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Not How I Thought We Would Finish Our Journey

Once you breastfeed past a certain age – past infancy, past toddlerhood and into childhood, you start to see weaning finishing in a certain way.  I’ve always had fairly low expectations about the end of our breastfeeding journey, and lately my goal has been to get through one day at a time.  I had no intentions of telling my 5 year old he isn’t allowed to breastfeed anymore – we’ve come this far for me to make a decision like that based on my own feelings.  I thought that one day he would either tell me he didn’t want it anymore, or that he would simply choose not to have it.  But last week he got sick.

He had an illness that involved sores in his mouth.  He wasn’t SICK sick, he didn’t have a fever, he wasn’t lethargic, he didn’t cough and he wasn’t snotty.  He still wanted to run around and play as usual – he was upset that he had to stay at home and didn’t really understand the risk of people catching his illness when he didn’t really feel sick.

He could barely eat anything because it hurt to swallow, and he couldn’t chew, because his tongue and the roof of his mouth had sores too.  He doesn’t take medicine and I don’t encourage it anyway, but we talked about it and he preferred to deal with the pain.  I did manage to get him to gargle salt water a few times.

And on the Tuesday when we first noticed he had a sore mouth, he couldn’t breastfeed.  He couldn’t even latch without pain, and there was no way he could get to suckling.  He said he couldn’t make his teeth move right without it hurting, and I knew the vacuum would have caused him pain.  The night we realised this, he was quite matter of fact when he told me he couldn’t have milks, so he was just going to cuddle me instead.  No tears, no great upset.  The next morning he awoke for his morning breastfeed (he normally breastfeeds twice a day) but again, couldn’t.  So he hopped out of bed to find his favourite Transformer toys instead.

The next night he didn’t ask or try.  He wasn’t upset.  I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him about it because I was worried bringing it up would upset him.  Another morning and another night passed with no breastfeeding.

On Friday night, he cautiously asked for some Easy Mac.  I felt like I held my breath when he sat down to it.  He devoured it.  I realise Easy Mac is a terrible choice, and it barely qualifies as food, but when your child hasn’t eaten in 3-4 days, anything will do.  We went to bed that night and I wondered what would happen, but again he didn’t ask, and I didn’t bring it up.

And that was that.  I was really surprised and taken aback, because I never expected sickness to be the end of our breastfeeding journey.  I felt sad, not that it was over but that it was over in a way that felt really unfair.  I felt like my son had been robbed of the luxury of being able to make a decision about no longer breastfeeding.  But as he wasn’t talking about it and wasn’t asking for it, I didn’t bring it up and I resolved that if this was it, then I would let it be.

The next morning, Saturday, we could see no trace of sores in his mouth.  Thank goodness, because he had to play soccer at 9am, and his cousin’s birthday party later that day.  We had an extremely busy day that day, and although he hadn’t shown any obvious signs of illness, Saturday was too much for him.  We had a very cranky and upset child at 8pm that night.  He was resisting bedtime with all he had, and my resolutions went out of the window.  I quietly said to him that his mouth wasn’t sore anymore, and he could have some milks if he wanted to.  And then he was happy, settled and peaceful.

Until this illness, he’d never gone more than a day without a breastfeed.  I am proud of the fact that he coped so well with his illness, and I know that when the time comes, he will handle it well.  But that time is not now.

 

 

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Member Story – The Boob Job Risk That People Forget About

Elective breast surgery is risky.  Actually, any surgery is risky.  But weighing up the risks versus benefits for an elective surgery is not as straightforward as when the surgery is essential for your survival.  Many women, particularly those who are planning to start or grow their family after the surgery, feel that they negate the risk of  breast surgery by seeking reassurance they will be able to breastfeed when their children are born – by having implants inserted under muscle, with the incision made at the crease of the base of each breast.

As elective breast surgery, including elective breast surgery performed overseas, becomes more common, many seem to have become completely accepting or even dismissive of the other risks involved.  It would appear that many women consider the risk of infection so low that it’s barely worth considering.  Courtney O’Keefe never thought her breast surgery could result in an infection that could prematurely end her breastfeeding journey, let alone her life.

Early in 2011 I lost 35kg after a lap band surgery.  The weight loss affected my breasts, so I decided to get implants and a lift.  The lowest quote I got in Perth was $22,500, but I could get it done for $7,500 in Thailand at Pattaya Hospital, Bangkok.

The plan was to get 350cc implants and I was expecting a small anchor scar (as I was having old breast tissue removed as a part of the lift).  Instead, I woke up with cuts straight across my breasts, plus the incisions under my armpits where the surgeon had inserted 550cc implants, not 350cc as we had agreed.  I felt like I’d been completely butchered.

But the biggest shock was yet to come.  I had been feeling unwell since the surgery, but 2 days later I felt extremely sick and I started hallucinating.  When the surgeon removed my bandages to remove my stitches, my wounds immediately split open.  Please click on this link if you would like to see Courtney’s infected wounds.

I came back to Australia and was admitted straight into a local hospital, fighting for my life.  Whatever was wrong with me was shutting down my liver, kidneys, brain and heart.  The hospital immediately began treating me for golden staph and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), until swab results came back and we learned I had contracted some kind of super bug from Thailand.  The infection resisted treatment and my whole body went into some kind of meltdown.  I had repeated seizures and losses of consciousness.

I spent 4 months in the care of Infections Disease Control, then I was transferred to another hospital to be cared for by Plastics, to treat some of the damage inflicted on my body.  I thought I had recovered but the infection came back in November 2015.  I was rushed back into hospital.  My implants were removed this time, and I was given a partial mastectomy after the implants infected some surrounding tissue and muscle.

Again I recovered and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl early in 2017.  Miraculously I was able to breastfeed her, and I was so happy!

Sadly the infection struck me again when she was only 5 months old and I had to give up breastfeeding while I was being treated.  I was, and am completely devastated.

As Courtney’s treatment made it unsafe for her to breastfeed, or even use the undrinkable breastmilk in a bath, she was forced to pump and dump a huge amount.

Thanks so much Courtney, for bravely sharing your story with us.  It’s unfair that her breastfeeding journey ended prematurely, but I hope she takes comfort in the knowledge that every breastfeed that she was able to give her baby was a win and the benefits her daughter will reap from those feeds will last a lifetime.

If your breastfeeding journey has ended prematurely, the Australian Breastfeeding Association offer debriefing by their trained breastfeeding counsellors.  You can access this free service by calling the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 Mum

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Member Story – Breastfeeding With A Bilateral Cleft Lip, Gum and Palate

This is Jacinta, she was born with a bilateral cleft lip, gum and palate.  Jacinta’s mum Sandy was told it would be impossible to breastfeed.  Sandy expected Jacinta to be taken straight to special care after her birth, but instead she was left with her mum.  After hearing her baby cry and cry, Sandy did exactly what she had done with her four previous babies – she put Jacinta to her breast.  And what do you know?  Jacinta breastfed!  Although Sandy needed to express-feed Jacinta, she put her to the breast every time she expressed for the next 13 weeks of her life.  Please see below a video of Jacinta’s very first breastfeed.

Jacinta is now 9 months old, and is due to have lip repair surgery this week.  Although Jacinta is no longer breastfed, every breastfeed that she had matters.  Every breastfeed ANY baby receives is important, but especially for a cleft-affected baby, who may require surgery down the track.  Surgery means exposure to extra nasty nasties, and the immunological boost received from breastfeeds, particularly her first breastfeeds, will help protect Jacinta.  Even if exclusive breastfeeding is not an option, and even if breastfeeding isn’t going to work out longterm, every breastfeed that any baby receives is an investment into their future health.

Jacinta was born with a bilateral cleft lip, gum and palate

If you would like more information about breastfeeding a cleft baby, Sandy recommends Cleft Connect Australia and Cleftpals (there are several state chapters, this link is for the NSW one).  The Australian Breastfeeding Association can also provide information and support.

The team at Breastfeeders in Australia wish Jacinta the very best with her surgery.  Thanks so much to Sandy Scholz for sharing your story with us.

Jacinta is now 9 months old and is about to have her first lip surgery repair

Please leave a positive and encouraging message for Jacinta and Sandy below, as they tackle lip repair surgery.

 

 

 

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Why I Love Breastfeeding Covers + Where To Get One

I love breastfeeding covers!

Some people will be surprised to hear this, because I am a vocal supporter of breastfeeding uncovered.  But first and foremost, I am a supporter of breastfeeding.  Full stop.  End of story.  If you want to breastfeed with a cover, I support you.  If you want to breastfeed without a cover, I support you.  Championing the right to breastfeed without a cover doesn’t mean I can’t also support the right to breastfeed under a cover at the same time.

I support your right to breastfeed in whichever way works for you and your child.  I would not appreciate feeling forced to breastfeed with a cover when I don’t want to, and it’s a two-way street.  If breastfeeding uncovered makes you feel too uncomfortable then don’t do it.  You don’t have to.  Breastfeeding looks different for everyone, and for some, it involves a cover.

Let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees – what matters is that we can breastfeed comfortably and happily.  If a breastfeeding cover makes breastfeeding more achievable for you, then that rocks.

I know it can be hard to find recommendations of where to buy breastfeeding covers, so I have compiled a list of five business-mums selling them.  If you’re going to use a breastfeeding cover, you may as well use one that you love!

**This is a sponsored post**

Mama Clothing

If you worry about owning an item that will barely be used, consider buying one that’s multi-purpose!  Mama Clothing sell a breastfeeding cover that’s designed to also be used as a trolley cover and capsule cover – that’s three items in one!  While you’re on their website, you should check out their range of clothing too – I adore my Mama Clothing dresses!  Shop with Mama Clothing here.

Owner Laura told me “Mama Clothing is a brand born from necessity and the collective mindset of the inspiring women that make our village. Founded in February 2016, each Mama Clothing garment is designed with the modern mum and her needs at heart. Based in Melbourne, Mama Clothing has become a household name for breastfeeding mothers all around the country. Since its commencement in 2016, Mama Clothing has branched out into becoming so much more then a fashion brand with the creation of its iconic support forum the “Mama Collective” and strong ties to support groups such as Breastfeeders in Australia. With its constantly evolving support network Mama Clothing is not just a breastfeeding label, Mama Clothing is a lifestyle.”

Foxy Mummy

Foxy Mummy sell a versatile cardigan that’s doesn’t even look like a breastfeeding cover!  It could easily make it’s way into your everyday wardrobe!  Shop with Foxy Mummy here.  Business owner Tegan tells us about her product:

“Chic yet discrete breast-feeding cardigan. An innovative design that allows for a versatile, ready to wear fashionable breast-feeding cover. Our ‘Foxy Mummy’ Cardigan is made with 95% soft and comfortable Viscose for a luxurious finish, plus a touch of spandex for durability and easy wash care. Foxy Mummy cardigans are designed to be worn through pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond. Available in both a sleeved and sleeveless design, in fashionable Black and Nude sized Small to Extra Large”

Mini LUX

Mini LUX offer a handmade multi-purpose item that could quickly become something that simply goes everywhere with you, to be used every day.  Shop with Mini LUX here.  Robyn tells us about her product told me about her product.

“A Mini LUX baby cover is a 4 in 1 product that can be used as a breastfeeding cover, an infinity scarf, a capsule cover and a trolley cover. All covers are handmade by me on the Gold Coast, using soft breathable fabric.

After struggling to breastfeed comfortably in public with my first baby, I went searching for a breastfeeding cover and I couldn’t find one that suited my needs. I decided to make one myself and after getting asked to make some for my mummy friends, I decided to make it into a business. I love hearing stories from mums saying they are so much more comfortable breastfeeding in public using a Mini LUX baby cover! It is also great to know my product is a nappy bag essential for so many mums and a unique baby shower gift!”

Karra’s Kreations for Kidz

I loved hearing Karra’s story about how she came to be making her breastfeeding covers.  Her covers are a more classic design, made in beautiful prints.  Shop with Karra’s Kreations for Kidz here.

“I started sewing about two years ago. I taught myself by watching Youtube videos. My passion started when I needed soft minky blankets for my daughter – small enough for her to carry around, plus several spares.  I couldn’t find any so I made some myself. I posted some pictures of my creations on Facebook.  Word quickly spread through friends and Facebook. I am a single mum of two wonderful children running a little business to help with bills. I sew because I love to do it. Two years on I’m making all sorts of wonderful things – weighted blankets, pram liners, quilts, and I’ve now started making dresses. I hope to grow my business further so I can be working full time sewing when both my children are at school.”

Bubz Bundles

Samantha also makes a classic design of breastfeeding covers, together with variety of other items which she makes to sell at markets and online.  Shop with Bubz Bundles here.

“I always had a passion for sewing when I was in school. I asked for my first sewing machine when I was 16. I wasn’t great at first but I practiced a lot and I became good. My business came to me when I was on maternity leave with my son 4 years ago. As the years went on I started make new and different baby items. I made a nursing cover for a friend and she got asked by a few people where she got it and I then started adding it to my business. I’m now a single mum to two beautiful children, I also have a full time job working 38 hours a week and have my sewing business.  I sell at markets, or one-off pieces.  I can make things like nursing covers, burp cloths, bibs, nappy wallets and especially love making matching sets!”

Would you like to win a breastfeeding cover from Mama Clothing?  Please comment below with a “Yes please!” – a winner will be selected randomly on Friday 2 June at 8pm EST.

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5 Points About Breastfeeding With A Hypothyroid

Do you have a hypothyroid and worry that you won’t be able to breastfeed?

I am a mum with a hypothyroid and have been breastfeeding with no supply issues for over 5 years now, and have tandem fed, and donated many many litres of breastmilk to other families since beginning my breastfeeding journey. I am not a medical professional with specialist training in the endocrine system, thyroids or lactation. This post is about myself and my own experiences and is not meant to replace qualified advice.

But I have had a very successful breastfeeding journey, despite living with a hypothyroid. I am feel good and have plenty of energy in my day to day life which is more than what many hypothyroid sufferers can say, let alone hypothyroid breastfeeders.  I’m not not drastically overweigh either (I have a BMI of 26, which is just outside of the upper end of a normal, healthy weight, and considering I am a breastfeeding mum, I think I can be afforded a little leeway here).  I want to share what I have learned and what I believe in the hopes that it will help other mums breastfeed confidently with a hypothyroid.

When I first started having thyroid issues, my GP explained, in the most basic of terms, that my thyroid is a gland that controls my metabolism – my body’s ability to produce energy. If your thyroid is underactive, then then you will suffer symptoms associated with a slow metabolism, like:
– weight gain, and difficulty losing weight
– fatigue and weakness
– muscle pain and cramps (I get these in my thighs and calves a lot)
– hair loss
– depression, irritability, anxiety and decreased libido
– inability to tolerate cold

Although it’s known that a hypothyroid can hamper successful milk production, there’s little information about how or why this is. In my own mind though, it feels quite logical. If my body is working overtime to produce enough energy to keep me alive, it stands to reason that there’s probably not going to be enough energy left to wholly sustain another life through breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding your baby on demand, avoiding any tactics or techniques to reduce or delay breastfeeds, and avoiding supplementation where possible should go without saying for any breastfeeding mum, so they don’t make my list.  My points below don’t include basic breastfeeding information – they are more about how to best look after your thyroid to give yourself the best chance at a successful breastfeeding journey.

1 – See the right doctor

I believe a big factor for my success is the way my hypothyroid is managed.  I have an excellent GP, and I trust his judgement completely.  However he acknowledges that thyroid issues are a specialist area, so he referred me to a brilliant endocrinologist too.  Whenever I think something is up, I see my GP as my first port of call, however he consults with my endocrinologist and keeps him up to date.  There have been times when my GP told me my blood levels were good, only to call me back in a few days later because my endocrinologist checked my notes and wants me to increase my medication.  As much as I value and respect my GP, if I didn’t also see an endocrinologist, I think my situation would be very different.

2 – Don’t ignore symptoms

It’s not normal to be drained and exhausted.  Yes, becoming a mum is tiring, and it’s inevitable that you won’t always get enough sleep.  But if you are so tired that you always wake up feeling worse than you did when you went to sleep, or that you struggle to get out of bed even to meet your baby’s needs, that’s a good reason to check in with your doctor.  Same goes with your mental health.  Becoming a mum is a big deal, and it’s normal to experience some unexpected feelings.  It’s even normal to feel overwhelmed and out of your depth.  But it’s important to be able to recognise when you have passed a normal emotional rollercoaster and are dealing with something more.  There are some really good online checklists (like this one) that can help you ascertain whether it might be time to seek extra help.

3 – Review your blood levels and medication regularly

After the birth of my son, I had a follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist.  My GP had said that my thyroid hormone levels were in the normal range, but I was still feeling quite fatigued.  My endocrinologist agreed that the hypothyroid symptoms warranted a medication increase.  He said the “normal” range is right for most people, but there will always be exceptions.  Every person in this whole world is unique and sometimes, for whatever reason, we don’t fall into the “normal” range.  I am very grateful that I have a specialist that looks at my situation as a whole, and not just the numbers on my blood test result.

4 – Take your medication properly

Did you know that, besides taking the right amount of medication each day, you should also:

  • Take tablets at least 4 hours after eating last
  • Take tablets at least half an hour before eating again
  • Not take tablets with other medication

Failing to take any medication correctly can cause you trouble, but failing to take your thyroid medication properly can make you feel seriously crappy, which is the last thing you need when you’re trying to parent as well.  I am not a routine person at all, but getting serious with my medication is easy – I have a pillbox so I can swallow my tablets without thinking about it as soon as I wake up.  I go to the bathroom, change my daughter’s nappy and whatever else before I eat my breakfast.  When I’ve had to take antibiotics or other medication, I took them at other times.  When I was on the contraceptive pill, I took it at night.

5 – If you need to supplement

I have never had to supplement, but I have seen many mums fall down the slippery slope that one or two bottles a day can lead to.  If breastfeeding is important to you, but your baby isn’t having appropriate nappy output, if there are weight issues or any other indicators that they are not getting enough breastmilk, please see an IBCLC.  If your hypothyroid stops you from producing all of the breastmilk your baby needs, there’s still every chance you can keep breastfeeding with some supplementation.  Seeing an IBCLC can help you find the right balance between offering supplementation (including how much, when and how) while working towards preserving your breastfeeding relationship.

This information is my opinion, and should not replace the qualified support of a medical professional, like your GP, endocrinologist and/or IBCLC.  You can also get some support from the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM

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Member Story – Unsure About Breastfeeding

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea of breastfeeding.  Pressure from friends and family can make the thought of breastfeeding quite daunting.  But once their baby is born and breastfeeding begins, many mums find that breastfeeding is not at all what they expected.  This is Courtney Pollock’s story and a photo of her baby, originally shared in Breastfeeders in Australia and shared with her permission.

“No one is more surprised than me at our journey.

Falling pregnant was a surprise, but hey, I’m 27 and was more than ready to be a mum even if that meant going solo. The most common question I was asked whilst pregnant shocked me, “do you plan to breastfeed?” I was asked on a daily basis multiple times (I’m a hairdresser and my clients would ask constantly). I thought many things, like why do they want to know? How is it any of their business? So what if I don’t? Why are we discussing this? It’s not a particularly offensive question but as a first time mum I was slightly taken back by the fact people wanted to discuss my boobs and what I was planning to do with them.

My answer to this repeatedly asked question was always the same “I plan to give it a go, but I won’t be heartbroken if it doesn’t work out that way”. Before my son was born I didn’t know my feelings on breastfeeding and whether or not I would feel comfortable doing it myself.  I watched my sisters breastfeed all eight of their children and it was never not completely natural – always welcomed and accepted but all of a sudden I was in the spotlight. I’d have to have my boobs out in front of my dad! My brothers! My friends’ husbands who didn’t have kids yet….could I really sit there comfortably and do that? Before he was born the answer was hell no!

My mother is an avid supporter of breastfeeding and breastfed me until I was just over a year old but still I felt something was off about it.  Just within myself I didn’t think I could ever fully be comfortable doing that. I kept telling myself ‘Mum’s never going to let you formula feed in peace, your going to HAVE to do this, even if you are uncomfortable, for at least six months to keep her happy and off your back.” When my mum has an opinion….she makes sure you know it! I look back on this time now and the thoughts that used to whiz around my head and think Jesus Courtney, how selfish were you! But that’s the way it was when it was just me!

When my little munchkin was born I pretty much demanded I feed completely alone for about the first week. There was an incident with a midwife at the hospital on our second day that left me inconsolable, in tears, feeling vulnerable and emotional. After that I demanded no one watch me feed. But with my mum’s encouragement (we lived with her for our first 12 weeks) and the exposure to groups like Breastfeeders in Australia on Facebook, I’m happy and extremely proud to say that breastfeeding has created my healthy, strong and thriving little boy. I’m still not completely comfortable feeding in public but my first thought these days isn’t how do I feel, it’s that my bubba needs to be fed and I’m the only one that can do that!”

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Polite Ignorance Is Bliss

This morning after the preschool drop-off, Miss 2 wanted milk more than usual, and it couldn’t wait til we got back home or to the car.  So we sat down on a random person’s brick fence next to the footpath leading to the school.  Some parents left the school gate and were having a loud, cheerful and animated chat, but they stopped talking as they approached me, walked past in silence with averted eyes and resumed their conversation when they were away from us.  If it were me walking past, I would have given my fellow breastfeeding mama a smile, wave, hi-five or a “Thank You For Breastfeeding” card.

I don’t know why these particular people stopped talking.  Hopefully they were mindful of Miss 2 and I having a quiet moment and didn’t want to disturb or distract us with their loud chatter.  Maybe they were worried I would think they were talking about me, so they just stopped talking all together.  Or maybe they were so gobsmacked at the sight of a breastfeeding toddler that they temporarily lost all ability to speak.

I could stew over these particular people’s thoughts were.  I could become consumed with the idea that breastfeeding should be normal, and feel outraged that they changed their behaviour (even if it was for my perceived benefit) just because I was breastfeeding.  I could be angry that they didn’t smile and nod at me, like they probably would have done if I was just sitting down and not breastfeeding.  But they politely ignored me and continued going about their business.

98% of people treat me with polite ignorance, and that’s OK with me.  I love celebrating breastfeeding and think it’s amazing, but I don’t expect everyone else to ride the breastfeeding train with me.  Not everyone get excited about breastfeeding, but around 1% of people I encounter do.  These are my yet-to-be-met tribe of people who also champion breastfeeding in their own way.  They will go out of their way to actively encourage me, and the sight of my toddler and I would have made their day.  The last 1% of people are overtly rude, which is very unfortunate for them, because imagine going through life being such an asshole that you can’t even mind your own business when a woman is feeding her child?

If the people who I saw today actually disapprove of breastfeeding, they kept it to themselves.  They didn’t demand that I change my behaviour to fit in with their private expectations, they just moved along.  I can live with people feeling uncomfortable with public breastfeeding, as long as there is some understanding that it’s their problem to deal with, and it’s not my responsibility to pander to them.  Someone can disapprove of breastfeeding but still fall into that 98% of people who politely ignore it.

Stories in the media and across social media make it feel like it’s actually more than 1% of people who harass and intimidate breastfeeders, but that’s just because polite ignorance isn’t usually newsworthy.   It might seem very un-lactivist-like of me to be be celebrating polite ignorance, but if it allows us to breastfeed in peace, then that polite ignorance is bliss.

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Croup Sucks

We had a really crappy night. My daughter is recovering from croup, so I’ve had a few bad nights in a row. Now my son has it, and he gets it substantially worse than his sister. I spent over an hour sitting on the lounge last night with Mr Almost-5 sitting on my lap trying to keep him calm.

Keeping calm is a big deal when he gets croup. He wakes and feels like he has something on his throat, so he tries to cough it up. Except when he coughs or sobs, his throat makes a honking noise. When he realises he’s making this weird noise, and that his voice sounds different, it frightens him. The sound of the honking is so distracting it can make him hyperventilate, and then he thinks he can’t breathe.  And then he panics that he’s never going to breathe or sound normal again.  The more frightened he gets, the more his throat feels funny, the more he coughs, and then the more he sobs and the more he honks. It’s easy for the cycle to feel overwhelming.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective) his previous bouts of croup, combined with the fact that he’s generally a little on the anxious side, mean that I have a tried and trusted way to placate him.  We count.  I tell him he will feel better if he can think about something else and slow down a little, and ask him if he’d like to count with me.  Aside from the fact that it helps regulate his breathing, listening to my quiet voice is soothing to him.  And he actually enjoys counting too.

After some stops and starts, I hit 227 before I noticed he wasn’t counting anymore, and had dozed off back to sleep.  I planned to wait on the lounge just a little big longer to make sure he really was asleep, but then Miss 2 stumbled out to the lounge room, wondering why I wasn’t in bed next to her.  After struggling back to bed with the both of them, I moved the wrong way and put my neck out.  This is something that can happen to me whenever I get sleep deprived and breastfeed in bed more often than usual.  It’s a physical manifestation of my stress and usually comes at a time when I feel least able to deal with it.

So then I was in bed with one kid wanting to breastfeed, one kid wanting to breathe, both of them wanting to lie on my arms and a sore neck.  Neither fully awake, just awake enough to protest if I tried to get myself into a comfortable position.  And that’s how we spent the next few hours.  Once the sun was up, Mr Almost-5 was insisting it was time for his morning.  His insisting and my pleading that he wait until I’m done sleeping woke up Miss 2, so there went that idea.  After satisfying them both, I lie in bed for a while, under the doona, hoping they’d forget I was even there, so they would harass Daddy for breakfast for a change.  Not a chance.

As I sit here nursing my sore neck with a hot coffee, I’m not exactly loving life.  The only thought that gives me any comfort at all is that at least I’m breastfeeding them.  However sick they are or have been, I am confident that without the immunological properties of my breastmilk, they would be worse.  And on a day where I’m exhausted and sore, with no reprieve in sight just yet, I need to hold tight to that thought.

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Sia’s Story – Breastfeeding A Baby In ICU

This post is an excerpt from Sia’s Place, and is being reposted here with permission.  Sia is a passionate Thermomix Consultant, a professional blogger and a mum of two.  You can read Sia’s original post here.

I’ve been feeding my toddler for a total of 20 months now. So you could say that I have some experience with breastfeeding.

However when I gave birth to Nia breastfeeding was the most challenging and most stressful experience I have ever had.

Nia was a premi baby. Straight after my emergency caesarean she was taken down to ICU because she could not breathe on her own. I didn’t get to cuddle her or breastfeed her for days. With my first baby, they placed him directly on my chest for skin on skin contact time he found his was down to my boobs and had his first feed/suck seconds after birth. These moments are so important for mother and child bonding and to establish good breastfeeding with your baby. It is a magical experience.

NICU Equipment For Newborns

For Nia, breathing was more important than any type of bonding experience. Instead of the warmth from my chest and skin on skin contact, my little girl was warmed in a special heating bed. She had an IV needle in her arm feeding her glucose and I wasn’t allowed to touch her.

That was hard.

Once she could breathe, the next stage of her recovery was to establish feeding. She needed my milk – it was extremely important for her survival and recovery. I had to express colostrum into small syringes and it was fed to her through a feeding tube.

There was extreme amounts of pressure to produce Nia’s milk.

At first I though I’d be fine. I’ve been feeding my toddler for ages… I considered myself a pretty good breastfeeder so surely it would easy to express a few small syringes.

I was wrong.

This was the hardest thing Ive ever had to do.

My body reset itself.

Apparently after the placenta is detached, your body starts to produce the milk required for the newborn.

So my body automatically changed from making fast flowing milk for my toddler to making small amounts of colostrum for my baby. It’s so amazing!

Breastfeeding A Baby In ICU

The difference was, this time I needed to build my supply while sitting in an empty hospital room connected to a big yellow machine that made me feel like a cow, whilst my baby was down in ICU waiting for it so that she could live.

Talk about pressure. Wow.

It took me hours to hand express one little drop of colostrum. Nia’s first feed was just 0.3ml and it was given to her through a feeding tube.

I was so proud of those 0.3mls. I worked really hard to get that. I guess that’s why they call it liquid gold!

Then I continued to express 8 times a day to build my supply and to keep up with the doctors schedule. It was either my milk or a formula top up.

Nia needed her milk every 3 hours and I was determined to give her what she needed.

The doctor increased the quantities each day and so I had to keep increasing my supply too.

It was not easy.

But we did it. In fact, Nia impressed everyone with her amazing fast recovery. We were told that she would need to stay in special care for at least two weeks to establish her feeding etc.

However, together Nia & I kicked all the goals that the doctors set for us and we were home on day 6.

The milk was a huge part of her recovery.

I believe that the reason I was able to get through it all was because I had the confidence to do it. My baby needed this milk and nothing was going to stop me from trying to make it for her. I needed to stay positive and it took a lot of patience and persistence but in the end we got there.

It was friken hard. It still is.

But we are doing it. One day at a time, one feed at a time, one boob at a time.

My Breastfeeding Mantra

This is my new breastfeeding mantra:

“One day at a time, one feed at a time, one boob at a time…”

Inspired by the movie Creed – one step at a time, one punch at a time, one round at a time.

Feel free to make it your bf mantra too!

This information is general, and does not replace the advice of a medical professional.  If you have concerns about the health of your breastfed child I would encourage you to seek the support of an IBCLC.  You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM

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Biting

Breastfeeding a baby with teeth – things you can try to stop the biting

If you are a breastfeeding mum who is starting to worry about breastfeeding a baby with teeth, then first of all, WELL DONE, MAMA! You have done so well to get through the initial difficulties of establishing your breastfeeding journey, and you have your sights set on breastfeeding past the newborn phase, which is in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines.

The mere thought of having your nipples anywhere in the vicinity of tiny, new, sharp little teeth that are being “controlled” by a tiny human (and I’m using the word “controlled” very loosely, because it takes babies a little while to learn to control their bodies). But many women breastfeed their children into toddlerhood and beyond, so you’re probably thinking there must be some tips that will help you through the teething phase. There are! Let me share with you what I have learned throughout my own breastfeeding journey about biting.

It’s better to prevent the biting, rather than reacting after it’s already happened

As I mentioned above, babies take a little while to learn to control their bodies. If your baby is just starting to cut teeth, they are unlikely to have much impulse control. It’s my personal opinion that “disciplining” your baby for biting is probably not going to be effective in preventing further biting. I have seen suggestions of a firm “no”, tapping teeth, removing baby from your breast and sitting them away from you while you count to ten, pinching or even biting your baby back. These suggestions don’t feel logical to me. If your baby is biting, there is probably an underlying reason why. Once you have identified the reason, you can decide on an appropriate plan of attack to prevent the biting. The added bonus is that you don’t need to wait for your baby to actually bite you before you can start being proactive in protecting your nipples!

Babies don’t normally bite while they’re actively drawing milk from your breast

In order for your baby to be correctly latched on and suckling the milk from your breast, their tongue needs to cover their lower gums. You will note from the image below, courtesy of “Milk & Baby” that the tongue is thrust past the lower gum, all the way to the front of the mouth so it is able to stimulate the breast. If you have one of those adorable babies that occasionally smiles at you mid-feed, you may have noticed you can see their tongue in the corner of their mouth when their lips part. If your baby’s tongue was not in that correct position, then it would be further back, behind their lower gum and not visible to you. The biting feeling is worst when your breast is crushed between the top and bottom gums. If your baby is actively feeding, then their tongue would cushion the impact between the gums, and you should not feel pain. If your baby is well attached to your breast, but then changes the position of their mouth, they may be preparing to bite. If your baby is biting, it’s very likely that he or she is not actually feeding at that time.

deeplatch

Does your baby want to breastfeed right now?

My son went through a phase of biting as soon as I put my breast near his face. This was a major problem for me, as breastfeeding has always been a big part of the way I parent. If he was hungry, I gave him boob. If he was tired, I gave him boob. If he was crying, I gave him boob. Boob, boob, boob. Sometimes I didn’t know what the problem was, but boob was my go-to solution. I could tell he was biting me because he didn’t want boob at that time, but if I was actively offering it to him all the time, how could I protect myself?

I had to stop offering him breast when he didn’t want it. It was a tough habit to break of waving boobs in his face in all situations, but my son had discovered he had power over when he would and would not be having milk, and he was enjoying exercising it! I backed off with the offering, and instead relied on his cues more. And sure enough, he would let me know when he was ready for a breastfeed (usually by tapping my breast, sticking his hand into my shirt, or, if all else failed, putting his face onto my clothed breast and pretending he was suckling). Not only were my nipples no longer being bitten, but my son had learned new ways to communicate his needs to me! Note, this was not a permanent situation. It was a phase, and after a few weeks of him letting me know when he wanted a breastfeed, he reverted back to his earlier behaviour of happily accepting a breastfeed whenever it was on offer.

Biting from teething pain

If you know your baby is in pain from teething, offering your preferred method of pain relief before breastfeeds can help a lot. Some mums use conventional or homeopathic medication, breastmilk icy poles, a cold teether toy – there are a wide range of options available. We used a facewasher wet with icy cold water. Both of my kids love chewing on a facewasher, and I would sometimes put the facewasher over my finger and give their gums a bit of a massage. Offering relief before a breastfeed will help your baby breastfeed without pain.

Biting from teething pain will usually happen towards the start of a breastfeed, and may be accompanied with your baby looking upset, wincing or even crying. If your baby is very agitated and appears to be unable to relax and breastfeed, find other ways to calm them down, and offer breast again when they are more relaxed.

Biting later in the feed

These bites were tricky for me to make sense of. We would have a lovely, peaceful breastfeed, and it felt like we were both calm and relaxed, then out of the blue my son was biting me! What a way to ruin the moment for me! After paying more attention (instead of zoning out, which is what I’m normally doing while I breastfeed my kids), I noticed that my son stopped swallowing milk after a while, but continued suckling. I could tell this by watching his throat and mouth. His mouth was making the suckling movements, but I couldn’t see his throat moving like it usually did when he was swallowing mouthfuls of milk. I realised that he was no longer actively breastfeeding when he was biting me, so I learned to remove him from my breast once he stopped swallowing milk. If he got upset when I removed him from my breast, I would switch sides and let him continue feeding. It seemed to me that he was biting because milk was no longer flowing freely from my well-drained breast. The faster-flowing milk from my fuller breast made him happy. Again, this was not a permanent situation. After I learned to put him on the other breast when he stopped swallowing milk from the first side, he soon followed suit and learned to stop feeding from a breast when he was not happy with the flow, and indicated to me that he wanted the other breast.

Biting for your attention, or as a “game”

It can be quite distressing to feel the pain of a bite to your breast, only to look down and see your baby thinks it’s hilarious. As I previously mentioned, I don’t believe disciplining your baby for biting is appropriate, however while I don’t agree, I can see why some people believe it’s appropriate in these circumstances – they think the baby is being “naughty”.

I don’t think a biting baby is naughty. I don’t actually think any baby is naughty, but we can save that for another blog post. I think in these circumstances, we have a baby who really wants your attention. Watch your baby during the breastfeed. Talk, hold hands, stroke hair. This is your baby’s way of asking you to put the phone down, stop fiddling with the tv and enjoy this precious moment with them.

Biting to bring on a letdown

I have not personally experienced this, however a close girlfriend of mine did. Her daughter was biting as soon as she got on because she learned it made the letdown happen faster. As my friend had a very forceful letdown, she allowed the biting to continue so she didn’t spray milk across the room. My friend didn’t realise why her daughter was doing this straight away, and by the time she worked it out, her daughter was biting at every feed out of habit. To break the habit, my friend would unlatch her daughter when she bit, and would reattach her, ensuring she had a good, deep latch. There were a few times when her daughter wouldn’t cooperate, and I watched my friend catch a few letdowns into a breastpad, which was very frustrating for her. But she was firm with her daughter, and they were able to break the habit. There are circumstances where your baby may bite due to an issue with low supply. If you believe you have a low supply, you should seek advice from an IBCLC, who would consider a number of factors (including your baby’s weight gains and nappy output) in determining whether your supply is adequate for your baby’s needs.

You don’t need to stop breastfeeding

The information I have given here are based on my own experiences as a breastfeeding mum, and admin of the Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook group. If you don’t feel like any of my suggestions apply to your situation, please don’t despair – you can get further advice from an IBCLC or by ringing the Australian Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 MUM 2 MUM.

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