Give the guy a break!!! Stand together one boob at at time.

OK I don’t know about you or which side of the fence you sit on but I think we need to give Jamie Oliver a break. The guy decided to show support for women, support for mothers, support for breastfeeding mamma’s and what has been the response? A cornucopia of posts, discussions, debates from women who have basically said “what the fuck does he know? he needs to get his nose out from where it doesn’t belong…BACK OFF”

Fair enough he did say that “It’s easy” OK so its not always easy, I can admit to that one. It took me three months to finally feel comfortable breastfeeding my youngest as he had a tight lip tie that we didn’t get seen to, but I persevered, through the pain, the tears and desperation of wanting to give up yet I’m still feeding 13 months on!

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It’s not always what I want to do and it can literally and metaphorically do my tits in but I keep going because “it’s easy”. I don’t have formula to buy, bottles to sterilise, I don’t need gadgets or fancy machinery to boil and cool the water to the right temperature, I don’t need to try a vast array of different bottles and teats to find the right one that works only to waste the others and contribute to the ever growing pile of waste we produce, I don’t need to worry. I just whap out a boob and off we go “it’s more convenient, it’s more nutritious, it’s better, it’s free”. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

I honestly don’t see the problem!

Meals on Heels breastfeeding campaign
Supermum’s all the way. 

Following his initial statement on LBC radio Jamie did state that he was “scrabbling around for more information on this” so he was admitting he didn’t know all that goes on, how could he? he’s a man, he can’t breastfeed, but he’s going out of his way to find out all that he can – don’t castrate the man for trying to be informed oh and wait a minute isnt he a dad??? oh yeah he has four children and Jool’s breastfed so he’s not completely in the dark about what can go on and how hard it can be for us ladies. He did however state that “we have the worst breastfeeding in the world” and that he wanted to “support the women of Britain to breastfeed more, anywhere they want to, be supported, be informed” Jesus!! Quick somebody lynch the guy, he wants to show support!!

It’s not like he’s trying to campaign anything alien here, most new mums “want” to breastfeed and according to the 2010 Infant Feeding Survey;

“results from a poll of more than 10,000 women show 81 in every 100 start breastfeeding, up from 76 in 2005.
But after one week less than half of all new mothers are still exclusively breastfeeding.
And only one in every 100 manage the full recommended six months, the NHS Information Centre found.
This rate has remained static for years, despite repeated public health messages about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for six months for infant health.”

So come on guys seriously? what’s with the backlash, the manbashing, the insults and the “go back to what you do best” kind of thing. What is wrong with someone standing up and supporting women? What is wrong with a MAN standing up and wanting to support women? (Emma Watson, this is great example for the “HeforShe” campaign) What is wrong with someone using the media spotlight for a worthy supportive cause? It’s not like he’s using his position as a role model for the younger generation to air naked selfie’s!! Jamie has brought to light that there are issues with breastfeeding, maybe we don’t need to hear so much about the benefits as we all seem to know those right??? I mean I’m practically a size 8 from losing all my baby weight from breastfeeding **complete lie but what there does seem to be a need for is the focus on is why is there a drop in the percentage of mothers who exclusively breastfeed? What seems to be the actual problem? What can be done there to help?

We seem to have gone and got our knickers in a twist about this but I think we are missing a great opportunity here. Seems to me like we are never happy. Moral outrage when a mother is cast out of a restaurant or asked to cover up, feed in a toilet blah blah, then outrage when someone voices a positive opinion and rally us breasties together to create an informed, supportive and educated group of women who want to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding in public: New poster campaign shows babies fed in public toilets
The best seat in the house!!

I know not every woman can breastfeed, for whatever circumstance there is whether through illness, latch issues, tongue/lip ties, mastitis, low supply….the list goes on but would some of us have breastfed for longer if there was more help? Less mum shaming? More confidence with breastfeeding in public?

I am fortunate that a) I don’t really give a crap what anyone else thinks when I breastfeed but b) I do live in a town where support seems to be fairly readily available, there are the Facebook groups, breastfeeding peer support workers, easy access to the infant feeding team, quick referrals for tongue tie issues, breastfeeding groups that we can go to. But does every one have access to that kind of support? Even as I type this campaign groups are trying to keep our local Children’s Centre’s open, not only are they are vital resource of help, advice and community spirit for families they are also a place to go, regularly for us breastfeeding mamma’s, and what’s happening to them? They are being shut down due to government cuts, how is that supporting women, parents, and children – surely this should have had more of a shine to it in the media spotlight but instead we have focused our efforts on the wrong person.

Whether we like it or not, Jamie does do good, his campaigns are totally for the right reasons, boo hoo our kids can’t eat turkey twizzlers for school dinners and fizzy drinks will cost more – GOOD!! I am sick of seeing kids queuing up outside of the shops early in the morning on the way to school filling their bags with bottle after bottle of fizzy drinks to “fuel” them through the day, as a teacher it does my head in watching children descend into a state of sugar induced chaos whilst they get their fix and vacate their brains away from what they should be doing. A school should be feeding our children healthy and nutritious food that fuels them for the day, giving them the energy to concentrate, for some children this may be the only decent meal that they get so let it be a balanced, healthy one.

Now Jamie and Jools are expecting again, it won’t be long before all the woes of having a newborn are thrust back into their lives once again and all this will become even more relevant. Despite being a celebrity couple Jools has had the usual breastfeeding issues in the past with her previous children from cracked nipples to bout after bout of Mastitis and I’m sure she’s not one to shy and hide away the pain and torture of it all for dear ol’ Jamie.

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Another baby on the way!

So come on girls give the guy a break and lets welcome him, support him supporting us, lets try and make a difference together one boob at a time.

 

A for effort!
Tots100
ethannevelyn

For the love of boobies.

So this week is breastfeeding week and I am going to jump on this band wagon as I am four days away from having breastfed my little chunky monster for six months. Woo woo!!

The destroyer of boob & taker of milk.
The destroyer of boob & taker of milk.

This last six months has by no means been an easy ride but we have overcome our hurdles together and we are still going strong.

Fortunately I haven’t been cursed with the horrors that can arise with breastfeeding/expressing *yet. I have suffered the usual feelings of exploding boobie syndrome aka engorgement, and at first my youngest did struggle with his latch which made each feed even more toe curlingly painful than the last but I persevered.  I persevered through the pain and the tears, the exhaustion and the engorgement and I think it was three months in when it all started to feel a little more normal and comfortable.

Breastfeeding isn’t easy, it may be natural but it isn’t easy. Some people may be blessed with a miracle baby that latches perfectly and feeds beautifully from the second they entered this crazy world but for a lot of us mums who choose to breastfeed, it can be damn hard.

In my case there was no giving up not even for a moment. There were moments when my OH said “you don’t have to do this you know, it doesn’t have to be this hard!”  But I did have to do it. For those of you who are new to my blog you may not know that my eldest son was 11 weeks premature when he was born and I had to express – I tried my hardest to breastfeed but I was blessed (and cursed) with an abundant supply of milk, no amount of breastfeeding was going to make a dent in the fountain of milky goodness. So I expressed and I continued to express for a year.

This is what forced me to keep going when breastfeeding was hard, I had expressed for a year for my eldest, I could not treat my youngest with any less dedication. I had to be fair to them both and give them both the best start I possibly could. So my stubbornness and determination to ensure both my boys were treated with the same amount of love and dedication has led me to today, almost six months of breastfeeding and still counting.

What have I learnt from breastfeeding? I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks. I am not plagued with the worries of feeding in public or wondering what people must be thinking, I honestly do not care. There are many things in this world to be worrying about, feeding my child is not one of them. Yes ok I may be a little more aware that sometimes my boobs are more on display than I want them to be, and my FIL and BIL have seen more of my breast’s than I would ever want them to see but c’est la vie, I can’t be faffed trying to cover myself up and hide myself away when really my priority is getting my little boy latched on correctly and me in a comfortable position. To be honest it’s hard enough making sure you have the correct type of clothes on for feeding never mind covering up whilst feeding. My staple “uniform” is the doubled up vest top, one to pull up,one to pull down all the while maintaining as much dignity as possible without the world having to see post pregnancy belly hanging out as well as boob.

What else? You really can feed anywhere! I almost want to have a bucket list of places to feed in just to tick them off and say I did it. I’ve obviously fed snuggled on the sofa, lying in bed, walking around the house, in the garden, in a cafe and restaurant but also in the car *parked, in a muddy wood, on a boat, on the beach *uh sandy boobs yuk, in an airport, on a plane. I really need to start ticking off some weird and wonderful places.

Not a bad view to have whilst feeding.
Not a bad view to have whilst feeding.

There are quite a few things I like about breastfeeding, for instance you have to sit back and relax. You can take a moment to unwind, catch up on a boxset, have a chat on the phone or even write a blog!! It really isn’t something that you can rush. It gives you time to admire you growing little bundle and discover mannerisms that they have when they feed. My youngest for example likes to put his hands up to my cheek and stroke my face – ok at first it was punch my face but the more coordinated he has become the less worried I am that he is not some form of devil child out to punish me. It gives you time to reflect and let worries dissapate, it gives you time to bond. However in the same breath it takes time – it can’t be rushed, well that’s no good when you have a two year old who wants mummy to play “mummy down…play” my heart breaks when I have to explain that I will play as soon as I’ve finished feeding. At first it wasn’t too bad because when my youngest was tiny I could just bundle him about in one arm, but now he’s a little roly poly of a beast, I require both arms and at least one knee to prop him up.

I love the closeness that I share with our youngest but it makes me envious of my OH watching him with our eldest and seeing them having so much fun and playing and what am I doing….feeding. ..again!!

It’s nice to be wanted, needed and cuddled but after a while I get a little touched out and I need some time away to reset myself as I start to resent breastfeeding, all I need is some time alone and I am ready once again for snuggles and cuddles.

Feeding is now easy, but I mustn’t become complacent, every now and again when I sit feeling smug that I can multitask whilst feeding I get a jolt back to reality with a gummy clamp down on the end of my nipple…I would literally throw him across the room in shock if I wasn’t fitted with a default to not do so, these occasional clamp downs make me worried about the emergence of teeth…oh god teeth!

So how long will I carry on for?? Well I have to make the year, that’s when it all ended with my eldest so that’s my target, and to think I’m literally on the cusp of being halfway there -jeez that’s scary.

I guess I have to make most of every cuddle and try not to get too pissed off when I’m being kicked and beaten in the night by a ferocious boob monster because it won’t be long before he is in his own bed going off to sleep without so much as a kiss from mummy because he doesnt want or need me anymore. On the other hand I am looking forward to being abe to wear a pretty bra once again….that has support…and wiring. Mind you by the time I get to the end, I’m going to need more tha support, I will be calling for little sprinkles of magic in the world of wonder bras to bring to life the empty saggy socks that were once pert bouncy boobies. I will be the one sporting the spaniel eared look *can’t wait.

For all you breastfeeding mamas out there, keep going , you’re doing great 🙂

Tots100

The Fine Art of “Expressingism”

OK so I’ve completely made that term up but I think after a year of being chained to a breast pump I’ve earnt the right to make up new words.

So the breast pump, what can I say? What can’t I say! it was a nightmare, a contraption that ruled my life for a year alongside the demands of a firstborn. Not only was I having to deal with the trials and tribulations of being a new mum – I had not only a newborn but a preterm newborn….with reflux! Trying to get my head around all things baby was hard enough but then I had to also plan my day, the whole 24 hours of it, around a machine! Now I know it was my choice to express….well initially it didn’t seem like a choice but to be honest it wasn’t a choice for me, it was my duty.

Please don’t think for a moment that I am condemning anyone who hasn’t expressed because they weren’t able to breastfeed right at the start because I am not. To me, it felt like there was no choice but to start my life as a mum attached to a machine because I was trying to do everything I could possibly do to help my son in his first few weeks of his premature life.  There was no question when asked if I would express some colostrum off, it had been explained to me that it was either start introducing breast milk and see how nature could quickly take over and work its magic (my interpretation not their words) or have to wait for a few weeks for his organs to mature further before they could introduce formula, in the meantime he would be pumped with a solution to help fatten him up, and there was no telling how he would react to all that was bring forced into his tiny little body. This wasn’t a choice, of course I was going to try and express, I felt like that my body had already failed to keep my baby inside for the final stage of pregnancy so the least I could do was try to provide as much nutrition as I could to help him along his way…it was my duty as his mummy, I needed to make it up to my son for failing him already. I would never have forgiven myself if anything had happened to him and I hadn’t given everything I could possibly give.

So it began, I was introduced to the hospital grade Medela pump….I would spend many an hour cupping the two flanges (what is that word!!!) and watch as my nipples were sucked back and forth and milk squirted out. For something so natural it felt far from normal watching this “liquid gold” pour out from me…I mean come on, why were the flanges (that word again) almost clear? Surely this is where the technology in plastic development and molding should’ve made them opaque, no??

So my days before my son came home were spent in 3 hourly intervals, 3 hours between each draining session, 3 hours where I would lose another shred of dignity and begin to care less and less what other people saw or thought, 3 hours where into the night I would attempt to lean forward and prop my head against the drawers so a) gravity would be more on my side and I could be finished faster and b) I could catch a mini cat nap as exhaustion was soon closing in on me. The latter resulted in being rudely awoken when I would feel the warm dampness spread across my thighs as milk overflowed from the bottles and I was creating a pool of chaos…not what you need at 2 am knowing it would start all over again at 5 am.

I was fortunate enough to be blessed (or maybe I was cursed) with an abundant supply of milk. My body continued it’s bovine transformation from where I mooed during labour to developing the traits of a fresian cow. At my milky peak I could produce 16 fl oz in one sitting, I have no idea what my body thought I was feeding as there was not a chance my tiny baby was going to make even the slightest dent in the ever growing milk supply. The store was soon taking over our fridge and freezer. But expressing was what I did and what I continued to do.

I expressed through two bouts of mastitis (was I being punished for something because that was just miserable),I didn’t leave the house properly for 4 months as I juggled expressing and dealing with a screaming reflux baby, I cancelled play dates to express, I developed acrobatic ways to hold my boy and feed him a bottle whilst expressing one side, only to have to flip over and do the other side – usually as he had just drifted off to sleep. I expressed until my nipples resembled puckered blackberries, I expressed in the back of the car on a road trip down south – that gave some nosy onlookers a shock that’s for sure. I expressed until my body no longer produced a drop of milk – as it was in the throes of growing baby number two.

When I look back on what I did for a whole year for the love of my boy, it was hard, I sacrificed a lot, I cried a lot, I wanted to give up but my determination to do the best that I could physically do meant every time I reached a milestone 1 month, 3 months, 6 months I raised the bar and said “just a little longer….you’ve come this far”.

But not only did I provide my son with what I believe to be the thing that made him so strong and resilient in those first few weeks, I also provided other preterm babies with milky magic. I donated 16 litres worth of milk to our local milk bank in order to give back and do my part for others in need.

It wasn’t the most enjoyable time of my life, but as I sit here and breastfeed my youngest and I’m having a hard day with my favourite boob limpet I think back to the year I spent attached to a machine, a year where I gazed upon the sweet face of my eldest whilst he jumped in the jumperoo because mummy couldn’t play and I think…if I can do that for him, I can certainly breastfeed this one, this in comparison is a doddle.

Would I express again? of course, it’s my duty as a mum…but maybe I would invest in some hands free boob wear so I could join the 21st century in the milking industry. And a huge tip…never think you can rush expressing by whacking the suction up, I’ve never seen my boobs so distorted in all my life as they were sucked into the funnel of the breast pump….certainly makes you jump to your feet!

Tots100