Browsing Tag

breastfeeding

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Parenting

Our experience of Tandem Breastfeeding

19 June, 2013

Within a few hours of Juno being born I had both girls tucked in my arms and I was full of emotion, watching the pair of them breastfeeding to sleep. My two and a half year old stroked the hair of her brand new baby sister and it felt like we were cocooned in a blissful bubble of love and oxytocin. I couldn’t shed my smile; this was exactly how I imagined tandem nursing to be.
Tandem Breastfeeding
And then, 24 hours later, my milk came in and the gushing, uncontrollable force of it burst that bubble with a loud, chokey bang! Positioning Juno became quite all-consuming, I had to be flat on my back or stand up with her in a wrap to nurse her without her gagging non-stop. Breastfeeding her was a tangle of tiny limbs, slipping around on a Niagara Falls of milk. Bringing Ramona into the picture was  impossible. Lots of tandem mums cope with oversupply by having their eldest child skim off the extra- but I was hoping to try and regulate my supply quickly by keeping Ramona on just three nurses a day. (Morning, nap and night time.) I admit I had to make that call for my own sanity too, I was worried about feeling all touched out and like a dairy cow.

It is a bit heart wrenching when Ramona asks for it at other times in the day and I gently explain “Not now”- I feel like I am arbitrarily enforcing rules that she can’t understand and I have to really convince myself that three times a day is better than nothing, despite those tiny pleas.

Bed time is a careful balance of needs- making sure Juno is full up and content so I can hand her to Daddy who wraps her on his front and takes a walk, I can then take Ramona to bed for a story and “Mummy Milk by hershelf.”  Nap times mean me getting Juno to sleep on my front and then gymnastically making a mammary gland available for Ramona – and getting immediately on Twitter as a distraction , for that lunchtime nurse feels really quite physiologically aggravating.

Not quite the picture of two utterly content children and peaceful sofa languishing that I had hoped for! (Lazy, me?)

Nursing through pregnancy was quite a challenge, solely from the strange feeling of nursing without much milk, but I was committed to trying tandem nursing.  (Despite at least one Doctor and two nurses telling me I mustn’t/ can’t- what is up with that?!) Not purely as I felt it would mean more sitting around in our PJ’s, girls on my lap, a cup of tea in one hand and Twitter in the other (although, I’m sure you’re picking up, that WAS a factor!) but because I was serious about letting Ramona decide when she was done with nursing. In everything I have attempted to let Ramona be autonomous in the things she has done; not teaching  her to roll/ walk/ climb/ count but rather letting her explore those things in her own time, through babyled weaning we gave her the space to eat the stuff she was ready to eat, and she is still in our bed as she hasn’t chosen to leave yet.  It makes sense for us to let her choose the moment when she will be content without Mummy Milk. (I don’t want this to sound smug, I know lots of parents have decided this isn’t for them or don’t have this luxury- employment needs/ lack of support/ personal reasons.)
pregnant breastfeeding
While tandem nursing is different to the picture I had in my head, 7 weeks in I am glad we have taken this road. Primarily because it is SO obvious that Ramona still reaps the benefits of nursing, both emotionally and physically. It provides an anchor for her little soul, just like it does for newborn Juno, and keeps her strong and immune without me obsessing over what she is or isn’t eating.

I am sure that it has eased the arrival of her little sister, providing a buffer for the times when it must really be quite irritating to have a very loud baby launch herself on to the scene.

Those bedtime nurses with Ramona are so precious – I dwell on her little fingers, her flickering eye lids and my heart melts. They are daily 15 minute slots that remind me that Ramona is really still tiny.

I love that the girls share this really important, meaningful experience, albeit at different times. When Juno cries out Ramona attempts to soothe her by getting all up in her grill yelling “OH JUNO! YOU WANT SOME MUMMY MILK, YES YOU DO!!”

This tandem breastfeeding lark is no bed (*Homer voice* Mmmmm, bed) of roses, but like with many parenting, and life, challenges, there is so much goodness amongst the angst. And maybe one day, ONE DAY, once my milk has levelled out, I might get to spend the afternoon ensconced on the couch looking at the internet while the pair of them banquet on breastmilk gold.

PS Are you on Instagram? I am there: Lulasticblog and am trying to post a daily breastfeeding snap with the hashtag #bfing365 as a little effort in the normalise breastfeeding canpaign! Do join in with your own snaps when you can.

Attachment parenting, Parenting

Attachment Daddy: Supporting Breastfeeding

10 June, 2013

I am handing over my blog today once again to my husband, Tim- or Tim Pop as Ramona calls him. (She also calls him Tim AitkenRead or Uncle Tim- very rarely Daddy! Hehehoohoo.) He wrote about general attachment fatherhood things quite a while ago now, and I’d like him to write about cosleeping and babywearing, but today he is writing about breastfeeding.

Of course, what men think about breastfeeding should be irrelevent – who cares what they think?! Babies need to be nursed by women and we will do it regardless! But, in actual fact, I think it is pretty vital. Husbands and partners can provide much needed support during those early tricky days, or wearying night feeds, or when people criticise the choice to breastfeed a toddler. Tim was the one who bought me endless drinks when that extreme thirst hit everytime I sat down to nurse, the one made me healthy meals and snacks, the one who gave important support to my decision to keep nursing Ramona even when Juno came along. But men are also critical in re-adjusting society’s perspective on breasts- they are the ones who have sexualised them, they now play an enormous role in reframing them as nutritous nursers of children. Only when men on the street and male media moguls/ policy makers/ shop owners make an effort in this will breastfeeding become mainstream.

So here he is…Attachment Daddy on Breastfeeding

Lucy would like me to write about her breasts.  This seems an interesting prospect really considering my mother in law will no doubt read this.  I vividly remember meeting them for the first time.  It was fairly meteoritic.  Since then they have, for the most part, become a normal part of life.

Growing up with two brothers the particulars of breasts were something quite foreign.  The sort of thing you tried not to accidentally elbow when wrestling with our peers or try not to hit with a misjudged pass in touch rugby.  The repercussions of these sort of indiscretions were often quite violent and embarrassing.

Breasts did take on a different dimension later in life, but I won’t dwell on this too much for everyone’s sake.  Then along came Ramona.  Things changed quite dramatically after that.  Baby’s are often quite hungry, and if anyone as ever seen any pictures of Ramona (and now Juno) between 0 and 6 months you’ll understand that feeding time was pretty important.

Attachment Daddy on breastfeeing

I’d like to say that as a mature adult I have developed an amazing level of impulse control, for the most part I actually have.  I have a good level of bowel control.  I manage to not say too many awkward things to the extent that my friends at least think I’m reasonably normal.  But as far as food goes though I can’t resist chocolate.  It’s the answer to most of my problems ranging from hunger through to emotional upheaval.  Ramona takes after me on this one.  Though her focus seems to be “Mummy’s Milk” as she calls it.

Obviously with this in mind, meal times/comfort eating never really followed a set pattern or predictable routine.  So whether we found ourselves walking to the shops, sitting on the bus, playing in the park, or even sitting in the privacy of our lounge Ramona’s desire to be close and eating became the expected norm.  Arguably, for the most part I’m a reasonably modest character when it comes to skin showing.  But the experience of becoming a parent has changed me.  Hunger is hunger.  Needs are needs.  Ramona and Juno need to eat.

Last week I found myself sitting in a circle with 11 other students, and the coordinator of our experiential session of my weekly counseling skills course.  In a lull in the conversation (there are loads of these) I stated that recently I have been struggling with a message that a friend sent to Lucy about her ”tits” being inappropriately all over facebook.  I thought that it was perhaps a misjudged joke, but nonetheless, like Lucy, found it difficult to take.

What came next took a while to process.  According to half the members of the group breastfeeding should be done away from others, if breasts are on show you should expect people to stare at them because they are essentially sexual objects, breastfeeding mums should not go round upsetting people basically;  breasts should not run the risk of being spotted by a guy.

I don’t remember being massively surprised really.  I sort of became sad and quiet initially as the conversation bouncing around the room became irrelevant to my initial statement, later on I may have said a few carefully chosen words. When was the last time you felt the need to go eat your dinner in a room away from your friends and family?

Breastmilk gives life to hundreds of millions of children everyday.  Breastmilk has sustained and continues to sustain both of my children, even the 2 and a half year old sausage.  Breastmilk is amazing stuff that has ensured the health and vitality of Ramona and now Juno.  From pus leaking eyeballs, to blocked noses, basic infections to comforting a toddler with a broken leg Lucy’s breastmilk has been the answer!

I believe that breastfeeding should be normalized in our western, sadly male dominated culture.  In New Zealand where I grew up we didn’t actually have the Sun’s page 3 (it’s not only the architecture of this country that is mainly Victorian), but the prevailing sexualisation of these amazing things still shaped our view of breasts.  I support Lucy entirely in the pursuit of changing this, in fact more than that, I think that it’s an essential chorus that will enable all of us to grow up a bit.

Activism, Breastfeeding

Boobs VS Big Business

19 February, 2013

I have talking boobs. And it is my own fault. It came about subtly, in an effort to playfully end a leisurely breastfeed my toddler was having. Tim had bought in our porridge, steaming and slathered in Golden Syrup and I was ready to get on with the day. Gentle cajoling hadn’t worked, so I put on a Northern male accent and spoke on behalf of my breasts.

“Er, excuse me, Ramona, we know you are enjoying your nurse right here, love, but we ain’t ‘alf  ready for our porridge!” *Left Boob joins in the fun* “Oooh, aye, we do want to gobble up that porridge!”

It has finished many an epic nursing session in ripples of giggles for both of us, and often Ramona would talk back, and ask them questions, normally about whether now was a good time to nurse and that kind of thing. But in the last day or so, she has asked them their wise opinions about other, more general, stuff. . .

Of course, not all women are lucky enough to have enlightened oracles for breasts. But all women’s breasts are magical, nonetheless. They all produce, when required, life giving milk; every possible nutrient tiny bodies need in a few completely free sucks.

My sleepy nursling

My sleepy nursling

But all goodies have a baddy out to get them. Every Superman a Lex Luther. Every packet of Custard Creams a tin with an ill fitting lid that makes them all soft.

Boobs have quite a few enemies, amongst them misinformed health professionals who advise new mamas to not spoil the baby by nursing on demand, an oversexualised culture that give breasts a limiting role of titillators, and also I bet boobs hate bras in general too (Hold on, I’ll just ask them. Yep, they do, they bloody hate bras.) But their absolute arch enemy must be formula companies. Not formula or formula feeding parents – formula has been life-giving too and parents who use formula are often breastfeeders as well, and if not, still just doing the best they know for their baby. But formula companies, sheesh. When it comes to baddies, they take the biscuit.

I can remember reading about Nestle and their formula pushing tactics in poor communities when I was around 17. I wasn’t a mother, saw breasts primarily as a pain in my teenage bum rather than potential baby nurturers, and wasn’t the least “activisty.” I suspect I only came across the information because I was googling tips for how I might go about making a giant Kit Kat, Pimp My Snack styles.

But I remember feeling so angry. The injustice of it was clear to me. That huge corporations would generate myths around breastfeeding and use sly tactics like giving out freebies at the hospital to undermine the ancient, healthy and free practice of breastfeeding. I became mad at Nestle that day and haven’t touched one of their products since. Even though I dream of giant Kit Kats pretty much every night.

Imagine how angry I felt when I read Zoe Williams’ article on Saturday about similar strategies still being employed today, decades after the original evils were bought to light.  Formula companies still giving gifts to health workers in return for promotion, propaganda still being placed in antenatal wards. Super rich, global companies are doing everything they can to create a market for a product in a place where that product can not be used safely. Lack of clean water and clean bottles mean the formula will always be germ ridden, compared to breastmilk that comes ready sterilised.

Save the Children, who launched a report and campaign on it all yesterday, estimates that more than 800,000 deaths could be prevented each year if infants were simply given breast milk in the first hour of life. It is a silver bullet for child health in poor countries yet Big Business is doing all it can to undermine it.

save

I can’t be sure as I have a terrible memory (honestly, I don’t know who half my Facebook friends are) but I think the original Nestle boycott put my feet on the fight-for-a-better-world path. Despite setbacks like these current revelations, where rules that were made as a result of a first round of campaigning are broken, the world is an infinitely better place because of that initial fight against the formula villains. There are a lot more breastfeeding mums in developing countries than if the Nestle campaign never occurred. But there is still LOADS more to be done.

I’m going to have to muzzle the Northern male voice in my boobs soon, I know. I just don’t have the bravado to survive Ramona asking them a question about what we should all have for dinner loudly in the supermarket – public boob-questioning is the inevitable next step.

But, as I get ready to silence my own breasts, I have spoken out on behalf of breasts* in developing countries through the Save the Children campaign to hold some of the villains, Nestle and Danone, to account. Do consider doing it too.

* Of course, really you don’t have to give two hoots about boobs to care about this. It isn’t even really about breasts as much as injustice. You just need to care about babies surviving and hope for a future where people matter more than profit. This little dash of activism will go some way to making that happen.breastfeeding quote

PS I’d hate for you to miss a post… enter your email to get them pinged into your inbox. I won’t be spamalot, promise!


Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding my Toddler – Me! Eat! Your boobies!

6 December, 2012

Ramona is two now and our breastfeeding relationship is still going strong. There is something incredibly special about having a nursing toddler who can vocalise their feelings about it- the first time she looked up at me with those wide dewy eyes, took a pause from nursing to exclaim “YUMMY!” was a bit heart melting, and I remember thinking every mummy should nurse long enough to get some verbal feedback on the quality of their milk!

This morning I was a little more difficult to rouse for Ramona’s first nurse of the day and her usual snuggling and murmurs of “Mummy. Milk. Please” weren’t getting much response. She began pulling at my PJ’s saying “Me! Eat! Your Boobies!”

Ooh, waking up with a (slightly nervous) chuckle is a good way to wake up.

(Another benefit of cosleeping I guess- waking up with laughter happens quite often as Ramona’s early morning chats are quite hilarious, ranging from random musing about her favourite things to giggling at her own first fart of the day.)

I am 5 months pregnant now and my milk seems to be changing week by week – as early as 12 weeks it seemed I just had colostrum. And Ramona has taken her grown-up food eating to another level, putting away whole bananas, plates of spaghetti and gingerbread in a way she hasn’t done before, so she is obviously getting much less full on my milk. I am entering the fairly well documented stage of, um, finding it a bit hard. She only nurses 4-5 times a day, and most of those are completely fine, joyous for us both even. But the lengthy ones just before nap time and sleep can provide a bit of teeth grinding and cross eyed-ness for me. It is not dissimilar to those first ever new-born feeds where you just had to grin and bear it.

If we can, I am keen to plough through it, hoping that for us, like many other mammas, it is just a short stage of pregnancy. I can just see so many benefits for us still. Breastfeeding such a simple way to fill up her cup – keeping the emotional energy of a wild and rambunctious toddler steady.

Nursing toddler

We had a tricky period early on in pregnancy, when she really cut down her nursing, and I failed to recognise the debt this left, emotionally. I guess people who don’t breastfeed (like her Daddy, who tends not to) really quickly identify other ways of topping up their kid’s well being- knowing the right balance of hugs, games and other “connecting” activities.  Having been reliant on nursing – and her being completely in control of this- there were a few weeks when my milk was changing and she was nursing much less, where we had a bit of disconnect; she was volatile and fractious.

The relationship side of breastfeeding really hit home, I had kind of taken it for granted. For so long Ramona’s nursing sessions had been providing these perfect moments of connection throughout our day, moments that both of us needed. It actually restored us, healed any little snags in our relationship.

We had to find a new rhythm, fresh ways of connecting. In a way it was like beginning another lesson in parenthood. My husband Tim was much more advanced in these activities, having identified the need a year ago, once I left them together half the week as I went to work.

But we had to find our own ways – I couldn’t just steal Tim’s and think they would work for us. (Gah, exclaims my lazy old self.)

Some of the best ways I have found to connect with Ramona, as she weans off nursing a bit include:

  • Taking more hot baths together (such a cool way of spending cold winter afternoons) – we can spend an hour, blowing bubbles, painting the sides, singing
  • Two person dance parties – we put the music up loud and throw down our shapes, impressing each other
  • Kissing Game – you take it turns to kiss funny parts of each other
  • Pulling faces- we try and out do each other with our weird and wonderful facial expressions
  • Hide and Seek – together, so not so much seeking but hiding from imaginary people, usually snuggling under blankets and duvets

I think the key is in activities that involve loads of eye contact, and have the potential to end up in squeals of giggles. Laughter is a healer, no?

Ramona has somehow figured out that sleeping between 11pm and 7 am is a good plan, and doesn’t nurse anymore. (There was a while when I thought she might do this forever) – which just gives me full confidence that these kids know exactly what they need.

Breastfeeding is so much about trust. Trusting ourselves and trusting our children. I am so glad I was able to discount the voices that suggested Ramona’s night nursing would continue forever. And I am so glad I am able now, to distrust the ones that say nursing toddlers will never quit.

They do. And for now, it is still just perfect for us. With a smattering of dancing, playing and splashing, we are connecting more than ever.

What is your breastfeeding story? Have you found the same thing? How have you found ways to connect with your kids?

Feel free to check out my other posts on breastfeeding, including “Nursing a Micromachine” and the letter I had to write to my rubbish, myth-making Doctor.

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding

Nursing a micromachine: breastfeeding at 16 months

21 March, 2012

As winter turns to spring, and spring turns to summer, I realise I am in my second cycle of seasons nursing Ramona. You know how you don’t really massively plan to breastfeed a toddler, and then all of a sudden you look down one day and you’re like “LOOK AT THE GIANT BABY! I AM BREASTFEEDING A TODDLER!!!”

I really love it though.

  • Coming home from work and spending the first half an hour snuggled up on the sofa while she nurses and Tim tells me what they have been up to. Ramona occasionally pauses to shout “DUCK!” or “HAT”  and her other favourite words, and Tim confirms, yes, they did feed the ducks, they did wear their hats. But he can never confirm the presense of Gok Wan.
  • Ramona has me sharing my breast milk with her Iggle Piggle, her tiny cat, her micro machine. I like her generous spirit.
  • I go to work two and a half days a week while Ramona hangs with Tim. I have been so surprised at how both Ramona and my supply hasn’t been impacted at all. When I am home Ramona nurses 5 or 6 times but doesn’t seem bothered when she can’t even come and meet me on my lunch break. My boobs have coped splendidly too, maybe just looking a touch Dolly Parton-y towards the end of the day. I have also had to work a few late nights and Ramona just drifts off to sleep with a book read by Tim. Another myth busted- if you nurse to sleep you won’t be locked in to nursing your 9 year old!
  • Ramona has the sign language for milk down. We haven’t been very committed to baby sign, but she has picked up and run with a handful of them. Her having the milk sign is so brilliant- it has replaced her frantically climbing up and sticking her whole head down my neckline. Although I wish the sign was different – it is way too reminiscent of milking a cow, or a dirty boozy man air groping.
  • Something about nursing a baby beyond the normal time frame bizarrely means you aren’t in the running for conversations about breast vs bottle, demand vs routine. Of course, I am ALL FOR breastfeeding on demand and do feel that we have societal issues with sexualising breasts but I really dislike the implicit judgement that is felt by mothers on either side of the decision. (I truly do reckon that every mother wakes up in the morning wanting to do their very best for their little one.) It is a shame as I could talk all day long about breastfeeding but it doesn’t tend to happen to me anymore.
  • Although I have been stopped on the bus a couple of times by people exclaiming WELL DONE! For the most part I have been genuinely shocked by the general lack of interest by members of the public. Particularly after some early encounters with rapscallion teens. Have you found it this way? Part of me wonders if there is an element of confidence breeding normality- does that fact that I don’t even think twice when I nurse Ramona come across? That people who thought this was mad suddenly go “Ooh, I thought that was mad but this lady here doesn’t seem bothered by it, maybe everyone does it these days?” And then it becomes the new normal?!

I am currently blogging this on a quick late lunchbreak. My boss’s boss just came over and chatted to me, I quickly tried to shut my screen with it’s huge title in bold but it didn’t shut and now he thinks I spend all day blogging about breasts ARGGGHHHHHH.

I. Am. So. Embarrassed. I have to go now and die under my desk.

Attachment parenting, Breastfeeding, Cosleeping

Cosleeping Practicalities

10 February, 2012

Co Co Co Cooooosleeping (To the tune of Sh Sh Sh Shoooooe people. Literally though, how amazing was that programme?) (ARRGH IT’S ON YOUTUBE! BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!)

I have posted recently about our experience of cosleeping; some of the pros and cons , wondering about the fear that drives some people away from it. Whenever we mention cosleeping we are often met with a barrage of questions about the practicalities around it. So I wanted to cover some of those a bit.

Where?
We have a maHUsive bed, like a triple x, super who-ate-all-the pies-king, which we rescued one time. It has saved the night. We can all fit in there with loads of space. However the three of us inevitably end up all squished up at one end. Ramona and I just like snuggling up with Tim. Tim isn’t such a fan.

Ramona tends to sleep in the middle apart from when she nurses all night and then I need to switcheroo. So she is closer to the edge, but she’s only ever fallen out a few times. (Haha, kidding.) (Kind of.)

Naps
Until Ramona was about 9 months old she used to take all her sleep on me, either in a sling or snuggled up in bed. This meant that I spent a lot of time in bed. (Incidentally it is why I restarted my blog as I wanted to contribute online rather than just speculate – and I was doing a lot of horizontal speculating.) It was totes delicious, napping with her, going to bed at 8pm.  At 9 months though we got an amazing baby monitor and now I let her sleep in the bed by herself (after nursing to sleep)  and just dash in if she wakes up.

I had read somewhere during pregnancy that the first year of a baby’s life should be seen as “out of the womb gestation” –  it really resonated with me. In hindsight it is very much a long the lines of the lovely Continuum Parenting concept. Also,  I want her to have completely positive sleep associations and hope that having someone close by during sleep can nurture this security.

Nappy Free
At the moment we put a washable nappy on Ramona at night time. She is dry all night (since she was about 6 months old – I don’t know if this is that common or just for nappyfree babes?) but every so often will do an early morning wee, say at 6am, and even though I can sense her needing to go (squirming etc)  I don’t want to potty her then as she’ll be up for the day.  She is getting less happy with the night time nappy though – she pulled it completely off tonight- so I have ordered a washable bed pad so that we can give the night time nappy the heave ho and  if that cheeky wee comes in the morning it is no biggy.

Business Socks
You just have to be creative with rooms, furniture etc.

(Sorry, I know that isn’t a very exhaustive answer but my granddad does know how to use Tinternet and I can not guarantee that he doesn’t read this.)

Bedding
We don’t have anything extra for Ramona she has always just slept on our mattress with our duvet on top, although when she was a tiny pip squeak she slept either prone or in the crook of my arm. She doesn’t sleep on a pillow as she nurses all night (did I mention that?)  so just faces my weary but succulent mammary glands.

Nursing
I wear a scoop neck tee shirt with one of Tim’s tee shirts over the top. Tim’s tee is usually bunched up but my own tee stops my torso getting chills. I wear a scoop neck so Ramona has easy access but one of Tim’s tees from that day with the idea that she can’t smell my milk so easily and be less nursey. It doesn’t really work but I guess I am superstitious about it now. (Do you get a bit like that?)

Cosleeping does encourage more nursing I think, which on one hand is good – with me being at work half the week her nursing at night keeps my supply up and means she is getting everything she needs for this growth spurt. (That is what I am telling myself the 6-10 night suckles are.) But on the other hand is bloody knackering isn’t it! I can handle anything between 1-5 without really noticing. But more than that and I get a little cranky. *climbs the walls*

Time for my Parenting Moto of the Year (sung Harry Hills styles) :

This Too Shall Pass!

Waking each other up
This does happen. Overall it has been found that cosleeping mothers get more sleep – primarily because we don’t have to get out of bed – but three in a bed isn’t the deepest sleep to be had. If one of us has a rough night than we all seem to. Sometimes it seems Ramona wakes at the slightest peep (me turning a page of my book – headlamp on!) or sleeps through the biggest ruckus – lights blazing, full on conversation between Tim and I.

We don’t fall into bed and stay fast asleep for ten hours like we used to. But, do you know what? It just isn’t a big deal. Letting go of my sleep obsession and embracing night time parenting helps me just feel totally at peace with this whole situation. (Just wish my nipples would agree, eek.)