Hello Baby Breastfeeding Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

Breastfeeding, mental health and I. 

August 2, 2018

As it's world breastfeeding week I thought I'd share a little something with you.

This is Emma (and me) c.August 2010.

In this photo you can't see the long nights, battles with thrush and tongue tie. The cracked nipples or the crippling postnatal depression and PTSD that followed her birth.

Emma saw this photo earlier and casually commented how much she loved nursing when she was younger. That all she remembers is the love. It's not always easy, but it sure is worth it. It kept us connected when every day was a struggle and helped us to bond and work through our challenges together. Part of my PTSD and postnatal depression meant that I often felt that Emma would be better off without me, and I would often try to put distance between us. Fortunately she helped to make up  for those thoughts and urges by nursing a lot. With every feed, and each day that passed I gradually learned to be a mum, and grew into the role that now defines so much of me. 

After this photo we went on to nurse for many years. Love slowly blossomed until I couldn't picture my life without my little mini me.  Nursing has been a comfort through times of heartache, has been a way to calm down when tempers were short, to relax when we were busy and to reconnect when we've been apart. We've tandem nursed with her brother who joined us 2 years later. We nursed through illness. starting nursery and many other life events. Emma has been weaned a few years now, and Zac weaned last year.

I will always be thankful for the way that breastfeeding made mothering my children easier, and glad that we nursed until they outgrew the need. 💕

The Big Latch On 2018. 

August 4, 2018

Absolutely lovely morning in the park today celebrating world breastfeeding week with the Big Latch On. 🎉🎉 22 mums, 31 little ones, 4 dad's, a gran...and me! Special thanks to the amazing mums and dads who helped out! 😍

Why the Big Latch On? 

The Big Latch On is a global event that raises awareness of the need to protect and promote breastfeeding. It brings together thousands of families who, at 10.30am local time nurse their babies, or pump their milk in solidarity with other breastfeeding and breast milk feeding parents. 

I have organised and played hostess to the Big Latch On in Ashford for the past five years. Mothers, fathers, friends and family have gathered with their children beneath the trees in Victoria Park. It has always been a day filled with love, laughter and breastfeeding pride....and cake! This year though, I found myself questioning organising a Big Latch On in Ashford. 

This year breastfeeding support in across Kent has undergone significant changes, one of the biggest being the reduction in access to specialist led breastfeeding support. I will be honest with you, these changes have often felt painful to live through. There have been times when it felt as though mothers were not going to have the community support they need and the sudden increase in mothers contacting me privately seemed to confirm this. Having been deeply ingrained in community breastfeeding support, and so suddenly having less community involvement had me wondering whether or not it was my role to organise a BLO event this year. 

Thankfully a very special client reminded me that this was exactly why we needed me gather together so today we did. Breastfeeding support was given. Much mother to mother support was had- the oxytocin was palpable! It was so needed and a real blessing.  

Breastfeeding Group wish list.

August 11, 2018

What would your fantasy breastfeeding grouHe understood the value op look like? 

That was the question I asked the wonderful folk who came along to the Big Latch On last Saturday. Mothers and fathers brainstormed, thinking about the care that they've received, their experiences of past groups and what they'd like to see from a new breastfeeding group.

The answers were all very similar! Here the top 10, listed from most frequently requested to least. 

1) Direct access to a breastfeeding specialist (BFC/IBCLC)

2) Accurate assessment of breastfeeding and tongue tie, with timely referral when needed. 

3) Peer Supporters

4) Refreshments. Cake was mentioned a few times!

5) Open to all ages- not all problems are within the first few days and often support is needed more as babies age and mothers feel increasingly isolated in their journeys (nice point!)

6) Comfy chairs and beanbags

7) Secure for toddlers

8) Toys for older children 

9) A lending library

10) Visits from other groups such as baby massage, sign and rhyme, sling library etc.

Hugh Jackman appeared on one list...I'm not sure we can make that happen but for the others? Well, watch this space!

My Dad- the unsung hero of my mothering journey and all round supporter of breastfeeding!  

August 11, 2018

This is Pat. He's the kindest, most generous person I know and I am lucky enough to call him Dad. Even more importantly, my kids get to call him Grandad so for Grandparent's Day, I thought I'd tell you a few things about this wonderful man. 

Here are some of the ways he has been the ultimate supporter of breastfeeding: 

  • He enabled me to grow up without once body shaming me. No commenting on my 'puppy fat'. No squeamishness around bras and periods or boyfriends or sex. He answered questions, bought me pads and just generally got on with it like watching me grow into a woman was normal. Because it was. 
  • He took my pregnancies in his stride. He held me when i grieved for lost babies and celebrated new pregnancies with me. His support was unending.
  • When our Rainbow, Emma arrived he fell in love instantly, and quickly accepted that to be close to Emma was to be close to her favourite thing at all time. My breasts. 
  • He never once suggested I cover up. No at home, not in town, at the zoo or in the pub. 
  • He never once questioned my ability to do this. When PND made me question my worth as a mother and human he showed me how this was OK. He fed us, tidied my house and made sure I was still alive long enough to start living again. 
  • He told people I was breastfeeding, and said it proudly. 
  • When others questioned it, he shut them down. 
  • When Emma would only feed from one boob, he affectionately named, on behalf of my toddler, my right breast 'Mr BIG'. Which has stuck (even though post weaning they did even out ;) )
  • He understood the value of nursing my toddler and so helped us to stay close when I had HG during pregnancy with my second. Instead of taking her off when she needed me, he changed his work hours. He did the washing, watched Emma play, tidied, made the beds, fed us (including lovingly peeling grapes and tomatoes), drove me to appointments and tucked up up with a bucket for boobing sessions.
  • He didn't finch at my cant-do-this-discreetly early days of tandem feeding.  
  • He marvelled at how boob fixed everything, for both kids. Sick? Boob/ Tired? Boob. Bad day? Boob. You know! 
  • He watched my growing children (between boob-stops) while I studied to be a breastfeeding counsellor. 
  • He supported my decision to nurse until each one self weaned.  
  • He passed my toddler over to my to nurse as I signed the register at our wedding.
  • He sat up with my children (who were 4 and 2) for the two nights of our honeymoon because Zac was sad to be away from his boobs. 
  • He never told my children they were 'too old' even when they passed their 3rd, 4th and 5th birthdays. 
  • He understood my sadness when they weaned and we moved on to the next stage of life. 

I am so grateful to this man for everything he has done and will do for my children. He is the best.