My Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips 

I’m currently breast feeding my fourth baby Florence, she has just turned 8 months old and this has made me think of my last two  breastfeeding journeys and how they came to an end when Daisy and Teddy were about nine months. 

Florence I think will definitely be fed the longest for a few reasons; she currently still has no teeth (Teddy was a biter!) she’s very attached to my breast as she’s still exclusively breastfed and I’m more confident at feeding this time around.

If you’ve read my previous post on my breastfeeding journey or watched my video (linked below) you will know that I have had ups and downs with feeding. As this time around has been the most positive I thought it right to share a few things that have helped me along the way in feeding.

1. Positivity – look for the positive in why you’re feeding, it can help boost your confidence and motivation. A few positives that I can think of are more money in your pocket, no equipment to sterilise, milk on tap, it makes for a quick bond with your baby, and no running downstairs to grab bottles in the night! 

Another way to look at breastfeeding positively is to support other feeding Mums and then you can help each other through times when you feel overwhelmed. Just a few words of support can really help, whether  that’s online friends from forums etc or friends in person. It’s easy to google the negative aspects of anything, but if you can, try and praise each other in times where you’re feeling tired and the feeding is never ending! 

2. Latch – in the early days my babies have all latched on differently and I have also had to remind myself with 3 of them how to latch them on correctly. There are plenty of videos/ literature and health care professionals to help you with this. Don’t be afraid to ask as this makes a real difference in the first few days to avoid sore breasts.

3. Feeding Pillow – invest in one whilst pregnant, I have slept with mine in all my pregnancies to rest my bump on, it then helped me through the first few weeks post section to lay the baby onto feed. This also helped me latch the baby on comfortably. It’s a great place to rest a baby whilst you’re getting ready and then for a play prop when they’re learning to sit up.

4. Don’t clock watch – I read several books on baby routines with my first child. These didn’t help my feeding journey with my first as they made me question why my baby fed for a different amount of time to what was suggested. This made me question my milk supply and why my baby was different to how the book suggests.  Babies I do now realise feed for a different amount of times for various reasons.

5. Don’t count feeds – for the same reason as number 4, I also fell into the trap of trying to feed my baby the suggested amount of feeds in a day according to age. I have since learnt to be led by the baby as to how often they need to feed and this varies all the time. Some days it will feel like you’ve been constantly feeding, as the baby goes through a growth spurt they will need these extra feeds.

6. Nipple cream and breast pads – essential to soothe sore nipples in the early days and breast pads for leaking. Take them out and about with you in the early days so you have a change of pads and cream to soothe. 

7. Water and snacks – have water bottles all over the house in your feeding spots so you’re reminded to drink as it’s thirsty work! I always take a bottle with me on the school run and in my bag on outings to keep me topped up between feeds. 

Chop up some fruit/crudités ready for some healthy snacks that you can grab on the go!

8. Oats – I have had lots of porridge and oaty raw power ball snacks (oats mixed with honey,peanut butter, raisins seeds etc). I have no idea if all the oats have helped my milk supply, but this time around I have managed to exclusively breastfeed so I’m not dropping the oats as it’s working! 

9. Breast feeding bra, vest and muslin cloth – a good breastfeeding bra helps you feel better about yourself, and that with your vest will help your confidence in feeding when out and about. I wear a vest under everything to make it easier to access to the breast. Then I can also wear non-feeding clothing over the vest. Muslin squares are also an essential for discreet feeding when needed and mopping up any milk spit-ups. 

 10. Wonder Weeks App – lastly I have referred to an app on my phone throughout Florence’s development and that is the Wonder Weeks app. This charts the learning and development of your baby and makes an interesting read. It also lets you know whether your baby is experiencing a stormy fussy period or a happier less fussy stage. This has enabled me to be more understanding on the days that have been more demanding with a haze of multiple milk feeds! 

These tips have all helped for an easier, more relaxing & positive feeding journey.

Here is a link to my previous breast feeding post and video:

https://teamsteinblog.com/2017/04/07/my-breastfeeding-journey-my-big-babies-who-drop-weight/

Easter Weekend Food Plans 

For anyone mulling over Easter food plans as it’s Maundy Thursday, here is what’s on the menu in Chez Stein over the Easter weekend. 

Kids creations – Today myself and the kids are attempting our 3rd year in a row of making hot cross buns for Friday, and also hoping on Easter Sunday (in between hunting for eggs!) to recreate a recipe found on Pinterest of an Easter bunny made out of pancakes 🥞; wish me luck!

Good Friday Dinner will consist of a salmon dish found on Pinterest and the kids will have some fish finger sandwiches and healthy crudités for ease as it’s swimming lesson day.

On Saturday I’m following a Mexican burrito recipe found on Pinterest with some avocado salsa. I will adapt the bean mix to be suitably mild for the children to want to eat also. 

We have family over on the Sunday, so I just wanted to share with you what we will be serving up for the 9 of us. 

Lamb Casserole – From Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills website. Mashed potato, Roast potatoes and spring greens (James Martin on good food website)  with extra peas for the kids. 

For the kids I’m making a chocolate cake I found on Pinterest. I will be using my own chocolate  sponge cake recipe (I have plans to share more of my go to baking recipes very soon!), and then I will be following the design of the bird nestcake on Pinterest and so mine will probably resemble road kill! How lovely is the blue duck egg cake on my board, I would love to make this as it’s so pretty, however my children will appreciate the chocolate one more! 

For the adults dessert I will provide fruit and cream and also be cheating as one of the guests is providing the dessert. Cheese and biscuits will also be on the menu. 

Here is my menu of all of the above on my Pinterest board 
http://pin.it/4MW6nba

I thought you’d like this board on Pinterest… 

Happy Easter!

My breastfeeding journey – Baby drop in weight and low milk supply 

Now I’m feeding my fourth and final baby I’m ready to reflect on my feeding journey. I have breastfed all 4 babies and all 4 babies have been different to feed.

Finlay, our first, hurtled into our lives after an 18 hour labour resulting in a traumatic emergency section. Weighing in over 10lbs he was a big bundle of joy. Not being around many mums or babies I had no clue on what I was doing so I had midwives and nurses put him in various positions and try and push my breasts into him. Finlay was a sleepy baby after such a traumatic birth, the nurses even tried to get colostrum (1st stage of milk) from a syringe into his little mouth. I look back now and I find it all too much for my first days of motherhood. I know they were doing what they think is best but I found it all quite daunting.   Finlay then came home and over a few days dropped close to 10% of his weight and I was strongly encouraged by the midwives to formula feed him to keep up his weight. I then breast and formula fed for 12 weeks, after which I breastfed less and less. I had an older unhelpful relative even ask me why I was struggling to feed as it’s a doddle!  I felt bad that it hadn’t come easy to me, but it really isn’t easy and there are days of cracked, bleeding nipples, engorged painful breasts to deal with alongside recovering from birth and caring for a newborn. 

Daisy came along 2 years and 9 months later. This time a planned section which was much more serene in comparison to Finlay. Another large baby, she was however good at attaching to the breast as she latched on straight away! I felt a surge of confidence at this point which was then dented when we got her home. She too lost 10% of her birth weight, I cried tears mixed with hormonal emotions that my milk isn’t up to scratch, and so again the midwives and health visitors strongly advised formula. At this point I worried that she wouldn’t get enough to thrive if I didn’t feed her a bottle. I tried pumping to get my supply up and I just can’t seem to connect with a breast pump and so then I would stress (which doesn’t help the flow) and I would get a few drops of milk. So I would then cry that maybe I don’t have enough milk. My breasts can feel full at times but they dont leak or squirt like others say theirs do, so these were all doubts in my mind at various stages of feeding. After many healthcare home visits I agreed reluctantly to  introduce the formula and once again found it really hard to reduce it or take it away so I combined fed until 9 months. I was really pleased with myself that I had got so far feeding her, but silly as it is (as a fed baby is all that matters) I would still have liked to have tried to exclusively breast feed her. 

4 years later Teddy arrived and with two breastfeeding experiences behind me I felt more determined to breastfeed exclusively this time. We came home from the hospital and he was latching well and then came the midwife / health visitor visits and then the drop in weight by 10%. Despite me waving my older Childrens red books at them and showing them that this is my pattern ( Big Baby -csection -weight drop) they again wanted formula and carried on visiting us and monitoring his weight until the 6 week doctors appointment. At this point Dougie was firm with them and supported my wishes to not have them visit our home and that I would touch base with the doctor at 6 weeks. The health visitors weren’t impressed but I couldn’t at these early stages keep having these appointments as they were just knocking the confidence out of me yet again. I monitored his weight myself at the drop in centre clinic. He dropped from 90th centile to under the 50th and remained steady. Teddy cried often for feeding and was generally a bit of a fussier baby than my others so I gave him 1 or 2 top ups of formula here and there thinking maybe they’re right and this is what he needs. As Teddy grew older I realised that he was a bit of a fussier baby and toddler, and that’s just his nature, and that maybe he would have been the same with or without the top ups! I again fed him until 9 months as he became a biter and a vicious pincher! 

When I finished feeding Teddy I thought our family was complete and thus my feeding journey had come to an end. Then with a change of heart our lovely bonus baby Florence came in the summer of 2016 and so I had another chance to change my breastfeeding experiences. I spoke with the midwifes and health visitors about my having big babies and the initial weight loss, and following that a change of growth on the centile chart. They assured me they would be understanding and patient. 

Florence at first had a bit of a lazy latch in the hospital as she had a bit of a traumatic birth. The consultant had slightly cut her head with a scalpel on entering the world and she needed a little stitch. Once Florence had improved her latch she took to feeding quite well. Each baby I feed the slightly easier those first few weeks of feeding becomes. Then came the scales and her weight loss in exactly the same way. Florence lost just over 10% so they again were concerned. I had a visiting midwife over the bank holidays who insisted in sitting in our home and ringing the paediatrician to check whether a hospital visit was necessary.  Florence was showing no other worrying signs – enough wet/dirty nappies and no signs of dehydration. Dougie was once again frustrated that my confidence was taking a bashing yet again. We reluctantly agreed to formula top ups to keep her weight up. I then asked to be discharged from the home midwife visits. Then came the health visitor who as lovely as she is still made me feel conscious that she was monitoring her weight gain by referring to the issue frequently. On request that home visits stop and I attend the clinic I met with two other health visitors unaware of the issue. They both plotted her on the chart and were happy with her progress. On asking if all was ok, and then me explaining the reasons for checking, they both assured me that she was thriving. They added that although she had initially dropped weight her weight gain was steady, albeit slow, and that a breast fed baby won’t necessarily conform to these government charts! At last two ladies with common sense.  After weeks of giving a very small amount of formula in the evening after a breastfeed, she had been sleeping through from 11pm-5/6am at just four weeks old. Getting used to this sleep for functioning with 4 children we carried this on and this became a crutch I thought I needed with my milk history.  After a few weeks this sleeping pattern changed and she woke up every few hours for a feed and so I started to worry that formula top ups needed to increase and this would be a decline in milk for me and also maybe the bottle is not related to her sleeping through. So I decided to ditch the extra bottle and prove to myself that I can do it. Five months on and Florence has been exclusively breast fed since. She feeds on demand and sometimes goes 4-6 hours without a feed and other times an hour! She has shown no signs of being under nourished as she has plenty of wet nappies and is content in between feeds. She was weaned at 6 months and the extra food has made no difference to her sleeping / feeding pattern. Florence is now 7 months and we are still both enjoying breastfeeding and we have no plans to stop. 

Reflecting on all my feeding journeys and many a late night Googling milk supply, taking various herbal teas, oats (Dougie makes amazing porridge!) and trying to rest to boost my milk supply, I feel that there are a few reasons for my bumpy feeding journey. I have large babies and so c-sections that require a great deal of tugging! Our babies come out over inflated and puffy, I have read recently that the drugs used can effect their size so initial weigh in can be misguided and so not a true reflection of their weight. In some countries they don’t weigh the baby until they are several days/ week old. I think this would have been of help in my case. It’s a known fact that sections can mean slow milk supply.  My milk takes a few days longer than the average to come in. Also the charts should be tailored, updated and adapted, I think if I had been left for a few weeks with each baby to see how I got on my feeding journeys would have been a different story. Dougie always believed in me and always tried to go against the box ticking of the charts and centile plotting and go with Mother Nature instead and he (I hate to say) was completely accurate. I also this time around had a knowledgeable friend (mid-training breast feeding counsellor) who always assured me that babies patterns change and demands in milk and growth spurts don’t necessarily mean that she’s starved. So if I can reassure just one Mummy that sometimes you just need to go with your own instincts and support from family and friends. Try and  read / surround yourself with positive material on boosting milk and breast feeding and take the professional healthcare advice, but be led by your own thoughts and try and be firm with them. I am aware that not all community midwife and health visitors are of this mind set, and that there are some willing to have a more flexible and open minded approach, so this post is not to bash these much needed members of the community. It’s also a post not designed to bash formula feeding as I would have been lost without formula with my first born and I realise that breast feeding is not for everyone by choice and / or medically. A fed baby is a happy baby and Mummy! I just wanted to share this experience as a person who has found feeding a challenge and I only now feel confident after feeding four of them. I still even now have the odd doubt when someone comments that my baby is petite or feeding a lot, however I now tell my inner self to stop these thoughts, and politely reply that yes this is normal for some breastfed babies to be more petite and to cluster feed on demand! No two babies are alike, and no two breastfeeding experiences are either, but be confident that as a mother you know what’s best for both you and your baby.

My kids Easter Pinterest plans! 

http://pin.it/QY25VEe

These are our Easter baking and craft activities from last year.

The painting activity was aimed at my then big 2 year old and just turned 2 year old mindee, it was successful and they were capable of the activity (with supervision of course). Our then 7 year old also enjoyed coming home and doing both painting activities independently. So this worked well for toddlers and tweens.

For the baking I made hot cross buns with the toddlers, and we had separate batches of these as theirs weren’t quite as pretty as these! The chocolate bundt cake was my own creation as I hadn’t made one before. I did have a little helper to decorate the top with the eggs though! 

Finlay and Daisy got blank mini canvas bags from Hobbycraft to decorate and use for Easter Egg hunting. They also have to decorate eggs every year at school, so the finished works of their egg art are also pictured here. A friendship ring (part of the school ethos) and the Hungry Caterpillar life cycle were their entries. We particularly loved the hungry caterpillar and they both were fortunate to win prizes for their efforts.

http://pin.it/XLRjJRX
Above are my Easter intentions for this year.  As always I’m sure we won’t get around to doing them all, but will certainly cross a few off our Pinterest to do list! 

A few things for the tweens 

Clay daffs – great way to use up some spare air-dry clay and make some grandparent Easter gifts.

Stained glass windows – perfect craft activity for Easter weekend for the children to relate Easter to the bible and not just to chocolate! 

Pom Pom animals – we have a huge bag of leftover wool and this is a perfect way to keep Daisy busy.

Mache hollow eggs from Hobbycraft to decorate. 

Easter Hole  punches again from Hobbycraft to make confetti with pastel paper and card. 

Toddler activities 

Cress egg heads – We love to make these each year and then use the results in egg & cress sandwiches!

Painting with a potato masher – as easy as it looks 🎨 

Plastic egg toss – looks great fun and a good use of all our plastic refillable eggs. Good for hand eye coordination at this age!

Hobbycraft cowboy Easter Bonnet for nursery Bonnet making

Easter sensory trays for Toddlers & Babies. 

My creations 

Chocolate cake – a different version of my usual Easter chocolate offering 
Pancake 🐇 – very cute for Easter breakfast complete with blueberries, bananas and Greek yoghurt! 

I will I’m sure have lots of handy helpers on the baking front.
We will share with you in the next few weeks some of our creations – good or bad – and we’d love to hear about your Easter Ideas too!

Homemade Mother’s Day Ideas 

One of my favourite gifts was this canvas that Dougie and the kids made in 2014. We hadn’t planned on adding Florence and she wasn’t keen on complying so her input is not a work of art! I however love this simple canvas, and easy for Dads to produce with controlled mess! 

Another canvas idea – fingerprinting a hungry Caterpillar.
Other ideas I have made with childminding children include painting with the heart of celery to make flowers, decorating plant pots and baking yummy treats. Here are a few crafts from my Pinterest board. I particularly like the Washi tapes on a glass jar for a candle, or decorating jars for flowers, all of which are perfect for my tweens to craft independently. 

Mother’s Day Wish List

Mother’s Day is special to every Mummy and especially in our house as I first became a Mummy back in 2006 on Mother’s Day. This year sees Finlay turn 11 and for the first time since his birth share his Birthday on Mother’s Day again. 

 Here are a few things that I’m lusting over, and with Mother’s Day on Sunday I would be very happy to receive one of these lovely items. My most treasured gifts each year are the lovely handmade cards, pictures or handprints from my little minions. And not forgetting the breakfast in bed even if it’s 10 shreddies in a pint of milk and a dandelion in a jar!

Blossom and Bear teething necklace– Good for teething babies, stylish for Mummys and will hopefully entertain Florence whilst she’s feeding. Perfect gift from my baby!

The Fairy’s Workshop– beautiful delicate beads in some lovely colours. 

Signed sealed delivered stationary- great personalised prints and cards, too many to choose from! Available on Etsy 

Jo Malone perfume– peony & blush is a perfect springtime scent. 

 Emma Bridgewater MugI’m a collector and this new print is perfect for Easter and even more perfect personalised! 

Stone and CoHandmade felt ball garlands. I have been eyeing these up for months and would look fab in any room. 

Hopefully some inspiration for various budgets for any last minute Mother’s Day shoppers.