Got milk?, Milk, weaning and more

Boob- who knew?!?!?

When I was pregnant I was determined to breast feed; I tried to read a few book, go on the Facebook support pages and subscribed to mother and baby magazine.

I thought I knew enough to get me by. But I felt anxious about it all; it’s one of those things you don’t really ‘get’ until you’re doing it. And even then everyday is a school day.

Here’s some interesting (or weird things I never really knew).

1. Breastfeeding doesn’t mean the delay to your periods returning.

Yes this one really sucked; I was led to believe that one of the lovely benefits from breastfeeding was that your got a nice break from periods, this was supported my comments from friends when they were gutted their monthly friend returned after a year!

Well I had a two week post-partum bleed and then lo and behold- 28 bleeding days later Aunt Flo returned! What the actual fuck- I mean how unfair is that?!?!?!?

Not only that but whilst I was breast feeding my monthly visitor only arrived every ruddy month perfectly on time! couldn’t do that when we were trying to get pregnant and go through fertility treatment could it???

Ready for some even more shit news; (and this is a bit gross) when you are actually feeding your uterus contracts meaning that you sit their feeling the blood flood out. I mean lovely- totally wonderful. Mother BLOODY nature!

( slightly pissed off infertile woman here)

2. Let down

Well where to begin with this one; I’ll just go for it, imagine 37,500 ants crawling all over you tits. Well this is what ‘let down’ feels like. What???? You ask…..

Well did you know you milk just does sit ready to come out (otherwise we’d all just sit in puddles of milk); your babies first few sucks stimulates you boobs enough to ‘open the gates’ of your ducts- this is called ‘let down’, and let me warn you- that is a bloody weird feeling!

3. Porn star boobs

Ever contemplated getting a boob job, or wished you were curvier to help you feel sexier?

Well about 3 days after birth you’ll get a ‘free trial’ of those huge, rounded, stuck on looking bazookas- and you’ll feel sooo sexy!!! Er nope, they’re huge, they hurt, they feel like they’re going to explode, they’re hot, they’re leaking; and now you have to try and attach a baby onto them. Trying to attach a soft mouthed tiny new born onto a huge, hard, rounded football is flipping hard. And you’ll also decide you don’t want a boob job.

4. It’s good for your mental health.

I definitely struggled with my mental health more after weaning Dorothea off the boob. So I did some research and found your brain releases the hormones prolactin and oxytocin during breastfeeding, which help you to bond with baby and ease those normal feelings of stress and anxiety.

5. Breastfeeding burns loads of calories

Breastfeeding burns between 500-600 calories a day. That means some mums might end up losing weight without any additional exercise! But in reality it also makes you really hungry- I remember stuffing my face with flapjacks in the middle of the night. Also breastfeeding mums will generally spend more time sitting down- for me this signals ‘snack time’ – so don’t count on losing that weight; but in reality who cares, breastfeeding is great and so are flapjacks.

6. Rainbow milk. Milk is white right? Wrong!

When expressing I found that the bottles of milk in my fridge could be different colours- sometimes with a blue tinge! Apparently this change can be due to what you’ve eaten or your babies needs (milk constituents can change daily- clever eh?)

7. You produce milk long after feeding stops.

I figured that soon after I stopped feeding that I would ‘dry up’. Not the case- I found in the months following I would leak milk when emotional, and now (over a year later) milk is still there if pressure is put on my boobs.

8. Breastmilk jewellery

You can get gorgeous jewellery made from your milk! This one is always controversial, with many thinking it’s weird, but I love my milk pendant.

Check out:

https://www.forevernurtured.co.uk

https://milkdiamonds.co.uk/

9. Flapjacks!

Oats are supposed to be good for milk production and flapjacks are yummy! This was a recipe I created; these are great for devouring during night feeds (lots of good ingredients too)

⁃ 1 cup coconut oil

⁃ 3/4 cup agave syrup

⁃ 10 dried dates finely chopped

⁃ 1 apple finely chopped/grated

⁃ ( melt down the above in a pan until a gooey syrup- then add)

⁃ 1 cup chopped off nuts( I used cashews)

⁃ 4 cups oats

⁃ 1 cup milled flax seed

⁃ 4 tablespoons brewers yeast

Mix well, bake in flat pan for 15 mins at 180 (or until firm and browning)

10. Breastfeeding is amazing

It’s also hard work, often awkward, sometimes painful and welcomes some negative opinions. Next time you see a breastfeeding Mum be positive; a smile, compliment, cup of tea or biscuit.
Life of a Mum

Post natal lows!

This is me.….Married, Mum to a fab little lady, sarcastic, tired, matron to an awesome team of nurses.

I look happy right???

I am; I have an awesome life- my dream family, an amazing job and some fab friends. I’m also on anti depressants, I know my head isn’t entirely organised, often paranoid and over emotional.

If I’m totally honest I’ve probably experienced post natal depression; but it certainly took me more than the ‘post natal’ period to recognise that I was struggling.

I remember the midwife and health visitor doing the required mental health checklist; and telling me I was high risk. Apparently ‘older’ mums that are previously successful and career driven struggle with the transformation to ‘mum on maternity leave’.

I totally get it! You go from being a functioning and productive adult; to a tired Mum who finds it difficult to leave the house by midday.

Also the mental effect of IVF seems greatly underestimated. It has changed me forever! As a woman I feel my main role on this earth is to Mother; and I felt that was stolen from me. After going through years of fertility treatment, pregnancy then feels like a great pressure, and parenting an IVF miracle even more so.

Comments that I’m really lucky to be a Mum, that I should be grateful to have one child, and not be greedy in wanting more! No one says these things to the fertiles!! (more on this in a separate blog).

I remember feeling emotional, unable to cope, frustrated- I felt like a ‘beginner’! I felt I was crap at motherhood- from leaving work as a confident and skilled nursing sister- I felt that I was failing.

But …. I didn’t want to admit it.

Dorothea had some early weight loss- it took weeks and weeks of a tiresome breastfeeding, plus expressing and top up feed routine to get her weight up. I blamed myself – felt my milk wasn’t enough; luckily I had a great health visitor who supported me well.

Dorothea also suffered from reflux; if you’re a Mum of a reflux baby you’ll know the emotional effects of this. Reflux means everything takes more; more time, more patience, more washing, more packing, more understanding. Constant small feeds, followed by extended periods of sitting upright and winding, followed by a mess! Followed by numerous Muslins, outfit changes for both of us and daily loads of washing. Not to mention cleaning of carpets, furniture, the dog! Where spillages had also occurred- it felt endless.

Of course I blamed myself– also second guessed my choices and actions. Should she be going to the Drs, should she be on meds, were the meds making it worse, should I go dairy free, gluten free, spice free, should I stop breast feeding….. the list went on!

With both things I convinced myself they’d get better with time; and they both did. But in the meantime I judged myself- lots

I also had the return of my rheumatoid arthritis to deal with. Throughout pregnancy my condition went into expected remission- and I experience 9 wonderful months pain free. I actually felt more healthy when pregnant than I had for a few years prior to this. I struggled to deal with the pain and stiffness, on top of being a tired new mum.

I returned to work when Dorothea was 9 months- initially part time (using my holiday allowance to wean myself back on). I enjoyed this- felt it was a great balance! I loved being at work 2 days a week- I felt it gave me great purpose and helped me feel like a contributing adult again(being on Matty leave and heavily reliant on your partners wage makes you feel pretty shitty too). But it also made me realise and appreciate how much I loved being a mum! I missed my little lady when at work and always couldn’t wait to see her at the end of the day!

Three weeks after my return to work a tragedy struck; my friend and boss died suddenly! A major shock; a 31 week pregnant healthy mum to be, amazingly her angel daughter survived this. Obviously this was a emotional time; personally and also career wise. This meant increased pressure on me at work; both emotionally and workload wise, and I’d lost a friend and my biggest career cheerleader. Emma had great belief in me; and always supported me- she was a fabulous boss and made going to work much easier! This also made me look at life differently, as these things always do, wanting to live life to the fullest as you never know when that life can be taken.

When Dorothea was 15 months old I made the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding. Difficult; as I truly believe breast is best, and after my body failing me with infertility I actually felt feeding was something my body had succeeded with. But my body was failing me in other ways- my rheumatoid has returned with vengeance, and I felt my ability to be a ‘good mum’ was being affected. I therefore had to start on some new medications- medications that were not safe to breastfeed in. Again- this made me feel pretty shitty!

Let’s be honest at times I was bloody exhausted; Dorothea has never been a good sleeper, and pretty much woke 2 hourly until she was about 1. Even now ‘sleeping through’ is rare- and when it happens my body doesn’t adjust and I wake up anyway!

So to sum that all up! I struggled; I’m still struggling. I felt an enormous amount of pressure, that in reality I really only created myself. I judged myself, I felt inferior, I didn’t feel myself, I felt lost, I felt isolated, and I felt anxious.

It all came to a head last summer when myself and my partner (now husband) we’re having relationship difficulties. We were both having difficulties- and instead of opening up with each other and helping each other we fought. During one of the many arguments I admitted I was struggling.

I felt sad, not a bit down, but inherently sad and anxious everyday. And my biggest feeling was GUILT! I felt guilty, that although I finally had the family (and an awesome career) I’d always wanted, that I still felt sad. I knew I wasn’t right. So off I trotted to the GP (although in practise it felt a major accomplishment to admit I needed help- so not a ‘trot’ at all).

I’ve now been on antidepressants since August- upped doses and a drug change. I’m feeling better, I’m feeling okay, but still not feeling back to being ‘me’. And that’s okay- I’m still on a journey.

So the point of this blog? Quite selfish, a little therapeutic for me, helpful for me to get it on my head and on paper. But hopefully a message for you too- it’s okay to not be okay, it’s okay to admit you’re struggling, it’s good to ask for help, and it’s necessary to be honest with yourself and your support network.

TALK, ask for help don’t see it as a weakness but a strength.