your nipple) wasn’t big enough (though it certainly looked it). When I went to the specialist Breast Feeding clinic in Farnborough, the BF advisor kindly lent me a larger one (which I must return at some point!).

Positives:
The pump is easy to use, extracts milk well, with a dial to change the strength setting and I found the sound of the motor very reassuring and relaxing!

Negatives:
Although they will take batteries, it’s easiest to use plugged in which slightly limits where you can use it. I found travelling to work, with it, for example, quite challenging. The pump has only one “pattern” so it sucks for around 1.5 seconds and releases. This means it isn’t particularly efficient.

Avent Comfort Manual Pump
The manual pump was a bit of a revelation to me. I tried it first at 2 days Post Partum, beofre the thick colustrum had changed into thinner milk. At the time I assumed that the colostrum was too thick to pump, but there’s definitely a technique which I am now aware of which may have worked then too.

I started properly using the manual pump when I went back to work for my Keeping In Touch days. Having never left my baby for more than a few hours previously, a 10 hour plus day away from him seemed a bit of a challenge for my poor swollen breasts. As I don’t work in one office, but visit lots of partner organisations, it was hard for me to request rooms to express in for regular breaks during the day. I realised that (for me) a shower room would suffice, but of course they lack in three pin sockets. So I decided to crack out the manual pump.

The important thing with this one is to ensure that all the parts are tightly fitted together, especially the cushion around the flange. It takes a few pumping motions to create enough of a vacuum to get the milk flowing. However, once it gets going, you can create your own pattern of pumps to match the speed and volume of milk that comes out and your own natural rhythm. This was a total revelation to me, and made expressing much easier and more efficient. In addition, providing there’s not too much other background noise, you can hear the milk shooting into the recepticle so you don’t need to watch what you’re doing.

Positives:
More efficient and comfier to use due to the cushioning. Quieter!

Negatives:
Sometimes the flange fills with milk and you need to remove it and reposition to let the valve work properly

I will just add in the bottom something about hand expressing. It’s not something I’ve personally had much success with (bar the odd late evening at work recently where I’ve just relieved the pressure). However, those in the know say that it’s the most efficient way to express if you do things right and learn a good technique- and there are certainly plenty of useful videos and instructions available out there.

And finally- it’s really important to remember that your ability to express, and the amount that you can produce using a pump- electric or manual, or hand expressing- is NOT a representation of how much milk your baby will get during a feed. Babies are made by nature to get milk from their mummies, so trust in their ability to do this. They are much more efficient than a piece of machinery, and unless your health visitor or midwife has any serious concerns about your babies weightloss or ability to take in milk, don’t be alarmed if they lose a bit of weight after birth. The NCT have a great page here:
which tells you all about what to do if you worry that your baby is not getting “enough” milk.

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20 weeks

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This week baby bear is a huge 20 weeks old!

Developmentally January had been really interesting. The hands are now a very much favorite thing-heavily sucked, fascinating to watch and getting very good at grabbing both toys and his parent’s hair/facial features.

Ping! Suddenly there’s a tooth! Silly me-I was looking in the wrong place (yes the mouth)! Usually bottom front come first followed by top front, but baby has decided to go for a canine. Why not eh?  Before the tooth came the dribbling. … lots of dribbling and chewing things. Mostly hands- his and anyone elses he can get near his face.

Alongside the fun of dribbly-grumpy-teething baby we entered the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I wasnt too convinced of its existence but all my mumsnet mummy friends swear by the Wonder Weeks info and app which talks about baby progress and moods in terms of ‘leaps’-with the four month one being one of the worst.

In a way I feel worse for those parents with babies that previously slept brilliantly as this regression had hit them very hard. At least we’ve been there and we know we can get through it. In the interest of balance, it’s worth saying that despite one horrible day of screaming, he was wonderfully behaved over Christmas and was sleeping 5 plus hour stretches!

Our last good night’s sleep was 3rd Jan.  I know this as it was baby’s birthday pressie to me! But this week things have looked up. We have managed to slowly move bed time earlier to try to regain or evenings-we are now getting him down between 9 and ten, though or ‘evenings’ involve a quick read and bed at the moment.

On our worst night we basically got no sleep at all, and an average one he sleeps 9-12 1-3 4-5 5:30-7.

Other exciting developments include lots of attempts to roll over (mostly unsuccessful) and a huge improvement in his stomach and neck muscles as he lifts his head when lying down. We get lots of smiles and giggles but struggle to capture them on camera. He is superb at grabbing things-in particular facial features and hair. .. luckily not the cat yet.

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He is a tall lad (weight wise he is on 75th centile and height wise 99th ish) and wherever we go people want to talk about how gorgeous and big he is.  *proud mama*

I can’t believe I’ve fed him up to this weight all by myself!

The exact expected rollercoaster ride

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This is so what I was expecting!
Sleeping and eating
These babies are amazing, they really know (instinctively) how to push your buttons and what your absolute limit of exhaustion and being able to cope is. Then they show you how wonderful they are and you forgive them…. until the next time!

We have had some really shocking nights. We’ll do a feed around 10 or 11pm, then put the baby down. On these bad nights, he tends to settle quite well initially. Then around 1am he wakes up and that is it until half past five in the morning. He will feed, burp, posset, cry, wriggle, feed….. etc etc for 4 1/2 hours. Sometimes he sounds frustrated and really does have tantrums, other times he just grizzles and moans. A couple of nights like that in a row are very hard to cope with, and he tends to seem to push right to the limit, then have a sudden good night to surprise us!

Last night was his best night ever (after a rocky start). He “cluster fed” (as above) on and off from about 7pm until 11:30pm, then he finally fell asleep. The next thing we knew, it was 4am! That is officially his longest ever night time sleep since we started feeding on demand. Once he went down, he then didn’t awake again until just before nine. What a hero! He even was chilled out enough to let me go off and express some milk this morning.

It also seems the cluster feeding is working. I believe the idea of it (isn’t apparently to make me tired!!) is to help increase my supply- and it really seems to have done that. I expressed 120ml (which is a whole feed) in about 15 minutes this morning! Very efficient! And had enough left to feed him straight after and he’s still settled 2 hours later. Amazing.

I know this is unlikely to last and just as we get complacent, he’ll revet back. However, it’s so welcome to get just that little bit more sleep. I feel so so human. I even went into deep sleep and dreamt last night- for the first time in 5 weeks!

On the bottle
One of our aims now is to get baby taking a bottle of expressed milk. This is not only to make my nights a bit more pleasant and to mean that if needs be, I can actually go out when a feed is due, it also is really important to help daddy (and potentially others like grandparents and uncles/aunts) bond with baby too.

Thursday we tried a bit of milk from the bottle and baby was having none of it. We know that he DID know how to take a bottle during weeks 1 and 2 whilst we were trying to get him feeding better but it seems he had forgotten/ prefers the breast. Baby did not play ball- daddy was downstairs trying to feed him and I was upstairs trying to grab a nap… Eventually daddy brought him up, and he then took the milk whilst I was in the room (then I BF him after).

On Friday night, I went out. This was every bit as terrifying as I thought it would be. I was an hour late due to baby needing a feed (a long one) and sicking up a lot of the feed, then after I had been out an hour, poor daddy sent me a text to say he was putting the baby in the sling and coming up to see me to help baby sleep. Baby was refusing the expressed milk and screaming, so the sling was the only option. It worked! Baby slept like a dream in the sling. And I got to walk home with daddy and baby which was nice. 90 mins out was better than nothing!

Last night, we had a bottle of expressed milk ready to do, and then with the evening cluster feed, we never got around to using it. Excepting the baby to wake up about 1am ish, we said that daddy could do the next feed. So at 4am, baby got the expressed milk. He wasn’t super- keen on taking it and grizzled a bit but superdaddy persevered and got it all in him. Baby didn’t fall asleep so I gave him a little breast and after that he slept well.

We will keep persevering with this!

A LOT of text- apologies. Have a picture!

Hurrah
All the ladies from the Mumsnet Sept 2013 due date thread have now had their babies so we had a mass-celebration friday/ sat night (to suit). We all had a glass of champagne (or other favourite tipple) and posted a picture onto our facebook group to celebrate. I, and another lady also put together some fun awards to the gang- I really enjoyed it! What a lovely bunch of ladies!

Celebrate

4 weeks

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I feel very remiss, it’s hard to keep up with blogs! It does’t help that I have a number of blogs- personal, photography, cycling, charity and this one! Keeps me busy.

So baby is 4 weeks old today!

What is there to say?
Weight
He gets weighed on Thursday for the first time since he was 15 days old. Birth weight was 3.7kg (8lb 3oz), he only lost a very small amount and was back up to 3.5kg (8lb), and then by 15 days was up to 4.1kg (9lb). So it should be interesting! I think he is feeding well, he feels heavier each day and looks like he’s getting longer if not fatter!

Feeding
Baby has totally got the hang of breast feeding and is doing brilliantly. He hasn’t had any formula at all since….. week one(?) and he’s had one expressed bottle in the last couple of weeks when I needed to get some sleep and he wasn’t latching on well. I’m really pleased that we persevered through sleepless screaming sessions and got him feeding properly, makes me tear up with excitement to think about it!

Had our first proper public feed in a coffee shop very discreetly in town on Saturday and that felt great. I felt sorry for the poor teenage boy serving our drinks who didn’t know where to look, but I am very much of the opinion (or should I say “safe in the knowledge” that it’s an entirely normal and natural thing to be doing, and I have no embarassment around it.

Sleep
Sleep patterns are not discernable yet (no surprises). We have good and bad nights and good and bad days, which is no surprise at all to me. I have no urge to make him have a routine just let- I’m happy to let him be a baby.

On a good night he feeds about 10pm, 1am, 4am and 7:30am ish for about 15-40 minutes at a time. He doesn’t like to sleep in his moses basket straight away so he needs to be cuddled or lie on the bed next to me for a while before he’s ready to be put down to sleep. This means I get 4-5 hours sleep if I’m lucky in slots of 90 mins or so. This is ok! I can do that!

On a bad night- who knows?! We had a few colic (?) nights where he refused to sleep until about 4am, and then has had at least one other night where he woke at 1am and didn’t go back to sleep until 5:30 am with lots of crying and screaming inbetween.

Me
I’m doing ok. I really am. This surprises me a little but then I’d like to think that:
a) We came into this with realistic expectations about parenthood
and
b) I have a generally quite positive attitude which helps me through

It helps having a wonderful hands-on husband who helps me out, praises my (small) accomplishments and understands when I’m a bit craggy.

Us
I think we’re pretty ok too. The above helps. A lot. We are communicating well, even when tired and grumpy. We are taking our fair share where we can, and doing what we can when we can. We’re trying not to stretch ourselves too thin and to share things where possible.

Typical week
Although there’s little pattern or routine, now Mr Bumpy has gone back to work, there’s certain things I make sure I do. I always:
shower and get dressed (which is funny as I didn’t used to worry about this when I worked from home, had a day off or at weekends)
sort the kitchen out to some presentable standard sometime during the day
leave the house– just for fresh air. Any kind. Trip to the shops or whatever.
meet someone/ have a guest every week day. Anyone!

It’s definitely helping keep me sane!

Weekends are a little free-forming still- we are yet to organise those, but they’ve been ok!

He’s brilliant, even with the lows, the highs are just amazing. People forget to tell you that 🙂

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Two weeks!

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So baby D officially exists, as we took him to be registered on Monday. We were so worried about the faff of getting a baby out of the house that we ended up being 30 minutes early! Whoops!

I’m glad I got all the feeding woes off my chest early on as it really is extremely stressful. No matter how hard you think it will be, it’s harder. And more frustrating. And add in a serious reduction in sleep… it feels impossible.

Now baby is feeding better, life feels a bit easier. Husband is still home with me at the moment, going back to work on Thursday which will no doubt be really stressful as things all change again. Stressful for us both- and working out a new routine to ensure he’s not to tired to work.

Our current main problem is the night. We saw the (unexpectedly lovely) health visitor today, who says it sounds like classic colic- so we’ve bought some colic drops to see if we can reduce the 4 hours of screaming between 10pm to 2am or 12 midnight to 4am which have been happening the last few nights in a row. Fingers crossed.

Baby was back up to birth weight when weighed last monday, and has put even more weight on now! Phew- even though he’s not fed much today that doesn’t worry me as I know he’s producing wet nappies and has put on lots of weight! 🙂

I finally got around to taking a decent photograph of the three of us today.
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Next time I’ll try to get the cat in too!