Tag Archives: milk

Catch up

Standard

I have to stop counting on months now, right? (25 months old!)

Quite update on some things we’ve been up to.

2 year Health Visitor check went pretty well. We had been entirely honest on our form- it asks about whether he can perform certain tasks. There were a few we didn’t know about- like whether he could flick a switch. We’ve always discouraged him from switches of any kind (ie sockets) so he’s never found out! The Health Visitor ended up changin g a few of our answers for a better score as she could see that he’s very capable. He can use a fork. He chooses to use his hands. He probably can tidy up his toys. Not to say he will! Anyway, she was pleased with him as we hoped so that was good.

The health visitor checks are interesting. My view has always been that if you have attended one and think it’s a waste of time, then you are probably one of the lucky ones. This means there are no problems being identified with your childs speech, fine motor skills, weight gain or any other factors. This means your child is developing normally and you had to take an hour out of your day to find that out. Sometimes its’ hard to think outside of our own home-life bubble, but there will be parents who have taken their child to a checkup where the health visitor has identified an issue with the child’s development or home life that needs attention. It may help pick up on problems early so they can be tackled or that families can be signposted to get extra help where needed.

The other side of things I often hear on the facebook breastfeeding groups I’m on is about how some health care professionals including health visitors treat those of us that practice Attachment Parenting. I HATE labels like this but if I look at the way we are choosing to bring up our child, most of it falls pretty neatly into AP’s philosophy (one reason I dislike it is the suggestion that those who do not identify with AP are somehow detached……). Many women have had negative experiences of hcps commenting on their decision to breastfeed past a certain arbitrary age, for co-sleeping, for not using CIO (Cry It Out) methods to get their children to sleep etc. However I would say that our review was an unmitigated success.

R ran about whilst we chatted through the paperwork. We were then asked how he eats (badly) so she asked us to talk through a typical day. Half way through this, he hopped up onto my lap and asked for “boobies” (not my favourite choice of word to signify that he wants milk but hey ho, it’s stuck). At the end of describing his daily food intake, I finished with “Oh, and milk of course“. The HV then asked me if he drank it from a cup, which seemed like an odd question at the time, but I replied “No, just from me”. At which point she looked up from her laptop and said, “Oh…. Yes. Well done.” Now I do not breastfeed my child for a pat on the back but it was very welcome after the horror stories I’d heard and was better than being told erroniously that there would be “no nutritional value” in my milk or that he was “only doing it for comfort” (favoured phrases it seems). She asked if we were happy with it still and both myself and the husband said “YES” in unison. After a short discussion about his frequent night wakings, she then told me that if I wanted to wean at any point and needed help, then I could call the HV team. And that was that.

Well not really, my little charmer then proved that he could put all the toys away and then as we put him into his buggy (with not a single protest from him) he waved and said “Goodbye nice lady” and blew her a kiss!

What else?

Nightweaning (to be sung to the tune of Nightswimming by REM). Not sure if I blogged about it then but back in January around my birthday we had a pop at night weaning from milk. It happened at this point because a friend (who had a child herself that didn’t sleep though for different reasons) pointed me towards a gentle AP-worthy method of night weaning by a chap called Dr Jay Gordon. I was understandably entirely sceptical. We have (half heartedly) attempted a number of different things over the last two years to improve sleep, and none of them have worked. In fairness the element of half heartedness no doubt had some kind of influence on this but realistically we knew they were never going to work and so it was all a bit of a pointless exercise. However, straight away on reading this method, I felt like I could get on with it. Dr Gordon doesn’t endorse any kind of sleep training for under one year olds. He talks about co-sleeping in the “family bed”.

He says:

Don’t get me wrong. I love the family bed, child-led weaning and cuddling all through the first, second, third year or more if it’s working well and if the family is doing well. Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a harmful choice or that there will be “no way” to get him out of your bed if you don’t do it now. Don’t believe anyone who says that babies who cuddle and nurse all night long “never” learn to self soothe or become independent. This is simply not true but it sells books and the myths stay in our culture.

I agree. This helps.

This method highlights the difference between a child who is safely in his mother or fathers arms crying because he is frustrated at not getting what he wants (milk) when he wants it (9pm,11:30pm, 1am, 2:30am, 4am, 5am and from 6-7am), and leaving a child alone in their own room to cry to teach them that no-one is coming. This hit hard with me as leaving a child to cry alone has never resonated well with me. However, I am able to leave R in his daddies arms having a bit of a sob to go and do things because I know he is safe and loved and protected.

I won’t go through the full method as you can read it on the link to Dr Gordon’s page, but a brief run down is that you choose a period of night during which you do not feed your child (we chose 11pm to 5am). Before and after that time you continue as normal. During that time for the first 3 nights you give them a brief feed (but don’t feed to sleep), then cuddled them to sleep. You repeat the process each time they wake. The next 3 nights, you just cuddle, with no feed. The next 3-4 nights after that you stay with them, talk to them, soothe them etc but don’t pick them up to cuddle them. The idea is that it’s gentle but persuades them that they don’t need a feed to get to sleep, and also that they won’t get one so they don’t need to wake. At R’s age, he does not need to feed at night but he likes to. But I also need to get some sleep.

When we tried back in January, it was going well before we all got hideous germs. I had tonsilitis then spent the next 6 weeks with a cold, a lost voice etc, small person was so full of green goo it wasn’t funny and the husband had a selection of his own germs too. It went on for so long (which was unusual as we usually have good health!) that we just totally gave up on it. Which is weird because it was actually working prior to the ill.

Our sleep got worse again a month or so ago and I was duly complaining to anyone who would listen, and it was suggested that we try again. So we said “Why not?”, and we did. There were two nights in the middle where small stuff cried for 2 hours or so. One night we actually ended up taking him downstairs as he was being so noisy and awful, the other night I told him stories gently in the hope of convincing him to sleep but just our luck we have the only child in the land who finds bedtime stories too stimulating and then starts joining in! At this point we weren’t very hopeful but the next night, he only woke twice. All night. TWICE! Not seven times. From then on in it’s been pretty consistent. We still have bad nights and we’ve shifted the timings a little because he was waking at 4:30 or so desperate for a feed and crying until five. As he wasn’t often waking before that, I decided a 4:30am feed isn’t such a bad thing.

So the next step may end up being his own bed. We have an old single bed frame in the attic which we are going to get out at the weekend and see if we can get a mattress to fit (weird Ikea bed size). Then we can see if he likes having his own room….. Wish us luck!

Sorry no pictures- will add some in from my phone when I get a chance

The secret formula

Standard

This week I listened to The Food Program on radio 4. Although radio 4 is probably my most listened to station (that and Planet Rock when there’s a digital radio about) is unusual for me to seek out The Food Program (last time I did was a few years ago when the gin episode was on). Last week’s edition was called The Secret Formula- the subject of the episode all about baby formula- history,  manufacturing process,  ingredients and the law.

I was quite interested to see how they were going to play it and I must admit that overall I found their approach baffling and rather poor. The initial section which talked about low milk prices and why the milk industry especially in Ireland is refocusing their market to look more towards the production of formula was really interesting.  Milk prices are so low,  pushed down by the large conglomerates and supermarkets that farmers are struggling to make any money at all,  but formula is a growing market especially in newly developed and developing countries.

The presenters managed to get a guided tour of a formula production factory which in all honesty despite being the largest section of the programme was a huge waste of the valuable 26 minutes available. The presenter feigned surprise at the sights and conditions of the factory and it’s equipment with a very derogatory stance in regards to the hygiene/health&safety precautions and “all the huge metal storage tanks and tubes”. Whilst I’d be the first to raise a wry smile at the complicated process that goes into replicating breastmilk (the process of which we don’t have to concern ourselves with), my limited knowledge and experience of processed food production would suggest that both the above parts off the presenters experience were entirely normal. To top this off more minutes from the program were used up on listening to a protective suit being donned.

The presenters next looked at a potted history of baby foods and early “formula”. This part was particularly interesting but fell short of describing the changes in advice on weaning in the last 50 years or so or explaining why early “formulas” of mashed up bread and milk are now known to be unsuitable for children. I wonder if this was partially to appease the likely listener-ship of a radio four programme. Advice and info changes so regularly that is possible they didn’t want to alienate listeners who may have been parents of babies 20 to 80 years ago, and who very likely did some of the things that are now  frowned upon.

The part I found most fascinating covered law and regulation around formula production and how it is regulated. Although I felt I already knew  a reasonable amount on this subject I was pleased that the expert suggested how the rules could be changed in the future-including banning formula production companies from advertising any formula milk below one year and a ban on “follow on milks”. These follow on milks are not necessary and have been thought up by formula producing companies to get around the current legislation which states that formula cannot be advertised nor be on special offer aimed at babies under six months old.

Finally the piece spoke to a small group of mothers with formula fed babies. Whilst is unfair of me to judge anything that was said by those individuals,  it was interesting to see how marketing and celebrity had affected their decisions around which brand of formula to use.  When I think about my own friends, their decisions for what formula to chose was usually based on where they shopped and which ones their babies seemed to get on with best.

It got me thinking though about why the programs left me feeling cold. I felt like there was a lot that could have been said in a professional, factual and impartial way about formula production, the companies that produce it and the risks and problems associated with it. However instead the programme content was neutral but the tone was sniffy and judgemental as if in in lieu of actually being able to say anything factually correct but potentially negative about formula.

I appreciate this was not a programme about breastfeeding. However I feel it’s almost impossible to talk about formula without the context of breastfeeding and I don’t think this was addressed very clearly. Try harder please Radio 4.

Boobs again

Standard

Christ it’s all going down today. This morning a mother went onto This morning on itv to talk about why she still breastfeeds her 6 year old.

To me this woman is selfless and brave. She knew that people wouldn’t understand but thought her point was important enough to put herself in the firing line. The breastfeeding support forums have been buzzing today with anger and upset at the comments (DON’T READ THE COMMENTS! )(sorry it’s just a thing we say to try to stop troll-feeding) that members of the public are making,  but for some people even close friends too.

We’re back to that classic issue of the anonymity and removed nature of the Internet comment section. The concept that you can say basically anything you like with no repercussion. But it goes deeper than that. It seems that most adults in the UK feel at best uncomfortable with the concept of breastfeeding a six year old. At worst they think it’s “disgusting” and “perverted” and “akin to child abuse”. There is something very inherently wrong with this societal view. In most issues, I’m a fence sitter nature but there are some things I just can’t understand.

The benefits of extended breastfeeding are well documented. Anyone who says there is no benefit to the child at this age may want to do some research on the subject. I’ve talked before about the sexualisation of breasts (in fact my Samsung Mobile Phone will not automatically let me type the word breast and tries to auto correct to the hilarious “beast” or the factual “breastfeeding”) in the western world particularly.  Some people say that the only benefit is to the mother. Whilst many mothers enjoy natural term feeding that’s not to say it’s easy. From latch issues from brand new babyhood all the way through to each new tooth, babies touching and fiddling and scratching and pinching and doing gymnastics and waking every 90 mins,  mums feeling “touched out” (fed up of being attached to the child all the time)…. I stand by my word when I say that mother is selfless to do that for six years.

But how do we change opinion?  The Daily Mirror were running a poll for their (no doubt open minded, liberal and well read) readers to find out what % of then thought it was right to feed a 6 year old. When I received a link to it and voted,  over 87% said that it wasn’t right. How do we tackle this?

I for one absolutely refuse to apologise or hide breastfeeding.  I feed in public wherever we need to. I talk about breastfeeding in normal everyday conversations with friends, family and colleagues because it is normal and the more we normalise the more we enable others to build their confidence to realise it’s normal and do the same.

More reviews! Breast Pumps!

Standard

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.

Side car named Sleep.

Standard

I won’t even mention the amount of time since I last posted….I used to regularly upkeep 4 blogs, the only one I manage well now is my livejournal which is a closed personal blog that I’ve had for 11 years!

Baby D is now over 9 months old. Months 0-6 trickled past as we tried to get to grips with everything. Since 6 months passed and we stopped counting his age in weeks, and since I started counting down the weeks until I go back to work, time is suddenly flying.  I say that but he’s learnt so much and amazes us every day so maybe it’s not gone so quickly.

image

image

DEVELOPMENT
Developmentally he’s decided that rolling and crawling are not for him. He is very confident during and can spin a full 360 on his bottom at speed if there’s a good toy behind him. He’s always wanted to be on his feet-the jumperoo  and more recently the Walker have helped fuel this passion. And he’s been learning to stand whilst holding on to the sofa. A few weeks have passed and he is cruising around the furniture and given the right surfaces can pull himself up to standing. Eek.

image

(There is a serious perspective issue in this photo as he is the tallest in his friend group! )

FOOD
Overall weaning (the English meaning of weaning being too stay them onto solids alongside milk) has been slow.  We decided to mix the classic puree-style weaning with baby-led. Baby D likes to be in charge so this suits him well. We started about a week before he turned 6 months amidst empty promises of it helping him sleep better. Whilst most his friends sit compliantly with an open beak, waiting to have food shovelled in, my boy is a bit of a pickle. I come from a family of keen eaters, my husband less so. Seems baby got his eating habits from daddy’s side of the family. I hope out non-pressurising approach means he grows up with a positive attitude towards food (I detest picky eaters and have patience with them! Everyone has likes and dislikes buy fussiness is annoying@).

The warm summer is not really helping (nor is the tummy bug we both had), and some days he basically eats nothing. We offer him three meals a day and s huge range and variety of tastes and textures in hot and cold, sweet and savoury food. Sometimes he goes mad for it, more often than not he doesn’t want anything.  However his weight is good and I’ve bought vitamin drops (which is as good as giving them, right? ) to ensure he gets what he needs. We are also spending a lot of time outside (though careful with suncream etc) so I hope he’s getting the vitamin D that breast milk can lack.
image

image

SLEEP
Oh sleep. I won’t go into too much detail but whilst most people in the (western. Or maybe just british) world will try to make you feel like a freak if your baby doesn’t Sleep Through The Night from about 3 seconds old, I’m lucky to have my group of mumsnet friends showing me 60 plus different versions of normal. Sadly we are at the crappy end of the spectrum. I’m not prepared to sleep train my baby in the classic way (long story short -all babies are different and I don’t believe in a one-cure-fits-all solution and it definitely doesn’t suit my baby) Which doesn’t leave many options (and certainly none that have really worked for us).

I wish we had Co-slept earlier. There are so many people parroting bag information about Co sleeping and how it will ruin your life and kill your baby that I was reluctant to try it. In actual fact I get so much more sleep now than I did before despite his sleep patterns still being pretty awful. However Co sleeping in the spare room had meant not spending much time with my husband so last night we got radical and converted his cot into a sidecar cot.  Lots of great information about how to do it on many blogs so I will be modifying it tonight to try to improve the position.

image

image

Need to remove the bedside table and move the cot up, then pad my side of the bed to get it a bit higher!

The exact expected rollercoaster ride

Standard

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