The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Bronze Boobs

It seems like only yesterday that T took his first latch in the hospital, and here I am; celebrating my bronze boobs. I couldn’t be prouder.


The last 3 months have probably been the most challenging 3 months of my life, not to mention the most unattractive.

Breastfeeding is hard. There’s no doubt about it. On top of the usual stuff like cluster feeding and night feeds, you get sore nipples at the start and if you’re lucky they’ll remain just “sore” until they get better (or at least used to the leech that’s constantly attached to them – hard as nails nipples, anyone?) as apposed to cracked and/or bleeding. On top of this there’s the pain from when your milk comes in, waking up with engorged boobs, or when you get a lazy latch.

I’ve dealt with blocked ducts, had two cases of mastitis, and last week I dealt with my first bleb which had caused the last blocked duct. Your boobies really do go through the wars.

There have been a few occasions where I’ve just wanted to stop, but then I look at how much T is thriving and I continue. Onto the next feed.

Of course, when it comes to the soreness and cracking you can tape yourself back together somewhat, or continue to practise a decent latch, but nothing really prepares you for the way you also lose control of your boobies – which is something you can’t stop. There have been times when another baby has cried near me and all of a sudden I’m soaked. I’ve sprayed across rooms. I’ve even had times when one boob is significantly bigger than the other. It’s crazy what happens to you.

These “awards” are just a bit of fun, but to a lot of women they’re a little milestone on their breastfeeding road. Looking back, I can now see what I’ve been through and I’m proud to have earned my bronze boob award.


K

The Self-help Guide to Baby Brain

You get it when you’re pregnant and I can almost guarantee you it won’t ever go away. Baby brain.

  
For me, the most extreme case of it was when I was pregnant and I put the kettle in the fridge after making tea. More recently, I’ve walked half way to my mums to find I didn’t grab the changing bag. There was also this one time I tried to hand S the baby but there was no baby in my arms and was therefore cradling nothing – but I think that was linked more to sleep deprivation.

To help me (somewhat) combat baby/mum brain here are a few things I now do on a regular basis.

Lists. I cannot get enough of these. Paper, the blackboard in the kitchen, even the notes section on my phone – there are lists for lists. Shopping, housework, even where I have to go in a day are all written down.

Planning ahead. S knows it’s no good springing something on me that needs doing last minute. I won’t remember. So now we have to make sure either a) she asks me a week in advance, or b) she tells me that morning and then sends me a reminder text that day. I also make use of the family calendar/planner to write… Everything. .. Down.

Alarms. Like said lists, there are several alarms on my phone reminding me to do something, not to mention apps that note things down for me like; when T last fed, what his nappy looked like, what boob I used last. It’s all written down.

Talk about your day. It’s so easy, especially whilst on maternity leave, for days to blend into one. Talking about your day; no matter how dull it may have been, will help differentiate the days from each other.

Overdoing it. If you all know me well enough by now, you know that I rarely just chill out and sit down. I have to do something in my “spare” time. Now, however, I’m learning not to over do it otherwise I run the risk of forgetting something. I burnt the steamer the other day by letting it burn dry – all because I thought I’d be able to steam some veg and also “quickly” change T – but this then turned into a poonami and full clothing change. Awesome (!).

  

Baby brain is no laughing matter (it’s hilarious). If you know someone with baby brain, love and support them… They’ll get through it… Hopefully. If they don’t, get used to burnt dinners, late pick ups, and someone who thinks it’s still Tuesday when it’s Thursday.

K

Sleep

Sleep has been a big talking point in our house. Even before T arrived we were losing sleep. From the third trimester I was losing it thanks to just being pregnant and S was losing it because we had a beansprout on the way.

So when T arrived we were both pretty tired, but things didn’t start out as bad as we’d expected. T slept through the night on day two (which scared us more than anything as it was unexpected) and by the end of the week we were on blocks of feeds every 2-3 hours, sometimes 4. Perfect. I’ll take that. 


But then a tongue tie was found and cut, and from then on we had several sleepless nights, T often only sleeping for blocks of 40 minutes as soon as I put him down in his moses basket. We don’t think it was related to the tongue tie but it was a funny coincidence. He just didn’t want to lay flat anymore. We tried him in his travel cot (an hour max) and his carry cot (an hour) – nothing was getting us any sleep. On top of this, T then developed a cold.

T never had any issues sleeping on our chests, but we didn’t want to co-sleep at night, so it was 40 minute blocks for us.

One day, however, we read somewhere about putting a wedge underneath T’s Moses basket mattress to raise him into an angle slightly. I don’t know what prompted us to check but we always knew he was always happy propped up; whether it was against my pregnancy pillow or nursing pillow, or our normal pillows.


So we purchased a “wedge hog” to put under his mattress. Annoyingly, apart from firmness, it’s no different to the wedge I had during pregnancy for my knees!

Anyway, we tried it out and I can honestly say it’s the best thing since sweet red peppers stuffed with cream cheese. That night, T slept through from 8pm to 5am!!!! He then had a feed and went back to sleep until 7am. We couldn’t believe it, but as someone kindly reminded us…

“once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence, three times is a routine…” (@pollianicus)

So onto the next night… 8pm to 4am, feed, back to sleep until 7am. The next night…. 8pm to 4am, feed, wake at 7am. We’ve now had 2 weeks of this and can’t believe our luck. We fully expect it to come crashing down once something happens; like teething, but at the moment we’re very very happy.

Of course I still wake up every now and again to check on T, but that’s expected as I’m so used to waking every 2hrs, but I soon go back to sleep. Hopefully, that habit will drop and I’ll sleep right through one night!

K

We are in no way sleep experts, so if you’re having baby sleep issues please only take what we did/do as a suggestion, and not actual advice.

We purchased the wedge hog with our own money.  

Why I Breastfeed…

As part of national breastfeeding week; a campaign dedicated to raising awareness, increasing acceptance, and promoting support, the lovely Vivienne from Another Bun invited me to join in on her #whyibreastfeed campaign as part of the week long campaign by UNICEF.

Although I already actively write about my breastfeeding journey, I couldn’t not get involved. Breastfeeding is such a huge part of my life, and something I take very seriously. Here’s why I do it:-

Free food. I’d be surprised if this doesn’t go through your mind when you’re having a bad day, have you seen price of formula? It certainly drives me to continue.

It’s convenient. Although definately not easy at first, once you get the hang of it; whether at home or out – it’s easy just to whip your boob out to comfort or feed your baby.

No washing up. A more comical reason, and not necessarily something that drives me – but it’s true!

It’s full of the good stuff. Probably the most important reason. Antibodies, nutrients, fat. There’s a reason T is now 14Ib9oz at only 10 weeks old.

Bonding. It’s something you can’t replicate elsewhere. Whether it’s the way T grabs my thumb as he feeds, or the way he doesn’t stop looking at me – it’s our special time. Just us.

Because I want to.

Why do you breastfeed? Join in with the hashtag #whyibreastfeed.

K

Looking after the “Us”. 

Me and S have been just “us” for a long time. We’ve always had the freedom to accept invites to parties and stay out late. We wouldn’t have an issue going out for dinner or having a lay in at weekends.

On top of this we were often able to be quite romantic and spontaneous.

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So when T arrived, everything we once had went out the window. Of course we didn’t mind, it’s what we always wanted, but we had to make sure that it wasn’t lost forever and that we as a couple weren’t lost.

On top of this, it’s very easy, especially when you’re tired, to turn on each other and snap, and there have been occasions where S and I have done this. So to make sure we weren’t on a downward path, adaptations have already been made to make sure we’re still Sharon and Kate…

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Work as a team. We’ve always done this, but it’s more important now that T is around. During the night feeds, for example, I’ve recently agreed to S going to get T from his Moses basket and changing him whilst I slowly wake up and get myself ready. By the time S has finished and brought him back in, I’m awake and ready. S then goes back to sleep whilst I feed him. Other things include S doing dinners at weekends, and walking the dog before work. This team work makes everyone feel involved and it means we’re sharing the workload.

Avoid talking about T (all the time).  We love T dearly, but dinner times, especially now, are dedicated to non-baby stuff and more “us” stuff.

Going to bed early. We don’t want to wipe our evenings out, but going to bed early sometimes gives us a chance to just snuggle and chat. We still sometimes have evenings on the sofa catching up on shows we’ve missed, but going to bed instead some evenings mean we get time to ourselves without the distraction of technology.

Seeing the romance in things. It may just be being given an extra sausage at breakfast (ooo err), or saving your last rolo, but little romantic gestures like this make all the difference.

Over time, and once I have a regular expressing pattern, we hope to leave T with his nan and go on a proper “date” with each other. This may, at first, start off as just having an afternoon to ourselves at home or a cinema date, but we aim to one day have a whole evening (and night) to ourselves!

Don’t get me wrong, I already feel guilty about planning on handing T over or talking about how we want to be alone, but I really value the alone time with my wife as well. We’ve worked hard to make us what we are so I certainly don’t want to lose it.

K

The Breastfeeding Chronicles – Mastitis

Mastitis is where a build up of milk has occurred in your breast, often leaking into the breast tissue. Early stages of mastitis is not an infection, but your body reacts to it as if it is an infection. Later stages of mastitis can apparently turn into a real infection or worse, an abscess. Your milk ducts can get blocked and it can get quite painful.

Apparently, it’s quite a common occurrence when breastfeeding so when I saw a red patch on my left breast and that it started to feel warm and tender I knew what it was. On top of this, I also started to feel like I had flu.

The main causes of mastitis are a poor latch (Yep! Thanks to our recent tongue tie), problems sucking (Yep!), and/or infrequent feeds. Mastitis is also more likely to occur if you’re tired (You betcha) or stressed anyway. 

To deal with the issue, I started expressing after feeds so I could empty the duct. I also regularly applied a hot flannel to the affected area as well as regularly massaged it. T also helped by being placed into different feeding positions – apparently certain positions work on different ducts within the breast.

After a few days the redness and tenderness eventually went down, but I still went to the doctors to get myself checked out just to make sure everything was ok however everything was fine. 

Since having mastitis I still express (especially as T is now 6 weeks old) and I still regularly change the position I feed T in – it’s just good boob maintenence!

K