How to Make a Tree of Life Breastfeeding Magical Photo in 3 Key Steps

You’ve seen them on Facebook, haven’t you? Yes, I’m talking about the beautiful, colourful, and artistic tree of life breastfeeding photos that seems to have given more breastfeeding mamas the confidence to share their magical brelfies. It’s definitely not surprising that breastfeeding tree of life pictures have become a viral trend.

I find their colour combinations intriguing and fascinating, and I couldn’t resist creating my own breastfeeding tree pictures; thanks to what has now become the tree of life breastfeeding app – PicsArt.

They are so easy to make … but be warned: they make for easy time-consuming distraction.

So, here we go … my easy peasy step-by-step guide and most comprehensive tutorial for making your very own tree of life breastfeeding pictures in 3 key steps:

1. Choose the breastfeeding and tree pictures you want to combine

  • Search for and save your desired tree or other picture from Google or other search engines
    • Search for ‘tree of life’ for example
    • Tap the picture you want
    • Tap the ‘options’ to ‘view original image’
    • Tap the ‘option’ (↑ in a square on iOS) to save the image
  • Or draw your tree picture and upload it to your pictures folder

2. Remix your picture with the PicsArt Photo Studio editing app

  • Download the PicsArt photo editing app to your Android, IOS, or Windows device
  • Open PicsArt to access your breastfeeding photo
    • tap the pink + symbol,
    • tap ‘Edit‘,
  • Scroll through the edit options, and tap ‘Add Photo‘ (7th option) to add your tree picture

OR

  • Scroll through the edit options, and tap ‘Stickers‘ (6th option), then use the search icon to look for the ‘tree of life‘ stickers, to choose a tree from the app
  • Enlarge or reduce, rotate and position your tree picture where you want – usually overlapping your child’s latch
  • Tap the ‘Blend‘ edit option (this is rarely needed if your tree is from the ‘tree of life’ stickers in the app)
    • choose ‘Overlay‘ for transparent tree pictures or ‘Multiply‘, ‘Color Burn‘, ‘Darken‘ for those with a background, to merge it with your breastfeeding picture
  • Tap ‘Apply‘ from the top menu to confirm you’re happy with your edits so far
  • Then tap the ‘Magic‘ edit option for a range of filters to transform your picture
  • Lastly, tap the ‘Apply‘ option to confirm your final edit

tree-of-life-brelfie-s

3. Save your edited picture

  • Tap the forward arrow → to share or/and save your tree of life breastfeeding picture

It really is as simple as these, and you’ll be a pro at the steps by the time you work through it once or twice.

And guess what? You can now share and chat about it in my Breastfeeding Expressions Facebook Group.

Note:

  • You can undo changes throughout the editing process, even after you’ve saved or shared an edited picture
    • I’ve created different images of the tree of life breastfeeding pictures this way
  • Feel free to experiment with the edit options on the app, you might be pleasantly surprised
    • You can, for example, adjust the opacity of tree picture before or after editing in the ‘Blend’ mode
  • The most popular filters in the ‘Magic’ editing mode seems to be:
    • Flare
    • Rainbow
    • Midnight

What else can you do with your picture?

You can get it printed on cards / keyrings /canvas / cushions / textiles etc, and you can do these quite cheaply on sites like 1clickprint.com.


How did you get on? Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.
Feel free to tag me on Social Media to check out your creations.
Don’t forget to join the Breastfeeding Expressions Facebook Group to share your #TreeofLife breastfeeding pictures and other breastfeeding inspired pieces.

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A very easy step-by-step guide on how to make your own tree of life breastfeeding magical breastfeeding photo in 3 key steps, with @picsart app - the tree of life breastfeeding app.

My 10 Breastfeeding Hopes and Dreams – 2nd time round

My first journey didn’t start well, despite our amazing first latch. Even then, the pains and tears of our challenging beginning aren’t wasted, and my dogged determination and perseverance paid off. So, as I start another journey whilst continuing my first of almost 3 years, my breastfeeding hopes and dreams is pregnant with expectations.

My Breastfeeding Hopes

1. Straightforward breastfeeding

No multitude of folks trying to squeeze liquid gold out of me … no resulting bruised and battered breasts … no stress, confusion, fear, desperation, loss of dignity … none of these or similar, thank you.

Instead, I pray and hope that my new babe and I find our breastfeeding way without the need for intrusive interventions … that my newborn feeds well and finds it easy to transfer the needed quantity of colostrum and milk.

2. Adequately informed breastfeeding

I have learned so much about breastfeeding … a case of education attained out of desperation. And my, do I hope my breastfeeding literacy works in my favour? You bet I do. Breastfeeding ignorance is definitely not bliss.

So yes, I hope my knowledge of positioning, attachment, feeding frequency, tongue tie, skin-to-skin, newborn stomach size, and so much more, comes in handy. I hope my awareness of off and online breastfeeding resources works in my favour.

3. Right support at the right time

No unhelpful or partly accurate information from professionals, please. These kept me in hospital longer than needed and landed me in the ‘formula top up trap’ that took months and ‘sweat’ to overcome.

So, if I need any help this time, I hope I get the right one on time; not well over a month later, costing me precious enjoyment of my child’s early months.

4. Milk on time

Given that I’ve been breastfeeding for almost 3 years non-stop, I really hope my milk comes in on time, and in the needed quantity and flow.

breastfeeding-s

5. ‘Easy’ tandem nursing journey

Lumpy breasts, blocked ducts, engorgement, mastitis, and friends – be warned, I’ve got a toddler on hand. I hope tandem nursing comes instinctively to us, like breastfeeding during pregnancy did.

6. No blebs, thrush, or other boob nasties

Milk blisters … blebs … ouch … please stay away.

7. Two working boobs

No more one-side-breastfeeding please;  almost 2 years of this is enough. I really hope the other side gets back in action and works better this time.

My Breastfeeding Dreams

8. Breast crawl

However I birth, I’d love to experience the wonder of my newborn crawling up my tummy to suckle – precious and priceless.

9. Easy, painless, and stress-free breastfeeding

I can’t remember when last a latch started without some degree and seconds of pain – this has been breastfeeding through pregnancy for us. And the breast pains of those early days … I’d rather not go back there.

I woke up this morning with streams of words Pulsating through my brain – a letter to my body . Dear body, my very womanly body Devoid of the typical sizes and stats For the group you are assigned to But how so complete and perfect you are . So adequate for the womanly task of motherhood So enough to conceive, nurture, bring forth, and mind So awesomely fabulous to gloriously accomplish so much So amazingly incredible beyond my measure . My word, you’re beautifully strong and powerful Deserving of awards that haven’t been invented More golden than any Oscar and greater than any Brit Your achievements surpases the greatest of inventions . Look at you, my body Born in turmoil and dysfunction Bullied and riled and even abused by some But look how tall you stand today . Yes, those slim legs holding an ever growing bump Those thighs supporting a developing and wiggly toddler Your mind keeping together against so much battering My, you’re making it through 9 months of SO MUCH GIVING . The nay sayers implied you shouldn’t dare The doomsayers said you mustn't consider But your bosom couldn’t deny your toddler Even as your bump supports your babe . And now you’re almost there The end in sight, another journey to embrace We’re not in a hurry, mind But we’re almost there now . Breastfeeding one from outside Nourishing another from inside Nurturing so many, mind, body, and soul Just like that, YOU ARE DOING IT . No recognition required No commending demanded It’s just what you do Every second of what you are . My, you make me feel strong You make me feel so powerful So much taller beyond my height With so much more to offer than I can contemplate . Gratitude to the Awesome Wonder who made you so Who knit you together whilst in my mother’s womb Who caused me to really see and appreciate you Who upholds and keeps me so . Thanks to all my good Samaritans Who walk with me and support my journey I wouldn’t have made it this far without your help . Oh my body, My fabulously beautiful powerful body How I love you so How grateful I am for you . The words were more articulate in my head But this will have to do for now 😁 . #breastfeedingmoment #rememberingthesedays

A post shared by Adventures of a Novice Mum (@anovicemum) on

So yes, I’m dreaming of a calming, easy, and pain-free breastfeeding experience, from the start and throughout, this time around.

10. Breastfeeding during labour

This is my pipe-dream, one I really hope might just be realised. I really want my toddler with me at the hospital, and I’d love the opportunity to continue feeding him on request during labour – easy oxytocin release and extra womb contractions … good for labour and birth, I think.

But really, I just want him with us during this life changing moment, and I’m happy to meet his breastfeeding needs whilst journeying with our little addition into our world.


I had the opportunity to ask Medela UK’s in-house Lactation Consultant, Sioned Hilton, some breastfeeding questions.

  1. Would this pain subside post-birth, when I start my tandem nursing journey? #9

This is difficult to predict as it could be as a result of several things. What you will expect is a surge in discomfort for the first few minutes when you trigger your milk ejection reflex. This will result in you experiencing after-pains as the surge in oxytocin results in the myo-epithelial cells to contract around the milk cells – squeezing the milk from the alveolus down the ductal network. This will also trigger your uterus to contract. Some mums feedback that the after-pains really do take your breath away and you need to utilize those breathing techniques used during labour as the spasm can be that intense.

It may also be that you are currently experiencing vaso-spasm when you have milk ejection that causes breastpain but this eases as the feed progresses.

When pregnant the hormones can make nursing a little more uncomfortable but it is a case of reflecting after birth – is this tender or painful because it’s the same as before the new baby or is it as a result of not a great latch, mastitis, infection. Keeping an open mind and looking at things from a new mum perspective may be useful for the first few weeks as you initiate your supply and breastfeeding with your newborn.

  1. If my positioning and attachment are correct, can I expect pain-free breastfeeding from the side I haven’t breastfed from for a while? #7  

Again, every pregnancy and baby is different. Your pregnancy hormones may be suppressing the milk hormones a little and depending on the frequency you feed your toddler. As your pregnancy progresses your non-lactating breast will be making more glandular tissue and it may well be that you start to experience some milk leakage as you let down when you feed your toddler.

You are likely to experience nipple tenderness in the first few days, weeks but nursing should not be painful – you will need to go back to the basics and check that latch is good as your toddler will have found his own technique and some gymnastics on the way. Always having someone to check and assess that all is well is recommended with your midwife or breastfeeding specialist.

Again, breast pain can be because of the surge in oxytocin, ductal spasm or vasospasm – if you experience cold hands and feet it could be that this is a factor. A warm compress as you feed and massage may support less discomfort.

  1. What are your top tips for tandem nursing a baby and a very active toddler who is almost 3 years old?

Your priority will be nursing your newborn and as your milk production come to volume your newborn will have colostrum and milk. Expect your toddler to feel a little lost as this has been a time and place that he has loved and will continue to do so. You may find having a box of toys at hand that you can play with your toddler and nurse at the same time. Your toddler may even join you to feed their doll baby, books, jigsaws, or some quiet time with a smart device can make it easier for the first few weeks as you need to have the flexibility of trying different positions to see what suits you all. A baby sling may also be worth buying or borrowing so that you can nurse and plug in but also have a free hand to play with your toddler. Siblings are amazing and flexible. Initially expect a few toilet accidents, waking at night, mood changes but they soon accept that the new baby is here to stay and just get on with things.


What are your breastfeeding (or other) hopes and dreams?
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My breastfeeding hopes and dreams as I start my second journey, without stopping my first of almost 3 years; with answered questions from @Medela UK lactation consultant.

Barack Obama is not the first Black President of America

Exactly 8 years ago, Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States of America, at the age of 47. Different media outlets declared him as the first BLACK president of America, not just the next president of America like his predecessors. I remember watching one such broadcast on November 4 2008, and shouting at my TV that Barack Obama IS NOT the FIRST BLACK president of America.

Barack Obama IS NOT the FIRST BLACK president of America.

I have since read and heard the statement repeated again and again over the last 8 years, and I really can’t keep shtum any more. This is a post I’ve meant to write for a very long time, and one I’ve hesitated over for a range of reasons.

I mean, who I’m I to challenge what seems like the belief of the majority; especially one that is considered to be positive, and one that is held by people from all walks of life. Yah, a Western country has a black president!

Better not to rock the boat, hey … but not after I heard that statement again on CNN this evening (4 Nov).

Yes, Barack Obama’s dad is from Kenya and he is definitely black … black in complexion and black because he originates from Sub-Saharan Africa. I get it … so, what’s my problem?

Well, what about his mother? You know, the one who contributed 50% of his DNA, as well as carrying and nourishing him in her womb for the best part of a year. What about his maternal grandfather and grandmother who brought him up from the age of 10?1

Barack Obama with his grandparents

They are white … you know that, right? Does their contribution to his existence and development count for anything, especially when it comes to the ethnic and cultural labelling of Obama at the top of his game?

Does it matter that his black Kenyan father left him pretty much when he was still a baby? Does it count that after his parent’s divorce when he was 2, he only saw his father before his death one more time, when he was 10?

Seriously, does all the loving and personal white influence in his life matter, in the way his heritage is classified?

Interestingly, I can’t remember ever hearing other presidents of America so formally identified based on their ethnicity. I mean, I have no recollection of George Bush before him, being called the 43rd white president of America; do you?

I like to think that the content of one’s character is of much more value than the colour of one’s skin, or one’s ancestral heritage.

I cringe when I hear Obama’s blackness being pronounced over and over again. Why does his African heritage, with its ‘little’ impact in terms of his upbringing, override his European background?

I mean, who cares about his maternal largely English heritage, and their significant contribution to his life.2

If his father was of … say … Swedish origin, or Chinese origin, or Asian origin … would his whiteness be so discounted?

Good job, I’m not his mum or maternal grandparents; I’ll be fuming at his declaration as the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT of AMERICA. This is not because I want the acknowledgement of my influence, but because it’s unfair and it perpetuates the long-held American racist ideology of the ‘one-drop rule’.

It’s unfair because DNA wise, Barack is as white as he is black. It is unfair because the really nasty and costly centuries-old one-drop rule is steeped in injustice.

The one-drop rule basically assigns the minority ethnic status to children of multiple heritage parents. And guess what? It only applies when the minority ethnic status is black – how unfair is that … one black ancestor and you’re excluded from the privilege of white classification.

Barack Obama and his family

Thankfully, the ramifications of this stupid rule in modern America is not the same as when it was instituted in the 1600s. Even then, it’s somewhat shocking that Americans of African / Caribbean descent historically embraced this rule, and many continue to do so today.3 But you know what, it’s not shocking considering the horrible discrimination their ancestors were historically subjected to and indeed the forms in which this continues today.

The black parents of dual heritage children from forced and chosen relations historically knew better than to encourage their children to acknowledge the white bit of their ancestry … oh yes, they knew that their children’s lives depended on it … you’ll do the same if you were on the wrong side of the KKK in those days.

I don’t think Barack Obama worried about being lynched by the KKK, but like other mixed heritage people, he sure suffered from being treated differently. You can’t even imagine how this messes with your perception and conception of yourself, except you’ve gone through it.

His 50% whiteness didn’t save him from wondering what was wrong with him, and struggling to find his place, given how some treated him … the price minority ethnic groups continue to pay.

It’s definitely no surprise that Barack Obama identifies as African-American, the one-drop rule continues to win the day, like it has done for centuries. Whilst the resulting hostility and brutality of this rule is expressed differently in modern times, it’s such a shame that its ugly head is still there at all. Check it out in Halle Berry’s custody battle and life. The same rule makes Colin Powell, another person of mixed heritage, the first ‘African-American Secretary of State’ … on and on and on the examples continue.

Obama’s 1995 book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, will be very interesting to read.

I wonder how he would have identified, if he was treated without reference to his ethnicity. I wonder how his peers would have treated him during his presidency if he was 100% white.

In my view, Barack Obama is not the first black president of America … Barack Obama is not the first African-American president of the United States … Barack Obama is the first mixed-heritage president of American …

I think Morgan Freeman agrees with me, and a few others perhaps.

You know what? Actually, Barack Obama is simply the 44th president of America, like George Bush was the 43rd president of America, and Bill Clinton the 42nd.

I wish I didn’t have to wonder what his presidency would have been like without the dark cloud of the one-drop rule … with regard and respect for his humanity despite his blackness and whiteness … I wonder … I will never know … but I wonder still. 🙁

1Barack Obama: Biography              2Family of Barack Obama             3One-drop rule persists

So, what do you think? 

If this article got you thinking, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Let it be forever known that Barack Obama is not the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT of AMERICA. How can he be? He is as white as he is black; so what makes him the first African-American president of the US?  Have you heard of the one-drop rule? Time to get your thinking cap on, with @aNoviceMum.

 

 

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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How To Survive Breastfeeding During Christmas

Fab to have you here if you hopped from Having a baby and living at home or not :-). Welcome to my 6th #12daysofparenting blog; today’s theme is about top Christmas party survival tips.  There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a cloud 9 collection worth £113 from Younique. Check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

It’s the end of the year and Christmas dominates … cards, carols, secret santas …. Christmas lists, tacky and top presents, work Christmas parties and family dinners … jumpers, trees, ornaments … on and on the list goes. And yes, people, people, people … people all around, way more than usual.

It’s the time of the year when we get in touch or see folks we sometimes haven’t seen for a long time. It’s also the time of the year when travelling needs increases, and there are lots of evening events. And as such it’s one that can make us feel somewhat anxious, especially when it comes to aspects of our life like breastfeeding.

I’ve already missed a dinner, as well as a Carol service in the last week, because I chose working with my night breastfeeding pattern over adjusting it to fit Christmas events. I’m also giving my work’s Christmas-do a miss, partly because I breastfeed my 22 months+ old to sleep.

The very thought of rushing or adjusting our sleep process is way too stressful to make it worth my going. “What if we have one of those days when it takes longer than expected to doze off?”, I’ve wondered. The potential frustration of things not working to plan is one I’m not willing to put myself through, especially given that many things don’t go to plan anyway.

How to survive breastfeeding during Christmas

So, how does a breastfeeding mother survive breastfeeding during Christmas, with all its demands?

Below are my top survival tips for breastfeeding during Christmas when deciding about Christmas parties, family get-togethers, and travelling on public or private transport.

1. Remember why you’re breastfeeding

I breastfeed because I want to; not just because others tell me that all things being equal, beyond being the norm, it’s the best for my baby. In fact, my choice to breastfeed my toddler is regularly questioned and ‘jokingly’ ridiculed by someone dear to me. But it doesn’t bother me most of the time because I’m happy with my choice to breastfeed, and I’m convinced it’s the best for my child and I.

This time of the year means more contact with people, and this means more potential for uncomfortable conversations. Confidence about your breastfeeding choices really helps to stay standing tall when questioned by others who have differing views about breastfeeding.

2. Accept that people might ask questions and share their views even when it’s not invited.

It’s helpful to know that not every family and friend will feel okay with your breastfeeding choices. This might especially be the case if you’re extended breastfeeding – a term I avoid using – and even more if it involves feeding on request, or ‘worse’ feeding through the night.

This acceptance will help you to feel less tense if others indeed ask questions or express unhelpful views about your breastfeeding choices.

3. Don’t expect negativity

If you feel that someone is going to attack you, it is likely they will; not because they necessarily do, but because you’re more likely to interpret their actions as such.

If you’ve read about lots of negative experiences towards breastfeeding, it is quite natural to go about feeling somewhat backed in a corner about it. This of course means that you might be ready to metaphorically go for the jugular if anyone dares bring their ignorance or differing views your way.

Hence, it is important to remember that many people react positively to breastfeeding and what might seem like a criticism might not be intended as such.

If you’re feeling positive about your choices, you’ll probably reflect this to those around you.

4. Be prepared for challenges to / criticism of your breastfeeding choices, and be assertive and not aggressive in your response

Aggressive responses to breastfeeding ignorance is more likely to breed breastfeeding illiteracy than breastfeeding education, and indeed, spread more ignorance and illiteracy. Challenging ignorance is also not about scoring points, or even about changing people’s minds. I think an important component in discussions about breastfeeding is the hearing of the voice of the breastfeeder, and not just that of the differing view.

La Leche League International (LLLI) have a lovely article that is worth checking out, “how do I respond to and avoid criticism about breastfeeding?“, #10 on the list can be replaced with UNICEF’s 6 months exclusive breastfeeding advice, and their recommendation to breastfeed to 2 years and beyond with solids.

LLLI’s ‘responding to criticism’ article is also worth reading, it includes 5 methods of responding which many will find helpful.

5. Breastfeeding and alcohol

I don’t drink alcohol, but I know some breastfeeders do. LLL has quite a few articles about breastfeeding and alcohol that are worth checking out. It seems the compatibility of breastfeeding and alcohol, not surprisingly, depends on how much is consumed, and indeed the gap between its consumption by the mother and the breastfeeding of the child.

Even then, Drink Aware in its article about alcohol and breastfeeding, states that abstinence is the official stance of UK’s Royal College of Midwives. Nonetheless, as the Telegraph’s recent breastfeeding and alcohol article indicates, moderate and sensible consumption of alcohol is compatible with breastfeeding.

If you breastfeed and drink alcohol, it’s helpful to know the facts. “What about drinking alcohol and breastfeeding?” is the latest LLL’s article that I found on this issue, and it’s worth checking out.

NHS Choices also addresses the issue of the safety of drinking alcohol while breastfeeding. Lastly, The Breastfeeding Network’s breastfeeding and alcohol downloadable article is a good one to print for quick reference.

Whatever you do, know the facts and plan your alcohol consumption to work for you and your child’s wellbeing.

7. Have a plan

If you’re decide against going to Christmas evening events partly due to your breastfeeding commitments, make sure you’re happy with your decision. You don’t want to be breastfeeding and feeling resentful about being at home when your heart and mind is somewhere else. If needed, it might help to especially treat yourself to a movie, book, food or something else you particularly enjoy.

If you decide to go to these events, it’s helpful to think about how you’ll manage breastfeeding whilst there. If you’re leaving your child at home, it might mean leaving pumped milk for them, or some other age appropriate food item. It is also helpful to decide whether you need to pump or not whilst you’re away, and to plan for the detail of this in advance. This will probably depend on how long you’re away for and how long you’ve been breastfeeding.

If you’re taking your child with you, deciding where you’re happy to feed – in a private place or wherever you are – will help to keep any anxiety about feeding at bay, or at least to minimize it.

9. It’s okay to feed your child on public transport

I wish I knew this at the start of my breastfeeding journey, it would have saved us some tears.

If you’re planning to use a breastfeeding cover, it’s helpful to have it with you when you sit down. I was once in a situation when I didn’t and It was horrible. I couldn’t safely get up with my crying and struggling baby to get my cover from the buggy, whilst the bus was moving. In the end, I stumbled through feeding without a cover whilst putting up a confident front. I wasn’t used to feeding in public without a cover at that time, so you can imagine how uncomfortable I felt.

Feel free to stare back at anyone who stares at you, and remember you are not doing anything illegal. More than these, you’re doing what you’ve got to do to meet your child’s need. In any case, I think many commuters will choose a ‘quietly’ breastfeeding child over a crying hungry one.

You can also pump on public transport if you have the right pumping gear. I’ve never tried it but I’ve read about some who have.

10. Plan for breastfeeding breaks on private transport.

A child wants boobing when a child wants boobing, except you do really structured feeding. Plan for extra hours on your long journeys, to accommodate stops to breastfeed and stretch your legs. Driving with a crying hungry baby is of course distracting, and not safe, especially on long journeys. So, it’s worth noting places you can stop to boob, if and when needed, before starting your journey.

Pumping on long journeys is a time saver. It’s worth taking spare batteries for your pump, just in case. Take care not to forget your ice packs and storage bag, but if you do, know that you can keep breast milk at room temperature for 4 hours, and it’s okay up to 8 hours.

See this LLL downloadable breastmilk storage information sheets for more info. Page 4 is especially worth print out for reference.

11. Do what works for you and be kind to yourself

I hope you have a lovely end to the year, perhaps a ‘white’ (my #12dasyofparenting code word) one, without hiccups on your breastfeeding journey. Ultimately, do what works best for you and your baby. It’s your life and no one can walk in your shoes like you can.

Also, don’t forget to be kind to yourself; keep a good supply of water near you, and some lovely munchies. Be confident about your choice, and gently speak out when you need to.

One more thing, if you can, avoid stress; or at least take breaks from it. Have a stress management plan to help you work with potential expected stress. I was told at the start of my breastfeeding journey that breast milk supply and stress aren’t the best of friends.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Check out The Mad House of Cats & Babies  to read about her Christmas party survival tips, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

~ What would you add, and what are your top breastfeeding survival tips in instances like this? ~

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How To Survive Christmas With No Traditions

Fab to have you here if you hopped from Glossy Tots or not :-). Welcome to my 4th #12daysofparenting blog; today’s theme is about Christmas family traditions.  There are lots of fab prizes to win, including a Bambini & Me 0-6m or 6-18m sleep bag; check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Who fancies Christmas with no traditions … without its tree, decorations, presents, movies, clothes, carols, and dinner trimmings? Not many folks for this, right?

What will Christmas without all these things look like?

Cold, dark and dreary?

Just another day?

Nothing special?

Boring end of year?

Less profits?

Fuller pockets?

Better bank accounts?

Less opportunity for family get-togethers?

Less chances to reach out to loved ones we rarely see?

Less gifts given?

Less toys?

Less waste?

Less energy used?

Less pay?

Less holiday taken?

No chocolate or beauty advent calendars?

Less worries about presents?

No Christmas markets or Christmas specials?

No anxious wait on Christmas eve?

No early and excited wakes on Christmas day?

I bet there are other choice words that can be added.

I mean, Christmas is embraced and celebrated by such a mix of folks, never mind allegiance to ‘Christ’ in the ‘Christmas’. I don’t think indifference to ‘Christ’ in it stops many from embracing Christmas and the different traditions that now surround it.

Many of us sing words that mean nothing to us in the guise of Christmas carols, and there are indeed many carols with not much to mean.

The stylised and bright lights of Christmas high streets … the red colour of Santa … the green colour of its elves and trees … the warmness of its dinners … the good feeling of its movies … the distraction of its specials … the delights in its markets … the comfort of the company of the many who gather under its umbrella … all out to lift our mood during this cold and dark time of the year, and bring us cheer at the year’s end.

How would Christmas be without these things, whose very thought puts a smile on so many’s faces.

But what if you don’t get the traditions … or perhaps the traditions haven’t got you.

What do you do when all are buying and sending Christmas cards, either for the sake of it, because it’s the done thing, or a way of updating those we barely see in the year about how we are.

What do you do when everyone is chatting about their Christmas tree, and sharing pictures of their decorated and lit up houses. What do you do about the threat of loneliness that awaits your child in the new year when all their friends animatedly swap stories of presents opened and Christmas feasts consumed? What do you do when folks give you present and you give none back?

Yes, it can be a very lonely road to go against the tide … especially a very strong tide.

Top tips for surviving Christmas with no traditions

Here are my tips for surviving Christmas with no traditions; I’m currently experimenting with them, and will refine them as needed.

Really know your thoughts on Christmas; what it means to you and how you express this. This way, you don’t feel the pressure to do anything you don’t want to do.

Abstaining from Christmas traditions also doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivity that these traditions inspire. So, for me, not having Christmas lights at home, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy its sight as I walk around in residential areas, or on the high street. It also doesn’t mean that I will never use Christmas lights – ‘lights’ being my #12daysofparenting code word – in my house if it works with an atmosphere I want to create in the future, whenever in the year.

Accept the nature of your views as a minority view, and also its impact. This acceptance is vital in starving away the lonely feelings that might arise when everyone around sees it differently.

Also, if you have children, be prepared for comments about how unfair your views are to your child, and how it will disadvantage them with their peers.

Consider how you feel about your child being in nativity plays before they are offered roles, and your stance on secret santas.

I’ve learnt the hard way with secret santa at work, which has changed from opting in to participate to opting out of participation. I’ll be emailing to opt out indefinitely for the foreseeable future; I now need to buy my secret santa present before Friday.

Be respectful of differing views. It’s important not to begrudge others for their views on Christmas, we’re talking about age-long traditions here.

Children also need to be taught how to be respectful in the face of difference, as well as how to coexist with it, to avoid any superiority or inferiority complex.

Be sensitive when sharing your views. Some of my A level students were quite upset when I told them that I don’t believe in Santa and I don’t intend to lie to my child about Santa’s existence. I was amused and surprised, considering their age. I also remember reading about an incident where much upset was caused when a child told another child that Santa doesn’t exist.

I suppose there is something warm about the innocent belief in Santa.

These incidents have taught me that despite the light-heartedness of Christmas, it is helpful to be aware of how sensitive people can be when it comes to Christmas traditions. There is no pleasure is causing unnecessary upset.

And so, I think it’s worth reflecting on how to share one’s views with one’s children, to help them to be sensitive towards those with differing views.

When my child comes of age, I look forward to researching the Christmas traditions that we see around us, with him; to help him understand their origins, evolution, and value in modern times, as well as our thoughts on them.

I think Christmas is one event that definitely offers many teachable moments with children.

As for Santa, it’s really a commercial culturally issue, with some religious inspiration from St Nicholas.

I grew up with the idea of Father Christmas, a feature of my childhood Christmas that I forgot to mention in my pre-motherhood Christmas reminisce post yesterday. I can’t remember ever thinking that Santa existed and I don’t intend to teach my child that he does.

Last but not the least, I say … construct your own ‘Christmas’ family traditions in line with your stance and indeed your core values, and have fun whilst doing it.

I’m not sure what ours will be yet. I definitely don’t want it to involve anything that will stress any of us out, which means there will probably never be some massive Christmas dinner at ours. I must confess though that I’m alright with tucking into feasts prepared by loved ones that have us in their homes at Christmas … 🙂 🙁 .

I also don’t think it would involve any kind of spending that will break the bank.

Whatever we settle on, it’s important to me that we know why we are doing it the way we’re doing it.

You probably weren’t expecting a post like this for the collaboration theme; even then, I hope you enjoyed reading it. Check out Having a baby and living at home to read about her Christmas family traditions, and gain more entries into the grand prize draw.

~ How did you decide your family’s Christmas traditions? ~

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A Nolstagic Reminisce Of My Pre-Motherhood Christmases

Here is my third #12daysofparenting blog; day 3 is all about how parenthood changed the Christmas holidays, as you might know if you hopped from Mummies Waiting. There are lots of fab prizes to win, check out the 12 Days of Parenting page for the terms and conditions of the giveaway (UK  residents only). Entries are via the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

This is my 2nd Christmas holiday as a mother and it’s a different feel from how it used to be. I find myself caring more about what we should do, and the issues of meaning and significance. These are part of the parenting cares that have gradually crept into the forefront of my mind in recent years.

What a far cry from how Christmas holidays used to be for me.

Childhood Christmases

I can’t remember when the word or idea of ‘Christmas’ entered my vocabulary and consciousness. However, I remember that the end of the year was a festive time when I was growing up in my little West African town. The Christmas break was fantastic; it was more than time off school. You couldn’t miss the festive feel in the air if you tried.

It was definitely a time of giving and receiving and a time to make some money whilst dropping off gifts from my father to his friends. I was only allowed to do this when I was a teenager and it was such fun. What Christmas was really about wasn’t my concern, its religious significance wasn’t relevant as such in our non-Christian household, and definitely not to me as a child.

It was a time when my father and his other well to do friends reached out to each other beyond business. We received live Turkeys, Chickens, and even Rams. Sometimes it was a huge portion of a Goat or Cow, or a massive bag of rice, a big keg of vegetable oil, or / and cartons of different kinds of non-alcoholic drinks. My dad also sent out gifts like these. So you can imagine how full of food our house used to be at those times.

I remember evening visits to one of our Christian family friends, where we enjoyed really yummy food like jollof or/and fried rice, chicken, and fried plantain. Oh, those were lovely days; walking leisurely in our quiet neighbourhood to our friends … excellent food, fun chats, fab company.

And my, the full house around this time. All my half siblings came home from uni, and a host of cousins and other relatives whose family connections were unknown to me, were usually about. They came home / visited at other times of the year but Christmas was the fullest the house was. All these meant more entertainment, more gossip, more hustle and bustle, more opportunities for the younger children to get away with … ‘murder’. 🙂

It was  also a time when you got sent on errands the most by all the grown ups around, and I hated this. I especially appreciated my mum and us having our own separate flat in our massive compound; and indeed having my own room, as my mother’s only daughter. It was a fab hiding place, and it offered me plenty of chances to avoid being seen when I really didn’t want to be.

And oh, the clothes … we always got new clothes during key festivals. I especially miss going to the tailor and choosing the style I wanted from their catalogue. How I miss the opportunities to design my own clothes, and get measured for attires that fitted perfectly.

Yeah, those Christmases were easy peasy chilled out times, with little care (in hindsight). They were times when everyone let their hair down and folks were less uptight. I mingled most with my older half siblings during this time of the year, and got to see lots of the posh and beautiful children of the rich and famous of our town.

This was how it was for most of my childhood, until relationships gradually soured and dwindled, and the retreat of attempts to connect began.

Teens and twentys Christmases

Christmas was different when I moved to London in my late teens. It was much smaller, less loud, very cold, and really cosy … well, very cold outside and usually warm and nice inside. How it felt depended on where I was each year.

I remember 2 Christmases with some extended family that I’d recently gotten to know, at that point. They were a lovely bunch to hang out with. I remember their children getting so many presents, way too many for my liking. I remember deciding then that it wasn’t a ‘thing’ I wanted if I ever have children. Firstly, I couldn’t fathom the expense it must have involved buying the latest toy for every child in a large family, and secondly, I questioned its value for the buyer and receiver.

My most memorable Christmases are with my very dear God-given friend in the Midlands, and her lovely extended family and friends. They sure do know how to throw a good party, with lots of quality food, banter, and company. It was definitely a lovely time for a young girl far away from ‘home’; a multicultural and intellectual affair. There were lots of reminiscing about Nigeria before my time, and political discussions with those much wiser than me.

I tried to adopt the tradition of Christmas cards during my university years but it just didn’t work for me.

However, I enjoyed the lights on the high streets, that was definitely different from what I was used to at the time.

Cusp of motherhood Christmases

Up until about 3 years ago, I was relatively indifferent to Christmas. It was just part of the time of the year, I didn’t choose it and there wasn’t much I could do about it. I responded to it in relation to those around me and that was that.

After I became a Christian, it became a bit more meaningful to me; Jesus afterall is said to be the reason for the season. However, what I consider the fluff – the result of its immense commercialisation – of Christmas bogs me down. I find it too time consuming, too meaningless, too wasteful, and too expensive.

The restful festive time that Christmas had been all these years was all of a sudden inadequate for my new parenthood status. My mostly laissez-faire approach to it felt too lacking for what I want for my child. Listening to David Pawson’s talk about Christmas, last year, didn’t help matters. If anything, it challenged me to be clearer about my thoughts on Christmas and its celebration.

I am not embracing Christmas and its trimmings just because I have a child and it would be cruel not to as I’ve been told by some. I am on a long pause of consideration about what it means to my hubby and I and what of this we want to share with our child.

This means, no Christmas tree, angel (my code word), decorations, or presents at ours … no reference to Santa and all it involves … like it’s been for years now, for us, really. It also means no sidestepping of its importance anymore like before. I’m taking my time though, with thinking through it. I’m thankful that my child is still young and is oblivious to it; this gives us time to decide our stance on Christmas.

So thanks to becoming a parent, my fun and carefree Christmas holidays, are now more thoughtful and considered, albeit still fun.

Thanks for hanging out here, check out My Thoughts on Things for more musings on Christmas past, and entries into the grand prize draw.

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We Do What We Have To Do

Sometimes we do what we have to do

Not because we want to do

But because we need to do

 

Not because we feel like doing

 

But because we should do

Not because we will to do

But because we must do

Motivation Monday 1 We Do

This is life sometimes, right? Fancy if we wait to do things until we really want to, until we feel motivated and inspired to; how much do we think we will get done?

Not much, right?

I mean it would be great if all we have to do are things we feel like doing. Imagine the ease and peace, the comfort and delight; that would be fantastic, won’t it?

However, I find that many of the things we do are what we have to do, whether we feel like it or not. In fact, many times, we can’t afford for our feelings to come into it. If we wait until we feel like doing, we would barely achieve anything.

I’m off to work in a short while; not because I feel like it or want to, but because I have to, should, and actually must.

I am super thankful that I can too.

You know … sometimes we want to do, but can’t do; we do very well to remember this when we have to do but don’t want to do.

And so today, if you’re feeling tired and groggy … if you’re feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, and just really don’t want to do … my challenge to you is to get up and go … go wash your face, go get ready to go, straighten that shoulders, raise your head high, and go do!

Go do, my friend … not because you fancy to do, but because YOU CAN DO!

Yes, you can woman …

Oh yes, you can man …

Definitely, we can people …

Face that challenge head on, take whatever small steps you must take, until you do what you have to do … that which you should and must do … that which you can do.

Yeah, you can do it

I tell you, you can

Tell yourself, you’ve got to do

And I tell you, you will do

Because you can do

And you should do

And you must do

So will to do

And do!

~ What do you think? ~

Win a box of Mothers Love Cookies + Discount Code

Meg from Mothers Love Cookies uses galactagogues to make lactation cookies, flap jacks, and brownies. Her cookies are tasty and homemade fresh to order.

I’m pleased I found out about this product, as I elaborated in my Mothers Love Cookies review.

Meg has kindly offered one of her £12.95 boxes (single or mixed flavours) to one of you to win through my blog; yah! So lovely of Mothers Love Cookies to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week with us; and join in with the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt with such a lovely treat.

In addition to this, she is offering you a 20% discount off her cookies, using the code ‘aNoviceMum’.

I appreciate the affordable and yummy treat that Meg’s cookies are.

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Silent Sunday 20

Silent Sunday

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