This post is in response to the Britmums Blog Prompt: What was your personal highlight from this past Christmas and New Yearâ€™s season?Â
I’m not very good at Christmas so the fact that I enjoyed our first Christmas in our new house this year was a big deal. It was the first year that small one really got involved in Christmas, and the first year that we bought her a “proper” present – a lovely (and bargainous) Ebay balance bike. There was great excitement over making cards, decorating the tree, Father Christmas’ visit and all the stocking pressies too.
Here are my favourite moments from Christmas 2011:
1. Giggling hysterically alone in my car outside our local Sainsburys at the “Seasonal” signage….
2. Making “make your own cookie” jars for family and friends. Small one hasn’t really had sweets much and greatly enjoyed sorting smarties and M&Ms into colours for about an hour before I caved and admitted to her that they were edible.
3. Small one’s excitement at her Christmas presents, and riding her “motorbike” for the first time.
4. Decorating the Christmas cake. I realise the motorbike and turtle may not be traditional in your household, but my Dad and I consider them essential to any decent Christmas, and it was great fun doing it together.
What were your highlights?
Cake â€“ tasty food with a high concentration of calories â€“ excellent for sustaining breastfeeding (as part of a balanced diet…). Best combined with tea and supportive friends.
Chocolate – see also cake…
Calories – Breastfeeding naturally uses up to 500 calories a day.
Clothes â€“ clothes for breastfeeding need, above all to be accessible. There is nothing more likely to make you feel flustered than trying to undo layers of clothing one-handed while your baby screams! There are some good nursing clothes available but, once you know what to look for, it is just as easy to find high street fashion that works for breastfeeding and you’ll have a lot more choice.
Cluster Feeding â€“ a term used for feeds spaced very close together. This often happens in the evenings and can mean your baby is gearing up to sleeping longer at night (yay!). It is also common for newborns, who need very regular feeding, and during growth spurts. Cluster feeding can feel tiring but it is normal and will pass. Read Kellymom for reassurance and make sure you are prepared with dinner you can eat one-handed and a good book or TV remote for those â€œglued to the sofaâ€ hours.
Colostrum â€“ The first milk you produce, which is thick, yellow and sticky. It is perfectly formulated for a newborn baby â€“ easy to digest, high in nutrition and full of antibodies. Read more about the amazing properties of colustrum at La Leche League.
Combination Feeding – Feeding your baby breastmilk at some feeds and formula at others. While some studies suggest this does reduce the benefits of breastfeeding, many mums find this a successful solution particularly if they find it difficult to pump and have to return to work before baby weans, and some “mixed feed” long term.If you plan to combination feed, wait until your baby is at least 6 weeks as it can interfere with your body’s ability to manage milk production.
Comfort Feeding â€“ suckling not primarily for nutrition. While breastfeeding is a great source of nutrition, it is also a great comfort when a child is ill, unsure, tired or grumpy. Ignore anyone who suggests that comforting your child is bad â€“ they have the wrong idea of what parenting is about! Suckling without really eating also serves to increase milk supply so if your little suddenly starts comfort feeding more than usual and there have been no other changes which may be unsettling them, they may be building up to a growth spurt.
Confidence â€“ Something that successful breastfeeding gives you in spades. When you look at your baby, remember that every ounce came from you â€“ impressive, aren’t you?! If confidence is an issue for you and a fear of breastfeeding in public is preventing you from getting out and about, fake it until you make it. You’ll be amazed how supportive most people are.
Covers â€“ There are huge debates on the merits of breastfeeding covers. Some people like them because they are concerned about feeding in public and a cover makes them feel safe. Others hate them because their very existence suggests that breastfeeding should be covered and feeling they need to cover up while latching can make breastfeeding much harder than it should be for a new mum. In a nutshell… they are not a necessity, but they are also not a crime (although the way they are marketed can be). I prefer to just wear breastfeeding friendly clothing rather than buy something special.
Covering up â€“ Breastfeeding mums are legally protected wherever and whenever they choose to feed in public. Covering up, or not covering up while feeding is a personal preference. As is watching someone else breastfeed. But if you don’t want to watch, it’s your job to leave the area. Move on, avert your eyes etc. etc. etc.
Cracked nipples – A lot of breastfeeding mums do suffer from cracked nipples at the start. Theoretically, with a good latch there should be no problems unless you have thrush or similar. But most of us aren’t perfect and until you’ve got it right, a good nipple cream can be a godsend. I used Lansinoh, which I found effective but there are lots of others – pick one that doesn’t need to be washed off before feeds. Kellymom offers some good tips for healing cracked nipples.
Crimes of breastfeeding â€“ the things other people feel they have to right to tell you off for.
Criticism â€“ see above. New mums seem to under a constant barrage of criticism for all of their parenting choices, breastfeeding included. Please try to avoid doing this to other mums. If you come under fire yourself, here are some readymade responses that work.
Cropped tops â€“ Tops that you can wear over a nursing vest for lift up style breastfeeding. Easy access clothing that also allows you to cover up if you want to.
Cues â€“ Signals that a baby wants to breastfeed. There are lots of early signs that a baby wants to feed that you will become aware of long before they start to cry. These can include rooting (a reflex present in young babies where they automatically turn towards the breast and make sucking motions with their mouth, or stick their tongue in and out), fussing, sucking their hands, opening and shutting mouth and lip-smacking, fidgeting and squirming, hitting you on the arm or chest.
See the full A-Z of Breastfeeding so far, and feel free to add your own in the comments!
There was an article in the Science pages of The Telegraph yesterday about the effects of breastfeeding on your child’s tastes in later life.
The bare bones of the research were nothing new – your diet affects the way your milk tastes. Just as we are aware that what we eat during pregnancy is important for our developing child, we know that our diet affects the quality (and quantity) of our milk.
I posted the link on Facebook, filed it for future reference, and moved on. So why is it still bothering me?
The focus of the article was on ensuring that mothers ate enough fruit and vegetables while breastfeeding, especially between the critical ages of 2 and 5 months.
Dr Gary Beauchamp, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, who led the research, believes that
By exposing infants at this very sensitive period is appears to be possible to make them like something that they would otherwise deem to be horrible. If we could enhance consumption of vegetables amongst pregnant and nursing women, it ought to impact on their children’s later food choices and result in healthier eating.
I enjoy my vegetables and manage my 5-a-day with ease. In fact, thanks to the wonderful “Mr MilkChic” who is a great cook, I generally feel quite smug about my healthy, well-balanced and varied diet.
But… until my daughter was at least 6 months old my focus was purely on calories. I’m not talking about calorie control, or crazy celeb post-baby diets here. I’m talking about managing to get enough calories into my body, one-handed, while looking after a baby.
For those 6 months or so, as well as my healthy balanced diet, I ate huge amounts of cake, chocolate and biscuits. I needed them just to remain awake and functioning!
I don’t think it’s really harmed me – my weight has plateaued at about 1/2 a stone above my pre-baby weight, which as I am unable to exercise and am 6 cup sizes bigger than I was, seems fair. I figure that when the small one is weaned and my back has recovered, I will be much the same as before, physically if not mentally.
But now I am worrying about the harm to my daughter’s fledgling tastebuds. Has my colossal appetite for chocolate buttons cancelled out the benefit of my otherwise balanced meals and given her a sweet tooth that will haunt her in later life? I really hope not. Short of employing a full time chef, I don’t think breastfeeding would have been sustainable on healthy food alone.
To be fair, it isn’t the Telegraph’s fault that I’m feeing guilty. The article was balanced and well-written. And there is little I can do to change things now, except be mindful that my daughter may have a propensity for chocolate milk abuse.
So, as I don’t want to pass on a guilt complex as well as a sweet tooth, I am listening to the ever practical KellyMom, who says that “Making women think that they must maintain â€˜perfectâ€™ diets in order to have thriving breastfed babies is an unnecessary obstacle to breastfeeding”.
Besides, one day I dream of another baby, and what would maternity leave be without cake?