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.

Tips for breastfeeding in public if you feel self-conscious

Firstly please remember a lot of mums feel daunted the first few times they breastfeed in public.  As discussed in my "Let's do breastfeeding covers" entry, even those who are confident now may well have felt a little nervous at first - particularly if you live in an area where you don't see lots of mums feeding.

In all honesty even non breastfeeding mums can feel apprehensive too!  Previous discussions here and on Facebook have shown bottle feeding mums are concerned people are judging them over not breastfeeding - so it seems a lot of mums are sensitive to how other perceive them either way.  It's nice to remember this and always smile at a mum with a baby, regardless of how she is feeding.

Public breastfeeding really is one of those things that quickly becomes "normal", the more you do it the easier it becomes - the more you put it off or build it up, the worse it can seem (bit like many things). So I thought I would share some tips and alternatives to covers if you feel self conscious (and kudos if you don't!); feel free to reply with yours.

Hints & Tips
  • Don't panic in the early days:  Some mums express concern at how "obvious" feeding their newborn is when concentrating on getting baby latched well;  wondering if they will ever be "discreet enough" to feel comfortable doing it in public.  Take each day as it comes, even if you feel you need to cover up more now, this may well change as you both gain confidence and baby develops.
  • Practice feeding at home in front of a full length mirror:  When you are looking down on baby feeding, you can see much more than someone opposite you.  Feeding in front of a mirror gives a better idea of the view others get whilst feeding.
Angelina Jolie
  • Start small:  Often you will hear people say "I can't even feed in front of family", but actually family can more daunting than strangers for some mums!  It can be a good idea to practice a few times in a place you feel comfortable - perhaps a local quiet park or friendly village library or cafe.
  • Lean back slightly when you feed: If you have a baby that "pops off" frequently, this can be more obvious in typical supine positions such as the cradle or cross cradle hold.  As demonstrated on the left by Angelina Jolie, leaning back slightly makes baby more prone, so if they pop off their head still blocks the view.  It can also reduce the amount of coming off and reattaching babies as gravity is on their side!
"V" Clutch Hold
  • Try different positions: Mums sometimes express feeling more exposed if they use a hold such as the clutch/ruby/football hold, because their breast is not shielded by baby's head in the same way.  If this position works for you and baby, modifying it to an upright "V clutch hold" can work even better for some mums.  
You begin holding baby as you would for a typical clutch hold, then move baby upright until he forms a "V" shape with his body (as per the picture on the right).  Your breast size/shape and the length of baby will determine where baby's legs and feet end up.  When supporting baby in this hold, use your wrist and palm to provide firm support to baby's shoulder and upper back, with the thumb and first finger holding under baby's ears.  You should avoid placing your hands higher than the ears and onto baby's head as feeding nerves run through this area.  Pressure can therefore cause baby to pull backwards from the breast or stop rooting/latching behaviours.
  • Experiment with different clothing.  Some mums find specific breastfeeding clothes are great, others find them tricky - with holes or slits in the wrong places depending upon your shape!  If you have small to medium breasts, wearing a stretchy vest top that can be pulled down at one side to feed, with an open shirt/cardigan over the top can feel very covered.  Alternatively you can also buy breastfeeding vest tops that can work well for this such as the Glamourmom Tank, or the Breast Vest you can layer.  A normal shirt can work well too, as when opened slightly it creates a "flap" for cover - without having to be opened all the way down if you feel sensitive about your tummy area.  Alternatively you can cover tummy using a "boob tube" pulled down to around your middle, or again buy something made for the job such as a band (just covers tummy area) or a BelleBelly which covers from underbust to hips.
Some mums say breastfeeding clothes are "boring" or "obvious" ie a zip or flap under the breast area, and they want to get back into stylish clothes.   If this is you check out Bella Mama who have a wide range of modern nursing clothes with different opening options.  There are lots of modern ranges available now - feel free to recommend any you love!
Alternative to Nursing Covers
Perhaps the most obvious alternative to a nursing cover is a baby carrier or sling.  These have the added bonus over a cover in that you can also carry baby in them, give yourself some hands free time, and are often fab for soothing an unsettled infant  You can pick a carrier based on what positions work well for you.  My favourite carriers for breastfeeding, in no particular order...

Ring Sling: Suitable from newborn through to toddlerhood.

With a ring sling it's easy to pull the sling higher up baby's head, which provides even more cover whilst still giving you a clear view of baby.

If feeding sitting down you can loosen the ring to allow the top rail to pull looser and provide as much fabric as you need, again giving lots of play to use as a "fixed in place cover" even if you want to move baby to a more upright/tummy to tummy position from a different carry.  With a bit of practice you may also be able to master adjusting the sling to allow you to walk around breastfeeding hands free, with the sling supporting baby.
Reach into the sling and arrange your clothing. Turn your baby so they are tummy to tummy with their head in the correct position to reach the breast for latch on. Once they are happy feeding you can tighten the sling to fully support your baby so that your hands are free. This may take practise but is worth persevering, then you can breastfeed anywhere. (
A sling also covers the tummy area for those that prefer and ring slings with a tail (as per the picture on the right) provide another swathe of fabric for the super conscious to pull over the top.

Cradle hold
Upright hold
Pouch Sling - Best for mums who like a quick on and off with little learning curve.

As they are a fixed size, they have slightly less flexibility than a ring sling - however their simple on off design make them popular with many mums.  For a young infant they work well for breastfeeding in a cradle or more upright hold, however for an older infant you may need to sit down to pull sufficient fabric up around the back of their head (ie fabric that is normally positioned further down) to use an upright position.

Home made Mei Tai
Kozy Carrier
Mei Tai- Great for upright/underarm nursing positions.

Mei Tais are great for mums that prefer a two shoulder hold.  With a newborn or young baby, you should fold their legs froggie style, rather than splayed either side of the carrier hanging down.

To feed you can sit down and loosen the straps, which allows you to move baby into a different position whilst still being covered from the front.  Some also have a sleep hood, you can see the brown satin hood on the carrier to the right.  As baby gets taller this can be pulled up and secured to the straps, providing extra coverage if required.

Again you can wear a jacket, cardigan or open shirt over your carrier to provide more coverage at the sides if you have a slimmer carrier and feel more exposed there.  Some carriers have a wide enough body to "close any gaps".  With practice some mums can master feeding walking round breastfeeding in an upright hold too.

Wrap: More of a learning curve but excellent weight distribution and often very soothing for unsettled infants.

Ellaroo woven wrap
Kari-me stretchy wrap
A wrap can look a bit daunting at first, but I liken it to tying a shoelace - once you know how, it takes seconds and you could do it with your eyes closed.   There are a few typical carry positions for a very young infant that work well with breastfeeding.  For infants that prefer being in a cradle hold, this can be created as per the picture on the left.  To breastfeed you can move the inner layer aside and turn baby onto their side (you may need to sit down and loosen the wrap slightly, especially whilst still getting the hang) pulling the fabric up behind them.  For infants who prefer being more upright, you can use  it as per the picture on the right.  Again you can loosen the straps and pull the centre panel up as a cover.

The strategic blanket:

If you don't fancy a carrier, a strategic blanket can work well - particularly so if you just want a little extra coverage whilst baby is latching, but feel more comfortable once they're settled.  Not very practical if you have a wiggly baby who arches away from the breast, or one prone to flailing arms and legs; otherwise you can soon find you don't have enough hands to untangle baby and hold the blanket in place.  Alternatively some babies will tolerate something lighter like a muslin better, so they don't feel something heavy over their head.  Nell demonstrated this at the launch of one of our groups in the image on the right (there were a lot of cameras and a couple of TV teams vying for a shot!)

As a final note - remember you are simply giving your baby milk of his own species.  If someone is offended at you choosing not to give your baby an alternative which carries risks - who really has the problem?  Eyes have a handy avert function we can use if we would rather look somewhere else - where would the list end if we asked everyone to cover up everything that anyone could ever perceive as something they would rather not look at?

Related Posts:
Let's do breastfeeding covers
Breastfeeding in public is offensive - see for yourself

    Let's do breastfeeding covers

    Something I've discovered is that nursing covers are a controversial subject.  When I blogged a while ago discussing the questionable marketing techniques of Udder Covers, it was interesting the replies were frequently about covers in general - despite the post being about how the company were selling their item.

    What's also interesting and quite significant, is how the conversation around nursing covers changes depending upon which area/country on the whole is discussing it.

    In the UK nursing covers are still relatively uncommon - at least "Oop North" where I live, they are rarely seen; but then so are breastfeeding babies.  I've only seen a cover used once, in a cafe whilst feeding my youngest.  Perhaps because they aren't seen very often, I did think it a tad ironic that nobody even glanced at me feeding my son, whilst people were nearly falling off their chairs craning their necks to see what the wiggly floral package in the corner was - but I appreciate this is not the case everywhere.

    In order to understand why in some areas breastfeeding covers have become so popular, we need to look at cultural norms.

    Mother Nature didn't bank on breasts becoming taboo; sure they're placed in the most obvious location in terms of convenience, but social norms demand women (not men) now keep them covered - which obviously throws feeding an infant from them into rather interesting territory.
    Discomfort with breastfeeding in public has been identified as a contributing factor in shaping infant feeding choice and the decision to stop breastfeeding in particular (McIntyre et al 1999; Smyth, 2008).
    A paper by Kate Boyer also adds:
    Breastfeeding outside the home is still relatively uncommon in the UK (Stewart-Knox et al, 2003; Tarrant and Kearney, 2008). This is problematic because decisions about infant feeding choice are influenced by women’s perceptions about how acceptable (or not) it is to breastfeed in public (McIntyre etal.,1999). Breastfeeding is not protected by law in the UK outside of Scotland, and there are strong social expectations that it be‘‘discreet’’, i.e.conducted in such a way that the breast is never actually visible (Bolling, 2006;Pain,etal.,2001).12
    Aint that the truth?

    Kate interviewed a small group of breastfeeding mothers about their perceptions of feeding in public, I think their comments echo many I have heard before:
    CR remarked that ‘‘if you get your boob out and expose yourself it’s a little bit wrong’’. Indeed BL put it even more bluntly: ‘‘you get the eco-warrior types that are kind of like well it’s my right to breastfeed in public, and I’ll make a big scene of it, and I think that’s a bit unnecessary’’.

    These comments convey some of the factors which can make breastfeeding outside the home a daunting prospect for some women, including lack of familial support or a broader cultural context in which it is normalized. They suggest the anxiety–and  in some cases antipathy–that can exist toward breastfeeding in public that is not sufficiently discreet, even on the part of women who have recently breastfeed in public themselves. Echoing the findings of Carpenter (2006), they convey the notion of breast-feeding as a public performance that is vetted by others.
    So for some women the choice is not breastfeeding, or feeding with a cover.  Some express difficulty being discreet because of the positions they use, or because the size of their breasts, or because their baby likes to pull off and look round mid feed - It can be hard to feed "discreetly" at times, if discreet means never showing an inch of skin.

    As the above highlights, being able to meet social expectations is a big factor for many in their feeding decision.  As one Facebook user recently stated: some women aren't interested in the big picture of changing culture, they just want to get on and feed their baby - and I totally agree with this!  If the only way a woman can bear to feed outside the home is with a cover - we absolutely have to hear what these mums are saying and respect their choices, encourage them, understand where they're coming from and realise why.

    Does that mean we should all ignore the bigger picture and pretend it doesn't exist?  Absolutely not!  For other mothers want to provoke change, to remove the social boundaries above that hinder women in the first place - and we also have to respect, encourage and understand these women too.

    For many women, breastfeeding in public is daunting the first few times you do it. 

    Imagine you lived in a culture which was brought up believing women should always cover their knees.  Many wear long skirts for ease, but of course special knee covers were also available.  Knees were however used for marketing purposes - clad in a revealing lacy sock to advertise beer.

    People got knee enhancements so they could wear a shorter skirt and have a titilating amount of their knee on display most of the time; men looked at pictures of knees and women who had smaller knees felt conscious - but it was ok because you could buy padded tights to enhance how others saw them ;)

    Suddenly you have to feed a child from this very same knee!  You very rarely see anyone else knee feeding, and if you do the mum is always being extremely discreet so as not to show any knee skin.   How would you feel about whipping your knee out?  It's abnormal to see knees in this context, it's scary - others may judge whether an appropriate amount is being exposed.  It's totally normal to feel nervous at first until it's normalised to you!

    This cultural change has only come about since the 1940s, despite the fact "discretion" is often called for to respect "the older generation". My late grandfather wasn't at all embarrassed about it, as he had grown up seeing women feed their babies anywhere and everywhere.  He mentioned as a boy he would often be squished up against a nursing mum on the bus home; he even recounted a tale where a mum was trying to feed her distracted toddler next to him, when she finally said in an exasperated voice, "if you don't stop messing about and just feed, I'm going to give it to this young man instead!".

    Normal is to us what we see everyday.

    Therefore you will find in areas nursing covers have become popular, their use is not limited purely to those who would otherwise have not breastfeed - they become "the trend" for other mothers too.  When I sat in the cafe with the mum with a cover, I felt strangely exposed - as though I was being all brazen doing it out in the open, compared to the modest mum in the corner.  And that's from someone who has breastfed pretty much everywhere and anywhere since those first few very nervous feeds outdoors!

    If we saw most mothers breastfeeding and a few here and there using a cover - the covers would have no significance in the big picture.  But we don't see nursing mums everywhere, and so covers becoming popular can quickly become "the social norm", which rapidly morphs into "a social expectation".

    And you know what?  Cover manufacturers know this.  So much so the company above gives out a free cover to all mums.  I've watched the threads on forums - one person shares the offer, people love a freebie and so will join in and get one; more so if a few others do it first and report it all great.  Before long most mums who are pregnant will have signed up for the free cover, they may plan to breastfeed (or try to) and so a cover is the logical accessory right?

    I was quite shocked when a debate on this topic broke out on a predominantly US Facebook page.  The debate quickly shifted from whether covers were discreet - to a not insignificant number of breastfeeding mothers saying it was indiscreet to feed without a cover!  That when there is an item to ensure not a fleck of skin should be seen - you should use it to ensure modesty.

    In some ways suggesting every women who feels nervous at feeding in public uses a cover - is akin to suggesting everyone having an "ugly day", wears a paper bag over their head.  If they feel so ugly they wont go out in public without, isn't the bag really such a bad thing?   But others want to tell these women they don't need to cover up!   They feel regardless of how things look, nobody is really paying much attention and the more that go "bagless", the more others will feel empowered to as well.  How they look is totally normal and doesn't need covering to be acceptable.

    We have to see that both the big and small picture to effectively provoke change, and we have to acknowledge the language we use and that of those around us.

    To conclude and almost come full circle, I thought I would share some the latest marketing offering from Udder Covers that plopped into my mailbox.  I've highlighted in red all the statements that undermine normal breastfeeding, and serve to perpetuate a culture that feels breastfeeding should be done, but not seen:
    "Breastfeeding is a natural thing, but also a huge source of awkwardness for many women who nourish their little one in a public place. However, breastfeeding covers help lessen this discomfort and make it simple to do. While many people avert their eyes when they understand that you are tending your child, you are always nervous about who is watching (AA - If you weren't you are now!). You can be modest and keep your child comfy by using these covers that are now available in all kinds of colors and designs.

    Most people will try using blankets or towels to conceal them while feeding but this can fall off or slither away if they aren’t alert. 
    Whether you are out walking in the square or in a shopping center or even at a family get together, you can always feed the baby when it is hungry. Nothing much has to alter in your social life simply because you have a little one. (AA - Yes that's the joy of breastfeeding!)
    Plenty of people are a bit awkward around breastfeeding moms and you can reduce the embarrassment by using the covers. (AA -Wow just in case you weren't feeling quite uncomfortable enough already, a guilt trip thrown in as well)
    The shield also helps stop your newborn from distraction during breastfeeding by aiding their focus on you. This ensures the feed runs a lot smoother and quicker compared to not using a shield. (AA - Really is this an evidence based comment?  The feedback I hear is that for as many who find it helps with distraction, others will not feed well due to having fabric over their head!)

    The discrete way fashionable breastfeeding covers make it simple for you to feed your infant quickly means you can safely give food to in the busiest environments (AA - Wow now not using a cover is unsafe!) without fear of awkwardness or causing any uncomfortable moments."

    Coming up next - alternatives to covers if you feel self conscious.

    When does opinion become judgement?

    "Judgement" is something most of us who frequent anything parenting related are used to hearing.  It pops up a  lot surrounding parenting - mothers who "felt judged", or others imploring not to; I recently read a whole article dedicated to the "judgy mothers".  Which set me wondering - when does opinion become judgement?


    1. A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
    2. A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
    3. The formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second Medical opinion.

    1.  To form a judgment or opinion of; decide upon critically: You can't judge a book by its cover.
    2.  To infer, think, or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess: He judged her to be correct.
    3.  To make a careful guess about; estimate: We judged the distance to be about four miles.

    I'm sure there are clear examples most can easily define as judgement v opinion, ie a person stating "mothers who do "X" are "Y" is what most would call a judgemental statement.  But don't these lines become blurred at times?

    Take a topic like say nursing covers; some love, some hate - if someone says "mothers who use covers are .........", this is clearly a judgement statement.  Howeve if someone says "I don't think them discreet, I think them a waste of money", is this an opinion or is it a judgment of mothers using covers?

    I suspect it would depend upon who you ask, because it seems to me an opinion is more likely to tip into judgement when there's another person or people that the opinion involves. I think a significant factor in how a reader perceives a comment is how they feel themselves about the subject  - ie someone who hates using a cover but feels they have to, is far more likely to feel judged by a negative opinion than someone who has never tried a cover.

    How many times have we read a forum where someone has expressed an opinion about breastmilk substitutes (the product or manufacturers) before someone who uses one accuses them of being "judgy" towards mums who use the product, and before long the thread has morphed into a breast v substitute debate?  So in this case didn't the reader feel judged by the other persons opinion? Even if the writer neither felt nor intended judgement?

    Of course there are times we read clear judgement statements, but in all honesty I think everyone at some point will judge something - almost as an element of human instinct.  Don't we just all have a different triggers as to what pushes that button?  Don't we all at times have to make an effort to not judge?

    For example despite being an open breastfeeding supporter, despite thinking that substitutes are not at all comparable and on a large scale significantly impact on health - I don't feel "judgy" about mothers who have to or want to use a substitute.  Perhaps because I understand all the reasons, politics and social issues surrounding feeding, it's not a button presser for me (and I think often when we understand the big picture, this is key to reducing judgement)

    Last week however stood in a shop was a different story.  I watched a young mum fill her arms with crisps and sweets before asking her 2ish year old daughter what else she wanted.  When her friend replied "what, are you buying her the entire shop?", her friend laughed (as her daughter selected several more packets of stuff) and said well we haven't eaten yet today.  It was 1.30pm and her daughter was clearly getting a lunch of sugars and E numbers.

    Rightly or wrongly my very instant reaction is surely everyone knows that's not an adequate meal for a toddler, when for less money she could have got a sandwich from the shop right next door?  Of course that's not really the big picture and there may be lots of other factors at play - who am I to judge?  But we are raised in a society that often does aren't we?  Isn't that what tabloids are for?

    What about when Jackson held his toddler over a balcony - didn't most "judge" him?  Ditto when Britney rode around with baby on lap minus carseat!

    Emma Donoghue says:
    However you've got through your kids' holidays, I won't be judging your parenting skills. It's my new resolution.

    It's something I wish more mothers would do: stop telling others how to mother.
    You do the best you can to guess what's going to work for the whole family … but total strangers (as well as close friends, which hurts more) are going to judge you, and even if they don't, the little voices in your head will chime in.
    And this last sentence really sums things up, as a parent even if nobody is judging we can feel judged.  A good example is a toddler tantrum in a public place - many parents cringe and feel embarrassed even if nobody is paying the slightest bit of attention! 

    Further into the article Emma then says:
    Yesterday in Toys R Us there was a little girl – no older than three – in high heels. In fact, in a complete copy of her mother's outfit. My teeth clamped together. I was within an inch of saying, "Excuse me, do you realize you're crippling your child because you're a narcissist?" Only the awareness that it would lead to a strained silence at best, a trashy catfight in the aisles at worst, kept my mouth shut. I talked myself down: she's not beating the little girl's soles with a thorny branch. Probably the kid spends most of the day in trainers and this is just a special dress-up moment. But I was judging, all right.
    So in only a few paragraphs the no judging resolution fell through.  Sometimes, whatever the trigger - judgement can be an instant reaction.

    Whats even more interesting is the next comment of how Emma was an inch away from saying something to the mother - a complete stranger shopping with her child.  She was so ready she had to "talk herself down".   I was a bit taken aback at this, because regardless as to what fleeting thoughts I might have about something like my shopping experience or even Emma's -  unless a child was in danger I would never, ever think it my place to comment!  As she goes on to say there could be so many factors you may not know - and she's right, from one observation you do not see "the big picture" to form any sort of educated opinion, let alone pass comment!

    Guilt and judgement are both I think also heavily linked with strategies used by formula manufacturers - "Mothers who can't breastfeed shouldn't be made to feel guilty" is a prime line.  Yet who suggested they should?  In fact in the big picture why on earth should a mum who can't breastfeed feel guilty?  Shouldn't the formula companies who spend vast amounts promoting their products and undermining breastfeeding take some of the blame?  or the health professionals who give a mum such poor support she is then left with no alternative but to use another milk or compromise the health of her infant?  By telling someone not to feel guilt, it actually infers they should - and covers up the real issue.

    Is judgement that different?  Take a conversation where people are expressing opinions - if someone then says "don't be judgemental" (where nobody actually was) others are then far more likely to perceive previous comments as such - because we know human nature and that people are easily capable of judging, even if it's not taking place at that point.  If we sow the seeds of the idea someone is judging, we then feel defensive - particularly if it's an issue that's sensitive to us anyway,  because as Emma said "even if they don't, the little voices in your head will chime in."  

    Potentially therefore telling people "not to judge", can I think at times be an inflammatory comment.  Perhaps instead we should be reassuring mothers that opinions are not a judgement of them as individuals and that nobody is perfect; to encourage them to try and read opinions as a stand alone viewpoint, not always as something laden with judgement.

    We should absolutely remind mothers like Emma that she has no place voicing any of her opinions to a complete stranger, because frankly it's really none of her business what another parent chooses to do.  Whilst she is quite entitled to have her opinions on tacky clothing or bad shoes - she isn't entitled to comment on an individuals situation.  We should be supporting, educating to promote understanding and encouraging compassion to other mothers - doing things that remove the "judgy" element is surely far more important than just saying the words. Ultimately what we all need to remember is that without the big picture, a judgement is worthless anyway, and the more we feel empowered by our parenting choices, the less vulnerable we are.

    Tongue tie, the hidden cause of feeding problems? (however you feed your baby)

    So I first promised an entry about tongue tie some time ago and it's taken me rather a while to get something down "on paper".  It's such a big topic that I felt it was important to give full details if I was going to go there, hopefully some will find the following informative.

    I've posted this one on our Milk Matters breastfeeding support site, but as I also plan to follow this ASAP with a post dedicated to tongue tie and reflux which I will be posting here on Armadillo - I wanted to share it here too :)

    Tongue tie, the hidden cause of feeding problems? (however you feed your baby)

    Milk Matters are confident identfying indicators of tongue tie.  We can help you explore your options both within the NHS and with the private IBCLC oral specialists we work closely alongside.

    What Is It?
    If you look under your tongue, you might see it is attached to the floor of your mouth with what is called a lingual frenum or frenulum.  This "string" is left over tissue from facial development and typically works its way back down the tongue during pregnancy, reducing to insignificance before birth.  Sometimes this doesn't happen and ties can also occur on upper or lower lips, gums and cheeks.
    If the string is too short, or tight and so restricts movement of the tongue, this is termed "tongue tie" (Ankyloglossia).

    How Common Is It?

    Share your experience - Alice's story

    I had the crappiest possible start to breastfeeding and honestly it is a miracle I am still breastfeeding my almost one year old daughter (only one feed a day now though). It honestly is the hardest thing I have ever ever done in my life (labour was a worse experience but this was harder experience!) and also the thing I am most proud of achieving! (And now I know what to answer in a job interview if they ever ask that question!).

    I scribbled some of the barriers to breastfeeding on a breastfeeding support thread before when DD was 3 weeks old- but then MORE came up (lucky me! ).

    So I just wanted to share the list again plus the additions to record how far I came now my daughter is almost 1 and maybe to give hope to other mums who are struggling:

    1) Breast reduction 9 years ago (large reduction 7lbs taken out- one nipple doesnt function so well)- not even sure if I can breastfeed until I tried. HCP's all know this and assume am going to fail at breastfeeding so negative from outset.

    2) Flat nipples so baby can't latch on without the discovery of fabulous nipple shields (genetic issue but not helped by reduction), then had to wean her off them gradually so incase they affected supply. By 6 weeks she was feeding without them.

    3) Extremely traumatic hideous horrible delivery and baby in NICU for first 5 days- no cuddles for first 24 hours of baby's life, limited skin to skin- tricky with all tubes etc. Baby was oxygen starved (possible brain damage) and initially showed poor suck reflex but that improved within a day or so.

    4) Baby being tube fed my EBM every hour means baby full and has no interest in latching- keeps falling asleep at the boob- i have to maintain these nasogastric top ups but once they are reduced to three hourly I can sometimes also get her latched for a feed. Except I also still have to pump and invariably she gets hungry just after I have expressed and there is no more milk! Breastfeeding support at hospital limited (lactation consultant promised everyday and never materialised) had help from speech and language therapist with latch though which was fantastic.

    5) Baby has to have MRI, she is sedated with suppositories she keeps pooing out (effectively enemas)- she ends up going without a feed for 6 hours (at 8days old and already lost 10% of weight) due to the sedation, I pump in meantime but this mucks up the baby hungry, mums boobs full thing again plus difficult to get her feeding due to sedation. Loses yet more weight due to the "enemas".
    6) By day 7 breastfeeding was still a massive struggle as we had to always give her nasogastric tube 32ml top up every three hours and it was always at a time which caused her to fall asleep and not be awake for a feed. We hated that nasal tube and so did she - used to pull on it during breast feeds and would look uncomfy during top ups. So in the end we had to say no more tube feeds and do her top ups with a syringe in mouth (easyish) or cup (good skill to learn but spilt everywhere and resulted in very windy baby). This was kind of against medical advice as they wanted to keep tube feeds going but we persevered and as a result breastfeeding was able to be established must better basically because we stopped trying to work to nasal tube feed times and did on demand breastfeeds plus top ups instead. The doctors were all freaking out and saying she is a big baby and you won't sustain her etc but it's what we had to do. With hindsight I think if more breastfeeding support had been available at hospital we would have figured out how to sync up the tube and breastfeeds but we aren't medical people so were just following instructions until they really stopped working for us but is scary to go against medical advice!

    7) First week after leaving hospital (12days old) Baby loses 14% of bodyweight in total (not helped my mri enemas etc). Sent to hospital for dehydration check- supoosed to take an hour- takes 7 (and results come back fine). I don’t have enough to eat or drink and feeding is tricky in hospital as doesn't have pillow etc, and its not home. Anyhow of her 14%weight loss the majority of that was in hospital and after her enema. She did still lose a tiny bit more once we went against medical advice with not tube feeding her, but it wasn't massive and her weight is now fine so it was the right but scary decision for us. Really had to battle with hospital not to readmit us (I would have lost my mind- being completely loopy from the 8days in hospital the week before)

    8) Baby put on intense regime of feeds- Every 3 hours -feed at breast, give 40ml top up, then pump next feeds top up then sterilise everything for next feed. We don't stop with the top ups really for about 10weeks.

    9) Baby is really slow to gain weight (6weeks to regain birthweight). Have to give a formula top up sometimes as don't have enough EBM.

    10) For first week of her life she had a canula in her arm for her antibiotics. This made feeding on the right breast very difficult as this sore arm would get in way and hurt her if positioned wrong and she didn't seem to feed as well in the rugby ball hold. creates supply issues in right breast.

    11) Feeds would take HOURS, I would feed for an hour and she would still want more 20minutes later. It was relentless- finally her posterior tongue tie was discovered and snipped at 7 weeks. Had bad cracked nipples that made me want to throw DD across the room with the pain and unfortunately post tongue tie snip meant dd had to relearn her latch and completely knacker my nipples again. Then also got infection in nip so it wouldn't heal. I had painful feeding from 10days to 16 weeks as a result varying from agony and tears to grit teeth and curl toes. If it was agony all the time I would have definitely given up- as it was I just wore my teeth down from all the gritting!

    For me breastfeeding wasn't easy or painfree until DD was 16weeks old (when she suddenly grasped it and feeds took minutes instead of hours!) and although it took weeks to wean dd off the formula top ups she was predominantly bfed (bottle formula at bedtime as supply never got up to full capacity) until we started weaning at 5months so am a little bit proud of how far we have come (and almost never want to completely wean her from breastfeeding because having finally got her going on the boob I don't want her to ever stop!- Although for me I probably draw the line at still breastfeeding a 12 year old!).

    I would never wish on anyone what I went through but unfortunately I have read many similar stories so I hope my story helps someone have hope if they are at the same point of "one more feed then I am giving up" like I was.

    Reducing infant illness when starting childcare (for the breastfed infant)

    Ok so we all know the norm for a human infant is to be close to mum; we also know that for young children under three,  a setting that replicates "home", with one primary caregiver and perhaps a few other children, generally demonstrates overall a more positive outcome than many modern large childcare nurseries (there are exceptions to this of course)

    However for some a nursery is either their choice, or the most practical solution in other ways - but one immediately obvious disadvantage many face is that of illness.  Nurseries are a germfest, even the cleanest, anti-bacterial happy of places is awash with bacteria.  Think about it, older siblings at school bringing home every cough, cold and typical childhood illness.  Before either child even shows symptoms it has been passed to the smaller one, and to toys, furniture and friends - how many young toddlers do you know cover their nose when they sneeze?  Babies often explore with their mouths and toddlers with a pacifier often take it out and hold it (neatly shifting all the germs to the teat) before popping back in.  Then multiply this by all the children and all their siblings and you can see how just like at school, things spreads like wildfire.  Many parents will testify to the often almost constant run of "ailments" their child had after starting daycare.

    In addition to all this extra bacteria, an infant's immune system isn't fully developed until much later (school age) making them extra vulnerable; but there are things mums can do to help minimise illness and support their child's immunity.

    Firstly the most obvious is to continue breastfeeding when you return to work.  Even if you don't want to continue this longterm - it can be gradually phased out as your child adapts to childcare (although as long as you continue to feed, it reduces illness length and severity - so can be a godsend to working mums in terms of them having to be absent to care for an unwell child)  If your baby is younger than six months, trying to continue exclusively with human milk until the gut closes - can have an extremely significant impact.

    Depending upon the age of your child and how long you are apart - there are lots of options.  You can choose to pump and send expressed milk, use a combination or just feed around work when with baby; this means you can still have all the flexibility and closeness with baby when at home.   Many mums comment it is a lovely way to reconnect after separation, and many babies make it obvious they agree.

    Most if not all infants have "settling sessions" at their new setting before being left.  Use this time to get down to floor level (easy in an environment with children) and handle what your baby does and will touch.  If toddling age you're also at perfect height to directly come in contact with peers too.  If you have a baby touch cots, highchairs - anything you can discreetly make contact with (without making yourself look a bit of a mentalist with a wiping obsession ;))  Any exposure you get to nasties will trigger your body to make appropriate antibodies, which can then be passed back in breastmilk.

    Continue this as much as you can when collecting and dropping off, particularly at any mention of a bug.  If the environment allows even plonk yourself down and feed there before you leave. If your partner is doing the collecting get them touching things too, then get close to them!

    If you are sending milk with baby, when they first start use as much milk as you can that was expressed after contact with the new surroundings.  Again if feasible for the initial period. try and use milk that hasn't been frozen as it's higher in immunological factors.  Once baby is settled if they pick up a bug, reverting to freshly expressed if you normally freeze can help.

    Initially when mums return to work, baby may feed a lot more frequently when reunited  This may be due to a reduced intake in their daycare setting or because they are craving closeness and reassurance, but the bonus of this is it not only maximises opportunity for baby to pass to you, any germs he has been exposed to, but also allows lots of opportunity for you to pass the relevant antibodies back.

    Lastly always ensure your care provider knows how to thaw, heat and store your breastmilk.  If they treat it as formula you may find a lot of unnecessary waste, and demands for milk far beyond levels of consumption.  Freeze in small amounts so there is no need to defrost a large amount and discard if not required.

    Call for help with research into babies starting solid foods

    Sharing for Gill:

    Call for help with research into babies starting solid foods

    Hi there,

    I’m Gill Rapley. I live in Kent and I’m currently a research student at Canterbury Christ Church University. I have previously worked as a midwife and a health visitor and have a long-standing interest in the introduction of solid foods to babies.

    I am about to embark on a study of babies’ early responses to solid foods, which will involve videoing babies at home and interviewing their parents, and I am looking for families who would be willing to take part. Specifically, I need volunteers who have a baby who:

    • was born after no fewer than 37 weeks of pregnancy,
    • is currently between five and six months old,
    • has not yet started solid foods,
    • has no diagnosed or suspected physical, psychological or developmental disorder, and
    • is growing appropriately for their age.

    My requirements for you are that you:
    • have been your baby’s primary caregiver from birth,
    • live in the Maidstone/Medway/Sheppey/Sittingbourne/Canterbury area, and
    • can communicate easily in English.

    If you are interested in finding out more – without any obligation to take part – please contact me, either by email, at, or by phone, on 07954 437061. Please feel free to pass this information on to anyone you know who fits my requirements and who you think may be interested.

    Thank you,

    Gill Rapley

    Facebook - all about the (ha) cha-ching, cha-ching?

    As Jessie J would say....
    Today I received this:
    Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.
    This message serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account. Please read the Statement of Rights and
    Responsibilities carefully and refrain from posting abusive material in the future. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
    I asked what was removed ie what breached their terms, but weirdly Facebook will not disclose this - why on earth not if they want to help ensure it isn't posted again?
     Unfortunately, for technical and security reasons, Facebook cannot provide you with a description or copy of the removed content.
    Technical reasons?  So Facebook can connect users worldwide with a whole array of features - but they do not have the technical ability to notify someone of what was removed?  The security comment baffles me as where is the security issue in telling someone what they have done that was inappropriate?

    I have no idea what violated the terms - I certainly haven't posted anything containing "nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content".  In fact I remove any breastfeeding pictures anyone else posts - because I don't want to give Facebook a reason to delete me,  so I am totally baffled at what on earth I have done, because I know I haven't posted anything obscene!  I've been through the statement of rights and responsibilities as Facebook suggest on their help page, but can't find anything else there beyond the same comments as above.
    As one fan said:
    That is so weird. I really do think they should actually tell you which image/article was reported so that you know what exactly they think violated the tos. Saying "You broke the rules! Don't do it again!" isn't actually helpful in preventing anyone avoiding such things in the future, you need to actually know what they objected to because it is all so subjective.
    And then the penny dropped.  Facebook doesn't want to ensure you don't do it again - they seemingly just want to delete breastfeeding groups.  By not telling you what you did wrong, you can't even defend your position or argue your case.  Once any breastfeeding group hits a certain size - Facebook suddenly starts sending these messages, and before long the groups have been deleted for breaching terms.

    It has puzzled me why Facebook seems to have such an aversion to breastfeeding.  Girls topless or in tiny bikinis or thongs, showing more than the breastfeeding pics are allowed to stay - yet provide educational information about something fundamentally key to the health of many and you get deleted?  Sometimes a picture really helps a mum hold her baby better for feeding - but as nobody seems to know where the "Facebook decency line" stands, who dares post one?  Even breastfeeding images the BBC find suitable for their website news are considered obscene on Facebook!



    I'm sure any regular users cannot fail to notice the sheer number of formula adverts on Facebook - nearly every page contains one.  And weirdly my profile after 12 months has suddenly become of interest to Facebook, since I started reporting these adverts as "offensive".  Just how much money do these adverts generate for Facebook - compared to all our breastfeeding pages that earn them diddly?  Have meetings have taken place behind the scenes I wonder?  Or is the sheer revenue generated enough?

    Because the fact is Facebook only finds breasts "offensive" in relation to infant feeding.  There is a group called "tits" and I know for a fact several friends have reported images here and on many other pages as obscene - do they get deleted?  No!  Even though one image on the afore mentioned group shows a man licking a woman's breast - so men licking breasts = fine, baby feeding at a breast = obscene; just so we're clear.

    From another Facebook user:
    I can't remember all the pages & images I reported a few months ago, but when I checked later *none* of them had been removed ...
    Yet even a company that made hats looking like breasts for babies was deleted - yes really, a KNITTED hat!!

    According to the Huffington Post:
    Simon Axten, a Facebook representative who responded to my questions, e-mailed me the following response:  "Our policy prohibits photos of actual nude people, not paintings or sculptures."
    Er but apparently also includes knitted hats!

    Over a quarter of a million people have "fanned" the page "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene" but Facebook aren't listening.  From the page:

    Breastfeeding is normal. Women have breasts to produce milk for their babies, and babies are born to be breastfed. In most of the world everyone knows this, and breastfeeding is “no big deal". In North America, however, and some other parts of the “developed” world...we seem to have forgotten this very simple truth. Womens' breasts have become a symbol of sex. They are used to sell everything from cars to clothes to beer....they have been deemed obscene, sexually explicit and indecent for view by Facebook. Ironic, isn't it? that in the context of sex, we are inundated with images everywhere we look of womens' breasts as commodity, but see practically no examples of them shown in the normal context of breastfeeding
    And that my friends, is the true obscenity....

    It's also interesting the policy only appears to apply to images not words - type almost any expletive you can think of into Facebook and there is likely a group for it. A quick peruse of a few and the written content was definitely graphic and sexually suggestive - but if it's to titillate, not to educate it can stay...

    The trouble is Facebook is a Faceless machine, you can't engage in conversation with them, nor even email them - and who defends breastfeeders?  In fact who defends women and the right to obtain information to help them?  Whereas the media will often put pressure on large organisations to reform - there has been no such support for those working tirelessly to help others; but then we don't have the cash the big manufacturers do, and no doubt the newspapers don't want to upset them either. 

    Perhaps Britain's biggest selling baby and parenting magazine could be influential?  Oh no wait I forgot, the Editor of Mother & Baby couldn't be fagged breastfeeding didn't want to risk her (already) saggy funbags -and as one Facebook user put it, the publication is always "awash with formula adverts", again Kerching!

    Some users feel if they keep plugging away at Facebook, change will come - personally I won't hold my breath, the politics and revenue involved in infant feeding are powerful.  So powerful we have a huge chunk of society who feel they were just not able to breastfeed - and who strive to defend those who serve to undermine them, sad but not surprising.

    PS If I vanish from Facebook, my Twitter is An_Armadillo!!
    Related Post - Breastfeeding is offensive, see for yourself.