Up until recently, I was a tandem-feeding mama, with my 2 and 5 year and I old sharing many breastfeeds together over the last few years.
Mr 5 was breastfeeding twice a day (morning and night), but over the last few months that’s changed, with morning feeds gradually slowing to a stop, and many night time feeds skipped without any incident. The relaxing of routines during the recent school holidays meant that bedtimes were a much more casual affair than normal. Instead of heading off to bed at his usual bedtime, Mr 5 had many late nights and fell asleep in the lounge room or in my bed, or even in the car, instead of in bed. And this change seemed to make it easier for him to let go completely.
There was one night during the holidays when he was overtired and distraught. I brought him to his bed and he kept screaming at me “I WANT MILK!”. Even though there have been plenty of nights where I breastfed him to ease his distress, this time I didn’t. I explained over and over that I knew he was upset, and as soon as he calmed down he could have milk. I told him I wasn’t saying no, I just needed him to be calm first.
When he eventually calmed down, he did latch on briefly, but then unlatched and settled in my arms instead, with his face very close to my face. It’s like he had learned that breastfeeding wasn’t going to fix his problems.
Once upon a time, breastfeeding fixed all problems. You know what they say – a newborn only needs 3 things – nourishment, warmth and love. Breastfeeding provides all 3.
But then your newborn morphs into a child, and their needs become much more complex. Reassurance and love now come in the form of words, hugs, laughter and small acts of service, like the special breakfasts where I arrange his food into a funny face. He loves those breakfasts!
Although I didn’t know his breastfeed the next morning would be the last, I’m thankful I was in the moment enough to remember it clearly. The blinds were open just a little, his eyes were closed and he was snuggled next to me, instead of draped over the top of me. His sister was asleep behind me, so it was just him and me. It was just like when he was a newborn – like that one perfect moment spanned 5.5 years.
“Many women prefer underwire fashion bras and are confused when told these are not recommended during pregnancy or lactation. The reason for this is, once again, your changing breast shape. When breastfeeding, the breasts can increase and decrease in size during the day, as milk is produced and removed. Retained fluid in late pregnancy can also cause the breast to swell. Although only a slight change in size is occurring, a rigid underwire may put pressure on the breast when it is fuller. Such pressure can lead to blocked milk ducts or mastitis and it is for this reason inflexible underwire brasare not recommended. However there are now nursing bras available that have a flexible metal support, similar to an underwire, designed to flex and change position with your changing shape. These are less likely to cause problems.”
This endorsement from the Australian Breastfeeding Association made me feel much more comfortable with the idea of flexiwire.
I received my bra about a day after Diana sent it to me – very impressive shipping time! I was pretty excited to try this bra out. Let me tell you about it:
Mine was black, with pink and orange trims. You can also get it in blue with black and green trims
Unlike other breastfeeding sports bras I have tried (like Cadenshae Ultimate and Movemami Shine), Activate is a proper cupped bra, not a crop top. As highlighted above, you should get properly fitted before buying one. I am wearing a 14F. The Activate can go as large as an H cup
The shoulder straps are good and wide, making me feel supported in the bust without causing discomfort on my shoulders
There is a clip on the back of the bra, that brings the two shoulder straps together for added support
The nursing clips are easy to undo with one hand
There are 6 hook and eye sets of clips on the back, making it easier to find the perfect fit around my back
I was nervous about the flexiwires because I haven’t really had any kind of wires near my boobs since before I fell pregnant with my son, over 6 years ago. Truthfully, the first time I wore the bra, it was a bit uncomfortable, making me wonder if I may end up with a blockage. In hindsight, I think the discomfort may have been due to the fact that the bra was quite stiff when I first got it out of the packaging. After it was washed a few times, the fabric became softer. I haven’t felt discomfort since the first time I wore the bra. And I definitely haven’t had any blockages.
The Activate was extremely supportive, and I was very satisfied with how well it worked while I was skipping. I took My Mr 5 trampolining at Gravity X this week. I did up the clip on the back of the shoulder straps before jumping, for the extra support, and the bra worked so well that I actually forgot about my boobs. Anyone with a bigger bust will be impressed with this, because when your boobs are bouncing around everywhere, it can be hard to think of anything else.
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Like my joggers, I probably wouldn’t wear the Activate all day, every day. It’s not designed for everyday wear, and Hotmilk have better options available for that (like my Show Off bra, for example). I wore the Activate for high-impact exercise, like running, skipping and trampolining. Those are activities that require a good shower and change of clothes afterwards, so it wasn’t a hassle to change bras too.
Yesterday, a friend of mine told me she couldn’t justify the cost of a breastfeeding sports bra – she said she planned to wait until she’d finished breastfeeding before she would get back into exercise. But the Activate worked so well, I see no reason why I couldn’t continue using it even after my kids have weaned.
In the past I have said that the Cadenshae Ultimate was my absolute favourite breastfeeding sports bra. I may have to go back to the drawing board on that opinion, because the Activate impressed the heck out of me!
Diana at Milkbar Breastpumps gifted me one Hotmilk Activate bra in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Do you have a breastfeeding sports bra? Does it work well?
Would you like to win one of 5 x $50 gift vouchers to spend at Hotmilk Lingerie? Check out the end of the post to see how to enter!
Recently I was thrilled to join the Hotmilk Lingerie team as an ambassador at the Essential Baby & Toddler Show at Darling Harbour. I got to hang out with the Hotmilk team, learn about their products and talk to some very excited ladies about boobs and bras.
My job for the day was to chat to people walking past, encourage them to enter our prize draw ($400 in Hotmilk products), let them know about our special expo offer, and encourage them to get measured up by our team. I felt quite mindful about not hassling people out, because I don’t like feeling like people are trying to pressure me into a sale, but most people responded really positively.
The Hotmilk team are very knowledgeable about the changes our bodies go through during pregnancy. The team cared much more about making sure women were aware of the dangers of blocked ducts and mastitis caused by ill-fitting bras than they were about making a quick sale
Anyone with a large bust would know how hard it is to find bras above a DD, let alone anything NICE! Most Hotmilk bras go up to a H cup, with some even going up to a J cup!
The shoulder straps increase in width incrementally for each cup size you go up. And thank goodness, because spaghetti straps weren’t made to support the weight of a large bust
Hotmilk make bras for smaller busts too. I met with more than one lady at the Show who had been incorrectly told that you can’t buy maternity/nursing bras below a C cup. Hotmilk bras start with an A cup
Hotmilk customers are fiercely loyal. Many ladies walked into the stall, yanked a bra-strap out from under their collar and told me with a wink “I’m wearing one right now”. These customers were singing their testimonials to anyone who would listen, insisting that Hotmilk was the only brand to buy
A common desire that kept coming up during the day is that women wanted supportive bras that didn’t look and feel like maternity bras – they wanted bras like the ones they used to wear before they got pregnant.
And then at the end of the day, I was absolutely THRILLED to be sent home with a “Show Off Silver Peony” nursing bra. It was a long drive all the way from Darling Harbour back to my home in Maitland just to try that bra on! Let me tell you about it.
It’s a soft, nude/bone colour with lace edging and some black details.
The F cup fits me perfectly, making me feel like this bra is true to it’s size
There are 6 hook and eye sets of clips on the back, making it easier to find the perfect fit around my back
It’s a smooth fit, and fits nicely under tight tops without funny lumps or weird looking lines created by the edging
I noticed the straps are thicker than I have come to expect, and they feel comfortable against my shoulders
The nursing clips are easy to undo with one hand
It’s extremely supportive for a bra that has no underwires and hasn’t been designed for sports and exercise
It’s beautiful – and makes me feel good about wearing it, but is also comfortable enough to wear all day – maybe even every day!
I was gifted the Show Off bra for the purpose of a review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was given a $100 gift voucher for the time I spent working with the Hotmilk Lingerie team at the Essential Baby & Toddler Show at Darling Harbour.
Breastfeeders in Australia suffered a huge setback this week. Kerryn Gill-Rich, one of our support group’s most active administrators and prolific commenters received a Facebook ban for sharing links to a Nipple Blanching (Vasospasm) article on the Kellymon website. After repeatedly pleading for common sense from the Facebook team, her case has been closed. It would appear Kerryn is now receiving a 1 week ban for each instance she has shared the link. To see a gallery of the communication between Kerryn and Facebook, please click on this link.
It only takes a quick search on Facebook to find a flood of sexual and graphic content. We will never understand why Facebook is so selective with the way they police comments and posts, or why they seem to be so bothered by breastfeeding.
With very little opportunity to take this further, Kerryn has written a letter to Facebook for us to publish.
I’m cross. You and I were onto something. You and I had a great thing going. You and I had helped 30,000 breastfeeding women to find success in nourishing their babies and reach their breastfeeding goals, however long that may have been. We have talked them through sleep deprivation, poonamis, and puke down their backs. We have shared our stories and cried with people that are standing on the edge of their threshold as a parent because things weren’t going to plan. Maybe their expectations weren’t realistic or maybe the well-meaning advice they had received wasn’t working or maybe they had too many nights in a row with no sleep, crying baby and burning nipples or many, many other reasons why those early days of parenting can see us crash and burn and feel like we are alone.
I’m a lactavist. I’m passionate about helping women that WANT to breastfeed. I don’t tie myself to trees or march in the street but I do make myself available to friends and family as well as perfect strangers that reach out for help….. UNTIL THIS WEEK.
I posted this article (above)in a response to a mum who was experiencing nipple pain when breastfeeding. She had reached out in a BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT GROUP. She was about to give up due to the lack of help she was receiving. She didn’t know what was causing her pain and she didn’t know how to fix it. My advice was not unsolicited, it was factual and medically sound. It directed her to relevant online as well as real world help. The offending article is written by an IBCLC qualified lactation consultant and has medical based information regarding vasospasms. It also contains 2 photos of a blanched nipple for reference.
I received a notification that this was not appropriate content for Facebook and was banned for a week as a result. This happened twice as I’ve shared the article more than once so I suspect there will be more bans in the pipeline. Yet, a quick search and I can find Karma Sutra positions with links to videos, topless beach babes with a poorly placed scribble across her nips, vibrators and many other pages with similar, sexual content. These are all still in place as of this morning. I can join these groups and buy these products and services. I can even link up with a group that do live sex both using Facebook live OR if they get in trouble for that, they advertise ‘plan B’ which is a whats app group… all with Facebook’s blessing. Yet I can’t link an article to help a mother feed her baby.
Breastfeeding is in no way whatsoever sexual. It is simply feeding a baby in the most natural way possible, yet breastfeeding information is not in line with community standards? What is it exactly that’s so offensive about breastfeeding? Given the amount of daily dinner plates that are posted on timelines, it can’t be the FEEDING part that is of concern! But using THAT theory, the amount of breasts in timelines probably beats the pants off the butter chicken or steak and potato plates posted….. so I’m stuck! Is it the baby? Nope, they feature pretty predominantly on timelines too!!
SO…..WHAT IS IT THAT YOU TAKE ISSUE WITH?
Yours in confusion and utter frustration
Many people from our breastfeeding community have expressed shock, confusion and disappointment at Kerryn’s situation. Here are some direct quotes:
Tyler Enaj – I was also reported and photo deleted
The advice and support you give mothers is invaluable and I’m sure many other mothers can attest to that. To ban you for sharing breastfeeding specific information in a breastfeeding group is just absurd
This is so infuriating!!!
A man who is a body builder stole pictures of my children & posted them to his 40,000 followers and it DID NOT go against Facebooks community standards! What the heck is wrong with Facebook?!?!It’s really hard not to be a ranting feminist when it’s so clear the Facebook is ran by misogynists and the patriarchy is cool with women being naked as long as we are giving sexual satisfaction to men.Over 200 people reported my issues (pictures of my children, my name and location) but that didn’t even matter.
Facebook claim to support breastfeeding, but actions speak louder than words. Have you ever had a breastfeeding photo reported or taken down?
I’ve talked lots of times about how thankful I am for growing up in a family where breastfeeding is completely normal. My husband’s family isn’t like that. They aren’t “against” breastfeeding, like some families are, and they have never tried to convince me to stop, for any reason. I think they are probably like a lot of families in Australia – they know breastfeeding to be the normal way to feed babies, and they have seen the campaigns telling everyone why it’s important, but they are still wrapping their heads around because they didn’t grow up around it.
They sometimes don’t know which way to look when I’m breastfeeding, especially as my kids have grown out of babyhood and into toddlers, but they don’t say anything – they know their feelings are their issue and don’t expect me to stop on their account. They sometimes ask questions about how it all works. Sometimes they make inappropriate jokes, which can be a bit squirmish for me, but I don’t take it as a sign of disrespect, it’s just their way of getting used to the idea. Sometimes they tag me in every single breastfeeding thing they see on Facebook too. Sometimes I’ll be tagged in the same thing twenty times after I’ve already seen it in every single group I’m in, but ultimately I appreciate the effort everyone goes to, to find common ground with me.
Soon after my son turned 3, breastfeeds became something that we don’t do out of our home, and soon after that they were something that only happened in bed, either before or after sleeping. So while I have never lied to anyone, it would be understandable for any family members who don’t read my blog (most don’t), to assume Mr 5 finished breastfeeding a year or two ago.
A few weeks ago at a family barbecue, everyone was feeling pretty merry after a big dinner and a few drinks. A family friend told a story of the horror and disgust he felt when he found out a bartender at a nightclub was still breastfeeding her 6 year old. I looked for my kids, preparing to swoop them out of earshot if these comments turned into a boisterous conversation. Mr 5 is extremely perceptive, and he would have felt great shame to hear someone talking about term breastfeeding that way. I’m a pretty assertive person and don’t usually shy away from expressing my opinion, but I never considered engaging in a conversation or argument in this situation, purely for the protection of my kids. My husband must feel the same because he didn’t say anything either. I almost held my breath and shut my eyes, waiting to see the reaction from my inlaws.
A few of them suddenly found the grain of our wooden table very interesting. Someone found a spiderweb in the corner of the ceiling to stare at. I actually saw one or two rolled eyes. After an awkward silence, one of my husband’s brothers very obviously changed the subject.
And that was that!
Some people might have felt the silence was a lack of support, but I feel the opposite.
What we say matters, but sometimes what we don’t say matters more. I don’t know if my inlaws support the idea of term breastfeeding or not, but their unwillingness to get involved in a discussion shaming a mother and child for it while my kids and I were present means the world to me. Sometimes support is loud and vocal, with lots of praise heaped on top. And sometimes it’s a quiet nod in your direction, acceptance that you (you with the awesome kids, who are probably awesome because of the way you raise them) deserve space to do what you do when it’s working for you.
Sometimes the biggest hurdle to finding support from your extended family is understanding that although they don’t support you the way you expect or even the way you want, they probably still care about you in their own way.
I love and appreciate my extended family very much, and I’m blessed to feel like they love me too.
We at Breastfeeders in Australia support equal marriage rights, as well as parenting. Bree Miller is one of the original Admins of the Facebook support group Breastfeeders in Australia, helping us support others from the very beginning of the group. She is has birthed four beautiful girls and is training to become a midwife. Bree recently gave birth as a surrogate parent. While laws differ from state to state, surrogacy is legal in Australia, provided the surrogate acts altruistically. Bree would like to share some of her story of becoming a surrogate parent.
“A few days after giving birth…
I tried to feed all three of my daughters (now 9, 7 and 5 years old) but, not through lack of trying, I was never successful enough to exclusively breastfeed any of them. I’ve never been diagnosed with anything definitive wrong with my breasts but they just don’t respond normally. Probably a combination of things.
Anyhow, I gave birth to a surrogate baby 3 weeks ago and have had probably my most successful breastfeeding journey so far. Though it’s been short, I’m happy with what I’ve achieved. I direct fed her for the first 12 hours after birth then left the new little family to go home to my own. I’ve been expressing every 3 hours for her ever since. I still wasn’t able to provide enough for her total needs but I’m happy with what I was able to give her. I have a new appreciation for all of you exclusively expressing mummas out there, it has been tough for me and I didn’t even have a newborn to care for.
Baby Haesel headed back to NSW with her dads yesterday so now I’m weaning down from expressing and will donate any remaining milk.
I envy women that find breastfeeding easy, and those that have adequate supply. I’ve gone through periods of hating my boobs and my body for not doing what it’s supposed to do. But in the end we can only work with what we’ve got and be thankful for that. I’m thankful that I was able to grow and birth 4 healthy babies within my body, even if I wasn’t able to feed them once they were out.
A few weeks later…
I’m now 6 weeks post-birth and have fully weaned off pumping, my milk is gone. One thing that has been really unexpected for me is how much it would affect me psychologically to discontinue pumping. Perhaps it was because this will probably be my last pregnancy and therefore my last chance to breastfeed, perhaps because I had a much better supply this time than I have ever had before. I’m not sure. But I keep having these little mental freak outs wondering what I’m doing and making me feel like I need to rush off and power pump. It’s a difficult thing to suppress your supply when you’ve conditioned yourself, over years, to attempt to increase it. The grief surrounding the end of the child bearing phase of my life has hit me hard and I find it interesting that it came as a result of ending breastfeeding instead of the end of a pregnancy.
Now onwards and upwards to a new phase of my life helping women with their own babies. I pumped a total of 10.4 liters in 70 hours over 4 weeks. Not too bad for someone with low supply. I can be proud of that.”
As the weather is warming up, I’ve found myself more motivated than usual to get moving. So I was very excited when Abby from The Mum Life offered to send me a MOVEMAMÍ “Shine” breastfeeding sports bra/crop top, designed for high impact exercise, like running.
Postage was super quick, and I had the bra only 3 business days after it was shipped (I live in a regional area, so I usually expect to wait longer than that!). I tried it on straight away and was very happy to find that the XL seemed to fit my 14F chest perfectly. Over the next few weeks, I gave the bra a thorough testing. I found some things that I loved about it.
STUFF I LOVED
It’s a very nice looking bra. I can totally see women working out in this bra with no shirt over the top if they were jogging, working out in the gym or if it was simply a hot day.
The nylon and spandex combination make it feel very soft and luxurious. Although it feels like a good, firm fit, it doesn’t leave imprints on my skin.
I feel no pressure or pinching around my breasts, so I’m confident it won’t interfere with my milk ducts, or cause any blockages.
The nursing clips are easy to undo with one hand, and is designed in a way that allows the bra to come down enough so that Miss 2 can breastfeed without a bra cup getting in her face. I have found some breastfeeding sports bras have moulded cups that you can’t quite seem to get out of the way enough.
It’s comfortable enough for everyday wear, which makes it perfect for incidental exercise. Sometimes we have an impromptu visit to the park and it would be perfect for me to do a quick workout, but I just know that my everyday Kmart crop isn’t going to cut it.
I gave the bra a thorough test with bike riding, walking, jogging, pushups, handstands, burpees and a long list of other awful exercises. I have no problem recommending the MOVEMAMÍ “Shine” for low to medium impact exercises. When I tested it out running and skipping, I was a little disappointed. I felt the bra restricted boob movement in a downward direction, but not up, if that makes sense? I feel like it cut out a lot of the bounce, but not as much as other breastfeeding sports bras I have tested in the past.
However when I shared a video with my followers demonstrating the bounce in my breasts while skipping, THEY were impressed. Maybe my video doesn’t adequately reflect the bounce that I felt, or maybe I have higher expectations when it comes to boob support than other mums. Or maybe I’m too picky. I’ll let you watch my video and decide for yourself. I am happy the range caters to my size, because a 14F bras aren’t something that are easy to come by.
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To maximise your chances for an optimal fit, I would encourage you to talk to a salesperson. If I went by the sizing information that I found on the website, as a 14F I might have ended up with the XXL (to fit 16-18, E-F) instead of the XL (14-16, DD-E).
See The Mum Life‘s MOVEMAMÍ collection and more at their website (here), Instagram (here) and Facebook page (here). Use the code “VIP” for a 10% discount
Thanks Abby for sending me my MOVEMAMÍ bra in exchange for my honest review.
When Lucy was nearly 11 months old, she was diagnosed with kidney failure, and her mum Amanda had to stop breastfeeding cold turkey. Lucy is now 18 months old. Amanda has been exclusively pumping since the diagnosis, because not only are the majority of formulas on the market unsuitable for a baby with kidney failure, but Lucy also has CMPI (Cow’s Milk Protein Intolerance).
Lucy is in kidney failure from end-stage kidney disease. It’s suspected she has a condition called infantile nephronopthisis, which will be confirmed by results from genetic testing. At only 18mo, Lucy is waiting on a kidney transplant, and has to undergo peritoneal dialysis until she gets one. The dialysis involves a catheter running into her belly and to her periotoneum. The catheter recently moved out of it’s intended position, causing great discomfort for Lucy during dialysis, and requiring surgery to move the catheter back to where it belongs. This photo was taken while Lucy was recovering from that operation, with Amanda needing to comfort Lucy while pumping.
“We not only had to suddenly stop nursing, but we suddenly had to severely restrict my daughter’s fluid intake until her dialysis started working”
Lucy wasn’t passing any urine at all, and was overloaded with fluids, so Amanda was told to stop breastfeeding immediately, with no opportunity given to gradually wean. As if that wasn’t enough, Lucy essentially had to starve or risk making her situation worse. Like many breastfeeders, Amanda had mothered Lucy with breastfeeding, and was distraught and felt unable to offer comfort to her daughter when she needed it most.
“I just wanted to know where we stood so I could get my head around it”
Initially, Amanda had some hope that she and Lucy might be able to return to direct breastfeeding, but she kept getting mixed messages from the variety of health care professionals she had to see. Some were very optimistic and encouraging of Amanda continuing to express, and others were not.
Thankfully there was a Dietician, Lactation Consultant and one particular Doctor who recognised the importance of breastfeeding in this situation. They helped Amanda devise a system that involved placing a carefully measured, fortified feed into an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) and using it to feed from a thoroughly drained breast. Lucy and Amanda were able to breastfeed this way for a week, which allowed them to enjoy their remaining breastfeeds together, and gave Amanda a degree of closure.
“The staff in the Renal Treatment Centre were great at helping me find volunteers to sit with my daughter when I needed to express at first, because I didn’t want to upset her by pumping next to her. When she was a bit older and her fluid restriction was lessened, she was ok with me pumping next to her and they organised us to be trained in dialysis in a separate room so that I could express when needed without leaving.”
Amanda said she feels comfortable pumping in front of the doctors and nurses that come and in out of the dialysis room, and they also seem very comfortable being around her too. The nurses have been very encouraging too. Amanda also feels the Lactation Consultant has gone above and beyond her duty, from checking in to see how she is going, to finding her a pump to use at hospital that was the same as her one at home, right down to finding vegan recipes for Amanda to use (as Lucy has CMPI and a possible egg allergy).
“Originally I was expressing every 3 hrs, with a 6-8 hr break overnight”
Now, 7 months later, Amanda finds she can pump 3-4 times a day while maintaining the same output as when she was initially pumping much more frequently. She is able to express enough for Lucy to have 3-4 bottles of her 6 daily bottles as fortified breastmilk. About 8 weeks into her exclusive expressing journey, Amanda started taking motilium to help her express, which can be very difficult without being able to put baby to breast. She also takes sunflower lecithin to avoid blocked ducts. Amanda says it’s very important for her to eat and drink well, which can be hard when you have a sick baby. She uses a Milk Genie double electric pump, which she chose because it’s small and portable. “I bought it to use in the car to and from the hospital, and liked it so much I use it all the time now. It’s quiet, small and portable – I love it!”
“Encourage readers to speak with their families about their wishes for organ donation – registration is important, but our families make the final decision about our organs and tissue. We don’t need our organs in heaven, but heaven knows we need them here!”
The Australian Government’s Organ and Tissue Authority maintain a national donor registry at Donate Life. You can register your intention to donate your organs and tissue to people like Lucy. But as Amanda says, you also need to discuss your decision with your family, for they need to give permission for this to happen once you’ve passed. You can get yourself onto the organ and tissue registry by filling out this online form.
Our weaning journey is coming along smoothly with Mr 5. He has come from having 2 absolutely vitally necessary breastfeeds every morning and every night to one last night, one two nights before that, one that morning, and I’m not sure when the one was before that.
He never breastfeeds for more than 10 seconds, and he often jumps off after 3 or 4. He now unlatches and kisses me goodnight before snuggling down in my arms, and then casting me off him so he can lie on the other side of the bed.
A fortnight ago Miss 2 and I were sick with the flu, and he spent a day at a friend’s house. Mr 5 was picked up by my husband on his way home from work. When Mr 5 was asked how his day was he exclaimed “It was so good to be away from Penny, always whinging about milk!”. Not so long ago, it was he who was always “whinging” for milk.
Some nights he falls asleep while I read to him. We read a childhood favourite of mine – Truckers, by Terry Pratchett. Now we are reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. They are big books with no pictures, lots of chapters and is written in a language that’s difficult for a 5 year old to understand. I don’t explain what’s happening, but he seems to understand anyway. I also don’t explain to him that I feel “done” breastfeeding him, but he also seems to understand that too.
I really wish I could enjoy these last breastfeeds, but my body itches and stings and wishes he would stop putting his hands on me. I feel a small trace of guilt that I am not weaning as lovingly as I thought I would, but the conscious part of my mind reassures me that this guilt is a trick. Every breastfeed I have given him for the last 5 years was a reminder of my love for him. Instead of seeing the end of our journey as an ending to the way I show my love, I am choosing instead to see it in a different way. Instead, I will remember that every breastfeed I have given has prepared him for now – when he no longer need to be breastfed to feel loved. I choose to celebrate all of the ways he is now capable of not only feeling love, but also showing it back. And maybe part of the way he is showing me he loves me is by letting me finish breastfeeding.
Fiona Morrison blogs over at the Mumma Morrison website. She is a first time mum to “Starfish”. She is a teacher, writer and (her words!) an oversharer. She loves writing to help other mums in their motherhood journey, and she has recently returned to work. Fi kindly wrote a guest post for us, to offer her unique perspective on returning to work while breastfeeding.
“In just over two weeks time, my son will be turning one. His first birthday. A time for celebrating so many triumphs and milestones – a whole year of life, a whole year of surviving motherhood (who knew that was possible?!), and a whole year of breastfeeding my son. In two weeks time, those memories will be pleasantly remembered and celebrated. But this time will also be bittersweet.
It will be bittersweet because next week I will be returning to work after being on leave for just over a year. Just as we come to a time to get excited and party about surviving parenthood (and the complete overhaul of our lives that it has been), I succumb to another massive shift in routine. I will now need to adapt to life as a (part-time) working mother, and the affect that that will have on my relationship with my son. It was change how we spend our time together on the days that I’m not working; it will change our routine of when he wakes up in the morning for breastfeeds; it will change how he spends his days when he is looked after. Just as we finally got used to life together, we now have to adapt to a new life where time is spent apart.
The Challenges of Returning to Work as a Breastfeeding Mum
One of the biggest challenges that this is presenting at the current time (besides massive separation anxiety on my behalf), is working out the time of his morning feed. Currently my son is on two big breastfeeds – one in the morning and one at night. While I thought that this would work perfectly in time for my return to work – and in a way it does – the timing of the morning feed conflicts with the time I need to leave for work. This means I will need to be waking him up earlier than usual to feed him before I go, or have expressed milk in place ready to go for his babysitter to feed him when he wakes up.
The next challenge this presents is the need to find time to express while at work in order to build up enough supply for the morning feeds. As a primary school teacher, this task will be even more difficult as there isn’t much time or space for me to duck out to express (away from the eyes of colleagues or students). If I do decide to express so my son has a bottle for his morning feed, I will either need to express on my days off, or try and find a storeroom to sneak into during my 20-minute recess break. An interesting dilemma that I will have to decide upon within the next week.
Lastly, I know that I am going to miss that extra time snuggling with my son in bed first thing in the morning while he feeds. While breastfeeding can sometimes be a challenge in itself (for example, when my son bites!), it is a bond that I treasure as it is something only we can do together. While I’m not a morning person, I do love this time that we get to spend just the two of us. This will be far be the hardest adjustment I will have to make in returning to work, and is at the foundation of my separation anxiety.
The Benefits of Returning to Work as a Breastfeeding Mum
To help my transition back into the workforce, I have been trying to think positively about the whole experience and what I have to look forward to. For me, there is one huge benefit of going back to work for our breastfeeding journey. I know that returning to work will make our feeding times much more special as I won’t be taking them for granted. It means that in the morning I will be eager to get up a little bit earlier to feed him and see him before I go. It also means that just before bedtime, we get some special one-to-one bonding time as he feeds before bed. This for me is a particular benefit, as I know it will make our bond even stronger.
I know that another benefit of returning to work breastfeeding, if I required it, would be some space and time to pump at work. While this may not sound like a big benefit, I know that if I needed to pump while I was at work (which won’t be the case this time around), it would give me time to stop and relax a bit during the busy day that is teaching. Normally I am running around throughout the day, not stopping until it is well after home time. This would have been a huge benefit to me, but unfortunately I might have to wait until the next time for that one!
Returning to work will have its challenges, and also its benefits. What I do know is that I’m looking forward to the opportunity to deepen my relationship with my son and to really appreciate the wonderful blessing it has been to breastfeed him this far. My hope is to continue to do so over the coming months, and I know that we’ll both be stronger for it.”
Thanks so much Fi, for sharing your story with us. If you like what Fi has to say, you can follow via her Mumma Morrison website, Facebook page or Instagram account. If you have a story you would like to share with us, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you returned to work since breastfeeding? How did it go?