My Breastfeeding Journey with Medela

One of the things that I had the most sleepless nights over before Isla was born was if I was going to be able to successfully breastfeed. At every appointment you go to it seems the midwife asks, ‘Are you going to breastfeed?’ and if you even slightly hesitate with your answer you get a 10 minute lecture on how ‘Breast is best’… And yes, I know that. And yes, I very much hope to be the perfect milk machine that you want me to be. But it isn’t so easy, all that pressure we put on ourselves really can’t help.

So I decided to take the pressure off and just tell myself that as long as my baby was fed – even if I have to express my milk all day & night, then I would succeed. I think the attitude you have about things can make all the difference in the world – and the support that you have, of course! So I’ve partnered with the wonderful Medela! For more than 50 years, Medela has developed from a small family owned company in Switzerland to a global producer of technologically advanced breastpumps and Medical Vacuum Technology, supporting Mum’s on their breast feeding journey.

MedelaMum - Adventures With Isla Baby & Lifestyle Blog

Getting advice can be wonderful – but the most important thing is to get it from an expert and ignore everyone else…Except me… don’t ignore me! 😉

Medela’s in-house lactation consultant, Sioned, has kindly offered some brilliant advice in response to my questions after my first few weeks breast feeding…

MedelaMum - Adventures With Isla Baby & Lifestyle Blog
1. The biggest problem we have when breastfeeding is that Isla won’t stop squirming and fidgeting – how can I calm her down when at the breast? If I try to hold her to the breast she gets angry & upset. Could my milk supply be coming out too fast for her?

When you first put baby on the breast there is minimal milk flow whilst she is stimulating your milk let-down reflex with lots of fast shallow sucks. When you trigger this the milk spurts and this can be occasionally overwhelming and baby will come off and fuss. This is perfectly normal, pop them back on and carry on. If it is affecting feeding try a different feeding position such as the laid back biological nursing position so that the nipple is positioned at the correct place in baby’s mouth and gravity helps her to manage the milk flow , a slightly elevated up right position can also assist here.

If baby keeps on slipping off look at a few different positions too and check latch.

As they mature through those early weeks to months they become more aware of their surroundings and want to engage with everything so that they fidget and turn and the least noise, stimulation, voice etc. Try a quietened room, minimise distractions and to keep focus you could wear a play bead necklace such as breastfeeding beads so that she has a focus, also try singing or reciting a story.

It is unlikely to help using swaddling as a containment method as it is important that baby is in a correct position to feed and need their hands to stimulate the breast.

Around 3-4 months their teeth buds are also moving under the gums so the gums may be a little tender.

There are other reasons why babies fidget whilst feeding – to trigger an additional let-down reflex as the milk flow slows as well as if they are under the weather and have congested noses they come off and mouth breathe.

2. Isla keeps falling asleep at the breast, but if I move her wakes up and cries, what should I do so I don’t end up feeding for hours at a time?

Falling asleep at the breast is what all mammals do. It is only humans that have evolved to think that this is wrong or habit forming. She feels safe and secure with you, is warm and is reassured with your smell and body sounds. She doesn’t get angry but scared, she is dependent on you and this is a primeval instinct to keep her safe and near you.

Some things to try is to wear an item of clothing such as a muslin square next to your skin and chest and when you place her in her crib place this with her, placing a bra pad with you milk essence is also useful as she can smell you near her. She may find that the crib is scary because there are no boundaries – one of the techniques used with premature infants supporting safe sleeping is to roll a small hand towel / tea towel up like a sausage and make a U place baby in the U with legs over the bottom edge bottom tucked in an the upper parts supporting the torso – baby feels secure and safe and cannot roll or be smothered. Your baby will resist moving but if you know she has fed well try placing her in her pram or bassinet and keep on the move by rocking or walking it will soon adapt. It’s not habit forming just nurturing.

3. I’ve found it very difficult to find any information for Mum’s that wish to exclusively pump their breastmilk & bottle feed it to their baby – Is there any reason I shouldn’t exclusively pump? Does it affect my milk supply?

It is your decision entirely how you choose to feed your baby. Getting all the information provides you with the ability of making an informed choice.

Breastfeeding is the easiest and best option but you can also breastmilk feed and both you and your baby benefit from the health, developmental and immunological factors that are the same as breastfeeding.

For some mothers they have no choice but to exclusively pump and this can be because of prematurity of the baby, baby cannot breastfeed because of feeding challenges such as sucking difficulties, cleft palate, medical difficulties and sometimes it can be because mum has inverted nipples, previous trauma that can be psychological / or abuse or nipple pain.

It is a balancing act as you have to mimic how your baby would feed and would be pump dependant as well as still feeding your baby and caring. This means that you would need to express exclusively day and night 8-12 with no longer than 4-5 hours between night sessions.

There is no reason why you cannot exclusively express if this is your decision – getting a good double pump and correct shield size is key for long term expressing with good milk drainage and frequent pumping sessions. Supporting this routine with lots of skin to skin time with your baby can support you and maximise your milk supply.

The plus side of breastfeeding is that physical contact that enhances the oxytocin surge, mental well-being but you can still get this through skin to skin cuddles, and the time spent feed, cuddle, reassure , put your feet up and feed whilst with expressing you can delegate the feed to others but you still need to commit to pumping, sterilising, storing and warming the milk.

A massive thank you to Medela & Sioned for their wonderful support & advice. My breastfeeding journey is off to a great start!

What have been the biggest challenges for you? And how did you over come them? Leave me a comment below or on my Facebook or tweet me @Poppy_Carter

Labour & Hospital Survival Guide

So it seems every where I go I end up being asked to share advice with other woman that are about to pop, and the recurring theme is, ‘I wish someone told me this…’. So I thought I should write it all down and just put it out there…

  1. Be patient.
    I know… It’s so hard and you just want to get this thing bundle of joy OUT of you. But the only thing you can do is rest, relax, take a bath, eat a shit ton of cookies… And repeat. Until your little one is ready, theres no point stressing yourself out, you are going to need all the energy you can muster soon so just try and wait it out.
  2. Don’t hold on too tightly to your birth plan.
    While it’s great to have a plan, anything can happen – the only thing that matters is that you & your little one are healthy, so if she/he arrives a little differently than planned, it really won’t matter when you get your first cuddle.
  3. Know your options.
    If this is your first baby you might be thinking that you know you want an all natural labour (So did I!), but things may change that are out of your control – so the best thing is just to read up on every pain relief option available to you, so that when you are asked you can make an informed decision!
  4. Clue in your birth partner!
    Make sure whoever is supporting you through the birth knows exactly what you want incase you can’t tell the doctor yourself for whatever reason.
  5. Bring a packed suitcase… just in case.
    Of course we all hope that we’ll have the baby & be safely out of the hospital & back home in just a few hours. But anything can happen so take with you three days worth of PJs, underwear & everything you might need (see below!).
  6. Leave a packed suitcase at home… just in case.
    And just incase your hospital stay gets a little longer, leave a packed suitcase with all your favourite things in it ready to go at home so your wonderful birth partner won’t have to run around the house frantically guessing what you might want.
  7. Put on your Tens machine and don’t take it off until it stops working…(And by that point hopefully you’ve got some stronger drugs!) Tens doesn’t work for everyone but it was amazing for me & I would highly recommend getting yourself one

How do I know what I will need, I hear you cry? Well, here’s my top birth & hospital must haves…

Hospital essentials -Adventures With Isla Baby and Lifestyle Blog

  1. Comfy PJs/Nightys… Lots of them – the softer, the better! Don’t even think about wearing ‘real’ clothes for a while. Some lovely soft bed socks, slippers or flip-flops are a great idea too. I had ultra squishy soft Nike pair that I wore for the last few weeks of pregnancy & in the hospital that were so comfy! Available here.
  2. Maternity Pads… So, you are going to bleed, a lot. For around 6 weeks. I know, you thought you’d just finished with all the gross stuff, but no! You are just entering a whole new chapter. Hooray!
  3. Face Wipes… And any of your toiletries that make you feel human again. Deodorant, Toothbrush, nice smelling creams and oils, just throw it all in the case, why not?!
  4. Breast Pads… So once your milk comes in you are going to start leaking milk at all times of the day. So breast pads are a must to avoid an embarrassing wet patch. I love Medela’s as they are ultra absorbent & have never leaked on me – I started with Tesco’s own brand but gave up on them pretty quickly! Don’t forget to put them in at night unless you want to wake up in a puddle…!
  5. Supportive pants… If you read my Week 1 Survival Guide, you will remember I noted how strange my body felt as it got used to life without a bump. The best way to stay comfortable is with really REALLY big soft pants to hold your stomach. I struggled to walk for a few days after but having support helped me so much.
  6. Tangle Teezer… One of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t put my bloody hair up. By the end of three days in labour it was knotted beyond belief and truly disgusting. (I couldn’t use my hands as I was shaking so much from the epidural going wrong.) So after what felt like the best shower of my life I covered my head in leave in conditioner and attacked it with my Tangle Teezer. Within minutes it was back to normal & with no pain at all!
  7. Evian spray mist… I had a serious temperature immediately after Isla was born (are you getting the joyous picture that was my birth experience! Ha!) and this was a god send! One spray and you feel so much better and refreshed, a must have for the birth bag!
  8. &9. One of the best pieces of advice we were given was to remember that it’s a hospital not a hotel – so take your own Towels & Pillows. If we hadn’t done that I would have had a small hand towel to dry myself after showering and only one rubbish pillow. I took 2 giant super soft towels (not white!) and 3 pillows – a bit of a pain in the arse to fit in when you are packing but so worth it!
    10. Pack a serious snack bag – even if you can’t enjoy it during labour you sure will need it for after! Fruit, flapjacks, crisps, croissants, chocolate… You just gave birth, you are officially super woman so eat whatever the hell you want! Barney brought me food into the hospital every day as the hospital food looked like a BushTucker Trial… I’d highly recommend you avoid it at all costs if you can! Don’t forget some nice flavoured drinks – I was obsessed with blue PowerAid for some reason!

And that’s it… Remember to breathe – deep, slow breaths and just focus on what you have to do. Your body is amazing & before you know if you’ll be out the other side & holding the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen in your life!

Leave me a comment & let me know what were the best things in your hospital bags!

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com