My breastfeeding journey – week two

expressed breastmilk

Continuing to repost my breastfeeding journey, here is week 2.  Please feel free to pass onto expectant Mummies.

November 29th 2010: Day 8 – Call me Daisy for I feel like a cow!

Now the breastfeeding workshop we went to they advised not to express breast milk for the first 6 weeks as it could inhibit your milk supply.  However, Shaun is worried I am totally exhausted and being very much a hands on Dad he wants to help out.  I have been reading the ‘Contented Little Baby Book’ by Gina Ford which our very own Leanne Campbell recommended to me.  It feels a bit regimental but a lot of it does make sense.  In it, she encourages you to express from week one in order to make sure you’re producing enough milk.  So, out comes the electric breast pump and Shaun and I set to work assembling, sterilising and deciphering the instructions.  After faffing for what feels like hours, it’s finally time to see if this works.  Foolishly I have given Shaun the controls.  Now, when I was in early labour I had a TENS machine to help with the back pain.  Shaun, in his infinite hilarious wisdom thought it would be a good fun idea to zap me with the TENS machine in between contractions just for the laugh!  I think the sleep deprivation has made me forget this little trick he pulled and as I’m reading the instructions on the expressing machine and explaining the 4 stages we need to gently go through, Shaun whacks it on full blast as my poor nipples are pulled out like a Stretch Armstrong by the expressing machine!  After screaming, hitting him round the head and swearing at him very loudly we both collapse in a fit of giggles on the kitchen floor.  Now he’s had his fun it’s time to be sensible and follow the instructions properly.  I’m amazed at how much it really doesn’t hurt at all.  Shaun is still finding the whole situation hilarious and is now making cow noises at me.  It’s a good job I love him isn’t it?  A mere ten minutes later and I’ve expressed 3oz of breast milk which goes in the fridge.  Shaun will be able to feed that to Blake later to give me a break.  Expressed breast milk can be put in the fridge for five days and can be frozen for 3 months.  You should always put expressed milk at the back of the fridge where it is the coolest and never in the door of the fridge.

I’m so pleased with expressing and how easy it is that I have phoned and registered my interest in becoming a milk donor with the Wirral Mother’s Milk Bank.  If I am accepted, after a blood test and medical questionnaire then I just need to express a little every day and freeze it.  Then a volunteer will collect it from my home every few weeks.  This donated breast milk is used to save the lives of newborn premature babies on neonatal units in the North West.  Now that Blake is here I cannot imagine the emotional turmoil for a mother of a premature baby.  Many mothers of pre-term babies for whatever reason sometimes can’t breastfeed themselves.  The idea that my milk could help the life of another baby really makes me feel happy so I’m hoping that I will be able to become a donor and help.

Day 9 – Using technology to help breastfeed

If you’ve heard me on the Home Run with Mark Kaye you’ll already know that I am a total geek and love all things technological.  I couldn’t live without my iPhone and one thing I’ve downloaded this week that I’m yet to tell you about is my Breastfeeding Friend App!  Oh yes, Apple really do have an app for everything!

It’s difficult remembering which breast to feed off next sometimes.  My sister recommended putting a bobble on my wrist to remind me which breast to feed from.  The problem was, I was forgetting to put the bobble on the right wrist and then couldn’t remember if the wrist the bobble was on was for the breast i’d last fed off or the one I needed to feed from next!  It was all confusing, so I hit the Apple App store and found this amazing app!  It’s completely free and so simple!  It helps with the 3am feeds in particular when you’re feeling like a zombie.  The way it works is you have two cupcakes on the screen, one for your left breast one for your right.  Tap the cupcake that corresponds to the breast you’re feeding from and press start.  It them times the feed for you!

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Once you’ve pressed stop the feeds go into a history page like this:

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And you can see exactly how long he’s been on which breast for.  When you’ve pressed stop, the cupcake automatically switches sides so you know which breast to feed off next.  If you’re just taking a little break to burp or change the baby you can manually select the right cupcake and press start again.

I absolutely love this!  It really helps me out.  It also carries on working on your phone even if you press the middle button and go on something else.  I’m finding with the night feeds that whilst I’m feeding him I’ll scan Twitter or the news or Facebook to keep me alert and awake whilst he feeds and the fact that this app carries on working for you is brilliant – you just need to remember to press stop!

Today I also got a letter through the post from the Breastfeeding support girls inviting me to the Breastfeeding support clinic at the Hudson Children’s Centre on Thursdays.  What a great idea!  Not only is it a good place to meet other Mums but also make sure you’re doing right with the feeding.  I’m hoping it doesn’t snow as i’d like to go this week.  For more information on ALL the drop in feeding clinics and other Infant Feeding support and sources of help click here.

Day 10 – Why breastfeeding is a blessing when you get stuck in traffic!

Brrr… you don’t need me to tell you it’s absolutely freezing outside.  Today we braved the cold and headed out for a boring but much needed visit to the bank.  The weather really was horrendous and even though we’ve been lucky to avoid the heavy snow in Merseyside it’s not stopped the icy conditions and traffic every night has been awful.  On the way back from the bank we got caught in traffic round Switch Island.  It was absolutely rammed.  I started to get a bit panicky as it was getting late and Blake was due a feed.  Sure enough after only 20 minutes of queuing on the A59, Blake started crying the familiar hunger cry we’re getting used to.  Now we were still 20 minutes from home on a good day, never mind all the traffic.  If I’d been bottle feeding him I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done there in the middle of all the traffic.  Luckily as breastfeeding is so easy and you can do it anywhere we just pulled over and I was able to feed him in the car.  By the time he had finished the traffic was starting to get better and we were home very quickly with one satisfied and fed man.  Phew!  Yet another tick on the list of why breastfeeding rocks!

Day 11 – Breastfeeding is NOT weird!

We had visitors today and one of my friends was telling me a story about her friend who was hassled by friends and family for breastfeeding saying it was weird.  Luckily this hasn’t happened to me, I’m so hot headed at the best of times, never mind when hormonal and like a lioness looking out for my cub.  I won’t be held responsible for my actions if someone says something to me about breastfeeding!  One thing I have already said to people though (and this is a great one to remember if anyone challenges you that breastfeeding is ‘weird’) Just say “Do you drink tea or coffee?” and most will usually say they do.  “Do you have milk in tea or coffee?” Most will say yes.  “Right, so it’s NOT weird for you to drink the milk of another animal but is IS weird for me to feed my child the milk that he is naturally supposed to drink?!”  Yeah OK, whatever!

In other happy news, Blake was weighed again today and we’re delighted that he’s now weighing 7lb 6.5oz.  It’s lovely to know that he’s putting this weight on all thanks to me and what I’m able to feed him.  I just really really hope that I can continue breastfeeding for as long as possible because I know he’s doing so well so far!

Day 12 – On my way to becoming a breast milk donor

A big box of goodies arrived for me today from the Wirral Mother’s Milk Bank.  Lots of sterile bottles, a Medela breast pump, sterilising bags and all the information I need on becoming a breast milk donor.  There’s also a blood sample box too.  I just need to get either my GP or anyone trained in plebotomy to take a small blood sample which they will test back at Clatterbridge to make sure I’m healthy enough and a suitable breast milk donor.  The lovely Steve Timmins’ wife Kate is a nurse so next time they pop round for a brew or next time we head there I’ll ask if she’ll mind doing it for me.  I’ve already started expressing and storing the milk so once I get the all clear a volunteer will pick up the frozen bottles every few weeks.  I feel really good being able to help premature and sick babies.  For more information on becoming a milk donor click on the United Kingdom Association of Milk Banking website (UKAMB).

Day 13 – Why does one make more milk than the other?

The strangest thing is happening with my boobs.  The left one is definitely producing more than the right.  If not more, it’s definitely flowing faster!  Every time Blake feeds from this one he is sick straight after.  This worries the hell out of me and I get quite stressed about it.  Luckily Shaun keeps calm and when it looks like Blake is going to be sick, he takes him quick as a flash and holds him so he’s in his arms but on his front.  The health visitor pays us a visit today and assures me it’s totally normal for one breast to feel like this.  Later, I decide to express a little off before feeding Blake and it works a treat.  He’s not being as sickly and I’ve expressed some milk into one of the donor bottles.  Like killing two birds with one stone!

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