The Day I Got My Boobs Out For TV

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I never set out to write about breastfeeding on this blog, but with our challenges with tongue tie, cows milk protein intolerance and of course various news stories about public feeding, it’s become one of my most frequent and most read topics. I guess the old adage of ‘write what you know’ applies even more than usual to blogging, and I do seem to spend rather a lot of my time feeding!

Whilst I’m not of the ‘flaunt it’ mindset, I’ve always been of the view that breastfeeding is both entirely natural and nothing to be squeamish about, so it should come as no real surprise that I recently agreed to get my boobs out for TV – all very tastefully and in the name of education of course!

I was lucky enough to be asked by Lansinoh to take part in a TV programme they’ve been making for mums-to-be about preparing for baby’s arrival, and particularly about their specialist subject, breastfeeding.

You may know Lansinoh as ‘the nipple cream in the purple tube’, and in fact they made it into one of my early blog posts about must have products for newborn babies. What I didn’t know until now was that they also have a host of other products, some of which are coming out in the UK for the first time this year, including breast pumps, bottles, sippy cups and teething rings. As a thank you for taking part in the filming I got a bit of a goody bag of products to try out which I’m sure I’ll write about at some point – we’re already converts to their ‘momma’ bottles which C is so much better with than the previous brand we were using.

Our contribution to the programme was to be interviewed, along with three other mums and their gorgeous babies, about our experiences of breastfeeding. Hopefully it’s given us a chance to spread the word a bit about tongue tie to help other mums in a similar position to us, although in retrospect I should probably have said a bit more about exactly what tongue tie is.

Given I’m a good stone (and a bit) heavier than I’d like to be, and hate the sound of my voice I’m pretty sure I’ll be cringing when I see it, but hopefully I don’t come across as too much of an idiot, and of course people can always be distracted by my boobs.

Oh yes, the boobs. That’s why you’re reading this, right? To find out about the boobs?
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It was all a bit accidental really, I didn’t plan to feed C on TV. I actually started the interview with her sat on my lap, but despite having been angelic all day she promptly decided to cry. And cry, and cry.

And that’s one of the benefits of breastfeeding really, isn’t it? A ready made comforter perfect for such occasions. I’m pretty sure you can’t see anything untoward (apart from the bald patch on the back of C’s head), and I guess it wouldn’t really be much of a programme about breastfeeding without someone, well, breastfeeding!

Given I’d broken the ice by getting them out once, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to film an extra bit about different feeding positions too. And never one to shy away from the camera, G got in on the act with a piece about getting siblings involved.
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I’ve not seen the finished programme so don’t know how much will make the final cut, but hopefully C will show slightly more than the back of her head in it, and I won’t have embarrassed myself too much.

And if she moans when she’s older about how embarrassing it is having TV footage of her feeding, I can remind her that she was actually just meant to smile and coo for the camera, so it’s all her own fault really.

Now all we have to do is wait for it to hit our telly boxes, and then decide whether to sit and hide behind my hands or do a little excited dance around the room…

We weren’t asked to write about our experience, and although we did get some free product we weren’t paid for this either. The photos of the day were kindly sent to me by Lansinoh/Cybher so are their copyright.

We Will Breastfeed Them On The Beaches…

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We’re currently on holiday in the south west, hence why the blog has been a bit quiet this week.

Yesterday we went on a trip to the beach at Weston-Super-Mare which G (4) particularly enjoyed. She’d been hankering after going to the beach pretty much ever since the last time we went and bought her a bucket and spade, which had been used for pretty much every non-beach-related purpose since.

Whilst she was happily digging away I sat and fed C, and had my day made by two lovely ladies coming up to say well done to me for breastfeeding in public.

I idly wondered if they’d read my blog post urging people to do just that, but figured that was probably unlikely.

Accidental Eco Mum

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It’s official, I’ve become one of those mums.

Yup, I’m a card carrying member of the breastfeeding, cloth bumming, baby wearing brigade. And I’ll probably end up doing some form of baby led weaning too, just to complete the picture. An eco mum, you could say.

Except I’ve got a confession. It’s got very little to do with being eco friendly. In fact, I’m doing it all out of pure laziness, with a bit of vanity thrown in.

Let me explain:

Breastfeeding – C seems to have a cows milk protein intolerance, which rules out standard cows milk based formula. I’m not entirely surprised as I struggle with dairy too (it gives me migraines and headaches). I could get a special formula on prescription, but that would involve firstly the faff of going back and forwards to the docs to get it, not to mention the faff of washing, sterilising and making up bottles constantly. And apparently it stinks anyway. I’m grateful that I can breastfeed (not all can), so for me breastfeeding just seems easier overall. Even if I can’t have cake.

Verdict: lazy.

Cloth bumming – the one household chore I hate more than anything is taking the bins out. I’d much rather load and unload the washing machine every other day than trudge out with a heavy bag full of pooey nappies. And the cloth nappies these days are seriously cute – I’ve already got tons of girls clothes left over from G so don’t have much excuse to go cute shopping otherwise.

Verdict: lazy and vain.

Baby wearing – G pretty much refused to get in her buggy after she was about 18 months, preferring to be carried or to walk. This was fine for Daddy, who was plenty strong enough to carry her about, not so much for me. I tried all sorts of gadgets to help carry her (the Hippychick Hip Seat was the winner, but I did look blimming stupid wearing what looked like a fully loaded bumbag when she decided to walk instead of being carried). I can see how much easier life would have been with a proper, ergonomic buckle carrier or a woven wrap, so I’ve already got both on loan from a local sling library to try out. And C falls asleep in them pretty much instantly too, which saves the hours of trying to get her to take a nap, particularly when I’ve got G pestering me to play. Oh, and have you seen all the pretty patterns they come in?? It’s like clothes shopping for me without the stress of having to buy two sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy clothes, and without the guilt because after all, it’s for baby isn’t it…

Verdict: lazy and vain.

Baby led weaning – we’re not there yet and won’t be for another few months. But seriously, cooking, blending and feeding all those purees? Who’s got time for that? And I tasted some of those baby food jars when G was weaning – yuck! Nope, C can have (broadly) what we’re having 90% of the time and leave it at that.

Verdict: lazy.

They might not be the reason that the books give for doing all of these things, and it might only be me that sees it this way, but it’s what works for me.

And surely that’s the only thing any parent should be striving to do – bring up their children in a way that suits their personalities, lifestyle, morals and so on?

This is how it feels to breastfeed

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There’s been a lot of talk about breastfeeding this past week or two, and particularly breastfeeding in public, after a mother was in Rugeley, with the photograph labelling her a’tramp’ for doing so.

I usually stay out of these kinds of debates, because they have a tendency to spiral out of control, with strong feelings on both sides. And if I’m honest the usual story structure of ‘mum gets criticised for breast feeding in public’ / ‘mum goes to the local press’ / ‘mass breastfeeding demo takes place’ / ‘everything goes quiet again’ is nothing new. If anything I think it’s actually damaging to those thinking of breast feeding; reinforcing the belief that there are lots of people and places who will disapprove of you feeding in public and even throw you out – of caf├ęs, shops, museums, libraries, swimming pools, more shops, buses and even hospitals. And not all the stories are even true.

But this time it does seem to have reached a new level, going beyond local and national press and engaging even the likes of TV show The Last Leg, who put it far more acutely than I could manage here.


There’s lots of things that have quietly riled me when reading the comments on these stories. But one thing that has surprised me is how much talk there’s been about how breastfeeding in public makes the ‘spectators’ feel, and very little about how the breast feeder feels. If anything, breast feeders have a tendency to be portrayed as somewhat militant, feminist exhibitionists, with few qualms about whipping them out in public, and armed with a string of cutting one liners if anyone dares to challenge them. In my experience, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I feel lucky that I’ve never been challenged whilst feeding, and I’m fairly confident at feeding in most places. But I do go to great lengths to be discreet about it – picking out the most secluded table, facing the wall if I can, wearing only clothes I know I can hide it under and checking out who is in my line of sight before feeding. It’s really quite stressful, to be honest!

I’d love to have the courage to just ‘whack em out’ wherever and whenever I need to, but like many other people I’ve spoken to it’s just not something I feel comfortable with. Not yet anyway. Maybe one day…

Yes, when breastfeeding there is far less to be seen than on your average Friday night on the town. But if I’ve ever had a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ whilst out on the lash I’ve certainly never been sober enough to remember it the next day, and would be mortified if I did.

It might be the most natural thing in the world, but the reality is that feeding in public feels rather like being forced to do a solo stint on karaoke in front of your drunken work colleagues at the Christmas party, when you know you can’t sing and more importantly, you’re stone cold sober. Logic tells you nobody’s going to notice (or remember) your little performance, but that doesn’t make you feel any more confident about it.

When you’re already nervous or anxious about feeding in public, it feels like everyone around you is looking, judging, disapproving, ready to criticise your decision to feed there, or ask you to leave at any moment. Call it paranoia if you like, but that doesn’t make it feel any less real.

It takes a lot of courage to feed in public, and it’s easy to assume that everyone you see looking is thinking bad of you, even if they’re just being ambivalent towards it.

Before anyone thinks it, this isn’t about the whole breast vs formula debate either. I like to think of it like this – not everyone can run a marathon; not everyone wants to run a marathon; and I certainly don’t think badly of anyone who doesn’t run a marathon; but that doesn’t stop those that do run a marathon being deserving of a bit of cheerleading and support to get them through.

So what is the answer?

The reality is that however much press coverage this latest incident receives, attitudes won’t change overnight. And whilst normalising breast feeding is something we should be aiming for, I think we could do with a little bit more to get us there.

I hope most people reading this blog would be either positive or at least ambivalent towards breastfeeding in public, so I’m going to ask you to do one thing. Next time you see someone breastfeeding (and particularly if she has a very young baby so is probably new to feeding in public), go up to her and congratulate her on doing it. Look her in the eye – avoiding eye contact just tells us you’re embarrassed, and staring at baby is just a bit too close to the boobs.

It might feel a bit uncomfortable for you, but that’s nothing compared to how she’s probably feeling. And I promise you will brighten up her day and make a world of difference to her confidence, helping her to keep doing the most natural thing in the world for her child.

Tongue Tied

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We’ve been backwards and forwards over C’s slow weight gain since soon after she was born, but hopefully after today we’ll have had a resolution.

C has – or should I say had – a thick posterior tongue tie, which means the movement of her tongue is restricted, preventing her from getting enough milk. This, combined with a suspected cows milk intolerance, helps explain her reflux symptoms, poor latch, frequent feeding and slow weight gain.

This afternoon we’ve been at the clinic having her tongue tie released – a simple, quick and safe procedure involving a pair of scissors and not much else – which hopefully will improve her feeding. Despite concerns it would be a bit traumatic (for mum as much as C!), it was over in a flash, with C’s tears as much from having her head and arms held still whilst it was carried out as anything else. It’s too early of course to say whether it’s worked, but my fingers are tightly crossed.

Tongue tie has been in the news lately, as NCT (the national childbirth trust) are running a campaign to improve the identification and treatment of tongue tie in the UK. C’s tongue tie was a quite mild form but has still affected her ability to breastfeed, so with tongue tie present in an estimated 10% of babies it’s not too much of an assumption that the UK’s poor record at successful breastfeeding could be linked.

Our tongue tie experience has not been atypical. We had three separate people telling us she wasn’t tongue tied before she was finally diagnosed, evidence both that posterior tongue ties are difficult to spot, and of the lack of provision for diagnosing and treating tongue tie in the UK.

In fact we’re about even now, with as many health practitioners saying that she has a tongue tie and that it is impacting on her breast feeding, as we have those who say she’s not tongue tied and releasing it won’t have any effect. Even the consultant today was unconvinced it would make any difference, but having exhausted other options it made sense to go ahead with the procedure.

As it is we’ve had to go private to get it fixed. Luckily I’d already added C to the BUPA cover we get through work, as despite it being a quick and simple procedure, the wait on the NHS would likely take us beyond the point at which it can be dealt with without general anaesthetic (around 14 weeks). With delays like this it’s little wonder that many mums have to ‘give up’ breast feeding before the problem is remedied, even if they do succeed in getting a diagnosis in the first place.

Hopefully the coverage of the condition will improve awareness and outcomes, though I’m sure parents will still need to push to get the help they need.

We’ll know whether it’s been successful over the next few weeks, and in the meantime it’s a case of wait, feed, and wait some more. Or perhaps more accurately; feed, wait, and feed some more.

Best get ready for some sleepless nights…

Weighing in

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C was a big baby, weighing in at a whopping 11lbs 5ozs. But after going down to just under 10lbs 9ozs after birth (a loss of 7% so perfectly normal), she’s taken her time over regaining her birth weight.

Despite rapidly dropping down the weight centiles on the handy growth chart provided for paranoid mothers everywhere, it’s not something we’ve been particularly worried about. She has been gaining weight, albeit slowly, and is bright and alert with plenty of nappies to attest to her taking in her milk.

But you can’t help but wonder… Am I feeding her frequently enough, or for long enough? C has a fairly obvious lip tie, could that be affecting her weight gain? Is there a tongue tie hiding away in there too? Is there something wrong that I haven’t picked up on? Or is it as simple as her prolonged cold (now mostly gone thankfully) impacting her feeding?

Even though my midwife hasn’t been worried, who’s to say whether the next healthcare professional we see might suddenly be concerned that we aren’t fitting the ‘normal’ pattern, and launch us into a world of deadlines for gaining weight, feeding schedules and top up feeds? I’ve sadly known women feeling almost bullied out of breastfeeding in this way, despite the ‘breast is best’ mantra being echoed from every rooftop.

But this isn’t the time or place for the Great Feeding Debate. C shows every sign of being happy and healthy, and maybe she’s just inherited her father’s metabolism, which I’m sure she’ll be grateful for when the self conscious teenage years inevitably hit us.

I guess my concern is all just a natural extension of what my other half calls ‘fretful mother syndrome’ – an apparently unavoidable side effect of becoming a mother, even with a second child. I say ‘mother’ without wanting to be sexist here – I’m yet to find a father who suffers with this, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere as well.

Anyhow, I digress. But with all this running through my mind, you can imagine how pleased I was that at the grand old age of 7 weeks, C has finally regained her birth weight, plus a teeny bit extra just for the hell of it. Go C!

Whilst comparing does nobody any good, she’s no longer a particularly ‘big’ baby – in fact she’s over a pound lighter than her sister was at this age. This at least means her 0-3 month clothes should last us a bit longer.

Whilst I’m happy she’s gained the weight, I was less happy to remember that this also marks the end of our journey with our fabulous midwife, Lisa, who officially signed us off yesterday. I’ll write some other time about my experience with her and One to One midwives, but suffice to say we will miss her, lots.

And given Lisa has been the main person talking me out of my fretful mother moments so far, I guess we should expect plenty more of them in the future.

Five Best Products For Newborn Babies

Having done this all before, I should probably know all there is to know about newborns, but the truth is I’d totally forgotten 90% of what was useful first time around.

So in an effort to be helpful to others, here’s my round up of the five most useful products for the early days of having baby at home.

Morrck All Season Baby Hoodie

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There’s nothing worse than trying to put on / take off layers of clothing on a squirmy newborn baby. And once they’re asleep the last thing you want is to be waking them up worried they’re too hot or too cold. Not to mention the fact that padded coats and snow suits are a big safety risk in car seats.

The Morrck hoodie slips onto your car seat or pushchair, with straps to safely use with a three or five point harness, and means you can quickly and easily adjust the number of layers over baby without disturbing them, or dropping blankets on the floor. It’s brilliant for nipping in and out of shops and shopping centres, and has enough layers to keep baby cosy even if it’s snowing outside.

Moby Wrap

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Newborns like to be with you as much as possible, and who can really blame them? They’ve spent 9 months growing inside you, sheltered from noise, temperature and hunger, then suddenly are thrust into a bright , noisy and downright terrifying world.

Before you feel as though you will never get a moment to do anything for yourself ever again, a sling can be a really worthwhile purchase, and the Moby Wrap is a popular choice both for ease of use and flexibility to use with different holds etc – I’ve only just started using it but already much prefer it to my previous ring sling, which never seemed particularly comfortable for baby.

It takes a little getting used to when tying it on, but there are plenty of YouTube videos to show you how,and once tied you can leave it on you until you’re ready to put baby in, even putting the wrap on yourself before getting in the car for example, or keeping it on all day and popping baby in and out as required.

Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream

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If you’re going to breastfeed, this is pretty much the only product worth buying!

With all the talk of how natural and easy breast feeding is, it can be a surprise how uncomfortable it can be at first, and Lansinoh is basically like a magic balm to help! The only annoying thing is how difficult it is to get out of the tube if it’s not been warmed up a bit first.

I should add that whilst it can be uncomfortable at first, breast feeding shouldn’t be painful, and pain is usually a sign of a poor latch. There’s lots of support out there either via your midwife or organisations such as the NCT and La Leche League, both of whom have helplines and breastfeeding supporters who will even come out to visit you in person, either at home or in hospital.

MAM Glow In The Dark Night Dummies

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Now I’m not saying that dummies per se are an essential baby purchase, but if you do decide to use a dummy with your baby, these are genius – once you get over the slight weirdness of offering your baby something green and luminescent, that is.

Why are they so useful? Well, after a few nights of minimum sleep, even the seemingly innocuous task of fishing a dummy out of a Moses basket becomes surprisingly onerous, so the soft glow of these soothers suddenly becomes incredibly useful!

RockItTots Big Brother / Sister Tshirt

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Not strictly for baby, but when you have an older sibling to think about, getting them on side early on is a no brainer!

With G currently obsessed with superheroes, we put in a special request for a RockItTots T-shirt saying “Sometimes being a sister is even better than being a superhero”, and gave it to her as a present from baby C when she first visited her in the hospital. RockItTots were more than happy to oblige and it was dispatched quickly, so was here in plenty of time for the (admittedly late) arrival of baby C.

So there you go – my five favourite products for baby, all of which are very much in use with C, who’s now ten whole days old!

All of these products were either bought with our own hard earned cash or given to us by friends, we haven’t been given anything for free or paid / otherwise encouraged to review them!