Break break break – end of breastfeeding

OK so it’s been a while.  I took a small social media and blog break. And then I took a longer blog break than I expected.  Why?  Because Aviana practically weaned herself and my hormones went crazy.  I decided to stop pumping at work and just breastfeed at home and weekends.  Well, that lasted for less than two weeks.  My body said NOPE, my milk supply tanked and Aviana, who also caught a cold at the time, said NOPE and became less and less interested in my milk, which then also caused my supply to tank.  That was really hard.  I wasn’t really ready to give up breastfeeding.

I knew it was a risk to stop pumping at work and in the evenings, but it was becoming too challenging to keep up, and people were less understanding for my time out pumping.  I am stronger than that to give a shit about what other people think, but it was tough.  When I did stop pumping, it was exhilarating.  I gained back so much time in my life and felt in more control at work. I saved time in the mornings not having to pack my giant bag of pumping related stuff.  I really needed that.  It did mean that I also lost the time I spent catching up with friends whilst pumping went back to work.

I have barely read anyone’s blog posts and for a while couldn’t do social media because my hormones went whacky.  Pregnant people? Nope.  Breastfeeding mothers? Nope. People all happy? Nope.  I couldn’t handle it, so I hid for a little while.  A couple of my friends are still breastfeeding and honestly was sad that my journey with Aviana had come to an end.

Aviana was also going through a leap, weaning, teething, eating less and having cold after cold (probably because she stopped breastfeeding) – she was pretty miserable.  Having stopped breastfeeding I was paranoid she wasn’t eating enough.  She was only taking 2 or 3 oz of milk at each bottle feed and became really picky over her food.  I was full of anxiety over it.  Thankfully, it seems to have only been a phase, and literally the day after I said to Chris should we phone the doctor about it (her weight was starting to drop off her curve) she became a different baby.  In the last week she has been gulping down her bottles and eating like a machine.  Why do they put us through this?!?!!!!!

It turns out it is normal to suffer hormonal related extreme emotions when you stop breastfeeding.  In fact, I discovered through my online research it can actually trigger post partum depression and anxiety.  I didn’t get to that point, but I was literally going to bed crying, for no apparent reason.  Knowing that it was normal with the change in hormones helped me a lot.  It’s funny because in the past I’ve come to my blog to talk about this kind of stuff, but this time I didn’t.  I don’t know why.  I’m a bit sad about that, but I really did feel the extreme end of my emotions.

Lots of good stuff has happened since too so, I’ll save those for other posts.  And for now, I’ll say HELLOOOOO!  How are you?? I’m so excited about Christmas.  I’ve missed my blog and my lovely blog friends too 🙂

In honor of my breast feeding journey here are some of my favourite pictures…

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Postpartum Joint Pain, breastfeeding & more travels

My blood test results all came back within the normal range – however, I am still missing some results, so not all questions have been answered. The doctor wasn’t sure why the results hadn’t come back yet or if those particular tests were ever done. But so far my rheumatoid arthritis factor, insulin and inflammation levels, they are all within the normal range.  That’s a relief to hear that it is unlikely to be rheumatoid arthritis.  So the doctor who called me with the results (not my doctor because she was on leave) prescribed me naproxen to see if that would help alleviate. The drugs made no difference, I took them for a week but no change.  I still wake up in the morning very stiff, sore and in pain in my hands, wrists, toes, ankles and knees.  And then throughout the day my fingers will be noticeably sore at various points unless I keep them moving.  So the current theory remains – postpartum joint pain, crazy hormones, and apparently my body is unlikely to return to normal until after I stop breastfeeding.

Some things people in my breastfeeding support group who had experienced similar suggested – cutting out grains (apparently causes inflammation), vitamin D supplements, chiropractor and naturopathic doctor.  I’m inclined to find a naturopathic doctor.  Part of my brain has been tempted to stop breastfeeding as a result of the pain, but then I figure what if it has nothing to do with breastfeeding?  Then I’d be stopping for no reason, and I’d regret it.  And I’m not going to do that just yet.

I’ve been on work travels again, to Paris this time, and it was another reminder of how much of a pain in the ass pumping is.  Dragging the pump, parts, storage, sanitizing stuff, special bag, hands free bra and cover, through airport security, across the Atlantic and to my host office is tiresome.  Trying to remember to make sure I have everything in my bag, cleaning out the bottles and parts, proper storage and handling, dumping milk I can’t store, it gets tedious, especially doing all this in another country.  One of my colleagues said he was impressed I am still doing it, but I said I’m probably more stupid than impressive.

I’m only pumping three times a day now, I should definitely be doing four pumps because my supply has suffered, so I’m supplementing a couple of ounces a day.  Whilst I have been on my travels Chris has been feeding Aviana milk from my frozen stash.  I managed to build up 6.5 days supply from May to July back when I had a couple of ounces to freeze at the end of the week.  I am hoping I can replace the four days supply with milk I’ve been pumping whilst in Paris – I’m currently carrying with me about 70oz home in my checked luggage.  I’m hoping it all survives the journey, because my days of any over-supply are gone.  I’ve had a little bit of success at increasing my supply with lactation cookies, body armour drink mother’s milk tea, but only managed to get an extra 1-2oz per day, so I’ve been short a few ozs still.  I don’t want to stress over it, so I’m not going to go to extra ordinary lengths to get my supply back up.  The only other thing I might try is consider renting a hospital grade pump to see if that makes a difference; my pump is second hand, so there is a slight chance it’s losing its power and has not been removing the milk enough. Exclusively pumping is HARD!  My hats off to all of you who do it all the time.  I’m not sure I would have survived this long if it hadn’t been for the facebook group ‘exclusively pumping mamas’.

Speaking of travels, this time was harder to leave Aviana than it was when I last travelled in May.  Mostly, because I feel like she notices when I am there or not, but also because I generally miss her more!  I also miss Chris too and get jealous of them having fun together.  My next work trip is in October, but this time I am taking Aviana with me because I have two conferences in the UK, but I would be leaving Chris behind for two weeks!  I will be flying transatlantic on my own with a 9.5 month old, who is on the verge of being mobile.  I swore I wouldn’t fly again on my own with a baby!  Am I crazy?  Probably. No, definitely. BUT it’s a great opportunity to take Aviana back to see family and friends, so I will seize this as a positive opportunity and try not to worry about the possibility of a few (several) hours of hell.

Currently, Aviana and I are not sitting together on the transatlantic flight because we have two different classes of tickets (in economy!).  American airlines have not been very helpful when I called them to see if we could get seats together in the ones designed for infants, but the woman on the phone said “you need to do it online otherwise I have to charge you $50 to do it on the phone or wait to check in”.  Clearly this woman was not understanding the fact that I couldn’t do it online and waiting to check in would probably mean the chances of us sitting together would be zero – and oh, did I mention I am with my 9 MONTH OLD BABY?!?!  She couldn’t understand why I paid for a seat anyway, was her attitude.  Clearly she hasn’t flown transatlantic with a baby before.  I was at work so didn’t have time to complain, accepted it in typical British fashion.  So now I reckon I will be sat in the middle of a row pissing other passengers off with my squirming, crying baby on a red eye.  But I have a plan – I’ve put my seat in the ‘extra leg room’ seat (I get it for free because of my airline miles status)…and am hoping someone traveling on their own who is currently sat next to Aviana will jump at the chance to swap with me to get extra leg room.  IT’S SOOOOO STUPID.

Wish me luck!!!

The surprising fact about breastfeeding in the UK vs USA

I wrote this a while ago, but for some reason it didn’t publish!!!! Breastfeeding week was 1-7 Aug! Whoops. Better late than never!

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Did you know last week was breastfeeding week?  The week is dedicated to the celebration of breastfeeding and marks the anniversary of the signing of the innocenti declaration where governments pledge to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.  So this reminded me about a surprising fact I read recently:

Only one in 200 British women (0.5 per cent) are still breastfeeding a year after becoming mothers. The figure is 23 per cent in Germany and 27 per cent in the United States. *

I am British, but live in Virginia, USA and so it is interesting to see these kind of statistics.   I was surprised because I believed it would actually be the other way around.

Why is it that the UK figures are so much lower than the US? It surely can’t be because of returning back to work because maternity leave in the UK is far more generous than the US.  It has to be other cultural factors??  Seeing as I get to see two sides of the coin it got me thinking….

I have breastfed my daughter for the past 7 months and I’ve never had a bad experience with our choice to breastfeed in either country.  However, that doesn’t mean that others haven’t.  Having said that, I have experienced the ‘unsaid’.  Those ‘looks’ of disgust or staring.  Sometimes it’s other people’s actions, not necessarily words that make our experiences as breastfeeding parents challenging.

Breastfeeding in public.  Although there are horror stories of women being harassed for breastfeeding in public in both countries, I have never been harrassed personally.  In fact, in my local mall I regularly nursed in whilst on maternity leavegained media attention over a woman wrongly told by a security guard to go and feed her baby in the family room.  I don’t cover up when I nurse, the only times I have used a cover was when Aviana was in her distracted phase of nursing, but this was in an act of desperation to get my baby to feed, not because I felt uncomfortable nursing in public.  Some babies just won’t nurse covered up, Aviana is one of them.  Breastfeeding mothers should feel comfortable nursing however they wish and wherever they need to feed, covered or not.

In the US I have had the looks of disgust as I nurse.  In the UK I have also had those looks…however, they are far more ‘polite’ in their overtness of disgust, it’s hard to explain the difference, but I can see it!  Mostly, people don’t see me nursing and so just carry on with their day.  That’s the way it should be. Everyone just gets on with their day.

This was the fact that stunned me the most: “More people in the UK believe that smacking is acceptable than believe that breastfeeding in public is okay.” wow! I am going back to the UK in October and taking Aviana with me. She will be 10 months old, very different to a newborn baby. I wonder what reactions I will get there if I nurse her in public compared to when she was just 6 months old, the last time we were there?

Perhaps it’s just an awareness issue or misperceptions? I don’t know….but it sure is interesting. what are your thoughts? What have you experienced as a nursing mother? Or as an observer? Are you surprised by these statistics?

(By the way I respect however you choose to feed your babies and in by no means intend this to be a criticism for formula feeding…I am also fully aware this is a tough subject for women who wanted to breastfeed, but can’t for whatever reason. I have to supplement Aviana with formula as well as breastfeed)

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Here is what international breastfeeding week promotes…
Breastfeeding is vital to the healthy growth and development of infants.
It also has important implications for the health of mothers.
WHO and UNICEF recommend:
∙ Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life
∙ Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding
infants. Exclusive breastfeeding – the infant only receives breastmilk
without any additional food or drink, not even water
∙ Breastfeeding on demand
∙ No use of boles, teats or pacifiers
∙ After 6 months, infants should receive
complementary foods with continued
breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond

*According to a study published in the Lancet in January 2016

Never give up on a bad day

They say you should never give up on a bad day. Well today was not a bad day, but yesterday, it felt like it was. So should I give up breastfeeding? Here’s what is running through my mind…

What would I’d do with the 2.5hrs a day I currently spend attached to a pump? I could exercise in the morning because I wouldn’t be engorged when I wake up. I could help get Aviana ready for daycare in the morning.

Would I miss escaping to my ice box ‘lactation station’ private room at work? They can’t do anything about the temperature in the room. I am wrapped in a fleece blanket and still cold. I hate it. I want to work from home so I can pump quicker, but it’s not so easy with some of my projects.

I would probably need to stop sending formula coupons to a lovely lady I met through my local infertility support group who has twins just a few weeks younger than Aviana.

What would I use my giant work pumping bag for if it wasn’t carrying my pump?

Will Aviana get sick more often? Chris is ill at the moment and Aviana and I have both stayed well…this has happened before but when he caught the flu which would potentially have been serious.

Will my nipples stop hurting after Aviana has recently learned how to bite me? 

I wouldn’t need to lug my pump everywhere and figure out how to get my milk back from different foreign countries when traveling with work, navigating different customs rules.

I might feel sexy again and not feel like a human milk machine? I could wear bras that I like!! 

BUT…..

I would miss those nursing moments with Aviana that are so precious to me. And it’s not for long. She will only be this young once and this will be my only chance to nurse her before she decides she doesn’t need me anymore. She likes to be an independent girl so I fear it would be sooner than later, and makes it even more precious. 

The past couple of days at work I felt like quitting. And yesterday as I sat nursing Aviana in the middle of the botanical gardens behind a random bush because she still gets easily distracted, as I batted away the mosquitos and tried not to shout in pain when Aviana clenched her gums around my nipple, I wanted to stop there and then. But today? Today was a good day, even though she bit me, even though she got easily distracted, even though I’m sat here pumping late at night in bed whilst Chris is asleep next to me. Because Aviana looked up at me with a cheeky smile as I nursed her and my heart melted. Still, 7 months later and she gets me right there in the heart.

It’s all about my perspective on the day. Today I don’t want to quit. And this, this is why they say ‘don’t quit on a bad day’.

6 months breastfeeding

I managed 6 months of breastfeeding and this was always my initial goal. Woohooo!! My stretch goal is 1 year, the recommended time by the AAP.

Aviana hasn’t been ‘exclusively’ breastfed in the truest sense as we supplemented for a couple of weeks in her first weeks of her life as her weight dropped and was born with IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). We have also used supplemented when I had problems, unknowingly, with high lipase and Aviana was rejecting my frozen milk. We also supplemented when I was away with work travels to Europe because I had to start my Freezer stash all over again due to the high lipase issue. We have also supplemented here and there on occasion due to convenience when traveling. We have no worries with supplementing, I try to avoid it so I can keep my supply up and avoid needing to pump. But I’d say 95% of the time Aviana is exclusively breastfed.

I have had a relatively easy breastfeeding journey compared to some mothers I have met along the way, listening to stories family & friends have told me. Aviana latched almost straight away, I worried I wouldn’t be able to experience breastfeeding. To me it was an experience I felt like I wanted in my life. After all the infertility treatment, I wanted to experience my body doing something it should ordinarily be able to do without medical help! I also wanted to save some $$, which breastfeeding can enable! Formula is expensive! 

I almost gave up breastfeeding when she became almost impossible to feed when she was in her ‘distracted nursing’ phase. It was frustrating and painful as she bobbed on and off the boob. This phase lasted for a couple of months and I found it impossible to feed her when we were out and about. Even when I did find a quiet place she would only stay on the boob for a few minutes. I was consumed with worry she wasn’t getting enough food. 

We got over that hurdle, and now there is the hurdle of working and traveling. Pumping/expressing is not a walk in the park, especially when on the go. It requires organisation, time and patience. Plus some extra $$ to buy items that help make pumping life easier! Pumping means I also miss out on the nursing bond with Aviana which is one thing that keeps me breastfeeding that I enjoy and love about it. There are days when I’m dreading hooking up to the pump because my boobs are feeling tender. There is also the stress of whether I’ve pumped enough for Aviana’s requirements. I literally am a ‘just enough’ producer, if I get 5oz to freeze at the end of the week it’s been a great week! So the pressure is always there and that’s mentally exhausting. During the week I only nurse her once in the morning and occasionally in the evening (my favourite time with her).

I have now got to a point in our breastfeeding journey where I feel like I shouldn’t talk to other mothers about it because many of my friends stopped breastfeeding for various reasons before 6 months. Some of them stopped against their wishes. I don’t talk about it because I sense when I do that they are upset they didn’t get to breastfeed for as long as they’d have liked, or that I am judging them for not breastfeeding (which by the way, is simply not the case, how anyone chooses to feed their baby is their right and I respect it greatly). I choose my words carefully, conscious that I can easily offend.

I will say that I am proud I have been able to breastfeed for 6 months because I feel like it hasn’t always been easy. There will be new challenges ahead for sure, more work travel, teeth! Aviana’s growing independence or dependence on me!! I’m not sure what the future holds for our breastfeeding journey. I’d like to aim for 12 months. I do cherish the times I get to nurse Aviana and I can’t imagine giving that up. A friend said to me that breastfeeding is like a drug, it gets tough to give up. And I’m not ready for that drug withdrawal just yet! So for now, I’ll keep pump pump pump pumping it up!!!

Pump pump pump pump it up!

I promised I would pump n blog. So here I am. Pumping and blogging…in the disabled restroom. 

Yes. The restroom. 

Unfortunately the person I spoke to back in March who was going to arrange for me to have a space to pump in was out of office today. And their #2 didnt know anything about a new lactation/privacy room.  

The room I was using for the one week I went back to work in March is now under renovation for something else. So I’m making do today. Fortunately the disabled toilet is big enough for me to get a chair in it and sit down. And it’s not too smelly because not many people use it. I’d say it’s actually in pretty good clean condition. The cleaners are great. But this is a very short term solution, I hope.  Turns out a colleague of mine did the same, which horrifies me. I know there are several empty rooms in my building, it’s just a matter of assigning one. But may be the person who said he would have one ready for my return does have one ready and it’s just that no one knows where it is because it is so private!!! Ha!


The things we do for our little loved ones…. someday Aviana I will tell you these fun stories!

3 month weight check & distracted nursing

After some issues with Aviana taking the bottle when I went back to work (High lipase issue) and Aviana becoming more and more distracted at the breast I was worried that she was not putting on enough weight.  When I took her for her weight check at 3 months I was fully prepared to be told to supplement her again.

Aviana weighed in at 10lbs 12oz (4th percentile) at 3 months and 13 days old and 23″ tall (14th percentile).  Although she is still off the charts for her height/weight ratio, the pediatrician was pleased at her continued weight gain along the curve so told me she wasn’t concerned.  Looking at Aviana she is getting some nice little fat rolls on her thighs which the pediatrician was happy with.  We count her rolls of fat!  So no more weight checks until her 4 month wellness visit!

Aviana has become distracted and fussy at the breast noticeably since she has learned how to grab things…it was like she has become awake to the world.  Sometimes she latches and pulls off quickly to look up at me, then re-latches, pulls off, smiles at me, re-latches etc.  Which is actually sometimes so darn cute, I’m trying really hard not to encourage this behaviour!  But of course she pulls off hard sometimes and that hurts!!! Then she gets frustrated she can’t re-latch quick enough and cries. Also I have not been able to feed her in public because she gets distracted and pissed at noise.  I have resorted to feeding her in the car or under a nursing cover (which she HATES and I equally hate!).

2017-04-12 10.55.38

Aviana’s weight progress  – she is following her own curve nicely 🙂

I went to my local la leche league breastfeeding support group to ask about all of this.  Apparently this is very common at this age – it’s called distracted nursing.  There is no telling how long this will last for, but many of the women in the group have experienced this!  Phew…so it’s kind of normal! Their tips included: nursing in quiet places (ok i got that one!!), using a comfort toy or blanket at the breast to distract them from the distractions, singing to her and rocking. Yesterday I was out and about and needed to nurse in public, I sat outside in the shade and I tried rocking/bouncing, that seemed to work quite well.  I really hope this is just a quick phase because I want her to be able to feed anywhere! I feel soooooooo guilty and bad when she won’t nurse properly.  She is not the kind of baby to make up for it at other times, she will easily skip a meal if she isn’t happy.

It is good news that the doctor is happy with Aviana just following her own weight curve.   I enjoy breastfeeding Aviana (when she isn’t distracted) and I hope I can keep it up for at least 6 months is my goal – my stretch goal is 12 months.  But this distracted nursing issue and having her low weight on my conscience has made me feel like giving up at times.  They say to never give up on a bad day…and I’ve kept that in mind, it’s helped me to keep going. Plus going to the support group meetings and being a member of a facebook breastfeeding group has also kept me on the path to my goal.  Breastfeeding is not easy, and I have had a pretty easy time of it compared to some people I know.

The milk bar

Our code word for nursing is ‘the milk bar’. Chris will ask me when he is about to give me Aviana for a feed “Is the milk bar open??” . Well this milk bar has had a fun weekend.

Saturday Aviana and I went to our local La Leche League breastfeeding meeting. I thought I’d see what it’s all about. I didn’t have any specific worries or troubles, the only thing that was bothering me was going back to work making me a bit nervous. 

The meeting was led by a La Leche League volunteer. She basically introduced what the point of the meetings were (women help each other out with breastfeeding), how the meetings worked, facilitated the discussion and provided guidance where necessary. Some meetings have particular education themes with time saved for questions anyone may have. This particular meeting we spent the whole time answering and discussing everybody’s questions. 

The first question one mum had was about tongue and lip ties which I knew nothing about so I sort of started to get a bit lost with the discussion at first. Having said that, I did learn some new things about the subtleties of tongue ties at the back of the mouth and what symptoms it causes. 

Next there were was a question about nursing a toddler and how to deal with biting…OK so not my problem now but it was interesting to hear how women were coping with it, lots of tips and tricks for the future. Little things that I would never have thought of, for example, some of the teething necklaces you can find in target might be useful but the rubbery parts can catch on long hair making them painful – and useless, so we talked about alternative necklaces etc.

The third question was about over feeding at day care. One lady had been asked by her daycare to increase her bottles to 5oz because baby was eating all 4oz. The lady was worried how to keep production up. Actually this was too much milk and ideally a breastfed baby should only need about 3oz in 3 hours, therefore rather than trying to pump more, what the mother really needed to do was talk to the daycare and educate them – her baby was the only breastfed baby there. Whilst formula babies take more milk, breastfed babies don’t need as much volume as formula fed babies and shouldn’t be compared for volume requirements. Some ladies had dealt with daycares by getting a doctor’s note to say their babies should not be fed more than 3oz per 3hrs in order to ensure the daycare would listen. It’s a shame that this is necessary at some daycares, but, a useful tip nevertheless to prevent over feeding.

Another question was about tandem nursing with newborn baby and toddler. Wow, that was fascinating to hear how some mothers had coped with doing that!!! Kudos! 

There were several other questions and discussions that in the end, the whole meeting was dedicated to answering everybody’s questions rather than the initial planned education session. That was nice to know that you could come to a meeting and have your questions addressed if need be.

I really enjoyed listening to nuggets of tips and that some of the stresses of breastfeeding were felt similarly by others. It was nice to know it was ‘normal’. I felt it was a good meeting and liked how there was no judgement and that it was about women helping each other out to keep on breastfeeding. Because let’s face it, it’s not always a walk in the park. At the end the leader gave me some reading material about going back to work for the breastfeeding mother….which brings me to the next milk bar topic of the weekend!!!

– Preparing to go back to work! Let’s rewind to Thursday. On Thursday the nanny came a few hours earlier than usual because I had to go have dental implant surgery (ouchie!!). Usually Aviana will muddle through the afternoon by snacking on milk here and there, but this day she decided she didn’t want to take the bottle – at all. She didn’t eat for 6 hours. The only reason she ate anything was because he nanny had tried to give her a different bottle, which Aviana finally took. By the time I came home, I saw the undrunk bottle on the side and it looked really weird, very fatty. I sniffed it and it smelt really soapy. I’d read about soapy smelling milk before – it indicated a high lipase issue. Some babies are sensitive to it and won’t drink it. 

So I researched high lipase and experimented with some of my fresh milk. I left my milk in the fridge for two days and got Chris to taste and compare it with freshly pumped milk. He said that the not so fresh milk was different, tasting soapy and flowery. This confirmed my suspicions that my milk has high lipase and is probably why Aviana doesn’t talk all the bottles in the past, especially my frozen milk. 

Ughhhh. This meant that all my frozen milk was affected (I had worked up about 24oz of frozen milk over the past few months). It also meant that for going back to work on Sunday (the next day!!) I didn’t have enough milk. Panic. 

I posted my dilemma on my local Facebook breastfeeding support group and learned a bit more from other mothers who had high lipase issues. Firstly, there is a way to prevent the soapiness- scalding the milk before freezing it (more here-https://youtu.be/ZcgpGKHUC4c) Secondly, my frozen stash might not be completely wasted if I try to mix in frozen with fresh to make it less soapy tasting and see if Aviana will take that. Basically experiment. And if all else fails I could use my frozen stash for a milk bath. 

Very frustrating to discover this all so close to going back to work (and typical after I had been to the La Leche League meeting – I could have asked the question about high lipase there!!). 

Let’s see how this milk bar works out this week….. 

Back to work for 1 week only

Eeeeek.  I go back to work next week, but for one week only.  And it won’t be a slow transition either!  I am going back for part of my executive development training program, fortunately this residential course is being held at my office so I don’t have to travel anywhere this time.  BUT it does mean long days as we try to fit our team project work in evenings and the socialising is part of the course too.

So psychologically I am only going back for one week, I’m in a good place with this.  However, physically in the milk bar department, I am not quite ready!  Time has crept up on me.  I have been pumping to get a freezer stash up for the past 6 weeks or so and have managed to store about 22oz.  This should easily see Aviana through the first day!  I will then be pumping whilst at work, fresh and ready for the following day.  This is going to be a new experience for my body, and trying to figure out the logistics and timing of it all.

There are somethings I had forgotten about to get ready for this week….

  • My cat Diesel chewed one of my breast pump tubes, so I need to order a new one in order to double pump;
  • I don’t have a bag to carry my pump in (not a necessity, but definitely a nice to have) or a cooler bag for storing the milk;
  • I have size 27mm large flanges and I want to try the smaller ones – 24mm because my hand pump is smaller and a bit more comfortable, although if I am not careful and not paying attention it is easy for my nipple to not be centred and get sore;
  • I haven’t tried hands free pumping yet…I should probably practice that this week with my hands free ‘bra’! Not the kind of thing to be trying out in a 20 minute break!

Chris and Chris’s dad will be looking after Aviana whilst I am away.  I know they will do a great job, I am not nervous about that.  I am nervous about Aviana taking milk from the bottle.  Chris has been giving her milk from the bottle at night time feeds, and recently we tried it in the morning, but she really fusses over it and it’s a long drawn out process to get her to take more than 1oz in a feed.  She is getting better at taking milk from the nanny, but she is not taking much – an average of 1-1.5oz.  She needs more than that and  I’m nervous about her losing weight.  Especially as she has dropped a night feed recently.

I am also a little nervous about her going on a nursing strike!  What if she decides to like the bottle more than me??!

breastfeeding.jpg

Breastfeeding can be really hard, but it is also quite amazing and I don’t want this to end just yet!

I know things will work out, and she will be fine, but I am a new mummy and I am allowed to feel like this!  I am looking forward to doing something intellectually stimulating, I’m just not sure how compatible it will be with feeding Aviana at 2 or 4 AM!  I wonder just how will my baby brain fair?!

Sleep glorious sleep!

Let’s talk about sleep and newborn babies. When my friend told me her newborn boy, who is not much older than Aviana, was sleeping for 7hrs straight and Aviana was waking every 2-3hrs, I was insanely jealous. These are the things that went through my head….

  • I’m not feeding my baby enough, my boobs aren’t enough for her
  • She is going to be a nightmare forever
  • Is my baby a freak?
  • We are bad parents

Sleep is such a contentious issue with babies amongst parents. Everyone swears by this method, that method, blah blah blah. Well, here is what I believe.. every baby is different, so chances are each baby will behave differently with different sleep patterns. For example, Chris doesn’t do mornings and I don’t do late nights, so why would we expect our babies to be any different for having a preference for when and how long they sleep for?

However, as a new parent, babies and sleep is something I have very little knowledge of, so, I did buy a book. The ‘baby solution-a proven program to teach your baby to sleep twelve hours a night’ book.  I bought this book months before Aviana arrived. I liked that it was gentle and incremental sleep training, it kind of jibed with our parenting style (what ever that is!!!). By 12 weeks old it promises you your baby will be sleeping through the night. It sounded amazing, I had read the reviews online and there were many positive stories.

In this book by Suzy Giordano, there are three requirements that baby must meet before you start the training: 1. Baby must be at least nine pounds; 2. Baby must be eating at least 24 ounces of milk or formula in 24 hours; 3. Baby must be at least 4 weeks old or 8 weeks if a twin.  This apparently usually comes around the same time and is typically around the 8 week mark. Aviana is now 10 weeks and has only just hit nine pounds so we waited knowingly it would be a while before we could start this program. BTW – I am not convinced she is eating 24 oz of breast milk yet.

There are four stages of training:

  1. change to four feeds during the day every four hours for twelve hours. Not sure I will be able to achieve this whilst breastfeeding. Lots of comments on Amazon saying this is very difficult for a breastfed baby, which I’m inclined to agree with. This would mean Aviana consuming 4-6oz of milk in one sitting. I know that even if she emptied both my boobs that would be a challenge! Maybe every three hours we could achieve.
  2. change to eliminate all night feedings for twelve hours.  Aviana has almost done this by herself already (more on that to follow…)
  3. change to sleeping or resting quietly in the crib for twelve hours at night.
  4. change to sleeping or resting quietly in the crib for one hour in the morning and about two hours in the afternoon. To me this seems quite a challenge for an 8 week old baby, but assumably if you were to follow all the steps in order then this would come almost at 12 weeks old.

Sounds simple right?  Well the book does provide you with ways to achieve this, gently and incrementally over a four week period.  Also the book provides you with some tips for priming your baby before the 8 week point. This includes creating a good sleep environment (in cribs in their own room) and routine for when baby sleeps.  BUT…we haven’t started this program yet.
However, we have established a night time routine for Aviana…. 6pm bath time, with relaxing music and dim lights.  6.30pm last feed of the night, dim lights and relaxing lullaby music. 7pm, lights out, swaddled and in crib.  The first week was a little tough keeping her awake and not letting her nap after 4.30pm, we tried all sorts of techniques to keep her awake and entertained!  Plus she has the witching hour where she becomes a grumpy moose, usually around 4-5pm.  Tricks include going for a walk, carrying her, playing and dancing to nursery rhymes.  The routine worked well for her and she has been going to sleep like clockwork at 7pm for almost 4 weeks now.  Sometimes, she even doesn’t mind just lying in her crib kicking around for a bit before she falls asleep.  Then when Chris and I go to bed later on we carry her from her crib downstairs to our room into her pack and play crib.

A couple of weeks after starting the routine Aviana did a magical thing. I woke up at 4.30AM and I hadn’t fed her yet!!! Whaaaat?  She had slept for 9.5hrs straight.   Over the last week she has been sleeping from 7-9hrs straight and only waking for one feed during the night until she wakes up at 6 or 7AM.  This is AMAZING! So she is sleeping for twelve hours now with just one feed in the night.  Having to wake for only one feed has been rejuvenating for me.  I feel vaguely like a human again – even better than when I was pregnant because then I was still waking up every few hours to pee!  Plus Chris doesn’t need to do a bottle feed and so she is less stressed (because she is impatient she works herself up when drinking a bottle at night!).  The other good thing is that we get a couple of hours to ourselves before going to bed.

I am still doing on demand feeding (except for the 6.30pm feed) and her days don’t have much of a routine yet.  The only routine we try to use is the baby whisperer’s method of Eat, Activity (for baby), Sleep and Yourself time whilst baby sleeps (EASY).  How long that ‘EASY’ routine takes is currently on her schedule.

So….do we need to start trying sleep training?  I’m not inclined just yet to start it. First she has done really well so far pretty much on her own schedule, I’m afraid to regress! And secondly because of her weight.  I don’t want to disrupt her eating and enforce a routine that she doesn’t like because I am worried about her losing weight if we move to just four/five feeds a day.  If I was formula feeding her I would definitely try it.

Now another of our friends who has a boy a couple of weeks older than Aviana is asking me how we managed to get Aviana to sleep for so long.  I actually have no answer.  The truth is, it is a bit of luck.  To begin with we had bad luck – we had hell to begin with having to do 2 hour feeds and supplementing in her first few weeks of life and she had a hell of a time with silent reflux (well we had a hell of a time too!).  Now we have good luck…she is sleeping well now in her own way…will it stay like that?!? Who knows which way our fortune will go!

Ultimately, I like what the pediatricians here say about how to get through parenting in the newborn stage ‘you can’t spoil a newborn baby’.  I think that is something I feel comfortable with and looking back the past couple of months has worked for us.  The question is, when is she no longer that ‘newborn baby’?  When does she stop ‘training us as parents’ and when do we start training her?  I am hoping that in time that will become a bit more apparent with Aviana, but many sleep trainers say it is around the 4-6 month mark.  Only time will tell……in the meantime Aviana is napping in her new Baby Hawk Mei Tai carrier and is probably going to wake up soon so I will stop blabbing, but will continue this another time!

Happy sleep my friends X