How the Story of the Baby who Died Affected my Breastfeeding Confidence

She was fussing again at the breast, as she had done before at bedtime. My boobs were very soft; they felt empty … like they had given all they had at the moment. I usually reminded myself that it’s okay … that I have enough for two nurslings … that she will be fine. I sometimes rationed bedtime feeding between my preschooler and baby; with my baby having priority. My hard built breastfeeding confidence is stronger than it has ever been, but not that night. Continue reading

I’m going to the launch of The Breastfeeding Advert

I’m going to the launch of The Breastfeeding Advert

Yah … I’m going to the launch of The Breastfeeding Advert, part of Tiny Human’s Human Milk project. ‘Terrified and excited’ doesn’t quite capture how I feel. Over 6 hours round-trip train travel (with multiple changes) with a newborn is daunting but worth being part of history in the making. With little to no spare time during the day, I’ve not even had the time to try on my fabulous bargain of a dress from Milk and Mummy. Continue reading

Is it Time to Stop the Breastfeeding Emotional Disclaimers?

You’re reading about someone’s breastfeeding experience … nodding in agreement or not … empathizing … sympathising … connecting with it on a range of emotional and intellectual levels …  then you get to the point or paragraph … the one that tells you about how the writer’s points are not meant to cause offence … how other options are okay too … and so on and so forth. Oh yes, bring on the tiring and unnecessary ‘breastfeeding emotional disclaimers’! Continue reading

Go on then, Flaunt Formula Feeding on Social Media

I just read an article from a so-called* ‘formula-feeding mom’ questioning ‘breastfeeding mums’ who “feel the need to flaunt it on social media” – a need she doesn’t feel despite formula feeding her “babies everywhere moms have breastfed”.

* blog post on the way

I’ve chosen not to look the other way with this one … I’m just fed up with this kind of disempowering comparison and my comment is a blog post in its own right, so here we go.

Dear Melissa,

I read your recent blog on Baby Center and it touched a nerve that I can’t ignore. I’m pleased for you that you’re not ashamed of formula feeding – I’m not either – and that you’re pleased you’ve never posted a photo of yourself feeding your babies on social media.

Go on then, flaunt formula feeding on social media. Afterall, that's what breastfeeding mamas supposedly do when they share their breastfeeding pictures on social media; it's all about bragging rights. | http://adventuresofanovicemum.co.uk | @aNoviceMum

It’s a shame you “certainly feel judged from time to time for not breastfeeding”. It’s of course worth noting that no one necessarily needs to judge us for us to feel judged. We sometimes judge ourselves based on our perceptions and baggages about what we think others think of us or our actions. And to those who might have judged you for a choice that isn’t theirs to make, I hope they learn to give more time to dealing with issues in their own lives.

I found your comparison of the reasons why you don’t share pictures of you formula feeding your babies on social media to that of why you don’t share photos of your diaper changing, distasteful. These 2 activities evoke very different feelings. Diaper changing is getting rid of waste whilst feeding babies is about nourishment. I doubt anyone gazes lovingly at diaper changes and desires to spend more time than needed doing it, or feels much of a need to capture multiple pictures of it for memory lane … very different to feeding babies.

And you know, I actually wish you stated your reasons for not sharing your baby feeding pictures, instead of assuming it to be obvious.

Your language about the social media sharing of breastfeeding photos is concerning: flaunting … bragging. I wonder how you came to these conclusions: that those who share breastfeeding pictures on social media are doing so to boast, impress, draw attention to themselves, make others jealous etc.

formula-feeding-on-social-media-def

I admit I once posted a breastfeeding photo on Instagram in defiance … that’s another story for another day.

I must say that I have nothing against breastfeeding photos being shared to flaunt and brag … I don’t think you would either, not if you consider the mountain of  hurdles many mothers overcome to achieve their breastfeeding goals, fully or partially.

Unlike in the cave days you refer to, when breastfeeding was the go-to way to feed babies, breastfeeding in the modern world is an achievement literally fought for by many of the minority of women who choose it.

And in answer to your question, I don’t think fellow cave moms felt a need to brag to each other about breastfeeding; your guess is as good as mine since we both weren’t there. One thing for sure though, is that breastfeeding was visually represented during that time and beyond … formula feeding and diaper changes were not.

I don’t think their images of breastfeeding were to give other mamas a relational anchor during breastfeeding tough times, but rather to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing and organic beauty of a mesmerizing life-sustaining act of intense love, and even immense sacrifice for some.

I wonder why you “think it’s beyond awesome to breastfeed”. I mean, if it is … and despite being one of the many ways we care for our babies … what is so annoying about the visual representation of something so amazing amidst the tons of drivel on social media?

I also wonder why you wish you stuck with breastfeeding longer, though formula feeding vanquished your breastfeeding tears and pain; making you a happier mom.

Is it not possible to write about your journey without commenting so unpleasantly about the journey of others. By all means, write about what you wouldn’t do and why; and if you’re truly interested, ask or wonder loudly about why others do those things. Deriding and belittling others, especially when you seem to want what they have, however subtly, is just not cool.

Are you seriously saying that you don’t see photos of formula feeding on social media? How do you escape them on Facebook and Instagram especially?

And talking about bottles that you wonder if “formula-feeding moms should start flaunting after all” … I must say that I wonder what exactly you have in mind … I mean, how much more can bottles be part of our infant feeding societal norm?

What emoji represents infant feeding?

What is the main infant feeding image in children’s toys and books?

What is the predominant image in infant feeding adverts on and offline?

What symbol represents designated infant feeding spaces in most shopping malls and service stations?

What are the 2 things that are compared to breastfeeding the most to make maximum profit for their manufacturers, and indeed undermine breastfeeding?

What are often suggested to new mothers to buy in preparation for feeding their babies, even when they’ve decided to breastfeed?

What do many health professionals suggest as alternatives to struggling breastfeeding mothers, even before offering breastfeeding solutions in many instances?

Who or what is stopping formula-feeding moms from FLAUNTING ‘their bottles’; though I’m not sure what exactly about it will be flaunted. I’ve definitely seen formula feeding pictures on and offline, more times than I can remember … if they were flaunting it, it was definitely lost on me.

I also don’t understand the idea of formula-feeding moms flaunting their bottles because they deserve to be celebrated as moms too. Everyone – not just mothers – should be celebrated for a variety of reasons on a daily basis; it’s not a competition, there’s enough space in the world for all of us.

Surely, motherhood doesn’t start or end with how we feed our babies, and how we feed our babies doesn’t define the celebration of motherhood.

Why the need to compare the celebration of formula feeding with that of breastfeeding? This, right there, is part of the root of parenting discontentment and strife. Why not celebrate formula feeding if you want to … the need to celebrate it “like breastfeeding” is problematic on so many levels. I mean, if breastfeeding was a person, it might perhaps feel flattered; but this kind of comparison doesn’t serve mothers.

Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Melissa, seriously, do you … can you not see that infant feeding is skewed in favour of formula and bottle feeding today, and that it’s been for decades? Formula manufacturers invest billions every year, to make sure that expectant mums know about formula and bottles. How many formula brands’ promote their incentivized baby clubs’ to expectant mums, on and offline, throughout their pregnancy and beyond?

So, no, we don’t “truly need to normalize both breast and bottle” … bottles and formula have become the societal and cultural norm in an increasing amount of countries worldwide, for more decades than is good for the world – its people and environment. And let’s face it, this has been to the detriment of breastfeeding – the biological norm – the confidence of mothers in the functioning of their bodies, and the gain of super-rich pharmaceutical companies and other related manufacturing brands.

I formula fed in the early months of our feeding journey, and I overcame what seemed like insurmountable barriers breastfeeding. I still can’t get myself to write about this very difficult part of our feeding journey, though I’ve documented some of my experiences with blocked ducts and blocked ducts. I’m thankful for formula, though I abhor the unethical profit-at-all-cost marketing strategies of formula companies and their exploitative and false claims. I also bottle-fed with both formula and breast milk for different periods of time. Even then, I can’t stand most bottle adverts … profit-making under the guise of caring for parents and their babies is unattractive. I occasionally share our breastfeeding pictures … but my intention has never been to flaunt and brag. And it’s no secret that I love breastfeeding and celebrate it, for a range of reasons.

I’m not sure how to end my letter. I hope every woman in the world makes informed decisions, as much as possible, about the best way to feed their babies; and that they feel the freedom to express this on and offline without the need to compare themselves with others.

Warm regards,

A fellow mum


What’s your take on the sharing of feeding pictures on social media?

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To the formula feeding mom who thinks formula feeders should flaunt their bottles LIKE breastfeeders, who apparently post breastfeeding pictures on social media for bragging rights. | http://adventuresofanovicemum.co.uk | @aNoviceMum

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WWW 12 | Looking Beyond the Bars

Wednesday Without Words 12 | Looking Beyond the Bars

Wednesday Without Words 12 | Toddler looking beyond a playground's bards

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My Full-Time Mum End of 2015 Holiday Hopes

Welcome to my second #12daysofparenting blog. Day 2 is all about lists for Santa, as you probably know if you’ve hopped from LadyBug Home & Designs. There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a Safedreams Hoppy from Baby Bundle. Check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for more information and the terms and conditions (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

I’m a full-time working mum and school holiday times are super precious, so much more precious than they used to be.

I don’t have a list for Santa, but I’ve got a long list of holiday hopes for this year ending.

My tendency towards a laissez faire approach to how my holidays go doesn’t cut it anymore, I’m a mother now and I’ve got some massive womaning up to do.

So, here are my holiday hopes for the end of this year, and I really hope they will stand me in good stead on the parenting road in the coming year.

Family Time Holiday Hopes

A holiday without a range of tots groups‘ is one that needs planning … my experience has shown me over and over again that little is accomplished with a toddler when left to time and chance. So here comes the planning of a meaningful holiday routine for our toddler and family time. This schedule must be ready by the end of this week. 🙂

Also, bring on more intentional alone times with hubby, it’s so easy to put this on the back burner when you’ve got a little one to look after, isn’t it.

My Full Time Working Mum Holiday Hopes

Family and Friends Holiday Hopes

I wish I didn’t struggle to stay in touch. The call / skype / email list and timetable route seems to be worth trying out …  I might even have a go at a family newsletter; ‘might it really save me some time’, I wonder.

Catch-ups Holiday Hopes

No school work to-do list is hanging over this head; not this time around! The plan is to leave work at the school’s gate when I leave on Friday. Perhaps, I might spend some hours on some of my work to-do list the day before resumption.

O my word, why does ‘house’ have to have so much ‘work’ after it? 😂  I’ve got some serious catching up to do at home if my “spotless house before the new year’s” hope is to see fulfilment! So, here is to setting aside 2 hours on designated days to focus on certain chores. Wish me well …😁

Blogging Holiday Hopes

Where do I start with this one?

  • Check and fix broken links
  • Finish my ‘Blogging from A to Z challenge‘ before the end of the year; perhaps on my other blog too.
  • Make a realistic weekly blog plan for my posts and social media and do some scheduling, for this blog and my teacher blog.
  • Catch up on pending reviews, linky reads, and make sure that I’m up to date with all blog contributor commitments.
  • Sort out my linkys.
  • Finish some of my drafts, and experiment with some of my new blog ideas.
  • Try syndicating some of my posts if there is time.

overall, I need to do a health check on my blogs and be at a blog happy point by the end of the year; trying to keep an eye on my blogtacles, right. On a serious note, I’m still struggling with rising from my blogging crisis; it’ll be really fab to feel fully on my feet again.

‘Me’ Holiday Hopes

  • Spend more time with God and His Word
  • Get some good quality sleep
  • Start reading for leisure again
  • Start journaling again
  • Make and eat healthier food

Overall, pay more attention to my spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Holiday Hopes Overall

I’m really hoping for a memorable family time with a happy toddler, a less cluttered home space, less intrusion of work in my head, better blogging and blogging space, and a more wholesome me. I think this will make for a happy holiday time without tots groups, ‘tots’ being my code word. 🙂

And oh, I need to review my 2014 Review and 2015 Hopes as well as my 12 days of blogging posts, as we speed towards the new year.

Thanks for hanging out here, check out Mummy and her mini for more Santa’s list, and entries into the grand prize draw.

~ What are holiday hopes? ~

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10 Reasons Why I Love Breastmilk and Celebrate Breastfeeding

The word ‘breastfeeding’ makes me smile. I have come such a long way from our first latch and the ensuing months of tears and ouch, real and perceived low milk supply … those days when my goal was just to make it to the end of the day managing to feed my little man all the food he needed from my bosom … those days when feeding my son exclusively on breastmilk seemed out of my reach … oh, those days!

I’m also survived the surprising recent days of excruciatingly painful and unexpected blocked ducts and blebs. I’ve faced the challenge of continuing with breastfeeding after maternity leave and on return to full-time work, and I keep working on making this work for us.

I have now been breastfeeding for almost 22 months without any sign of stopping; and I tell you, I am so thankful for breastfeeding and breastmilk.

So, I thought I’d do some reflection, and jot down reasons why I love breastmilk and celebrate breastfeeding. Here are my first 10 … more to come in future posts.

  1. FREE

If you know me, you know I LOVE me a good baaaarrrrrgain! I was totally sold on breastfeeding when I heard it was free during my NHS breastfeeding class. I mean, I don’t think I thought it wasn’t; I just never thought about it until that point.

That it is free of course doesn’t mean that it is without value; oh no. In my eyes, it’s priceless, and according to a Daily Mail article in June, it “can trade for 400 times more than the price of crude oil, 2,000 times more than iron ore and, if sold off the shelf, could cost more than 150 times the price of a gallon of cow’s milk”. Need I say anymore?

  1. NORMAL

I can’t remember how many times I’ve asked the question, ‘why can’t I just be normal?’ Whatever normal is, especially in situations when I’ve wondered about it, I’m thrilled that with breastfeeding I’m doing something very normal.

Breastfeeding is the biological norm for nourishing babies and I’m very pleased to be able to participate in this.

I also love this about breastfeeding because when some onlookers off or online spit out their breastfeeding ignorance, it’s reassuring to know that I’m doing something very normal and right for my child.

  1. DESIGNER

All things designer in this world are mostly out of my league at the moment. Gone are those days in my little town in West Africa, when I went to the tailor with the design I wanted for an outfit, and where I got measured for clothes especially made for me. I’ll have to win the jackpot or somehow make it financially big to be able to afford this now.

Guess what though? Breastfeeding gives me the chance to give my child food especially designed for him. How privileged is he? I know the feeling of getting something especially designed for you, it’s brilliant!

My breastmilk was created and continues to be manufactured with the changing needs of my little boy in mind. Everything in me that concerns it, comes together and works together to have just the right components he needs every day. Amaze-balls, right.

My breastmilk is the most dynamic super food for my child, perfectly made especially for him.

Reasons Why I love Breastmilk and Celebrate Breastfeeding

  1. READY-MADE

The entrepreneur in me loves the fact that my milk is subject to the demand and supply principle, all things being equal. Understanding this ‘you don’t ask you don’t get’ deal about breastfeeding helped me to nail it in the end, albeit, with hours of pumping worth of work.

This quality about it gives people like me that didn’t make a good start with breastfeeding, the opportunity to catch up on the quantity our baby needs, on the go. You know, you just need to keep feeding, for your body to make the amount of milk your baby needs.

The ready-made food that breastmilk is, also means that it’s available from source at the right temperature. ‘Yipppeeee’, did I hear you say. Oh yes … right?

I combi fed for a while in the early months, so I really appreciate the necessity of having food ready to go, for a hungry baby at the right time. Otherwise, the ensuing baby cry or toddler screams might just about bring down the whole house. Okay, I exaggerate, but really … baby needs food when baby needs food, and the breast is usually ready to deliver when called upon.

When feeding from source, there is no faffing around with making sure it’s sterilised, or that it has the right ingredient mixture, or that it is hot or warm enough, or anything enough … you just have to make sure you get it to your child on time, and your child happily takes what s/he needs.

The only preparation you need is rest, low stress, and prompt response to your child’s need for it.

  1. ALIVE

Breastmilk is living; it’s alive people. It not only contains the usual carbs, fat, and proteins that other foods have, but also active components like we have in our blood … it’s got live cells in it. My word, right?

Yeah, it’s got immune strengthening stem cells, bacterial cells, and white blood cells. It’s food for my child like no other food could ever be. I mean, there are ingredients within breastmilk that are still being identified. Need I say anymore?

  1. AFFORDABLE

Love, love, love that breastfeeding feeding is affordable. No accessories, clothes, or food are needed to make breastfeeding work. The only breastfeeding must haves are your breast tissue and a baby, and relatively good health.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m thankful for my Frugi breastfeeding clothes … I like my Breastvest breastfeeding undergarment … I thoroughly enjoy Motherlove lactation cookies (the very thought makes my mouth water) … and my Ardo pump contributed to the saving of my breastfeeding relationship.

Breastfeeding pillows are also very handy, especially whilst you’re trying to master the feeding positions that work for you … and nipple cream can be life savers, can’t they? Especially in those early breastfeeding days when breasts are more prone to pain.

Even then, I recognise that most breastfeeding mums around the world do not use any of these on their breastfeeding journeys. These items are not breastfeeding essentials, though they are fab to have, and items like pumps might be a modern necessity for some.

  1. ACCESSIBLE

Breastfeeding affordability makes it accessible to majority of women around the world. With the exception of the very few women who cannot breastfeed, breastfeeding is not discriminatory. You can breastfeed whether you are black or white, rich or poor, overfed or even starving.

It’s fab to participate in something that you know so many others are not excluded from.

And in some ways in our very competitive world with its unfair distribution of wealth, it’s an area of life where babies can have some kind of level playing field.

  1. NO-CRY SLEEP AID

Ask a new mum what they will like more of, and sleep for themselves and their baby is likely to be high on their list. Well, breastfeeding is the ultimate no-cry ‘nature’s knock out juice’ (as a commenter on one of my breastfeeding posts called it) for both mother and child.

I so wish I realised this much earlier and embraced it sooner. We would definitely have gotten more sleep during the day and at night. Admittedly, I find that it seems to take longer to work in the toddler years; but it still works better than all the ways I’ve tried.

  1. PAIN RELIEF

I can’t remember how many times my child has breastfed to ease his discomfort or pain.

For the feverish days, its effect is quicker than that of any baby paracetamol you could ever use. It’s also much easier to administer; no tears and struggles to get and keep one’s baby’s mouth opened (definitely the case when it’s mastered).

It also comes without worries of possible overdose, making sure the right amount is used, or ensuring that the dropper is well cleaned and stored away afterwards. There is also no worries about keeping it out of the reach of little hands, or taking care when handling it, in case it falls down and break.

Breastfeeding sure has a way of soothing through falls and bumps, anxieties and worries, and definitely the needle pains and distress of the heel prick test and vaccinations. I mean, why do health professionals suggest breastfeeding after each immunisation course?

  1. CALMING BALM

I continue to grow in my appreciation of the calming effect that breastfeeding has on my child, even at times when I feel there isn’t much breastmilk to drink.

Toddlers can get hysterical very quickly, and for no apparent reason too. I’ve found breastfeeding, even when it’s sometimes initially refused as a remedy for an upset, soothing for both of us.

It has a way of restoring little one to normalcy after a tantrum, and giving me respite from my unsuccessful attempts to reach him where he is, at those times.

I love the calm breastfeeding brings at bedtime, after the day’s hustle and bustle; and even at the start of the day.

And as my toddler grows in his independence and as he gets more boisterous, breastfeeding gives me the longest stretches of calm moments with him. This is not to say that every breastfeeding session is calm; far from it. Indeed, I never knew there could be so much movement with breastfeeding.

My reasons have grown as I planned and wrote this post, and so, I’ll be writing more about my breastfeeding loves in the coming weeks and months. I hope our last latch doesn’t come anytime soon; so much enjoyment to still be had from this incredibly amazing act of motherhood.

The code word for the Celebrating Breastfeeding Christmas Extravaganza is elf. With special thanks to our sponsors for providing the amazing prizes: ARDO, LoveyUsh, Milk & Mummy, Lorna Drew, Mummy Makes Milk, Thrupenny Bits, breastvest and More4Mums. Click here for T&Cs.

~ Can you identify with any of my reasons? What would you add to it? ~

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Breastfeeding my Baby to Sleep: Reaching Acceptance

I can’t quite remember the first time it happened, but I remember my confusion about breastfeeding my baby to sleep.

At the start, I didn’t think about breastfeeding Precious Sparkle to sleep, sleeping was just part of the feeding process. In the early months when I had the thick dark cloud of inadequate weight gain hanging heavily over me, I found this to be an unfortunate part of feeding. Continue reading

Wednesday Without Words 9 | Toddler on the Beach

Wednesday Without Words 9 | Toddler on the Beach

Continue reading

Breastfeeding Pain of the Subtle Blocked Ducts variety

After conquering the right-bang-in-the-middle-of-the-nipple excruciatingly painful bleb I had for 2 weeks, I relaxed into a place of no-boobie-pain. If only I knew what awaited me around the corner.

I woke up on Monday with pain on the inside part of my best milk storage, thankfully less painful than the bleb. It didn’t feel lumpy but there was pain. I checked over and over again to see if there were any clogged up milk ducts, but the usual tell-tale sign of hard lumps was absent.

As many breastfeeders do, I sucked up the pain and fed. I have no plans to stop breastfeeding any time soon, except my little man decides otherwise. So, unless the pain is utterly unbearable, I know no other way but to keep feeding. Thankfully, this wasn’t one of those tighten-every-muscle-on-you-before-latching kind of pain. You know the kind where you can’t get through the feed without tears filling and stinging your eyes, and sticking to your cheeks.

Subtle Blocked Ducts

Whilst at work, I checked for lumps during loo breaks but there were none. The pain persisted, day after day, feed after the feed. I tried not to worry about it, but every enquiry from my mum and hubby about it made me more concerned about it. I really hoped the pain would go away and that it wasn’t anything serious.

Then eventually, I remembered that targeted massage with some hot water might help. It was then or so, that I noticed that the base of the affected side didn’t feel as smooth as the side that felt normal. I wasn’t sure what to make of it really, I’ve always known blocked ducts to be very obvious, in the lumpy structures they turn boobies into.

I decided to particularly massage the base whenever I was able to, and without stressing about it. Well, guess what? The pain was gone in a few days afterwards, and the base felt really smooth. Voila … it was blocked ducts all along, just not where and how I’ve known it to occur.

I’m so relieved the pain is gone, and even more that I’m more familiar with my boobs. I also hope there will be no more boobie pain visiting anytime soon. I seem to be a magnet for them at the moment. I suppose returning to work after a long break has more impact than I thought, on our breastfeeding-on-request routine. My body is adjusting and I need to look after it more.  I’m really hoping that the cream coloured little bob on the rim of my nipple isn’t another bleb. 🙁 It’s so annoying it’s all occurring on my most efficient breast. O well, perhaps I need to cut down on my peanut butter intake and drink more water.

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Can you relate? Do you have any pain on your body that you’re hoping for respite from?
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