Breastfeeding is Beautiful – A Photo Series

My journey into Motherhood has been many things; rewarding, surprising, exhausting and beautiful but what most surprised me was just how isolating it can be.

I have slowly found some incredible women to surround myself with that give me strength on the tough days, and make me laugh when we are going through exactly the same thing (and both thought we were the only one tempted to open the wine before 6pm)! This support network has been and will continue to be invaluable to me as my beautiful girl grows and challenges me more.

I believe firmly that in order for women to succeed, we must support each other and share experiences. When it comes to breast feeding there is no better way to learn this skill – that can come easily or leave you in tears.

I decided to create this photo series for any Mum’s that are struggling, or just need to know – it is worth it. Hang in there. Whether you are expressing every 4 hours day & night, mix feeding or managing to breastfeed through cracked nipples & pain – know that you are incredible. You are super woman. And you are supported.

The following photographs are of some beautiful women & their babies that have  kindly & bravely shared their experiences in the hope that it might bring a smile to your face or help you in some small way on your journey.

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1- Nina-TEXT4-Hyacinth-TEXT5 - Charlotte Issac-TEXT11 - Caroline Price - TEXT13 - Lucy Jones - TEXT15 - Caroline Bond -TEXT17 - Katie Driscoll-TEXT19 - Stephanie Camm- TEXT20 - Kat Beatty-TEXT22 - Rhiann Connell-TEXT

This series was inspired after taking part in Medela’s ‘Big Breastfeeding Cafe’.

If you need support, or advice you can tweet their Education Manager and in-house Lactation Consultant, Sioned Hilton @Medela_UK or leave me a comment!

Please feel free to share in the comments your best piece of advice for any Mum’s that are in need of support.

For more information on my Photography work & to book me please click here.

All images are strictly copyright Poppy Carter Portraits. The images may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of Poppy Carter.

The Big Breastfeeding Cafe with Medela

Today was the big day! Hundreds of Mum’s across the country connected to talk all things breastfeeding & expressing thanks to Medela‘s Big Breastfeeding Cafe! I hosted a cafe at home & we had an amazing time!

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All set up, ready to go including some goodies from Medela to give out!

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Isla had to be the first to tuck into the strawberries of course… 😉

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Some of the top tips shared were: “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time… Breastfeeding takes time to establish & that can be different for every baby even if it was easy with your first!”

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“Be patient, and don’t feel silly to ask questions/advice from friends or Breastfeeding specialists!”

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Nosy girls checking out cutie Bella getting changed! Haha!

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As you can see, my littlest guests didn’t think much of the chat!

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A big thank you to Gurgle Magazine for sending over a few copies of your latest issue for the ladies to enjoy! 🙂

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Isla took to her usual position of watching everyone eat… Haha!

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As you can see Mums & Babies all had a fantastic time sharing experiences, tips and advice! We talked about everything from best nipple creams to the best/worst advice we were given & how that impacted our breastfeeding/expressing journeys!

And one final piece of wisdom for any Mum’s struggling on their journey…

“Keep going, know that you are amazing & doing the best you possibly can for your baby every day!”

Thanks so much to Medela & Bump PR for organising such a great event for Mum’s all over the UK – it was great to be a small part of it! 🙂

Medela – The Big Review!

I can’t express…see what I did there… just how much I love my Medela Freestyle Pump. When you get it out of the box it might feel overwhelming with how many pieces there are but it’s amazingly easy to use, clean and put together! It’s so fast, quiet and comfortable. I was expressing every 3 hours to keep my supply up and try to keep up with Isla’s needs and the Freestyle made that so much easier for me!

 

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It comes with a shoulder bag & cool bag with freezer pack so you can express on the go!

Medela Freestyle

The Freestyle breast pump is the world’s smallest high-performance electric breast pump. It’s ideal for daily and frequent use with a single or double pumping option. The pump itself is small enough to hold in your hand – has a timer on the front so you can see how long you’ve been pumping & you can adjust how strong you want it to pump easily too.

Medela uses 2-Phase Expression as standard. The 2-Phase Expression is the only research based breast pump technology to mimic a baby’s natural nursing rhythm. It combines both rapid stimulation and slower expression so pumping is gentle, comfortable, and efficient.

Medela How To

It’s so easy to clip together & take apart for cleaning – you’ll be doing it with your eyes closed in no time!

I was going to do my own pictures for this post, but these just amuse me so much for some reason… They demonstrate perfectly how the freestyle aspect of it works – but I’m sorry… I have never and will never look as glamorous as this woman while doing it.

You can buy the Freestyle Bustier separately & it’s great so you can crack on with something else – I even used it most days in the car to keep them in place safely & discreetly (only as a passenger!) .

Medela very kindly sent me their pump & save bags to try – which are so convenient! They pop straight onto the pump so you can pump your milk directly into the bags and put it straight into the freezer without having to risk losing one precious drop!

 

They also sent me the quick clean bags which we used loads when we went on holiday or were away from home. They’re perfect for cleaning bottles, teats, and much more. Each bag can be used up to 20 times, and will clean and disinfect in 3 minutes.

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Medela make a huge range of breast pumps to suit every need & they sent me the Harmony to try too. It’s a manual pump but still uses their 2-phase expression like the Freestyle. I found it worked just as well as the freestyle – but after a while I got tired of doing it and became less efficient. Also – having to pump one boob at a time wasn’t great for me. But if you are planning on breast feeding & expressing the other breast at the same time this would be perfect – as it’s silent and won’t disturb your little one. I used it mostly at night if Isla didn’t wake up for a feed just for some relief from engorgement.

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Both pumps express into the bottles that work with the amazing Calma teats that I have talked about before – but incase you missed it…

Calma is the only scientific based feeding device that helps to support the similar sucking behaviour of the baby at the breast. Calma is the unique teat for babies who are being breastfed with breastmilk, as it allows them to suck, swallow and breathe, as learned on the breast.

Calma requires a similar sucking behaviour to breastfeeding using the tongue to create a vacuum making it easier for babies to switch between breast and Calma. It’s the first and only teat to be introduced during breastfeeding to support the similar sucking behaviour of the baby at the breast.

Please note: Breastfeeding needs to be well established before introducing Calma. Calma is recommended for breastfed babies and not those who are currently bottle fed as they may find it difficult to feed.

A few other favourites that I’ve mentioned before are their disposable nursing pads. They are super soft & SUPER absorbent. They have two little sticky pads to stick directly onto the inside of your nursing bra & I never had a problem with them moving – even in the night! They are more expensive than some others on the market – but you get what you pay for & that really counts when the alternative leaves you with a drenched top mid-conversation with a stranger/postman/distant relative! I also loved the purlan 100 nipple cream – easy to use and does what it says it will! You can never use enough of this stuff! Plus the Hydrogel Pads were good for cooling relief  from cracked, sore nipples – they work amazingly well when put on top of the purelan 100!

 

I thought I’d include two of my favourite photos from my time expressing… This is Barney feeding Isla (in a hotel lobby!) the first time I managed to express enough to use the bigger bottle! A huge achievement!!

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And this is Isla first thing in the morning while I was using the Freestyle Pump – exactly what you need your hands free for – lots of cuddles!!

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So that’s it! I couldn’t love Medela more – from their incredible pumps to the amazing support they provide Mum’s on their journey – they are a wonderful company that I’m so thrilled to be working with!

Medela Mum Badge 2016

 

My Expressing Journey with Medela

In my last post for Medela I was right at the beginning of our Breastfeeding journey & if I’m honest, we were really struggling. I always thought of breastfeeding as the most natural thing in the world, so of course we would master it. I just didn’t think it could be so hard.

I was in hospital for the first few days after Isla was born & ended up being so overloaded with contrasting advice from all the midwives I just felt so frustrated and confused. Getting advice from a lactation specialist was exactly what we needed & I decided to ignore everyone else.

At first we were feeding really well & I thought it was plain sailing from there. I was so wrong… Aside from the bleeding nipples & toe curling pain, Isla started feeding for over 2 hours at a time & then still wanting more. I ended up dizzy, dehydrated and disheartened. Was I not producing enough milk? Am I ever going to be able to? Isla refused to stay latched on for more than a few seconds and only seemed to be satisfied after feeding from a bottle, so I started my expressing journey.

At first I tried the Avent single electric pump & would spend an hour attached to this deafening machine & only get a few sad ml’s of milk… I began to research pumps & found Medela! I started using the Freestyle Double Electric pump & within a few weeks I was able to get 200ml in just 15-30minutes. (Full review coming soon!) I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of myself than the first time I fed her a full feed just from my milk!!

When I told any health visitor or nurse I was mostly expressing and feeding her (with Medela’s Calma teats to avoid nipple confusion) but still trying to keep breastfeeding, they all congratulated me and sounded impressed, like expressing was some great challenge. At first I just thought they were mad… but as the weeks went by I started to understand.

Exclusively expressing is a huge undertaking. Every 3-4 hours, day and night. If you haven’t eaten enough that day maybe you don’t make enough for the next feed & there really isn’t a worse feeling. Psychologically it can’t be good to put that amount of pressure on yourself. The second I finished expressing I had to feed Isla from that bottle as I could never make enough to get ahead to keep a stock in the freezer. By the time we got to month 3 I was struggling to keep going and felt so unbelievably guilty for wanting to quit. There are so many resources & support networks for breastfeeding mum’s but I struggled to find anything for expressing mum’s & I didn’t know anyone in the same situation to talk to. I finally opened up to my other half & told him how unhappy it was making me. A combination of hormones, lack of sleep and pressure led to me hating expressing when it had once made me feel so proud and happy.

We decided it would be ok to start mix feeding her to take off some of the pressure – what a relief I felt. I finally met a health visitor who made me feel like what I was doing was ok! Any breast milk is better than none – so whatever I could get would have to be enough and should be celebrated, and if it’s not enough – topping up with formula really isn’t the crime some people make you think that it is.

If you are reading this and struggling like I was, just know, you are amazing. Expressing can be hard and that’s ok. Even if you manage it for 1 week, 1 day or 1 year that is incredible and as long as you & your baby are happy then that’s all that matters.

If you are planning on exclusively expressing make sure you buy or rent the best pump you possibly can – without Medela I know I wouldn’t have been able to continue expressing for so long. I will write a full review soon but I can’t sing their praises enough – the Freestyle Double Electric Pump is easy to use, comfortable, and so efficient! Everything you could want!

Drink as much water as you can, don’t skip meals and try to sleep whenever you get a second. Most importantly, speak to someone about how you feel.

If you are expressing or are thinking about it & have questions or just want someone to talk to, tweet me, email me (poppy@adventureswithisla.com) or leave me a comment!

MedelaMum - Adventures With Isla Baby & Lifestyle Blog

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!

 

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