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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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