I’m really proud of the breastfeeding campaign I did with Juice FM and Liverpool Primary Care Trust. One aspect of the campaign was an online blog about my journey which I really loved writing. The blog has now gone from the Juice FM website so I thought I would copy it out and have it here on my own blog so I can look back on it. Also, if you’re reading this and you know an expectant Mum who is worried about breastfeeding, please feel free to email them a link to my blog. I was overwhelmed first time round at the wonderful comments from new and expectant Mums. This was my favourite from a woman called Claire:
“Hi Gemma, just wanted to say that I love reading your breastfeeding blog. I’m 35 weeks pregnant and had been really worried about it. Nobody in my family has ever done it. They think it’s odd. Even though I want to try it, everyone I’ve ever seen breastfeeding always looks like a hippy which puts me off so it’s nice to read about someone like me who wears the heels and makeup and likes to have a good time! I was really unsure about feeding in front of people and out and about but after reading this I’m definitely going to give it a go. Looking forward to reading more. Thanks for making me realise that it is normal!”
Day 0 – The Birthing Day! Baby Blake is here!
It’s 2:04am on Sunday 21st November and my amazing little boy arrives into the world looking straight in my eyes. These feelings at this very moment are indescribable. There he is, the little ‘alien person’ that’s been poking and prodding me and living inside my big bump for the last nine months. He’s led on my chest and within only about ten minutes the strangest phenomenon I’ve heard about happens. He might only be a few minutes old but he starts to move and manoeuvre himself towards my left breast. I watch in awe as this little newborn creature already knows on his own, without my help what to do and looks for his food source. Isn’t mother nature just wonderful? Shaun helps me remember all the things I was taught at the breastfeeding workshop we went to at the Liverpool Women’s hospital and get him into the right position; hand supporting the back of his neck, his chin touching the bottom of my boob, wait for a BIG open wide mouth and…in! Wow! My little miracle has latched on perfect first time and I’m officially a Mummy, providing the very best she can for her little boy.
The ‘milk’ in the first couple of days is actually colostrum – a sticky gluey liquid that really is the Amber Nectar for babies. It contains lots of antibodies and goodness that will line Blake’s digestive system and prepare his body well for the future. This amazing liquid will help him fight infection so it’s really important he gets it.
I’ll be totally 100% honest, it’s a bit painful at first. I’m normally not somebody who likes my nipples being touched at all – they’re super sensitive at the best of times so this is a whole new sensation for me. Then Shaun reminds me why I’m doing this; to give our little boy the best start in life and the pain does genuinely go away! Plus he reminds me that I spent 54 long painful hours in labour with this gorgeous little baby of ours so a bit of breast pain is absolutely nothing in comparison!
He feeds both sides for about an hour in total and it’s a wonderful close bond between us. I’m transferred to the maternity ward where he sleeps a couple of hours and by 7am he’s back on the breast, latching on perfectly and it’s getting easier. I love what I’m doing for him. I love the feel of his warm little body against mine. This quiet moment between the two of us allows me to take him in properly whilst he feeds. I count all his fingers, count all his toes, notice his ears are just like his Daddy’s and can’t help myself as the tears of happiness fall onto my beautiful breastfeeding little boy Blake.
Day 1 – Oh my God we’ve got a baby!
We got discharged from the Liverpool Women’s hopsital at 4pm yesterday so today is our first full day at home as parents. Shaun and I just keep pinching ourselves as we look at our baby boy and can’t believe he is finally here. Last night was his first night in his moses basket. Shaun is like a proper Daddy bear and insisted that Blake slept on his side so he could keep an eye on him. Even when Blake was sleeping we both kept listening and checking he was still breathing. It’s ridiculous really but he’s the most precious thing we have in our lives and we’ve both definitely got very over protective very quickly. He awoke every couple of hours for a feed. My right nipple is really starting to hurt and at one point as he latched on painfully again I did start to cry. Shaun was very good and supportive though telling me he was so proud of what I was doing for our little boy.
My sister had a baby five months ago and one thing she insisted I invest in was some Lansinoh breastfeeding nipple cream. Lansinoh soothes and helps heal cracked nipples. It’s safe for baby and doesn’t need to be removed from the nipples prior to breastfeeding. It is an absolute godsend! I’m finding my left nipple is fine and he’s attaching well to that one but as I said, the right nipple is very sore. I can’t seem to position him correctly on the right one so i have been putting him into the ‘Rugby Ball hold’ where he sits under my right arm. It doesn’t seem to hurt as much this way but the Lansinoh is helping. I just need to remember to put it on after each feed!
Day 2 – Happy Birthday to me!
Today is day two with my gorgeous little boy and also my birthday. This is most definitely the best birthday present I’ve ever received! Shaun’s Mum has bought me something for my birthday which is proving to be an absolute life saver – a Boppy Breastfeeding pillow. This curved firm pillow fits round my body and Blake is elevated towards my breasts. It’s helping ease my backache and also he is now latching on properly to the right breast and I’m not in pain anymore! Hooray!
We made the journey up to Chorley to see my family. I breastfed for the first time in front of other people and wasn’t bothered at all. I just want to do what’s best for my baby. It was so nice to have such a great support network around me though. Everyone was so encouraging, even my uncles! The compliments about how well he’s doing with the feeding really spurred me on. The nipple pain is so worth it and not anything compared to labour so I’m feeling very positive about being able to do this for Blake.
Day 3 – Happy Birthday to Great Nanny Ray and HELLO boobies!
Blake has most definitely arrived on a popular week for Birthdays. Today is his Great Nanny Ray’s birthday so we’re off to see the Ray family and show Blake off. Now I’ve been keeping an eye on his feeds and how often he is demanding to be fed and it’s working out about every 3 hours which is great. So, we’re timing the visit to co-incide with the feeding so that we can get there, see the family and then get back in time for his next feed. Well, that WAS the plan anyway! At some point in the afternoon my boobs decided to rapidly increase in size looking like two giant pneumatic melons on my chest… oh yes my milk has well and truly come in today! Wowzers, I can’t believe how big they are! I mean, they were on the rather large side anyway before pregnancy but this is just silly. So, the big plans to time the visit to Nanny Ray’s didn’t work as I’m having to feed little and often to prevent my breasts becoming engorged and painful. So far so good! Shaun’s grandad got an eyeful but he’s the father of 5 boys and says he’s used to it. Good
Kathy, the midwife who was with me for the majority of my 50 odd hours of labour at home comes today to weigh Blake. He was 7lb 4oz at birth and today he weighs 7lb exactly. Apparently this loss is hardly anything so she’s really pleased with his progress. She also observed me feed him and noticed where I was going wrong sometimes – instead of supporting Blake’s head at the back of his neck I was holding his head to my breast. This prevents him putting his head back to get a really good feed and can explain why my nipples have been sore. As soon as I do it right it feels so much better and more comfortable. Thanks Kathy!
Day 4 – Staying at home today
Seeing as the three of us have been out and about every day we’ve decided to stay home and chill out today. Now that my milk has come in, I’m wanting to feed him quite often so it’s best if we stay at home. Plus it’s freezing outside! I’ve had to order a couple more nursing bras today. I didn’t realise I’d need to sleep in them too (there’s no way I can’t!) so I have ordered two more so that I’ll always have a clean one. Breast pads are brilliant but I keep losing them in the night when I’m trying to keep everything dark and calm whilst he feeds. Blake’s cord is starting to come away but it’s been bleeding quite a bit so we’ve called the midwife as we’re a bit concerned. Caroline, who has been my midwife throughout my pregnancy calls round and checks out Blake. It’s the first time I’ve seen her since I had him and it’s nice to catch up. Whilst she is here she also examines my tummy and feels for my uterus. She is amazed as how much it has contracted down. Your uterus expands to 500 times its size during pregnancy and breastfeeding helps trigger hormones to help it contract back. Caroline is really pleased at how much it’s gone down in such a short space of time and says it’s all down to the breastfeeding! Shaun even admits he is impressed at how much my stomach has gone down. It’s not entirely flat but it’s not far off! They say breastfeeding naturally burns 500 calories a day which is like going for a run! This is great – I feed my baby, give him the best possible food he can have AND I get to burn off extra calories and lose my baby weight quicker. Brilliant!
Katy – a breastfeeding support worker comes to the house today to check on Blake’s feeding and give me some top tips. She is so lovely and reassures me that everything I’m doing is right. Shaun and I are overwhelmed at all the support we are getting in this first week. It really does put your mind at ease as first time parents.
Before I forget, I want to also say that the nipple pain has now completely gone and breastfeeding is feeling comfortable. The time I get to spend with him, chilling out is just fantastic and it really is proving to be a wonderful worthwhile experience.
Day 5 – Blake meets his new friends at Juice FM and gets registered.
At 7am with Blake feeding well I suggested to Shaun that we head to town to register Blake today. I want to see all my friends from work and Shaun is is absolute desperate need of a haircut. I am worried our son will grow up thinking his Dad is a Yeti! In my head I’ve planned that we’ll be out the door by 8am and in town for just before 9. Ha ha! Yeah right. Blake has other ideas. First he’s sick straight after feeding which requires another change of clothes. Then I top him up with another little feed and he seems settled.
We battle with him to get his pram suit on and into his car seat and then he lets out the most explosive noise and Shaun and I turn to each other with a groan of “Oh no not again?!”. So it’s back upstairs onto his changing mat to sort him out. As I’m changing him, legs in the air, bottom up he fires straight at me! So I’m sat on the bathroom floor, absolutely covered in baby poo! Shaun thinks this is the funniest thing he’s ever seen. I’m just thankful that breastfed baby poo doesn’t really smell! Seriously, it doesn’t it’s very strange. So, after bathing him, changing him and another quick top up we’re finally in the car two hours later. Phew! This fiasco has once again knocked everything out of synch in my head. I was hoping to be home by lunchtime but it’s 11am now. Shaun and I didn’t have breakfast which isn’t very good for me in particular when I’m breastfeeding. So, after a visit to Juice FM and a haircut for Daddy we decide to stay in town and try get some lunch. This means breastfeeding in public! Eek! This will be the first time that I’ve done it. Luckily, with my sister having a baby recently and me being on maternity we have spent a lot of time together in the city centre. We always go to the same place for lunch because we love it – Tabac at the top of Bold Street. There is a nice dark room at the back, kind of like an old cosy cinema room with comfy chairs and tables tucked away so we head there for lunch. The staff in there are always lovely and have never seemed to mind my sister breastfeeding in there so I feel comfortable. I’m relieved it’s a familiar face serving us and she remembers me being pregnant so it’s nice she’s making a fuss over Blake. We’re the only ones in this particular part of Tabac so I feel OK. Blake is due a feed so I wake him before our food comes. Just as I do, the whole place literally fills up and the room we’re in is full of students and tourists. I feel a bit nervous but Shaun assures me it’s OK, nobody can see a thing and I’m just feeding my baby. To prove I look OK and have nothing to worry about he takes a pic and my worries of nipples and areolas being on show everywhere are quickly put to rest. I feel really pleased that at 5 days old we’re out in the City centre and I’m feeding without and prejudice or problems.
We’ve had such a good time that we decide to stay in town and do some shopping and also go and get him registered. I’d heard that a lot of the City centre big stores have feeding and changing facilities so we head to the nearest one at Marks and Spencer to see what is on offer. On the first floor there is a dedicated baby changing room, a baby changing station in the female toilets and a breast feeding room. It’s really simple – just a small room with a chair but it means you’re not having to feed your baby in a toilet and you can sit on the comfortable chair and give your baby what he or she needs. It’s only small but there’s enough room for the pram too. I’m really impressed with the facilities at Marks and Spencer and Blake feeds well there.
Day 6 & 7 – Visiting weekend!
As it’s the weekend we’ve told people to visit if they would like to see Blake. I thought we’d be inundated with visitors but I think everyone heard of my mammoth labour and thought they’d leave us alone! But, we’re tired but OK and looking forward to showing Blake off. Friends and family arrive all day Saturday and Sunday and I feed Blake with the help of my Boppy pillow throughout the day with no fuss. Shaun’s sister-in-law Nikki is amazed and asks me loads of questions. It’s nice to chat to people about it and about how well I think he’s doing. On the Saturday, the midwife comes to do Blake’s heel prick test which isn’t nice as he cries when she draws the blood out of his foot. But, it’s a test that
needs doing and I settle him with a feed straight after. She also weighs him again and we’re delighted that he’s now weighing 7lb 3.5oz so he’s only half an ounce from his original birth weight! The midwife is again really pleased with his progress and puts his healthy weight gain down to successful breast feeding. I know about the health benefits of breastfeeding for Blake;
– Protection against ear infections
– Protection against chest infections and wheezing
– Lower risk of diabetes
– Less allergic disease like asthma and eczema
– Protection against diarrhoea, gastro-enteritis and stomach upsets
– Better mental development
– Better mouth formation and straighter teeth
– Less obesity
But I didn’t know about the health benefits for me until the midwife went through it;
– Lower risk of ovarian cancer
– Lower risk of pre and post menopausal breast cancer
– Stronger bones in later life (osteoporosis)
In addition to the short term benefits of burning 500 calories, my uterus contracting back to it’s original size and less loss these long term health benefits really do spur me on when it comes to my decision to breastfeed Blake.