0

Why Breast Wasn’t Best for Me

It’s a decision I made fairly early on in pregnancy and one that I’ve been questioned on a significant amount since. Right from the get go, I knew I didn’t want to breastfeed my baby.

I have never questioned whether breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. I believe in all the health benefits for both mother and baby. I know it would have saved us a significant amount of money too, but I just didn’t want to breastfeed.

Having thought about it many times since having our daughter, I think there are a number of reasons which led to my decision.

She’s lost Control

Why Breast wasnt Best for me

Plenty of photos of feeding in the early days

I think the biggest factor in my decision was the lack of control. I think there is a lot of pressure put on women at the moment to be the perfect Earth Mother and some people just don’t subscribe to the philosophy. I wanted to know how much my baby had had to eat and when she might want more. Don’t get me wrong – on arrival she had an insatiable appetite like most babies, so we were constantly feeding her, but at least we knew what she’d had and when. We even kept a notebook.

When people see new mothers bottle-feeding a newborn baby, some also judge them. Many’s the time I felt the sympathetic glances of those who may have felt that by bottle-feeding I must have failed at breastfeeding and had to resort to using a bottle. Many is also the time I almost wanted to shout from the rooftops that it was my choice to bottle feed!

A Fear of Failure

The greatest myth out there about breastfeeding seems to be that everyone can do it. Having seen (or heard about a few weeks down the line) a lot of my friends struggle to establish and maintain breastfeeding for weeks after birth, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I had no intention of setting myself up to potentially fail that early on in motherhood when I knew there would be plenty of opportunity for that further down the line.

I also knew from the get-go that I had absolutely no intention of resembling a dairy cow and attaching myself to anything electronic or hand-powered and milking myself. All at a time when, pregnancy love-in hormones or not, I knew I was going to be overwhelmed by the task at hand of rearing my own little calf.

Getting them out in public

Whilst I am no Jordan or Dolly, I’m certainly no Kate Moss (in more ways than one) and I do believe that plays a part in those who are successful in breastfeeding and feel confident to do so in public. I for one, wouldn’t have felt confident and probably would have bought any number of the breastfeeding modesty products on the market to try and hide my insecurities (and my boobs).

Nine Looooong Months

41 weeks is a long time. I know, because with no job for 39 weeks of my pregnancy I practically counted down every second of it. Once done with labour and birth, obviously my life would just get back to normal, but with the addition of a very little person in it, and as such I also wanted my body back for me. The thought of giving part of it over to said very little person for another six to nine months (or longer if Little Britain is to be believed) frankly filled me with dread. I wanted to know that I could put my old bras back on (eventually) and get back to being me.

Many people have been shocked and almost saddened when I’ve been quite open about my decision. In the early days of pregnancy my partner tried to convince me it was a good idea, but then it wasn’t going to be him who had to do it! I remember the hushed silence of the course leader and the other couples at our ante-natal classes when the question ‘So, is everyone planning to breastfeed?’ was asked and I said that I wasn’t. Half an hour of the course then ensued on all the benefits of breastfeeding which left me a bit numb.

After All

Why Breast wasnt Best for me

The early days of a feeding frenzy

All of this is not to say I didn’t try. Very shortly after the birth of my daughter I conquered my fears and put her to my breast to see what happened. I endured everything that I didn’t want in terms of it suddenly being perfectly acceptable for foreign hands to be grabbing my boobs and pulling, pushing and squeezing them towards this expectant little mouth.  My husband also got his hand in there too. Perhaps not so foreign, but still as unwelcome at that moment. Whether she got any colostrum or not is beyond me as I may have been there in body but certainly not in mind. It was hardly the beautiful bonding experience described and experienced by many.

In the end it was my body, and not my mind, which let me down. The traumas of labour and birth (one for another time) meant my milk didn’t come in for a week anyway, by which time, our little girl with the insatiable appetite would have been a bit peckish. I have to say the lovely midwives at our hospital were extremely supportive in helping us bottle-feed and I didn’t experience any of the patronising, dismissive treatment I was led to believe would be coming our way.

Don’t get me wrong. I have so much admiration for those who do breastfeed. In all likelihood because they conquered something I didn’t even truly attempt to – my own fears. Whether our daughter has suffered any detrimental side effects of my fears and anxieties about what should apparently be the most natural thing in the world, we’ll have to wait and see. But at the moment, she seems happy, healthy, not too fat and not too thin (but quite exceptionally tall), so who knows?

Visit us at http://www.practicalbabygifts.com

0

Military adages become mummy mantras

With that rarest of phenomenon nearly upon us; a warm, sunny British Bank Holiday weekend, many of us will be heading out and about with our little ones.  Whilst I’ve probably jinxed the good weather now, going out for the day with a baby can be a military operation requiring planning, preparation and patience.

The 7Ps: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance

While I’m not renowned for the latter, I’m quite well known for my planning and preparation skills.  I don’t think I’m the only person to ever have an excel spreadsheet with their hospital bag list, but I know of only one other.  And, whilst it all went to pot, my birth plan was typed, printed….and probably should have been laminated.

So now that the days are getting nicer and we’re able to get out and about a lot more, the pram suit is archived, the foot muff is zipped off and the legs are out!  (hers, not mine…not just yet!)

Fail to plan, plan to fail

So, apart from the myriad pots of various food items, what will I be taking out with me this bank holiday weekend?

My Buggy Buddy Sunshade - practically perfect in every way!

My Buggy Buddy Sunshade – practically perfect in every way!

One item I have recently discovered is the My Buggy Buddy Sunshade.  With the average pram-specific umbrella shade costing in the region of £20, this universal pram shade is a steal at little under £9.  It easily clips on to any part of your pram or pushchair and blocks out the sun, providing UPF50 protection.  Like any sun shade, a sudden gust of wind, and you’re fighting it a little, but I found that the My Buggy Buddy Sunshade can be easily tucked under the canopy of the pushchair to stop the wind getting hold of it.  Because it’s so easy to clip and un-clip, the My Buggy Buddy Sunshade can also be easily moved around the pram or pushchair as the sun inevitably will do.  It also packs away into a very compact size and shae, meaning it can be easily stored in even the smallest pram basket.  I also found that the act of unfurling it kept our little one entertained for quite a while! All in all, this is the best sunshade I know of on the market, and I’m glad I got mine at the start of the summer months!

Stealth attack or full-frontal – you’ve got to have it covered

For naps on the go - the SnoozeShade Plus

For naps on the go – the SnoozeShade Plus

The other must-have pram accessory in this weather is the SnoozeShade.  There’s either the SnoozeShade Original or the SnoozeShade Plus. Both are designed with maintaining nap times in mind.  In addition, both provide UPF50 protection for your baby on the go.  As it’s effectively a black-out blind for the pram, it’s great for blocking out bright sunshine and shop lights when you’re on the got but need to get your baby or toddler to sleep.  Like many great baby products, the SnoozeShade was designed by a mum for her daughter and then developed to sell to other new parents.  For me, it’s a definite hit!

Preparing for guerrilla warfare

The Totseat - for babies who lunch

The Totseat – for babies who lunch

Another great parent-designed product is the Totseat.  Whilst it looks a bit like a harness to strap your child to a seat (which I suppose it essentially is) it’s perfect for feeding on the go.  The Totseat is incredibly lightweight and easy to fit to any size or shape of chair.  It’s perfect for grandparents and other occasional carers who may not be so confident in feeding babies when out and about.  It’s also great if you have a little one who’s fussy about various highchairs, as if you know they’ll sit well in it, you’ll be at ease when you know feeding time is fast approaching! Of course, as it’s made of (fully washable) fabric, there’s no highchair-esque tray with it, which can make finger food a trial, but there are ways to improvise to get round that!

Winging it

And yet, even the best laid plans for going out and about with a baby don’t always take into consideration the one unknown quantity: your baby.  You can pretty much guarantee that they won’t play ball when you want them to.  They won’t eat what you’ve packed, won’t sleep when you want them to, and probably won’t like the sun anyway.  And that’s when you follow the most recently over-used military adage: keep calm and carry on.

What do you enjoy most about days out with your little one?  What tips do you have to share for a stress-free trip?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com

0

Milking us for all we’re worth?

Today, ex-Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher has died (to hopefully give her her correct title); a news story that will bring mixed feelings to the nation on her legacy. Rightly or wrongly it’s fair to say I’m rather apathetic about the announcement.  It’s the news story two down on the BBC News homepage which has me rather baffled and a little incensed: Danone baby milk rationed in the UK over China ‘export’ fear

The essence of the story is that UK consumers will be rationed on how much powdered baby milk we can buy so that unscrupulous people aren’t buying in bulk to ship abroad, primarily to China.  The same has already happened in other markets, Australia.

When I was in Tesco a few weeks ago, I marveled at a hastily printed sign saying sales of baby milk were limited to 10 per customer.  I thought that a bit odd at the time.  Now if I go there later today, there might be a similar sign saying I’m only allowed to buy two cartons of our usual milk, Aptamil!  What next? A tax on fizzy drinks? Oh, wait.

Aptamil FIrst Milk

Milking us for all we’re worth?

Has the world gone mad?

Maybe I count within the ‘unscrupulous people’ category as I buy powdered baby milk in bulk.  I buy what I know we’ll need at the start of the month so that I’m better able to budget.  Now, like with so many things, by trying to do the right (and easy) thing, I’ll be forced to change my buying behaviours because of the actions of a minority.

I appreciate that the surge in demand for foreign brand baby milk follows a terrible situation where eight children died from contaminated baby milk in 2008.  It probably also has roots in the ongoing self-aggrandisement of the Chinese middle classes through the acquisition of foreign brands.  Despite people paying a premium for them that many can ill afford – it’s far more prestigious to be seen with foreign branded goods than home-grown Chinese brands.

But, as Baroness Thatcher once said (and don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means her biggest fan) ‘There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty.’  I know I’m talking on a very small scale, but why should the majority of us who are, at most, buying six or seven cartons of powdered milk have to now make several trips to the supermarket – at a time when petrol and other costs are sky high?!  And if that’s the behaviour that Danone (Aptamil’s parent company) is actively encouraging, then it’s hardly going to nip the export of their milk abroad in the bud!

This lady’s not for turning, either!

You could be sceptical and wonder if it’s a rouse to sell more powdered baby milk, in an industry possibly as heavily restricted as to its marketing activities as the tobacco industry.  (Don’t get me started on why we live in a country where every man and his dog can set up and advertise a gambling / gaming website, but to advertise and educate people on formula milk is forbidden).  But whatever the driver – is restricting sales to a core market really a good strategy?

What do you think? Has the world gone mad, or are the restrictions perfectly justified to control illegal exports by a minority? One more quote from the recently departed: ‘I love argument, I love debate. I don’t expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me, that’s not their job.’

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com