Breastfeeding and Work

Settling back in to work has been tough and even though I am only doing two days a week I am feeling quite exhausted. I am sure, soon, it will feel like normal and the morning routine will feel more like a routine and less like a mad dash!
However one thing which seems be be more of an issue than I had anticipated is expressing at work. I need to express mid morning and mid afternoon to keep with Boo’s feeding pattern on other days and to have enough milk for her to drink from a bottle at nursery (Boo has, slowly, started to drink a bit more from a bottle, which is a weight off my mind).
However I am finding myself really uncomfortable on my work days, it seems I am not able to express as much as Boo takes for a feed as I am left feeling uncomfortable which get worse as the day goes on and isn’t totally alleviated when I express in the afternoon.
I am also feeling really self-conscious as I can leak even when wearing breast pads, so feel like I am constantly checking myself.
I am lucky that I am being given time to express at work and my manager has been really accommodating, though the room I express in is a makeshift first aid room/stationery cupboard which I have to put a sign up on and lock, but I constantly feel like someone is going to need to come in the room and knock on the door which definitely adds to my unease. I don’t know why I feel so uneasy in the room. And I am wondering if this is contributing to why I can’t express as much as I would be able to at home, and means that I end up feeling like my boobs are going to explode.
I am not sure this part of my work routine is ever going to feel normal (I hope it gets easier though) and I am really surprised by how much I dislike the whole thing. Obviously is it necessary and I am going to keep going until Boo doesn’t want to feed anymore but I am feeling guilty that I am finding it such a chore and I worry that my supply is going to suffer on the other days.

I think that, sadly, I may not be alone in feeling like this, and I can understand how difficult it must be for ladies who have to go back to work early and need to express more often, as it would feel almost impossible.  I honestly think if I had had to go back full time and when Boo was younger and feeding more I would have stopped breastfeeding.

I wish this post were more positive and that this latest phase in our breastfeeding journey was a happier one but that’s really not the case.

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Breastfeeding and my diet/lifestyle

I keep being told I should ‘give up the breastfeeding now’ by various people who shall remain nameless… the most recent of these occasions was because I was told by the pharmacist that I should only be taking glycerin pastilles for my sore throat/cold and that lemsips etc where not really a good idea when breastfeeding. Which I was ok with, the pastilles worked fine and I slowly got my voice back. Obviously the fact that I couldn’t dose myself up with over the counter flu/cold meds was an issue for some people, but for me it’s just something I accept as part of my decision to breastfeed… like a switch in my mind, I always check that whatever I am putting in to or on to my body is suitable.  It doesn’t feel like a chore, but clearly some people feel this is a chore, and a reason to give up breastfeeding. To clarify it was a discussion following said person asking what I was taking for that ‘horrible sore throat’ (I did sound like I had smoked 400 a day for the last several centuries!).

So I started thinking, what other changes have I made?

No alcohol
Obviously this started when I was pregnant, I didn’t drink when pregnant and  I haven’t drank anything alcoholic since Boo was born. This is not a big thing for me as I didn’t really drink much anyway, the odd strawberry and lime cider (this particular brand/drink I can’t even get in this country) in nice weather and that was about my lot. So in all honesty no change here.

Less Caffeine
This was a big change, and again this started when I was pregnant… I reduced the amount of caffeine I drank drastically… I was addicted to cherry coke and dr pepper, and I mean ADDICTED!  I also changed over to decaf tea/coffee but I don’t really drink that much of those either. I do still eat chocolate – who could live without that, but I try not to eat lots!

Other Changes in Diet
I actually eat better, I started to really try to eat better food when I was pregnant and I have carried this on while I am breastfeeding, this benefits everyone as my diet pre-pregnancy was pretty shocking.  This has probably been the hardest change to make, as I really like to eat my set foods and all of them are pretty pants nutritionally, so jumping outside of my comfort zone has been pretty scary at times, but worth it. Some days are better than others.

Medicines
Pre-pregnancy and breastfeeding I would think nothing to taking painkillers for headache or anything really.  Mainly ibuprofen. But I switched to paracetamol during pregnancy, and have stuck with the change.  I also really try to think before taking any painkillers, if i get a headache I have a drink of water and change what I am doing to see if I can get rid of it that way, and then take a painkiller if I still need to. This is probably what I should have been doing anyway rather than soldering on on the computer and chomping painkillers like smarties.  So another change for the better.

Also, it has become habit for me to check that what I am taking is suitable for breastfeeding, in terms of cold/flu meds etc. I don’t think of this as a chore and I don’t see it as a reason to stop breastfeeding.

 

Reading back it seems like the changes I have made are things which I made during pregnancy, and have just continued. (and all of these things are probably healthier so the changes are not just because I am breastfeeding but also for me, but like a lot of things I need an external motivating factor to kick me up the bum, so to speak.

I don’t feel like I am missing out because I can’t drink alcohol or caffeine, or chose not to.  I didn’t feel like I was missing out when I was pregnant either.  And these changes are nothing to write home about, they are changes that most pregnant women make without a second thought, so I am not sure why it becomes an issue which people feel the need to comment on when it’s because of breastfeeding?

I feel quite proud that I have finally been able to reduce my cherry coke and dr pepper intake to normal levels, i.e. the odd treat now and again when I go out for a meal, rather than 2 litres on a daily basis! (yes I really was that bad!) I just see it as another positive, among many, that Boo has brought in to my life, and if I can’t make changes for Boo then I certainly wouldn’t make them for myself or anyone else!

 

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Breastfeeding in Public – Our Journey

I am a fairly shy person and I am not someone who wanders round with much skin exposed, in fact as a person who is cold a lot of the time I have been known to wear jumpers in summer! I am not really comfortable with my body, especially after giving birth (I have stretch marks over stretch marks).  In fact I honestly thought that breastfeeding in public, or anywhere outside of my own home was going to be a problem. I wanted to breastfeed but I didn’t want to be ‘trapped’ at home until Boo was weaned off breastfeeding.

The first time I fed Boo outside my house, or the house of my parents was at a postnatal group which was labelled as breastfeeding friendly, it was ok, a little awkward as I seemed to need an extra pair of hands and felt really exposed. I think I felt worse because formula feeding seemed to be what the majority where doing and the other mummys who were breastfeeding seems to be so calm and confident.  I didn’t feel remotely calm or confident.  But after jumping that first hurdle things did feel a little better, less awkward.  I continued to use this group to ‘practice’ (I obviosuly attended for other reasons but this was an added bonus).

After that gentle introduction to breastfeeding in public things didn’t go quite as smoothly, I was waiting to take Boo to a dr’s appointment in the waiting room when Boo needed feeding, so, as I was sat at the back of the room I discreetly tried to feed Boo, and as soon as I got her latched on BING her name came up, oh my god, oh my god, panic! Luckily my husband was there to stop me from having a complete melt down.  I couldn’t unlatch Boo so I had to walk through the waiting room and to the drs room feeding a two month old Boo who was going out of her way to be as noisey as possible!

After that I felt a little bit less uncomfortable! I have fed Boo out and about lots of times and in lots of different places, and mainly I have had to deal with my own fear about things rather than other peoples reactions and opinions.  That is not to say it has all been plain sailing and I have had to deal with some negative and some plain random reactions to my breastfeeding Boo.

I have had the ‘usual’ disgusted looks from people (I don’t know what is more sad, the fact that people feel disgusted by a mummy breastfeeding her baby or the fact that if people notice this seems to be one of the standard responses).  I am discreet when I am feeding Boo, and I am sure lots of people don’t even notice, and I am also sure that I don’t notice a lot of people’s reactions who do notice, maybe the negative ones are just more obvious to see?  In my experience it seems to be older women who give me the ‘disgusted’ look most often, which is surprising, to me at least.  One reaction which sticks out in my mind is a waitress at one of my favorite restaurants, she just seemed to stop what she was doing and stare, I couldn’t really read the expression on her face, so I am not sure if she was surprised, or was just looking at me cuddling Boo and didn’t realise, or something else… at least she wasn’t disgusted!

I am lucky that I have never had anyone open say anything nasty to me, nor have I been asked to leave or move to be out of the way etc.  Given the choice though, when shopping in my local town I usual feed Boo in a special room in a boutique baby store which is set up as a free place for mummys to feed their babies, however they choose too. It is quieter than a cafe etc and there at least I don’t risk offending anyone or getting any comments or hostility.

I feel very sad that I have to make decisions like this, as I should be able to feed Boo where and whenever I chose (within reason obviously) and I would never judge anyone for feeding their child in public, bottle or breast, so I am unsure why anyone feels it is acceptable to judge me? And why I should just be able to shrug off those negative looks, they make me feel uncomfortable (and other breastfeeding mums too, I imagine) and I shouldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable when I am doing something as natural as breastfeeding.

Do bottlefeeding mummys have to deal with random negativity from strangers? Do other breastfeeding mummys experience random negativity from strangers? (I can hope that it is just in my area but I doubt that). Why do people feel the need to judge other people?

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Post Comment Love

Review – Medela Breastmilk Collection Shells

Medela Breastmilk Collection Shells were something which I heard two other mums talking about at my postnatal group, and I am so glad I heard about them.  They were really reasonably priced, I think I paid about £10 for the pair from Amazon and I have definitely got my money’s worth out of them!

IMG_1639

They essentially act as breast pads, but instead of soaking up the milk they store them in the plastic discs.  The silicone rings mean that they are comfortable to wear and form a seal with your breast to prevent leaks.  I have not had any problems with them leaking (except when I lean over and the milk spills out of the little spouts! Which shocks me every time! You think I would learn!) It’s also vital that the little spout for pouring the milk out its at the top when you are wearing them too!

I was genuinely surprised when I wore them at how much milk they collected during one feed when I wore one on the side I was not feeding on. It’s amazing how much milk is wasted, and it is little wonder that I had to change my breastpads so often!

I only wear them around the house,  although they are smaller than I thought they would be I still feel like Madonna when I am wearing them, and they do stick out a fair bit making your boobs look lumpy to say the least. Even though I can only wear them when I am in the house I have still managed to collect a fair amount of milk which I usually use that same day in a bottle or later a sippy cup to try and get Boo to drink milk that’s not straight from the source!

They are really easy to clean/sterilise, the instructions suggest boiling them for a short while, but I have been using Milton Tablets.   In hindsight I would probably have bought a couple of pairs to start off with so that I could wear one pair and have the other sterilising, especially as they are fairly cheap.

All in all I am really glad I bought them, and they have been really valuable in meaning that I have breastmilk to give to Boo in bottles/cups but it’s ‘spare’ milk so I don’t feel like I have wasted any milk I have expressed that Boo then doesn’t drink (she is not a massive fan of drinking from bottles/cups)

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Family Fever

Finding the positives in stopping breastfeeding

After writing my post Bye Bye Booby Juice I realised how sad I was about stopping breastfeeding Boo, so I have decided to cheer myself up and write a list of all the things I have to look forward to when I stop breastfeeding her.

1. Caffeine, caffeine, caffeine… woohoo, Cherry Coke and Proper Coffee!!I am avoiding caffeine for the most part, except for chocolate (I can’t live without chocolate) so I can’t wait until I can drink as much caffeine as I want, I was addicted to Cherry Coke and Dr Pepper before I got pregnant

2. Bras – Being able to wear nice decent bras, I HATE the nursing bras I have and can’t to wear all my lovely ones I have, and buy some new ones!

3. No more nursing pads – mine always seem to jump out of my bra even though they have the sticky bits, how does that work?

4. Being able to shower/get a bath without feeling like one of the fem-bots from Austin Powers shooting milk everywhere!

5. Did I mention Caffeine?

6. Not having to wear a vest top under everything in a vain attempt to prevent my stomach from being displayed to the world!

7. Not having to pick clothes because they have boob access

8. Not waking up covered in leaked milk… sexy!

Obviously these are all minor things, but it’s nice to have some positives to focus on! Ah I do feel a little better now =)

The List

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Bye Bye Booby Juice!

The time has come it seems to start thinking about saying goodbye to breastfeeding.  I have fed Boo for a lot longer than I originally intended, (my plan was 6 months) and a heck of a lot longer than I thought I would achieve in the early days (I felt thankful to get through each feed!).

I return to work in two months time, sadly, so I have to start thinking about my options as I don’t want to stop suddenly as that wouldn’t be fair to Boo.  I am feeling very sad about the whole process of stopping breastfeeding, in recent months, once both Boo and myself got better at it breastfeeding has become a lovely time that we share and she still feeds to sleep both during the day and at night.  She still feeds on a night, (one a night – for the past month unless she is teething).

In all honesty it seems that I have an insurmountable task ahead of me, we are going to have to change vast parts of her day. I don’t even know where to start.

Do I move feeds so she can’t feed to sleep?
Do I start sleep training so she can be put in her cot awake?
Do I just stop feeding her on a night or do I carry on with that?
Will she wean herself off her night feed? (I have no problem waking once a night to feed her even once I have gone back to work)

And those are just a few questions I am asking myself, I have kept putting this decision off, hoping she will start to eat more, or feed less, but I am cutting things very fine and soon, two days a week she is going to be without me, (and my boobies) from 7.30am until 6pm. I intend to express so she can help breast milk at nursery but she doesn’t take a bottle and spits out most of what she drinks from a cup.

This big change in Boo’s relationship to breastfeeding is also a big reminder that sooner than I would like breastfeeding is going to come to an end. Full Stop. And this makes me feel really really sad, I love our feeding cuddles and I know I am really going to miss them.  I hope to let Boo wean herself off breast milk gradually as she gets older, and I don’t want to be the one who decides that it is time to stop.

I have some big questions to answer and some big changes to make, and I am really not looking forward to any of it.  I wish with all my heart that I could have longer before I needed to go back to work so that I could just let Boo lead the whole process.

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Breastfeeding – My Story

I think I am always going to look back on my breastfeeding experience with mixed emotions, I have found it both incredibly rewarding but also incredibly difficult.  My daughter is currently 8 months old and I am breastfeeding her on demand and we started weaning at 6 months.  I don’t want to focus on the difficulties too much in this post, I just want to give my overall feelings looking back over the last 8 months, and it is overwhelmingly positive.

My breastfeeding journey started before my daughter was born, because I have had an operation on each breast to remove a lump there was some concern that the scar tissue would cause problems for me feeding my daughter (it looks like my nipples have eyebrows), I was advised by midwives to express colostrum once I got to 37 weeks.  This had to be done every day for four weeks (my daughter was a week late).  It was fairly painful in my breasts but also cause small contraction like pains in my stomach.  I froze and saved the colostrum I managed to express (sadly it sat in my freezer for a couple of months before it was thrown out, as once my daughter was here and I could breastfeed I was told not to add the stored colostrum to expressed breast milk by my health visitor – this was not the first, nor the last piece of conflicting advice I have had on subject of breastfeeding).

Luckily once my daughter was born I could breastfeed her, and after a few early problems with latching her on, my milk came through about 48 hours after she was born.  My daughter was colicky and also suffers from Silent Reflux so her early weeks are a haze of tummy massages, feeding and then keeping my daughter as upright as we could, curling up on the sofa all day and, sadly my daughter crying.  Lansinoh cream was a godsend, and we persevered on through a bout of mastitis which was excruciating.  Slowly her reflux medication was sorted out and her colic started to ease, this meant that things got a little easier in terms of feeding and latching on.  At about 5 months she finally got the hang of my fast let down and didn’t gag and unlatch several times during each feed, which meant I felt more comfortable going out and feeding her in public places.  Though not long after this (6months or so) she became a lot more curious and active and now feeding her with any distractions in the area/room is a big nono as she is more interested in everything else than feeding!

Even now at 8 months it is difficult to feed her in public as she is too easily distracted, and my fast let down and possibly some of the damage from my operations means my milk sprays out in all directions which can be quiet embarrassing.  So I try to make sure that we go out in between feeds, though I will try to feed her if she lets me know she is hungry.  However, we rarely have much success in feeding her much while we are away from home.

She will not feed from a bottle anymore.   She did for a while, when her meds needed to be mixed with expressed breast milk, but from about three months her meds were given by syringe and so I stopped expressing.  When we tried bottles a few weeks later she just refused them and still does.  I am thinking about trying to reintroduce a bottle as I have to go back to work when my daughter is 11 months old, but I haven’t quite got round to starting on that yet.

I am still feeding my daughter at night, for the past few weeks she wakes only once a night, usually between 12am and 1am for a feed and otherwise sleeps through (touch wood).  Before then she was waking several times a night for feeds, and as she still eats very little solid food, (something to do with her reflux or not I don’t know), I was happy to do this.  I do want to drop her last night feed sometime in the next few months, but I am in no rush and I am hoping she will drop it of her own accord sometime soon.

I feel that for me, personally breastfeeding has been a really positive but challenging experience and I am proud that I kept going and I honestly believe that for my daughter and I breastfeeding was the right choice.

 

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