Thursday, 30 December 2010

Breastfeeding in public for beginners...

Breastfeeding in public is important.

The first time I breastfed in public was when my daughter was tiny. We went to Wetherspoons for breakfast early on Sunday morning. I had fed her before we left the house as I was a little nervous about feeding in public but knew I would do it if need be. I wore a top with buttons down and also took a Muslin square just in case.

Just as I tucked into my cooked breakfast baby woke up. I tried rocking her car seat (this was before I knew about baby-wearing!), then my husband tried rocking her and nothing would stop the little wail escaping her tiny lungs...there was only one thing for it - I had to feed her in a public place for the very first time. I was discreet & as soon as I latched her on she was happy. However, behind my husband was a table of two, the guy had his back to me but his wife could see me. I smiled at her but she gave me a dirty look, she then pointed to me (yes I know!) and said something to her husband, he looked over and then stood up and they moved to another table well away from us, tutting as they walked past! I was mortified and also angry as I personally had never been bothered by breastfeeding and I was being so discreet - what would they rather me do? Leave my bundle yelling at the top of her lungs until I had finished my brekkie? Yet I did not have the confidence to say anything as it all happened so fast. I so wish I had though!

Now breastfeeding in public is REALLY important.

Why is breastfeeding in public important??

Well, in the UK the majority of Mums bottle feed their babies after the first few weeks. By 6 months on about 1 in 5 women are still breastfeeding and only about 1% EXCLUSIVELY breastfeed for the first 6 months. That means bottle feeding in our country is the norm. Bottles are everywhere; baby dolls come with bottles, bottles are on ''New Baby'' cards and wrapping paper, most soaps barely cover the issue of breastfeeding, even Fiona in Shrek the third uses a bottle & Peppa pig - honestly they are everywhere. This constant association between new babies and bottles has helped to normalise bottle feeding. Now if women who breastfeed make sure they feed in public unashamedly they are sending out a quiet message that breastfeeding is ok. A new Mum may sit down in Costa look around and see another Mum breastfeeding, that may give her the confidence to also breastfeed in public. On the rare occasion you are challenged for feeding in public this is the perfect time to state some of the reasons you breastfeed OR the risks of formula feeding, the person you are telling them to may or may not listen but there may be others surrounding you that WILL listen. Your rant at the anti-breast feeder may even encourage a pregnant women within earshot to breastfeed.

The next thing to remember is the discretion in which you breastfeed in public is UP TO YOU. I used to be very discreet but as my daughter has got older and hates things over her face I am now rather indiscreet. I am not doing it on purpose, my daughter is so nosey, someone walks past and she unlatches & looks at them giving the person walking past an eyeful. Sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed but we are mammals at the end of the day and its only a nipple. The most important thing is my daughter is getting her milk the way nature intended & that is what is best for her.

Some breastfeeding mothers do not feel comfortable feeding in public & that is sad but up to them. Others feel you must buy the appropriate nursing clothes if you do it so nothing is on show, again that's up to them. There is no right or wrong way to breastfeed in public but I feel its really important people do :) x

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

So how will you feed your baby?

Ok, my very first midwife appointment (''booking in appointment'') was when I was 7 weeks and 3 days pregnant. One of the first questions asked:

''how are you planning on feeding your baby?''

I answered:

''I am hoping to breastfeed''

It was like there was a sigh of relief in the room, really odd. Now when I said ''I am hoping to breastfeed'' that is exactly what I meant, I was hoping it would be all straight forward & I could feed my baby myself. I had thought to myself that I will ''try it'' and then if all was good carry on for 3-6 months then switch to formula.

You see, I have had many friends and family members have babies BUT only one of those breastfed for any longer than a few days and even she had given up at 3 months. So for me formula was the norm. You try breastfeeding then its no big deal if it doesn't work out. When pregnant I bought a newborn bottle starter set & a sterliser as I thought I would 'need' them.

I also bought a couple of cartons of ready-made formula as this was advice given to me in my antenatal classes.

The formula is now out of date and I gave the bottles away (apart from two). I am also still feeding my beautiful daughter at almost 12 months and I have no plans to wean soon. Why?

- It helped me loose over 2 stone and maintain that weight
- I am really lazy so the thought of making up bottles, washing bottles and sterilising them scares me
- It's free
- My daughter loves breastfeeding & to take that away I feel would be cruel
- It is reducing my chances of developing type 2 diabetes (something that I am at increased risk of due to my Gestational Diabetes)
- It is an instant source of comfort if my daughter is distressed
- It means I have an excuse to sit down and rest every few hours
- It is helping to protect me against some female cancers
- It is helping my daughters developing immune system
- It reduced the chance of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or 'Cot Death')
- I enjoy it

Ok now all these are the reasons why I decided to keep breastfeeding but there is a great post that has 101 reasons to do it:

Some reasons are duplicated but you get the point.

Now all I knew about Breastfeeding when I was pregnant was that it was best for baby, helped mum to loose weight and was free. There is also a number of risks to Formula Feeding that women are not told about.

But what about the risks of Formula feeding???

Thats right, most pregnant women are told breast is best blah, blah, blah but what about the disadvantages of Formula? Now, formula does have a place, it can save babies lives & there is a definate need for its existence BUT my point is would women in my situation be so casual about 'trying' if they knew that Formula has risks? The following link is a very insightful article that I think would do all pregnant women good to read:

Why? because I feel knowing the bad stuff has more of an effect on people than knowing about the good stuff...I mean how often do you tell people about the customer service provider who was helpful compared to the one who was unhelpful?

I would like to make it clear it is not my intention to judge women & I am pro-choice but I do think Breastfeeding support should be started when pregnant, not when baby is here.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Gestational Diabetes for the chocoholic...

When I found out I had GD (Gestational Diabetes) I was really upset. I felt as though I had already done very well by not smoking, drinking and not gaining much weight so to be told I also had to cut out sugar from my (decaf) tea & lay off the chocolate until at least the baby was here was devastating.

I was also worried that this may have been Type 2 diabetes which was not picked up until pregnancy and that terrified me.

Throughout my pregnancy I had craved sweet things, cake, chocolate, sweets, fruit but I had been really good at not binging or eating to excess as I was aware I was obese when becoming pregnant so really could not afford to put on a lot of weight.

It was this point that all of a sudden it was made clear I was to have a lot of intervention both before baby was born, during the birth & after. I was told I had to have scans every 3 weeks to determine the size and that if they felt baby was too big they would either induce me or remove baby by c-section 2 weeks before my due date. I was told I was not allowed a home birth (I had not asked for one but they felt they needed to tell me anyway) and I needed to see my midwife every other week, my diabetes midwife & diabetes team every other week too so I was having weekly check ups from 28 weeks.

I had a monitor to measure my Blood Sugar Levels before breakfast and after my main meal everyday.

I was overwhelmed by all the extra check-ups and monitoring. I felt stressed out and began to worry about the birth even more.

I did some googling about gestational diabetes and found out that my glucose readings were not as bad as I had thought. My fasting test was perfect and it was the one taken after I had been given the glucose drink that was raised but if I was not pregnant this would have been called IGT (Impaired Glucose Tolerence) not Type 2 Diabetes. IGT is actually quite common in pregnancy but we do not know how common as only people with a history of diabetes in immediate family or are obese are routinely given OGTT (Oral Glucose Tolerence Test) when pregnant. Just to clarify IGT is also called GD when pregnant. This comforted me some what.

The next shock came when I was told I was not allowed to have the birthing pool in labour as I was to be continuously monitored because of my diabetes. I was again very upset as I have always found water to be very good a relieving pain. My birth plan then changed to ''skin-to-skin contact desired after the birth & husband to cut the cord'' I was advised not to put anything else on there as we did not know whether baby would be delivered vaginally or by Cesarean and would probably involve an induction. I was not told at all I had a choice which now I realise should have been made clear.

My pregnancy progressed and baby apparently was getting fatter & fatter. They did not feel she had to be delivered by c-section but a scan that took place 5 days before my due date estimated baby would be over 8lb which they felt was large for my 5 ft frame. So I was told I was to be induced the day before my due date...

I will not go into my birth story as that is another blog completely BUT my daughter was born weighing 6lb 12oz...hardly a big baby eh?

I now so wished I had researched GD more, the form I had was an unnecessary label, my body was finding it hard to deal with the sugar because I was pregnant and your body automatically reduces the amount of insulin you make so the baby can get the sugar too. In this instance, my baby was NOT getting too much sugar so therefore did not grow to the abnormally large size the HCP's estimated.

Had the midwives and consultants been more educated in such matters, they would have realised that my Blood Sugar Levels were being kept under control so therefore the risk was nowhere near as high as someone with actual Gestational Diabetes where a their blood sugar levels were either above 7.0 mmol/l when fasting or 11.1 mmol/l 2 hours after the OGTT.

Having said all that, due to the GD I did watch what I ate and when I weighed myself a week after giving birth I was 9lb lighter than when I fell pregnant so maybe laying off the chocolate was actually a good thing.

The point I feel needs to be made is that women should be treated on an individual basis when receiving their care rather than being labelled and made to worry more about things that probably won't even happen, women should also know they do have a choice :) x

An accidental hippy born from a walking health hazzard...

Ok, firstly I do not think of myself as a 'hippy'. Although, if the old me saw someone like the new me, the old me would have called the new me a hippy so if I am a hippy I am an accidental hippy. Does that make sense? Haha.

Right, when I fell pregnant in April/May 2009 I was a Branch Manager of an Insurance Broker with a 45 minute commute, a nasty 10-a-day cigarette habit, an unhealthy obsession with wine & technically obese. I was a walking health-hazzard who was being rather reckless with her ovum & in hindsight I feel I am very lucky to have such a healthy daughter.

I used to spend £100's a month on make-up, beauty creams, diet pills & had a rather uneven temper. Looking back I now see I was just unhappy. My job was stressfull, my weight was getting me down & I was not spending quality time with my husband.

So when I found out I was pregnant I was shocked but also happy. I was worried as I knew I had to have a huge lifestyle overhaul and I was not sure if I was ready but I did it.

I gave up smoking as soon as I found out I was pregnant & did not drink when I was pregnant (apart from 1 glass of wine on my birthday & a bucks fizz at Christmas 2009). I felt I had to do everything possible to make sure I was healthy for this baby so I also started light excercise & eating healthier.

Every pregnancy book made me feel guilty. The alcohol I had consumed before finding out I was pregnant, the cigarettes I had smoked, the takeaways that had nourished my precious baby all made me feel very worried that my baby would not be ok.

It did not come as a surprise that I developed Gestational Diabetes. I was cross at the time but luckily I did not need insulin, just had to ditch the chocolate and eat more vegetables.

So Christmas 2009, 5 1/2 weeks before my due date was a strange one. I could not drink, smoke, eat to excess or much else. So I decided to prepare myself for when baby is here by reading, researching and talking to other Mums.

My future blogging will hopefully explain my choices in feeding, weaning, carrying, nappying etc based on my own research not on old wives tales :) x