Toddlers

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.

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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?

What The Contents Of My Hoover Say About My Life

I hoover my house almost daily. If I don’t, after just one day, it looks like I never have.

A few days ago, I was cleaning out the bagless hoover, and amid a cloud of dust, I began to giggle to myself as I realised that the contents of my hoover are a direct insight into my life.

Contents of my HooverOnce upon a time there was a man and a woman. They both worked full time, and were hardly ever home. They hoovered every few weeks and cleaned out the hoover every couple of months. Their hoover was full of hair and dust balls. Fast forward four years and that hoover is full of… well… everything else.

There’s glitter from the morning crafts, play rice from the afternoon sensory play. There’s broken up bits of water beads that were brought in from the water table and stomped on, and there are thousands of bits and pieces of paper, string, confetti, crayon wrappers and a million other remnants of creative projects. There’s bits of food from a two year old insistant on feeding herself and from a four year old who tips her plate over to show us there’s only crumbs left on it.

There are bits of LEGO Friends that have to be meticulously picked out, and a pebble – the most specialist pebble in the world, mind you – from a recent trip to the sea, or a leaf from the nature hunt or the now dried and crumbled remains of a nature art activity.

I look through my hoover and I see the signs of a life lived with children, in full colour, full exhuberance, full enjoyment. This is the life I see now. My life.

And one day the hoover will be used every week or so again. There will be no muddy footprints going through the house. There will be no glitter, confetti, sparkles that cling stubbornly to the floor. That day I will look at the hairballs and dust bunnies gathered in my hoover, and I will remember today and I will miss it.

Problems And Suggested Solutions For Tandem Nursing

You know how breastfeeding is ‘the most natural thing in the world’, right? And how it should be as easy as that? And how it often isn’t?

Well, picture every newborn problem (and victory) that you’ve ever had with breastfeeding a newborn. Now picture doing it with that newborn, and a climby, excited, gymnastic toddler too.Tandem Nursing

It can be pretty rough (and awesome).

  • The biggest problem I’ve experienced in tandem breastfeeding has been feeling thoroughly touched out. In the 13 weeks since Aviya’s birth, I have felt more ‘touched out’ than any other time in my life before. To the extent that the feel of the sofa cushion irritates my skin sometimes! There is no solution for this, other than making sure you understand why you feel as you do and making an effort to have some you-time, even if it includes going for a short walk, a solo bath or something more extravagant, like a well-timed-between-feeds massage.
  • Logistics. In the early weeks, while baby is small, it’s easy to lie one child on top of the other. Unfortunately, the baby grows at a much faster rate than the toddler and sooner or later, you might find the toddler begins to protest. While it’s quite nice and easy to get into the habit of tandem nursing with one lying on the other, while baby is small is a good time to practice tandem feeding in other positions too, such as holding one or both in the rugby ball position.
  • Your toddler may have a huge increase in feeding, and a massive decrease in eating. Ameli was nursing 2 – 3 times a day when Aviya was born, and suddenly she wanted to drink every time Aviya was. While I knew this would happen, and ‘prepared’ myself for it, I really had no idea how frustrating it would be.  It’s really important to have strategies in place, when you don’t want to tandem feed at every feed, for things to occupy the toddler. Wearing a sling for feeding the baby can be very useful as it keeps your hands free to do things with the toddler.
  • Tandem nursing can be very exhausting, thirsty and hungry work. Have a ‘nursing station’ ready. Somewhere with a lot of pillows so you can all be in a good position, and have an easy to use drinks bottle handy – something that won’t have water everywhere if the gymnastic feeder kicks it – as well as some snacks if you feel you need them. Replenish your nursing station daily, so that you can feed without meltdowns while you’re getting everything ready, or upsetting interruptions to your nursing.
  • Breastfeeding works best in a tribe where mothers can look out for each other.  Spend as much time as you can with sympathetic friends who can entertain your toddler (simply by having their children around too, while you nurse the baby) or by making sure you have what you need while you’re breastfeeding one or both children. And when they’re done, you support your friend again.
  • Sensations during tandem nursing. Unfortunately, if you’re ‘feeling’ something when you’re breastfeeding, it’s probably not pleasant. With tandem nursing there’s an increase in hormones and there is a change in breast size which can affect the older child’s latch. These changes can cause either a very painful feeling – with my two year old, it feels like her front teeth are slicing papercut sized slices into my nipples sometimes, simply because the nipple is larger right now. Alternatively, the increased hormones can cause an incredibly unpleasant sexual stimulation. Trust me when I say it is not a good feeling.  It is very uncomfortable. I can’t cope with it and have to stop nursing when that happens. There’s no real ‘solution’ to it. Just stop, have a cuddle, a repositioning and start again.

I do think that breastfeeding is without a doubt the most committed thing I’ve ever done. It’s been very much all or nothing, and I’ve gone for all.  While there are many challenges and obstacles on the journey, don’t forget to also look at the benefits of tandem breastfeeding.

10 Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding

When Ameli was a baby I wrote many articles on breastfeeding and its benefits. I wrote about things I wish I’d known about breastfeeding, and some relatively unknown things about breast milk, and how breast milk is made. I’ve shared my confessions of an extended breastfeeder and I’ve written about the highs and lows of breastfeeding during pregnancy. My last post about breastfeeding was on nursing a toddler during the final stage of pregnancy, so it’s only logical that my next series of posts will be on that thing that is the art of tandem nursing.

I’ve been asked a number of times by various people whether it is possible to nurse both babies at the same time, and the simple answer is yes! I know the concept is foreign to many people, so here are nine reasons why tandem breastfeeding is worth considering.

10 Reasons to Consider Tandem Breastfeeding

Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding For The Toddler: 

1. Bonding and reduced jealousy
This was one of the most beautiful and surprising parts of tandem breastfeeding, for me. The first time I lay my nursling on top of my toddler to allow them to feed together, and my beautiful big girl put her arm around her sister to keep her from ‘falling off’. I think my heart melted in that moment. We’ve had absolutely no jealousy since the birth of our second little girl twelve weeks ago and I am convinced that breastfeeding both children has something to do with it.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any studies on this subject yet, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence, and I’m happy to be adding to that.

Regardless of what you do to prepare a toddler for a new baby, the reality of the new addition is beyond anything they’d have expected, and having something that bonds them together from the beginning is very helpful. It’s also something they can do together.  The first question Ameli asked, while Aviya was still in the birthpool, was, “can it walk?”  She is very aware of the fact that Aviya can’t talk to us and can’t play with her. In fact, as Ameli’s book says, “it’s basically a lump of clay.” Having something they can do together definitely creates a bond from early on.

2. Valuable lesson in sharing and consideration
Sharing breastfeeding is an incredible lesson in sharing in general. This is another area my Ameli has surprised me: she understands that the baby, who cannot eat food yet, needs to have milk more than she does. It’s not always easy for her to have to stop feeding when it’s Aviya’s turn (tandem nursing can mean two simultaneously, or one after the other. We do both.) but she usually does. You can see sometimes that she doesn’t really want to, but she does. I think it’s a great lesson for life.

3. All the benefits of newborn milk
Newborn breastmilk is full of so many good things, and the mother’s body adjusts the milk to meet the newborn’s needs. That means the toddler is getting all the benefits of baby milk, all over again.

Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding For The Newborn:

1. Milk on tap
Now, this is purely anecdotal, from my own experience, but in our case, my milk came in pretty much immediately after Aviya was born. There was still colostrum, as I could tell from Ameli’s nappies, but she had milk available on tap from the start. This meant that she didn’t have to work very hard to fill her tummy, which meant she fed for shorter periods of time than newborns normally do. It also meant that she slept for longer than newborns normally do. In fact, she fed so little and slept so much that she lost 11% of her body weight in the first week, but more than made up for it subsequently (she’s currently in 4-6 month clothes, and is only 2.5 months!) The fact is that she didn’t have to burn much energy in an attempt to consume.

2. Milk supply
Because I had milk and nursed all the way through the pregnancy, bar a few days here and there, milk was just ‘there’ from the start and I haven’t had any issues with supply at all, not even during the six week ‘drying up’ that most people experience as milk goes from reservoired to supply and demand

3. Familiarity with the older sibling
It’s easy to very quickly fall into the habit of saying ‘don’t touch the baby’, ‘leave the baby’, ‘be gentle with the baby’ and any one of a million variations on that theme. We’ve tried very consciously not to plant the idea that ‘sister’ isn’t to be engaged with in Ameli, and have instead decided to accept that babies aren’t actually as fragile as we tend to think they are when you have your first born. Tandem nursing is a way of introducing an older sibling into a baby’s space, so that the younger can become accustomed to the sound and smell of his or her older sibling too.

4. Gag-free drinking
Sometimes the flow of milk can be so strong and forceful that the new baby can gag and choke. Getting big sister or brother to take the edge off, can be really helpful. It’s worth remembering the difference between foremilk and hindmilk and making sure baby is getting enough of both, especially in hot weather.

Reasons To Consider Tandem Breastfeeding For the Mother:

Believe it or not, tandem breastfeeding has a number of benefits for mama too.

1. Put your feet up
If you’ve had a toddler let loose on your house for any length of time, you’ll know what devastation can be wrought in the shortest of times. Nursing both together means you actually get to have a break without having to directively engage, occupy or entertain a toddler. This is where a hands free water bottle with a straw comes in though, because it can be hard to hold a cup while nursing two children!

2. Health benefits of extended breastfeeding
All those things that hit the headlines from time to time? Those. Reduced risk of breast cancer being the biggest one.  And some people put weight loss in this category. Breastfeeding gives me a sweet tooth, so no, I don’t lose any weight!

3. Relieves engorgement
Despite popular belief, when your milk comes in proper, you can still get really engorged, even if you’ve been breastfeeding through pregnancy. I haven’ t had to express once this time round, nor have I had any problems, such as mastitis or clogged ducts, because when I’ve needed to, I’ve been able to call on Ameli – even in the middle of the night, since Aviya sleeps through – to quickly and effortlessly drain an engorged, painful, leaking breast.

So there you have nine reasons to at least consider tandem nursing. It’s not always easy, and there are days where I wish more than anything that Ameli would wean, but looking at the list above, the benefits are fantastic, and this is a phase in our mother and daughter(s) journey that I will always look back on with a distinct sense of pride in all of us.

Breastfeeding A Toddler

When I think about breastfeeding a toddler, at the moment, the word ‘challenging’ comes to mind. My circumstances are different to yours, perhaps, and I know that breastfeeding through pregnancy was tough, but not challenging. I know that breastfeeding her up to the point of pregnancy was not hard either. But suddenly with a newborn attached to my nipple all the time – and not as much as many other newborns – my feelings towards extended nursing have changed. I find it challenging. Not impossible, not hard enough to force wean my beautiful girl, but challenging.

Breastfeeding A Toddler

See, for me, right now, the big thing is feeling utterly and entirely ‘touched out’. And having a toddler who has decided to nurse four to six times a night again, when even my baby doesn’t nurse as much, is… you guessed it… challenging.  But those are my cirumstances, now, and we’re working back to a place of sleepy-time breastfeeding, or waking up breastfeeding. I am happy with nursing my almost three year old three times a day. That’s my personal level of comfort

There are a few things to prepare yourself for the day you realise you’re officially an extended breastfeeder:

  • People will criticise you. They will say you’re doing it for your own gratification. They clearly have not breastfed a gymnastic toddler.
  • People will say you’re being too soft on your child, holding on to tight, or making them too dependent on you. There are plenty reasons to breastfeed into toddlerhood, so I’d say don’t worry about it. If you feel you need to, know the facts about breastmilk through the ages. It makes for a better argument.
  • You will have days or nights where you are so ‘over it’ and ready to give up. Your child may not be, however, and even if it is purely for comfort, who doesn’t want to comfort their baby?
  • There will be times when you want to end a nursing session and your nursling refuses and wants you to carry on. There will be times when your body feels imposed on or intruded on or overwhelmed by the constant need. It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to draw boundaries. If you want to nurse in public, and your toddler insists on lifting your shirt and you’re not comfortable, it’s okay to set limits, to refuse them and to insist that you, your body and your boundaries are respected. How can you teach them that they have a right to say no and that no is to be respected if you can’t say it yourself?
  • It’s okay to have a night out and leave daddy or someone else to deal with the bed time routine. My daughter will get very distraught if I’m home and say she can’t have sleepy time milkies. If I’m not home and my husband puts her to bed, she rarely even asks for it.

And the most important thing to know about feeding a walking, talking, eating child is that it removes a whole big burden of stress of your shoulders:

  • A fussy eater still gets vital nutrients and nourishment, especially when you’re tandem feeding with a baby.
  • A fever, a sickness, or anything else that prevents your child from eating or drinking normally can be fixed by a helping of the good stuff.
  • A scrape, a fall, a finger caught – all can be  healed by a sip of magic milk. Generally it’s probably more about the closeness, but still, the milk does no harm.
  • Ear infections, gloopy eyes and blocked noses – a squirt or two of milk brings about incredibly quick healing.
  • Time apart just melts away as you sink into a reconnecting nursing session.

Some days are hard. I won’t lie to you. But when I was a project manager for a living, there were hard days, despite how much I loved it. While I love teaching baby massage, there are days I don’t want to do it. Some days, doing what we set out to do is simply… challenging. Parenting, motherhood and breastfeeding are no exceptions.

The rewards, however, are worth every moment of determined perseverance.

(This post was originally published at Diary of a First Child on January 8, 2012)

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
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