Apologies, my pictures look all the same. I feel like there is not much else I can do at the moment.
I do not even feel like writing about these hashtags much today (24th September) as they kind of say what I want to say.
I somehow feel like I am letting myself down by not expanding on them like I usually do, but there really isn’t much more to say about it.
(And then I said a hundred and one things below.)
I don’t mean to whine all the time, but I guess this is a way of venting through everything. This is why my work is therapeutic. I’m sure some people are making happy work through lockdown, but I am guessing my mood in these posts is also the general mood, right?
I guess things are different if you’re off out at pubs and not worrying anymore about getting it. I think I shouldn’t worry so much, but what if one of us got it and we weren’t okay? I don’t really want to have to deal with the after symptoms that I hear of either. I don’t want it.
I’m not sure what we would be doing if there was not a pandemic.
I guess we’d be planning to visit Tiago’s family so they could meet B.
We’d probably have gone to the supermarket as a family by now. That sounds so dull, but I have not been into a big supermarket since before lockdown. I went to a little one once, but it was too stressful. Now I am thinking I should avoid shops for a while.
I want to take B to the library, but it just seems like it is a bit of a germ factory. There would be events on there (if there wasn’t a pandemic) that I could take her too.
I’d take her to classes at the nearest children’s centre, so I could meet more local mums and feel a bit more human. T is great to live with and super supportive, but I need more human contact. He also is missing speaking to his friends and more people in real life.
Like I said I hope that we can take her swimming soon as that will at least be something different, and Tiago and I both like swimming. We hope she does too.
(12th October – We did take her swimming; it felt good to do something different. We are hoping to take her again soon, but new rules come in today that means gyms will close – I hope this does not include pools.)
I am worried about how the winter will be if I already feel like this now. It gets cold here and I don’t want us all to be sat at home running up massive heating bills, though we probably will have to accept that will be the case – at least we’re not spending money on much else.
My main focus right now should be keeping B happy; if she’s happy then I’m happy-ish.
I don’t know what I would be doing now if we didn’t have her, I’d probably still be going stir crazy but about other things.
Well, I feel a lot better after having a good old whine yesterday.
Regarding my boob I think actually I just bruised it. The day before I had increased the power on the pump setting (it has two – one for massage, and then pump) of my pump. I hadn’t used it for at least two months because it left me feeling sore, but for some reason I felt the need to use it the other day.
I just got super stressed because I was feeling so down.
Thinking about why I’m feeling so down – this time lockdown is different for me. Before I had the countdown of B’s birth to look forward to, but now we don’t have anything to count down to. We don’t have any trips planned and now we can’t even visit my family, so we’re just stuck here for now.
This isn’t what I thought initial motherhood would be like. I thought I would finally have the time to visit more local places and go to baby groups and meet new people.
I just feel bad for B, as going to groups and stuff would be more stimulating for her than just being stuck at home or going for a daily walk (when she should be sleeping, but she doesn’t seem to).
I’m doing my best to entertain her during play time, but it’s just getting a bit repetitive. I try to mix it up, but my enthusiasm is low some days. I guess at this point she doesn’t need that much stimulation and we are just working on building her strength and introducing her to whatever we can.
I guess it is annoying that I could go to a pub or restaurant and be sat in a room with lots of strangers, but I can’t go to a baby group where social distancing measures would be put in place and it probably would be safer than a pub/restaurant/shop.
At least Tiago has next week off so I can have a little break and we can do family things together. I guess my main worry is after next week his next holiday won’t be for a while, and when will I have more support during the weekdays again?
I guess I just need to take each day at a time and try not to think about the future too much. Who knows how long this will go on for? At least B is happy and healthy, and hopefully we can go swimming soon.
It is full on and I have been doing it for three months. Tiago does look after her too, but Monday to Friday 7-5ish she is mainly my responsibility, then I need to worry about producing her milk at all times.
We have been struggling with giving her a bottle feed a day as she struggles with the teats, but I think we have fixed it. I decided to get her some slow flow teats and that seems to have done the trick. Sometimes I let her suck my finger (that sounds odd) and I realised how strong she was getting, so with the other teats I think she often is drowning in milk. She had a dream feed last night with the slow teat and she drank most of it.
(5th October – The slow teats definitely did the trick. She has a dream feed with a bottle every night now and she usually feeds quite well.)
I feel like I have so many conversations going on all over the place and I am bored of them. I just want to have in person conversations, but it is difficult.
(5th October – Rules have got stricter since. I am trying to have a social media detox of sorts. I’ve deactivated my Facebook, made a long password for my Twitter that I don’t know and logged out, trying to go on Instagram less, and aiming to have more video calls and less WhatsApp chit chat.
I am finding social media difficult at the moment. Some people are living under less strict rules and have something that resembles a ‘normal’ life. The weather was so bad today that we couldn’t even go for a walk.)
Sometimes I see women pushing pushchairs on walks and I hope they’ll talk to me, but I’m so awkward now with not having much in person interaction. I usually have my sunglasses on and can’t make eye contact when they’re off.
It’s just a weird time to meet people with social distancing and all. I’m writing this on 18th September and it looks like new rules will be introduced for Liverpool tonight.
(5th October – Yeah they changed. There are no baby classes that are easily accessible for me right now. I’m finding zoom classes awkward and I haven’t attended one ‘live’ in weeks.
I actually just got an email to say that she’s thinking about going back to in-person classes, and they’re out of the way for us. So looks like I’ll be looking into other options and probably having to embrace zoom again.)
I say we, but really it’s me as I’m the one looking after her all day.
I said to Tiago earlier that I am jealous of his life as he gets to go out for work and do stuff. He went on a bike ride last night. I want to go on a bike ride.
Yesterday all her naps were no longer than thirty minutes. Then I messed up with her last nap of the day as it took so long for her to go to sleep that it then basically became her bedtime. I hadn’t done any of her bedtime routine and we missed out a feeding.
We gave her a dream feed and she didn’t wake up, but she had been asleep for so long that of course she was going to wake up early in the morning. I tried to delay her feed and it worked a bit, but after 6 hours I gave up. It is recommended to not use the dummy as the first way to extend sleep, but I was so tired that I kept giving it to her first.
Last night felt like the latest I had stayed up in a while, but I did not achieve anything as I was so tired and just faffed.
I am guessing she will wake up soon so I won’t have to worry about what picture it’s going to be right now. I don’t know how many more pictures of myself in my underwear in my living room I can deal with.
I will probably try to take a picture with her, so I should set my stuff up ready.
(It felt like the easiest thing to do was to do a shoot whilst I fed her. She moves her hands/arms around a lot whilst feeding now, so I like that I got one with her arm like this as I love arm poses. I think I have also been feeling overwhelmed though as I often feel sore from feeding and so I was dreading feeding her at times.)
I have had these similar phases for years. I guess I am just tired and I’ll snap out of it. Yesterday I had one of those (frequent) realisations that so many people are trying to do what I am trying to do.
I made my YouTube channel originally knowing I would get mean comments, but a mean comment yesterday made me feel really crummy. Usually people write something mean and then delete it as they know they’re being an asshole, but this person still has not deleted it.
It’s also annoying when people write something as if it is not your channel. As if it is a random video on someone else’s channel where the person who it is is not easily identifiable.
I guess you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Sounds like they’re going through a bad time too if they feel the need to leave horrible comments on random videos.
I love the confidence that people have to write such things. Well I guess it is easy when you have no profile picture and a name that is nothing like your own. I find leaving comments awkward and I usually only write positive ones…
(5th October – I was feeling a lot better, but today I seem to have slipped a bit. Tiago was off work last week, so it was nice to have more support in the day. Now he’s back working again – though only in the other room, but I don’t like bothering him.
I don’t like not knowing when we can see my family again. It was nice to see them when we could and to have a bit of support, but now it’s all been taken away from us again. Obviously we’re not the only people affected by this and some people have less help, but it is frustrating.)
I actually need to wake B up now to feed her.
I have been trying to get up at 7am every day to have something that resembles a routine. This morning my alarm went off (the first day that I set one) and I pressed snooze. I thought B would wake up shortly anyways.
Woke up again and it was 7.40am. Okay we’ll try again tomorrow…
I don’t see why I make it such an issue when I know that she usually will have a nap again after an hour. I like to get stuff done in the morning so I can relax a little – at least I have done something today now.
(5th October – I will wake up at 3am and be wide awake, but I always feel AWFUL at 7am. I wanted a nap this morning, but I knew it was a good time to get things done as she usually sleeps alright. I then planned to nap in the afternoon, but I thought I better do the washing up and other things.)
T does an excellent job of tidying the main room (living room/dining room/kitchen/my ‘studio’) but the other rooms seem to get a bit forgotten. Typically we said we wanted an early morning inspection when I feel like we need the time, but it will be good to not spend the whole day worrying. They have inspected it as a mess before.
They do not know we have a baby. I thought they would see me at an inspection and it would be obvious, but those inspections got cancelled due to the pandemic. Do you have to call to say you’ve had a baby? I don’t think so, but tomorrow they will see anyways.
I am not the world’s tidiest person, but I would actually love someone to have B for a bit so I could tidy the hell out of this flat. I want to organise things properly and get really into nesting mode.
I guess I could do it, but I write blog posts instead. And I actually feel much better after having written this one.
(5th October – We managed to get the flat looking alright and she never even commented about us having a baby. It turns out that one of our fire alarms has not had a battery in it since we moved in, so luckily that is sorted now. I was sure that they had tested it before, but obviously not.)
That’s a bit of a blown out background to the left, but never mind. It’s the best I could do on my phone whilst wearing a mask, breastfeeding a baby in one arm and anxiously checking to see if B’s name was going to be called.
The appointment was a bit later this time, so we had plenty of time to get ready unlike last time.
I was going to make some joke to the sonographer like ‘tell me she’s not pregnant’, but then I realised how messed up that sounded…
…And then you finally decide to feed and you could have just done it already and had lots of time. Yay breastfeeding. Yay parenthood. It’ll be less stressful when I can just give her a snack bar/anything and not have to worry about these situations.
After sitting down in the waiting area I reread the letter and it said to arrive 15 minutes early for any tests. We were at least 10 minutes early but I went to the department that the letter said first, before getting sent to the radiography department. Obviously by the time they called us our appointment time had long gone, but I knew it wasn’t entirely my fault now.
All the surfaces need to be wiped down because of Covid, so it was smart that they had two rooms set up. I felt bad for her though as it must have been quite intense. I was slow packing up after, but it gave her plenty of time to write her notes up so I felt less bad.
Super chill. I just had to hold her on her side whilst she looked at one hip, and then do the same on the other side. Her nappy was around her feet and I was worried that she would poo on us. I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the first time it had happened in that room…
She did pause a bit longer on the one that the doctor said was a bit clicky, so I was worried but she said they seemed fine.
She said she had a look whilst we were walking across and all looked good. I felt relieved. She explained more about it but I don’t really remember what she said and as only one parent was allowed in the hospital I can’t ask Tiago what she said either.
To be honest I didn’t really understand what the problem was and because she was so young I knew they would be able to fix it if they needed to. I got a bit nervous the night before, but nothing was noticeably wrong to me.
It’s great being able to easily see if her nappy needs changing again, though the second one was a bit of a barrier that protected her clothes from getting dirty. Oh well.
(She had been having to wear two as the doctor said she had a clicky hip and it apparently helps. She also said that the hospital might tell us to do it. Maybe it helped or maybe it wasn’t necessary?)
I probably have too many pictures of myself where I do this one arm over the head thing, but here you go. This wasn’t the test shot – the shoot developed into this. I don’t think it’s the first time I’ve done the arm over and pulled my cheek, but I think it might be the first time one has made it into a project.
I love creating more work for myself – more hashtags, editing and blog posts.
It looks like it was a good job that I bought them as I was going to link to the product page, but they don’t seem to sell them anymore.
I only wear the white ones when the black ones are in the wash/drying. At some point I might dye them navy so they go with the rest of my clothes. I have other ones where you unclip them to feed, but they’re a bit more faffy. With these ones you can just pull the material to the side to feed.
I’ve been calling it ice lolly roulette. You are meant to put labels on them as it should be used up within 6 months, but she’s not 6 months yet so I know they’re fine. I actually might try to find one and defrost it for later.
She had already been putting her hands on my chest I think, but I had not really noticed. It didn’t matter in the end as I chose this photo where she is touching her ear instead. She is becoming more aware of her hands everyday though and grasping things more. I like how her feet are in this photo – she tends to feed a lot with one foot on top of the other leg. Cute.
My working title for the image was just ‘breastfeeding’, but it was a bit boring. If I am stuck for a title I try to choose something from the hashtags and this one really applies. I was taking pictures carefree, but then I did think about how people would judge me for holding her.
Obviously there are the ways that you are shown things when your baby is first born, but then they grow and build strength, and your strength and confidence grows too so you adapt and change how you do things.
Fun fact: I seem to sweat a lot. No wonder I have a fungal armpit – you can read about this exciting story in my previous post.
It was the first time I’ve gone somewhere alone with B besides a walk. There wasn’t much food left as it was so late and I planned to read a book, but I couldn’t really concentrate. Perhaps because I don’t feel that relaxed out and about anymore, but also I kept checking on her. I’ve been there again since and more people were wearing masks, but not everyone.
It was good practice for getting up and getting out ASAP. Typically we had never been there before and I think they could see the panic in my eyes, but just watched me. I thought it would be easy to figure out, but then I wasn’t sure who to ask as I was a bit flustered. I waited in a queue at information, but it was taking too long so I went and asked some other people.
I realised today that you usually sign in on a screen and it directs you to where you need to go, but they’ve stopped that due to Covid. I just asked someone as soon as I walked in, who was super helpful and said if I got lost to come back and she would walk me there.
I didn’t seem to mention that all was good and we never have to go back for it again. She was having fun talking to B and said she felt broody and said that her profession isn’t great for not feeling broody. I was keen to leave as Tiago was waiting in the car, but I felt bad breaking up their fun party.
It’s just so much easier and relaxed bottle feeding her, though I have breastfed her twice in public since (yes, I do seem to mention this in most posts). Where we were sat was quite exposed in some ways and not in others. The service was super slow which was great as we had plenty of time to feed her, change her (Tiago did it as I was a bit worried about doing it) and get her ready to go back in the bassinet before we went home).
Today I breastfed her in the hospital and out at dinner, so I feel like I won’t be having to talk about breastfeeding in public much anymore. I just get on with it now, though it sometimes is a puzzle in how to be as discreet as possible. I have a breastfeeding scarf, but I haven’t used it yet as it seems like more of a faff and probably draws more attention to myself.
I feel like everyday we are getting more confident and I hope it continues to be this way.
Yes, the most nerve-wracking bit was getting her to latch on as sometimes she likes to come off a bit before starting to feed properly. Once she is feeding there isn’t much to see as she blocks the boob from view. I didn’t want to unlatch her and put her on again, but if it was more uncomfortable I would have.
We mentioned this the other day and my Mum thinks she might be teething, as she is producing more saliva and is chewing the teat a bit. I think back to then though and she was just discovering her tongue and faffing about a bit.
I have done it a couple more times now. Once when we were out to lunch and another time at the park, but friends were feeding their babies too so I felt more relaxed. I would have probably been out more if there wasn’t a pandemic, but like I said, who knows?
I spelled hiccupped and hiccupping wrong. I put only one p for some reason. I should be better at spelling them considered she does it so much, but I can’t really spellcheck hashtags which is a bit annoying. It’s fine, I only have to correct the spelling in about 6 places when I realise. 👍
I wonder when this feeling of ‘whoa, I have a baby’ will go away. I took a photo of B and I the other day, and it felt weird seeing myself with a baby. I’m feeling a lot more confident with looking after her though, which I guess you’d hope so by now…
I guess from this you can work out that I am right handed, which is one reason why it was awkward to take a picture. I have started to put my phone on timer mode now to try to help me with taking one-handed photos. If the phone is facing me it’s fine, but if it’s not then the flash goes off for the countdown. If I’m trying to take a picture of B then it’s a bit annoying.
Thinking about it I should probably look in my phone settings…
Disgusting? Perhaps a little. It’s funny how quickly you get over being grossed out by things when you have a baby. I just need to remember to not wear leggings out that I have rubbed various things into (baby eye gunk, snot, saliva, breastmilk etc – not poop or wee though, I felt like I had to point that out).
I can tell how much she has grown as it’s not so easy to do this anymore. She is a lot longer and if she is awake I worry that if she pushes her legs into me then she might push herself off… She’s definitely getting stronger.
I use …s too much, but I love them. (Ellipsis, I love them so much I wasn’t sure how to spell it – I searched for ‘ellipses’.)
It is really nice to talk to people, but I want them to keep their distance – particularly if I don’t know them. I see women pushing prams and I want to chat to them, but with the pandemic it puts me off. Plus I don’t like rejection – striking up conversation can be quite random.
She doesn’t seem to care. She falls asleep pretty much anywhere. Rhyme.
It is nice to get out. I feel like I’m quicker at getting out the flat these days and also I’ve breastfed in public yesterday and today, so I’m less worried about doing it now. Though I was with people on those occasions and both times someone else was breastfeeding too, but it does help with my confidence and learning how to arrange my clothing whilst being as discreet as possible.
I am aware that it looks like I am just touching/cupping my boob. I am actually pretending to hold B whilst I am feeding her, though like I said I’m not sure how accurate this is without her being there. (My arm should probably be lower.)
I seem to cover the same stuff everyday really, but I guess that’s the reality of looking after a newborn – they poop, they eat, they sleep, and they grow. I just looked to see when they stop being a newborn and the internet says 2 months, and she’s now an ‘infant’.
I’ve only breastfed in public once and I think I was wearing this dress. It has a lot of marks on it. I might have just done the washing up, but I can’t remember – it’s quite possible as I was always sterilising bottles and I generally do the washing up. Exciting facts.
Today I felt a big need to get out and talk to other people. We had our last online baby class today (of a course that we booked on to). I started to log on as class was starting though, had my camera off (to be fair today it was so hot that I was in my underwear) and log off before the chat started. I feel a bit awkward with some things. I want to just sit and chat crap with people in real life…
Today I didn’t feel very confident with going out for a walk, though I’m not sure why. Maybe hormones? I’m yet to change her nappy in public (well in a public toilet or somewhere that isn’t someone’s home).
I breastfeed in the night now, which lets Tiago sleep. It seems fair as he is the one ‘going to work’ (he is still mostly working from home), though sometimes at 6am I will ask him to bottle feed her if I am super tired and it’s been a long night. He is bottle feeding her now whilst I write this.
I don’t feel bad about it anymore. It’s made our lives a lot easier and it keeps her happy too. I do call it a chuxa (shoosha) though, as that’s the Portuguese word for it (so Tiago calls it that) and I prefer saying it to dummy (possibly because I do feel a bit awkward about using it still).
This lasted one day. I’m better on Instagram, but with other platforms I don’t really see the point though I probably should.
I say that I can’t believe I’m a mother in every post, but it is true that it also feels like she has always been around (though I know she hasn’t). Thinking about life before her, it just seems so weird that I didn’t really have any responsibilities. Having a baby in lockdown has been good for not feeling like I’m missing out on things. I’m quite happy being at home and chilling with my family – apart from when I get a bit stir crazy I guess.
Because of the heat I’ve been feeding her lying down more, which is amazing but I do want to keep up with my arm strength.
I failed doing my 7 days of yoga challenge (I didn’t like the program as they weren’t curated to help you build up to harder things everyday), so I decided to do a 30 day one instead, which I’ve done a few times before.
I missed out day 2, but I managed to do the last 2 days. I even moved the cot this morning so I could do yoga where it was whilst she continued to sleep on the bed, and I could keep an eye on her. The lying down feeding position is great for her then falling asleep and staying asleep…
This seems like a bit of an odd comment now, but I thought it might be useful for someone who just had a baby to know. I feel like no one really talks about these things, and before being pregnant I didn’t know that you can bleed for up to 6 weeks after birth. It wasn’t painful like a period though, which was what I was worried about. I just got reusable pads after a while as I was getting through the disposable ones quite quickly.
I need to start looking at getting reusable nappies again as every time I change a nappy I think of it sitting in a landfill, but it’s such a minefield. There are so many different brands and I’ve already spent so many hours researching, but I’m still not sure.
Tiago keeps asking me how many people are reading it. I have analytics, but I haven’t really been looking as this is a good diary for myself. I do hope that other people like it though and that things I share might be useful/reassuring.
I have called the doctors for B 3 times now; once for her eye and twice for her skin. Since they’re all phone consultations first it’s so easy and less stressful than getting ready and going out all masked up. I’ve just had to send photos so they can see, but once they said I could come in if I wanted. We didn’t go but she’s been to the doctors for jabs, then her 8 week check-up, and she’s also had a hospital appointment for her feet. She was referred for her feet and hips when she was born, which were both because she was breech. We’re so lucky to have the NHS. (Yes, we need to protect it.)
A health visitor is coming to see us this week for the first time. She’s called at least once before, but this will be the first time meeting her face to face. Pre-Covid we would have already met her, and I think she would have come at around 6 weeks. B is nearly 9 weeks old.
I can imagine that it’s weird for people with a newborn who had a baby in non-Covid times previously. We currently only know about parenting during a pandemic, but I think we’re doing quite well.
My Mum and older sister got a lot of messages asking for help/advice in the early days, and a WhatsApp group of new mums that I’m part of is super useful for sharing and comparing. So thanks to all of them for their help!
Before B was born we thought we had everything we needed and then we just bought SO MUCH STUFF. I think opening packaging, removing tape and flattening boxes didn’t help my hands. I stopped using the gloves a few weeks ago (so yeah it didn’t last long). I need to get to it though as I am starting to hand wash more clothing (hello sour milk bibs) and my hands feel quite dry now. In B’s pushchair organiser I keep a bottle of hand sanitiser and a tube of hand cream…
Again, I talk about this a lot in this post, but breastfeeding is definitely going better. I think my nipples are starting to harden up a bit (hurrah) and it really is easier just breastfeeding her in the night.
We are still bottle-feeding her a little in the evening so it’s easier to give her her vitamin D and so Tiago can spend more time with her.
Yesterday we went out for dinner and it was the first time that she’d been awake during a meal. She was super chill and the service was slow, which was great as it gave us time to go through her routine. Tiago changed her nappy as I was a bit nervous about doing it (because of Covid – I’ve been avoiding public toilets), but it was great as the men’s and women’s toilets both had nappy changing facilities. I’ve only breastfed once so far in public, so I need to work on that. Last night we both just fed her with a bottle.
This is also why you see a bit of bum (sorry). In the first pictures of the shoot I was just pulling my top down over my pants, and in these I think I am pushing my top down a bit with the gloves.
I like not changing my clothes for shoots now as it’s more authentic/honest. I’m usually just sat at home in my underwear or with no leggings/trousers on as it’s too hot, but it must have been a bit cooler this day. I keep a dressing gown by the door just in case it’s needed, though I actually haven’t had to use it in a while.
Here are all 3 photos side by side (if you are reading this on a big enough screen).
One probably would have been enough to illustrate it, but I like all 3 and they show quite well how I do shoots and the adjustments I make with my poses. Shame I’m not in exactly the same position in the first one like I am in the other two, but I didn’t think at the time that I’d be choosing 3 images.
To end the post I thought I should comment on the title of the images – I Feel Like I Am Definitely A Different Person – I Am Wearing Cleaning Gloves.
I feel like I have changed so much since giving birth and I took these pictures less than a month after she was born. I’ve always been fairly messy, but I definitely like things to be tidier and more organised these days.
I need to do a post/picture on all the ways that I have changed, but this was one small thing (wearing gloves that I need to get back to wearing).
I look forward to continuing to change and hopefully it’s all for the best.
In my previous post there is a photo of my crying whilst pumping/expressing. I think I already had this post’s picture in mind before taking that one, but they are quite different looking pictures so I don’t think it matters that they are next to each other chronologically. This one is almost like a mugshot and has little emotion, though I feel more exposed in it.
Well I guess I am showing more of my body so it makes sense. I’ve just seen an Instagram message from a guy asking if he can send me a picture of his semen, so posting pictures like this does worry me. Yes, I’m showing parts of my boobs and talking about them a lot, but it’s not in a sexual way. I know that people don’t need an excuse to send gross messages, but seriously the most recent posts in my feed are me crying, me feeling shit, me singing to my baby, my husband with my baby, me dancing with my baby and my post-partum belly. Which part of that screams ‘please ask me if I want to see photos of your semen’?
(He’s since deleted the messages, but I screenshotted them. For anyone who might be unsure – before you press send, would you send it to your Grandma? If not then don’t send it to me. Thanks.)
Anyways, everyday we seem to have a different feeding journey. At the time of this photo B was 2 weeks old, and now writing this she is 8 weeks. I really need to write shorter posts so I can catch up and actually post things in real time…
This is a post about our feeding journey so far – starting with the hospital and then how it’s been at home. I hope that it will be helpful for someone who plans to breastfeed or is interested in comparing experiences. I’m sure I’ve missed out loads of things too, but feel free to get in touch with me about anything.
Also feel like I should state that I’m not an expert and I just wanted to share my/our feeding story. A list of helplines and websites for breastfeeding support is available on the NHS website.
This post unintentionally coincided with National Breastfeeding Week – Happy NBW!
(It feels weird saying Happy NBW as you’ll soon see that my journey hasn’t been happy at times…)
I was only planning on breastfeeding, but B had problems latching after she was born and we were originally kept in the hospital longer because of that. Due to Covid apparently they are slower to discharge people who are having problems breastfeeding as there is less face to face support available. This makes sense as I had so many different women touching my boobs (one at a time, don’t get too excited). A video call isn’t the same as someone physically trying to help.
I was in hospital for four nights and after my milk came in on day three I started to express using the hospital pump. No one told me you could pump colostrum (first milk) with them, which I later flagged up as that could have saved me some stress. I didn’t think you could as I’d read that as you produce so little colostrum, a lot of it just gets stuck in the parts rather than making it into the bottle. I guess this is only with certain pumps and now I know that this isn’t the case with hospital grade pumps (or so I believe).
With colostrum you can get syringes (I think I called the hospital or Liverpool BAMBIS – babies and mums breastfeeding information and support – for them) to start trying to collect it from 37 weeks. Some people have more success than others. I tried, but didn’t feel very confident, and then I ended up having a baby when I was 37 weeks and 5 days… I did try again to collect some when I was sat in the first maternity ward waiting for my surges to get stronger as a friend said she did that, but my mind was elsewhere.
(After birth) In hospital I found the syringes fiddly, but someone would help me collect the colostrum. I say someone as I’m not sure what people’s job titles were, though I guess most were midwives and there were a lot of student midwives. I was also visited by women who work/volunteer for BAMBIS. Everyone was so helpful that I thought about training as a breastfeeding specialist to help other women.
I found that one boob was more productive than the other, though she favoured the one that was less so. The productive one would collect a syringe full (1ml) in no time at all, whereas the other one would get 0.3ml with some struggle. You then empty the syringe close to the inside (obviously) of the cheek if I remember correctly.
After a day (at least) I remembered that a friend mentioned expressing into cups (special cups, not kitchen cups) so I asked for one of those. This was so much easier and again I flagged this up, and they said it should have been mentioned at the first check-in. Only the midwife was allowed to give B the colostrum with the cup (I would have been too scared to do it anyways). At first I didn’t realise that she could be fed with the cup, so I was sucking up the colostrum with the syringes.
Then once my milk came in I used ‘The Beast’.
I was still trying to breastfeed, but it was difficult as B’s latch wasn’t great, so I found it easier just to express and bottle feed her. I think by this point my confidence had also gone, but I knew other new mums had been having issues with breast feeding and it wasn’t just me.
I guess I just expected for it to be easy as it’s such a natural thing.
I was a bit scared to bottle feed and wind her in the beginning, so I made them show me a few times before I did. They seemed so rough with the bottle teat as I thought it was solid, but actually it was quite soft and flexible. Soon I got confident though and I had a good routine going on.
I was told to feed her every 3 hours, so I’d get a bottle of my milk out of the fridge half an hour-ish before to let it warm up to room temperature, wake her up (if she hadn’t woke up by herself), feed her and then pump and put the new milk in the fridge. At first I thought I wasn’t allowed in the room with the fridge, but once I knew I was then it was nice that my world was extended beyond the ward I was in. I took great delight (loser) in going there to get all my supplies – new bottles, teats – and to wash the pump parts, and to fill up my water bottle.
(I wasn’t allowed visitors due to Covid restrictions so being able to walk into a room opposite the one I was in seemed quite exciting. Later on I learned I was allowed to go outside to see people, but I wouldn’t have been able to take B so it would have been stressful. Ward visitors would have been useful for holding B and letting me sleep a little…)
Like I said earlier I had only planned to breastfeed. A friend had given us an electric pump (thanks Rebecca) and we’d bought some bottles and a teat just in case, but I didn’t think I would use it all anytime soon. However as I’d pumped and bottle fed in the hospital I felt confident doing that (and the pump was super easy to figure out).
I did keep trying to breastfeed (and now I’m not trying, I’m succeeding), but I’d lost my confidence and when I did try I got sore nipples quickly because of her latch, so I was mainly expressing and we were bottle feeding.
The teats at the hospital were just ‘normal’, but the one we bought (and similar ones by other brands) is meant for babies that are being breastfed too.
Milk will easily come out of the ‘normal one’ milk, but with the breastfeeding mimicking ones the baby has to make a vacuum with their mouth in order to get some.
It took us a couple of days to get confident with the new teat, but once we figured it out we were fine.
In the hospital they’d mentioned the ‘paced feeding’ approach with the regular teats to mimic breast-feeding. I’m not an expert on all of this, but to me the paced feeding way can be likened to eating with chopsticks – eating slower so you give your stomach time to realise that you’re getting full. You’re basically letting them drink for a bit (with the bottle held flat rather than tilted up), then stopping the flow of milk by taking the bottle away completely or tilting the bottle down to with the teat still in their mouth.
(B hadn’t really been sick from feeding until one day last week, when I had been breastfeeding her a lot as I was a bit anxious about going out and her maybe getting hungry.)
Anyways, like in the picture I usually express by pumping on one side then using a manual suction pump on the other side. I read a breastfeeding support group comment the other day that said you shouldn’t use the suction element of the manual pump until 6 weeks, but I’ve been doing it from the beginning? And then I swap and pump on the other side. A double pump is probably easier/quicker (and I read that it can produce more milk), but the way I do it also works.
When you pump or feed with one boob the other one will leak (like in the picture below), so the manual suction pump will collect the excess. It’s also a good way to transition from breastfeeding on one feed to bottle feeding with the next, or a future feed if you don’t collect enough from one feed and collect some from multiple feeds.
I would say that I got kind of stuck with expressing rather than breastfeeding. Since she doesn’t do much at this age, feeding her is a good way to spend time with her and bond. Tiago’s been very supportive and I think perhaps his keenness to feed her also made me want to pump more (I’m not blaming him). When he feeds her it means I know I have a little time to do something, like on the 5th when we got home from dinner, and she needed feeding so T fed her whilst I did a photo shoot and then pumped after.
I was giving myself so much extra work by having to sterilise everything each time though, and in the night Tiago would be feeding her while I was pumping. In hindsight all being awake at 3am isn’t great, especially when Tiago has work in the morning. I’d also then have to sterilise stuff and often I’d wait for the machine to be done. I’d take the lid off, then wait until it had cooled down enough for me to take things out (I burn myself easily), so I wouldn’t get back to sleep for a long time.
I thought I should try to breastfeed everyday at least once, though sometimes it just didn’t happen and I would go 2 days without trying. It has gotten easier now that she is older and her mouth is a bit bigger. I don’t always have to guide her to the nipple and help her get a good latch; she can do it herself now.
So eventually I started to breastfeed during the night. Sometimes my nipples would be sore, especially as I wasn’t use to breastfeeding so much so I’ve started to use my nipple shields lately when it feels necessary.
I’ve now moved to mainly breastfeeding during the day/early night as well, but T will often offer to feed her after work/in the early evenings, especially if he feels like he hasn’t seen her much.
A friend also told us (and the NHS backs it up) that breast milk fed babies need to take a vitamin D supplement. There are many different brands out there and we have one that seems easier to put in a bottle of milk, though you can put it on your nipple. So this is another reason why we usually give her at least one bottle of expressed milk a day. Maybe when it runs out I’ll try a different one…
Everyday is a different feeding day though. Today (7th) it’s so hot that we’ve just bottle fed her. I breastfed her at midnight and 4am, then she woke up at 7 and since Tiago was awake I asked him to feed her with milk that was in the fridge. I didn’t sleep much as I was aware that I needed to pump, which I eventually did at 9am. Then because it was such a hot day it seemed better to just keep bottle feeding her. I stop and start so much with these posts that now it’s 9pm and I’m pumping and I feel really sweaty.
It’s now 10pm and it’s super hot, but I think I’ll try to breastfeed her in the night just to make my life easier by not having to sterilise a lot. She also hasn’t slept much today, so I’m hoping she’ll sleep for a long time tonight but we’ll see. (8am update- She went to sleep after midnight in the end, but slept until 6am when I breastfed her. I changed her nappy, fed her a little more and she’s asleep again.)
I used to pump every 3 hours during the day, but now I know that my milk production is good and there is quite a bit in the fridge I have been doing it every 4. After she slept for 7 hours in a row last week I also know that I can not pump or feed for that long and it’s also fine. Around 3 hours though I will start to feel a little pain for about 30 seconds if I’m awake which is quite odd.
After coming home from hospital I’d get calls from the breastfeeding support service and they told me that I should try to breastfeed first before expressing. I know on the calls that they were trying to help, but I felt like I had to justify myself to them a lot. Generally the advice you get can be quite different depending on who you talk to, and sometimes you learn things after you’ve already done them – someone said that babies shouldn’t have dummies before 6 weeks until breastfeeding is established but a midwife gave B a dummy in the hospital (with my permission) when she was having photo therapy as she just wouldn’t settle in the machine. By the time I heard about the 6 week thing I’d already been giving her a dummy for at least 2 weeks I think.
In the early days I was warned a lot about over producing – pumping can make this happen apparently. My boobs would get quite engorged and I’d feel lumps, but massaging them in the shower would really help. Just be careful when you get out as you might find that you’re leaking… (If you can’t shower then dunking them in water is meant to be good.)
I’ve said before that if we feel guilty about things (that are legal and reasonable), it’s only because people are judgemental about something that has nothing to do with them. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, breast milk feed or a mix of feed, people will have things to say about it. As long as your baby is getting fed in some form and is putting on weight then that’s great.
You just do what’s best for you and your family.
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