10 Things every new parent needs to know

Parenting is one of life’s greatest adventures! Starting out on that journey is exciting and scary in equal measure. There are so many things to learn and remember, and many people are quick to offer advice and opinions on how you should be raising this tiny new person you’ve brought into the world.

But there are some things people don’t tell you. Maybe they think it will scare you, maybe they’ve just forgotten because it’s been so long since their children were tiny. So I’ve compiled a list of ten things every new parent should know.

 

   1. Meconium sticks to EVERYTHING!

Seriously, you think you’ve got it all ready. Nappies sorted, wipes on hand. But then your baby does their first poo. And you realise you could never have been prepared. This substance is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Thick and black, like something from the depths of hell. My husband described it as like melted licorice, a sticky black mess. You’ll be there with your cotton wool balls and water, and all it will do is smear it around and make a bigger mess! Don’t worry, after that first one it gets easier!

 

2. Boredom

No one will tell you this. It’s not something people like to admit to. But babies don’t really do much. They eat, cry, sleep and poo. And they look adorable. They will run you ragged, and sleep deprivation is an absolute killer and makes you feel like you are constantly on the go in those early days. But when the novelty, for want of a better word, passes, you will find yourself suffering from periods of boredom. They are beautiful, fascinating, wonderful little people. But the days can very easily all run into each other. Like Groundhog Day, except with less sleep and a snuffling, rooting baby instead of an alarm clock. Go out, see old friends or make new ones at Mummy groups. Or just go for a walk. Break up the monotony. You will both feel better for it.

 

3. Cluster feeding

You may have read a hundred parenting books, perused a thousand breastfeeding forums. But nothing can prepare you for the reality of cluster feeding. Most breastfed babies will do this in the evenings. Some can start as early as 3 in the afternoon. But you can pretty much guarantee that you will end up sat on a chair, or on the sofa, with a baby who just feeds and feeds, maybe naps for 5 minutes, and then feeds again. On repeat. For hours. This isn’t a sign that you have no milk. It isn’t a sign that your milk is “no good”, as well meaning friends or relatives will tell you. This is completely normal newborn behaviour. It’s basically baby signalling your body to make more milk, putting in an order for later if you like. It’s tiring, and can be frustrating at times. But it’s a necessary part of most breastfeeding journeys. So just make yourself comfy, get a good supply of snacks and drinks and grab the tv remote. Now would be a good time to catch up on all those favourites you’ve recorded, or start binge watching a new show on Netflix.

Oh, and just when you think you’re past the cluster feeding hell, bam! Growth spurt. The first 6 weeks are pretty much one big growth spurt, but they don’t stop there. Buy new cushions. You’ll be spending plenty of time on that sofa 🙂
4. Flashing the postman

Or the Amazon delivery man. Or the Myhermes courier. We’ve all done it. You’re feeding baby, boob out as you’re at home right? No need for discreet feeding here! Baby falls asleep. You sit, enjoying the brief respite, or just finishing up watching that episode of NCIS you’d started. Then there’s a knock at the door. You quickly but carefully lay baby down, and hurry to answer before they decide you’re not in and leave you the dreaded “While you were out” card. You just make it, opening the door just as they’re reaching for their pen. They look up, their eyes widen and then they hurriedly look away, shoving your parcel at you whilst mumbling something incoherent and then practically running back to their van. You close the door, wondering what had got into them, how rude! Then you feel the draft. In the rush to answer the door you’ve forgotten to put your boob away. You’ve treated Postman Pat to a view he’d have to pay good money for at Spearmint rhino. The shame. Next time he knocks at your door, assuming you haven’t scared him away for good, he will probably make some half-hearted attempt at humour, telling you he didn’t recognize you with your clothes on or suchlike. Thus cementing your embarrassment, and you vow never to order anything again, ever. Until you see that new sling that you have to have. And then you pray for a different courier.

 

5. They sleep through. You don’t.

You pray for sleep every night. You reach a point where you would literally give anything for a full nights sleep, or even a few hours more than you’re getting. But then it happens. Your body wakes you from a deep sleep, telling you it’s time baby was awake for a feed. You sit up abruptly, your heart pounding. Baby hasn’t woken. Your boobs feel like they’re about to explode. Why hasn’t baby woken? You look over to where they lie. You can’t just about make out their little profile. You watch them for a minute, trying to see the rise and fall of their little chest. It’s too dark, you can’t see! You reach over, rest your hand on their chest. Hold your breath so you can better detect any movement. You feel their little heart beating under your fingers, feel the reassuring up and down movement of their breathing. You breathe a sigh of relief, try and slow the beating of your own heart as you lie down and try to make the most of this unexpected turn of events.

But one of two things happen. Either you get comfy and start to doze off, but you have disturbed the baby! Soon that familiar snuffling sound and fist chewing start. You were so close to getting more sleep! But you had to ruin it. Now you’re awake for the next two hours as baby makes up for the missed feed, and you curse yourself. Or baby sleeps on soundly, but you just can’t get back to sleep. You lie awake, expecting baby to wake at any moment. You could have had two extra hours. Instead you have a headache, and you’re hungry, and damn it, now you have to pee. Sigh.

 

6. Snoring husbands make you homicidal

You’re sleep deprived. You’re awake for the 5th time, feeding the baby. Your nerves are frayed, and you just want to sleep for goodness sake! And what is that noise coming from the other side of the bed?! It sounds like a warthog has escaped from the zoo and found its way into your bed! The longer you lie there, the louder the sound gets. You give his leg a little tap with your foot, hoping to get him to turn over. He snorts like a pig hunting truffles, and then settles back into his rhythm. Resentful thoughts start to enter your head. Why does he get to sleep, when you’re awake for hours on end? Look at him, all peaceful and shit! How dare he even breathe, let alone snore! You contemplate putting the pillow over his head, just to muffle the noise a bit of course 😉 But you content yourself with shoving your elbow into his ribs instead. He wakes with a start, gives you a hurt look. “What was that for?!”, “You were snoring.” “I don’t snore!”

Then he turns over, goes back to sleep. And for a little while there is blissful silence. But now you think about it, even his breathing is annoying……….

 

7. Bottom sniffing

Before having a baby you would have turned your nose up at the thought of sniffing another human being’s backside. Its something dogs do, not people. But when you have a baby you find yourself doing it far more regularly than you care to admit. There is a suspicious smell in the air. You pick the baby up and sniff their bum. Baby passes wind. You pick them up and sniff their bum (to check for follow through). Butt sniffing is your new reality.

 

8. Hot drinks? Don’t make me laugh!

Pre-baby you probably liked nothing better than to sit down with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee. You took it for granted. But when you have a baby, drinking or eating anything whilst its hot is an almost unobtainable luxury. Baby is sleeping peacefully. You put the kettle on. You pour the water into your cup, and at this point you start to think that maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to enjoy this while its hot. You finish making your drink. You sit on the sofa with a sigh of contentment. And baby wakes up. Your drink is put down whilst you settle your precious little one. By the time you get back to it its cold. You play out a variation of this scenario every single time. Its like your baby has a sixth sense and knows just when you are sitting down with something hot. Steam radar. You learn to eat quickly, one handed. Sometimes whilst feeding. Sometimes dropping food on baby’s head. But thats ok. Mama got to eat!

 

9. A towel is your best friend in the middle of the night

Picture the scene. Its 2am. You are awoken by the sound of retching. Your baby or child is liberally painting their cot, or your bed, with vomit. You comfort them, clean them up. Change the sheets and trudge downstairs to put them in soak, or straight into the machine. 2.30am, and you finally settle back down to go to sleep. 3am the cycle is repeated. This time, you throw a towel over the sheets and go back to sleep. Towels are easier to change than sheets. You tend to have more of them too. They work great for vomit, pee, middle of the night water spillages. They save your sanity, and your sleep. Non-parents will sneer, think its disgusting. Even other parents may try to act horrified. But we’ve all done it. Long live the midnight towels!

 

10. You won’t remember your name half the time. But you’ll know every word of the Peppa Pig theme tune

Pregnancy kills brain cells. This is a fact. Baby brain is a very real phenomenon. Add sleep deprivation into the mix, and you’re basically a zombie (or a “mombie”, as its now known). Putting the milk in the cupboard and your car keys in the fridge will become second nature. You essentially turn into Dory, suffering from short term me-memory loss. But that damn Peppa theme tune just keeps getting stuck in your head! You find yourself singing it to yourself. In fact, kid’s tv theme tunes in general seem to be made to be as catchy and irritating as possible. Even if you limit screen time, and they only watch once in a blue moon, you will still find yourself humming along to Thomas and friends as you cook dinner.

“Darling, where did you put that important letter?”

“I’ve no idea Dear. But I can tell you what Nanny Plum and the Grand Old Elf have been up to and how to make Easy Peasey Pasta like Bing!”

 

Parenting is a roller coaster ride for sure. But those early days pass in such a blur. Thats why what I do is so important. Capturing those memories, so you can look back on them and remember those days with fondness.

Kelly.x

 

Little Pandas Photography – Providing a bespoke home photography service in Hythe and SE Kent.

 

 

 

Magali and Miles – Breastfeeding mini session

I love babies. I love everything about them. Small ones, big ones, ones with hair, ones without. I am a baby person 🙂 I find them equally as cute no matter how they are fed. But there is just something about seeing a mother breastfeeding her child that speaks to me deeply. It is something I feel passionate about, something that I truly believe is special. Not in a “breastfed babies are better” way, not at all. But in a primal way.

I am so honoured every time someone hires me to capture these moments for them. Often I am asked not to share, and obviously I completely respect that. For some feeding is a private thing that they want to record just for themselves, and that is absolutely ok 🙂 But that just makes it even more special when I am allowed to share!

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Magali is one of those few who have consented to sharing. From the moment she told me she would prefer a public shoot to a home session I knew we were on the same wavelength! I think we were both overjoyed that the weather was kind on the day of the shoot, so we were able to head to the park.

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The autumn colours were out in force and gave the location such a beautiful palette!

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Miles was just adorable, giving me lots of smiles. Such a happy baby! Thankfully he was hungry too, so we were able to maximise the variety from the session.

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I am so happy to have been able to capture these memories for Magali and Miles. The photos make me smile, and hopefully by sharing them we are doing our bit to help breastfeeding be seen as the natural, biological, “normal” act that it is.

#normalisebreastfeeding

Kelly.x

 

Breastfeeding mini sessions are just £45*, bookings available for home or public sessions.

*A 50p per mile surcharge is payable for sessions taking place 15 miles or over outside the Hythe area.

 

More education – Adding another string to my bow!

I’m so excited! Tomorrow marks the start of a new journey for me, something I have wanted to do for a very long time.

Tomorrow I have my first Sure start volunteer training session. And the day after that, my very first Breastfeeding peer supporter training session! Eek!

I’ve been passionate about breastfeeding since my third baby was born. We had so many issues, from a c-section birth to 10% weight loss in the first week, to being hospitalised at 6 weeks seriously ill with bronchiolitis, to undiagnosed silent reflux and all that goes with it. I managed to get through them all. And I couldn’t have done it without the help of a forum full of ladies who were a font of all knowledge when it came to breastfeeding. Some were professionals, some just spoke from experience. But they helped me so much. I have tried to pay that forward ever since. So being accepted to train as a peer supporter is a dream come true for me!

I already feel that I’ve learnt so much about breastfeeding, but I know there is more to learn, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity.

It also means that I can provide an extra service to my clients, if needed. Which makes me so happy, because I can combine two of the things I am most passionate about!

I’ll keep you all up to date with my training journey.

Kelly.x

12 Bright/Rainbow buys for babies

I love rainbows! I may have mentioned that once or twice before 😉 I don’t really like the whole gender stereotyping thing, pink for a girl and blue for a boy. I love things that have a bit of colour, a bit of personality. A rainbow can always cheer up even the dullest day!

So I decided to share some of my favourite rainbow/bright things I’ve come across.

Little Bird by Jools Oliver at Mothercare

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I LOVE the Little Bird range! Sadly it only goes up to age 7-8, meaning that only two of my little pandas fit into the clothes still. But we sure make the most of it! The bright colours and vintage feel, plus the often gender neutral designs, make this our go-to brand for fun, stand out clothes on the high street.

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Rainbows and brights are the signature colours, so its easy to spot another Little Bird whilst out and about. A great conversation opener!

Sizes start from newborn, so its never too soon to be a Little Bird.

 

Mamas and Papas Jamboree Blanket

Mamas and papas blanket

Made from 100% cotton, this blanket is just so bright and colourful! It has co-ordinating items available too, so you can choose to just add a splash of colour to your pram, or deck out the whole nursery in matching brights. Available from Mamas and Papas.

I also have to give a mention to the Mamas and Papas Gingerbread blanket, which is another one of my favourites!

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Kokadi Rainbow Stars Wrap

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This is such a happy, bright and funky wrap! Woven from 100% organic cotton, once its broken in its so butter soft and comfortable. I don’t own one, but I wish I did! One of my favourite wraps of all time.

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Annzel Creations Rainbow Nappy

rainbow nappy

Whats not to love about this gorgeous cloth nappy? Rainbows AND unicorns! Its just awesome. And handmade too! Annzel creations is a WAHM (Work at home mum), and she doesn’t just make nappies! Check out her Facebook page for more yummy rainbowness!

 

Sainsburys Colour Sort Rainbow

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I love wooden toys. They are generally so much more tactile than plastic, and more hardwearing. Obviously the natural materials is a big bonus too!

This rainbow from Sainsburys is everything I love in a toy. Wooden, brightly coloured, fun and educational. My littlest panda has one, and he loves it!

 

All The Small Things Tie Dye Clothing

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Photo by All the small things

As the slightly-crunchy, hippy, AP parent I am of course I love myself a bit of tie dye! We were gifted a babygrow dyed by Linds at All The Small Things. It was love! My little panda looked amazing in it, and the quality of the dye job was fantastic. I’ve been a fan ever since! Linds takes customs, so if you have something in mind then just pop over to her Facebook page or website and ask!

 

JojoMaman Bebe Rainbow Stripe Slipper Socks

rainbow slipper socks

These were a lifesaver for us when Littlest panda was small! Being in the sling alot of the time, and being the Houdini of socks, he would get really cold feet. We would have people stop us in the street and say “Oh, aren’t his little feet getting cold?”, when he had started off with a pair of socks on! So when someone suggested these to me I was ready to try anything!

Part thick sock, part moccasin, they really are an amazing invention. You can pull them on and tuck in little trousers, which means no riding up and leaving a bare patch of skin. And no matter how much they kick and kick those little legs, these beauties are not coming off! Plus they look awesome, so its a win-win 🙂 Available from the JoJo website here.

 

Bubble and Geek Rainbow Romper

bubble and geek rainbow romper

Another fantastic WAHM creation! Bubble and Geek make some gorgeous rainbow-y things for babies and kids, but this rainbow romper is my favourite. Handmade with love, from quality fabrics. They are well wroth a look if you are wanting something unique for your little ones! Check out her website or her Facebook page

 

Cheeky Wipes Rainbow Muslins

rainbow muslins

Muslins are a parenting essential! They are so versatile. Mopping up spills and baby sick, using as a nursing cover or a swaddling rag, a comforter or a face wipe. their uses are endless. So if you’re going to be whipping it out every 5 minutes you may as well make it pretty right?

These gorgeous rainbow muslins are from Cheeky wipes (who also make great reusable baby wipe kits!).

Silicone Teething/Feeding Necklace

rainbow teeting feeding necklace

I absolutely love these necklaces from Funky Twiddle Mamas! So bright and colourful, but so useful too. Not only do they look stylish, but they are great for little ones to chomp on to ease the pain of teething. they are great for distracting little one during breastfeeding, to stop them from pulling hair, scratching and turning around to see what the cat is up to every 3 seconds 😉 They can also be worn when babywearing, to give baby something to fiddle with. Not just a pretty adornment!

 

Rainbow Legwarmers

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For those days when socks or booties just aren’t enough, or for showing off those pretty nappies in the summertime, you can’t beat these funky legwarmers from Ali Express. Gender neutral and oh so bright, they are amazing for keeping little legs warm in the sling, or over the top of socks in wellington boots.

 

Short Rainbow Romper and Bib

Rainbow baby romper and bib

This gorgeous set is another WAHM creation, from the very talented Rainbow Baby. As the name suggests, she specialises in rainbows! She has so many awesome makes, I struggled to pick just one for this list. Pop over to her Facebook page and check out her other makes, you won’t be disappointed!

 

I’ve had so much fun putting this list together, and found it so hard to narrow it down! In fact, I may just have to do a follow up 😉 I used to despair about the lack of funky clothes for little ones, boys in particular. Everything seemed to be dull and beige or blue (or pink pink pink for little girls). But as you can see, there are nice clothes and other items out there! I hope this list helps you to find them 🙂

 

Kelly.x

The Importance of capturing memories

So I’ve mentioned before why I got interested in photography. I’m the youngest of 5 children, and Mum and Dad didn’t bother with photos of me. One reel of black and white film sat in a drawer and never developed was what my baby years were reduced to. I have no doubt that my parents love me, that I was a cherished addition to the family. But I guess they just didn’t feel the need. As a result I have gone the other way. My children are immortalised in print many many many times over! Each of them have their own albums, and they love to look through them and try to remember the day they were taken, the moment they were captured.

Sometimes they aren’t even aware that I am photographing them.

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The other day my littlest man fell asleep on the sofa. He looked so adorable, and I was so full of love and wonder that I just had to grab my camera! He is growing up so quickly, and he rarely stays still (as with most 2 year olds, he is a miniature hurricane on legs!), so capturing these quiet moments, those little details of his beautiful little toddler face, is so important to me. I will never let my children look back and wonder why there are no photos of them, wonder as I did growing up if they are somehow less important than their siblings, less worthy of remembering as time goes by.

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So why should you pay someone to capture memories for you?

Maybe you have a decent camera, or just a camera phone. You can catch those moments yourself right? Absolutely! Snap away, immortalise every detail! Make memories, and shoot them. Print them, make albums. These moments are important! Too important to just be stored on your phone, or your computer. What would happen if your computer crashed, your phone broke? All those memories, lost forever. Shoot them, print them, pass them down to the next generation!

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So why do you need professional photos?

Sometimes its tiresome being behind the camera. Look through my family albums and the only photos you will find of me are selfies. I’ve been so busy capturing my children that I have rarely appeared in front of the camera. This is going to change, family photographs for the album and the wall are in the pipeline. Yes, I am going to pay someone else to photograph my family and I! A bit of a busman’s holiday, but necessary. Because I want my children to look back and find photos of me with them, not forget what I looked like because I was always behind the camera.

A pro photographer can catch moments that you might miss, will let you be involved in those moments instead of just being an observer and will give you a finished product, not just a snapshot. Editing plays a big part in a photographer’s style, its much more than just pressing a button and burning to a disc!

Professional photography is a luxury, there is no doubt about it. But it is one that is very much worth investing in. Some people spend their life doing housework, and hating every second. Some hire a cleaner to do it for them. Its not that they can’t do it themselves, they would just rather free up time to do other things, and pay a professional. Its very much the same with photography. Its not for every day, but it is an investment. In your family, in your memories, in the next generation. It is worth every penny.

Kelly.x

10 Myths about Breastfeeding – Busted

I feel I need to start this post by stating that I am in no way against Mums who use formula milk to feed their babies. I was one of those Mums with my first baby. I believe that every woman should be free to make her own choice. But whatever you choose, you should have all the information possible to enable you to make an educated, informed decision. The problem is that there are so many myths surrounding breastfeeding its hard to know what to believe. Formula manufacturers spend billions of pounds on advertising every year, perpetuating these myths in such an insidious fashion that many people now assume they are facts. Even women who have chosen to breastfeed can fall foul to these untruths, made to doubt themselves and their ability to feed the child they have grown inside them by well meaning family members and friends or ill informed health care providers. Even I have been caught out and fallen for some of these.

So I wanted to try and dispel some of these myths, and reassure any Mother who is doubting herself; Keep going Mama, you got this!

I’m not a medical professional, I’m just a Mummy of 5, who has breastfed 4 of them. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule. So if in any doubt then please seek the help of a qualified professional; a lactation consultant, La leche league advisor or local peer supporter.

Onto the myths!

Lets start with the biggest one of them all.

Formula milk is just as good as breastmilk

No. No its not. Formula milk is made to provide the vitamins and minerals that a baby needs to grow and survive. It is a vital tool in helping babies who have no other means of nutrition and has ensured the survival of countless infants.

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Picture courtesy of http://www.wisdomandbirth.blogspot.co.uk

However, it isn’t alive! It doesn’t contain antibodies that change according to what your baby has been exposed to and needs protection from. It doesn’t contain hormones, growth factors or enzymes. It doesn’t change consistency and composition constantly, adapting to such things as the weather and the time of day; producing more thinner, thirst quenching milk when the weather is hot, and more antibody rich milk when baby is poorly for example. It doesn’t contain a substance (HAMLET) that kills cancer cells, or help prevent against cancer in the mother and child, or help reduce the chances of allergies, diabetes and obesity. Breast is best is not correct, a slogan thought up by the formula companies to suggest an unobtainable ideal. Breast is biologically normal.

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Photo courtesy of Kat Wreford Via Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies Facebook group. The milk on the left was expressed on a normal day, the milk on the right on a day when both Mother and baby were ill. The “poorly” milk closely resembles colostrum, from all the extra antibodies present.

Formula has its place, its okay. But it just doesn’t measure up in comparison.

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Poster shared via http://www.themilkmeg.com

You can’t breastfeed if you have small breasts

Not true! The size of your breasts is down to how much fatty tissue you have. The actual mechanics of milk making, the alveoli, ductules and milk ducts, are roughly the same size in all women. So having small breasts does not mean you can’t breastfeed!

If anything it is more of a challenge the larger your breasts are, as tiny newborns might struggle to latch on to a bigger nipple and take enough areola into their mouth. This doesn’t mean that you will struggle to breastfeed if you have larger breasts though! You just may need a little help to get that latch right.

 

Breastfeeding is supposed to hurt, until your nipples `toughen up’

Not true! Yes it may hurt when baby latches on initially, but if the pain continues then that usually indicates a problem. It could be that baby has a tongue tie, or that your latch needs adjusting slightly. Usually just the smallest change in position, or simply latching baby off (by breaking the suction with your little finger in the corner of their mouth) and trying again can do the trick.

If the pain carries on then its best to get some expert help. Many children’s centres or clinics run a weekly breastfeeding group, where you can go to have a coffee and a chat with other Mums in the same boat, and they will have a trained peer supporter who can watch you feed and give you any help you need. Some of these clinics even have a trained lactation consultant attending, who can check for tongue ties or other issues that may be causing problems with breastfeeding.

 

If you have a big baby you won’t have enough milk 

Again, not true! Our bodies are wonderful things. They grow these beautiful little people, keep them safe and secure for 9 months (sometimes more or less). Yet when they arrive we tend to doubt our ability to carry on providing all the nourishment they need.

Breastfeeding works on a supply and demand basis. The more you feed your baby, the more milk you will produce to satisfy their needs. Sometimes it can seem like you are feeding your bigger baby too frequently, and well meaning people may tell you they are too big and they need more milk than you can provide. But don’t listen! This frequent feeding is completely normal. They are just putting their order in for how much they need you to produce, and you will provide it so long as you let them nurse as often as they want to so they can “demand” your “supply”.

 

If a newborn feeds too often you’re doing it wrong, or you don’t have enough milk

You guessed it, not true! As i mentioned above, breastfeeding is supply and demand. In those first few days your newborn’s stomach is so tiny, they only need around half a teaspoon full of colostrum at every feed. But having a stomach this tiny, and breastmilk being so easily digestible, means that they are soon hungry again. It is completely normal for a newborn to feed 8-12 times a day, and those feeds can seem to blend into each other. As baby grows, so does their stomach. But they still only need tiny amounts of milk at each feed to fill them up. So the feeds stay frequent, although they may start to space out slightly as baby grows. Just go with it. Scheduling feeds can have a detrimental effect on supply, and no-one wants a screaming, hungry baby because they are not “due” a feed for another twenty minutes. Your baby knows best when it is time for a feed, and will be happier being fed on demand. And a happy baby means a much more harmonious existence! Its hard, it really is. But its completely normal!

 

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The first six weeks in a newborn’s life are pretty much one big growth spurt. They may seem to settle into a bit of a feeding pattern for a few days, but then suddenly go back to wanting to nurse all the time. They may seem fussy at the breast, sucking for a minute and then bobbing off, crying. But then wanting to latch back on straight away. Don’t panic! This is absolutely normal. Infact, its pretty amazing really! Baby knows that they are growing fast, either physically or developmentally. So they are telling your body that it needs to make more milk. This can last for a few days or a few weeks, but your body will get the message from baby and start to produce more milk. It can be soul destroying, and you may start to doubt yourself. You may have that well meaning partner, friend or family member telling you to just give baby one bottle, to give you a break. Or saying you’re obviously not enough so they need more. But this will just prolong the agony. Giving a bottle means your baby isn’t suckling, and if baby isn’t suckling then your body isn’t getting the message to make more milk. So the fussing and frequent nursing continues, and you feel worse. You give more bottles, which just exasperates the problem further. Before you know it you have fallen into the top up trap, and your breastfeeding journey is all but over. This is usually what happened to people who will tell you they didn’t have enough milk 😦 I fell into this trap with my first son. I was told to top up with formula because my son was sleeping through the night and she (the health visitor) said he wasn’t getting enough calories. Being new to breastfeeding I took her word for it. So I started waking him up when I went to bed and giving one bottle of formula. Then, when he went through a growth spurt, I worried that I wasn’t enough for him, so he started to have one more bottle in the morning. But of course his fussing continued, so gradually we started to give him a bottle after a breastfeed, to “top him up” as he still seemed hungry. I didn’t know about the top up trap, or that I had fallen into it with a big bang. I limped along still breastfeeding him until 6 months, but by then my supply was pretty much gone and we switched to formula completely. I wish I had known then what I know now! I never would have given him that first bottle. At 10 months old my son had an accident which made me never want to give a bottle again. When i fell pregnant with my next baby I researched breastfeeding as much as I could, and thats when i found out about growth spurts. So when it came to the growth spurts with my next three children I was prepared. It didn’t make it any easier, I still had nights where I sat and sobbed from exhaustion and doubted myself. But I carried on, and I got through it.

The other big growth spurt is at around 4 months. This one is a monster, and is often accompanied by a period of sleep regression too. Just because we don’t have enough to deal with with the fussy, grumpy baby during the day! These two things combined often lead to parents mistakenly believing that their baby needs real food. But in most cases this isn’t true. Its just another killer spurt, and it will pass after a few weeks.

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The Wonder weeks is a great book and accompanying app, it explains when to expect a growth spurt or developmental leap and what to expect from their behaviour.

 

Breastfed babies never need winding

Tell that to my children 😉 They have all been very windy babies, from both ends. My two younger girls and my youngest son all had reflux. I had a catch 22 situation, because they fed so often to ease their pain but then ended up needing winding. But when I winded them, particularly my son, if I wasn’t careful the whole feed would come back up!

The idea behind this myth is a sound one, in fact it is often true that breastfed babies don’t get alot of wind. A baby who feeds from the breast with a secure latch should not swallow much, if any, air alongside their milk. Unlike a baby who feeds from a bottle. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to wind your breastfed baby. You should still burp them after every feed, even if they don’t bring any wind up. Because if they do have wind and you leave them, you will have a very unhappy baby! Sometimes a very small baby will fall asleep at the breast before they have finished their feed, particularly if they are suffering from jaundice. Winding them is a good way to wake them up a bit, to encourage them to finish the feed.

 

If your diet is rubbish then your milk will be too

Despite what the formula companies would have you believe (anyone seen the adverts showing a baby nursing on a burger in place of a breast?!) this is not true! Mother’s diet has little impact on the success of breastfeeding or the quality of her milk. Mothers in famine hit countries still manage to produce milk and nurse their infants, often providing them with the only decent nourishment they receive in their early years. This wouldn’t be possible if what she ate impacted her milk supply. Obviously eating a balanced, healthy diet is recommended. But if you have the occasional takeaway or live on rice and beans then don’t fret too much, you can still breastfeed just as well as the next person. the truth is your poor diet is more likely to impact on you than baby! Look at a baby like a small (adorable) parasite. They take all that they need, and if mother is lacking then they leave her without. If you think your diet might not be the best, there are vitamin supplements made especially for breastfeeding women. So you can replace anything you may be lacking.

 

You can’t drink alcohol and breastfeed, you have to “pump and dump”

Dr Jack Newman, one of the world’s leading experts on breastfeeding, shared a very interesting post on his Facebook page. In the post he quotes a unnamed mother who blogged about her experiment with having her milk tested by a professional lab after drinking varying amounts of alcohol. The conclusion was that not enough alcohol is present in breastmilk to prohibit feeding your baby. The amount quoted was likened to mixing one shot of vodka with over 70 litres of mixer. A drop in the ocean, and not anywhere near enough to cause harm to baby. If you want to read the full post the link is here.

The general rule of thumb is that as long as you are sober enough to hold your child safely, you are sober enough to feed them. Now go enjoy that well earned glass of wine!

 

Theres no need to breastfeed after 6 months

Nope, not true. At around six months of age your baby’s needs will change. They will start to need more than just milk to satisfy their nutritional requirements. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t need your milk anymore. Breastmilk continues to offer the same benefits to a baby who has started solid foods as it does to a newborn. It still contains antibodies, anti viruses, hormones, enzymes and all the other good stuff. It still changes to meet the needs of your child on a feed to feed basis, and even during a feed. Its still free 😉 There is no need to stop breastfeeding when you hit six months, or when you start solids.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, and then continuing breastfeeding alongside solid foods to age two and beyond. I’m guessing they know what they’re talking about more than your Mum’s cousin’s Husband’s Sister 🙂

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Breastfed babies need extra water when its hot

Not true, and actually quite dangerous! Babies under two months who are given extra water to drink are at risk of jaundice, from higher bilirubin levels. They are also at risk of a serious condition called Oral water intoxication. Breastmilk is made up of 88% water, so there is really no need to provide extra water to a baby who is fed on demand, even when its really hot. Offering extra water can fill baby’s little tummy, meaning they don’t want to nurse and are at risk of malnutrition as they are not taking their milk feeds.

Breastmilk is fantastic stuff. Your breasts will produce more thinner milk to quench thirst in hot weather. Baby will probably want to nurse more frequently; to have a “drink” rather than a full feed. But as long as you let them nurse they will be fine. From six months its okay to start offering a cup of water with meals.

 

 

So there you have it. I hope I’ve managed to allay a few fears, and right a few misconceptions. If you need more information, or a more scientific viewpoint, there are some great resources on the web. I have to give a big shout out to the lovely members of an awesome Facebook group, Breastfeeding Yummy Mummys, who helped me decide which myths to tackle by sharing some that they had come up against. They have helped me, and many other women, through some tough patches.

La Leche League are a great organisation, who have been running in the UK offering breastfeeding help and support for 45 years. They have a helpline that is manned by volunteers who are trained to offer help and guidance. I’ve only had to call them once, but I’ll never forget that lovely lady who listened patiently to me sobbing down the phone the day my milk came in with my first breastfed baby that he wouldn’t latch on. We were both so stressed out, but she calmed me down and just listened to me, and then offered helpful advise on positioning and exaggerated latches which really really helped. The number is 0845 120918. Please don’t hesitate to call if you need help, its what they’re there for.

 

Kellymom.com is a great source of information on all things breastfeeding (no, its not me!). Its my go-to website if I’m unsure of anything.

 

To read more about the WHO recommendations on breastfeeding visit here.

 

For more from Dr Jack Newman visit his Breastfeedinginc website here or his facebook page here.

 

Thanks for reading!

Kelly.x