All good things must come to an end..

Blog Series Badge

Today marks the end of February, and rather sadly, the Breastfeeding blog series. Cue sad face. However, I’m amazed and rather pleasantly surprised that not only have I been able to pull off a blog series, but one that quite a few people actually thought was pretty good. I really hope they weren’t just saying that to flatter me!

But I have to say, it has been such a great experience not only collaborating on the breastfeeding blog series with Medela, whose products I love, and who I respect as a company. But also the whole experience of developing and running a blog series has been such a great blogging and learning experience. Seriously. I have learnt SO much! Like how to work with brands. How to organise, write and schedule blog posts in advance (I’m usually a blog as it comes to me kind of girl). How to promote blog posts more effectively and how to work with other bloggers. The blog series really has been a fantastic collaboration of minds, experiences and people. So many of you have shared your breastfeeding stories and experiences. So many of you have commented and shared your thoughts and kind words. So many of you have helped make and shape the blog series. So thank you for reading and being a part of the blog series. I really hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Finally, thank you to Medela. For giving a small and new blog like mine a chance to collaborate on something we are both passionate about. It has been truly enjoyable.

All good things must come to an end, so we must end them well. That means ending with a fabulous competition (least I think so anyway). So if you haven’t already entered to win what I believe is one of the breastpumps money can buy, then head on over to my post on the Medela Swing review and competition to enter. Good luck and happy reading!

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Breastfeeding; your stories

Here is Zena’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Zena’s Suitcase:

Zena

‘Right’, I thought.  ‘I’ve done this before, this will be a doddle.’  That was how I entered my breast feeding relationship with my second child, Princess.

I breast fed my son for six months.  It came so naturally.  There were no cracked nipples, no latching problems, nothing.  Both myself and my new born baby boy fell straight into it.

Having my son at 22 was a grounding experience, bringing with it a sense of purpose and responsibility.  He was an easy baby and nothing seemed to phase me, not the sleep deprivation, not the nappies.  I had the energy for it all back then.

Cows Pic

Fourteen years later, I thought, ‘Times cracking on.  I’m not getting any younger.  If I’m going to have more children I’d best do it now.’

Pregnancy was a lot harder than the first time round.  Now, really that should have been my first clue that perhaps things weren’t going to go as smoothly this time.

Breast feeding took weeks to establish with Princess.  We just couldn’t get the latch right.  I had a fantastic maternity support worker.  We tried every breast feeding position you could imagine.  Cushions were arranged like Lego to try and make things easier.

Princess was latching on so fast that she wasn’t in the right position to feed.  She had clearly missed her ‘nose to nipple’ classes.  Every time I fed her my toes would curl in pain.  I’d get anxious about feeding her because I knew it was going to hurt.

Princess would cry so much, it was heart breaking.  My husband was worried about both of us.  I was so tired, the bags under my eyes needed luggage trolleys.  Princess wasn’t gaining weight, she didn’t poop for about a week.  She just wasn’t getting enough milk.

It’s so emotive when breast feeding isn’t going well, whatever the reason.  For some Mum’s it can be devastating.  As well as the feeding, I was struggling with my own issues.  Before Princess was born I was grounded, I had a sense of purpose and I had plenty of responsibilities.  When Princess arrived we were all thrown into complete chaos.  I was feeding and pumping, feeding and pumping desperately trying to get my supply to increase.  I had turned into a milking machine, I was really starting to feel for those dairy cows!

Cows Pic 2

If it hadn’t been for the experience I’d had with my son I most certainly would have given up.  I knew if I could just turn that corner it would be best for everyone, not just Princess.

It took about 4 weeks to get breast feeding established, and at the time it seemed like the longest four weeks of my life.  I found my Mummy Mojo and Princess learnt her part in the breast feeding relationship, but it definitely wasn’t easy. 

Princess was breast fed exclusively for nearly six months.  I stopped breast feeding her when she was fourteen months old.  Those early weeks paled into insignificance compared to the amazing experience we went on to have.

Our third child is due in May.  She will be breast fed.  I wonder how our relationship will work out.  This time I’ll be prepared for anything.

Come and meet me on Twitter or Like on Facebook.

Images courtesy of: satit_srihin /razvan ionut /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mad Blog Awards Nominations

MAD Blog Awards

I’ve been nominated! I’ve actually been nominated in real blog awards, and not just any awards, but the MADs blog awards. Now, I have no idea whether one person has voted for me in each of the six categories (Best Baby Blog, Best Blog Writer, Best New Blog, MAD Blog of the Year, Most Entertaining Blog and Most Innovative Blog) I have so far been voted in, or whether its 50 people, but either way I wanted to say thank you. Thank you if you took the time out to click on that link and vote, and an even bigger thank you for taking the time to read my blog in the first place! If you haven’t the foggiest what I’m talking about or missed my first post on them, you can find out more about the MADs here.

It would be remiss of me at this point not to mention that there are now only just over two weeks left to vote. So if you haven’t already voted and would like to click; MAD blog award nominations and copy over the blogs address: http://mypetitcanard.co.uk for the catergories you think fit. If you’re looking for inspiration for some of the categories, I’d love to point you in the direction of a few of my favourite bloggers. Happy voting!

Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Lucinda’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Teacher 2 Mummy:

Lucinda BF Pic

Like many other mums I wanted to share my experience of attempting to breastfeed. It’s not one of ease and success but I hope it helps others feel they are not the only ones who go through something similar. Because hell did it feel like it was just me!

All through my pregnancy I was set on breastfeeding. In fact I have no doubts that I was incredibly naive about the whole thing. It didn’t cross my mind it would be no easy feat. I watched the NHS DVD and spoke to a couple of colleagues and family members. I heard it was painful to begin with but improved. My mum had wanted to breastfeed me but hadn’t been able to, still I didn’t think it would be an issue for me.

I bought a breast pump and bottles in preparation for when baby was a bit older and his Dad and others could experience feeding him. Little did I know I would be reaching for them sooner rather than later!

It was in my birth plan that I wanted to try breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth. When Eliot arrived I was exhausted and I was in my own zone.

The midwife who delivered tried to get Eliot to latch on but without success. We were swiftly moved down to the post natal ward where the midwife on duty that evening was very helpful with trying to get Eliot to latch on. We had some success as he latched on for a few minutes. But after that was a struggle and the midwife suggested it would be better to hand express and collect the colostrum in a syringe. Physically I couldn’t do it. It sounds ridiculous, but it in all honesty it creeps me out. I tried but just wasn’t getting anything out. I had some help from the midwife which was bizarre and looking back made feel like an animal being milked on a production line! Still I really wanted Eliot to have the colostrum and reap the benefits.

The next day there were different midwives on duty. After trying to get Eliot to latch on myself without success I asked for help. One of the midwives said she’d come back to help.

So far it wasn’t the ‘magical’ experience I’d hoped for. In fact it had been terribly distressing. Eliot had screamed and pushed himself away from me. Surely this wasn’t meant to happen, was it? My baby surely wanted My milk that had been made for him!

It was obviously a busy day on the ward and no midwife returned to help me try and get Eliot to breastfeed. I called for help again. When a midwife was free to help she attempted to help me to get Eliot to feed but to no avail. He again whipped himself up into a frenzy, pushing himself away from me, screaming. It was awful. All I wanted to do was feed my son! But you can’t attempt to latch them on when they’re in such a state.

That afternoon there was a breastfeeding talk in the day room but it didn’t inform me of anything I didn’t already know. I went back to my bed disappointed.

Later a midwife came to me and said that Eliot’s blood sugar was probably low and that this would make it harder for him to latch on. So would I be happy to give him some formula to get his energy up? Of course! I didn’t want him to starve. So then Eliot had his first taste of formula. I was relieved he had some food but in turn, felt low I hadn’t been able to give it to him.

That evening the same midwife from the previous night was on duty with a student. Again she managed to get Eliot to latch on. On both occasions he had only been able to feed from my right breast. So I was then woken every two hours to have help hand expressing to collect colostrum to feed Eliot. Cripes! I really was on a production line.

The battle to get Eliot to latch on continued until we were discharged a few days later. He was unable to feed with my independent attempts or with help. I was told it was because my nipples were quite flat. It was my fault. I was a failure at feeding my own son.

I had some comfort when I was able to express my milk with the hospital machine. Never had I been more dedicated. I set my alarm to wake me through the night to go to the expressing room, to collect milk for Eliot. I was also topping up with formula.

Reflecting on my breastfeeding experience on the postnatal ward, I was put under incredible pressure by all the heath professionals. This is just not right. Every mother who has/had difficulty breastfeeding already feels guilty amongst numerous emotions. We certainly do not need pressure from others or being made to feel guilty. Our hormones are rocketing all over the place and any small comment or look can trigger an ocean of tears or worse!

I was also put on a list to have a chat to the ‘breastfeeding expert’ who didn’t show up the first day or any other after that! When I mentioned it to other staff I was told I’m sure she’ll get to you later’, then eventually, ‘she can’t do anything that we haven’t been able to do’. Great! Thanks, thanks a lot for your help and support! Shocking.

On our return home I continued to express with a hand pump and give formula. This dwindled and within a few weeks Eliot was exclusively on formula. I had all the best intentions to go to ‘Milk Spots’ to receive help, advice and get chatting to other mums but didn’t end up going. I suppose I thought it wouldn’t be much different from my experience in hospital.

Naturally I continued to feel guilty and a failure. I was very sensitive to ‘feeding’ conversations. When the other half phoned from work one day informing me his boss had said ‘don’t give him formula, give him goats milk’, I flew of the handle. I burst into tears, screaming down the phone that it wasn’t anybody else’s business how we fed our son. And goats milk?!

Another time we were in a café and the owner was talking to us about his new baby. He asked if we were also breastfeeding when he saw Eliot being fed with formula. He told us how his wife had persevered and that it had been hard. Wonderful! Another story to make me feel useless!

No mother should ever be made to feel guilty about ‘not’ breastfeeding. We are well informed ‘breast is best’, if we decide not to for whatever reason it is quite frankly no one else’s blooming business!

If in the future we have more children, which I hope we do, I will try breastfeeding again. Next time I intend to try nipple shields to help baby latch on to help draw my nipple out. Or use a breast pump to do this prior to feed time. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out!

Next time I know it will be difficult, next time I won’t be naive!

Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Fee’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at Not Just Another Mum:

I knew I wanted to breastfeed spud from early on in my pregnancy, I hadn’t done it with madam and had always somewhat regretted it. I was adamant that I would and nothing was going to stop me! Dad was massively supportive of me and to be honest I’m not sure I would have managed to feed spud without his support and encouragement. It was pretty tough going at times.

I had this bizarre notion that it was going to be easy / straight forward, after all breastfeeding is one of the most natural things in the world so just how hard could it be? How naive I was.

Spud was born at 7.29pm on a Wednesday evening after a very long labour, and within 15 minutes or so was enjoying his first feed. It was fantastic, it was easy, it was everything I’d imagined it would be. I felt an enormous sense of pride that I would still be responsible for providing spud with his nutritional needs now that he was outside his home of the last nine months. The first few days were fine he fed a lot it seemed to going well we were happy and healthy, but that soon changed when along came engorged breasts and excruciating pain.

Fast forward to my six week check up at my GPs – I’d been struggling with feeding, Spud was feeding hourly but only for short lengths of time and I was having issues with latching on. I’d been hoping that my visit to the doctors would provide me with some sort of support, maybe a bit of knowledge to help me overcome these issues. You see I didn’t know anybody who had breastfed and there was no support groups in place in my area at the time so I was completely going it alone (with Dad constantly reassuring me that I was right not to quit and would get it eventually).

Initial checks done – me and spud are fine, he’s not put on quite as much weight as they’d like but was perfectly healthy. As the end of the appointment is approaching, the Doctor asks if I have any concerns/questions so I quickly fire all my feeding worries at him in hope of some answers, only to be told “Well maybe you should just bottle feed him then!” I was beyond shocked and cried nearly the whole way home from the doctors. I felt like a failure.

Determined not to give in so easily I persevered. I was barely sleeping, feeding constantly and feeling like a pretty rubbish mum. Weeks went by and I was regularly visiting my Health Visitor to get spud weighed. He was doing really well, he’d got back on track and was on his centile line (hardly surprising as he ate so often). Then one day I went to the doctors to see the Health Visitor for Spuds weigh in, but we ended up seeing somebody else as ours was off sick, and I’m so glad she was. The new Health Visitor was chatting away to me about Spud, I was exhausted, emotional and suddenly burst into tears. I explained what was going on (as I had done to my own Health Visitor & GP) and she told me to feed him there and then. She told me I was doing it wrong and showed me how to do it. Spud then had his longest ever feed whilst I sat chatting to her (as a queue built up in the waiting room building!).  She was the only person (except Dad) who understood what I had been through. I left the doctors feeling like the world had just been lifted from my shoulders, with a baby who was about to have his longest ever sleep.

The nice new Health Visitor then continued to phone me daily for over a week to see how I was doing and gave me her mobile number to contact her directly if I ever started to struggle again.

Flash forward:
Spud is 6 months and still feeding well.
Spud is 1 and still feeding well.
Spud is 2 and still feeding before bed.

I fed Spud until he no longer wanted me to, which was not long after he turned three. I feel so proud of myself for doing so and for sticking with it even when it was so tough. I am eternally grateful to Dad and the Health Visitor for helping us through it. That and the tubes of Lansinoh that I needed so often. I’d do it all over again happily!

Medela Swing breastpump review & competition

New logo_medela_color

The lovely folks over at Medela have offered up a Medela Swing breastpump as a competition giveaway to help close what feels like a pretty successful breastfeeding blog series, thanks to all you lovely readers and fellow bloggers.

For me, the Medela Swing breastpump is the perfect competition giveaway because it is (not so coincidentally) the same Medela breastpump that I happen to own, and always recommend to other mummy friends. Therefore I am able to talk about it in great detail, and from personal experience having used it quite a bit over the last seven months.

I bought the Medela Swing after doing a fair bit of research and reading lots of reviews by others that had purchased and used the Medela. I pretty much always read buyers reviews before I buy something baby related, and I found that the reviews for the Medela Swing were pretty strong and consistent. I hadn’t originally planned to buy a breastpump as I wasn’t sure whether I would be successful breastfeeding or not, but after we got past the six to eight week mark I decided to buy one in the hope that I could express for when we were out and about. Unfortunately the little lady had other plans and rejected anything other than the breast for about four months, so its been something that I have started to use more frequently as she’s gotten older, and especially since she’s started weaning.

What I particularly love about the Medela Swing breastpump is how easy it makes expressing and how comfortable it is. I would recommend it to anyone, and often do when the topic of breastfeeding and expressing come up. This is a fantastic product, and im really excited that I am able to give one away as a competition prize!

I think user reviews are always great because you get a very honest account of a product, so I thought Id do one here for the Medela Swing. Hopefully this is useful for anyone thinking about purchasing a breastpump or would like to enter our competition which you can find details of at the end.

Medela Swing Pic 1

Technology
When I was looking for a breastpump, I wanted to find something that expressed in a way that was as similar to breastfeeding as possible. What I wasn’t expecting though, was to find a breastpump on the market as clever as the Medela Swing. Medela have rather impressively developed two-phase expression technology which mimics the way that babies breastfeed. What this means when you use the Medela Swing, is that it goes through two distinct phases of pumping. The first, a stimulation phase which mimics the way that a baby suckles in order to stimulate a let down, and the second, an expression phase where the pump begins to express once the milk begins to flow. It is ingenious design, and for me is what makes the Medela Swing such an efficient, yet comfortable and easy breastpump to use.

Design
The Medela Swing looks and feels attractive, modern and sleek, as far as breastfeeding pumps go. The design is pleasant and up to date and doesn’t look like your typical, boring breastpump. It’s relatively light and fairly compact. I wouldn’t necessarily buy a breastpump based on the design, but I do think the Medela Swing is one of the more attractive breastpumps on the market and does stand out as a nice bit of parenting kit to have in the house.

Medela Swing Pic 2

Ease of Use
What I love about the Medela Swing is how easy it is to use and how easy it makes expressing. It isn’t overly complicated and it isn’t fiddly. There are only a few components to construct each time you use it, and its very easy to remember how to do it after you’ve used it the first time. It literally takes about 10 seconds to put it together and seconds to deconstruct when you’ve finished. It’s also easy to clean and very easy to sterilise. The main control unit has four buttons – a power button, two buttons to increase or decrease the suction and one to begin the expression phase if needed. These are really all the buttons you need, although I often find that the machine is so optimally set up that I only ever really use the power button. I really don’t think Medela could have made it any easier if they tried.

Comfort
The comfort aspect was really important for me when choosing a breastpump. I’d heard from friends and I think maybe even a health visitor about how uncomfortable using a breastpump could be, and how they could basically destroy your nipples. But I decided to go ahead and get one anyway, and I’m glad I did because the other thing I love about the Medela Swing is how comfortable it makes expressing. The breast shield is a good size, and the level of suction can easily be increased or decreased for comfort. When I express it pretty much feels the same as breastfeeding, in that I cant feel anything. I don’t think you can ask any more from a breastpump can you?

Medela Swing Pic 4

Speed
I think how long it takes to express a certain quantity of milk probably depends to a degree on the individual, their let down and flow of milk, but I have personally found that with the Medela Swing I can get around 150ml out in about ten minutes in the morning. Sometimes it can take a bit longer if its later in the day and my milk supply is low, but generally I have been very impressed with how quickly I can express a decent amount of milk with the Medela Swing and I think that is all down to their clever two-phase technology.

Noise
I have to admit, the Medela Swing does make a little bit of noise, but it isn’t anything offensive. You can still have a conversation, or watch TV without it being really noticeable. A number of the reviews that I came across for other brands of breastpumps when I was trying to decide what to get mentioned noise as a bit of an issue, but the Medela Swing doesn’t seem to suffer with this issue, and I certainly haven’t found it a problem.

Competition Instructions
So if you’d like to win a fantastic Medela Swing breastpump courtesy of Medela, all you need to do is answer this very simple question:

Approximately how long does it take to start replenishing your milk supply after breastfeeding or expressing?
Hint: the answer can be found in one of the breastfeeding blog series posts.
15 minutes
– 45 minutes
– 1 hour

Please email your answers to: mypetitcanard@hotmail.com using the subject: Medela Swing Competition. Include your full name, Twitter handle (if you have one) and address along with your answer.

T&Cs
The competition will close at 12am on Friday 28th February. Only one entry can be considered per person. One winner will be selected at random from all received correct entries. The winner will be contacted via email within 7 days of the closing date of the competition. In the event that the winner cannot be contacted by email within 7 days, a substitute winner will be drawn and the original winner will forfeit the prize.  There is no cash alternative to the prize.

Breastfeeding: your stories

Here is Fiona’s breastfeeding story. You can find her over at the Swan Project:

My husband and I were both keen for me to breastfeed our children due to the health benefits for the children, but also for the cost saving too!  But I’m not sure I was prepared for not only the physical but the immense emotional drain breastfeeding your first born can bring.  You’ve given birth to a little miracle, and you’re trying to do what you’ve been told is best for them and when they latch on it’s amazing! Woo! I’m feeding! But then the questions start; Is she latched on correctly, am I doing it for too long / not long enough, too often / not often enough, how much has she had?  The endless questions! Breastfeeding takes so much control away from you because you have no idea about how much their having, and you have to go on gut instinct on a subject that you’ve no instinct about.

With my daughter it didn’t start well. I was so worried about her getting into bad habits and falling asleep on the breast that I possibly didn’t do it long enough, but it was also hard because she was very jaundice and so even when I went to a breastfeeding clinic I got no help because she was so lethargic and she wouldn’t take any milk.  We ended up in special care because her jaundice was so severe. Whether the feeding contributed to this or the jaundice started first we’ll never know, but ending up in that ward was the best thing that happened to us.  I got expert advice from brilliant nurses about breastfeeding who gave me some confidence when I was ready to give up.  I started expressing so that my daughter was still getting breast milk and we did mix feeding where I would feed from the breast first and then top up with a bottle of expressed milk.  It was difficult in those days, feeding then bottle feeding then expressing straight away to ensure that my milk was “topped up” ready for the next feed. However it also helped my milk flow which then arrived in great volume! It took a few weeks before I built up my instinct and was confident enough to stop topping her up with a bottle but it helped us so much emotionally and physically.  I then fed her for the next 5 ½ months until she wasn’t interested anymore!  All those early days of relentless feeds, fretting about her getting enough, bleeding nipples etc were forgotten by that time and it was easy and instinctive for both of us.  To anyone starting out, you will get there but it takes time for both of you.  With this confidence breastfeeding my son was so much easier.  He was a big baby when he was born (8lb 13oz) and had a healthy appetite! We got straight onto a three hour feeding plan which worked well for us.  Some nights he would suckle a long time, but I didn’t worry about bad habits forming in those early days but I did top him up twice from a bottle just so that we could both get some sleep and I would advice anyone who has a long suckling baby to try this!  My son only took 10ml but we both got some sleep and 99% of his feeds for the next few weeks were breast milk only.  He was breastfed until six months, but because he was such a big boy I did five breast feeds a day and he would have two formula feeds!  I couldn’t keep up with his appetite!

Good luck to those starting on a breastfeeding journey, seek help where you can and use the support networks that you have locally.  One thing I would do again is not leave hospital until I was confident with feeding and use the midwives more rather than just grin and bare it.