5 Things I Hated and 5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding

*The original version of this was posted on the Huffington Post Parents blog section
A was born at the end of 2014, for those of you who regularly read this blog, you’ll know she was born with tongue-tie, which meant breastfeeding started off very badly. However after having her tongue-tie clipped (twice!), I continued feeding her for 19 months and 2 weeks, I can tell you that on day 2, when my nipples started bleeding and I fed her in absolute agony, I would never have believed that would happen. I had a love-hate relationship with breastfeeding and here’s why:

5 Things I Hated About Breastfeeding:
1.Tongue-tie bloody tongue-tie -, it was so painful and stressful, it ruined the first month with my baby. It’s simply a nightmare and I’d recommend getting it fixed ASAP if it happens to your baby. I wrote the story here
2.The time it takes at the beginning, especially if you have a “comfort” feeder, you can basically spend your life feeding. Newborns love boobs and so you better get used to your sofa and using one hand. Don’t even get me started on growth spurts…
3.The fact that you’re basically the only person, who can feed your baby and the stress this implies if you leave them too long. Because of the tongue tie A had a bottle every day for the first 3 weeks but then I made the mistake of stopping and she wouldn’t drink from a bottle for the next 10 months! Once I left her for a few hours and my mum had to spoon feed her milk!
4.You have to wear tops that can be opened or lifted up AT ALL TIMES. Goodbye good old bodycon dresses that obviously you used to wear on a regular basis!
5.It ruined my boobs, I lost 3 cup sizes, my boobs were “my thing”, I no longer have “a thing”

However, as with most things in life, it’s not all bad! On the contrary, in my humble opinion and experience, the good outweighs the bad and I have no regrets. There is indeed a silver lining in everything…

5 Things I Loved About Breastfeeding
1.Tongue tie may have been very painful but thanks to my blog post about it, all sorts of opportunities came my way – including speaking about it on national TV.
2.I loved the fact that you have to stop and feed, it did stop me from running around like a mad person and made me slow down and share special calm moments with my daughter
3.Breastfeeding was the one thing that would CALM my baby, PUT HER TO SLEEP anywhere!

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Post boob nap

Comfort her and generally have a magical effect on her. It would have been a hundred times harder to get her to sleep on planes, trains, stop a tantrum and generally calm things down when there was a crisis! Also killed a lot of time during said plane and train rides.
4.She loved it, it made her happy, and it made me happy knowing I was doing something healthy for her (to make up for all the TV and biscuits she’s been consuming!)
5.It sure burned a ton of calories over 19 months, yes my boobs are gone but so are quite a few lumps and bumps and for that I will forever be grateful.

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The last time I fed her

For any of you, who breastfed, what did you enjoy about it? What were the bad bits? I would love to know!

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So As Not to Forget What My Daughter is Like At 19 Months Old

Time is flying! A will be 2 in November and when I see pictures of a year ago, I realise how much children change and you can easily forget what they were like. This blog is a great way to make sure I don’t forget. I’m not sure I could forget such cheekiness and craziness. Here are some photos from the past 4 days that sum my monster up pretty well, I wouldn’t change her for the world!

  
Thursday night post nursery snack wearing sunglasses, she loves to “accesorize” with bags, hats, glasses, my jewellery etc. She usually puts something on her arm, says “bye bye” and walks off!

   
 
Friday morning playing with mummy’s hair, this caused much laughter and I lost a few hairs in the process! Later that day, I took her for a haircut, she has very straight hair and the minute her fringe gets a bit long she literally can’t see! Here is the result:

  
A likes to give orders and on Saturday it was “off” as in we have to both take our clothes off (I was allowed to keep my underwear on!)

  
A also likes to throw and empty things and say “uh ho” as if some mysterious ghost was to blame

   
 
She loves baby but baby ended up in the bin and was “sad”, poor baby having A for a mummy!

  
Sunday night story reading was accompanied by sunglasses of course, daddy then proceeded to “help” by putting on some relevant music at 7PM

   
 
Needless to say things can get quite tiring but we’re never bored even if we both get frustrated (I’ve missed out any pictures of tantrums and moaning!), she’s my cheeks and I love her. She’s just got my crazy family’s genes!

Anyway Allez Les Bleus!

Mini B’s Birth Story

*Warning, this is a long post so you may want to get a cup of tea!*

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. I don’t want to forget the most important day of my life, the day I became a mum. I’ll try and keep it “light” but I’m not going to lie…

Now where to start…to start with I was expecting hell (its’ probably good to go inot this whole childbirth thing expecting it to be hard, this was you wont be disappointed!), extreme pain because my mum (who has had 5 children) told me that “it’s not worth me describing the pain because it’s so bad you can’t imagine it” and “female marathon runners can go faster after they’ve given birth because the pain doesn’t compare to the pain of giving birth”, enough said basically!

Like everyone, my priority was to get the baby out safely, my main worry was about my tendency to sometimes give up easily so I wrote myself some words of encouragement on my phone a few weeks before (this was actually helpful):

  • You can do it
  • Think of mini b and her safety
  • The harder you push the quicker it will be over
  • She will come out for sure
  • Positive
  • A cuddle is very nearly there
  • Think of Justin holding her
  • It’s just one day

And this was my birth plan:

Yes: water birth, low lighting, cord cut after pulsating, dad to cut cord, placenta injection, vitamin k injection, skin to skin straight away, birth squatting or kneeling, ideally not lying down, walking around a lot during contractions, lots of explanations on everything
No: forceps, cord cut too quickly, lots of people in the room, pethidine

The reality was slightly different. To start with I was induced so a water birth was out of the window. The problem with induction is that it’s not natural and you’re in an environment that is not conducive to going into labour at all. Giving birth was one of the most natural, primitive, animalistic things I’ve ever done, instincts take over and when you’re trying to start the process of giving birth to your baby in a hospital cubicle next to woman who arrived with her homeless partner smelling of pee, another couple where the husband was watching the Football on TV loudly and screaming along to it (why headphones are not compulsive on labour any hospital wad I do not know!), well basically Mother Nature says NO!

This is me the day I was due:

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This timeline will summarise the process:

  • Due date: nothing
  • Week after that: 1 or 2 sweeps (I can’t remember, all I know is they are painful and did nothing!)
  • Due date +7: nothing
  • Week after that: 2 sweeps but still nothing
  • Due date +12: MIDWIFE STRIKE for the first time in nearly a 100 years, you would think the stress of that on the day you are due to be induced would be enough to put you into labour, well no! and they had forgotten about me and didn’t want me to come in but I did anyway and a great midwife got me a bed on the labour ward. Another sweep. Induction process starts at 5PM with a pessary.
  • Due date +13: nothing except back pain
  • Due date + 13, 10PM: still nothing except back pain, taken down to labour ward.

I was very bored of sitting here:

Labour ward at UCLH

  • Due date + 14 at 5AM: baby A born weighing 3.97 kilos with a head size that was off the charts unfortunately for me…

That’s all 🙂 Ha! don’t worry I’m not going to miss out the “action”!

Once in the delivery suite, my husband went to lie down in the bathroom as he couldn’t sleep the night before as he kept thinking I was going to call him to rush to the hospital, I just sat on the ball and my mum got the hot water bottle filled up (this was the only thing giving me some relief) because the back pain was really bad at this point but no contractions. My waters were broken around 11PM, I will never forget when the doctor said to the trainee “Would you like to do it?” and the trainee replied “I’ve never done it before”, I think the look I both gave them meant a thousand words, needless to say the doctor broke my waters.

This is when things get a bit less clear, I think I started getting some contractions and using gas and air but they weren’t as bad as the back pain. Things were not progressing very fast at all so the midwife suggested the drip to accelerate the contractions. I had read a lot about this (and randomly remember it from episodes of MTV’s “teenage mom”, I know I’m weird!) and told her that I will only have the drip if I can get an epidural as I know that you can basically go from 0 to 100 and be in terrible pain. The anesthetist then appeared and told me he could come back and give me an epidural in around 2 hours as he was busy. The midwife then suggested some diamorphine (heroin basically) for the back pain and the contractions that were getting a bit stronger (to be honest I don’t really remember contractions much at all). I accepted and off she went. This is where things actually get quite funny. Once the diamorphine kicked in a few minutes later, I started to relax A LOT and basically got high so here is Funny Labour Moment Number 1:

Me to husband: “whatever I say over the next few hours, you will not hold against me”

Me to mum : “when ISIS come to your house, do not let them in because they are bad people”

Me to both of them: “the trader from Hong Kong, who killed that prostitute is in my bed on labour ward and I’m not happy because he is using my TV card”, “if there were no men in the world, it would be a much better place”. So yes I solved the world’s problem’s whilst in labour…

And guess what happens when you fully relax? You go INTO LABOUR and dilate from about 3 cms to 10 in around an hour. This is when things started going a lot quicker.

A quick point before I move on about having my mum in the room. It was really important for me to have her there, despite having had 5 children she had never seen a baby be born 🙂 My dad did not understand this at all, he said childbirth was “an intimate moment between a couple”, well to start with there is always at least one other person in the room and I believe in getting all the help you can (yes I don’t work at the moment and still have a cleaner for example! Not exactly the same thing but you get the idea…). I’m really glad she was there, it meant twice as much encouragement, it gave my husband the opportunity to take “breaks” when he needed to, it reassured me and when she said she could see the head, I believed her! She was also there for a week after A was born (it was meant to be for longer but as A was late, it was cut short), again I don’t understand the whole “we want it to just me us as a couple bonding with the baby”, that’s all good and well when everything is easy but without my mum being with us the first week it would have been so much harder (I had to go back to hospital for an evening because my stitches got infected for example) and I’m pretty sure I would have given up breastfeeding without her support.

Anyway, back to the action! Suddenly things really got moving and I felt the need to stand up, ill spare you the details but the midwife told me “you don’t need to xyz, you need to push this baby out” and here comes Funny Labour Moment Number 2, I replied to this “I don’t need to push yet, the  man is coming for the epidural and then you will put the drip in”, Midwife: “you are 10 cms dilated, you need to push”. Me  (still a bit high on what is basically heroin): you don’t understand! the man will be here soon, we have to wait for him!”

I’m not sure when I came to my senses but it was time to PUSH!

A word on pushing, this was probably the most technically advanced/difficult physical movement I have ever had to do. I didn’t get it at all at first! I started by pushing into my throat and then I wasn’t really pushing etc.. So I took a moment to get my head around it whilst chewing on the gas and air pipe (at one point the midwife even asked me why I was inhaling the gas and air as I wasn’t having a contraction (I felt like a naughty school girl!). I pictured moving a bowling ball away from”down there” by blowing air out. Well I finally got it and pushed and pushed for I think over an hour but Mini B’s big head was not coming out without an episiotomy ( I wish this hadn’t happened as it has caused me so much pain and issues ever since). There were a few other Funny Labour Moments during all this, for example when I told the midwife (who was great by the way and kept me calm and on the straight and narrow as I was panicking and wanting to give up) that  “I couldn’t do this and if we could please do this another day” , she replied that “no, and who on earth is going to do this if it wasn’t you?!”. At one point the baby’s heart arte was really dropping so she explained she was going to attach a monitor to the top of her head, I explained in turn ” that’s the one thing I don’t want you to do”, when I asked “why?”, I calmly responded that I had seen this on TV (good old one born every minute) and that it “looked horrible”. She attached the monitor despite this very valid objection!

So finally on due date + 14 at 5.09AM, mini B came out after a few last pushes that were really really painful, just when you think the pain can’t get any worse it does right at the end! Burning is the word that comes to mind…

However what “they say” is true, you forget the pain, the minute it’s over.

These were my thoughts when they handed her to me:

  1. She’s so big!
  2. She has so much hair!
  3. This is definitely my baby

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By now, I had gotten so good at this bloody pushing malarkey that the most comic moment of whole thing happened, I pushed the placenta out so strongly it landed in the midwife’s lap. I knew I would get it!

So now for the gushy bit…nothing compares to childbirth. Not only do you feel superhuman but it’s overwhelming love at first sight, I knew at 5.09AM on November 26th 2014 that I would love her forever and want to protect her from everything, I didn’t think I could do it but I did and there is no way I could ever be that strong for something else unless I was saving her life in a disaster or something. Mini B, Bella Roo as I have said before, I love you more than anything and would do it all again for this moment:

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Linking up to Honest Mum’s Brilliant Blog Posts:
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

What To Buy For Baby

I put together a list of things to buy for a pregnant friend of mine and then she sent it to another friend and then I passed it on to two women I didn’t know but who posted on my local parents FB group and who said it was really helpful so I thought I would share it with the world 🙂

I used my experience and that of friends to put this together as well as the many hours I spent reading about all the stuff you can buy babies! So I broke it down into a few Bs.

  • Body

Your baby will need nappies and clothes as a basic necessity, you can’t do without these but you can definitely do without a lot of the other stuff!

Regarding clothes you don’t know how big your baby is going to be, you can use the predicted weight but its’ not very accurate. My advice would be to buy 10 vests and 10 sleep suits to begin with. A mix of “newborn” and size 0-1 months and maybe one or 2 “tiny baby” just in case. BUY THEM FROM A SUPERMARKET. I wasted money on nice babygros, they come in packs from supermarkets and are totally fine! Have one or 2 nice ones for when people come over but more is a waste of money. True cliché: they grow out of things quickly and stuff gets poo stained!
However some cute clothes are definitely needed:
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And a Chrismas Elf outfit is de rigueur for a winter baby:
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I used water wipes at the beginning as they are gentle enough to use on newborn skin: http://waterwipes.com. Then moved onto huggies pure and now use Tesco wipes. Coconut oil is great for dry, flaky skin. Sunflower oil is supposed to be great too. Another tip is put a pop sock of oats into the bath if they baby has dry skin. I have baby moisturiser that I have never used so I wouldn’t bother with that.
  • Baby carrier
We have the ergo baby 360 (http://store.ergobaby.com/baby-carrier/four-position-360) and it’s great but fabric slings are better for tiny newborns and good for in the house. They love sleeping in slings, they feel safe and secure. A sling library is a great place to go and try slings on before investing
  • Boobs/Bottle
I could go for hours about my love/hate relationship with breastfeeding but all I will say is go on kellymom.com, it’s a great website about feeding. Be aware of the symptoms of tongue tie, if something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and speak to a professional lactation consultant ASAP!
If you want to express and use bottles, a double pump is the best, they are really much faster. I had the Medela Swing, which is good but wish I’d had a double one. You can rent the Medela hospital grade one or this one is supposed to be good:
MAM bottles are really good when combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding so they don’t get too much “nipple confusion”, which is a whole debatable subject!
  • Bed
If you don’t want your baby to sleep in a draw, then this is what I recommend 🙂
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We rented this: http://www.bednest.com, A slept in it until she was 4 months old. The great thing with the bednest is YOU CAN GIVE IT BACK. I don’t get moses baskets, they are cute but they can be noisy (they squeak), you can’t clean them and all babies seem to grow out of them within a month or 2.
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The bednest is unescapable!
A REAL GREAT PRODUCT is the Cocoonababy. A actually slept in it until she was 4 months old, we put in on our bed, in the bednest (this is not recommended according to the bednest guidelines but we did it anyway), on the sofa, on the floor etc. It’s easy to transport from room to room or even if you go away, babies are super cosy and in a natural position it in and it avoids “flat head syndrome”. It can also really help with reflux as they are not flat on their back.
Newborns can’t control their arms and legs and the movement often wakes them up so swaddling is important, you can wrap them yourself in beautiful swaddling blankets like we did (but probably didn’t do it enough):
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but I would recommend buying a swaddle with Velcro or a zip like this:
Here is the Cocoonababy and the beautiful swaddling blankets in action:
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White noise can help them sleep, so get your hands on Ewan the Dreem Sheep or our friend Eddie.
  • Bath

This bath seat is indispensable (you can also buy it here), if not you have to hold the baby and wash it at the same time, which is really hard! 10 pounds well spent, I don’t know how people manage without one!

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  • Buggies

I would either buy the Uppababy Cruz or Vista because they both have massive baskets and a good pull down sunshade. You can’t go wrong with either and the Vista can even become a double buggy. The second best thing is probably a Bugaboo. We don’t have a car so how easy folding the buggy is doesn’t matter to us but if you’re going to use a car a lot then think about that (the mamas and papas Armadillo Flip XT is easy to fold for example).

  • Bits and Bobs

You don’t need to buy a specific changing table unless you want to, we just have a changing mat on top of a cheat of drawers. We even use this kitchen trolley (from Ikea) to store muslins, wipes etc. I would buy good quality muslins (less is more) as the cheap ones are not very so or absorbent.

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/30216536/

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We have a nappy bin but its not indispensable. Changing bags that come with a changing are mat are really useful but you could just use any bag as long as it fits on the buggy.

I bought this baby gym from Mothercare and she still uses it, another 10 pounds well spent!

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A bumbo can be useful before they can sit up, but it’s definitely worth buying a second hand one.

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A bouncy chair is also very useful:

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I would really advise mums to be to buy THINGS SECOND HAND except for a mattress and a car seat (unless you know for sure it’s not been in an accident), make a list for friends so you don’t only end up with clothes.

It’s myth that they wont let you leave the hospital without a car seat, you can carry babies on your lap or in a sling in a mini cab: it’s the LAW: https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules/when-a-child-can-travel-without-a-car-seat.

That’s all I can think of for now!

Why I Love Our Cybex Callisto Pushchair

Back in the January sales, we bought a Cybex Callisto pushchair (http://cybex-online.com/en/pushchairs/callisto.html) as we needed something lighter and easier to fold than the Bugaboo Frog, which recently got a puncture so I have switched to this.

I’ll get straight to the point or its best “USP” in my opinion. We first used in on holiday in Tenerife and fell in love with it back then but I hadn’t realised a key feature which is that the hood can cover the whole seat and therefore the whole baby, which would have really helped in the sun!!!

Indeed no need for finding shade and using swaddling blankets and pegs:

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When you can do this:

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This is a seriously great feature that I haven’t seen on any other pushchairs. Most people have to buy a cover to keep  little legs out of the sun and create a dark environment that blocks out stimulation for naps.

The rain cover is great too, it actually FITS and stays put:

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The handlebar is quite high, which I find comfortable but it might be a bit too high in you were on the short side. Folding it down is easily done by pressing on the button on the handlebar and pressing down on the back. Its got a handy pocket on the back of the canopy. The basket at the bottom is the main let down as its not very big and not that easy to access

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I still managed to fit quite a lot of “stuff” in it!

It’s not  the lightest of its kind but I can lift it and there is a handle on the side that you can use once its folded.The seat seems comfortable and large enough to last a few years. I think I’ll use the other one for when I go shopping or need to carry a lot of stuff but if not, this is the day to day buggy from now on.

It’s just so much easier to push, especially one handed which when you live in a building with multiple doors is a real plus!

Hopefully we’ll be using some more Cybex products in the future.

Baby Products That Need To Be Invented

If anybody would like to become a billionaire, you simply need to create one of these products, as far as know none of them exist:

  • A self cleaning high chair
  • A high chair with high sides so no food can be thrown on the floor
  • A bib that ties around the waist so it doesn’t ride up
  • A “weaning hat” so hair doesn’t get covered in food
  • An “attach spoon” so said spoon can’t be thrown on the floor
  • A treadmill or “vibrator” for buggies to get babies to sleep, ideally could be used with a crib too
  • An integrated white noise surround sound machine for cots
  • Nappies that NEVER leak
  • A cheap, lightweight sturdy playpen, could be inflatable but with high sides
  • An “anti-rolling” sleeping bag with an integrated sleep positioned or something
  • Glow in the dark teether
  • Glow in the dark cup

Do any of these things exist?

As I think some of these ideas are brilliant, I’m linking up with #brilliantblogposts
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

My Second Letter to My First Daughter

Two months ago I posted my first letter to A , a lot has changed in those 2 months and for the better!

Bella-Roo, you have turned into a very happy baby that smiles a lot and most importantly can smile on cue (I just need to make a clicking noise and voila!), that’s how I get lots of great pictures of you! See example below (yes mummy thinks you are very cute):
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I should really think of making you into a baby model as you are so good at posing!

Over the past 2 months, we went on our first trips together on a train and it went smoothly enough. A lady did have to put her earplugs in at one point on the train to Weymouth as you were tired and crying but except for that we survived! In one month exactly we are going on a plane for 4.5 hours to Tenerife, I’m a bit stressed about this as I’m not sure how getting you to nap on a plane is going to work (I’m counting on the Ergo) but it should be OK as you really don’t cry much anymore. Thank you for not being a difficult baby, we had a rough start but you are a joy to be with nowadays.

A few weeks ago you learnt to roll over from back to front, the first time you did this was at 9.30PM, we heard you screamed and ran in to your bedroom to find you stuck face down. Mummy and daddy were very excited about this! We were less excited when you did it again at 4AM and then 6AM, this is why you now sleep in a Grobag tucked into your mattress, sorry about this straight jacket style sleeping but gymnastics are for daytime.

These are some of the things you love doing:
-putting everything in your mouth especially mummy and daddy’s fingers
-screeching and making all sorts of (mostly) cute noises
-dancing and flying, you seem to really like moving and physical activity
-listening to mummy sing, which is surprising as I CANNOT sing
-the bath, you love the bath and can quite easily suck on a wet flannel for 30 mins (as I said you love putting things in your mouth!)
-having your nappy changed, you love having it taken off and start throwing your legs everywhere.
-putting “doudou” on your face for naps in the buggy:
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-you love looking around at everything and everybody, you are very nosy!

You have recently started sleeping through the night and mummy and daddy would like to thank you for this! Please don’t stop!

We love you Boo, we could imagine a better baby, you make us laugh a lot and bring a lot of joy into your lives, we are really looking forward to going on our holiday and putting you in a swimming pool, just be good on the plane!