Bottle Feeding Through World Breastfeeding Week

I am absolutely pro breastfeeding (it’s giving your child food that is designed for them, why would anyone be against it?) but somewhere along the line that has become, to some, synonymous with anti-bottle/formula and that is really not the case.  I don’t want there to be ANY parents out there feeling bad for providing their child with nutritionally appropriate food. 

World Breastfeeding Week makes me kind of emotional because I am constantly reminded of what I fought so hard for and ultimately couldn’t manage. I can’t let this whole week pass me by without saying something because I know it isn’t just me… 
If you are a bottle feeding parent then World Breastfeeding Week can put a bit of strain on you. I know this because I was one and this same week last year was much tougher for me. So, I’m writing this for bottle feeding parents to know they are not alone and it’s okay to feel a bit ‘mehhh’ this week. I am also writing this so that all of you amazing booby mummas  know that us bottle mummas want to offer you support on your journey but can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by it all.
I am absolutely pro breastfeeding (it’s giving your child food that is designed for them, why would anyone be against it?) but somewhere along the line that has become, to some, synonymous with anti-bottle/formula and that is really not the case.  I don’t want there to be ANY parents out there feeling bad for providing their child with nutritionally appropriate food. 
I desperately wanted to breastfeed my son and I was blessed to be able to do that for a short while but ultimately I made the decision for his health and for my own mental health –  he was better off on formula and I have to keep reminding myself a lot that I couldn’t actually have tried any harder than I did. So, without meaning to, I sometimes find myself feeling a bit bitter over the course of World Breastfeeding Week. It’s not because I hold any kind of resentment towards breastfeeding parents but because I sometimes have a wobble and struggle to be okay with the choices I made for my son.
Some women breastfeed and take to it like ducks to water and feed their little booby monsters right up, they’ll have their rough patches but they come through it well.
Some struggle through it, maybe they find their feet after a little while and breast feed exclusively. Maybe they combination feed or switch fully to formula. Maybe they even discover that they hate breastfeeding but their baby just won’t take a bottle. There’s always going to be more to the story than you’re seeing on the surface.
Some women battle. They fight and cry and scream and fight and cry some more and it just doesn’t work for them. Traumatic birth, tongue ties, allergies, medication… whatever the reason, if you are one of these women I can tell you now, I have cried for you. You don’t know how strong you are. 
Some women choose to formula feed from the beginning and as much as I have struggled to understand that in the past I know darn well it is none of my business. A friend of mine explained her reasons to me once and it was like a storm settling in my head. It was 100% the right thing for her to do.
Some women would desperately love to bottle or breastfeed but can’t do either because  their child needs a tube or other special feeding apparatus. You guys are real heroes.

The point is, lets celebrate! Lets promote breastfeeding and support parents through their journey regardless of its length and if a woman you know is feeding in a different way to you then you have an opportunity to open a really interesting dialogue with her. 

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Happy World Breastfeeding Week, you are doing an amazing job.
 
 
 

Group B Strep – Aware.

30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time. Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it. Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.

Strep B.
Strep B was knowing Mummies who had needlessly lost their babies.
The stories lead to worry.
Worry became research.
Research became awareness.
Awareness became knowledge.
30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time.
Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it.
Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.
Knowledge had to become taking action.
Strep B was asking my midwife if I could be tested.
Just to be told that it’s very rare and it’s highly unlikely.
Strep B was taking matters into my own hands.
I ordered my own testing kit through the list of GBSS approved ECM tests. 
I waited.
I waited until I was 35 weeks pregnant to do my test.
35 weeks came. I did the swabs.
Sealed, Labelled.
I wrote a cheque for £37.
£37 to potentially save my babies life.
£37 well spent, regardless of the result.
It was all put in an envelope and posted.
I knew that the results would take up to two weeks.
I waited.
Two weeks had passed but no results had arrived.
I sent them an email.
They replied straight away and were very apologetic.
This email had an attachment.
I opened the attachment.
The seconds that it took to open and load felt like years.
*POSITIVE* *POSITIVE* blared at me like red lights.
Is it my fault?
What had I done?
I cried and I cried.
My excitement to meet our baby turned to fear.
It was midday, but I fell asleep in tears.
I told my partner and I told my parents.
I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.
Strep B isn’t sexually transmitted. It is naturally incubated.
There was no way I could have known.
Fear had to turn into action.
Action…
Action, was raising awareness to my pregnant friends and acquaintances.
Action, was passing on the results of the test onto my midwife.
Action, was including my strep b positive diagnosis in my birthing plan.
The community midwife stuck a small “STREP B” sticker on my pregnancy notes.
This was to supposedly alert the team that were to help me through labour.
A sticker wasn’t certain enough, but my voice was.
I couldn’t count how many times, I had to get medical professionals to clarify that they would take this seriously.
Would they have enough of the antibiotics on the ward?
Would I get access to them?
Would I get at least 2 rounds of antibiotics?
Will I get the antibiotics at least 2 hours before she is born?
Would she get checks after she was born to insure that complications had been completely avoided?
What if I couldn’t get to hospital quickly enough after my waters broke?
The 31st of January came.
I was unwell.
I went to maternity day care and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
I was to be induced.
Starting that night.
I was relived!
I would be in hospital until she was born.
I could be sure that everything will be ready for her arrival.
I had many conversations with midwives about strep b.
Where did you get tested?
I tested myself at home with testing kit.
How did you get tested?
I tested myself after I paid for a test.
How did you know about strep b?
I have had family friends affected by it.
How muc
h did you pay to get tested?
£37
A couple of days passed.
My waters broke.
Fear kicked in.
I was moved from an induction room to a labour room.
A drip was started to protect my baby from strep b.
But my black and blue hand wouldn’t take the drip.
I became very worried and begged them to swap to another cannulation site.
They did.
I was finally getting what I needed to protect my baby.
One round.
Two round.
Over 5 hours.
She made her entrance.
It started to go wrong for me, because of a tear.
Yet- She was okay.
I didn’t know it yet.
But my baby was safe.
My Mother made sure that she was getting her after birth strep b checks.
They were made every 4 hours.
She was fine.
My baby was going to be okay.
I came round.
Went from theatre, to recovery to being back on the labour ward.
She was having another lot of checks.
Temperature.
Stethoscope to the chest.
Movement.
Breathing.
Our baby was okay.
She was healthy.
But it all could have been so different.
I was feeling cold.
Then hot.
Then freezing.
My temperature was taken.
Then my pulse.
Blood was taken.
Blood was tested.
My tear had became infected by strep b.
I was diagnosed with sepsis.
I was left fighting for my life for the second time in 24 hours.
I was administered antibiotics.
Strep b had given me sepsis.
It took over a week to recover- Despite me being well equipped.
But if it was my baby who had become unwell.
It could have been so different.
I don’t want to think about it.
I can’t think about it.
I will not shut up about strep b until it is properly addressed.
Until every mummy to be, knows of the danger.
Of the risks.
I will not stop, until strep b is no longer an issue.
It doesn’t need to be an issue.
Every woman pregnant should be screened for strep b.

No More "Do this, do that" – Let Me Raise My Baby

with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore.

It turns out that becoming a parent is a confusing minefield where, at every single step, the whole world wants to give you their two pennies worth and frankly, they are very often wrong, outdated, or occasionally just plain dangerous.
From the day my son was born I had midwives lecturing me about only using one breast per feed and your baby MUST sleep on his back and my mum telling me it was nonsense – “20 minutes on each boob and sleep him on his side” she’d say with the voice of experience. I had people telling me “it’s cluster feeding but it gets better” and people whispering in my ear that it never gets easier. Mums on the internet telling me that he’s overtired and it’s probably my fault and well-meaning parents and in-laws telling me not to give in to his crying because I will make a rod for my own back (I always ignored this one – I’m a cuddler). Even old ladies in the supermarket stop me and tell me how to get him to stop crying, wrong again – he’s actually a bit hungry, I know how to make him stop crying but I’m in the supermarket, leave me alone so I can get this frozen stuff home and feed my child.
No wonder my head was spinning – with all the things I prepared for when I was pregnant I didn’t even think to prepare myself for the endless stream of well meant advice that I was going to listen to, nod along with maybe even consider but mostly just ignore.
The thing is, he’s my baby and he is different from every other baby in the world and I am different from every other parent in the world. That is not to say that there aren’t some very close similarities between him and other babies or between me and other mothers but lets face it, no one is going to have all the answers, you need to work them out for yourselves with a lot of trial and error (read: blood, sweat and tears).
Together we have been muddling through and finding out what works for us – and as luck would have it, every time I think we’ve got it sussed he’ll have a growth spurt or catch a cold. Here we go again, be back to square one, stumbling blindly through it all and accepting advice from all directions before cherry picking the bits that seem to hold the most credit and trying them. 
Of course if there is ever well documented medical advice or safety advice from experts in their field then there is no such thing as ‘mother knows best’. If that kind of information is presented to you and you have been doing the opposite then that is the time you need to swallow your pride and take the advice but please don’t ever get upset if someone points out something that could be safer; they aren’t usually doing it to shame you, they just want what is best for you and your child. 
All that said, I have had some helpful tips and reassurance from all sorts of places – it’s not  all unwelcome advice, but it can be very overwhelming.
I wouldn’t want people to not listen to the people around them that have experience or professional qualifications but I will say this, your baby does not have an instruction manual and you will get to know what works for them and you. If something works and it goes against the advice of your great Aunty Betty because that worked 40 years ago with her babies it doesn’t make you a bad parent – you are doing everything you can for your baby. 

 

Feel the burn, mummy

So, new mums, experienced mums, first timers and those who are so used to it…What are the best ways to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness?The answer: NOBODY KNOWS!

So, new mums, experienced mums, first timers and those who are so used to it…
What are the best ways to regain your pre-pregnancy fitness?
The answer: NOBODY KNOWS! But there are some targeted mum and baby sessions which I found particularly helpful. At only a couple of months post-partum, myself and the other mums from our NCT group signed up to a lovely lady’s Zen Fitness (Yoga) class local to us in Hythe, Kent.
As someone who has always loved yoga, this was amazing for me, and when I turned up I did not expect it to be quite so hard! I definitely felt the burn…
Using the baby’s weight as your weight, the class gets tougher as the weeks go by, and especially if you’ve missed a week, the next one is so much harder! I remember thinking that “oh, she’s only put on a couple of pounds since last time, it won’t make that much difference”… Well, yes. Yes it did.
The best part about Suzanna’s group was that she was so understanding about needing to take a break to feed baby, or even to stop baby rolling onto other babies… I felt really welcome at her groups, and she was fantastic at making sure everyone could handle the workouts if you were a beginner or had been a regular!
So, that’s one way of really feeling that exercise, releasing endorphins and starting to recover the wellbeing of your body and mind.
Another way is with buggyfit (or similar) groups, using pushchairs to do more cardio exercises, usually outdoors.
These groups are also fabulous. Unfortunately I was only able to try this once, as I had an incredibly busy schedule in the year after my daughter was born, but it was brilliant. With these, you’re not using baby as a weight, but more as a balance when squatting or a resistance when running.

One exercise that I found to be particularly cheeky was the reps of calf dips. With the beautiful beach backdrop, we stood on tiptoes at the edge of the pavement onto the stones and gently dipped up and down. It didn’t feel much then, but the next morning my calves were on fire!
One added bonus is that you can set these groups up yourself for free if you have a bunch of mummies wanting to go with you, or they may already be set up local to you, so check on Facebook if you’re interested!
Finally – and this one is not limited to mums/dads/parents/guardians – I just have to say how FANTASTIC the park run is! Seriously, go online (but open up a new tab and keep this one up and keep reading!) and Google where your nearest park run is <– or just use that cheeky little hyperlink I’ve stuck in there.My other half, being in the army, has been doing running for years and he is a seasoned pro, so although he leaves me far behind when I’m running with the pushchair, it’s a great, fun activity to do with the whole family. We even took my stepdaughter a couple of weeks ago and she loved it! You can race each other to make it fun, or take it at a leisurely pace, which I’ll be honest is what I have to do as it is a 5k course!

So mummies, those are my experiences of post birth fitness groups, and I hope to be sharing more in the coming weeks!
If there’s anything you want to try but want a review of first, contact us and I will be more than happy to see if I can trial one in my area!

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MMLinky
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