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Our Final Breastfeed

A photo shoot to mark the end of our breastfeeding journey. Most people who dream of letting bub self wean don’t have the luxury of knowing which breastfeed will be their last, it’s usually something you think about a few weeks after and think ‘Hey it’s been a few weeks since we breastfed, I wonder if that’s it now?’. Which is what happened with #3, the time between feeds became longer and longer and the feeds themselves became shorter and shorter. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and being told I had only a few days before starting chemotherapy drugs that I couldn’t breastfeed on, I was gifted a breastfeeding photo shoot by Tara at White Lotus Photography.

Hard at work getting ready

I have been on a fairly high dose of Prednisone for a few weeks now. I am supremely bloated and the heaviest I have ever been, for a bit of perspective I have gained 5cm around my neck! Things like dying my hair are extremely difficult now. I have managed to overtone it, but not sure if I have the energy to fix it this morning, we’ll just pretend it’s intentional. I have woken up (if that’s possible without really sleeping) extremely sore today. The thought of getting ready is daunting. I desperately hope I don’t look ‘sick’ in the photos.

Bub was super shy during the shoot, but Tara was super nice and accommodating. Usually when people get breastfeeding photo shoots its all about flowy lace and flower crowns, the standard nature goddess pics. Um… not really our style. Bub is currently loving Captain America and Harley Quinn is an easier one for me to do my own take of. Of course as soon as we got there bub wanted boob, right on cue.

This was our last ever breastfeed. I told bub this would be our last boo-boos, she said “bye bye boo-boos” and had an hour long drawn out final cluster feed until she couldn’t stay awake any longer and crashed out. I feel so sick to my stomach knowing that she is going to be upset when she can’t have anymore boob. I literally feel so nauseous and stressed knowing tonight is going to be a rough night. But my sweet little girl is sleeping at the moment and we’ll deal with what happens later, later.

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Giving The Baby-Junkies Their Fix – Why they really want to give your baby a bottle

Everybody wants to bottle feed your baby.

Firstly lets be honest.
Nobody gives a crap about your lack of sleep.
Other people want to feed your baby because feeding a baby releases oxytocin. Feeding a baby while smelling that newborn baby smell is like crack and people want to get high on it. That’s the only reason anyone wants to feed your baby, they are baby-junkies. One smell and you will chase it for life.

It has absolutely nothing to do with helping you out, if it did they’d be feeding you, or cleaning your house, or keeping your older kids entertained.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the well being of the baby, if it did they’d be offering to drynurse with an SNS, or finger feed baby. But nope, everyone will throw up their hands and claim too hard if you give them specific instructions on how to optimally heat breastmilk or pace bottle feed. It is literally all about their high.

The notion of giving you extra sleep is laughable. Many a sly baby-junkie will try and convince you to sleep so they can feed the baby, this is a trick. You still have to get up and pump the missed feed while your baby is being used as an inhalant. So while someone else is stealing all of your rightful lovey feedy feelings, you are sitting up next to them with a pump that is in no way as effective as a baby, trying to get your skeptical boobies to give up the good stuff to a piece of cold noisy plastic. And your baby is looking at whoever thinking ‘What is this? Why are you serving my boob in this cold nasty container? My mum is right there with my boob. I can smell it, I’ll just have it out of my normal boob thanks”. Or maybe they wont be that polite about it. Maybe they will scream the house down. Like I would if my local coffee joint served me my coffee in an uggboot. ‘Yeah sorry hun look we’ve got cups, but Kath’s just on a break at the moment so we are using uggboots while she’s gone’. If it were a matter of no coffee or uggboot coffee, I’d weigh it up whether to wait it out till I got to drink it in a cup or take the plunge and drink from the uggboot. Your baby is thinking the same. Plus all the hard work bub has been doing to stimulate your supply all day, is now reset to zero. Upcoming growth spurt will have to be delayed another day now. And because a pump isn’t as effective as a baby youve probably removed less milk than a baby. Increasing your risk of blocked ducts (as pumps cant extract as much fatty milk) and decreasing your milk supply. And if you did give into the sales pitch of more sleep, and thought ‘screw pumping I am sleeping right through’ well the clever boobs have something instore for you.

***BOOBIE ALARMS***

These little beauties will make sure you are either woken up thinking “OMG something is wrong with my baby I haven’t fed for 3 hours, he’s been eaten by a sabre tooth tiger…” or  just flood you with milk so you have to get up and change your shirt. And Bra. Pants too. Oh and the sheet. And crap the pillow too. Thank goodness for the mattress protector. Oh wait…. Damn.

Barack Obama ‘Notorious Baby-junkie’

But I’m a baby-junkie enabler… what can I do?

For dad baby-junkies the answer is simple. Every time mum feeds the baby make her a cup of tea and come and snuggle in too. Get mum to lay down and feed bub on her side and you spoon bub and get your sniff on, drown in that baby love smell!

For everyone else its a little more difficult to get the baby-junkie fix. Sneaking off for a shower while visitors hold baby not only lets them get their fix, but gives you 15 minutes alone in a hot shower!
Hold the baby while mum eats. Unless baby is hungry too, in which case you should cut mums lunch up for her and be a second pair of hands for her. Offer to burp baby after so she can have some dessert. Offer to hold bub for naps in a carrier. Get your babywearing baby-junkie ultimate sniff sniff action. Plus who wants to sleep alone in a cot when you can be snuggled and have someone else do all the work regulating your body temperature and your breathing for you.

So keep in mind the baby-junkies can get their fix without being a giant inconvenience to your baby, but you need to keep a tight leash on them or they’ll start breaking into your house and stealing your baby smells, hocking your stereo to buy trendy Kim Kardashian shaped bottle teats, and just generally putting hurdles up in your breastfeeding journey.

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Gentle Weaning Tips for Toddlers

We often see people asking for how to gently wean their toddler for whatever reason, but we find that rarely anyone has much insight in how to begin, usually because most people who are active in support groups are trying to continue breastfeeding. So below is a very basic way to go about weaning a toddler.
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Talk to your toddler and explain in simple terms what is happening.
Toddlers understand and comprehend more than we think they do, so the first step is talking about what is happening and why.
When we were day weaning my toddler during my pregnancy we talked about how now he was bigger he didn’t need milk during the day, and he always could have a drink of water if he was thirsty, or cuddles if he needed them. We always pointed out that now he was a ‘big boy’ there were lots of exciting foods he could eat, and even some that he was able to access himself at anytime at home.
Choose which feeds will take the most energy to drop. For many toddlers that would be bedtime and nap time feeds. You might like to make these the last feeds to drop, as they will likely be the feeds that your toddler takes the most comfort in.
During the day keep busy. Go visiting friends, go to a park to play, even go shopping; just anything to get out of the house and keep toddlers mind occupied.
We have water that toddler can access throughout our house on his own, and also drinks in the fridge in non spill sippy cups he can get aswell. We also have food that he knows he is allowed to eat at anytime. This helped us with not only him only having his liquids from breastmilk, but with his self perception of being a ‘big boy’.
We (hubby and I) also made certain to give extra cuddles, kisses and snuggles, and also to pay more attention to him, to hopefully counteract some of the lost comfort he had with breastfeeding.
During the night can be difficult, and you can find detailed info here.
Some points to remember are that you may still need to get up and parent your child at night, without the easy out of breastfeeding back to sleep. I often had to get up and get cheese, bread or fruit for my toddler when we nightweaned him during my pregnancy, and I often heard him drinking water from his sippy cup during the night. We were partially bedsharing at the time so this helped with the lost comfort of breastfeeding.
It’s ok to take a step back if your toddler is sick or teething or having a rough day. You can pickup again once you are both ready to. If at any time you start feeling sad or regretful about weaning you can pause and either resume demand feeding or just stay at the level you are currently at. For example alot of mums are ok with just a bedtime breastfeed and continue at that level for quite awhile before cutting out the bedtime feed.
Dropping the last feed can be challenging to get your head around.
We found that changing our bedtime routine was a big help to dropping the last feed. So where we used to breastfeed to sleep in his bed, we now have a wind down snuggle in my bed, and then he has a drink of ebm in a cup with hubby, and he and hubby snuggle till he falls asleep. After this became regular for him (a couple of weeks) he was happy to do the same with me as well. He still often wants to have his hand on my breast as he falls asleep, and he is content with that for his comfort.
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My Experience With A Menstrual Cup (Guest Post)

 

Bree Miller has been an admin of Breastfeeders in Australia since it’s creation, over four years ago.  Here she tells us about her positive experience with a menstrual cup

Menstrual management was never really high on my list of priorities. Before I had kids I was on the pill almost non-stop so I rarely ever let myself get a period.

I was never a huge fan of tampons because they were uncomfortable and made me feel dry inside, and pads left me feeling dirty and damp. I didn’t realise there were any other options so I used them out of necessity. After I had my kids hormonal birth control sent me a bit bonkers so I could no longer use it, meaning I had to contend with my monthly mess again.

With the change in the shape of my body tampons now felt incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes painful so they were impossible to use. I was desperate to find an alternative that suited me. I tried cloth pads. While they met my needs in terms of reducing wastage and cost they still made me feel damp and it meant that certain activities, like swimming, were off the agenda while I had my period.

The only other option on the market was a menstrual cup. Honestly, the thought of putting a (seemingly large) plastic cup in my vagina freaked me out a bit. So I put it off for ages. About 2 years ago I finally gave in and built up the courage to order one. It arrived within a few days and thankfully it wasn’t as big as I had imagined and very soft and flexible.

I don’t think I have ever been so excited for my period to come, I just wanted to test it out. It took me two or three cycles to get my groove and fall in love with it. I eventually worked out that I must have a shorter vagina than normal and the stalk (the part that you grasp to remove it) irritated me a bit, but this problem was easily solved by turning the cup inside out. Alternatively it could be cut shorter or off completely.

Once I worked out which folding method suited me it was a breeze. It is the most comfortable form of menstrual management I’ve ever used. I never find myself too damp nor too dry. I could wear it for up to 12 hours so I rarely needed to empty or change it outside of my own home, even at night or on heavy flow days. And I was saving a bucket load of money on disposable products not to mention that my conscious was clearer because I was no longer contributing so much to landfill. I became more aware of my bodies cycles. And my menstrual pain decreased significantly.

Yes menstrual cups do take some time to get used to (usually 3-4 cycles). They are not for everyone. But the benefits of giving it a try well and truly outweigh the bother of learning a new technique for managing our bodies.

Bree Miller

Mentrual-Cup-Pros

Green your cycle and get 20% off all JuJu products including JuJu Menstrual Cups and JuJu Cloth Pads.  Use the coupon code BreastfeedersAus at the checkout at www.juju.com.au.  Limit of 1 use per customer.  JuJu is the only Australian made and owned brand of menstrual cups.

 

There is no affiliate relationship between Breastfeeders in Australia or the Peaceful Lactivist and JuJu – the discount code is just a discount code, no commissions are being earned.

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Ready For Solids

Are you excited to start solids?

We see a lot of mums approach an arbitrary calendar date with an excited post about how they can’t wait and it’s only x days until they get to give their baby solids. This isn’t the way to approach what should be a developmental milestone. Rather, all the baby food marketing has us thinking that, magically, at 4, 6 or 8 months our baby should be eating huge volumes of processed bland mush, regardless of baby’s individual development.

 

Baby’s individual development is often used as an argument against waiting until recommended minimum ages for introducing solids. We at BIA feel individual development should be used as the first measurement of readiness, rather than a calendar date.

solids

 

Through our research we discovered that sitting independently is one of the most important signs of readiness. It signals the abdominal muscles are sufficiently developed to be able to breathe, eat and sit at the same time. This doesn’t refer to propping baby up in a bumbo or highchair, it means baby is able to pull themselves into a seated position on their own from lying down.

The second most important sign is the loss of the tongue thrust reflex. This is a physiological reflex to prevent foreign objects and food from entering the stomach prematurely. In the past, baby food manufacturers bypassed this reflex by making puree texture food, as this made it harder for baby to push back out of the mouth.

The pincer grip is a skill that babies develop around the time that it becomes appropriate for babies to start exploring solids. Peas are a fantastic size for babies to practice their pincer grip, as they are baby ‘bite size’ and a soft texture once bitten.

 

We see a lot of debate over solids starting age, not only in BIA but across many parenting groups. We have found that professionals tend to agree that parents are too focused on age, rather than individual readiness. As a general guide we like the WHO recommendation of “around 6 months of age” as most of the skills required would usually start to develop around that age. Lauren’s youngest baby was putting herself into a sitting position before 6mo, and walking at around 7mo, so there are the fast developers who acquire the skills much earlier. My youngest didn’t acquire these skills until around 10mo, she had a pincer grip earlier and had lost her tongue thrust, however her being able to pick up food and chew and swallow it did not mean she was capable of digesting it. Another friend’s baby showed all the readiness signs, but showed no interest in eating until around 9mo. All babies are individuals and do develop skills at different rates, so it’s more important that we learn about the signs of readiness, than debate about age.

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Galactagogues

Today I wanted to take a few moments to have a chat about galactagogues. The admin team of the Breastfeeders in Australia Facebook group has noticed a strengthening trend in the recommendation and reliance on galactagogues – both perceived and proven – over the past couple of years. So I thought I would take a little time to look at the trend.

 

A galactagogue is a food or drug which increases mother’s milk.

 

There are synthetic pharmaceutical galactagogues such as domperidone and metoclopramide which increase the production of prolactin. These are generally used as a last resort when every other option has been tried and failed with the mother still experiencing chronic low supply. As with any synthetic drug the decision to use them is a serious one as the risks (dependence, cost and side effects) and benefits need to be weighed by each individual in their particular circumstance with their medical professional.

 

There are also herbal galactagogues such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, torbangun, chasteberry moringa and goat’s rue. As with many natural alternatives research is limited and preparation, purity and dosage may compromise their effectiveness. Just because herbs are natural doesn’t automatically mean they are safe. While they may have a lactogenic effect they may also have negative side effects and contradictions. Please consult an experienced herbalist before choosing to use any herbal remedies. Also remember to tell your doctor, especially if you are using any prescription medication. It is also important to note that depending on the claims made, or not, herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals, aromatherapy and homoeopathic product do not necessarily need to be register with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and may contain fillers or ingredients not listed on the packaging.

 

Then there are the perceived but unproven galactagogues. These are generally passed by word of mouth because one woman has experienced effect she may attribute to one particular food. Some of these we have seen purported recently are –

Oats/oatmeal

Malt

Brewers yeast

Chickpeas

Sports drinks

Leafy green vegetables

 

While consuming these foods in the quantity suggested can result in an increase in breast milk supply it is more likely that it is a result of extra calories than any lactogenic effect.

The best thing a breastfeeding mother can do to ensure a good supply, barring any diagnosed medical issues, is make sure she is drinking enough water and eating enough food. While there is no recommended daily water intake a good tip to remember is to drink a glass of water each time you feed as well as enough to quench your thirst through the day. A breastfeeding mother usually needs around 500 extra calories per day than usual to maintain her health. A balanced and varied diet packed with plenty of vitamin and mineral rich foods is essential for a healthy mum and baby. For specific guidelines the best course of action is to see a dietician to set out your personal macronutrient ratios.

 

When considering consuming galactagogues ask yourself first –

Am I experiencing low supply? (is baby having enough wet and dirty nappies, gaining weight etc)

Why do I feel like I need to increase my supply?

Can I improve my water intake and diet?

 

Please consult your medical professional if you have any concerns about your or your baby’s health. Genuine low supply is a serious issue and should not be ignored.

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Do you need to top-up?

If you do need to top-up/supplement on your breastfeeding journey, there are ways to do this that are more breastfeeding friendly than bottles. Bottles can easily cause bottle preference, overfeeding and a change in baby’s latch, all things you want to avoid if your goal is to continue breastfeeding.
You can use a Supplemental Nursing System (SNS) which has two thin tubes that lead out from a bottle/syringe and stick to the side of the nipple, so that baby sucks milk through them like a straw, while suckling on the breast, providing stimulation to increase milk supply.

Cup and spoon feeding are also options, as well as finger feeding and syringe feeding.

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images (19)sns

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She Needs A Cheerleader

The group Breastfeeders In Australia is a mainstream breastfeeding group. It’s full of brand new mums who are hormonal, sleep deprived and often clueless about breastfeeding, normal infant behaviour and normal human biology. The brand new mum doesn’t join the group because she knows what she is doing, or because she is confident, she joins because she is having problems. Because she doesn’t know how it all works. She joins because she wants to breastfeed but it’s not quite going right, and she doesn’t know where to find help. Most women have never heard of an IBCLC, let alone know how to get any other help. She needs a cheer squad.

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She needs to be treated gently. Otherwise she will get scared and upset, and listen to the nice GP who said it’s ok, just give formula. I’ve seen the Breastfeeders In Australia group evolve alot over the last few years, people often point out donor milk as an option, people are saying it’s ok to cuddle your baby, you don’t have to listen to them cry, it’s normal for baby to wake at night.
I know it can get frustrating for women who are further ahead at a different stage of their journey, seeing the same questions over and over, pulling their hair out at the current obsession with milo; but she is not just an annoying question or just text on a screen, she is a real mum who needs to be encouraged gently, just as you’d treat a real friend in real life. She needs a cheerleader.

As soon as the brand new mum comes past the fog of the first two months, she comes to a new point in her journey. She now desperately wants to help everyone, just like she was helped, she wants to give back. But she doesn’t always have the knowledge to do that. She needs a coach or a friendly advisor to point her towards correct information, without making her feel silly for not knowing. She needs a gentle teacher.

Once mum has gained a basic knowledge of how breastfeeding works, and she has been around the mainstream questions for a while, her patience starts to wear thin, she sees the same questions over and over, and she gets frustrated. She is angry at formula companies, uneducated health care professionals, societal pressures, and she wants to vent. She wants to surround herself with people who believe what she believes so that she can continue on her journey, have a safe place to relax in, and a virtual tribe to confer with. To have friends and confidantes who will be angry with her. She needs a sidekick.

After she has been in her safe environment for awhile, she realises she’s preaching to the choir. There is noone to help, noone to give advice or support to. She realises that sharing articles with people who believe the same that she believes isn’t helping new mums stick with breastfeeding, or helping mums increase their knowledge. She realises it’s time to step back into the mainstream group. Her perception of the mainstream group has changed. It’s no longer annoying, it’s full of questions that she knows the answers to.
She starts to recognise that the language she uses makes a big difference. She starts to notice the difference between those who need a cheerleader and those who want a gentle teacher.
She starts to see the big picture and how she can change the world one breastfeeding journey at a time. She just needs some direction. She needs a mentor.

Then once she in turn starts to mentor others, she starts to become a leader. She has a vision, a strategy, and a wealth of knowledge. She make connections with everyone she come across, and her online life is no longer separate from real life. She doesn’t need one person now. She needs an army.

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