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#blogtober day 7: my breastfeeding goals

Day 7 of #blogtober is ‘goals’, so I thought I’d share my goals and aims in breastfeeding my son. 

Squid is now 2 years old and has been breastfed since birth. To read our breastfeeding story, click here and to read more on why I feed my toddler, click here!

Mama milk saved the day for a recent hospital admission

For me, I always knew I was going to breastfeed. I don’t mean that in a big headed way, but I grew up around breastfeeding women and that’s just the way you feed your babies. 

However, it was NOT an easy ride breastfeeding wise when Squid was born, and so I managed to get myself through each day by setting small, achievable goals. One week, 2 weeks, a month, 3 months, 6 months. 


Each time I met a milestone, I felt accomplished, knowing that I was providing my baby squid with liquid gold. 

Sometime around 3 months (ish, it all blurs into one now!) breastfeeding suddenly became easy: after months of struggling with tongue tie, weight loss, over supply, thrush, vasospasm, torticollis, cracked nipples and a hospital admission, Squid and I finally knew what we were doing. 

And so my goals began to change: I knew I wanted to reach the WHO minimum recommendation of 2 years of breastfeeding, so this was always a goal I had in mind. 


Yet now we are in the ‘beyond’ part of the WHO recommendation and we’re still going: we will continue until it’s no longer something we both want to do.  

Breastfeeding is an absolutely integral part of my parenting: it’s the way Squid falls asleep, and the way he seeks comfort, safety and security when things are scary or difficult, plus all the immunological benefits and perks for me. Breastfeeding has made me the mum I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing. 


Our goals have adapted and changed over the past few years, and I know that for us, this is absolutely the right journey. 


See you tomorrow for #blogtober day 8: ‘holidays’!

Love, Squidmamma x 🐙

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September: Sepsis Awareness month

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Sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, is a serious and life threatening condition which acts rapidly, and kills 44,000 people in the UK each year. In the USA, more than one person loses their life to sepsis every 2 minutes. It is known as a ‘hidden killer’, due to the speed at which it can shut down the body, and so September is dedicated as Sepsis Awareness month. Knowing the signs and symptoms to look out for might just save a life.

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The NHS advise that urgent medical advice is required if there are changes in:

Temperature

  • temperature over 38C in babies under three months
  • temperature over 39C in babies aged three to six months
  • any high temperature in a child who cannot be encouraged to show interest in anything
  • low temperature (below 36C – check three times in a 10-minute period)
  • chills or shivering

Breathing

  • finding it much harder to breathe than normal – looks like hard work
  • making “grunting” noises with every breath
  • can’t say more than a few words at once (for older children who normally talk)
  • breathing that obviously “pauses”
  • breathing quickens suddenly

Toilet/nappies

  • not had a wee or wet nappy for 12 hours

Eating and drinking

  • new baby under one month old with no interest in feeding
  • not drinking for more than eight hours (when awake)
  • bile-stained (green), bloody or black vomit/sick

Activity and body

  • soft spot on a baby’s head is bulging
  • eyes look “sunken”
  • child cannot be encouraged to show interest in anything
  • baby is floppy
  • weak, “whining” or continuous crying in a younger child
  • older child/adult who’s confused
  • not responding or very irritable
  • stiff neck, especially when trying to look up and down

Sepsis can quickly spiral into septic shock, when blood pressure plummets.

Symptoms of this can include:

  • feeling dizzy or faint
  • a change in mental state – such as confusion or disorientation
  • diarrhoea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • slurred speech
  • severe muscle pain
  • severe breathlessness
  • less urine production than normal – for example, not urinating for a day
  • cold, clammy and pale or mottled skin
  • loss of consciousness

UST609_Sepsis_New_Adult_BusCard_CR3-1_Page_1Seek urgent medical advice if you suspect sepsis – NHS 111 will be able to direct you to the appropriate help. Severe sepsis and sepsis shock are incredibly serious: go straight to A&E or call 999. If in doubt, seek advice. Sepsis can act quickly, and can take over the body without much warning – the faster you act, the better the outcome.

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I have been privileged to speak to 2 strong mamas who have encountered sepsis. The first, Aimee, told me about the time her son, Clark, was taken seriously ill:

‘Clark was exactly 12 weeks old. It was a Friday evening and he had not been ‘well’ all week. I had taken him to our GP on 3 occasions that week explaining that he was ‘chesty’ and had a temperature. Each time there was a further concern – not feeding and then being very sleepy. I was told that he had a virus and that I was maybe being a little fussy due to him being a ‘small premature baby’.

However on that Friday evening, he was struggling to catch his breath and I called 111. I was advised that due to his age they would send a paramedic by ambulance to check him over. We were taken to hospital ‘to be on the safe side’, however they were ‘not overly concerned’. We were sat in the Children’s A&E and a nurse walked past and asked how long he had had the rash on his skin (mottled appearance) I explained for around 24 hours.

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We were taken in a side room and bloods taken from his heal. Within 30 minutes a nurse calmly walked in and said we needed to move rooms. As I wandered down the short corridor I noted we were walking into Resus. A team of professionals quickly rushed in and immediately started to hook Clark up to various machines and try to fit a baby cannula. I was told his body was shutting down and that action needed to be taken. This would involve a doctor using a drill to penetrate the bone in his leg, which would enable them to ‘push much needed fluids’ into him through the bone. The machines were all going off and Clark was simply lying on the bed not responding to the chaos around him. The drill was the most awful thing I have experienced, however: it most definitely helped to save his life.

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Once he was in a more stable condition, a consultant came to speak to me explaining, that they were treating him for sepsis and that the blood gases in his body were abnormal. They were concerned that, due to how poorly he appeared, he may also have a form of meningitis.

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I was advised that we would be transferred to a high dependency hospital by ambulance where we would stay for 2 weeks. He would need IV antibiotics and fluids, then a nasal gastric tube fitted to start feeds when needed. The next 8 days involved me and my boy in a side room of a hospital ward, with him simply sleeping and having various people come to assess, monitor and ‘medicate’ him.

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Thankfully, baby Clark made a full recovery

Remarkably, after just eight days he was completely back to his normal self. On discharge, I was told by a doctor that, in their opinion, if I had left him until the morning after we were taken in, that he more than likely would have passed away in his sleep. The team who cared for him that evening most definitely saved his life, and I will always be grateful to that nurse who observed, cared acted upon her instinct.’

Rebecca kindly told me her story, too, where she contracted sepsis only days after the birth of her first child:

‘I contracted sepsis after giving birth to my son via c-section 11 years ago and it almost killed me. An uncontrolled infection took over my body when I was 8 days postnatal. I’m very lucky to be alive to tell the tale but not everyone survives: Sepsis is the leading cause of maternal death in the UK. Sepsis is essentially blood poisoning- you may have heard of the old term ‘septicaemia’- as the body over-reacts to an infection and begins attacking itself. There are several key symptoms which emerge, in no particular order, but the most striking thing to be aware of with sepsis is the speed with which it takes hold.

My symptoms were:

  • Very high temperature (40+)
  • Shivery and achey, flu-like
  • Rapid breathing (more than twice a second at some points)
  • Racing heart, fast pulse
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea (trying to vomit in the sink while on the toilet, simultaneously breastfeeding an 8 day old is no mean feat!)
  • Barely peed all day (this is a real warning sign for both adults and children)
  • Hallucinating and/or delirious
  • I really felt like I “was dying” in a way that I can’t really explain and apparently I “looked ill”.

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We knew something was wrong, but as first time parents, we didn’t know what was to be expected after childbirth and what wasn’t. A GP and a midwife saw me and diagnosed an infection but didn’t take full account of all my symptoms. Thankfully, when I totally lost control over my bodily functions, my husband’s instinct to get help immediately was right. The out-of-hours doctor who came in the early hours took one look at me and called an ambulance. By this point, I had very low blood pressure (60/20!), I had developed an all-over sunburn-like rash and then my arm/hand/fingers started tingling. This is when my body started shutting down.

The body is very clever and it redirects blood supply (and therefore oxygen) towards the vital organs, away from the extremities. This is why I felt tingling; the limb was beginning to ‘die’. Once diagnosed, treatment for sepsis is actually very simple: IV antibiotics and, very often, IV fluid and oxygen. I had a more aggressive treatment plan including morphine, noradrenaline, surgery and ventilation (“life support”), as my body had gone in to septic shock.

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I spent a week in ITU/HDU and then a further week in a side room on the postnatal ward, which was pure torture for a new, first time mum without her baby. I lost 3 stone in two weeks while in hospital and went home with a deep open wound (which looked like a shark bite!), which I had for six months before having a further operation. (Another week of not being able to care for my baby!)

In those six months, I had repeated antibiotics as the wound continued to get re-infected, and months of physiotherapy. I also lost lots of my hair and the skin peeled off my hands and feet! My physical recovery was slow and painful but I suffered with the emotional and mental after effects for years. Those precious early weeks away from my newborn baby boy were perhaps the hardest part of it all and, as strange as it might sound, it’s taken me a long time to forgive myself and get over it. I don’t cry on my sepsis ‘anniversary’ anymore and I am capable of talking about it openly.

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I was very lucky to fall pregnant again – which we were told might not be the case – and I now have three beautiful children. I was closely monitored in pregnancy and postnatally and their deliveries were by planned caesarean due to my damaged uterus and masses of scar tissue. My youngest bundle of joy is my last, as it’s no longer safe for me to carry and deliver another baby. I have some minor, long-lasting effects from sepsis but I’m here!

The UK Sepsis Trust was founded in 2012, six years after I contracted it, and their work in raising awareness is proving to be vital in saving lives. However, more work needs to be done. Trust your instincts. Just Ask: Could it be Sepsis?’

There is a fantastic charity ‘The UK Sepsis Trust’, which is an excellent resource to help spread awareness. The UK Sepsis Trust also helps to set up fund raising events, to raise awareness and as well as vital funds to help conduct valuable research into this deadly condition. You can donate to the charity here.

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Thank you so much to Aimee and Rebecca for sharing their harrowing stories.

Save a life: spread awareness. Please share and pass on this information during Sepsis Awareness month.

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Love,
Squidmamma x

Information cited from The NHS advice website and The UK Sepsis Trust.

 

 

 

 

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Returning to work whilst breastfeeding – how can it be done?!

When you first have your bundle of joy (well, bundle of poo, sleeplessness and noise), you are so focussed on your brand new human that you don’t think about your life before baby: the job you did and the job you have to return to. When Squid was about 4 months old, I began to emerge from the baby cocoon and I began to realise that time was starting to run away with me and it wouldn’t be long until I had to go back to work.I was lucky that Squid was born in September because, as a teacher, this meant I only had to return to work for 7 weeks before the summer holidays were upon me! But the closer it got, the more I dreaded my return. As an exclusively breastfed baby, I was worried about leaving Squid and how he would cope. I was due to return to work when he was 8 months old, not long after beginning to introduce food and I was panicking.

Luckily, I know a wonderful Breastfeeding Counsellor who has supported me through so many things in Squid’s 19 months of life, and she allayed my fears with excellent advice about how I could return to work and continue breastfeeding.

If your return to work is imminent, and you’re wondering how on earth you and your little love will cope, then hopefully this guide will help you and put your worries to rest…

Food and water

My main worry about returning to work was how Squid would deal with being away from me for 12 hours a day, 3 days a week. Prior to my return, we had never spent more than a few hours apart. Suddenly, Squid and I were going to have to be separated, which meant no boobies for my wee lad. As a chronic bottle-refuser, and a baby-led weaning baby who wasn’t eating huge amounts, I was so concerned about what he would eat and drink in my absence.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried. When I was at work, Squid was happy to drink water from a cup, and to eat food. Granted, in the beginning, he wasn’t eating a huge amount of food, but he was eating. And he very quickly increased his solid food intake after I returned to work – I think that something must have ‘clicked’ – that food fills you up.

Most mums in the UK return to work around 8 months to a year after the birth of their baby – and at this age, babies are perfectly capable of going for longer periods of time without breastmilk. This is the most common approach for mamas whose babies won’t drink from a bottle.


Practicalities of breastfeeding a baby when back to work

If your baby won’t drink expressed breast milk, and in your absence they have water and food, then when you are reunited, they may go through what is called ‘reverse cycling’. This is where your little one may make up for their missed milk by having a big cluster feed in the evening, and they may wake more regularly in the night for milk. As a bed sharing family, with a small person who has always fed for a lot of the night, this didn’t make much difference to me, and quite frankly I was always so happy to be back with my babe that I didn’t care how much he fed!

It is worth noting here, however, that even if your baby DOES drink expressed milk whilst you’re at work, they may still reverse cycle – they’ve missed you, and after all, breastfeeding never was just about the milk! It’s such a wonderful way to reconnect after a long day apart, and breastmilk is love, cuddles and warmth combined.

Another practical thing to consider is that, when you return to work and are away from your baby, therefore not nursing on demand, your boobs may feel very full and leaky – so make sure you pack extra breast pads in your bag! I had an embarrassing experience of being caught short one afternoon when I was teaching – I looked down to find my top was soaked! Thank God for big, woolly cardigans is all I’ll say!


Expressing – your rights at work

Even if your baby won’t drink your expressed milk in your absence, the likelihood is that you will still need to express during the day in order to relieve your milky Pammy Andersons!

I was really nervous about broaching this subject with my employer – I would need somewhere private to express milk, and in a school, there are not many private places!

What does the law say then, about a breastfeeding mother’s rights at work?

Unfortunately, it actually isn’t exactly law for an employer to provide you with somewhere to express milk whilst at work, however, it IS law for an employer to provide pregnant or breastfeeding mothers with somewhere to ‘rest’ at work. The law is a bit confusing here, as what ‘resting’ entails isn’t actually outlined. However, it is considered ‘good practice’ to be accommodating of breaks for a breastfeeding mother, taking into account the possible negative effects of not allowing such breaks (e.g. the risk of painful engorgement, blocked ducts, mastitis, and potentially even abscesses, and therefore the need for time off work for the employee. It is also worth remembering that a breastfed baby will be healthier and therefore may not require the mother (or parent) to take time off work to care for them). Therefore, if a mother is allowed adequate breaks to express milk, there will be less need for staff absence, the mother will be able to maintain her breastfeeding relationship, and staff morale will remain high.

Where you are allowed to express milk whilst at work depends on your employer. Ideally, the space should be private and comfortable, as well as hygienic. I always think that a good rule of thumb is that if you would eat there, then it’s hygienic enough to express there. Which is why, when I spoke to my work about where I could express, I refused their initial suggestion of ‘in the disabled loo’…

Luckily, this suggestion was quickly followed up with an alternative room. For a while, I expressed here during my breaks. However, as Squid always refused to drink any of the milk I expressed, I actually didn’t end up doing this for very long. In fact, the tipping point for me was when my deputy head teacher nearly walked in on me – thank goodness for locked doors or he would have had an eyeful! – I gradually, over a period of weeks, reduced the amount of times I was expressing whilst at work, starting off at twice a day, dropping to once and then eventually no expressing sessions.

Tips for expressing at work:

Try and relax! You are more likely to trigger a let down if you are relaxed and calm – sometimes over thinking it can delay your let down from happening!

Take something which smells of your baby – this can really help when expressing – to look at and smell an item of clothing, for example, because it will remind you of your little one and may make your milk flow easier!

Look at photos of your small human – similar to smelling an item of their clothing, it can really help to focus on your baby whilst you express!

Don’t panic if you don’t get much milk out – it’s not a reflection of your supply. Some women really don’t respond to pumps, and can barely express a drop – and that’s okay!

Hand expressing might be better – learn how to hand express, because you may find it a quicker and more effective way of removing milk from your breasts.


What about my supply?

Before reducing my expressing sessions, I was concerned about the effect that not expressing at work would have on my supply. However, your milk supply adjusts according to supply and demand, and I soon realised that my body would adjust according to the amount of times Squid was asking for milk. It always helps to remember that breasts are rivers, not lakes; factories, not warehouses: meaning that they are constantly flowing with milk, according to demand, rather than storing the milk that will ‘disappear’ when it’s all gone. It is for this reason, that during school holidays, when I am not at work on my ‘regular’ work days, I can continue to breastfeed Squid on demand – because there is always milk.

Whilst my supply was adjusting, I did find that I had to hand express a few times a day, just enough to trigger a let down, so that my breasts did not feel so full and uncomfortable. Because I weaned from expressing so gradually, I didn’t get mastitis – if you do this too suddenly, your supply won’t have a chance to adjust and you may end up with lumps and painful blockages.


How much expressed milk to leave

If your boobie bandit does accept expressed milk from anything that isn’t the direct source, then it can be really overwhelming to think about how much expressed milk they might need in a day – you have no idea how much milk a breastfed baby takes, and therefore you don’t know what a ‘boobful’ of milk looks like!

It is easy to compare a breastfed baby with their formula fed counterparts, because you often hear of formula fed babies drinking 8oz in one sitting, but things are slightly different when a baby is exclusively breast fed. Breast milk is so easy to digest that they may feed more regularly, but drink smaller amounts, and also formula can stretch a baby’s stomach as it is heavier than breast milk – hence why they need to drink more milk, because they have a larger stomach space! A rough guide for expressed milk is approximately 1oz to 1.5oz per hour (so a baby that feeds every 3 hours might take between 3oz and 4.5oz per feed, for example). If you are at work for 12 hours, you might aim to leave between 12oz and 18oz of expressed milk for your baby. However, you may well find that your baby might not drink as much as this – if they are over 6 months old and therefore having water and food as well, they may not need as much milk – and that’s okay!


I think the best advice is to try not to stress about how much milk your baby is drinking in your absence. There’s some great advice here, about how much milk you might want to leave your exclusively breastfed baby: http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/pumping/milkcalc/

I must mention here too, that obviously the flow of milk is very different between a breast and a bottle: at the breast, babies must work for their milk, waiting for a let down, and then must actively suck and swallow throughout a feed in order to drink. That’s why a breastfed baby can’t be over fed – because they control the amount of milk they take and they stop feeding when they are full. Conversely, with a bottle, the milk flows continuously, so sometimes even when a baby might be full, the milk will continue to flow, and they swallow (because of the reflex telling them to do so). This is why when you bottle feed a baby, and particularly when you bottle feed a breastfed baby, it’s important to do something called ‘paced feeding’ which involves feeding in a more upright position, allowing the baby to ‘latch on’ to the bottle teat, and varying the angle of the bottle so that milk doesn’t always continuously flow without the baby working for it – this is so that it mimics what it’s like to be breastfed and therefore the baby doesn’t over eat! For more on paced feeding see http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/feeding-tools/bottle-feeding/

Other great links regarding returning to work as a breastfeeding mum:

https://www.maternityaction.org.uk/advice-2/mums-dads-scenarios/6-breastfeeding-rights/continuing-to-breastfeed-when-you-return-to-work/
http://www.acas.org.uk/media/pdf/j/k/Acas_guide_on_accommodating_breastfeeding_in_the_workplace_(JANUARY2014).pdf
Have you returned to work, and are still breastfeeding? What worries did you have, and how did you find it? Is your return to work imminent? How are you feeling about it? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @squidmamma and on Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/squidmamma/ for daily baby, teacher and life updates!

Love,

Squidmamma x

17

9 reasons I breastfeed my toddler


When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to ‘give breastfeeding a go’. I researched, I went to classes, I learnt a lot. I was ready. And then Squid was born and it wasn’t exactly like the books said it would be. It hurt. It was hard. The hardest thing I had ever done. I just wanted to feed my baby and it was really bloody difficult.

Setting small, interim goals helped me. 6 weeks. 12 weeks. 6 months.

But in the beginning, in my mind, when Squid turned 1, we would stop. That way, he would only ever have had breast milk, no need for formula: my job would be done.

Because ‘One’ is big. ‘One’ is grown up. ‘One’ does not need to be fed from his mother’s breast.

Right?

Well, actually: no.

By the time Squid was only a few months old, and things were easier, I knew we were in this for the long haul. I absolutely knew that my lovely boy would be breastfed until he decides to stop, whenever that is. Because the fact is, your baby only gets older one day at a time. The day after Squid turned one, I didn’t suddenly feel that he was ‘too old’ to be breast fed.

At 18 months old, Squid needs breast milk more than ever. So, with that in mind, here is my list of 9 reasons to breastfeed a toddler.

 1. Connection.

At the end of the day, my favourite time is our sleepy, freshly bathed boob cuddles, where Squid will play with my hair, and I will stroke his face and he locks eyes with mine. It is a time filled with love and connection, and is so important to the both of us, especially when I have been working. Toddlers are busy: I spend most of days at home tearing round after our small hurricane of a child; work can be stressful, life can be difficult, but Squid becomes a gentle and peaceful little soul when he’s nestled in my arms and latched on. This quiet, loving time at the end of each day when Squid feeds to sleep relaxes the both of us, and usually the troubles of the day melt away into nothingness.

 

2. Sleep

Breastfeeding my toddler absolutely guarantees me more sleep. Squid wakes several times a night (WHICH IS NORMAL!!!) and without breastfeeding, I would be a walking zombie: when Squid stirs, he’s straight into our bed, latched on and fast asleep again within seconds. Most nights I don’t even fully wake when he latches on, making for a (generally!) peaceful night’s sleep for us all.

Additionally breast milk contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid used in the production of melatonin. Melatonin is, quite simply put, a sleep inducing hormone, which is another reason to love breastfeeding a toddler: magic sleepy dust at your fingertips (well, at your nipples). On top of this, breastfeeding also releases the hormone oxytocin in both the mother and child: this is the ‘love’ hormone, which can help to relax you, so mum can drift off easily too!

 

3. Protection

A child’s immune system is not fully formed until at least 2 years of age (different sources say different things, with 2 years being the minimum but 4-7 years being the ‘internet research average’! – interestingly, children naturally wean from the breast between 2 and 7, with world average being 4.3 years – on a timeline with immunity development, go figure!) and breastfeeding a toddler only serves to strengthen the immune system. Whilst breastfeeding does not reduce the risk of your toddler getting poorly (rather, not breastfeeding increases the risk), it can help to speed up recovery, as well as offer lots of comfort when it’s most needed. Cleverly, breast milk changes in its components when a child is poorly, and will start resembling nutrient packed colostrum again. Our bodies are just amazing!

We have a family history of chronic asthma and serious allergies, and so breastfeeding Squid past infancy is so important to me, because although genetics may dictate that he might be asthmatic, or have allergies, breastfeeding is going to help him through that, strengthen his immune system and help him with recoveries.

 

4. Big emotions

Being a toddler is hard work. The world is confusing, you can’t always express what you want or mean, and sometimes it all gets too much, emotions overspill and expressions of anger, frustration, sadness and confusion (read: melt downs) can occur. When these moments strike, my best approach with Squid is firstly to empathise and recognise the emotion, and then to offer a cuddle and some milk. I guess it comes back to reconnecting and grounding: a breastfeed can settle, calm and re-centre all those big feelings that are hard to deal with. A breastfeed is familiar, quiet and (mostly) still.

This also works well in unfamiliar situations – sometimes Squid will feel nervous or shy when we go somewhere new, and a reassuring cuddle with some milk usually sorts him out and equips him for exploration and mischief.

 

5. Peace

I am absolutely guilty of offering Squid a breastfeed when I myself just need a sit down. Squid is always on the move, climbing, walking, running, and I am always there chasing after him. The fact is, I just don’t have the same energy levels as my one year old and sometimes, mama needs a sit down! The only real way to guarantee this is to offer Squid a boob – he rarely says no, and often the 5 minutes of calm can reset both of our batteries for more fun and exploration!

 

6. Nutrition

Obviously Squid eats actual food, and has done since he was 6 months old. From around the time he was about a year old, he was consistently eating 3 meals a day, plus 2 or 3 snacks, and water. This food obviously provides him with a balanced diet, and we make sure to give him healthy, energy giving foods. However, daily breast milk can provide 29% of energy requirements, 43% of protein requirements, 36% of calcium requirements and 60% of vitamin C requirements in the second year, and beyond, of breastfeeding.

For me, this is a really important one, especially when Squid is poorly. Sometimes, when he’s ill, he doesn’t want to eat, and so knowing that I can still provide some nutrition for him, as well as comfort, warmth and love, is a huge benefit.

 

7. Selfish mama

Breastfeeding can help to reduce the mother’s risk of: breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, endometrial cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease to name but a few conditions. And of course, the longer you breastfeed for, the more your risk decreases. No brainer really.

 

8. Increased risk of IDGAF-itis

Yes – you guessed it, breastfeeding really CAN increase your risk of something… a chronic condition known as ‘I-don’t-give-a-fuck – itis’. Something I have learnt since breastfeeding Squid, especially now he is a ‘big grown up toddler’ is that I really, really do not care what anyone else thinks. People’s opinions have never mattered less to me. Squid and I are happy doing what we do, and we genuinely do not need other people to express how they feel about breastfeeding to natural term. Which is, by the way, what we’re doing. Squid will finish feeding when he’s ready. I don’t know when that might be, though I imagine it won’t be any time soon. Whether it’s in the next 6 months, the next year, two years or longer, I still will not care what people think. I am nourishing, nurturing and mothering my child in the way that nature intended, and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

9. My toddler the feeder

And finally, if the above reasons weren’t enough to give you an insight as to why I do what I do, I give you this…

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Just remember: not your baby, not your boobs, not your toddler, not your tits, not your child, not your… chest? (Tenuous 😂) Not your business!

Are you breastfeeding a toddler or older child? Let me know! 

Catch me on Instagram @squidmamma for sporadically irregular life updates!
 

LOVE, 

Squidmamma x

 

5

Work-life imbalance: Musings of a guilt-ridden working Mama

Mum guilt. It’s a curse. It kind of comes with the job, it’s in the job description, but that fact doesn’t make the experience any easier.

I feel guilty on a daily basis about all sorts of aspects of my parenting role. Guilty that I still haven’t taken Small to those swimming lessons I vowed he’d take, guilty that the only way I can make it round Aldi is by bribing my miniature human with Quavers, guilty that I don’t even buy Quavers – they’re own-brand ‘Cheez Curls’. Mum-guilt is part and parcel of being a parent, and one of the biggest causes of my guilt is that I have to go to work.

I’m a teacher. I have always wanted to teach. Before birthing Squid, I loved my job: I was totally devoted to the children in my care, and most waking hours were dedicated to being a good teacher. I worked evenings, weekends and any minutes in between to do my best by ‘my’ kids. I had worked bloody hard to become a teacher, and I poured my heart and soul into my job. When I was pregnant, I happily announced to anyone who asked that I would probably cut my maternity leave short to return to work: I loved my job.

And then… Squid was born.

I had already been off work for 10 weeks by the time Squid made his entrance to the world. Like any sensible teacher knows, a well-timed pregnancy results in a September due-date: meaning that I left work at the start of the summer holidays on full pay at only 32 weeks pregnant. At 41 weeks and 6 days pregnant, Squid arrived, and up until that point, I was bored stupid. I missed work, I missed the children, I missed the routine.

But suddenly I was the owner of a very dependent little milk guzzler, and work really was the very last thing on my mind.

By the time Squid was 4 months old, I was already desperately thinking of ways to avoid the dreaded return to work. Truthfully, I was absolutely smitten by this chubby bundle of energy, but short of a lottery win, my inevitable return to work loomed nearer and nearer.

I went back when Squid was just 8 months old, and I was lucky enough that my school have been accommodating – I reduced my hours to 3 days a week, and I job share with another mama: she ‘gets’ it.

I knew we would find it hard. No amount of people telling me I’d enjoy a hot cup of tea, enjoy eating a sandwich without a pair of chubby hands in it, that I would relish the quietness of my break times, that I’d enjoy using the bathroom in peace, made the experience easier for me. These things were but small mercies in my mental preparation for my return to work. But, if no one could have prepared me for the intense and unconditional love that I felt for Squid, then absolutely nothing and no one could have prepared me for the utter heart break I would feel at leaving him. I don’t care about hot tea: a 9lb 9oz baby means my bladder isn’t what it used to be, anyway. I would share my sandwich with my boy every day for the rest of time, if it meant I could be home with him.

And so, with my return to work, began the mum-guilt.

I feel guilty that I go to work to spend my day with other people’s children.

I feel guilty that my darling boy hates nursery. That he cries with heaving sobs every time I leave him.

I feel guilty that I am missing days of my baby boy’s week: whole days, where he might learn new things. Days where he needs me, where I need him. I miss out on his laughter, his achievements, his bumps and falls.

I also feel guilty that I do still love my job, that I want to be a good teacher.

I feel guilty that I can’t always be the teacher I aspired to be – I don’t have enough hours available to me to prepare all the resources I’d like to, to plan all the interventions my children could benefit from.

I feel guilty that I can’t spend the hours in the evening that I used to, to mark books and laminate bookmarks – equally I feel guilty spending any precious family-time doing school work when my little man needs me.

It’s really hard. I love my job. I love being a mama. I want to be good at both; sometimes I am only okay. I had underestimated how tricky it is to be a working mum. I am not afraid to admit that pre-baby, I thought part-time teachers with young families had it easy – a bit of a cop out. How wrong was I. I know some of my colleagues don’t consider us part-timers to be ‘real teachers’, but this just makes me sad. I can’t blame them, though: I definitely felt like that too before I had baby Squid.

I would sacrifice a limb to be able to spend my whole time with my baby Squid, to not have to go to work, to not have to send him to nursery. And let’s not talk about nursery fees – I go to work to just about pay the bills.

But the fact remains: I have to work. If I didn’t work, we couldn’t afford to live. And so, I make the best of every moment I do have with my baby boy: I cherish our time together, savour every second*. I try to make our days together count: I try to make sure they’re filled with love and laughter and quality time together.

I wish I could be a stay-at-home mum, but unfortunately for our family, that is not a possibility for us right now. I am envious of my mama-friends who get to spend their whole week with their small people, and I try not to let it bother me when they declare that they would love ‘just a minute’s peace!’ – because motherhood is hard. Whether you go to paid employment or not, being a mama is a full time job in itself.

And the mum-guilt sucks. I doubt it will go away, but I really am trying my best. I hope that’s enough.

Love,

Squidmamma x

Follow my Twitter and Instagram at @squidmamma for more baby/life updates.

*Except when I’m trying to have a wee and he’s hanging off my ankles. I don’t savour those moments much.

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Eating out with a BLW baby!

Squid getting impatient waiting for his lunch!

We love eating out as a family. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, we eat out several times a month. I really love taking Squid to new places and letting him try new foods. However, BLW inevitably = MESS! This might put some people off dining out with their small people in the really messy, early stages of BLW, but I’ve got a handy list of tips to make eating out mess free and stress free! With a few minutes of preparation, eating out with your BLW baby can be fun and easy. 

When out and about, I pack essentials into our lunchbox.  I always take snacks with me: they’re great for if we ever get stuck anywhere, or if we are out for dinner and Squid gets bored waiting. I try and take snacks that fit into one little pot: bread sticks, raisins, cubes of cheese. This saves space and I can just grab the pot easily! 
If we go out over lunch time, to a play group or the park for example, I take lunch for him too. This saves buying something expensive for him, (I spent £2 on a fruit pot for him in Starbucks a few weeks ago – who knew fruit could be so expensive?!), and also means that I know the salt and sugar content of what I’m giving him. 

I know that when you eat out, in a restaurant of café, you’re paying for a service which includes someone preparing and serving food and cleaning up after you, but I used to work in a café, and I absolutely hated cleaning up the massive, soggy messes left by some families. 

When we go out to eat, I make sure I have our essentials with us. Into our lunchbox usually goes:

  • Dettol wipes
  • Snack pot
  • Bag for life
  • Disposable floor mat (we get them from the Poundshop, they come in packs of 4!
  • Baby-sized spoons/forks
  • Cup
  • Bin bag
  • Wet flannel (30p each in Wilkinson!)
  • Cover-all bib

Firstly, I always give high chairs and tables a wipe over with a dettol wipe – because Squid prefers to throw plates than eat off them, I like his eating surface to be clean! Then we always put a disposable paper table cloth under the high chair – this catches any spillages or droppages and can be easily scooped up into a bag afterwards! Also, it means that if your baby accidentally drops their food onto the mat, you can pick it up and give it back to them as it hasn’t touched the floor!

To save his clothes when we are out, I always put Squid in a cover-all bib: I find the fabric ones restrict his movement less than the plastic ones! 

Fabric bibs are easy to wash and don’t restrict baby’s movement when eating

Then, at the end of the meal, I clean Squid with the wet flannel and then wipe down the table and highchair, and pop the flannel, any of our plastic cutlery and plates, plus his bib and cup into the fabric, washable bag for life (to wash when I get home). Next I scoop up the floor mat and any other rubbish and put it straight into the bin bag. Restaurants always appreciate the effort to keep things tidy, and it takes no time at all! 

So what can your BLW baby eat when dining out? I never order Squid his own meal – I know the day will come when I have to, but for now, he is happy having some food from mine and Daddy Squid’s plates! I order whatever I fancy and then cut Squid-sized pieces off for the small person (remember – chip shaped!) I am always mindful of how things are cooked, for example with extra salt – if in doubt, request for your dish to be cooked without salt. If, for example, I ordered myself steak, jacket potato and vegetables, I would put a bit of everything in front of Squid – he really loves steak! 

The only things I would be mindful of are, as I said, salt, but also sugar content, honey (babies under 1 year can’t have it), whole nuts, bones in fish, plus anything really spicy. Squid loves spice but I wouldn’t have given him spicy food for the first time when out and about. 

Daddy Squid’s breakfast <– and Baby Squid’s breakfast –>

Where is your favourite place to eat with your BLW baby? What do they like to tuck into when dining out? Let me know in the comments!

Find me on Twitter and Instagram: @squidmamma for more baby and life updates! 

Love, 

Squidmamma x 

1

Human Milk for Human Babies

In an ideal world, a mother will feed her baby without issue. However, The World Health Organisation states that if a mother’s own milk is not available then the next best thing is the milk from another woman. 

Within hospitals, there is often a milk donation/bank scheme, where mothers can donate expressed milk for sick babies in SCBU or the NICU, if their own mammas are unable to feed or express for them. I’m very lucky to know quite a few mummies who have been generous enough to donate excess milk this way, and what a beautiful gift! 

Mothers who donate milk in this way have to undergo thorough health checks, understandably, as the milk is being given to the most vulnerable of babies! 
However, there is also a more informal way of sharing and donating milk, through a site called ‘Human Milk For Human Babies’. Here, mammas can advertise spare milk, or ask for donations. Many thousands of women donate and receive milk through this site – how incredible! 

Milk sharing is very common in the breastfeeding community. It used to be very common practice for groups of lactating mothers to feed each other’s babies. This still happens across the globe, but can be somewhat taboo in the western world.

If a mother cannot feed her baby, even for a short period of time, it makes sense that someone else could… Right??!! After all, many of us drink cow’s milk without a second thought. This is called wet nursing – literally nursing another person’s baby. Many breastfed babies refuse to drink expressed milk (just like Squid!!!) and so wet nursing makes perfect sense. Plus it’s so much easier to feed ‘straight from the source’ than to express! 

Since having Squid, I have often thought about what would happen in the horrible event of my death (zombie apocalypse, eaten by an alligator etc) and myself and a very good friend have struck a deal that if anything were to happen to either one of us, we’d make sure each other’s baby received human milk: donated, expressed or wet nursed, until they turn at least 1 year old (when you CAN stop giving breast milk (or formula). This gives me immense peace of mind that Squid would still receive all the great benefits of human milk, even if I wasn’t around anymore. 

Sharing human milk is normal and natural. I know it might push some of you to the edges of your comfort zones, because of the way our society has been conditioned, but this is milk from our own species: it’s actually weirder to think about drinking another species’ milk isn’t it?! 

You can check out the HM4HB UK website at http://hm4hb.net/ and their Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/HM4HBUK/ to find out more. 

There are other milk sharing communities and more places to find out information. 

Check out 

http://www.eatsonfeets.org/

http://realbabymilk.org/local-support/uk-milk-banking/

Would you donate or receive human milk for your baby? Would you let your baby be wet nursed, or would you wet nurse another’s baby? Have you already given or received donor milk or had experiences of wet nursing? Let me know in the comments. 

Find me on Twitter and Instagram! @squidmamma for daily life/baby updates. 

Love, 

Squidmamma x