I learnt the hard way round.
On these squares, you can be forgiven for thinking life is rosey in others worlds. It’s not common for health care professionals to share their personal stories, and I am calling time on that!
Breastfeeding my children was the hardest thing I have EVER done! I didn’t even know what an IBCLC was before I desperately booked one. It as been a long bloody (literally!) road.
I was suspicious of the diagnosis of a tongue tie as a way to make money off of me and yet, I found the money and I booked that appointment that honestly, changed our lives.
Roll around to the next baby and I had many supporters on speeddail and my only regret was not reaching further into my pocket to get that home visit. Instead, I packed my 24 hour old baby up for a 3 hour round trip to see the IBCLC I knew and trusted with another tongue tied baby.
Most of my investing in endless study days, conferences and even training to be an IBCLC, have been to unpick ALL of the issues we experienced as a breastfeeding family. It has been hard. It has been emotional but it has been worth every tear if I can help YOU shed one less that I did.
I will be there, in your home if you need me. I will take a payment plan, I will find child care for my home educated children so I can come, I will stand in your corner as you fight hard to achieve your #goals
You are fierce, you deserve support that recognises that.
And this is why I do what I do.
#breastfeeding # support #motivation #journey #life #lessons #investment #wortheverypenny #makeingchange #diversityininfantfeeding
Can you do it? Yes you can! This episode and links aim to empower you, get in touch if you want to explore your options further or share your experiences 🙂
Unicef – beyond 12 months
Kellymom – milk components beyond 12 months
La Leche Leauge – breastfeeding and working
More information about your working rights from Maternity Action (not ACAS)
Direct link – on Anchor / Anchor app
The beginning of September marks a week focusing on reducing our waste in the UK and what better time is there to think more about how infant feeding habits might be adapted to reduce waste.
In May 2019, the UK declared a climate emergency. Many in power are focusing on the big things, but what about the small things parents can do, and make a difference within in every house hold?
The International Baby Food Action explain their idea of Green Feeding;
it means promoting, protecting and supporting optimal breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is a valuable natural resource that leaves almost no carbon or water footprints, needs no packaging and creates no air pollution from manufacturing and transport.
There is a common misconception, that breastfeeding is free. This assumption leans to another, that it’s environmentally friendly, or Zero waste, but this simply is not true. Here are some common things that go along with the modern UK feeding experience and what you can do to lessen the impact.
Growing bodies usually necessitate a set of larger clothes for a time, but do they need to be new?
Many maternity and nursing friendly clothes are lightly worn and could be passed on to a friend, or sold to another family.
The top pictured, a snazy going out top has been through many owners before me and I didn’t pay a penny for it 🙂
Beyond Babyhood, many parents find themselves wearing normal clothes and lifting up / pulling down clothes to feed/pump – nothing special needed!
Asking friends for their unused items
Second hand clothes groups – Can I breastfeed in it
I cant think of many other things in new parentdom that are covered in more excessive plastic. There is another way..
There are ones made from cotton, silk, bamboo, hemp, wool even. Some people make their own and others buy second hand. All wash and last longer than you really need them for breastfeeding journey.
They are reused in this house on bums and faces and much more 😅
Reusable cloth breast pads
Another ‘must have’ item that generates much waste, are the single use milk storage bags. Whilst they do offer a level of convience, do they to be disposable for the healthy baby?
Many patents are using multiple use items, some even recycling food jars for short term storage.
reusing plastic storage bottles
switching to glass jars for storage (not in the freezer!)
With 100’s of thousands of babies born every year, imagen how many ‘just in case’ purchases are made before birth.
See the size of the new baby’s stomach, then look at the size of the bottles above, and the ore made bottles with formula in them..
Cup feeding is safe and a green feeding alternative to bottles. Many babies over 6 months can go straight to using spouted cups & skip bottles all together.
If you do need them, often there are loved ones just waiting to do something to help you out, use them!
Not buying before you need them
Not changing that sizes
Breastfeeded Beyond Babyhood
Continuing to breastfeed along side the introduction of home foods, locally grown and made can reduce the carbon footprint of infant feeding even more.
First steps nutrition have lots of resources on eating well for little ones, with breastfeeding alongside of course 🙂
Scientific research by Katherine A. Dettwyler, PhD shows that 2.5 to 7.0 years of nursing is what our children have been designed to expect (Dettwyler 1995).Kelly Mom
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001
Breastfeeding beyond babyhood
So is breastfeeding Zero waste?
Not quite.. But maybe now you have some ideas about how to move closer towards it 🙂
What will you change? Let us know on Facebook and Instagram.
Ps.. Did you know about…
These are a new way of offering feeding & parenting support in High Wycombe, run by me a Breastfeeding Specialist and Paediatric nurse.
There are two parts, a drop-in Breastfeeding Support Session
& an Antenatal Breastfeeding Workshop.
This blog is born out of the conversations I have had / seen about about Black Breastfeeding Week in September 2019.
If you have thoughts like these, read on.
- Black breastfeeding week is a USA thing.
- I support everyone who seeks my support.
- I do enough, this week does not apply to me.
It is uncomfortable
If you meet me in real life, or online, you will know I am willing to have the uncomfortable conversations and as such, I have had requests for resources from others like me, who want to work through the issues around undeserved populations and parenting / breastfeeding support in the UK.
I do not write this blog to stoke my own ego ( although it is cathartic!), I write it to share things that helped me on my journey of self discovery so far. Please do share with me what helps you on yours, let us learn together and change the unacceptable.
From the beginning
Familiarize your self why black breastfeeding week has come to the UK.
Bais (see video) needs active self reflection to unpack – this is NORMAL and a continuous process & takes time.
Understand the lack of representation in supporters affects us all, from the angle of the text books to the ‘accepted wisdom’ of breastfeeding support.
Now, if you are ready, read on.
Last year, the first UK black breastfeeding week caught my attention. I was transfixed but unsure of it’s relevance to me, confused by what it all meant and still wrapped comfortably in my own privilege.
I read blogs about why black breastfeeding week was coming to the UK and I felt unsure what I could do to effect the change needed. I started conversations that met walls. I retreated, for a while.
Roll forward to the 2018 MBRACE report, and I was firstly aghast at the statistics before us. Black women where 5 times more likely to die in the perinatal period than white women, and for no obvious reason.
I repeated steps above, hit walls and retreated again. As time passed, I became confused by the lack of public outrage. I saw more voices in the circles I enhabit, talking louder and louder about bias, racial in equality and it just couldn’t keep it in along longer.
It became clear to me that I needed to know more and so began my own personal journey into the world of my own bias, privilege as a white, middle class, woman in the UK.
In April, I poured my energy into a poster about bias, I took it to a a place with many breastfeeding supporters and I met silence. I cannot know what this means, but I assume that it means, they where not ready to do the work. You can see the poster in its full glory, by downloading it bellow.
Maybe now you are a bit further along and think..
- I don’t know where to begin
- I want to fix this
Here are some things I found helpful and you might want to look at ;
Blog – a 2019 piece, with lots to think on. Good if you feel you need to ACT NOW.
Dear white women are you behind whats suppressing black breastfeeding rates by Kimberly Seals Allers
Food for thought
Why people of color need spaces without white people by Kelsey Blackwell
Work book – Unpacking White Privilege in her book (formally downloadable workbook) – Me and White Supremacy by Laya F Saad
Book/ Audio Book – Fabulous book about the UK perspective of being a person of color, in the UK Why I am no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
In person events
Attend a Black Breastfeeding Week event near you, this one is streaming online for £5 tomorrow !
One to wait for…
I am Not your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
To sum up…
When we stop and examine our own behaviors, we can check ourselves having different expectations of and reactions to people who do not look like us. It is unethical, once a harmful practice or action has been pointed out to us, to continue to act in the same wayTessa Clark April 2019
Social Media accounts to follow..
Nov Reid – Anti Racism speaker
Abuela Doula – Doula trainer for BAME familes
1-2-1 Doula – Doula, educator, running BBW 2919 in London
Podcast episode 3
Supporting loved one in their own feeding journey can be emotional.
It can be hard.
Sometimes your passion for breastfeeding can even backfire.
In this episode I discuss my 3 top tips for doing the best by you and the other parent.
1. Listen – Listen and listen again.
2. Love – nurture the mother.
3. Empower – with reputable information and support.
Stream online @ Anchor
Are they selling the right message?
There is a baby show in the county I work within, this month. I remember visiting one, heavily pregnant with my first born son and I thought of the type of help I needed then.
I didn’t know what I know now, two babes later. At the time, like many of us, I thought I needed the latest X or Y and the reality of it is, I didn’t need any of it.
What might have actually offered improvement on newborn days, would have been meeting a Doula, meeting other breastfeeding mothers, meeting the people who would go on to support me for many months after my breastfeeding struggles smoothed out.
I had to email
So I decided to email the person running the show, find out about a stall and I had so many visions in my head about being the antidote to some of the madness at the events.
The response was generic and the price of £75 a stall had me reeling.
At that price, what local support service for parents could afford to come?
So this was my email back.
Dear generic baby show,
I have had a look though your exhibitor pack and it all looks lovely.
I notice that your shows tour all the large towns and I wonder if have policy for local community engagement?
Whilst I understand that as a business model you are working with big businesses and generating revenue, but as a breastfeeding supporter, I know the impact that parents can experience by being linked up with their local support systems before they have their child. I believe you are well placed to increase many of these services visibility.
As you may know, many of the NHS infant feeding support services are being cut around the country and parents are being left with little support and this is where specialists like myself are trying to fill the gaps in provision with paid and voluntary run services.
Many of the products being sold at events like yours are not essential parts of parenting, they are luxuries. To balance the ethics of this, I urge you to consider engaging with members of the local support communities to balance this out.
I am unable to book a stall at £75 at this time due to finances. Parent support like I give, is not a lucrative business, but it is an essential one.
What are your thoughts?
What do you think? Should baby shows have an obligation to engage in community services? Would have meeting support services in pregnancy made a difference to your post postpartum days?
Many new parents (& many health care professionals) assume, the further away from new born days they get, the less breastfeeding questions they will have.
It is not uncommon, however, for a parent to suddenly realise the surpassed their goals and beyond babyhood, new challenges and questions arise. Then it can be hard to find answers you can trust, in a world of internet searches and lack of access to peers who might have continued breastfeeding.
So here today, I am sharing with you a question and my response that, I hope will help some of you 🙂
I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do you have any advice for breastfeeding gymnastics? Little one just can’t stay still and it’s making me sore. Its at it’s worse when he’s settling for his midday nap.Breastfeeding mum & >1 year old
This lovely coined phrase describes the usually mobile feeding little one, who wants to access milk in a variety of poses, often without unlactching.
Not to be confused with the cuter, younger baby who might grab legs and wiggle away whilst feeding, it is often the full body movers that get the patents most frustrated.
Not all little ones will do this, but for many parents, it’s like someone informed their little ones that milk can be drank at any of the 360° of the breast. These budding scientists/ gymnasts must discover if this is true!
For some, it’s an amusing phase that is over before long, but for others, like our questioner, it can cause some problems. Here are somethings to consider & keep you on track to meet your feeding goals.
Although latching IS possible from all angles, it’s quite likely that by the time whole body has moved to get over a shoulder, the nipple is no longer far back within the little ones mouth where it needs to be for pain free feeding.
It’s probably wise at this point to break the seal of the latch (a little finger in the corner of their mouth/ over their teeth) should allow you to remove your nipple safely. They can relatch in the new position and this might be ok. It’s the best way to avoid damage at least.
Some patents will find in addition to the gymnastics, their kid is on and off all day long. La Leche League Canada set out why this is normal, and some strategies you can try to combat it here.
New baby, new rules
Every parent and little one, have a set of norms, rythems and rules unique to just them. For a seasoned parent, they will learn how their children differ to one another. For the new parent, they will notice their norms might be different to peers.
In this context, especially with the growing little ones, for many, a shift occurs with feeding. A truly balanced, happy breastfeeding relationship beyond babyhood, is an evolving process give and take.
Think about the first 6 months of your baby’s life, where you fed them every time they moved and and some of us thought it might never end. Then before long, food is on the table and your little one has the ever expanding ability to communicate their feelings, desires and needs.
Many parents can start to feel touched out, overwhelmed by the constant need for closeness, milk and play. Adding in gymnastics can push parents to their limits and this is where nursing manners come in.
This is something that comes up often, when a parent contacts a supporter and says they are done with breastfeeding. Many times, they are only fed up, touched out, and setting a new limit can help.
This link contains a page I have re read often & sent out even more often. When though it’s written in the context of breastfeeding more than one little one at a time, it’s wisdom is applicable to all parents breastfeeding beyond babyhood.
They will look different for everyone, for some it might have been there from the start (no nipple tweaking!) Or it might develop over time into something like, no climbing with nap time feeds.
It’s a journey not a race
Where ever life takes you and your little ones, breastfeeding gymnastics is likely to be a short phase within it. Do what feels right to you and reach out to other parents who get it, for support. You got this 💪
Please leave you tips and comments below & for personised support, get in touch.
They came, they latched on, & they went home with a spring in their step.
Here’s what happened when the Big Latch on and workshops came to High Wycombe in August 2019.
Every year, all around the world, from 1 to 7 August is World Breastfeeding Week. Individuals and organisations alike, are encouraged celebrate, collaborate and empower parents to breastfeed.
This year, I was able to bring something new to my local town and community. We met at the local Library for a 2 hour session with workshops from myself, a local independent Midwife and a Doula. For good measure, we added in a Big Latch On and the result was a whole lot of love and fun.
Across the world, the BIG LATCH ON 2019 organizers counted.
- 17,846 children breastfeeding during the one minute count.
- 18,694 breastfeeding people attended.
- 56,442 people attended registered Global Big Latch On locations to support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Myths & Questions
My session, as it turns out, was far bigger than the 20 minute slot I allocated myself to answer the breastfeeding myths and questions from the people in the room. We got through a few but honestly, we could have talked about most of them for 20 mins and some, many hours!
So for those of you who where in the room and did not get your card addressed, Breastfeeding Myths & Questions (Part 1) is up now. I hope it gets you started on your own journey of self empowerment (this years #worldbreastfeedingweek theme).
Lastly, if you are sad you missed out on all the fun, and don’t want to wait until next year, maybe #SundaySessions will be your thing.
Get in touch to find out more
#empower #support #wefeedtoo #diversityininfantfeeding #latchon #brestfeedingspecalist #breastfeeding #mum #dad #parent #baby #toddler #pregnant #midwife #doula #raffle #localbusiness #shoplocal #eatlocal #canva #library #communityevent
In many respects, the bulk of what parents need to know is as old as the sky’s are blue. There is however, a growing need to evolve with the birthing population of today.
Take the toy pictured, not quite as old as the hills but sturdy enough to pass though generations of children to my own. It’s capable of entertaining children, parents recognise it with fond memories but would it hold any relevance to a family of today with all it’s digital trappings.
I review the texts that I have trained with in with the benefit of all the learning I have done since and I am struck constantly by one glaring assumption.
These books, that many health care professionals, breastfeeding supporters and mothers alike, gleam their technical knowledge from are all based from an assumption on writiters norm being the norm. As these authors are mostly white, mostly privaiaged, there is are whole sections of our birthing population in the uk who would be poorly served by theses resources.
I think next about the services that are run, in the ways they have usually been run, with shrinking or demonishing budgets. They offer a fabulous services in many places around the UK but even some of these are closed without warning as money is needed else where.
So maybe it’s time we get out thinking caps on and we rethink the way we support families who want to breastfeed and deserve support for the entire journey of lactating.
The digital age brings many trappings but also more opportunities. Some of the underserved members of my own local community do not feel comfortable to come along to a group, but are willing to pick up the phone.
Others might send a pm on Facebook or follow an influencer on Instagram gleeming information from their peers comments.
What if we rebuilt services from the ground up and adjusted how they run to great equitable care. This is different that it being available to all, this is activity accounting for barriers to services and making it easier for these families to get the same level of care. This isn’t just a nice thing to do, but what NEEDS to happen.
I meet so many people who say they wish they knew x, y or z when their littles ones where small. If I had a time machine I would happily send the information back to them but alaalas, I do not.
Time for change
So instead I shall build my services from the ground up, adjusting for those less served whilst also utilising the technology of the age.
For me this means asking if those who can afford the fee to attend a session run by me, to pay for a second for someone who is less able to afford or access support.
It means meeting in a neutral place, where many members of my community are used to meeting. It means not asking the local health care team to join in just now. It means trying something new, probably at a cost to me, to better server the wonderful families I meet. Many of whom don’t need much, but asking your questions to someone who will listen and help can be the make or break in breastfeeding journies sometimes.
So if you are local to High Wycombe or can get here by public transport, I hope my soon coming Sunday Sessions might be start of that change.
More to come soon.
Every year, all around the world, from 1 to 7 August is World Breastfeeding Week. Individuals and organisations alike, are encouraged celebrate, collaborate and empower parents to get more families breastfeeding and for longer.
This year, I was able to bring something new to my local town and community.
For The Big Latch on & Workshops, we met at the local Library for a 2 hour session with workshops from myself, a local independent Midwife, a Doula and an early year educator to help with the children.
For good measure, we added in a Big Latch On and the result was a whole lot of love and fun. See photos and read more about it here.
Breastfeeding Myths and Questions
All of the parents in attendance where given an index card and asked to write either a myth about breastfeeding that they have heard, or a question they had and give them back to me. We then discussed the answers as a room, with input and ideas from other supporters in the room too.
It turns out, the 20 mins I allocated myself to answer the questions was woefully short. We got through a few but honestly, we could have talked about most of them for 20 mins alone. and some, many hours!
So my promise to those in the room, was that I would blog the answers to their questions (see images bellow) and share. It also turns out, that I don’t know how to do a quick answer 😉 so here is part one with more to follow soon… ish.
Part 1 questions
- Can I drink wine when feeding?
- How do I know if I have mastitis if I don’t have pink nipples of white breasts? ( I can’t see a red mark on dark skin)
- Can you REALLY make breast milk if you are adopting a newborn and haven’t had kid previously? How does it work?
- What to do when baby has tongue tie? What else about the physiology of a babies mouth can hinder breastfeeding / other issues?
I could write a separate blog on each of these questions as there is so much to say on them all. Your interests might not run so deep so I have tried to keep to the main points for each but if you want to know more, or have information/experience to share, please do get in touch!
Can I drink wine when feeding?
The guidelines on drinking alcohol in pregnancy has swung backwards and forwards over the course of the past years so I wouldn’t blame you if you where confused about if it is safe to drink Alcohol whilst breastfeeding.
The short answer is yes, you can. A glass of wine, with your family as you eat your meal is A OK. However, if you feel to drunk to parent, you are probably also too drunk to breastfeed.
Whilst not feeding, you might need to express to relive engorgement during, but you need only wait until you feel sober again to breastfeed as your blood and milk have the same levels of Alcohol in them.
Knowing this Pumping and dumping for one drink is over the top but do not just take my word for it, see bellow for the science.
Dr Jack Newman, rewound IBCLC, explores the science and he reckons the perceived rules around drinking alcohol act as a barrier to longer breastfeeding and better all round health for everyone (due to lower disease rates, not more alcohol ;)).
This Blog by UK IBCLC Philippa Pearson-Glaze is also very comprehensive.
How do I know if I have mastitis if I don’t have pink nipples of white breasts?
( I can’t see a red mark on dark skin)
This is a fabulous question and related to many questions being asked since the 2018 MBRACE report starkly pointed out the difference in perinatal mortality rates in the UK for black and brown parents. ( see link for more information).
When asked, most health care professionals and supporters will tell you the common text book answer and then look puzzled when I point out theirs and the books assumption that the lactating person is white.
The lady who wrote this question told us her story of mastitis and miss diagnosis, another mother in the room told a similar which had a hospital admission for sepsis. Everyone was shocked by the experiences they had, a few of us though, where not so surprised. That could be a whole other blog post so back to what to look for when your skin comes in a different colour that the text book, when you suspect mastitis.
You might see..
- Swollen breast due to poor/non existent drainage.
- You might notice a painful, hotter area on your breast
- You might feel a harder area, a lump but this is not always present.
- Some parents report feeling like being hit with the flu all of a sudden, others others mention vertigo and feeling dizzy.
If a milk duct is blocked, unless there is milk at the tip of the nipple, this will be only a subtle, if at all visible difference. There is often nipple pain when you press where the suspected blockage is, and a small swelling might be visible after a feed/pumping session.
Read more? Plugged Ducts and Mastitis – Kelly Mom (US IBCLC)
A book worth waiting for (2020)- I am Not your Baby Mother by Candice Brathwaite
Black Breastfeeding Week Celebration – Breaking Barriers & Uplifting Education – 1-2-1 Doula
Why are black mothers at more risk of dying? – BBC News 2019
Can you REALLY make breast milk if you are adopting a newborn and haven’t had kid previously? How does it work?
The short answer is, yes you can! Many of these parents are experts at defining their own success with a range of options and a range of amounts of milk supply reached.
As we know even a few drops, at any stage of lactation will contain thousands of immune factors. It literally is liquid gold!
Some parents will choose to offer comfort at their breast/chest and not try to induce a supply specifically, where as others will embark upon a regime of simulation and sometimes hormones before the baby is due. Just with anything in life, parents do what works for them and their family.
Sweat Pea Breastfeeding support is run by a US IBCLC, she also co-hosts a fab podcast, Breastfeeding outside the box
Breastfeeding Without Birthing: A Breastfeeding Guide for Mothers through Adoption, Surrogacy, and Other Special Circumstances – Alyssa Schnell
Where’s the Mother?: Stories from a Transgender Dad – Trevor MacDonald . A compelling read.
What to do when baby has tongue tie?
What else about the physiology of a babies mouth can hinder breastfeeding / other issues?
Breastfeeding with a Tongue Tie, is a complex subject and one that often requires specially trained individuals to diagnose and ideally ongoing skilled help to help you both re learn how to latch and attach more effectively.
All of this is best done 1:1, with a skilled helper and this is also where other physical issues (differential diagnosis) can be explored. You can read more general information in the links bellow.
Some general tips
Research and talk to other parents who have been affected too.
Many parents find the flipple or exaggerated latch helpful
Ask for help when you need it.
Tongue-tie in Babies: A Guide for Parents - Sarah Okley (IBCLC) a direct pdf download.
Tongue Tie - La Leche Leauge
Association of Tongue-tie Practitioners to find trained individuals (Link ATP)
Supporting Sucking Skills - For supporters and medically minded parents.
Flipple - Milk Meg (IBCLC)