Babies born in winter experience congestion, due to the change in temperature, central heating and bugs in the air. Although harder to manage as they are so tiny, this does help strengthen their immune system. I was drawn to the fact that I could give Sadie antibodies from my milk. This of course would not stop her getting ill altogether, but the recovery would be much quicker and severity of the illness is far less then without these antibodies.
During these illnesses, it is a sad time for any Mum with a poorly baby. I knew I was helping my baby every time I fed her. Human milk is a complex living substance like blood. A drop of breastmilk contains around one million white blood cells, plus immunoglobulin all to help with the recovery time. My top products during these times of illness include a humidifier machine for babies, calpol plug in for when Sadie was old enough plus all the snuffle babe products which are amazing.
- Cold 2 months lasted 10 days
- Mild conjunctivitis 2 months lasted 2 days
- Mild Gastroenteritis 3 months lasted 3 days
- Cough, cold 7 months lasted 2 days plus mild cold symptoms for two weeks
- Croup, 13 months lasted 3 days
- Cough 13 months lasted two weeks –mild cough symptoms lasted one week
- Stomach bug 15 months- 2 days
- Ear drum infection in both ears 16 months lasted 2 days- Antibiotics given for the first time
- Ear infection in both ears 16 and a half months- temperature lasted 2 days- Antibiotics given
Baby jabs are very unpleasant for any new mummy, but seeing the instant pain relief effect of a breastfeed to a frightened baby I found quite amazing. It lowers heart rate, secretes calming hormones and instantly soothes. I did this again at the 12 month jabs, and it really helped. When Sadie was 13 months old and poorly with Croup, I gave Sadie a soothe feed in the doctor’s office so she stayed calm for all her checks. A mild stomach bug was also a scary time for Mummy, as I was conscious that Sadie had very few wet nappies, as she was sick all her liquid intake, and off food. Breastmilk was such a comfort to Sadie during her illness, and knew all the antibodies were going to help with her recovery, and could see how the feed was instantly soothing her during this time.
My own mum’s advice is as follows:-
“You are the mother. Everyone mothers in their own way and you will find your own. What works for you might not for someone else”
If Sadie was ill or teething, I have no qualms about comfort feeding her even at nearly eleven months, if I felt it was the right thing to do. On the whole, I didn’t give Sadie a feed in the night from seven months. I found my health visitor very supportive from the moment we met, and arranged a telephone chat if I needed some advice about anything. Although it took time, Sadie started consistently sleeping through, from 7 months, and it just happened. Prior to this, being a night owl you do find yourself being online more often, whether it’s adding items to your shopping basket, chatting to your NCT friends in the same situation- the 4am club, or googling “what can I do to make my baby sleep longer! In the fog of the night before, it is a pleasant surprise when parcels arrive the next day or so that you don’t remember ordering. It did become apparent that maternity leave gave me an amazon addiction, but confident I am not on my own on this one! My husband said I could open a library with all the books I have ordered for Sadie.
I remember thinking about teeth long before Sadie had any, and what impact this would have on my nipples! Sadie is a brave soul and at eleven months she has eight teeth! Sadie has the usual flushed cheeks, lots of dribble, and gets a little sensitive. It broke my heart as she would let out cries in her sleep when she got a shooting pain. I know that some bottle-fed babies chew their teat when they are teething. My “teats” had to build up resistance to this side chewing. I did not want to encourage this of course, so a chilled teething toy or cold carrot/peeled apple came to the rescue. Comfort feeding really helped Sadie through the pain, along with teething powder or “packets” as we call them, MAM silicone teething friends, plus pain relief medicine where necessary.
I describe breastfeeding to others like a mad science, one of nature’s miracles but very complex, and could be a degree subject! It is the hottest day of the year so far as I am writing this, and wanted to make sure Sadie was staying hydrated by offering extra fruit, water and feeds. I noticed in my summer dress, I was looking a little fuller than usual, and this was due to the weather forecast! Nature was increasing the water content of my breast milk to accommodate for Sadie in the hot weather. Sunshine really does make your boobs grow! Does anyone remember in the film “Mean girls” when Karen said “my breasts can tell when it’s going to rain?”
I suffer terribly with my periods, lasting over a week with heavy bleeding, feelings of fatigue, and fuzzy legs that go hand in hand with painful stomach cramps. Not having a period, made things more manageable for me especially with lack of sleep, and one less thing I had to remember. My period returned when I dropped to two feeds per day, so including my pregnancy I had been without one for over 20 months! It was natures way of giving me a little break!
Nearly eleven months in, I still use my sling on a regular basis although just for 30 mins at a time. My upper body strength has improved with all the buggy lifting. I love the closeness, and of course hands-free element. In the beginning, this was great if I needed the toilet or just to get on with things in the house whilst she faced me and slept. Sadie was also a great hot water bottle in the colder months! As I spaced the time between feeding longer and of course dropped feeds, I replaced this with close bodily contact, and the sling was one way of doing this. Sadie enjoyed being able to hear me, but also had the freedom to experience the world. Sadie is so observant and aware of her surroundings, whether it be passers-by smiling at her in the street, looking at pretty flowers in the garden or waving to birdies in the sky.
The end of summer is approaching and the reality of returning to work is on the horizon. Sadie will be starting at a child-minder, so it will be all change for the both of us. After always feeding Sadie to sleep or for the majority, I took it as a sign she was ready when she started to sit up and get giddy after her feeds. When I say Sadie was ready, I also mean that I was ready, as the two have to coincide for something to work. Feeding to sleep was right for our journey. When we did move to the next stage, it just meant there were extra kisses, cuddles and of course more of her favourite bedtime stories. The main thing it took for it to work was courage. I do like to try embrace change, but I take my time to adapt to something new rather then throwing myself into it, due to my lack in confidence.
By ten months I was down to two feeds per day, morning and night. This worked well even with going back to my job working as a recruitment consultant in the city. I was so pleased I could find some time to continue these feeds. I wanted this to be a gradual process like the previous feeds I had dropped. Over a period of a month I spent less time feeding her per side. To replace the skin to skin contact during the day, I became accustomed to wearing my sling and giving extra cuddles.
As I am writing this at 10 and half months, my plan is to gradually finish my morning feed by the winter time. I want to keep the night feed, as want her to have the antibodies during the winter season. In addition to this, as she is starting at the child-minder so I don’t want her to have too much change at once. As I have said before, I am talking about these things for myself as much as Sadie.
Our role as parents is to provide Sadie with reassurance. Sadie won’t of course always need her mammas milk but no one gets too old for comfort and reassurance in their life.
Feeding is not only a time for thirst and goodness, but a time to engage, play, explore, laugh and relax. I have Sadie’s full attention when she is feeding at night. I love finding out what I can do to make her laugh, even by saying one silly voice, noise or word. As her smile breaks the latch, it is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.
My friends always tell me I have a lot of patience, this is one of my characteristics. This trait has helped me through my journey of motherhood so far. My patience has of course been tested many times, but the following things together with patience have helped to keep my body and mind sane during times of little sleep.
- Fresh air
- Lanolin nipple cream- at the beginning
- Snack box
- Eating well
- Support from friends, family and professionals
It is not available on the market, but my 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 tipple is exclusively for Sadie. By exclusively I obviously mean she is the only person going to be drinking it! This also means it is exclusively made for her, and the composition continuously changes according to her individual needs as she grows. The fact I have a vineyard inside my body amazes me! I haven’t drunk a glass of my own breast milk, but definitely tried a dab on my finger just out of curiously! A medium bodied milk, with notes of whatever I have eaten in the last 24 hours, light on the palette, thirst quenching, and sweet!