Posts in Category: Baby Daze

“Have You Tried Ginger?” And Other Things Not To Say To A Hyperemesis Gravidarum Sufferer

Buckingham Palace this week announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant with her second baby, and that she is again suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or extreme morning sickness. If it was just the first part of that sentence, I’d say, “oh, that’s nice” and move on, but with the announcement of HG, my interest and empathy thoroughly perk up!

In her first pregnancy, I found the plethora of comments about how she just had to suck it up, how she was ‘delicate’ and other disparaging remarks quite upsetting, as someone who had suffered from the same condition but now I just look at them as signs of ignorance. Honestly people, if you haven’t suffered from HG, don’t comment on it. As simple as that. Especially not if you want to say one of these things, because there are some things that you should never say to someone who suffers from HG.

Hyperemesis GravidarumEveryone has morning sickness. It’s part of pregnancy

Morning sickness sure is. Hyperemesis Gravidarum isn’t. Of the 671,255 births in the UK in 2011-12 one percent of women suffered from HG. That’s 6713 people who’ve been to one of the darkest places pregnancy can take you. They had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. The other 664543 had morning sickness. But they are not the same thing. Many HG sufferers start being sick before they know they’re pregnant, too. For me that was at 2 weeks, each time.

I didn’t get to lie around when I was pregnant. I had to work!

How nice for you, really, that you could. I worked through the 18 weeks of my first fight with Hyperemesis, but it was just me to look after (and my husband, but he can cook himself dinner, and the house didn’t need much cleaning with two adults at work all day.  I sat at a desk in my own office with a bucket by my side without too much impact on anyone else.

With my second, we moved house just as I became pregnant. I hadn’t unpacked all the boxes yet when I started throwing up. I didn’t until just before she was born. And I had another child to look after. Those were hard days. An excited, happy two year old, 20- country travel under the belt, had to sit and watch Peppa Pig for 26 weeks because her mama couldn’t get off the sofa without fainting. Hard days.

Other children of Hyperemesis Sufferers still have to eat. They still need their nappies changed. Life goes on, but most of us would be not ‘lying around’ if we had a choice.

Get some rest

[pullquote] If you love someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, don’t give them advice on handling nausea. Just ask them what you can do for them. [/pullquote]

Oh, between puking, fainting, feeling sick and trying to stay alive, being constantly thirsty, hungry, and generally gaunt, sleep is easy to come by. Rest, however, not so much. Because you’re still dealing with the bump, the SPD, the heartburn, the dreams. Everything that comes with pregnancy. Oh, and the vomiting, and the extremely isolating disease which knocks your confidence, your self belief and your ability to function as a mother, a wife, a friend. 

Have a ginger biscuit or toast first thing in the morning

It’s a great plan for someone suffering from morning sickness – fill the tummy, and help prevent nausea. It doesn’t work for Hyperemesis Gravidarum sufferers (everyone is different, of course). Eating anything, drinking anything, even water will make you vomit. It’ll make you wretch and gag and heave until you’re throwing up little pieces of stomach lining. Then comes the blood as you tear your oesophagus.

It’s like drinking so much you’re still legally drunk the next day. You wake up jittery and nauseous with a mouth so dry no drink can quench the thirst, you can’t even think about breakfast, and even water comes right back up again. It’s like that every day, all day, for some of us.

Be grateful. It’s the sign of a strong pregnancy

You can be so desperate to have a baby, be exhilarated by the news, be hopeful that the ginger will work, the bands will work, the magnesium will work, and then find yourself in a heap on the floor, convinced you’re going to be a terrible mother and your baby hates you already. You can start thinking about your ‘options’ or lack of them, even if it’s something you’ve never ever considered before. You can wish for death. Pray for it, in fact.

Back in the day they used to say that Hyperemesis was a psychological condition in women who didn’t really want their baby. Unless you’ve lived through this condition, you can’t begin to imagine how painful that is for a woman to be told, to hear, or have insinuated.

Charlotte Bronte is believed to have died from the extreme starvation, malnutrition, and dehydration associated with HG.  Don’t tell a woman suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum that she should be grateful or is lucky.

Wear comfortable clothes

By the time you’ve puked so much you’re seeing your stomach lining from the outside, or have ripped your oesophagus, you’ve pretty much lost the battle with bladder control too. What little fluid your body may still contain quite easily trickles onto the floor with each dry heave. Forget about clothes. It just adds to the laundry.

Just the feel of material against your skin can be enough to set you off, anyway.

You had fun making the baby…

That’s what blogger Rosie from Mummy And Boo was told by her midwife. You had fun making the baby… now comes the hard part. Wow. Just wow.

My number one most hated thing: Have you tried ginger? 

I’ve had my head in the toilet for 26 weeks. I’ve not run around with my child, I’ve not done anything for or with her. I’ve been fighting hospitalisation because I have no one else to look after my child, while my husband is the sole breadwinner trying to keep a roof over our heads. I have lost a ton of weight, rapidly, as well as two teeth from all the acid. I vomit every time I move. I’ve had to buy a new washing machine because the first thing I can smell when I wake up in the morning in the washing machine – a floor down and two doors away (sense of smell is heightened by HG). I haven’t seen my friends in weeks, have cried tearless sobs every time I’ve taken non-pregnancy safe medication in an attempt to stay alive while wondering what it’s doing to my baby, and I have had arguments with doctors about what medication will and wont work for me – this isn’t my first time you know.

Do you really think, like really think, that I didn’t somewhere in the beginning of all this, try ginger.

What a woman suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum needs is someone to take her child/ren to the park, or play with them in the garden. And feed them while you’re at it. Something that doesn’t smell after (like garlic or onions or beans). Take her laundry out of the house and wash it for her. Wash her sheets with anything not perfumed. Don’t wear perfume around her. Ask her what she needs. Bring ice cubes. Every pregnancy and case is different. In my first I couldn’t handle garlic/meat. In my second the smell of water was horrific. To this day I feel ill when I hear Peppa Pig’s theme tune. If you love someone with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, don’t give them advice on handling nausea. Just ask them what you can do for them. 

New Survey Says One In Five Still Think Public Breastfeeding Is Inappropriate

I receive over 100 press releases a week, and mostly, I don’t go beyond the headline before filing them in archives where chances are I’ll never look at them again, but recently a survey conducted by www.myvouchercodes.co.uk, really caught my attention: breastfeeding in public.

Now, quite frankly, you all know my opinion on breastfeeding in general, but I thought the results of the survey were interesting.

I don’t know why we bother even calling it breastfeeding in public. We should just talk about feeding in public and get on with it, without apology or concern for the puritanical sensibilities of people who aren’t offended by bikinis, low cut tops, or perfume billboards.Untitled

What really excited me about the survey was the fact that only 21% of people felt that breastfeeding in pubs and restaurants was inappropriate. I know that’s still (marginally more than) 1 in every 5 people, but there was a time when it seemed like everyone was against it, so I see it as progress really. (Unscientifically. I don’t know how many people didn’t like it 10 years ago!)

The survey was only done by 500 people, and 21% of those said breastfeeding in pubs and restaurants was inappropriate (too right! Who wants to see anyone eating in a restaurant or pub, those houses of modesty and propriety!), and 18% thought public transport was an inappropriate place (I for one much prefer listening to a screaming baby all.the.way.home). I assume that the 18% who thought recreational areas were a no no are the same people who believe your life stops when you have a child (no wonder!) and one that made me laugh was the 16% who thought you shouldn’t breastfeed in town or city centres (I can’t even think of a sarcastic comment for that one!) – but you’re okay if you are in a shop that’s not in town – only 1% thought that wasn’t appropriate.

Untitled

Mark Pearson from My Voucher Codes said: “We are aware that mother’s still feel persecuted sometimes over this subject and we hope that eventually breastfeeding in the places mentioned becomes the norm for them. And that we don’t keep seeing news stories, where a nursing mother has been told to hide away to breastfeed. ”

I agree with him, to an extent, so long as we don’t keep seeing it in the news because it’s no longer happening, rather than because we no longer care about it.

You only have to search breastfeeding on this blog to know that I am a huge supporter of full term or long term breastfeeding, and I do think that it’s by bloggers, friends, mothers, sisters and complete strangers giving a supportive smile, a knowing nod, offering a breastfeeding mother a drink (it’s thirsty work, folks!) that that 21% will be steadily whittled down, so that when my daughters have their babies, the words breastfeeding in public won’t even be used together anymore, but instead they’ll look back on ‘inappropriate breastfeeding’ as an antiquated and weird concept.

What do you think? Is public acceptance of breastfeeding growing?

Hyperemesis Gravidarum – The Aftermath

When you’ve survived Hyperemesis Gravidarum, you hold your baby and thank God that you made it, and that your baby made it, and that you’re both  alive. You survived. Then you kind of forget about it, or try to, at least, while you get on with feeding your baby, changing her and learning to be a mother. You kind of assume that Hyperemesis Gravidarum is gone, and you hope that that’s the end of it.

I did, both times.

And for Ameli it was. She’s suffered no ill fate from this ghastly condition. I assumed the same would be true for her sister, born two and a half years later. But things were different. During my pregnancy with her I was already running on depleted supplies, and the sickness was worse, and when I started throwing up blood at 10 weeks, I went on medication because by 12 I couldn’t get out of bed without fainting. That’s not an ideal way to look after an almost two year old.

The medication I was on – Ondansetron, also known as Zofran – wasn’t specifically tested in pregnancy and my doctor wasn’t happy about giving it to me, but I showed him information about it being used for Hyperemesis Gravidarum in the US, and he agreed. He prescribed three tablets a day, but I took one in the morning so that I could eat something at least, which would carry me through the day. Anecdotal evidence mentioned incidence of deformities and I didn’t want to take any chances.

Aviya was born at home in water at 42+5, a perfect baby girl.

At 10 months and 8 days she rolled off a bed, but seemed okay. She was a bit cranky for a few days and cried whenever we tried to pick her up, but on investigation she seemed totally fine. (My mother is a remote areas nurse practitioner, and my brother is a medical student, so they should know.)  At 10 months and 10 days she took her first step on Christmas day, but even so… something wan’t right.

I finally took her to Perth’s Children’s Hospital where they said that she had broken something – her clavicle or scapula, I can never remember. We treated it, and went about our business. After all, we were in Perth for my mother, who was dying of cancer.  I never thought much of it again, only fearing for Aviya’s health whenever my mother commented on a blue ring around her mouth, saying that I had to get her heart checked out when I got back to England.

Months passed, we found ourselves back in England, trying to find a normal life again. Ameli started back at  nursery, Aviya was running around, engaging in the world, doing the things that one year’s olds do. Her first tooth appeared, and then her second tooth appeared and as happens with these things, so did her third and fourth. Our girl was doing great.  Until one day I had a piercing pain in my nipple as she tried to nurse!

Her tooth had chipped! No, not chipped broken! It looked like a vampire fang! I felt awful! How could I not have noticed a fall that did that to her tooth! We went to the dentist and had it filed down, a traumatic experience for her, for sure.  Not a week later, guess what? Her second tooth did the same. Broken! I was glad her arm had broken in Australia and not England. At least there’s no medical record of it here. I mean, a broken bone and two broken teeth? I know what I’d be thinking.

Well, we took her to the dentist again, and again with the third tooth and again for the fourth. And again, and again. It was only when we discovered two abscesses in her mouth that the dental staff started to take it very seriously. They were going to put her on a waiting list for our area’s special care unit, but an hour later I got a call to say they were going to  transfer her to a hospital in London to be seen sooner.

Then the guilt sets in. The dentist said I should stop breastfeeding because that’s what’s causing the tooth decay (but not for the other teeth in her mouth?) Clearly, I’ll not be taking the advice to wean.

We brush her teeth, but probably not long enough.

Maybe I feed her the wrong things.

But no.

A bit of reading, and it turn out that – anecdotally of course – HG babies often have weaker enamel on their first four teeth due to malnutrition in the mother (or something like that).  She loses these teeth now, but her adult teeth should be fine. With removing them, however, there may be problems with her teeth descending as the ‘tunnel’ for them isn’t there. So she won’t lose her front teeth either. There’ll be nothing for the memory box.

But there’s maybe more.

While reading about all this, I found something else, slightly more alarming: again anecdotally, of course, but there are a number of babies who had  Ondansetron/Zofran who also developed heart problems – thinking about my mother’s comments about the blue ring.

Well. Nothing’s proven. But it’s a worry.

So my little girl has her first ever course of antibiotics for the abscesses. 

And we wait.

We wait for the GP appointment for the referral for the scan or whatever they do for her heart. Then we wait for the referral for her dental surgery. Then we wait and see what else life throws our way.

And whatever else Hyperemesis Gravidarum takes.

Did you have Hyperemesis Gravidarum? How has it affected your child or your life since having a child?

Big Latch On, Farnham 2013

Today I was blessed to be able to play host for The Big Latch On in Farnham, with the support of wonderful mamas who came together to beat the world record for mother’s breastfeeding at the same time.

On the 1 – 7th of August every year, to raise awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding and the need for global support, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action organises World Breastfeeding Week. World Breastfeeding Week  celebrated in 120 countries and marks the signing of the WHO/UNICEF document Innocenti Declaration, which lists the benefits of breastfeeding, plus global and governmental goals.  

The Big Latch On

Getting Balloons, Sign Up Sheets and Posters ready

To mark this occasion on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd August 2013 at 10:30am thousands of breastfeeding women and their babies or children across the world will gather in their own communities to take part in the Big Latch On, a synchronized breastfeeding event in multiple locations.

The first Big Latch On took place in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2005 and was introduced to Portland, Oregon in 2010 by Joanne Edwards. It has now taken off globally and in 2012  8862 children were counted breastfeeding as part of the Global Big Latch On.

In 2012 the Farnham, Surrey Big Latch On event had 12 mothers nursing 13 babies. This year we had 24 mothers nursing 25 babies (we had one tandem feeding dyad at each event).

You count!

Just this week I had someone on Twitter ask me why I felt the need to have a breastfeeding picture on my profile, and said that it offended them. I replied to her that that was exactly WHY I had a breastfeeding picture – so that it will become normal to see a woman breastfeeding, and will no longer be offensive. I simply can’t imagine any of the older siblings at the event today ever turning around and saying they find breastfeeding offensive: they’re growing up with it as normal. Mothers! We’re changing the world, we’re changing the future. We’re doing great!While I was running around trying to keep an eye on my toddler while at the same time making sure everyone knew what was going on and all the official bits of the Big Latch On were adhered to, I did stop at one point, and just watch.  We were a community. A community of mothers and women. I didn’t know everyone who attended today, but it didn’t matter, because we were there for a common aim, and with a common goal.

I love breastfeeding events. They unite us at a base, fundamental, instinctive level.  Breastfeeding events are a celebration, a peaceful demonstration, a communal drinking at the wellspring. Breastfeeding events buzz with excitement, with energy at the knowledge of making a difference, and with taking a stand, drawing our line in the sand, enjoying our right and our freedom, as women, and as mothers.

Community of women

Do we rally in anger? Do we shout and condemn, and criticise? Every mother in this group has walked a path. It hasn’t been natural and easy for everyone. It’s come at a cost to some. It’s come at tears for others, it’s come as the most natural thing in the world to others still. It’s been an active, conscious decision to others. Everyone has a story to tell about how and why they are here.

Today we feed our babies, we raise our hands, and we are counted.

It's all About And For The Children

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A huge thanks to Paula from La Leche League Farnham and Krishna from IPEN for being our witnesses today. Another huge thanks to Sara for helping me with the lucky draw and to Wendy and the Natural Birth and Beyond Team for the helium and balloons.

I want to give a very special thank you to a group of businesses that never shy away from supporting the events and competitions I offer through this blog and today at the Big Latch On. Your prizes were loved today:

 

 

 

 

Farnham Natural Birth And Beyond Breastfeeding Picnic

Today, Natural Birth and Beyond hosted a breastfeeding awareness week picnic in Farnham’s Gostrey Meadows. The event was arranged by Wendy Wood from Relax For Birth, and saw a group of around 50 mothers and nurslings join together to celebrate the beauty of breastfeeding in honour of the UK’s National Breastfeeding Awareness Week.

The best thing about a breastfeeding meetup is that by it’s very nature, it’s a peaceful event, filled with smiley, happy mamas and babies.

At the Breast Debate I went to last week, one of the things that was mentioned was that we don’t see enough breastfeeding in public. I mentioned that it’s more likely that we don’t know when we’re seeing a mother feed her child. Here’s what I meant:

Would you have known this mama was nursing if I didn’t tell you?

One of the things I really love about breastfeeding is that it is as unique to each nursing dyad as the people in it. Looking around the picnic today, I saw some mums really nicely covered up:

I saw mamas comfortable with their company and their bodies:

I saw mamas comfortable in their layers,

And mamas comfortable without:

I saw mamas getting comfy:

And relaxed and smiling:

There were people chatting:

And tending their babies,

Celebrating the freedom, and the right, that we have to feed our nurselings wherever we have a legal right to be.

Mothers, being mothers, relaxing on a glorious sunny day, 

Doing our bit to normalise breastfeeding for the people that walked by, smiling at all the babies, and for the next generation

All the while, just being mamas, sharing a picnic lunch.

*if you see a picture of yourself here you’d like removed, please let me know!

See more pictures:

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For more from Keep Britain Breastfeeding read these blog posts:

The Mummy Adventure 
Smiling Like Sunshine 
Simply Hayley Hayley
The Secret Life of Kate
Respectable Breast Spectable

and support these businesses

Feed Me Mummy 
Snoob
Thrupenny Bits 
Ardo Claire 
Mumba
BigBoxLittleBoxCardboardBox

and don’t forget to visit this post to enter to win:

  • Breastmilk Keepsake
  • £15 Boobie Milk Voucher
  • Breastfeeding Pillow from Theraline
  • Breastpads from Theraline
  • Adjustable Drop Cup Feeding Bras  from Cantaloop
  • Baby-Proof Jewellery and Teething Necklace from Mama Jewels
  • Electric breastpump and accessories
  • Maternity Raspberry or Black Feeding Tops from Melba London
  • And over £1000 in prizes from Keep Britain Breastfeeding

The Value Of Support To The Breast Milk Donor And Recipient

Any breastfeeding mother will be able to tell you the value of support, or the impact of the lack there of. Without the support of those closest to you, maintaining a breastfeeding relationship can be incredibly difficult. The same can be said for both the milk donor and the recipient of donated breastmilk.

I wrote about the benefits of donor breastmilk in a situation where the mother is not able to breastfeed her own baby for whatever reason, or needs to supplement her own milk. Often a mother may feel that using donor milk is a good and necessary step for her child, and even though she’s not providing milk herself, she still needs a lot of support, because if health care providers or family members speak doubt or uncertainties, it can cause a real lack of confidence in her own decision making.

I asked a few donor milk recipients to share with us what their partners, families and health care providers thought about their choice to use donor milk, and also how they felt about the women who donated to them. (To read more about their reasons for needing donor milk, and why they chose it over other supplements, read the first post in this series.)

Source: Crimfants On Flickr

Jorje who writes at Momma Jorjes son Spencer received donor milk for a few months. Jorje met her donor through Human Milk 4 Human Babies and received three lots of milk from her, enough to supplement Spencer for several months. Jorje’s husband was supportive of her wishes as he knew how passionate she was about breastfeeding. “Our pediatrician was not concerned one way or the other. Our son was obviously thriving, that was all that mattered. I think our pediatrician understands and acknowledges that such things are really the parents’ choice.

While Jorje herself was quite sad not to be able to meet all her son’s needs herself, she was incredibly grateful to the donor for keeping her son on breastmilk

Kellie,  from Our Mindful Life, only needed donated breast milk for about a month. For her, the hardest part was asking her friends for breastmilk. Her husband was 100% behind her decision to supplement with donor milk, because they already had one child together and he had seen the benefits of breastfeeding first time round. Kellie never told her health care provider that she was supplementing with donor milk, but her friends were very supportive.

“I was so amazed and honored that my friends were willing to go to such lengths to provide the milk that my baby needed. It really made us even closer. I was just so glad that my baby was able to have breastmilk, and that he didn’t have to be hospitalized.”

Melissa W. has been physically unable to breastfeed her two month old daughter. She has received donor milk from three mothers in her area, and feels so grateful towards the women who have allowed her to keep her daughter on breast milk. Her husband was against the idea, initially, until they spoke to their doctor, who was very supportive.  Melissa is in Washington State, where there is more demand for breastmilk than there are donor mothers. At a rate of $80 for 100 oz of breastmilk, she could not afford to feed her baby human milk, but with the help of generous donors, she hopes to keep Arwyn on breastmilk until her first birthday.

Suzy had a fast labour with complications with her third baby. She required four blood transfusions, and took some time to recover. During her hospital stay, a nurse recommended donor milk so that she could get some rest and begin to recover from the placenta accreta that had impacted her baby’s delivery. In the hospital she received 8 ounces of donated milk, and back  home a friend delivered 20 oz and colostrum to help them along.

“I’m am over the moon thrilled that she had donor milk. It eased my mind while I was recovering. I had managed to exclusively breastfeed my other 2 children, I really wanted the same for my 3rd. I care about newborn gut health and feel breastmilk is more beneficial than formula. I want that for my children.”

Suzy is now tandem feeding her 3 month old and her 20 month old with no further need for supplementation. When I asked her how she felt about the milk donors, she said: “I deeply appreciate the commitment they have made to babies

Often times mothers feel guilt when their children have to receive formula milk. Some mothers feel like they have failed. Others feel actual terror at introducing a chemical sustenance to their already weakened child, and mothers who have read the statistics and know the potential dangers carry that as an added stress at a time when they are already vulnerable, so to them, having donor milk available, is invaluable. Each of these mothers has mentioned gratitude, and how very grateful they are to their donors.

Those who have had milk donated by friends have also spoken of how the bond with those friends has grown, which is beautiful in and of itself.

These are only four stories of donor milk recipients, but one thing that is very clear to me is that positive support and reinforcement has made these mama’s feel happy and confident in their decisions. Sometimes they’ve had to find medical support for it, and other times it’s been accepted without too many questions, but having supportive networks around them has made all the difference to them, and to their babies.

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For more from Keep Britain Breastfeeding read these blog posts:

Where Roots Fourish 
Milk Machine Mum  
The Great British Family 

and support these businesse

Life, Love and Living with Boys
Life Happens So Smile 
Let’s Walk Together For A While
Keep Up With The Jones Family 
Circus Queen 

and don’t forget to visit this post to enter to win:

  • Breastmilk Keepsake
  • £15 Boobie Milk Voucher
  • Breastfeeding Pillow from Theraline
  • Breastpads from Theraline
  • Adjustable Drop Cup Feeding Bras  from Cantaloop
  • Baby-Proof Jewellery and Teething Necklace from Mama Jewels
  • Electric breastpump and accessories
  • Maternity Raspberry or Black Feeding Tops from Melba London
  • And over £1000 in prizes from Keep Britain Breastfeeding

Tips On Expressing Breast Milk

This post is a repost from 21 June 2011. I had just returned from six months in South Africa, where I had pumped for a hospital who used the milk for AIDS babies. Please read yesterday’s post: The Benefits of Donated Breast Milk. @smiffysmrs on Twitter told me that she’d been donating breastmilk for almost seven months. When I asked her what her partner thought about her donating breastmilk, she responded:  {he} thinks its awesome that Bella and I are helping premature babies get a great start.  I loved how she included her daughter in the act of donating. It’s not just something she does, with her body, but it’s a team effort from herself and her nurseling. I just love that! Here’s the post I wrote after 20 months of breastfeeding:

For most of my time breastfeeding, I have expressed. Initially I did so to get my husband to feed my daughter’s 11pm feed so that I could have some ‘solid’ sleep.  At three months, my daughter refused the bottle, but I still needed to express as my boobs were so full, she wasn’t getting everything  and I hoped she’d take the bottle again at some point.

Then I went to South Africa, where breastfeeding rates are abysmal – great misfortune in a country that desperately needs it- and decided to express for a milk bank there. Since we’ve been back in England, I’ve not been expressing much, but I hope to contribute to our local Human Milk for Human Babies group again once things settle down a bit here.

I’ve been thinking about expressing, and realised that I’ve never written anything about it, so here are my hints and tips for successful expressing:

  • Firstly, understand that what you express is not a measure of how much milk you have. Some women just don’t express much.
  • try to change pumps. I used one pump that took about 10 minutes to get 1 ounce. I swapped to another and got 10 ounces in the next 10 minutes.
  • Thirdly, start pumping as soon as possible. I started pumping in between two hourly feeds when my daughter was born and I believe that really benefited my flow.>
  • Fourth, understand how breast milk is produced, and how let down works. This will help you understand the supply and demand, and make the whole process easier.

Gorgeous Gifts: Donated BreastmilkTo express:

  • Try massaging your breasts to stimulate milk flow
  • Place a warm cloth on your breasts
  • Express straight out the shower – the warmth helps with the let down.
  • Visualise your baby breastfeeding
  • A picture of your child (or a video works well too) helps stimulate those hormones that release milk.
  • An item of baby clothing can do the same.
  • Let baby nurse on one side while you express the other. This takes practice, at first, but is achievable.
  • When I need to express a large amount, swapping baby and pump really helps. i.e when I can’t pump anymore from the left, I let Ameli nurse for a few minutes on the left, then start pumping again. This is because your baby is the best pump there is, and even when a pump gets nothing, your baby will.
  • Keep well hydrated – have a glass of water next to you and drink it while expressing.
  • Express a little milk into your hand to rub on your nipples after each session. (If you watch a baby breastfeed -or certainly my baby, so I assume it’s the same for others- here’s often milk just on her lips. This means my nipples are getting soaked in milk during her feeds, which protects them too. A pump doesn’t do this, so you need to do it  for yourself. Breast milk works better than any creams.)
  • Pump at the same time every day to ‘trick’ your body into supplying milk for your baby at that time.
  • Find the best time of day. In the mornings I would normally have a lot of milk, and expressing would be easy. At night it would take a little longer. But also remember that your milk changes, and at night nucleotides are released into your milk to help your baby sleep. If you’re giving expressed morning milk at night, that won’t be present in the milk, and visa versa.

So, those are my tips – is there anything else you can add?

Don’t forget to enter the #Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, and all these other competitions too:

For more from Keep Britain Breastfeeding read these blog posts:

Tigerlilly Quinn
The Princess Poets Life Adventures
The Mummy Adventure
Smiling Like Sunshine

and support these businesses:

Breast-Aid
Pixie Pants Cloth Napies
Fudgulous
Baby Beads

and don’t forget to visit this post to enter to win:

  • Breastmilk Keepsake
  • £15 Boobie Milk Voucher
  • Breastfeeding Pillow from Theraline
  • Breastpads from Theraline
  • Adjustable Drop Cup Feeding Bras  from Cantaloop
  • Baby-Proof Jewellery and Teething Necklace from Mama Jewels
  • Electric breastpump and accessories
  • Maternity Raspberry or Black Feeding Tops from Melba London
  • And over £1000 in prizes from Keep Britain Breastfeeding

The Benefits Of Donor Breast Milk

The year Ameli was born, I wrote a series of breastfeeding related posts as a first time mother, entirely in love with breastfeeding. I wrote about the things I wish I’d known before I started, and about some of the very rarely known facts about breastmilk as well as reintroducing breastfeeding if you had to stop for any reason.

By the time my second National Breastfeeding Awareness Week rolled by, I had entered into the domain of ‘extended breastfeeding‘, and attended my first breastfeeding flashmob.

In the blink of an eye, it seemed, it was the third National Breastfeeding Awareness week of my parenting time line, and I had been breastfeeding through pregnancy, through Hyperemesis Gravidarum, and breastfeeding a toddler. In fact, last year all my posts for Keep Britain Breastfeeding were around the theme of tandem breastfeeding.

As much as my own journey of breastfeeding has progressed and developed, and my babies have grown – both of whom are still nursing – I don’t have a huge amount to add this year, so I thought I’d spend a bit of time this breastfeeding awareness week around the theme of milk expressing and donation, something that has been very close to my heart at times over the last few years, and particularly while I donated to a hospital for their AIDS babies in South Africa for six months.

We all know the benefits of breastfeeding now, but very few people know or understand WHY anyone would choose donated breastmilk over formula for new or preterm, or otherwise unwell babies.

Please understand this is not about guilt or about having done it wrong if you’ve chosen differently. It’s about sharing information so that mothers can make informed choices going forward. 

Donor Breast MilkThe World Health Organisation recommends milk given to babies should be breastmilk. If that is not possible, donor milk is the next best option. This often raises questions for people, because we trust something that comes from a shop – they wouldn’t be able to sell it if it wasn’t safe, right? – over simply trusting other people, and often for good reason.

Unfortunately, statistics around milk donations and recipients are ridiculously hard to come by. I’ve been trying to find out who the greatest users of donated breast milk are – as far as I can tell it would be the roughly 15 million premature babies born every year, but don’t quote me on that – and also whether there were reported problems or statistics on actual contamination or illness from donor milk, but again, this hasn’t been something I’ve been able to find any information on.

So, with donated milk being in many ways, such uncharted territory, why would anyone choose to use it over easily accessible formula? According to research from 2007, babies who receive breastmilk, even donated breastmilk, are at much lower risk of Necrotising Enterocolitis, the second most common cause of morbidity in premature infants, the condition where portions of the bowel undergo necrosis – tissue death. Incredibly, the risk is reduced by a whopping 79%. In statistics related to babies, that’s huge.

Breastmilk is also easier to digest. A preterm baby’s gut is very delicate and it absorbs breastmilk more easily because the balance of proteins is different, and designed for the human gut.

I’ve been searching for stories on milk donors causing a child to become ill, or spreading disease, or causing problems, but I’ve not had any jump out at me. Milk donors are themselves mothers to babies or young children, or in some very sad cases mothers who have lost their babies and want to give something of that baby to help other mothers and baby dyads, so I can’t imagine that a mother would take illegal drugs, or do anything that would be a problem in her own milk.

Speaking to mothers of babies who had to use donated breast milk in the early days, I asked them what they felt the benefits were of using donor milk rather than formula.

Jorje from Momma Jorjes son Spencer had some trouble with his oxygen levels at birth. He also had a little trouble with the suck, swallow, and breathe reflexes, so he would get tired out while nursing. She had to breastfeed him, then top him off with a bottle, which was much less work for him. “I could have just done bottle, but I wanted him to nurse.”

Jorje wanted to use a breastmilk donor, because she felt donor milk was less likely to be accidentally contaminated. “You never know when there is going to be a recall on a commercial product, but with breastmilk, if the mother had turned up with food poisoning, she’d have known long before I actually got the milk”.

Kellie, who writes at Our Mindful Life, found out her son had a tongue tie and was only able to get it clipped at 7.5 weeks.  In the meantime, he wasn’t able to nurse or suck and wasn’t gaining weight. Kellie was pumping milk, but wasn’t able to pump enough to give him her milk exclusively, so she also gave him a few ounces of formula every other day.  “After a few weeks, he also began to show an allergic reaction to the formula.  We were told that if we couldn’t get him breastmilk to take him to the hospital and have him admitted.”

Asked what she felt the benefits of donor milk for her son were, Kellie says, “For us, it was hugely beneficial because it kept him out of the hospital, and kept him from having allergic reactions.”

Melissa W. had a terrible experience with her daughter losing 40% of her weight in two weeks. At 8 weeks she switched to formula, but two weeks later, Arwyn developed Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), got a lot worse before she got better. After three more weeks on breastmilk, the doctor recommended swapping to formula full time, but Arwyn was throwing up everything. A week later they went to yet another doctor and discovered that she had a Milk Protein Sensitivity, and formula made her ill, but breastmilk, with or without dairy, was fine. Since then, they’ve been using donor milk, and Arwyn hasn’t been sick again.

These are just three stories of donor recipient mamas and their little people. Read more the rest of the week to find out more about their experiences as breast milk recipients.

If you’d like to add your story for a later post, please answer these questions!

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For more from Keep Britain Breastfeeding read these blog posts:

Where Roots Fourish 
Milk Machine Mum  
The Great British Family 

and support these businesses:

Breast Milk Keepsakes
Melba Maternity

and don’t forget to visit this post to enter to win:

  • Breastmilk Keepsake
  • £15 Boobie Milk Voucher
  • Breastfeeding Pillow from Theraline
  • Breastpads from Theraline
  • Adjustable Drop Cup Feeding Bras  from Cantaloop
  • Baby-Proof Jewellery and Teething Necklace from Mama Jewels
  • Electric breastpump and accessories
  • Maternity Raspberry or Black Feeding Tops from Melba London
  • And over £1000 in prizes from Keep Britain Breastfeeding

The #BreastDebate

I spent yesterday evening at the Philips Avent #Breastdebate – a round table event to discuss a few issues around breastfeeding and returning to work. This post has a two-fold purpose. I hope to simultaneously share the details on the discussion, and address the Twitter response. Before I even start to tell you about it, however, I want to make a few things very clear:

  • I was not paid to participate, I did not receive anything free (with the exception of my train fare reimbursed, which is fair enough, right?)
  • While it is my aim and ambition to  be a WHO Compliant website, when invited to attend, I decided that at least with me on the panel, there’d be a real supporter of breastfeeding in the room. (It was a non-issue, since everyone on the panel had experience of breastfeeding or expressing.)
  • Not everyone breastfeeds. Some use donated milk, some exclusively express. While
    you can hand express into a cup, there are ways to simplify life and use a PUMP and pump breastmilk into a BOTTLE. Using either of these products does not make you a bad person. Companies make these products, to sell, and sometimes, they advertise them. The companies themselves are not bad or evil for making and selling and even advertising bits of plastic or glass. I do not need a lecture on WHO codes. I KNOW. I get it. But I am a firm believer in people being educated, and simply not talking about what’s available doesn’t empower anyone.  That said, products were not mentioned in the discussion.

The first question I received when I said I’d be attending the event, was ‘why is a bottle manufacturer running a breastfeeding event. I had the same question initially, because we all know about the Boobytraps, and how companies represent and misrepresent facts and ‘help’ which can send people on a one way path to giving up breastfeeding.

It is my personal view that the hashtag #breastdebate was badly chosen.

For one thing, it wasn’t a debate, but a discussion. There were no opposing sides. We were all in agreement over most issues. If anyone wasn’t, they certainly didn’t voice it.

Secondly, it wasn’t really  about breastfeeding, as in nipple-to-mouth. Yes, the question of ‘should mothers be ‘allowed’ to feed without a cover’ was asked – and raised a few heckles on Twitter, as it does for me, but it wasn’t one of the main talking points of the night. With varying levels of experience with nursing covers – from real covers to napkins – we agreed it’s up to the mother-baby dyad.  Also, Cherry Healy, who tweeted that, posted this after the event:

The questions we spent most of our time on were:

1) Do you feel attitudes to nursing in public have changed over the last 20 years. 

Some of the panelists said no, they didn’t think so. Health journalist Jo Waters felt that it had changed and people were more negative about it now than when she breastfed her now teen. I felt that it depended massively on your environment, and what the people around you were used to and who you spent your time with. Tina from Loved By Parents had a terrible experience in a restaurant where a couple went out of their way to tell her how disgusting it was that she was feeding her baby there, and Sally, a reader on my Facebook page shared a similar story of being yelled at in an M&S changing room. In Tina’s case it upset her, but didn’t stop her. In Sally’s case it’s prevented her from  nursing in public again!

Overall, we all agreed that your exposure and experiences will have a huge impact on your answer to that question.

Related to this, Cherry Healy who was hosting the discussion asked whether women should have to cover up when nursing. Again, as mothers who have breastfed, we all agreed that that is up to the mother and child team to decide what they are comfortable with, and no one else. I did point out that nothing says ‘I’M NURSING HERE’ than a nursing cover, and that most people don’t even know it’s happening.

Breastfeeding at one hour old

Cherry said that she rarely even sees anyone breastfeeding, and the panel discussed whether it should be more visible on television, in soaps and so on, but again, I pointed out that most nursing mothers aren’t out to show their stuff! You could be looking right at a nursing mother and not know it! It’s certainly happened to me on more than one occasion.

2) Should employers be compelled to provide breastfeeding rooms

This was an interesting discussion, because Carrie Longton, from Mumsnet, was able to view the question from the point of view of a SME – a small business that doesn’t have the space for a full-time breastfeeding room, like many, many others out there, I’m sure, and the rest of us discussed it from the working mother point of view. I don’t have experience of going out to work and expressing, but I know many that do.

We discussed what the minimum requirements are for a breastfeeding room, as well as what we’d love to see going forward, as well as what in our wildest dreams we’d love to ask for.

Gorgeous Gifts: Donated Breastmilk

I think longer paid maternity leave would do wonders for longer breastfeeding outcomes,  Tina felt that a comfortable, clean environment was essential, and Carrie mentioned a supportive work environment – even if the room is there, having unsupportive comments or mockery of anyone using the room is not going to encourage anyone.

I was naively surprised to find out that there is actually not a LAW that a breastfeeding room should be provided, but rather a strong recommendation. (However there is a law that a resting place should be provided and this should include an area where the mother to be or nursing mother can lie down. In all my working life, I’ve never seen an employer with such a room!)

The question to the panel was two-fold: is the directive enough or do we need more legislation on the support of breastfeeding/breastfeeding mothers for this facility in the workplace, and if so, should there be a minimum requirement, i.e. is a hardback chair in a clean storage cupboard enough? It ticks the boxes, but should the standard be set higher?

We agreed that what already exists is not enough, and we agreed that there should be a minimum standard in place. We also agreed that that can be incredibly difficult, because what a multinational corporation can afford and what a two-(wo)man operation can afford are two very different things, so a lot of thought will need to go into how it is done.

So what next 

Vigeland Statue in Oslo, NorwayThe Avent team will use the recording from last night to compile a short video that will summarise the topics that were discussed and the ‘conclusions’ that we came to. What we all realised towards the end though, was that this round table event was just the tip of the iceberg.

I asked someone from the team why they were running the event and she said “we wanted to start the conversation about where the gaps are in the support network when it comes to breastfeeding and eventually want to look at ways we could lobby government on legislation such as on the topic of breast feeding when returning to work.”

While it’s fine to be suspicious of a bottle manufacturer’s motivations in being involved in this project (and trust me, I’ll be keeping an eye on what they do with it too), I think it’s important to look beyond on demand breast is best , to mothers who do return to work, and to understanding that they too need support and that treating the tools of expressing as taboo hurts mothers more than it hurts companies. (If anything, it BENEFITS companies!! I’ve spoken to a few mothers today who spent a lot of money on different bottles, because there just wasn’t unbiased information available to them to help them determine what they needed when they did need bottles. And these are EBF mothers!!)

Look at it this way. Philips Avent sell bottles. What mothers choose to put in those bottles makes no difference to them as a company. If their involvement can see pressure put on employers to be more supportive of expressing mothers, then how can that be an entirely bad thing? (PHD In Parenting has a great post about why advertising bottles is a bad thing, and I agree with regards to pregnant mothers, but where do mothers who need bottles go to get information if we make it a taboo and make them feel almost dirty for mentioning the B word? Can anyone tell me?)

The Round Table Discussion was a good one, and it was positive, and I hope that the objective of getting businesses and employers more involved in creating expressing spaces is an achievable one. I’m glad someone is taking it on and trying to bring about change. Do I wish it was a fully WHO compliant company? Of course, but am I glad someone is doing it? Yes, I am.

 

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