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A-Z of Breastfeeding

G is for...

G is for...G is for…

Gel pads – Little breast shaped sachets of gel which you can cool in the fridge to soothe sore breasts.

Glider chair (see nursing chair) – A chair with smooth forward and back gliding motion, designed to soothe baby while you breastfeed. Having never owned one, I don’t know how well they soothe, but they are very comfortable to breastfeed in.

Groups – Support groups can be a lifesaver when you’re struggling with breastfeeding or parenthood in general. Get to know your local groups before baby is born if you can and try not to prejudge the mums there – new babies can be a real leveller, and if nothing else it’s a relief to know that even the mums who look perfect aren’t coping as well as they seem!

Growth spurts – Babies don’t follow the gentle curves that most books show. They grow in fits and starts in order to keep us constantly concerned about their weight gain and food intake. If your baby suddenly turns into a bottomless pit and you feel glued to the sofa as baby feeds every hour, don’t panic and assume there’s an issue with your supply. Growth spurts traditionally occur almost constantly during the first 6 weeks, at 3-4 months, 6 months and 9 months. They can feel endless when you’re in the middle of one, but hang on in there, this too will pass.

Guidelines – The WHO infant feeding guidelines state that for optimum health, babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. From then onwards they should be given solid food while breastfeeding continues for up to two years and beyond.

Guilt – Something parents seem to be good at. I’m not going to go into the whole “breastfeeding guilt” thing here. There is no reason to feel guilty when you’re trying do your best for your child and your family.

Gymnastics – If you find yourself breastfeeding an older baby or toddler, you’ll soon understand why this is in a breastfeeding glossary. Babies become very distractible and can end up in all sorts of strange positions.

Any more? Please add them in the comments!

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A-Z of Breastfeeding

E is for... Breastfeeding glossary

E is for... Breastfeeding glossaryE is for…

Eating – Breastfeeding is hungry work – you are the primary food source for a growing child! Everyone will tell you to eat a healthy, balanced diet which, while rather a no-brainer, may seem more difficult than you at first imagined. With a newborn, food preparation needs to be quick and easy, and you’ll soon find that the minute your dinner is ready, baby wants food too. Until you’ve mastered eating one-handed, try to keep a box of snacks on hand – nuts, dried fruit and cereal bars are reasonably healthy ways to up your calories, but don’t feel guilty about cake and chocolate too. Most breastfeeding mums find themselves ravenous for the first few months so don’t deprive yourself. Once you’ve got breastfeeding established, you’ll find it easier to find some balance.

Education – Talk to people about breastfeeding before your baby arrives. Find out what is normal, what to expect and where your local breastfeeding support can be found. Make sure that your partner and family are well informed about breastfeeding too.

Electric breastpumps – If you choose to express milk regularly, you may want to look at buying an electric pump. At a cost of £60-250, it isn’t an essential, and many pumping mums are very happy expressing manually or using a hand pump, but if you’re thinking of buying one, Which? Magazine reckon the Medela Swing breastpump and Medela Mini Electric Pump are both good all round buys. NB. It is not recommended that you buy second hand pumps unless they are closed system or hospital grade pumps designed for use by more than one baby.

Emotions – Breastfeeding, like pregnancy and birth (and parenting in general) can be an emotional rollercoaster. Mums describe every emotion from euphoria to despair, but just because it’s normal doesn’t mean you don’t need support. Establishing breastfeeding, growth spurts and weaning can be difficult times so make sure you have help when you need it.

Employment Law – As a breastfeeding mother, you are protected under the same health and safety legislation as you were when you were pregnant. Your employer has an obligation to risk assess your job and ensure that it does not put you or your baby at risk. Breastfeeding mums should also have a suitable place to rest, and pump. Make sure you have informed your employer in writing of your intention to continue breastfeeding when you return to work, if this is the case.

Engorgement – Most mums will feel engorged (heavy, warm, uncomfortably “full” feeling breasts) at the beginning while their milk supply regulates. Make sure you breastfeed regularly to prevent it becoming a problem. The traditional cabbage leave remedy is surprisingly effective (although you will stink…!) and you can find more information about dealing with engorged breasts here. If your baby struggles to latch on an overfull breast, hand expressing a little milk first can help.

Epsom Salts – If you are suffering with mastitis or a plugged duct, you may find bathing the affected breast in warm water with Epsom salts helps calm the inflammation. Rinse off before feeding!

Equipment – The only essential equipment for breastfeeding is a baby and a boob. Depending on your situation and your budget, you may want to treat yourself to a nursing pillow, some nipple cream, a breastpump or some attractive nursing clothing. Alternatively, you may feel you’re better off with chocolate cake and a killer pair of shoes 😉

Establishing breastfeeding – The common consensus seems to be that it takes about 6 weeks to establish breastfeeding. Your milk supply has to adjust, and you and baby need to learn what to do, ironing out issues with latch and positioning. For the best possible start, try to have plenty of skin-to-skin contact and feed your baby in the first hour after birth, breastfeeding as often as they need. The WHO recommends not using bottles, teats or pacifiers which can cause “nipple confusion”.

Etiquette – A whole other post…. but suffice it to say, there are no rules about where, when, why or how it is acceptable for you to breastfeed your baby. However, if you are feeding an older baby or toddler, it is definitely not polite for them to bite, hit or do gymnastics while nursing. Equally, they may feel it is not polite for you to read a book, play on your mobile or eat!

Evening Dresses – breastfeeding babies are very portable and you may find yourself needing some special occasion clothing. Make the most of the extra cleavage and treat yourself to some breastfeeding-friendly evening dresses.

Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF on the baby forums) – This means that a baby receives only breast milk (no additional food or drink, not even water). The WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child’s life:

…exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Exercise – There is an excellent article on breastfeeding and exercise at KellyMom. Basically, it’s fine to exercise when you’re breastfeeding, which is good news as exercise is a great mood enhancer! Make sure you have a decent sports bra if you’re planning anything strenuous, and don’t overdo it too early on.

Expressing – pumping milk for later use in bottles or cups. This is a way of giving breastmilk when mum isn’t there, and can help if you go back to work before you finish breastfeeding. You can express by hand, or use manual or electric pumps. Here are some tips for pumping and expressing that I wish I had while I was still breastfeeding.

“Extreme” Breastfeeding – sensational media term for breastfeeding in line with WHO guidelines.

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Bittylab: Is your newborn too dependent??


There was a major Twitter storm this morning around a US baby bottle manufacturer called BAREâ„¢ and their charmingly named Twitter account @bittylab

The BAREâ„¢ bottles are marketed as a bottle which closely mimics the breast, reducing nipple confusion and supporting breastfeeding. You’re interested, right? Bottles and expressing are by no means a necessity for most breastfeeding mums, but if you do want to use them, you want the one closest to a breast, as do most formula feeding mums… great idea! (NB. PLEASE DON’T STOP READING HERE. THIS IS NOT A MARKETING POST!!)

Unfortunately, for some reason they decided to market their products like this:

Feeling like you’re competing with your newborn for mommy’s attention? Meet BAREâ„¢ air-free #babybottles #baby

Your newborn takes up all of mommy’s time? Meet BAREâ„¢ #air-free baby bottles #breastfeeding

and… you’ll LOVE this one:

New baby? Reclaim your wife. Meet BARE™ #air-free #baby

Not so interested now? Hmm….! I’ve redirected the links because no-one with judgement this poor is having any free advertising on my site, no matter how negative…

There are so many things wrong with this, I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading! If it was intended as ironic, which from their half-assed apology it clearly wasn’t, it really missed the mark.

So, for those of you who missed it, here is the Bittylab guide to newborns and parenting…

Newborn child:
Small parasite who competes with their father for luxuries as food and water. Clearly this is the case, as breastfeeding mummies will not be able to cook poor ineffective Daddy his steak supper when he gets home… He may starve!!

An inadequate, insecure figure who has no purpose in his baby’s life past his initial sperm donation. Jealous of all the attention the baby gets from his wife and intent on “reclaiming” her for himself.

Provider of milk and attention who will clearly have more time for “attention” if she expresses, refridgerates and then reheats the milk that came out of her at the correct temperature the first time.

Impressively, they managed to unite mums, dads, breastfeeders and formula feeders as one in complete and utter repulsion and their sexist and unethical marketing tactics. Maybe it was a clever marketing plan after all, eh? World peace next?

I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite replies from Adrian Bott ‏@Cavalorn

Dear @bittylab: I had no urge to ‘reclaim’ my wife from my child, because a) I am a grown up and b) I did not ‘claim’ her in the first place

WTF do these people think men are, Dothraki horse lords? ‘Reclaim your wife’. FFS.

Being less eloquent, I stuck to a factual and balanced response (natch):

A question for @bittylab… If #breastfeeding #mums aren’t sexy, how do we know that exclusive breastfeeding can be a contraceptive? #fools

Oh and lovely Lauren D. ‏@Daresie shared her confusion:

@milkchic never understood the ‘jealous dad’ concept. He’s free to get milk from the fridge whenever he wants. #bittylabsucks #bfing

As usual, Wolf Mommy ‏@Wolf_Mommy summed up the key issues:

there’s no question bottles are useful. There’s no need to violate WHO guidelines or insult women to sell them

You’d think they couldn’t make anything worse, but then there came the apology that wasn’t, where we were told that we had misunderstood, floating the possibility that their Twitter account had been hacked if the offending tweets were still there… really? “Sorry” wouldn’t have worked then?

Shame, but I don’t think they’re coming back from this one. Complete and utter marketing fail.