braindribbles

Posts Tagged ‘breastfeeding

Hello everyone!  How long has it been since I last posted? A year? Goodness knows.

Well, I am firing the brain dribbles back up again, and specifically on this night, because in exactly 6 months’ time I will be doing something really rather crazy. In my opinion, anyway.

Let me rewind three months and tell you the story from the start…

Back in July, I resolved to myself that I would do a parachute jump for NCT and raise some money to help us set up a much needed baby café (breastfeeding drop-in clinic) in Wycombe town centre. I had always wanted to give it ago, and had already put it off three years running. A bit too much alongside having a baby and moving house…

So I emailed head office to enquire.  They emailed back, saying, sorry, not doing it next year.  How about something else? Maybe the London Marathon? Applications available in a month’s time.

My eyes popped out of my head. If you don’t already know me, I’m overweight, technically obese, and haven’t run in 20-plus years. I haven’t done any regular exercise since having my children. It was out of the question. And how disappointing not to be able to do a parachute jump after all.  So I replied, saying, not for me, thanks, not for an award-winning couch potato.  I’d had something altogether less strenuous in mind. Jumping out of a plane is easy by comparison.

But then I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  It’s as if they had sowed a seed and it had taken root.  The more I thought about it, the more I realised that by doing something WAY out of my comfort zone, the more it might be worth sponsoring.  And, for me, it doesn’t get further from my comfort zone than running a marathon.

So, when the applications became available, I sent it in the same day. Amazingly, they accepted me as one of the 8 NCT runners nationwide.  And all the money I raise (£2014, so I’ll need all the help I can get!), can go towards setting up the breastfeeding drop-in that mums of new babies so badly need in the Wycombe area.

Now it’s real, and I am training.  I think it sunk in when I ran in the pouring rain yesterday and I had to take my specs off to see where I was going…. So please sponsor me if you can!

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koratmember / FreeDigitalPhotos.netAs you may have gathered from my last post, the end of nursing didn’t quite turn out that way.  I was relieved that after smallest one’s first birthday, I didn’t feel obligated to keep breastfeeding.  But then she clearly wanted to keep going.

I have always tried to follow UNICEF guidelines in that I aimed to nurse all three of my babies for at least the first year.  Oldest child got an extra couple of months since I was enjoying it, and it was only my pregnancy with middle one that I found it too painful to continue.  Middle child got a tiny bit less than her full year, since her sucking ability and my pain threshold were not entirely in tandem (inverted nipple issues) and there was a suitable moment to break.  She didn’t miss it.

Now we come to smallest one.  I had decided to call it a day once we were back from France, a few days after her first birthday.  But then when it came to it, I was strangely reluctant.  I didn’t miss the pain on the left side (same as with middle child), but it didn’t feel right to withdraw completely.

Not only that, but if I cuddled her she would start poking and prodding my shirt as if to say, what’s going on, Mummy?  Why no milk?

So then I felt like a bad Mummy.  I had been looking forward to some bras with (shock, horror) – underwire – in them.  I had wanted to find out if my incredible appetite would diminish a little once I stopped nursing.

I had a good long think about this over the few days that I was slowly withdrawing the milk.  And by this morning I came to the following conclusions:

  1. I will feed her, if she wants it, in the mornings.  (She tends not to ask for it any other time.)
  2. I will go and get fitted for an underwired bra anyway, but in a place that will understand about the breastfeeding thing, so we don’t get any issues with regard to ducts being blocked.  I will wear proper bras once more.
  3. I will not feel bad if circumstances prevent me from feeding her every morning.  This is a comfort/bonding thing now, rather than a health thing (though the health thing is still valid, of course).
  4. I will always feed on the right side first, so that the suck is not painful by the time she has the left side.  Hopefully since I am not feeding much, there will not be excessive lopsidedness.*
  5. I will feed her at other times if I want to and if she wants to.
  6. I am entitled to change my my mind whenever I want to.

Now, I am aware that in an ideal world I would continue to feed her for some time yet.  I suspect that if I didn’t have the pain on the left I would have done that anyway.  

But it reminds me of my philosophy about breastfeeding. Everyone feels so judged with almost every aspect of parenting – nobody needs that attitude.  I prefer to look at it this way – every day that you continue to nurse is a big benefit to your baby.  Stop if you want to (you don’t need a good reason).  But please, don’t stop if you don’t want to – get the support that’s out there.  Breastfed or not, if you are taking care of your own needs appropriately so that you are in a good state to love and cherish your baby, that is ultimately the most important thing for your baby.  

_______

* And if you notice it, be kind and don’t tell me.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.netMy phone has a special wake-you-up-gently alarm.  It sounds a bit like the relaxation music you can tune into on long-haul flights.  After five minutes of that, if you’re not already up, it will then give you a proper alarm.  I recently found out it could talk to me if I pressed the right buttons.  I quite like the idea of a phone saying, Good Morning, Sacha. *Six O’Clock*.  At a time when any intrusion on my sleep is unwelcome, it seems quite civilised.  I wasn’t unable to un-programme the alarm sound itself, but I did at least make it as unobtrusive as possible.  After all, I want loved one – who cherishes his sleep and does not need to get up at 6 a.m. – to still be talking to me by the evening.

I forgot that my phone’s speaker would be impaired if I put it under my pillow. (I often do this as it prevents my phone from being catapulted off the bedside table when I turn over in my sleep, earphones still attached both to it and my ear). As a result, the first thing I heard this morning was a gentle twinkling of bells with a muffled electronic voice saying, Goof-Mor-Nif-Fa-fa. Fif-O-Flof.

Actually, it was fine, though I’ll remember to stick my phone somewhere slightly more audible next time.  I dressed quickly and quietly out on the landing where I’d put my clothes the night before (I am planning on doing evening showers for the duration of my study extravanza, or else the children will wake) and crept into the study – now also smallest one’s bedroom – to get going with the work.

Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.netI reckon I got about thirty minutes of work in before smallest one woke and realised I was there.  I looked round from the desk to see a big grin bobbing up and down from behind the cot bars.  Of course, there was no way I was going to be able to work after that.

We cuddled.  I decided not to be quite so black-and-white about not nursing her any more and snuck back into bed with her so she could have a feed.  Which I actually quite enjoyed.  That’s a whole other blog post, though.  Since I was dressed already, the morning went quite smoothly and we were just about in time for school with no stress.

I think that if I can handle it, this is working well.  I had hoped for a full hour of study, but half an hour is pretty good if it’s uninterrupted, especially if it sets the day on the right course.

Now I feel I can blog happily (with input from smallest one, of course – she is particularly good at adding + and – signs, I have discovered) and without guilt. Next work session begins at nap time.   As long as I’m still awake, anyway. Where’s the caffeine?

Everyone knows that if you want to get to a healthy weight, you need to eat less and/or exercise more.  So today I’m just going to get back down to basics and reflect on what’s going on for me in these areas.

Intake

This has been excessive, possibly more so than usual.  I have a monstrous appetite.  Yes, I’m still breastfeeding, but only a couple of times a day now.  My appetite is disproportionately huge.  It’s partly because I’m stressed about moving house.  Nevertheless, after a month or two of not monitoring what I eat, I suspect I’m moving in the wrong direction.  In fact, the only thing I have improved on and kept up since beginning this at the start of the year is drinking less alcohol.

I need to make a small goal and stick to it again, stress or no stress.  For now, I’m going to focus on eating between meals.  Unless it is planned as a social event, the only snacking I plan to do is my new weekly ‘graze‘ box; slightly better than the biscuits or chocolate I might otherwise resort to.  And tasty too – have a look at some of the things in their box.

GrazeGraze
GrazeGraze

Till the stress lessens, I’m not going to try and curtail my eating at mealtimes as currently that feels like a sacrifice too far.

So. Snacking is out.  We’ll see how that goes.

Output

I’m still doing my Pilates classes, which are great for improving strength and stability, but they really are not helping me to lose my excess weight.   Clearly I need something a little  more cardiovascular.

The Pilates is working as I have to keep it up every week, having paid in advance.  I need something with a similar format, so I can’t duck out easily.  I love dance, so to me the obvious answer is  to find a local dance class.

Of course, it’s tricky when loved one is away so much.  But Mondays seem to be OK.  In the area, so far there is street/hip hop, Zumba, and Irish dancing on a Monday night.

Can’t quite see myself blending in to  a street/hip hop class, particularly when the instructor is a hip and happening young dude and I’m an overweight, unfit, untrendy thirty-something.  Irish dancing sounds like fun, but for now I’m going to contact the Zumba instructor and see if she has any space…

I have no idea what Zumba is about, though I gather it involves dancing in an aerobic manner.  Sounds great.  Gonna give it a try.  I mean, look at the picture from the website.

Zumba Fitness

So. Two small measures to gradually improve my intake and output.  I’ll let you know how I’m getting on in a few weeks time.

Biased? Me?

Posted on: 31/03/2011

Image courtesy of NHS Choices

I thought it was about time I posted something about the antenatal teacher training I’m doing. (I’ve inadvertently written rather a lot.  You have been warned!)  I’m trying to do an assignment which involves writing a teaching plan for a breastfeeding class, and to do this one of the best things you can do is go and watch a professional breastfeeding counsellor teach a class or two.

I’ve seen many, many breastfeeding classes now.  It’s a bit of a weird one, teaching about breastfeeding before the baby’s out.  A bit like trying to drive a car without actually getting in the car and having a go.  Especially since everything you learn during such a class will fade to the back of your memory while you’re going through the physical act of having your baby.  Only afterwards are you likely to think, OK, so what did so-and-so say during that class?

renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You're unlikely to see one of these in an NCT breastfeeding class

But the initial thought that springs to mind whenever I observe a class is the comments after a course is over, from people who either intend to bottle-feed, or for various reasons have given up breastfeeding very early, and feel judged by the mere existence of such a class.  It doesn’t seem to matter to them that bottle-feeders simply need to follow the instructions on the tin of baby food.  Or that to provide a bottle-feeding demonstration in a class contravenes the WHO guidelines.  They still feel judged.

But if you compare pushing a shopping trolley round a supermarket to driving a car, would you really need lessons to use the trolley?

At no point in any classes have I ever seen a lecture about why breast is best. Everyone knows already, and pushing the issue down someone’s throat is like having an evangelist spouting their opinions to an agnostic.  They could be right, but to have someone confront you in such a way would just make you dig your heels in more, as well as resenting the person who forced the issue.  Even if you are in a position where you know the good that breastfeeding can do, it’s nobody’s business but your own how you choose to feed your baby.

The WHO's publication: click to link to the document

The WHO's publication: click on the image if you want to read it for yourself

Interestingly, the WHO is fairly militant about breastfeeding.  There is a document online that lists acceptable medical reasons not to breastfeed.  This includes maternal HIV or herpes, or medication that would be too strong for the baby to cope with, or a drug user, and so on.   To be fair, they are taking the entire world into account, and I’d like to think that people wouldn’t dream of saying formula feeding is OK to use in hot, disease-ridden countries where every micron of immunity from the breast milk gives a baby a bit more chance of survival…unless there was such a medical reason.  Fair enough. (And if you want the broader politics, have a look at http://www.babymilkaction.org/)

So what the classes do cover is stuff that is handy to know whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, such as how tiny a newborn baby’s stomach is and why it might not be quite so surprising that they feed so often, and throw up so much milk if there’s only room for a teaspoon’s worth in there in the first day or two.  And then they go on to talk about positioning, and what partners should look out for if it hurts, and such like.

In my opinion, there are two main reasons behind those who choose not to breastfeed in the UK. Firstly, they don’t like the idea of it.  They haven’t been brought up with it, they feel embarrassed about it and the whole concept is all a bit icky.  Secondly, more likely than not, it hurts when you first get started.  Your breasts have to get used to it.  Positioning is seriously tricky, and breasts are very sensitive.  It takes six weeks to for breastfeeding to be fully established, after all.

koratmember / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Once upon a time, breastfeeding used to be controversial. Nowadays, especially in middle-class circles, the tide has turned.

People tend not to cite such reasons first time round.  To be honest, the problem is, they feel they have to give a reason. Even though it’s totally OK to give up for any reason.  It’s a personal choice.

But, how do you deal with this in a breastfeeding class?  People who already don’t want to breastfeed can’t help but feel judged.  Even though it’s none of anyone’s business but theirs how they feed their baby, and the class leader will have said so right from the start.  There is a real stigma where bottle-feeders can feel really alienated without anyone even saying anything to justify it.

The problem in the class is that those who do not want to breastfeed don’t feel able to voice their opinions in such an environment.  All the teacher can say is, it’s up to you. I will not judge you. It’s none of my business what you do with the information I give you.

Often, for the person who wants to bottle-feed, such a statement will not be believed. And unfortunately, teaching about such a sensitive and personal subject, we can only do so much about how people receive the information we give.  There are many aspects of antenatal classes that can have this effect.  There are frequent opportunities for people to misconstrue the way in which a subject is taught, and to feel that a class is biased, especially when it comes to NCT classes where preconceptions are rife, and people are sensitized to anything that could challenge their opinions.

This is an ongoing issue for pretty much all antenatal teachers.  It’s not going to go away.  If childbirth and parenting were so straightforward we wouldn’t have been motivated to teach them in the first place.  We can only do our best: give the facts, teach evidence-based classes, and help people to make the right decisions for them.

I just saw this cartoon on Pepper Design Blog, and I felt I had to share, since (a) breastfeeding is so rarely given the comic treatment , (b) the artists are men and yet (c) they got the positioning spot on!

I particularly like the sound effects…