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Intolerance; the Battle for Breastfeeding in Public

There has been a few of these stories in the media lately. Breastfeeding mothers staged protest in Brighton centre, after a new mum was told the sight of her breastfeeding in public was ‘unpleasant’ and was asked to cover up more. An Oxford branch of Debenhams was recently involved in a dispute after two managers asked a breastfeeding mother to stop.

I find these incidents appalling, and as a mother who is (still!) breastfeeding, can say that these experiences are all too common. I prefer to cover up as much as I can, but it isn’t always possible. I felt the harsh stares of the disapproving public, who are either ignorant to the needs of a little one or believe a new mum should be cooped up in her home until she is ready to give up the boob.

It has become a lot better in recent times, with women gaining more rights due to the Equality Act of October 2011. It means that a woman cannot be asked to stop, ‘cover up more’ or be refused service or asked to leave a public place because she is breastfeeding. However, many people are unaware of this, which results in people believing it is okay to ask a mother to stop if it makes them uncomfortable, and equally some mothers feel guilty or obliged to grant them their request.

Breastfeeding can be stressful enough, without adding the pressure of carrying out this task in public. Also, when a baby needs feeding, it needs feeding. For the most part, it won’t stop crying until it gets milk so asking someone to stop breastfeeding isn’t going to help matters in any respect.

I also logged onto Facebook this afternoon to see that someone had posted the following status;

Note my comments marked HM. I just couldn’t believe it. I am pleased however that I am not the only one who objected, but I had to really hold back the shock and anger that was brewing…

I am really happy that times are changing though. I am so glad that we have these rights, to protect us and our babies from intolerance and ignorance. I feel lucky that I was able to breastfeed, and that I live in a time where if I had decided not to, that would have been acceptable too.

There’s still a way to go, but so far, it’s a win for mumkind.

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Addicted to the Boob

Henry’s been really good today, but tempting him with formula milk has been harder than I expected. I naively thought that the big hurdle would be getting him to drink from a beaker, as he refused the bottle from a very early age. After successfully drinking cooled boiled water from a beaker, I moved onto trying him with formula milk in the sterilised beaker. Yesterday, he started drinking it, frowned and then cried until I gave in and continued to breastfeed him. Today though, he has done better. He drunk just over three fluid ounces, which is a big difference, even though he frowned at me as if he didn’t like the taste. I’m sure he will get used to it though. It will make things so much easier for when I return to work.

I know that continuing to breastfeed while returning to work can be done, but it requires dedication to the cause, and I have been wanting to get him onto formula milk soon anyway.

I think it is a comfort thing as well as the taste, but I still plan to carry on first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

And he has been doing really well with his weaning. He had apple for breakfast this morning, and sweet potato for lunch. He’s learnt so quickly how to eat off a spoon and swallow solid foods. I’m really impressed at how easy that was, especially with all the advice floating around about needing to persist even when the baby doesn’t like a certain food, or pushes it all out of his mouth again. We didn’t really have any of that.

Clever Henry, I’m just so proud.

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Continued Weaning, New Tastes

We tried Henry with apple today, and he absolutely loved it. I don’t think we are going to have much of a problem trying to get Henry to eat new things. We’ve also given him a little formula in a beaker as he refuses the bottle now, and he drunk a bit of it. I’m going to try him on it every day, and see if I can get him to replace a daytime feed with formula, and gradually build up to only breastfeeding at night and first thing in the morning.

If this goes well, it will give me a little more freedom, so Henry can be babysat in the day. I might even be able to get my manicure that I was supposed to get as a little anniversary treat nine months ago…

He was a little upset afterwards though, and was fussing for the breast, but he will learn if I just keep at it, at the same kind of time each day. I feel guilty when he gets upset, but it’s best for the both of us to get him used to this now, rather than it be a big shock when I go back to work.

And it’s not like I’m giving up breastfeeding entirely. Combination feeding works well for a lot of working mothers, as well as a way to wean him slowly off the breast. It’s funny how most of the time (or when I make any big changes like this) I really want someone to follow me around and confirm that I’m doing the right thing. I guess it’s natural to want the best for your baby though, and I shouldn’t feel guilty choosing what is right for us. Besides, I’m probably stressing a lot more about everything than Henry is. He’s just happy playing with his soft toy zebra, and practising rolling over.

Which he is getting unbelievably good at. I will have to watch out or he’ll roll right into trouble.

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Eager Beaker Beaver

Henry now has two meals a day now, and today we offered him cooled boiled water in a beaker with his dinner.

As he refuses bottles, I had some doubts about his eagerness to drink from a beaker, but as it turns out he didn’t require much encouragement from us at all! I am going to start seriously considering putting him on to formula during the day and save breastfeeding for morning and night. It would mean an actual routine instead of just ‘feeding on demand’ and give me some more freedom.

I might just hang on in there until he’s six months though, because then we can go straight to follow on milk. Also, he’s doing so well with the weaning and everything that I don’t want to implement too many changes all at once!

It really is crazy how fast he’s learning and growing!

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Struggling on Through

The hardest thing about being a parent is having someone completely dependant on you. They can’t do anything for themselves, especially in the beginning. It is okay, most of the time being quite normal, as you want to look after them and do everything you can. The problem comes when you can’t take care of them. Illness is one of those things that makes everyday life so much harder. Henry isn’t sick, luckily, and he still hasn’t been ill yet! I’m putting it down to the breastfeeding, but he has done really well so far. No, it is me that has come down with severe sickness and I’ve been struggling to look after myself as well as continue to be a good mother to Henry. On top of that, the other half has come down with the same thing. A few days ago, I couldn’t even get out of bed. Henry still wants to carry on as normal though!

Thankfully, I have my own mother to call in on, and she loves spending time with the little one, inbetween her own work commitments. I just can’t wait to be better! It’s just typical that I’m ill when the weather starts to get nicer and my brother comes to see Henry for the week and when I’ve just started to get into a nice routine of going out…

Between us though, we’ve managed. It hasn’t been pretty but we’ve carried on as best we can. Henry has now tried his little baby rice. He doesn’t like it half as much as the carrot and parsnip but he dives for the spoon with an open mouth anyway. I’ve been trying to give him more and more puree and food because since I have been ill, I know he’s not getting all the milk he wants. It’s a struggle, but hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m back on track.

Henry had his little injections as well, and he was very good. He flinched a little when the needle went in, and he moaned for a few seconds, but was fine after that and was more interested in other things going on around him. I’m just happy he doesn’t have to have anymore until he is a year old. Even though I know he’s really good about it, I’m still always quite tense walking into the nurse’s office.

I just hope it doesn’t weaken his immune system enough to catch whatever myself and his father have. I was really debating whether to take him in then or postpone his injections. I decided to just go for it, but we shall see how that goes. So far, so good.

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First Food!

Our family nurse/health visitor came round to weigh Henry again today, and check-in to see how we are all doing. Henry now weighs 14lbs 10oz and is still right on track. We told her about Henry waking up again for feeds, wanting to feed all the time and all the other ‘signs’ to begin weaning that he has given us.

So, on her advice, we decided to start giving him solids. I made a massive batch of carrot puree (and parsnip seperately for later), and we started to feed him a little today. He loved his carrot. When the first spoonful touched his lips, the concentration on his face was immense. It was like a whole new world had opened up to him. Before long, he was opening his mouth as wide as he could for more, and slurping it all off the spoon. He didn’t even do that thing I was expecting of him that most babies do, when they push it all out again with their tongues. He only had a little, as it was his first try and we didn’t want to overdo it, but he was very happy to eat more.

I’m excited to carry on doing this. I’m so glad that it went well today, especially after the disasterous swimming episode earlier.

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Being Prepared for Weaning

I like to think I’m an organised soul, the state of my wardrobe would tell you different, but I am very attached to my Filofax. I love it so much, and it is so exciting when they release the new year’s diary. Or when I treat myself to an extra map or some stickers or even a new pen! Anyway, I digress…

As Henry is about to take the plunge into the wonderful world of baby purees, I have decided to prepare for the event. I don’t have the money for pre-made baby jars and more importantly I don’t want to give them to Henry on a regular basis. Making them myself means I know exactly what goes into them.

I’ve breastfed him exclusively for four months now. I’ve given him the best start I possibly could have, and I want to continue giving him the best. I know what it is like to struggle with weight issues, diets and sometimes having quite an unhealthy relationship with food. I don’t want Henry to have to experience any of that, and if I can start him on the right track, I’m surely going to make the effort to prepare him a few purees.

Jars only on the odd occasion, like a takeaway treat.

I’ve ordered the Tommee Tippee Explora baby blender, bought some lidded ice cube trays and freezer bags, dusted off my steamer and arriving in my Tesco delivery this morning is a whole bunch of fresh fruit and vegetables. Carrots, apples, bananas, parsnips, spinach, and brocolli to name a few!

I am very excited. As you can keep them for up to a month as frozen cubes of baby puree, I an going to start preparing some now. He is going to learn to love healthy food, and there’s no better motivation for me to be a little more careful with my diet than having a baby to take care of.

Not just for the here and now, but because I want to live a happy and healthy life so I can be there for Henry as long as I possibly can be.

This is, of course, a benefit of having Henry young.

So, it will be time to start making Henry’s dinners just as soon as the blender arrives. I’m very excited.

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Infant Formula

We’re moving house in six days, and Henry is going to be looked after by his grandparents. I went to the supermarket this afternoon to pick up some formula, just incase I am not available for longer than expected and he gets too hungry. I still want to breastfeed, but I would rather have a happy, well-fed baby for that day and continue as normal after than let him get all in a bother.

I didn’t expect such a range of different brands and types though! I stood in the shop for a good ten minutes trying to figure out which one I should purchase. I settled on a few single-feed, ready-to-use cartons of SMA First Infant Milk. I would put a lot more thought into it if it wasn’t just for one day, and as a last resort if I’m caught up with the move. But I’m sure they all contain roughly the same sort of thing. Personally, I can’t see the benefits of one brand over another. It also makes me glad that I chose to breastfeed after seeing the prices of formula!

I hope he drinks it from the bottle. I’m sure if he’s hungry enough he will. He’s taken a bottle before, but obviously this will taste very different!

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Hungry Baby

Henry will be completely fine when he’s held by his daddy, and as soon as I take him he decides that actually he is a bit peckish. He can smell milk, the same way I walk past a Chinese restaurant and think ‘okay, then, I think I will’.

Once, he decided he couldn’t wait the two seconds it would take for me to start feeding him, so he latched himself on to his dad’s forearm. He left a nice pink mark too. Now that’s a baby who knows what he wants, and when he wants it!

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Date Night (Sort of)

So this is the first time the other half and I have managed to get out together for a date since Henry was born. His nan babysat him for three hours or so, and I had left as much milk as I could to try and last through the length of a movie. It was pretty much a case of ‘Here, mum, we will try not to be too long’.

We went to see Sherlock Holmes 2, which I thoroughly enjoyed, except the part where you see Stephen Fry naked. I could have comfortably gone my whole life without seeing that particular view. It was very funny though and it was nice to have a break for a while!

When we went to pick up Henry from my mother, we could hear him crying as we walked up to the front door. He felt he was just a little too hungry, the poor baby, so I fed him straight away and he calmed right down. That’s the problem with breastfeeding. It’s so great in so many ways. I’m sure you’ve heard of the benefits, physically and emotionally, but it does make a night off near impossible. Even a couple of hours and Henry begins to get desperate.

I know that it is currently recommended to exclusively breastfeed until 6 months of age, and then continue partially until a year old, but I can really understand why that wouldn’t necessarily be viable let alone preferential. I will really have to have a rethink about the options for when I return to work…