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Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Boob feeding

I write this post as my now 12 week old feeds from my boob. I have been thinking about writing this for a while but I've not really been sure where to start. There's so much to say about being a new mum and what it's like to have a newborn. I think the most difficult thing to wrap my head around is that there's no definite right or wrong answer for most things.

Once Pippa woke up and started feeding a few days in, breastfeeding has been easy for me. I am very grateful for this as I've worked with so many mum's and babies who find it very difficult, if not impossible. However, I have quickly learnt that there is so much more to it than simply positioning and attaching a baby. Or is it that simple? It kind of is really but the need to explain/complicate everything is overwhelming...

Not one feed is the same therefore how long should a feed be? What counts as a full feed and should I offer the same side again or the other side? Foremilk and hindmilk? I thought these terms were old hat now but when my girl was having unexplained green poos in the afternoon with no other clinical symptoms of her being poorly, Dr. Google informs me that it must be a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance. Now should I worry about that? I've now learnt no, I shouldn't, but only after a few weeks of trying many different things to 'right' her 'wrong' poo. Most websites recommend block feeding to ensure baby completely drains one boob before going onto the next. Not only does this give you very lopsided boobies but it also can reduce your milk supply. Unless you genuinely have too much milk (which your baby negates so it's unlikely) then messing with milk production seems a silly thing to do. So how do I stop the green poops? I was obsessed until I gave up trying to 'fix' it and forgot about it instead... Guess what, that in itself worked! She only has the occasional green poo now.

Lots of forum reading as told me that it's relatively common for breastfed babies to have yellow stools all morning then greener ones in the afternoon/evening. Quite often I wake up like Dolly Parton in the morning and baby will only take short feeds, probably due to having lots of milk so not having to work as hard to get it. A quick boob squeeze instantly shows me that this milk is much more watery than the stuff in the evening which is much creamier and fattier looking. She also tends to feed longer in the evenings because she has to work harder to get the milk out. Anyway, back to the forum post; this woman was saying that she had spoken to her health visitor about the green poos and she was reassured that the reason the poos are yellow in the morning is because the body takes all night digesting the fattier milk. Then baby takes the watery milk all morning which passes through her digestive system much quicker. This is what makes her poos green. As long as she's showing no other signs of being ill, then there isn't a problem!

DISCLAIMER: I've not looked at any actual research to support this, which if a was a good midwife, I would, but in my mummy state (which is all I'm good for at the minute), this makes sense. My health visitor seened to agree too!

By about 5 weeks, I pretty much felt I had grasped boob feeding and from 6 weeks I started expressing a bit. To begin with I was convinced I couldn't have any milk in there and I must be starving my baby because I couldn't get any milk out. Well, only when I had my Dolly Parton boobs in the morning anyway. After yet another frantic Google, I then tried expressing one side whilst feeding the other side... Bingo!!! Plenty in there after all. I just needed her to initiate the let down reflex to get it out. I only have a hand pump though so it took a bit of practice and a few spillages to master holding a baby and pumping at the same time! Before I knew it I had 1.6L in the freezer ready to feed my bubba when I wasn't with her.

The aim of all this was because we/I had/have a few things coming up where we didn't intend on Pippa going to. The main one being the Harry Potter stage show in London, a two performance show which would have meant us being away from her all day and evening. In hindsight, we should have tried to introduce a bottle sooner but I kind of let that slip as I just assumed that after a few goes, she'd feed fine, specially as she had a teat very early on in her life... Turns out she completely forgot how to use one and had no incentive to re-learn! Why on earth would she want a weird plastic thing in her mouth when she could have milk from its source and have a lovely comforting mummy cuddle at the same time?! After spending a lot of money on a variety of tests and bottles and a few stressful days trying to get her to feed, we gave up. I started to hate the idea of her having a bottle as much as she hated it being shoved in her gob. I feel so grateful that breastfeeding has been straightforward, I didn't want to ruin it just for the odd day here and there. In the big scheme of her life, this period is so short, missing out on a few things really isn't a big deal. We got out money back on the Harry Potter tickets and the other things I'll just have to make work. She came on a hen do with me last weekend (I was only going to the day), I have another in a couple months and then the weddings too. Ideally they don't want kids at the weddings but they're both really good friends of mine so hopefully we can work something out! Other than that I don't have to leave her. Now what do I do with all the milk in the freezer?!

It's one thing getting to grips with breastfeeding at home, but it's a whole other ball game doing it in public! With my relatively small boobs (which aren't so small anymore, I'll show you in a bit, keep reading!), I wasn't too worried about having too much on show but it's still the logistics of actually attaching a baby. The boob needs to come out however discreet you try and make it! I have found using shawls and cover ups a waste of time. Once she's on theres nothing to see anyway and the shawl is in the way when trying to attach her! I need to see my boob to make sure I'm not inadvertently attaching her to my belly button or something (you know what I mean...)! As she's got bigger and has more neck strength,  and she's pretty easy to get in place so I don't tend to worry about having my boob out as it's not for long. Even when shes not attached yet, her head covers most things so old John Doe would have to be staring pretty hard to catch a glimpse of any nipple. Although it shouldn't, I think breastfeeding still makes plenty of people feel uncomfortable so in my experience, as soon as people have worked out what your doing, they make an awkward effort to look in completely the opposite direction anyway! Problem solved! I am yet to be challenged about feeding, but to be honest, I think this is mainly because people just think I am cuddling my precious bubba. I tell you what though, I praise H&M for selling nursing tops which look just like normal tops! No complicated wraps or ugly V-shapes.. I have 5 now and love them... Though, do be careful with that nipple cream... I couple of mine to have grease stains from misplaced Lansinoh cream which doesn't come out!

In between the crazyness of having a newborn baby, I have managed here and there to do some knitting. Thank God my hands are pretty much back to normal! It was in trying on and photographing my latest knit that it was pointed out to me how big my boobs have got!! Look at this for comparison...!!!

Before breastfeeding

Whilst breastfeeding!
I would be really pleased but all I can think is how saggy they'll probably be when I stop feeding! Oh well, enjoy them while it lasts I guess!

My Telja fair isle jumper is the first project I have finished. This is made from wool my mum got me for Christmas and is absolutely lovely!! However, I didn't think about boob access when I chose the pattern. I don't mind though, it'll have to be kept safe until I can wear it! However, with this is mind, I chose a cardigan for my next project. A nice comfy relaxed one with the boob only a few buttons away! I am using a chunky wool which I got sent by mistake so it feels like a freebie knit also! It's a relatively cheap acrylic yarn but never the less, it'll do the job nicely!

If nothing else, in the last 3 months I have learnt not about breastfeeding but about my baby. I actually think breastfeeding is as simple as positioning and attaching a baby on the boob, the rest of it us as human beings make complicated. The rest of the animal world don't rely on the internet to solve their insecurities so  I am going to stop rely on Dr. Google and listen to my gut feeling a little bit more!

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