I was advised to visit the health clinic fortnightly and couldn’t wait to check Sadie’s weight. With breastfeeding, there is was no way of measuring how much she was drinking, so the weigh in was my only way of really knowing. Sadie has continuously gained weight, and stayed on the 50th percentile. I have a sense of pride knowing this is all from her mammas milk, and must admit was an addictive feeling queuing up at the clinic. I fed Sadie on demand at the beginning, but as there was no cluster feeding I never felt like she was permanently attached to my boob. I decided to create a loose routine feeding every 3 hours, and then changed to every 4 as she got older. I needed to create this routine for my own sanity, and didn’t want to graze feed her throughout the day. I found Sadie was content, unfussy and only cried for a reason. At night I fed her whenever she woke up.
My open all hour’s snack box was my essential for giving me energy through the night feeds, where I became ravenous in the early hours. I suppose I also could be classed as an open all hour’s snack box for Sadie when she was going through developments! The hygienist was not best pleased with me when I needed two fillings at my check-up 3 months post-partum. I usually dread the hygienist with all the prodding, poking and stiff jaw I am left with, however on this occasion as a rarity, I was lying alone in a reclining chair with my eyes closed in the middle of the day! A plus side to this was that my skin had never looked so quenched from the incredible thirstiness in the night. I thought I had escaped the “night sweats I had been warned about, but thankfully this was just a phase, as waking up looking like you had won a wet tea shirt competition is never a good look.
I know it usually the child that creeps in to mummy and daddy’s room in the middle of the night to let them know they had an “accident”. This is not going where you think it might be, although could have been a strong possibility with the way my post-natal recovery worked out!
Let me set the scene for you. It is 3am, I am feeding Sadie, and all is going well enjoying calm quiet moments together while hubby is sound asleep next to me. I was about to transfer her back into the crib, when I thought she must have leaked through her nappy, as the right-hand side of her grobag was soaked through. I got out of bed ready to change her nappy, and was surprised to feel this was dry. I started to make sense of what had happened, and knew the culprit was me! I was feeding off my left boob, and meanwhile my right-hand boob has emptied itself onto poor Sadie. Adam got the frequent nudge he is used to “are you awake”, and he cuddled Sadie whilst I tried to remedy the situation. As I only had one grobag at the time, my options were to use the hairdryer or the tumble dryer. It’s a party at 3am with a new-born so thought I would use both! From then on, I remembered to tuck a muslin into my bra until my supply sorted itself out.
Train, car park, aeroplane, underground, sun lounger, Michelin star restaurant, hard shoulder, bath, changing room, public toilet, the list goes on…. To clarify this is feeding my baby we are talking about here in case your mind is wondering!
Day six and I was out and about at my local Costa which was a short walk away. Together with Sadie and my muslin swaddle, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. People are people, and curiosity is just a part of human nature. I did get the odd stare; I must admit I felt very proud in the moment and a little invincible. The road to costa can lead anywhere, and so it did as you can see we have been global!! Although my outing was a success in the end, my first nappy change in a public toilet was far from it. Thank goodness for my Mary Poppins style baby bag, and that I had remembered to pack a spare baby grow and vest. I must have gone through half a pack of water wipes, but could have done with a spare change of clothes for myself too!
At three months Sadie was sleeping really well for a new-born, with zero to two short wakes per night. A friend of mine mentioned the four-month sleep regression she was experiencing. It was like a domino effect, as I threw It out there in my antenatal group that Sadie had been up every two hours. Feeding every two hours was difficult when you are used to a stretch of seven hours (as I never had I introduced a dream feed.) Although this is a sleep regression, this is a huge brain progression. Sadie had picked up all sorts of new tricks which coincided with this.
A quick soothe feed every wake didn’t always work in this situation. Sadie would want to party for up to an hour and a half showing off her new tricks. This was not only tough on my nipples, but on my milk supply, and mind-set. I have always been an over thinker, and this is partly where my wild imagination comes from. This has positives and negatives in my life but I have learnt to accept this is a part of who I am rather than fight it. I started to feel unsure as to what I had committed to with the world of breastfeeding. After a tough night, I felt daunted, and wasn’t sure I had the strength to continue feeding, which was a difficult moment. Adam had to physically get me underdressed that night and carry me into bed, as I was just too tired to even think straight. It is hard to think rationally when you have been up most of the night. Fortunately, my mum gives the best advice. “Everything changes all the time, you just have to find the strength as a mother and get on it with it. Although it is difficult, stop looking for an answer on why she wakes.”My mum was right and a few weeks later, this phase passed, Sadie practised her her tricks in the day time instead, and my trusty lanolin cream and snack box helped me through it.
I started feeding in public with a large muslin swaddle as you will have read. This looked discreet, but proved tricky getting the right positioning when I was on my own. My sister in law told me about “the cape”, and amazon prime came to the rescue when it delivered my new breast friend! The cape goes over your head so you can feed with ease, and still remain eye contact with your baby using the structured hoop. The cape gave me confidence when I was out and about. At home is a different story where there should have been a caution sign on my front door. Let’s just say the postman and gardener both got an unexpected eyeful when I forgot to re adjust myself! I must admit the cape had a shelf life. As soon as Sadie became aware, and liked to flap her hands up and down we had to say goodbye.
It is so important to eat well, and stay hydrated with a new baby, especially when breastfeeding. Not only to keep energy levels but to ensure good milk supply. I loved my mid morning nutribullet smoothie made of frozen banana, dates, blueberries, whole milk and porridge oats. Foods such as oats, fennel, oily fish and nuts are meant to work wonders for your body. Oats aside for the day, I was tucking into my bowl of not so nutritious supernoodles which were now cold! I took the phrase “eat when the baby eats” in a literal sense. With fork in one hand, and a hungry feeding baby in the other, lunch hit the spot, but meant she would definitely need a hair wash tonight!
Dare I say it. Relaxing is hard to come by. When Sadie was a new-born if I got fifteen minutes in the bath on an evening it really did feel like a full day at the spa. It’s all about finding out what makes you feel good, whether it be a walk in the park or a hot cup of tea (reheated in the microwave is more realistic!) Once I became more confident with breastfeeding, rather then it feeling mechanical like it can at the beginning, I decided to also take this as my time to relax, as this is exactly what it does for Sadie. It sounds crazy being such a simple concept, but it really worked for me, I would look forward to my feeds, as it was a chance to get comfortable, put my feet up literally, snuggle up sometimes, take in the day’s events, and yes, I said it…relax. Accompanied by some snacks, a drink, and time to zone out of the business of life. Feeding out and about was not so zen. As wonderful as the world is, the distractions of the world meant that feeding came with challenges, especially when trying to keep it discreet. In spite of this, we made it work in our own way with a little unintentional exposing here and there!
My 3-4 hour routine worked well, and Sadie was relaxed, and rarely cried for her milk in the day, as was content it being there when she wanted it. The car seat was an exception, where it was unpredictable. If this was the case, whether it was hunger or not, we pulled over many a times for me to give Sadie a little soothe feed for a minute, and carry on our journey. On the car journey to the airport, I managed to manoeuvre myself still strapped in, sat next to her in the back seat, so I could feed her! Thank goodness, the taxi driver couldn’t see what I was doing in the rear mirror! I also once got away with a parking ticket, when I pulled over and parked to feed in the front seat. The parking attendant kindly said “don’t you worry today” whilst he awkwardly avoided eye contact!
When Sadie became more aware and interested in her surroundings, I found at the mid-morning she started fussing at the breast, pulling on and off to the point where I would lean in the most awkward positions just so she would drink. It was much harder than it used to be to feed her in public during this time. I didn’t want her to be grazing throughout the day, so persevered making sure each time I fed her it was a full feed. I would offer comfort feeding milk on demand for illness, teething or to soothe, but otherwise tried to stick to this where possible. The most convenient thing is obviously the no preparing, washing, sterilizing or waste. Sadie dropped the mid-morning feed at eight months. I replaced this with water from an open doidy cup if at home, or free flow cup if I was out. As Sadie was used to my fast flow, she became a very quick learner at drinking with control from these cups. I gave the water alongside a small snack of yoghurt, fruit, mini sandwich, banana bread, or cheese. Over a period of a month, I gradually spent less time each day feeding, not only for the sanity of my boobs, but also to ensure It was a less noticeable change for Sadie. Snack time also means something for mamma too, and I became quite partial to a peanut butter crumpet or two!
One of my Grandma’s famous saying aside from her Yiddish ones. In the night, I wanted Sadie to feed whenever she wanted. I would rather let her have the goodness and antibodies from my milk then leave her to cry, or rock/pat her to sleep. There is no manual on how to be a mummy but for me personally felt like the right thing to do to settle her in this way. I continued to do so in the night until seven months or so. Choosing to do this meant that ten minutes later Sadie was reassured, calm and in milk dreamland again. Of course, we all have bad nights and times when our babies just don’t settle no matter what you do, sleep deprivations kicks in and everything gets taken out on your husband! Any situation always seems harder at night. I remember Adam didn’t know what to do with a very overtired, emotional mummy and baby, and appeared with honey on toast and a sugary cup of tea at 4am. Why does tea make everything so much better! When I see the big smile Sadie has the next morning no matter if she had a bad night, all my tiredness fizzles away- and obviously my lifetime supply of concealer came out for the day! Motherhood enables you to function on less sleep as the motivation to get up the next morning is so huge.