All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Win.... An "Organic Babies" Mum & Baby Gift Box

I said when we reached 1000 Facebook fans I would run another giveaway - here it is....

This lovely Mum & Baby gift box from "Organic Babies" is the perfect starter kit of  goodies for beautiful, soft skin - it's a perfect gift for new mums and worth £30!

It is certified 100% organic and contains:
  • Nappy Cream Baby Balm 40ml
  • Mum & Baby Moisturiser 150ml
  • Chamomile Baby Wash & Shampoo 150ml
  • Baby Salve 30ml
Green People use - 100% gentle, 100% vegetarian, 100% cruelty-free ingredients. Certified Organic plant oils, herbal infusions, essential oils and fair trade ingredients.

Green Peopl don't use - Sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate, Parabens, Lanolin, Phthalates, Propylene glycol, Synthetic fragrances, Irritating emulsifiers, PABA-sunscreen, Petrochemicals, Colourants, DEA, TEA, PEG’s, Urea, and all other unnecessary synthetic additives common in many of today’s health and beauty care products.

10% of net profit is donated to organic and environmental charities.

About Green People:
Green People is a forward-thinking company which specialises in organic body care products. With an extensive range of natural products – shampoos, face creams, sun lotions and body washes to name just a few – it is one of the biggest names in organic beauty in the UK.
However, it started from very simple roots: the seeking of a mother to help her young daughter.

Back in 1994, 2-year-old Sandra was suffering from eczema and severe allergies and just couldn’t stop scratching herself. With much determination, her mother, Charlotte Vøhtz, decided to get to the bottom of the problem. She discovered that many of Sandra’s skin allergies were being triggered by chemical-based household and personal care products. When these were removed – and with the help of a herbal cleansing tonic and a balanced Omega 3 & 6 intake – Sandra’s skin began to clear up.

Charlotte says: “From that moment, I realised that we all are children of the chemical age and that man-made chemicals found everywhere, combined with changing dietary habits, profoundly affect us all.”

She was so impressed by the difference that her natural methods and home-made natural skin care products had made that she thought she should share her discoveries with others. This was the start of Green People.

Awards from 2010:

Tips: Winner Best Organic Nappy Cream –Nappy Cream Baby Balm – Tips Awards 2010
Tips: Winner Best Organic Baby Lotion –Baby Lotion No Scent – Tips Awards 2010
Tips: Winner Best Eco Friendly Shampoo – No Scent Baby Wash & Shampoo – Tips Awards 2010

How To Enter
You can obtain multiple entries by doing as many things as you fancy listed below, as many times as you want!

1) Share my Facebook group or any page of this blog somewhere (Facebook, Forum, Twitter etc) then let me know where - either on here or the thread I will start on Facebook- 1 entry for each place shared.

2) Join  my Facebook group and say hi on the Organic Babies Thread - if you're already a follower you can also say hi on the Facebook thread for 1 entry.

3)  Follow me on Twitter - then let me know either here or Facebook that you are following - 1 entry

4) Invite a friend to follow me on Facebook - get them to say hi on the Organic Babies thread and quote your name - 1 entry for each friend refered

Hope that's clear but any questions or queries please shout :)

Many thanks to!

Starting Solids - The Facts Behind Today's Media Hype

Part 1

So - most people by now will have heard today's news, if not here's a brief summary:

"Relying purely on breastfeeding for the first six months might not be best for babies, experts in the UK have warned.  The team said breastfed babies may benefit from being given solid food earlier."
"They suggest later weaning may increase food allergies and iron deficiency levels, but other experts backed the existing guidance."
Current advice suggests weaning (insert - from WHO and the Department Of Health) should occur at six months, but the UCL team say it could happen as early as four.
The feedback I'm getting from mums already is that many people with a young infant coming up to solids age will now be absolutely bewildered about when they should be thinking about solids!

Before I get on to the paper that fuelled today's news - let's start with a few facts we should bear in mind:
  • The paper states three of the four authors "have performed consultancy work and/or received research funding from companies manufacturing infant formulas and baby foods within the past three years".
  • The recommendation not to wean until six months has substantially cut the numbers of women who introduced solids before four months – from 85% in 2000 to 51% in 2005.  This is massively significant in terms of health implications as the evidence against introducing solids before 17 weeks is extremely strong.
  • The recommendation not to wean until six months is also going to have impacted significantly on the profits of baby food companies.  As more parents follow the guideline for six months, less are buying baby food from four to six months...
  • Why are non breastfed infants not discussed?  When are they supposed to introduce solids?  I guess this is far less likely to be of interest because most formula fed infants receive solids pre 6 months.  Whilst the DOH guidelines state 6 months for both breast and formula fed, there is no big focus on "6 months exclusive formula feeding" and so profits from this group are likely to remain far more stable.  Ironically as the non breastfed infant's gut matures more slowly than that of a breastfed infant due to lack of human growth factors, and as non breastfed infants are not exposed to new flavours via breastmilk, starting solids is likely to be just as significant (if not more) to non breasted infants and an area that really should receive more focus in terms of health impact.
What does the paper actually say?

The paper is entitled "Six months of exclusive breast feeding: how good is the evidence? and despite the media coverage of this, says far less than you may think.  It notes that the DOH guidelines are based on the WHO paper, which found:
No deficits have been demonstrated in growth among infants from either developing or developed countries who are exclusively breastfed for 6 months. 
But says the science was not fully evaluated by the DOH and calls for a reappraisal of the evidence.

They raise several concerns they feel warrant further investigation (as other studies contradict the ones quoted - it's not cut and dry and needs further evaluation)

Window for introducing new tastes

The discussion is all quite vague, from the paper:
There are also relatively unexplored concerns about the potential for prolonged exclusive breast feeding to reduce the window for introducing new tastes. Bitter tastes, in particular, may be important in the later acceptance of green leafy vegetables, which may potentially affect later food preferences with influence on health outcomes such as obesity
Perhaps this is relatively unexplored because we know babies are exposed to different flavours via breastmilk and so experience a wide range of tastes?

I asked Gill Rapley - Ex-health visitor, Ex midwife, Ex NCT breastfeeding counsellor, Ex lactation consultant and Baby Led Weaning proponent what she thought of this comment:

This is pure speculation and scare-mongering. Two counter-arguments spring to mind:
- Breastfed babies get a variety of flavours in their mother's milk and are known to be more receptive to a range of tastes once solids are introduced. They do not need experience of the food itself beforehand to be able to enjoy it at 6 months. (However, this may not be so for formula-fed babies.)
-The evidence for a 'window of opportunity' for the introduction of tastes is largely based on the observation that babies of 6 months and older tend to refuse new flavours. What these studies actually show is that they refuse new flavours offered on a spoon. No one has questioned the fact that the method of feeding used (in all the available research) happens to be spoon-feeding, simply because no one realised that there was an alternative way of offering solid foods to babies. In fact, in research terms, the feeding method is an important variable, whose significance has not been formally tested. As we know, the mass of anecdotal evidence from BLW parents suggests that babies who are allowed to feed themselves rapidly acquire a liking for a wide range of foods, including those with a bitter taste, such as broccoli.
Insufficient Iron

From the paper:
More recent data from 2007 raise further concerns on whether six months’ exclusive breast feeding would reliably meet iron requirements. US infants exclusively breastfed for six months, versus four to five months, were more likely to develop anaemia and low serum ferritin, which is of concern given irreversible long term adverse effects on motor, mental, and social development after iron deficiency.(20) (21) (22) Such risks might be reduced by improving iron status in pregnancy, delaying umbilical cord clamping, and supplementing infants at risk (for example, those with low birth weight).
So I dug out the studies they quoted (20-22)

Only one examines iron levels and infant feeding (20) The others are about the effects of severe anaemia.  The study examines 2268 infants, which sounds pretty impressing - until you discover only 136 were breastfed exclusively for six months.  Furthermore it's 6 months or more, so some may have been exclusively fed longer than 6 months which is often advised at the moment for high risk infants.  They found solids at 4-6 months instead of 6 months + reduced the risk of anaemia, low serum ferritin but not low hemoglobin and concluded:

Young children in the United States fully breastfed for 6 months may be at increased risk of iron deficiency. Adequate iron may not be provided by typical complementary infant foods.
It adjusted for birth weight and demographic, but no mention of other factors ie prematurity

This small study also contradicts the finding of numerous other studies.  For example a 2008 study found:

Full-term babies who are exclusively breastfed are not at heightened risk of low iron stores by the age of 6 months, even if their mothers were iron-deficient during pregnancy
Breast milk is low in iron, but infants can absorb it much more easily than they absorb the iron in fortified formula. Healthy full-term infants are also born with enough iron stores to make deficiency unlikely in the first 6 months.
Read more here

The evidence does seem to be particularly conflicting regarding iron, probably due to all the factors that can influence baby's store; such as type of birth, time of cord clamping and potentially mother's levels.  I fail to see however the connection with the starting solids debate, if an infant is low in iron they can have a supplement?  Cultural beliefs in the UK mean the first foods many infants receive are low in iron eg carrots, apples and we know introducing solids reduces the bioavailability of iron from breastmilk - therefore encouraging early weaning may increase risks of iron deficiency.

Coeliac disease

From the paper:
A more recent study in infants at risk (with a first degree relative with type 1 diabetes or carriage of certain HLA types), showed that introduction of gluten before three months and after six months was associated with increased risk of biopsy proven coeliac disease(26) and islet cell autoantibodies(27) . This finding suggests that gluten may best be introduced during a critical window of three to six months. In the same cohort, introduction of wheat after six months predicted increased risk of wheat allergy at age four years.(28)
Hmmm well it's an interesting interpretation of the studies.  The first they quote (26) has no mention of exclusive breastfeeding and purely examines the introduction of solids.  It also (significantly) is studying a group of "at risk" infants.  Those introduced to solids in the first 3 months had a five fold risk, and children not exposed to gluten until seven months or later were at a slightly increased risk compared to those who received it at 4-6 months. This difference was only marginally significant, however. 

When examining just the 25 children with biopsy-proven celiac disease, initial exposure to gluten in the first 3 months or at 7 months and later, significantly increased the risk compared with exposure at 4 to 6 months.  But it doesn't say how many of the 25 children with CDA were exclusively breastfed.  They also note that CDA rates are much lower in Finland (that consumes small amounts of Gluten) compared to Sweden which consumes far more.

They conclude:
The results of the present study provide for the first time convincing evidence that the time-honored, widespread recommendation to introduce gluten at the normal time into the diet of infants born to at-risk parents is indeed correct.
The second study they quote (27) is also examining high risk infants and has very similar findings to (26) again no mention or separation of feeding method.

The third study (28) is of 1612 children, four of whom developed detectable wheat-specific immunoglobulin. All four were first exposed to cereal grains after 6 months AND a first-degree relative with asthma, eczema, or hives was also independently associated with an increased risk of wheat-allergy development.   Four children doesn't seem very compelling evidence, and at least some of the four must have had another risk factor mentioned in order for them to associate it! Again no mention of feeding method. Feeding method is extremely significant as a study by Lvarsson found:
The risk of celiac disease was reduced in children aged <2 y if they were still being breast-fed when dietary gluten was introduced. This effect was even more pronounced in infants who continued to be breast-fed after dietary gluten was introduced.  The risk was greater when gluten was introduced in the diet in large amounts  than when introduced in small or medium amounts.  American Journal of linical Nutrition, Vol. 75, No. 5, 914-921, May 2002.

The authors note that allergy and intolerance is still on the increase despite later weaning and conversely peanut allergy is low in cultures that wean with peanuts.  They go on to say:
The development of immune tolerance to an antigen may require repeated exposure, perhaps during a critical early window, and perhaps modulated by other dietary factors including breast feeding. A 2008 review(24) found an increased risk of allergy if solids were introduced before three to four months. After four months, the evidence was weak, but suggested an increased risk with delayed introduction of certain allergens
I can't access the review (24) but I have read before that links with allergy prevention were less compelling after 17 weeks - I don't think the WHO dispute this either.

In response to today's media coverage - a couple of leading organisations have released a statement:

Baby Milk Action

What actually is the Department of Health Guideline?
From the DOH:
At about six months babies are ready to be moved onto a mixed diet.
Try giving solid foods when your baby:

  • can sit up
  • wants to chew and is putting toys and other objects in their mouth
  • reaches and grabs accurately.
It is normal for babies aged three to five months to begin waking in the night when they have previously and starting solids will not make your baby more likely to sleep through the night again.

Health experts agree that around six months is the best age for introducing solids. Before this, your baby’s digestive system is still developing and weaning too soon may increase the risk of infections and allergies. Weaning is also easier at six months. If your baby seems hungrier at any time before six months, they may be having a growth spurt, and extra breast or formula milk will be enough to meet their needs.

If you decide to wean at any time before six months, there are some foods that should be avoided as they may cause allergies or make your baby ill. These include wheat-based foods and other foods containing gluten (e.g. bread, rusks, some breakfast cereals), eggs, fish, shell fish, nuts, seeds and soft and unpasteurised cheeses. Ask your health visitor for advice, especially if your baby was premature.

Solid foods should never be introduced before four months.

The World Health Organization(WHO) recommends that infants are fed exclusively on breastmilk until the age of 6 months and then breastfed alongside food for as long as the mother and baby are happy. Evidence suggests that as well as providing all the energy and nutrients that the child needs in its first few months of life, breastmilk promotes sensory and cognitive development. It leads to slower, healthier weight gain, reducing the chance of later obesity. It provides greater protection from infectious and chronic disease.
Babies breastfed for a minimum of 6months are less likely to experience colic, constipation, sickness/vomiting, diarrhoea, chest infections and thrush. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in mothers. 
How do guidelines influence parents?
Parents who feel baby is happy and content are likely to follow the guidelines; those who feel concerned their baby is ready earlier, can speak to their Health Professional about earlier weaning; the HP can then judge each case on the individual child and signs of readiness.  The truth is that many parents are often unsure why the guidelines exist and also what risks studies suggest are involved at different ages (which I will discuss more in part two) therefore people often wean a couple of weeks prior to the guideline feeling it is close enough.  As mentioned above the recommendation not to wean until six months has substantially cut the numbers of women who introduced solids before four months – from 85% in 2000 to 51% in 2005.

Part 2 - Can babies be ready before six months and how will I know?

Share your experence - Rhiann's Story (twins!)

3 years ago when I was pregnant with my first son Jasper – I was planning to breastfeed partly due to the fact my mother had breastfed me and my 3 younger siblings, maybe as a farmers daughter I thought how hard could it be – such a natural thing?!?

I was lucky enough to have a lovely home water birth with my son – encouraged by my friend and midwife Anne. I remember holding our son in my arms having prepared so well for the birth thinking – well how on earth do I start breastfeeding?!? I guess all my reading efforts had concentrated on getting through the birth – but somehow I didn’t remember the bit in antenatal classes about breastfeeding. The lovely student midwife latched Jasper on for me and I somehow fumbled my way through the next 24hrs at home! Fortunately for me my younger sister then came to stay she was currently training to be a midwife and spent the next few days showing me what to do!

The days turned into weeks and I remember my lovely midwife Anne scalding me for suggesting I use the formula cartons in the cupboard (which I stocked up on pre-birth on advice of well meaning friends!) – ‘but it feels like there’s no milk there!!’ I remember saying to her – Anne simply replied ‘don’t worry Jasper is just cluster feeding trust me your milk supply will catch up!’

Later on Anne helped diagnose ductal thrush which was so painful - I spent months battling with it mainly getting through feeds by taking painkillers. Fortunately at around the 6 month mark I finally experience the joy of pain free feeding! I continued to feed Jasper to 12months then stopped mainly due to me returning to work – I am a development chemist and as my job entailed handling chemicals I really didn’t want to risk them being transferred to my milk!

I was so lucky to have the support of my midwife Anne, my sister and the local Breast feeding support group and friends and peer supporters I met through our local NCT groups. Looking back as a first time mother I realise that I could quite easily have had a different outcome with regards breastfeeding my son without such good support.

My story continues - this time last year I was pregnant again – great I thought I’ll breastfeed this baby again too – I was really looking forward to the bonding and pleasure of getting to know my new baby. However in January 2010 I went for my 12week scan...........

I was carrying twins!!!! – but why on earth should that change my decision to breastfeed?!? I set about getting some well informed advice from breastfeeding peer supporters and reading a LLL publication called ‘mothering multiples’ I was more determined than ever that I was going to succeed in breastfeeding twins – I so wanted to give my babies the same as I had given Jasper.

As my due date approached I began to get very nervous about the possibility of the babies being born premature and problems that could arise from them not being able to feed. At 37wks I began expressing and freezing some small amount of colostrum – there was no way these babies were going to be given formula if I was not able to feed.

On 1st August 2010 (my birthday) my waters broke aided my my toddler jumping on me. My beautiful twins were born on 2nd August at 38+4wks. Anabelle born at 1.28am and Xavier at 1.44am.

But that was just the beginning of my breastfeeding journey with my twins. Only a few hours after birth Anabelle was really starting to hurt me when she fed – I knew something wasn’t quite right -the hospital infant feeding coordinators discovered she was tounge-tied. And later when Xavier couldn’t latch I also discovered he was also tounge-tied (I was so glad I had some expressed colostrums to give to him.)

I battled through the next few days at home with the twins - again relying on the fantastic support of my midwife Anne and close friends – both the twins were making me so sore due to their tounge-tie I had horrible blisters on both nipples. I even resorted to expressing the odd feed for them just to give myself a break. Fortunately my pregnancy research and reading helped me through difficulties arising from post delivery swelling too which made latching near impossible. At 10 days old both Anabelle and Xavier had their tounge tie snipped. Feeding became much easier after that – and I finally mastered tandem feeding!

My twins are now will be 5 months old on 2nd January and I am loving our breastfeeding relationship – but it has not been without other difficulties including thush, mastitis, severe plugged ducts and pores – all going hand in hand with my body incredibly adapting to produce just the right amount of milk for my babies. Breastfeeding gives me that special time with each of them individually which I really cherish. Not to mention the really unique way that they interact – be it by holding hands or fighting whilst they tandem feed. I honestly think that if it wasn’t for me Breastfeeding I would never get out of the house!

One of my biggest supporters for breastfeeding has actually my Dad. He always makes makes me smile with his analogies – quite frequently comparing me to a lactating sow (His outdoor pig farming days never forgotten!). But he really does appreciate the physical demands that come with breastfeeding especially in the next month or too before they wean – Remembering how tired my mother used to be when she fed my siblings and me.

I am sure that my breastfeeding journey with Anabelle and Xavier will throw yet more challenges as they grow but I relish every moment! And I take great delight in correcting many assuming health professionals who are all too quick to assume that my twins are either formula fed/ combination fed.

Having faced the challenges with shear determination I realise that there is not always good support available to breastfeeding mothers – I have seen too many friends reluctantly giving up breastfeeding due to lack of support or as a result of not particularly helpful information. My experience has made me determined to help other mums who are struggling and I am due to train as a peer supporter in the new year.

I often wonder what the outcome would have been had I given that formula sitting in my kitchen cupboard..............................


Peer Supporters

I want to post this to clarify my position on peer supporters - because I'm really quite concerned that a couple of people have suggested I'm anti peer supporters because of this article.

Peer Support is Necessary for Breastfeeding Success

This is absolutely totally not the case!  I believe peer supporters have a valuable and indeed essential role to play within the community - way back I WAS one!  It would be ridiculous to suggest people are only of value if they are a breastfeeding counsellor or IBCLC - all the roles are different and equally important in the bigger picture.  There is also ample evidence demonstrating peer support makes a significant impact -as per the image link.

The point I was trying (obviously badly) to make in the article is the current position we are in, whereby some areas are relying solely upon peer supporters to provide all the breastfeeding education and care - with nobody more qualified on hand for complex or even clinical cases.  In the same way it would be wrong to suggest peer supporters have no role, it's equally as wrong that when a mother is in a position of needing more help - the best they can hope for is someone who has done it themselves followed by a few short weeks training.  Furthermore the peer supporters in this situation are often unhappy too!  As per the quote from someone in the position of having nobody to refer to, there is no job satisfaction from feeling out of your depth with nowhere to turn.

As someone who answers a helpline which often involves calls from different parts of the country - there are times a mum needs in person support from within her local community.  Yep lots of time I can refer her to a local group or peer supporters - the mum needs that friendly ear and confidence boosting reassurance what she is experiencing is normal, or tips on how to say maximise sleep or tell if baby is getting enough.
But other times I know the case needs to be handed over to someone with a high level of competence to succeed, and I know the mum needs that NOW - not after seeing someone else who will then need to refer it on again.  Mum may have already seen local groups and is calling because it hasn't helped, it could be her case is complex - full of red flag indicators that baby could potentially be at risk if things don't improve dramatically, quickly.  In these cases I often spend long amounts of time on the phone, trying to track down someone I can hand over to and know the mum and baby will get the help they need.  It's hugely frustrating to be told ah you need to speak to our "breastfeeding experts", getting through and finding out they are peer supporters with nobody above them to refer the case to.  If baby is young enough, I grab the opportunity to call the labour & delivery ward -as the Acute Trust often have one IBCLC covering the hospital.   If baby is well into community care I can be going round in circles for hours and often end up having to turn to the voluntary organisations to track down a counsellor who can get involved.

This is not right!

The whole situation isn't made easier by the mass use of different titles - even my local community midwives and health visitors had no idea what all the different terms meant and who was qualified to do what, how on earth is a mother supposed to know the difference?   I've also spoken to peer counsellors who have innocently called themselves a breastfeeding counsellor, not aware that there was another role already with that title!  I really believe there should be fixed titles for the different levels of training, regardless of whether voluntary or NHS - but that will never happen.

To me, the new roles popping up (or were pre new government) are ultimately another way for the NHS to be seen to be doing something, whilst actually still totally undervaluing breastfeeding at the same time - another form of lip service.

Again, I hope readers can appreciate this does not mean I do not value the work peer supporters do or "disapprove" of their role!  Far from it.

Share you experience - Jo B's story

I have breastfed 4 children, and with each I never thought that I would have problems and I never thought there was another way… to give a newborn a bottle of formula just seemed alien to me. There is nothing as amazing as the feeling you get when feeding your newborn and also the satisfaction of knowing that you are the only source of nourishment for your ever growing, gorgeous baby.

I have dealt with a few of the major ‘problems’ – slow newborn feeder, mastitis, cracked nipples (that the baby was sick blood!), pain from poor latch, thrush, blocked ducts, boobs that could have given Jordan a run for her money, and milk that could have squirted the other side of the room, (and did if the baby suddenly stopped feeding and turned the other way!) but there was never the option to ‘quit’ and offer formula, I don’t think anyone suggested it, or if they did I didn’t hear. Each time I had a problem I ‘knew’ how to deal with it from past research, and if I wasn’t sure I sought advice from a breastfeeding advisor.

But ...some 14 years ago with my eldest son I was advised to feed solids from 3 months (!) and by the time 6 months came around I didn’t see any other babies being breastfed at the playgroups etc I went to, most other Mums had stopped and the only comments I heard were “I need my body back”, “my husband can share the night shift”, “well I’ve done X months – that’s quite enough”, or things like “it’s wrong to feed a toddler, so I’m going to stop now”. I even saw the GP about feeling tired and she told me to “stop breastfeeding as that would be the cause of it and I had done enough for my baby’s health, now it was time to think of mine.

I had never met anyone who breastfed a toddler, nor tandem fed…that was only for strange hippy types, and apart from library books I had no access to information to prove to me any different. So at around 9 months I tried to introduce formula… he hated it… a few more bits of advice from the health visitor and I thought I needed to stop for my health and his and was advised to go cold turkey. So against my better instincts, when he was 10 months, I let my mum look after my crying baby for the 3 nights or so it took to stop him screaming (and to stop my boobs feeling like they were going to explode) I clearly remember listening to him crying, and me just sobbing as I wanted to feed him, but I thought I was doing the right thing for us both by not.

My second child was similar…. All praise for the first 6 months or so for exclusively breastfeeding, and then we hit 12 months and it was the constant stream of when are you going to stop? I ended up stopping breastfeeding him at 13 months, just purely as it was drummed into my head that it was the right thing to do.

My daughter I fed until 18 months, mainly as I had then started to read up on allergies (my 2nd had awful eczema -triggered by dairy) and didn’t feed her dairy at all until over 12 months. But again from that point onwards I was ‘encouraged’ to stop from all sides and to try and wean her (which I admit she did on the ‘don’t offer, don’t refuse’ method)

But with all three I had a deep desire to still feed them, to give them that last breastfeed and even though I  wanted to stop (from the belief I had that it would be for the best) I still ‘sneaked in’ a private one last feed and cried while feeding them, knowing that was it.

I then had my 4th child after a 6 year gap. In that time we had got the internet and I found forums of mums who were still breastfeeding a toddler and pregnant, others feeding 5 year olds! And the more I read the more normal they and their views seemed…and then I read that there are still health benefits to feeding toddlers (even the WHO recommends feeding until 2yrs) and their kids haven’t grown up ‘strange’ as they remember feeding from mum…in fact the opposite seemed true. I also found out so much that the mainstream feeding advice does not tell you, how it makes formula an acceptable second so as not to upset mums who cannot breastfeed (or in most cases were not given the help, support and advice they wanted to breastfeed) or those that didn’t want to (or is this just as they think formula is as good, or have preconceived ideas about boobs and breastfeeding?)

It also made me pretty angry that I was given this so very wrong ‘advice’ and opinions with my eldest 3, my instincts (that I ignored) were right for me and my child. Although I actually feel ‘lucky’ that I didn’t get some of the even more appalling advice I have heard others have been given and have stopped breastfeeding their baby at an even younger age as they have been so wrongly told that they shouldn’t struggle, and a happy mum means a happy baby etc.

It was probably a good job that I read this new information while pregnant as my son was a boobaholic, he loved his ‘boo’ and at 4 years old now is still feeding at bedtime,  & I can’t see him giving up in the near future either. I have had all the same ‘teasing’ from other about his feeding and when will he stop, even the GP said I should stop (again), but now I just don’t care about others opinions. They are opinions, not fact. He’s happy, I’m happy I’m giving him the best nutrition available and that’s all that matters

UK dentists failing children

Some of you may remember a while ago I blogged about infant tooth decay.  In that piece I touched upon the removal of decayed milk teeth:
"The NHS seems to only offer tooth removal in cases of severe decay - yet experts urge parents to seek alternative opinion and treatment where possible, because baby teeth need to remain in the mouth for lots of other reasons; chewing on well-formed teeth helps the jaw bones to grow and develop properly, provide spacing for permanent teeth, allow normal chewing of food important for digestion and are also necessary for the development of sounds and proper speech development.  As certain molars are expected to be in the child's mouth until 12-13 years of age - early removal may have significant impact."
A shocking report in the Guardian has highlighted the true extent of the dental issues in the UK:
Young children are suffering pain, facial infections and blood poisoning because their baby teeth are being left untreated, with some undergoing the trauma of having teeth extracted because many dentists wrongly think primary or "milk" teeth are not worth repairing, said Monty Duggal, a professor of children's dentistry.
The mistaken belief that baby teeth should not be filled is leading to NHS dental hospitals having to perform emergency removals of children's teeth – which can sometimes involve extracting every tooth in what is called a "full clearance" – he adds.
Read more here:

You can read the full paper the article is from here:;jsessionid=2v3pph02l7fop.alice

Udder Covers - manipulative marketing?

I'm not a massive fan of nursing covers for a whole host of reasons, perhaps I will blog about that soon - but "Udder Covers" nursing covers have annoyed me on a whole new level.

I hear some mums like nursing covers - I can appreciate there may be a market for them, particularly in some areas; but I totally disagree with the technique Udder Covers are using to increase sales.

I sign up for news alerts on various topics - breastfeeding naturally is one.  Just before Christmas I noticed an influx of articles about nursing covers - as some alerts are US (where nursing covers are a lot more popular than the UK) I didn't think too much of it.  Until one hit my inbox and hit my blood pressure button too:
"Breastfeeding Cover – The Most Useful Product For Breastfeeding Women
A breastfeeding cover is critical for any full time mother who has the desire to feed their newborn discretely while in public. It protects your modesty even if you are used to feeding in public. No full time mother is ever relaxed feeding her newborn when any members of the public by have a clear view of her breasts" here
A nursing cover is critical for discreet feeding?

Suggesting that no mother can ever be relaxed when the public has a clear view of her breasts is interesting - except we all know that breastfeeding in public doesn't show anyone a "clear view of her breasts".

The picture on the left shows a baby breastfeeding in public - where's this clear view?

This tactic undermines the normality of feeding an infant milk from its own species, and perpetuates the notion women should feel nervous of feeding in public and the way to solve this is cover yourself up!

The piece written by "jennevans0919" might read as just a standard article about generic nursing covers - until you get to the last sentence and realise it's actually just one big underhand advert:
"Find out which website is giving out free breastfeeding covers! Go to now"
Which links to?  Udder Covers of course!

The next day another news notification arrived:
Breast Feeding Cover – The Essential Accessory For Every Breastfeeding Mother.

A breast feeding cover is necessary for any mother who really wants to nourish their little one discretely while in public. Every full time mother has some inhibitions about breastfeeding their little one in public
Ringing any bells here?   Every mother has inhibitions about feeding in public?  Well if she didn't before reading the article advert, she probably will after being told it's essential in order to feed discretely.
While most people turn away their eyes when they notice that you are nursing, you are always apprehensive about who is looking.
Day after day a version of the above has plopped into my inbox, all written by the same author - all with very slightly different wording so the search engines pick it up...
  • (a second article on the same articles site)
This list is not exhaustive.

Since the first post where I left a comment that was of course deleted, comments have always been switched off (weird that!)

Just in case you were worried non breastfeeding mothers were being left out - fear not:
At times when you have to use the bottle, the same breastfeeding cover can be used to shield your clothing from any dripping milk.
Because of course there's times all breastfeeding mothers have to use a bottle - apparently.  And just in case you happen to sit with that bottle upside down, pouring everywhere - phew, you're covered!

Giving one away free (with buyer just paying shipping costs) is also rather clever - free things circulate round message boards like hotcakes; so anyone who had planned to just go breastfeed has now been given the option of a "free cover", essential for discreet feeding.  Plus the buyer has paid shipping - one reviewer states:
Not sure it was worth the $9 or so shipping, I imagine that with the low cost of the materials, the minimal labor required to make the product and the $1 or so shipping cost them (it arrived in a little envelope,) that they make a fairly hefty margin on each one they send you for "free".

So it seems manipulative marketing techniques that undermine breastfeeding aren't solely restricted to those producing an alternative feeding substance - it can be even more subtly undermined by a company posing as supportive...

Share your experience - Nadya's story

I have always known that one day, when I have children, I will breastfeed them. There was never the question - shall I use formula or not, I did not know what formula was! The longer you breastfeed the better - my mum was telling me stories that she had to eat raw onions when there was a possibility of her milk drying up when I was 6 months old. I have vague memories of my mum breastfeeding my brother (I must have been 4 years old at the time) and it seemed the most natural thing in the world.

A few friends of mine (different nationalities/upbringing) could not breastfeed and when I got pregnant with my daughter, who is now 4 months old, I started worrying that that may happen to me too. I was so lucky to have my independent midwife with me, as my home birth had ended up in hospital and I felt under pressure as baby wouldn't start feeding straight away. my midwife was there the whole time and helped me with it - I know now that I am so lucky about that as hospital staff seem ever so eager to start off babies on formula as they "reject the breast" and to do "topping up".

I had read some information about breastfeeding and latching on but when we got home that night from the hospital I was not at all prepared for what followed. My mum had told me - "feed her 15min on each side to begin with so you both get used to it" - but that was not what Anastasia had in mind. She would feed for over an hour at each side! and would want to eat again in 2 hours! In addition I developed such sore nipples that virtually lost a whole chunk of my right one! But it wasn't the pain that worried me, she didn't seem to gain as well as I wanted her to, and in her second week she did not gain a gram! The third week she gained 20 grams and that after so much effort from both of us was just devastating. I knew something was wrong as my nipples would not heal and I could not believe that my milk was the problem.

I don't know what I would have done without my midwife at this time! She was the one to notice that Anastasia actually had a toungue tie which was causing all that trouble by not allowing her to latch on properly. We had it examined by a lactation specialist who confirmed and sniped it, so my daughter started gaining. She's on one of the lower curves, still trying to catch up and not gaining as much as she is "supposed to" but I don't care, she is gaining enough (about 150g/week) and I will never buy formula! My sister in law also has a baby, she is combine feeding and he has always gained as much as Anastasia. There was a lot of pressure on her to start topping him up from the very beginning but now, because of his supposed "slow gain" they have started to force feed him formula, and at 3 months old he is down to one breast meal a day! It makes me feel so proud we persevered!


Share your experience - Emma C's Story

My breastfeeding story started when I was a little girl!!! Why? I hear you say, well, I crazed my parents for a baby-doll when I was little and lucky little-me got one for Christmas. I don't think I was older than 5 years old. My mum then said to me that she thought my baby was of reaching for the plastic bottle (which came with the dolly) I lifted up my top and clamped the dolly's face to my chest! Now how did I know to do that? I was bottle-fed, as were my brothers and a lot of my friends. I guess my instinct told me that's what I needed to do. From that moment on, I knew if I were ever to have my own baby, I would breastfeed it. It just seemed like the normal thing to do!
Wind on many years......I find myself married.....after that, 2 years of trying for a baby......finding myself pregnant 7 days before starting fertility treatment! Hurrah! Lucky me again!
Having a close-knit social circle of friends who've ALL breastfed their babies for at least 2 years each (one friend feeding both of hers for 4 years each) and my brothers whose wives all breastfed their children (my nieces and nephews) too strengthened my feelings that breastfeeding a baby is indeed the normal thing to do.
After a 2.5 day labour and emergency section my beautiful baby girl arrived safe and sound, weighing a respectable 7lbs 10ozs! All the way through my pregnancy I was convinced I was having a boy, imagine my surprise when a girl was presented to me!! I wasn't even ready with a name. Though apparently my Husband was.....he named her on the spot! I agreed through my groggy drugged-up haze!
I wasn't able to have her straight after being born as my surgeon was trying to stop me bleeding heavily and everyone was ushered out of the room. Once in recovery some time later she was wrapped and cosied up under my arm and we were wheeled down to the ward. Sadly I wasn't encouraged to offer skin-to-skin, I wasn't encouraged to feed her at all. I'd not slept for 3 days and I'd just lost a lot of blood so I was feeling totally wiped and feeding her wasn't even on my mind! Anyway, I rested for a while then said to Husband that I'd like to have a go at feeding her. He passed her to me and I tried to get her attached. She was so full of drugs that she wasn't interested. I had NO idea what I was doing and there was nobody around to help. I managed to get her to take some after much jiggling and we continued to do this for the next 3 days.
By day 3, I was so sore I couldn't bear it. I asked for help but the midwives gave me lots of excuses why my nipples were sore....."you're nipples are too pink..."......"you're baby's mouth is too small..."......."you're nipples are too small....."...."it's supposed to hurt for the 1st week or so...." and all they did was watch me cry.
I got discharged on day 4 with a poorly fed, sleepy and yellow-ish baby. I believe anyone reading this will have an idea about where this story is going......
Now, I think I may be of a minority here but I seem to have the best mother-in-law a person could want. Both her babies were traumatic emergency sections and she breastfed both of them for a year each. She sat in bed with me for 4 hours once we got home and encouraged me to keep going with the breastfeeding. My own mum suggested bottle-feeding. I recoiled in horror with tears streaming down my face.
After a few more days, the skin on my nipples started to disappear in favour of lots of blood. My health visitor came over and really tried to help me but to no baby started crying and she picked her up as I still couldn't walk properly after my surgery. At a glance she noticed my baby had a very short tongue, calling it a "tongue-tie", I had no idea what that was, she said it doesn't usually cause any problems, thus leaving me feeling as if this pain and misery was ALL my fault. Of course, I know now that NONE of what had happened to me was my fault.
I carried on like this for the next 4 weeks, my baby only now back to birth weight and not gaining much at all, nappy-output was virtually non-existent too. On Mothers' day 2008 I couldn't take any more pain and sent my poor suffering husband out to buy formula and bottles. I was devastated. I couldn't believe that I'd failed at giving birth and I'd failed at feeding my baby. I was a big, wobbly-bellied failure. I count myself very lucky though that I didn't slip into a deep depression. My health visiting team praised me for the breastfeeding I'd done but I still felt useless. My baby was bottle feeding and I hated it. It wasn't normal and I was very scared that she'd end up poorly from it. My friends were kind to me but couldn't help as they'd all had smooth breastfeeding experiences and none of them had any idea why I have having such a hard time. I felt like a freak.
That was it, bottle feeding from now on...........or so I thought! Six weeks later I took my gorgeous little baby to be weighed at my local clinic and she was doing great! I was pleased. On my way out I bumped into my HV who asked how I felt about bottle feeding now. I burst into tears and said "I hate it!". She mentioned to me that it may be possible for me to stimulate my milk production again, although it may be a long shot. I was surprised as I didn't know anyone could do that. She asked me to think about it, but I didn't need to think about it at all!  A CHANCE! A SMALL CHANCE TO FEED MY BABY AGAIN! I did consider very briefly if I'd be able to suffer pain and disappointment again, though I figured I may regret it if I never gave it one last shot.......
So, I dragged my Husband to our local breastfeeding support group at the local clinic and explained to the peer supporters my situation and they were more than willing to help me try and get my milk back. I was elated! I couldn't believe these lovely ladies wanted to help me! They all sat with me and explained about positioning. I mentioned that my HV said my baby had a tongue-tie and they said we'd cross that bridge if we came to it and that we could just start with the basics 1st. My heart was racing with nerves and excitement! Anyway, they suggested I see what my little one did if I offered her the breast. So I did, following the instruction on careful positioning. SHE POPPED HERSELF ON MY BREAST AND STAYED THERE FOR AGES!!! She took it like she'd never left it! My milk production was zero at that point so we talked through methods of increasing the stimulation my breasts get and therefore it may have an impact on milk production. I was desperate to get going! I went home armed with info and a new found confidence!
Once home, whilst I set my husband to work in the kitchen making up her next formula feed, I popped her on both breasts. She took them both. No pain, no soreness and no blood. I couldn't believe it. I read through the info whilst she was at the breast and decided I would stimulate and hand express, use my electric pump and have a go with a supplemantal nursing system whenever I could, day and night.
It worked. After 5 days of putting her to the breast, using the SNS and stimulating my breasts (goodness only knows what people walking past our house and looking in thought!), I expressed and a few drops of milk came out! HURRAH! I called my friends and family and wanted to jump on the roof and scream with delight! From that moment on my ickle baby decided she wanted more and more booby and a lot more frequently and my appetite soared. My awful, painful periods stopped too! Over the coming weeks she gradually reduced the amount of formula she consumed until we were making up just one tiny ounce! Pointless! We threw out the formula with glee! Fortunately, her tongue wasn't causing any issues, probably because her mouth was bigger and she was able to take in enough breast tissue to prevent damage.
My HV team (yes, all of them!) and the peer supporters all kept an eye on my welfare and my baby's, and constantly kept up with how I was feeling, really boosting my confidence and reassuring me that all was going great, keeping me thinking of what was in her nappy rather than how much she was consuming.
When my ickle-pickle was 7 months old, breastfeeding on-demand and enjoying some food, I was asked to train as a peer supporter myself. I jumped at the chance. My training started and I couldn't believe there was so much to know. My peer supporters knew a lot but I had no idea they knew THAT much! I completed my training and started helping out at the group I was attending and over the next few months the original peer supporters dwindled leaving me and one other mum (who's now a good friend) from my course to run it ourselves. That was over 2 years ago and in that time my own little one finished breastfeeding at 15 months. "No booby Mummy" was my response after every offer of some milk. I'd successfully breast-fed my baby (eventually!) until she didn't want it anymore. I was so proud of myself.
I'm now doing the next level of training so I'll be able to work on the Breastfeeding helplines and I'll also be able to raise the amount of support I can offer including hospital visits and ante-natal groups. Our drop-in groups have gone from strength to strength, getting busier and busier and we're able to reach, help and support a lot more mums. I feel very lucky to be where I am now, a gorgeous, healthy, hardly ever ill 3 yr old girl and lots of lovely like-minded mums surrounding me.
Thank you Armadillo for giving me a chance to let people know that relactation is certainly possible and not out of reach and as we all know- essential in disaster areas and poverty-stricken countries where infant mortality can be drastically reduced.
I owe it all to my peer supporters, my fairy god-mother HV and that bloomin' baby-doll I crazed for when I was a small child!!! I wonder what happened to it........
Emma Cracknell. Proud Mummy of Holly-Willow (named by Daddy!).

Cry It Out: The Potential Dangers of Leaving Your Baby to Cry

Written by Margaret Chuong-Kim

Among parents of infants these days, there is constant debate about how to respond to a baby’s cries. On one hand, there are proponents of the “cry it out” method, where the baby is left alone to cry in the hopes that he or she will eventually stop. On the other hand, there are the “attachment parents” who respond immediately to their crying babies and attempt to soothe them using various methods including holding and cuddling. While the cry-it-out method (CIO) has been popular in previous years, attachment parenting (AP) is gaining a foothold among new parents today. Results of studies in psychology indicate the AP approach to crying is most likely to result in an emotionally and physically healthy child.

Attachment theory originated in the late 1960s when psychologist John Bowlby postulated that a warm, intimate relationship between caregiver and infant is necessary for optimal health as well as for basic survival. As such, each individual is born well-equipped with reflexes and instincts for interacting with their primary caregiver, which is often times the mother. For example, infants quickly learn to recognize and prefer both their mother’s voice and smell. As babies develop some locomotor control they display their desire to be close to their caregivers by reaching toward their mother or father to be picked up or by crawling toward them. From an evolutionary perspective, these behaviours have survival value. Babies who lack such attachment behaviours will stray from their caregivers and are more likely to get lost, attacked, and perish. An infant’s cry is also intended to increase the likelihood of its survival, as a mother’s instinct is usually to go to her child at the first sign of distress.

We live in an age where we can know that the baby is safe in another room, despite the loudness of his cries. Does this mean we should leave babies to cry on their own? CIO proponents often advise that babies left to cry will eventually stop, and the duration of future crying bouts will decrease. What are the emotional consequences of crying for the infant when she is left unattended?

Bowlby and colleagues initiated a series of studies where children between the ages of one and two who had good relationships with their mothers were separated from them and left to cry it out. Results showed a predictable sequence of behaviours: The first phase, labeled “protest”, consists of loud crying and extreme restlessness. The second phase, labeled “despair”, consists of monotonous crying, inactivity, and steady withdrawal. The third phase, labeled “detachment”, consists of a renewed interest in surroundings, albeit a remote, distant kind of interest. Thus, it appears that while leaving babies to cry it out can lead to the eventual dissipation of those cries, it also appears that this occurs due to the gradual development of apathy in the child. The child stops crying because she learns that she can no longer hope for the caregiver to provide comfort, not because her distress has been alleviated.
Do babies cry more when they are attended to? 

A 1986 study concluded just the opposite: the more a mother holds and carries her baby, the less the baby will cry and fuss. Cross-cultural studies also show that parents in non-Western societies are quicker than parents in Western societies to respond to their crying babies, and babies in non-Western societies cry for shorter spans of time. Caregivers in 78% of the world’s cultures respond quickly to an infant’s cries. For instance, Efe caregivers in Africa respond to a baby’s cries within ten seconds at least 85% of the time when the baby is between three and seven weeks, and 75% of the time when the baby is seventeen weeks. !Kung caregivers respond within ten seconds over 90% of the time during the baby’s first three months, and over 80% of the time at one year. In contrast, American and Dutch caregivers have been found to be deliberately unresponsive to an infant’s cries almost 50% of the time during the baby’s first three months. Infants in non-Western societies have been found to fuss just as frequently as those in Western societies, but due to the prompt response of caregivers in non-Western societies, the overall cumulative duration of crying is less than what occurs in Western societies.

According to attachment theory, many babies are born without the ability to self-regulate emotions. That is, they find the world to be confusing and disorganized, but do not have the coping abilities required to soothe themselves. Thus, during times of distress, they seek out their caregivers because the physical closeness of the caregiver helps to soothe the infant and to re-establish equilibrium. When the caregiver is consistently responsive and sensitive, the child gradually learns and believes that she is worthy of love, and that other people can be trusted to provide it. She learns that the caregiver is a secure base from which she can explore the world, and if she encounters adversity she can return to her base for support and comfort. This trust in the caregiver results in what is known as a secure individual.

Children who do not have consistently responsive and sensitive caregivers often develop into insecure individuals, characterized by anxious, avoidant, and/or ambivalent interactions. Long-term studies have shown that secure individuals, compared to insecure individuals, are more likely to be outgoing, popular, well-adjusted, compassionate, and altruistic. As adults, secure individuals tend to be comfortable depending on others, readily develop close attachments, and trust their partners. Insecure individuals, on the other hand, tend to be unsettled in their relationships, displaying anxiety (manifesting as possessiveness, jealousy, and clinginess) or avoidance (manifesting as mistrust and a reluctance to depend on others). North American parenting practices, including CIO are often influenced by fears that children will grow up too dependent.

However, an abundance of research shows that regular physical contact, reassurance, and prompt responses to distress in infancy and childhood results in secure and confident adults who are better able to form functional relationships.

It has been suggested in the past that CIO is healthy for infants’ physical development, particularly the lungs. A recent study looking at the immediate and long-term physiologic consequences of infant crying suggests otherwise. The following changes due to infant crying have been documented: increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen level, elevated cerebral blood pressure, depleted energy reserves and oxygen, interrupted mother-infant interaction, brain injury, and cardiac dysfunction. The study’s researchers suggested that caregivers should answer infant cries swiftly, consistently, and comprehensively, recommendations which are in line with AP principles.

CIO supporters tend to view their infants’ cries as attempts to manipulate caregivers into providing more attention. Holding this view can be detrimental to the immediate and long-term health of the baby. In the field of cognitive psychology there exists the premise that our thoughts underlie our behaviour. Thus, if we think positively about an individual, our behaviours toward them tend to be positive as well. Conversely, if we think negatively about an individual, we will behave correspondingly.  

Consider people in your own life whom you consider manipulative – how does that perception influence your behaviour toward them? It is unlikely that the interpretation of a manipulative personality will result in the compassionate, empathetic, and loving care of that individual. Infants, quite helpless without the aid of their caregivers, may suffer both emotional and physical consequences of this type of attitude.
When faced with a crying baby, it may be prudent to ask yourself the following questions: Why am I choosing this response? Do I want my baby to stop crying because he feels comforted and safe, or do I want my baby to stop crying for the sake of stopping crying? What is my baby learning about me and the world when I respond in this manner? If I were a baby and was upset, how would I want my caregivers to respond?

Campos, J., et al. (1983). Socioemotional development. In P. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s Manual of Child Psychology: Vol. 2. Infancy and Developmental Psychobiology. New York: Wiley.
Craig, G., Kermis, M., & Digdon, N. (1998). Children Today. Scarborough, ON: Prentice-Hall.
Dacey, J. & Travers, J. (1996). Human Development Across The Lifespan (4th Ed). Boston: McGraw-Hill.
DeCasper, A., & Fifer, W. (1980). Of human bonding: Newborns prefer their mothers’ voices. Science, 208: 1174-76.
Gleitman, H. (1996). Basic Psychology (4th Ed). New York: W.W. Norton.
Hunziker, U. & Barr, R. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 77(5): 641-8.
Luddington, Hoe, S. Cong, X., & Hashemi, F. (2002). Infant crying: Nature, physiologic consequences, and select interventions. Neonatal Network, 21(2): 29-36.
Macfarlane, A. (1975). Olfaction in the development of social preferences in the human neonate. Parent-Infant Interaction. Amsterdam: CIBA Foundation Symposium.
Mikulincer, M., & Shaver, P. (2001). Attachment theory and intergroup bias: evidence that priming the secure base schema attenuates negative reactions to out-groups. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(1): 97-115.
Miller, R. (2000). Dysfunctional relationships. In R. Kowalski & M. Leary (Eds.), The Social Psychology of Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Interfaces of Social and Clinical Psychology. Washington, DC: APA.
Waters, E., Wippman, J., & Sroufe, L. (1979). Attachment, positive affect, and competence in the peer group: Two studies in construct validation. Child Development, 50: 821-829.

Reproduced with kind permission of Dr. Ben Kim

Share your experience - Olga's story

My daughter is over two years old now and this is my breastfeeding story. I will also give you some background on her birth as I think that’s where all the problems began. Or maybe it all went wrong earlier – as during my pregnancy I did not read anything about breastfeeding. I attended some antenatal classes with my husband, but midwife was talking only about ‘benefits of breastfeeding’ and why it’s the best way to feed your baby. That I already knew – for me it was the ONLY way to feed my baby. I expected the whole experience to be blissful and natural – isn’t it what my breasts were for at the end of the day?  Overall I didn’t give breastfeeding much thought, I concentrated my research on homebirth, reading lovely homebirth stories.

My pregnancy was uneventful, though from the beginning I felt unsupported in my desire to birth Freya at home. A few days before my due date, traces of protein (+1) were detected in my urine, so I was advised to go in for monitoring. All was fine and my baby was happy. During the monitoring my blood pressure was taken and it read 150/75. I didn’t think that was cause of concern as it’s classed as borderline, but the doctors weren’t happy. I was advised to come back the next day. The following day I came back to the hospital, baby was fine during monitoring, again there was +1 protein in my urine and blood pressure was 150/75. This time at the end of my appointment a consultant and two additional midwives arrived and started explaining that I had to be admitted later that day to be induced or I would be putting my baby at risk. I attended this appointment on my own and found it difficult to defend my position. I knew I did not have pre-ecclampsia and my baby was fine, but they made me feel like a bad mother for wanting to deliver Freya at home, naturally. I agreed to come back later that day for induction and went home in tears.

My induction started at 8pm with a prostaglandin pessary. I started having mild contractions but they weren’t really doing anything so I had another pessary at midnight and another one at 8am. I did not sleep at all that night. By 10am the next day I was still only 2cm dilated, so doctors decided to put me on oxitocin drip and break my waters to speed up the process. The exact cascade of intervention that I was reading about and dreading was happening to me. And as much as I was coping with the pessary induced contractions on my own, things became quite different after being put on oxitocin drip. I was begging for an epidural, though I originally wanted to avoid pain relief drugs at any cost. It took two hours to get the anaesthesiologist ready during which I became very dependent on gas and air.  I wanted to go in a birth pool, but wasn’t ‘allowed’, was lying on my back, strapped to foetal monitoring system. Everything I wanted to avoid was happening. After epidural finally kicked in, I couldn’t feel a thing but mentally felt miles better. Every time epidural was wearing out, I was offered another top up. I had five top ups throughout the day. I was dilating slowly and finally reached 10 cm by 11pm. At this time midwife that was looking after me had to go home and new midwife arrived. She introduced herself promptly and then left me alone with my husband for an hour (at 10cm dilation). I knew I was ready to push but there was no midwife to help me, so I waited patiently. When the midwife came back, I finally was ‘allowed’ to push and Freya arrived at 12.25am, after 30 hours of labour. 

As soon as she came out, we had some skin-to-skin contact, but Freya was very sleepy. Midwife asked me if I wanted to breastfeed, and I said yes. Next thing I remember was midwife grabbing my breast and pushing Freya’s little head onto it with almighty force. Both me and my husband froze, as she was really forceful, and Freya just started crying. I remember thinking that poor little mite was going to suffocate. Later we had some more cuddles, Freya wasn’t interested in suckling at all. I had a bath while midwife left for another half hour and then I was immediately moved to postnatal ward and my husband had to go home. By that time Freya was fast asleep and we were left alone till morning. Nobody came to see me till 9am (8 hours after birth), I wasn’t offered a drink or food. Freya slept pretty much all this time and I couldn’t get her to latch on at all. During my stay in the hospital I expressed my concern that baby wasn’t latching on, so I was offered a bottle of formula, which I refused. Paediatrician that came to check the baby didn’t seem concerned, just told me to ‘keep trying’. During that day at the hospital I was left alone for most of the time, no one came to help me with positioning and latch, but midwives were doing their formula rounds every couple of hours, which I refused to accept every time. At 2pm I was so fed up that I decided to discharge myself ‘against medical advice’. 

At home same situation continued – Freya was asleep and no matter what we did, she just wouldn’t latch on. Every time I was putting her to the breast, she was becoming more and more stressed and upset. I started expressing bit of colostrums with some cheap electric pump I had and gave Freya her first feed 30 hours after she was born. I was only getting out 10ml at the time, so decided to give Freya some formula (in a bottle). Midwife that came to visit during that time wasn’t helpful at all and told me that I had flat nipples and that’s why Freya wasn’t latching on. That really knocked my confidence, but I still kept trying to latch my little girl on. After three days she started screaming as soon as the breast was out and was fighting me off. I still tried expressing, but unfortunately the motor on my pump died. I sent my husband to Boots, and he got me a manual MAM pump. Pumping with manual pump wasn’t easy and my milk didn’t come in till five days after Freya’s birth. By that time she was fed mainly formula, mixed with whatever I could express (which was about 150ml per day). 

My confidence was very low, and I had no help from healthcare professionals. Midwives doing home visits weren’t interested; all they cared about was how much Freya weighed. And as she only lost 2oz of her birth weight – so we were promptly discharged from midwife care. On the last midwife visit I was given a telephone number for hospital lactation consultant. I called her a few times every day, for about four weeks – she was never at her desk and I left multiple messages with different people – she never rang me back. At home the same situation continued – both I and Freya were becoming more and more unhappy. She wouldn’t latch on, I felt rejected and like a failure. I was producing less and less milk every day. The midwife told me that pumping wasn’t possible long term and I believed her. I was becoming very depressed as it wasn’t the way I wanted to feed my baby. 

When Freya was four weeks old – I came across term ‘Exclusive Pumping’ (EPing) on internet. I found an internet forrum and, to my own amazement – not only was it possible, but many mums in USA have done it with great success. I found a book ‘Exclusively Pumping Breast Milk: A Guide to Providing Expressed Breast Milk for Your Baby’ by Stephanie Casemore and decided to try it. I bought a new pump – Ameda Lactaline and started pumping every two hours, day and night. I started writing down the amounts that I expressed and after three weeks of following this strict regime (and taking Domperidone) – I was finally making enough for my daughter and stopped supplementing with formula. I have kept a ‘pumping diary’ everyday till thirteen months post partum. At peak I was making 42oz of milk per day and Freya was having a maximum of 30oz a day. I started donating milk to Chester Milk Bank and I have donated over 1500oz during Freya’s first year. 

I suffered with bleeding and cracked nipples, ductal thrush, continuous blocked ducts problem (which sorted itself out after taking Lecithin supplement) – but all that didn’t matter because my daughter was getting my milk. I began to feel less and less guilty and started enjoying being a mum more. Exclusively Pumping was the most difficult thing I have ever done – at times I felt like I was chained to the pump. Having to pump at night while my daughter started sleeping through at five weeks was especially difficult, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I managed to continue till 14 months post partum. Stopping was my decision, as it became increasingly difficult: looking after active toddler, working and pumping. If I was a stay at home mum, I would carry on for much longer. I am very proud that I managed to feed her for so long. I still tried to latch her on till about 6 months of age – she did it twice, both times using nipple shields. Eventually I decided to give up and made my peace with the fact that I will be an EPing mum. 

I still feel very sad thinking about our early days and lack of support. I did complain to NHS about it, but they blamed me for discharging myself from hospital against medical advice. I didn’t pursue it further. I wish I had known more about breastfeeding or had some support network available. I wish someone would have told me earlier that EPing is possible and maybe if hospital staff had lent me a breast pump in the early days. I do feel grateful for the internet and all the information available, without it my daughter would probably have been formula fed from about six weeks. It is such a shame that women and babies are let down by midwives, doctors and health visitors throughout the county every day, and that they believe their so-called ‘professional advice’ – which is often damaging for breastfeeding. My experience made me question everything I hear from health care professionals. I have to check everything out for myself now. And in that way – the whole experience has made me stronger and a better person. 

I am currently pregnant with my second baby, and this time I will do my best to succeed, I will not let that happen to me again.
Thanks for reading,

Share your experience - Vicky H's story

When I was pregnant I was determined I was going to breastfeed. My husband wanted to buy some bottles and formula "just in case" but that was not an option for me. I wasn't expecting it to be easy having watched my best friend screaming in pain as her 3 day old son latched on, but I did expect it to be possible and to just happen.
The reality was a little different. My son was born 11 days late by emergency c-section following 3 days of contractions coming and going and numerous failed attempts to induce me. Therefore I missed out on the immediate skin to skin contact. I didn't get to hold him until he was an hour old and even then I was numb from the neck down.
I was tired, emotional and shaky and my husband had been kicked out as Eddie was born at 1am. No-one suggested to me I try to feed him and I was physically unable to even pick him up as it took 6 hours for me to get some feeling back and stop shaking. When I finally got round to it he wouldn't latch on. I cannot begin to count the number of midwives and MCAs who grabbed my breast and tried to shove it in his mouth. Looking back I'm not surprised we weren't getting anywhere.
So I then started hand expressing either into a little cup or with a midwife standing by with a syringe to suck it up. That was possibly the strangest thing I've ever done! I found it hard to believe my baby could survive on just 2 or 3mls of colostrum here and there. I used a pump to express some more and still remember the MCA announcing to the rest of the ward how amazing it was I'd got 20mls off. So much for privacy.
We then gave Eddie the expressed milk in a bottle. I had some inkling that you shouldn't give breastfed babies a bottle because of nipple confusion but just wanted him to eat. Eventually someone suggested using nipple shields and like magic he latched on and fed! I was so relieved, although I must have fed him every half an hour that night. It was exhausting.
When I was discharged 2 days after giving birth we were still using the shields. My midwife was unconcerned about me using the shields as he was breastfeeding and that was the main thing. It felt to me like she was just glad she could tick the breastfeeding box and didn't really care how I felt. She suggested the problem was that my nipples were too small! The health visitor on the other hand kept telling me I should stop using the shields as they would diminish my supply, but offered no advice or support how to do so. She recommended a support group but I couldn't go anywhere without a lot of help and being in pain from the c-section.
It was uncomfortable feeding my son. It involved a lot of cushions and generally gave me a bad back, but I persisted. After about 4 weeks I broke down in tears (not for the first time!) in front of my mum. I kept hearing that breastfeeding was an amazing thing, a wonderful experience but I didn't feel the magic. My mum then called a friend of hers who is a breastfeeding counsellor. Unlike the midwife ("You'll be alright if I don't come for a couple of days won't you?") she was at my house as soon as she'd dropped her kids off with their grandparents.
She helped me with positioning and gave me suggestions and tips. The most important thing she did was give me the confidence to keep going. She said my son clearly did know how to feed without the shields and that it was just about persistence. She also confirmed there was nothing wrong with the size of my nipples!
The very next day Eddie fed for a whole hour without the shields. I was alternating feeds with and without the shields, except at night when I just used them to make things easier. Just two days later Eddie decided he didn't want the shields any more, screaming when I tried to use them but latching on straight away once I removed them. I threw the damn things in the bin the next day and have never used them since!
We're still going strong and Eddie is 15 months now. I'm going to let him self-wean and considering he still sometimes has about 4 feeds a day I think we're a while off that time yet! We've had some difficult times (blocked ducts, thrush, milk blisters, a 3 week period of Eddie screaming and fussing at the breast for no apparent reason) but I definitely feel the magic now :-)

Seven Alternatives To Forced Apologies

Ok so originally I planned for this blog to be breastfeeding and early parenting, but when I asked a while ago on Facebook the overall consensus was "more breastfeeding stuff please!"

But when I stumbled upon the article I want to share - I decided it was too good to miss; it sums up what I think without me having to write it

It's called Seven Alternatives To Forced Apologies and I got into this with my first child.  I believed at that time of course it was important they learnt to say sorry! Good manners are essential - I also believed the way to do this was to encourage her to apologise if she did something.

But soon we were in a position where my daughter seemed to think saying sorry excused whatever behaviour it was ie everything becomes ok if you say sorry.  Don't get me wrong I had always explained why we were saying sorry, but the fact is in social situations other parents love children who say sorry - they praise them for doing it, they say "you need to say sorry like x did".  So she would do whatever it was we were trying to discourage, then toss a casual "sorry" into the mix expecting everything to then be sweet.  Another problem with the forced apology is what happens if your toddler refuses to apologise?  Which the odds are at some point (particularly if they don't feel they have wronged) they will do.  Where do you go from there?  Punish for not apologising?  If so surely all this will achieve is one who apologises because they have to?

Around that time I also read Alfie Kohn's "Unconditional Parenting", which discusses how forcing a child to say sorry when they don't mean it, really encourages a child to lie.    Whilst I didn't feel my daughters casual use of the word equated to lying, I agreed with Kohn that sorry is really only of value if the child is actually sorry for whatever they did; the motivation has to be intrinsic.

Anyway the post I want to link to, looks at alternatives to forcing the apology - which are the sort of techniques I switched to when the former wasn't working and also with my second.  Both children now apologise if they feel sorry for something - and refuse if they don't, but that in itself is also valuable.  Sometimes when they are reluctant to apologise and you discuss why - there is a good reason to be heard; which can allow actual resolution of the issue.  Which as they mature is likely to be most valuable?  the ability to apologise even if you don't feel culpable - or the skills to resolve?

Seven Alternatives to Forced Apologies

Playground and play group etiquette often dictates that when your child hurts another child, takes something away, refuses to share, or any of those other behaviors that make parents cringe, you must demand that your child apologize. Even if your child obviously doesn’t mean it.

When Kieran hurts or frustrates another child, I do want to acknowledge and comfort the child who has been hurt or frustrated, but I do not force Kieran to apologize. Instead of teaching Kieran to apologize automatically and without sincere feeling,1 I want to focus more on helping Kieran empathize with others and learn how to play and interact with his friends appropriately.
Here are seven ways to help your child learn both the social niceties of apologies, as well as how to apologize with sincerity:
  1. Connect with Your Child: Try Aldort’s S.A.L.V.E. technique: calm yourself down and let go of your first (often angry or embarrassed) reaction. Give your child some attention; listen to him. Validate his feelings and needs, and empower him to solve his own problems.

Share your experience - Triss' story

My daughter breastfeed fine for nearly two weeks, though often and cluster feeds. I didn't know this was normal and had some new mum anxiety this was so often, as her birth weight was still falling at this point.

She then had an infection on her fingers and toes, which on reflection was probably from the hospital (it was extremely dirty, lots of women delivering and very few midwives) and at 2 weeks old had to have penicillin.  This was almost death to the breastfeeding.  She immediately had stomach upset, diarrhoea, constant screaming and a lack of interest in feeding then, unsurprisingly.   Her birth weight then dipped to just under 10% and she was classed as 'failing to thrive'. The Dr was very nice, very concerned and said we had to supplement with formula immediately or she would be taken into hospital.  I could see that this was necessary, her fontanelle was sunken and she was starting a grey/blue-ish tint round her mouth.  Of course we were petrified, and very quickly she was on 6 bottles a day, with me feeding her first then 'topping up'. I never thought to ask the Dr for how long and how much to top up, and I doubt if he would have been able to tell me, there seems to be a lack of good knowledge of breastfeeding by medics generally, I found.

We were referred for an appointment with a paediatrician a fortnight later. By then she'd put some weight on with the formula and they though she was doing well.  I said how unhappy I was with the formula and was still trying to breastfeed, but by then my daughter was gulping enthusiastically at the bottle and impatient at the breast as it wasn't as fast and my supply was  reducing.  The hospital said, "Wait here, we'll get our feeding specialist to come and talk to you", who arrived, brandishing charts on how much formula to give at each week! They weren't able to offer any breastfeeding advice other than, 'just put her on the breast then'!  While I was sitting nearly crying through this, a passing lady Dr took pity on me, saw I'd given my daughter a bottle while waiting, and then put her on the breast as she was fussing/ crying constantly, and decided she needed infant Gaviscon, as she'd been colicky and refluxy from the start.  This did help to some degree after this, though it's harder to give Gaviscon in water from a spoon, while breastfeeding than to give in a bottle of formula.

The upshot of this was, at 6 weeks old, after phoning the NCT for advice and expressing to up my supply, I gradually over the next fortnight, dropped one bottle a day, until she was entirely breastfed during the day and had 2 bottles then one, during the night. I have allergies, so really wanted to continue feeding for as long as possible.  This was incredibly hard, I remember at the 6 weeks mark just sitting crying, saying 'I can't do this!' it would have been very useful to know about a growth spurt round then!

I actually managed to feed my daughter for 11 months, until she dropped It herself, a feed at a time.  In the early months, she never put much weight on, usually no more than 3-4 oz a week, but was very active and a picture of health.

I should add that my Health Visitor was fantastic and was always a tower of support through everything, helping me sort out which bottle to stop when etc.  I don't think I could have managed to continue feeding without her, as through all this I had continued lack of support from elsewhere in the family, who actively tried to stop me breastfeeding, but that's another story!

Share your experience - Verity's story

This starts with the birth of my first daughter in 2006 following an induction that lasted 4 days with her finally being born by ventouse....
Lily was very difficult to feed as a newborn as she had jaundice that required bili-bed therapy. She was born at 00.05 on a Tuesday and fed fairly well the first 18 hours, but soon stopped being able to latch and instead took to screaming only being comforted by my walking her about (which was not allowed by the ward Midwives). By 10am on the Wednesday I was convinced I had no milk and Lily was starving so begged for help but got none. I then begged for formula (no one told me babies DO NOT starve in less than 48 hours especially with a few good feeds in them first) so we could be discharged (we were not allowed to go home until Lily fed but no help was given to breastfeed).
The community midwives advised 2oz of milk every two hours as soon as it was known she had jaundice (day 2). Lily was unable to latch on to feed from either breast or bottle by then as she was too sleepy to even open her mouth. My husband had to pry her jaws open so I could 'milk' the teat of a bottle to get her to swallow.
I was, by Thursday, pumping with a Medela Symphony (hired from NCT) every 2 hours and collecting the colostrum until I had 2oz worth as we were told not to mix formula and colostrum. My milk finally came in late on Saturday (day 5) but by then Lily was firmly on bottles and I was not allowed to breastfeed her as she was not allowed out from the bili-bed except for nappy changes. As I had an epileptic seizure in the hospital on Saturday night, due to lack of sleep and stress, I was then not allowed to even approach my daughter's bili-bed with out being shouted at by a Midwife until we were discharged on the Sunday afternoon.
I now know that such a prescriptive way of dealing with jaundice is not evidence based and that if I had been helped in hospital before discharge we might have avoided a lot of the problems we went on to have.
After 8 weeks of around the clock pumping, nipple shields, lots of fenugreek and an amazing amount of support from my husband, we weaned Lily off her bottles and she was exclusively breast fed even though I always felt I had a low supply after stopping the bottles especially around ovulation and the first few days of my period.
We then went on to our next stumbling block: reflux. Lily was sick a lot and was very unhappy and unsettled. I refused to go back to bottle feeding, so after trying Infant Gaviscon to no avail, she was prescribed Domperidone which meant she was sick less and gained some weight. She still fed a lot (anything up to 1 ¾ hour feeds every 2 hours) but was happier and there was a lot less screaming. I wore her in a ring sling a lot, which helped settle her.
Around this time I discovered child-led weaning and vowed to let Lily decide when she was ready to stop nursing. Unfortunately I mentioned this to a friend who thought that breastfeeding over 6 months old would damage the baby's immune system for ever. She then took to sending me scientific data which apparently 'proved' her point (most in fact didn't even mention breastfeeding!).
I ended up developing Post Natal Depression-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and refused to breastfeed my daughter for a day as latching her on made me be sick (I had thoughts of poisoned milk coming out of my breasts). My husband understood that I needed have the decision of whether to carry on breastfeeding taken out of my hands (as in my right mind I wouldn't have considered stopping) and persuaded me to start breastfeeding again.   I got help from my Health Visitor but the Psychologist I was referred to was very anti-medication for a breastfeeding mother and insisted I wean before she would give me anything. This meant I had to research for myself which drugs were suitable before a colleague of hers would prescribe it (Sertraline/Zoloft). A thank you goes to Dr. Thomas Hale and his Internet web forum, he quite literally saved my life.
I then got nipple and ductal thrush which meant I was in a lot of pain (cut glass and razor blades is the best description of it) during and between feeds. Luckily by this time a breastfeeding group had been set up in our town so got advice on what to ask for at the GP and antibiotics with daktarin/nystatin solved the problem. If I hadn't have had that advice I wouldn't have been treated as the GP didn't believe in thrush in nipples/breasts.
Lily started complementary solids at 25 weeks with mostly purées but some finger foods before moving on to table foods by about 10 months. Lily then carried on breastfeeding until she was 3 years and 6 months old when she self weaned.
I got pregnant with Ali when Lily was 11 months old. My milk 'dried up' when I was 14 weeks pregnant so I started supplementing with cows' milk. My milk came back in at week 24 and Lily was overjoyed her 'bah' had come back. I had very sensitive nipples for the first trimester but I found that limiting the duration of the feeds worked best for Lily and I (we read 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' whilst she nursed) as it meant she got to feed as often as she liked but I didn't have 1 hour long feeds to cope with. We also worked on nursing manners – no 'mugging' of mummy, no biting/pinching/twiddling/saying please/thank you and if I said 'I'll nurse you after I've answered the phone' I meant it and would nurse after the phone call.
When Ali was born, there wasn't any NHS help offered to me as it was assumed I knew what I was doing when in fact I hadn't got a clue how to breastfeed a newborn (Lily being bottle feed apart from the first 18 hours on day 1). On day 3 my husband and I were up at 2am looking at Dr Jack Newman's website videos which meant I was able to latch Ali on without pain. Again my husband proved invaluable with his support and encouragement in helping me breast feed our baby.
I tandem fed Lily and Ali. Lily would hold Ali's hands and stroke her which really strengthen their bond. However, after about 10 weeks, I stopped nursing them together as the negative feelings got too intense and it literally made my flesh creep to feel both of them nursing at the same time. Rather than weaning Lily I decided to feed them separately which took a little while to work but we soon got used to taking turns.
At 8 weeks I had a Psychiatrist appointment with a new doctor I went alone (I would have usually taken my husband for moral support) as I was feeling really good and had no real PND-OCD signs. The doctor insisted that I leave the children (8 week old baby and 22 month old toddler) with the receptionists so I wouldn't be distracted. I tried keep them with me by explaining that the baby was breastfeeding but the doctor was adamant I couldn't breast feed taking Sertraline. I explained I was put on it because I was breastfeeding Lily at the time of prescribing and she was still nursing. The doctor was disgusted and horrified I was breastfeeding a 22 month old as I must be forcing her to nurse and that I was nursing for my own needs (he intimated I was getting sexual pleasure from it). I then left the meeting and was back to not being able to breast feed my baby. Yet again my husband had to encourage me to nurse in spite of my feelings.
I continued to feel very depressed to the point that a Health Visitor at the breastfeeding group insisted I go the walk-in centre and see the Psychiatric Crisis Team who were very supportive. When I mention what had caused the recent problems the doctor very gently suggested that at 22 months my daughter did need solids as well as my milk. He laughed when I said she'd been on solids since 6 months and he asked what was the doctor's problem then! I got extra help from then on and no one suggested that I needed to stop breastfeeding to get well. Which is what I am now.
Ali was very easy to breast feed and she started solids all by herself at 23 weeks after diving into her sister's yoghurt and eating it. She had been sitting up unaided by 20 weeks, had lost her tongue thrust reflex, had a pincer grip and knew what food was and what to do with it. I figured I would go with it and did mainly finger foods with the odd spoonful of porridge, etc so took it at her pace. She really enjoyed herself with solids and eats a good variety of foods now.
I got pregnant with Clara when Lily was 2 years 10 months and Ali was 14 months old. Things went the same way as Ali's pregnancy – painful feeding in first trimester and no milk from week 14 but between weeks 24 & 26 both Lily and Ali went on a nursing strike. They both started nursing again within hours of each other. My colostrum came back in within a few days of the strike ending which made for two very happy girls and a very happy mum (who was puzzled by the mustardy diarrhoea that both of them had until my husband pointed out my colostrum was back in and that is what it did to Lily's nappies last time!).
Lily self weaned when I was 36 weeks pregnant. She had had a poor latch for about two weeks before but I put the pain down to being pregnant (Ali's feeding didn't hurt though). One morning she tried to latch on but her tongue just didn't know what to do and she couldn't work out where to put it any more. I felt in her mouth and she had some big gaps at the back of her gums/jaw that hadn't been there about a month previously so we thought her jaw had started changing shape to allow for the next set of molars through. She has 2 of her first adult molars at 4.9y/o. Lily was quite pleased that she was a really big girl and I was asked to pump some milk for her when the baby was born for her to have in a cup (I did and she thought it was revolting!).
Clara took to nursing right from the start although she did make a clicking noise whilst feeding until about 5 months old. After eliminating the other possibilities (poor latch/tongue tie) and on consulting Dr Brian Palmer's website, it was decided she had a bubble palate (my other daughters and my husband have it on closer inspection). It presented no problems apart from the distracting noise!
Aside from the palate abnormality we had no difficulties until she was 8 weeks old and caught RSV which caused bronchiolitis which made her too weak to breastfeed effectively so I expressed and syringe/cup fed whilst she was having oxygen treatment. She was hospitalised for a few days and I stayed with her. I was under a fair bit of pressure to bottle feed her but as she had never had a bottle as I felt it would be too much stress to force her to have one whilst she was ill. A few weeks later she got bronchiolitis again and this time was much more poorly and had to be put on oxygen and have an NG tube. She developed bronchiolitis a further 2 times but managed to keep breast feeding. She went from the 91st percentile to the 2nd for weight due to her ill health and her growth stalled for a few months. I was encouraged to keep breastfeeding by her Paediatrician.
Clara was exclusively breast fed to 26 weeks and we started her on solids (BLW) the week before her last bout of bronchiolitis. The paediatrician told us to stop solids and concentrate on breastfeeding her until she recovered. The following week I collapsed with pancreatitis and was hospitalised for a week. Clara wasn't allowed to stay with me in the hospital and neither was I allowed to use the maternity units pumps more than twice a day (unless I walked to the other end of the hospital! Which I did and promptly collapsed in the pump room). So in the end we had to hire a NCT pump whilst still in the hospital so I could keep up my milk supply.
As I hadn't been expressing (I was too ill to hand express or use a manual pump) I got mastitis which meant I had IV antibiotics and Clara had to have formula to supplement what little I was expressing. A friend with a baby the same age even expressed a feed for Clara.
Clara was brought in to hospital to feed whenever possible but really wasn't enough to keep things going. I came home, and luckily, Clara still wanted to nurse and took back to breast feeding easily. I was in hospital for another week three months later whilst I had my gall bladder out. This time we took the NCT pump in with us but still my supply dropped to the low point of 5mls combined per session even with 12 pumping sessions, block pumping and hand expression following pumping. With a bit of work from Clara when I was home it soon picked up again.
Ali wouldn't nurse whilst I was in hospital but as soon as I was home would happily nurse again. They are both still nursing at 3 years and 1 month and 1 year and 3 months. I have no plans to wean them and am hoping that they will both find their own time to stop nursing. I use Nursing Manners to ensure everyone has a happy nursing experience for as long as they chose to nurse.  I am have been a peer supporter with the breastfeeding group that helped me so much for about 18 months now. I am also hoping to train to be a breastfeeding counsellor in the future.