The ups and downs of breastfeeding

 Hi mamas, 
I’m not what one would consider a “crunchy momma” by many regards, but I have – rather by accident – become an extended breastfeeder. 

By that, I mean that I’m still breastfeeding my 16 month old, with absolutely no signs of slowing down any time soon. 

I have written before about Little J being a bottle refuser, but while I’m still feeding I wanted to document my journey and let you know the ups and downs of breastfeeding in case you’re wondering if you should breastfeed or not, or are generally interested in the subject! All journeys are very different though, and before we go on I’d like to state that I’m not anti-formula or one of those sanctimommies – just so you know 🙂 

I suppose my breastfeeding journey began when I was pregnant. I think being bombarded by the pro-breastfeeding information in hospitals and clinics sank in a bit, and as I was breastfed myself (and my husband was too), I decided early on that I’d “give it a go” for the first six months. I also decided at the same time that if it didn’t work out for me, I’d stop, and I certainly wouldn’t beat myself up about it!

I had an elective Caesarian at 39 weeks with J because he was upside down and wedged in, and because of this, I did have some concerns that my baby may not take to breastfeeding. When I was settled back in my hospital bed after the birth, I popped J on my boob to give it a bash and he took to it quite spectacularly straight away! No qualms, straight in there. It was so soft and gentle it felt like fairies were dancing upon my nips. Ahh, I thought, this is pretty easy. What’s all the fuss about?

Fast forward to two days later at home, and I was screaming in agony at the thought of breastfeeding. It was excruciatingly painful. Like someone taking a pair of pliers to my almost bruised boobs, J used to feed for two to four HOURS at a time in those early days, and I spent the entire time with my toes curled up wishing that he’d stop. I think the painful phase lasted a good couple of weeks, and during that time I shouted at my husband on many occasions and told him that tomorrow, he’d have to go and buy some Cow & Gate because I wasn’t carrying on. 

And every time, after I’d calmed down and stopped crying, I’d say “I’ll just give it ONE more chance”. 

And I did. And here we are! Anyway, here’s a list of my ups and downs regarding breastfeeding. Enjoy…

Ups:

  • It’s easy

Well, easy-ish. Ha ha! Those first few weeks were quite challenging as I got to grips with painful feeds, cracked nips, a tongue-tied baby and the sheer amount of time it consumes, but when you break past that first crazy month, it could be labelled as easy in some respects – especially because there’s no sterilising, washing bottles, weighing out formula, sourcing hot water when you’re out etc. You just pop out your boob and you’re off! It’s also FREE! 

Downs:

  • Blocked ducts.

With breastfeeding comes the odd blocked duct – I’ve had a few and they’re painful as anything. I actually felt like I had flu with my first one and the pain in my boob was awful. I even tried expressing to alleviate the swelling and pain but nothing came out – like someone was stood on a hose pipe. It was weird! In the end I drank loads of water, stuck a hot flannel on the sore part and Little J cleared it for me by feeding solely from that boob for the night. By the next morning it was ok. 

Ups:

  • Taking advantage of the chill out time!

In the early days, breastfeeding is ridiculously time consuming. J used to feed about every three hours, for an hour! Plus he took to doing four hour stints in the night. Once I’d got used to just sitting there for hours looking at the tip your house is (well mine was!), and not being able to do anything about it, I embraced the chill out time, tuned into Netflix and cracked on with some box sets! I can thoroughly recommend Orange is the New Black 🙂 

**Tip** Don’t ever sit down to breastfeed without: Your phone, the sky remote, a muslin cloth and a decaf brew made in a Starbucks coffee flask. Can’t spill over and keeps your coffee warm for ages. You’re welcome 🙂 

Downs:

  • Sanctimommies giving us a bad name.

I know that there are some sanctimonious holier-than-thou mothers out there, but I ain’t one of them! I’ve known bottle feeders who feel like they have to justify their non-breastfeeding to me but for the record, I’m really not bothered about how any other mama choose to feed THEIR babies. I definitely feel that us mums should empower each other rather than feel like we’re in competition with each other. Breastfeeding just happened to work for me, and if other mamas don’t have the same experience or just prefer not to boob feed at all, that’s entirely their prerogative. There’s no right or wrong, we are all just doing the best we can for our babies. Full stop. 

FYI – I’ve actually tried J on all the different formulas but he’s refused them, and all bottles/all teats – but that’s a whole different story 🙂 

Ups: 

  • Discovering Lansinoh nipple cream. 

Nipples get a bit sore when feeding and this cream was by far the best that I discovered. It is a clear ointment, like very thick Vaseline, and it works wonders for your poor stressed out nips. It also makes an amazing overnight face moisturiser over you usual one, and is great on chapped lips. 

Downs:

Having to dress solely for ease of access to your bangers.

ARGH the minefield that is a nursing wardrobe! In the early days of feeding, it certainly takes some getting used to to constantly have to factor in how to get your boobs out when choosing an outfit. It can be rather limiting!

**Tip** Buy yourself lots of strappy vest tops in lots of different colours. These can then be worn underneath normal tops and you can adopt the “one top up/one top down” approach. Means you can wear lots your normal gear rather than specially-designed nursing tops. 

Ups:

It gives you a sense of wonderment about your body. 

As if growing a baby all by yourself in your tummy and pushing it out through your lady parts (usually) isn’t enough, it’s pretty amazing that your body can make food for your baby, all by itself. I must admit, I felt very proud of myself when I was able to provide for J in this way. It gave me a lovely sense of accomplishment and wellbeing. And apparently, my boobs now produce milk designed just for a toddler and his growing needs. That’s pretty awesome. 

Downs:

Feeding whilst out and about with a rambunctious child. 

Nursing a newborn or little baby is reasonably straightforward when you’re out and about, but fast forward a few months and it’s rather more difficult to keep your dignity in tact! On account of having (ahem!) rather large bazookas, I’ve always favoured the muslin-tucked-into-your-bra-strap approach to drape over the boob to provide a slight cover-up, but after a certain age there’s really no point because they just rip it down so they can have a look around. I have since upgraded to one of those breastfeeding butterfly covers that loops round my neck, but now it just looks like I’m wrestling with an energetic and rather nosy lion cub if he decides he’s not content ‘under-wraps”. 

There we go! I can think of loads more but I shan’t bang on. 

If you’re planning to breastfeed, I hope this has given you an insight into the ins and outs of feeding, but like I said, every mummy journey is different. 

If you’re a fellow feeder, what are your ups and downs about breastfeeding? 

Single Mother Ahoy Weekend Blog Hop

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Big boobs? Read this! Pepperberry dress review

Hey mummies! 

Bit of a different one for you today, as I wanted to impart some newfound fashion wisdom on the, erm, more well-endowed mamas out there. 

I’m talking breasts. Bazookas. Bangers. Puppies. Boobs. Whatever you call them, if you have big ones, this post is for you. 

For most of my adult life, I have been “lucky” enough to have large boobs. I’ve also mainly been a size 10-12, and I’ve not really changed much since I was about 19. Well, that was until I got pregnant, of course – since then, I’m more of a definite 12 and my 30FF boobs have turned into 34Gs (and one is bigger than the other at the mo as I’m still breastfeeding, and my darling little boy only likes one particular boob. The right one. Don’t even ask. That’s a whole new post.) 

The smaller bod/bigger boobs thing may sound like a reasonably nice body type to some, but being built this way comes with many a problem when buying clothes. Dresses that fit the rest of me nicely pull tightly over my boobs to such an extent that my husband has been called upon to help me inch up the zip on several evening dresses, and once he had to use pliers. PLIERS! Beautifully fashionable tops and frocks that I’ve spotted in Topshop or drooled over in magazines may have looked stylish and effortlessly cool on the waify teeny-boobed models and mannequins, but on me, they just looked crap and indecent, and don’t even get me started on shirts! I’ve always dreamed of rocking a crisp, white preppy shirt for work but most button-up tops or shirts of any kind just gape like crazy over big boobs and occasionally, the buttons MAY have given in to the pressure of my heaving bosom and pinged off, never to be seen again. Not the best, most professional thing to happen in a business meeting…AHEM! 

Imagine my delight, then, when I was introduced to Pepperberry – a brand that I’ve got to know recently in my capacity as a freelance PR. Pepperberry is the sister company of my favourite go-to lingerie chain, Bravissimo. Bravissimo has been the only place I’ve been able to buy bras in for years – they specialise in smaller back sizes and larger cups, which is obviously perfect for me. The first time I bought a well fitting bra from Bravissimo, I looked like I had lost about 7llbs and had some posture lessons. Just fantastic.

Pepperberry’s strapline is “fashion with boobs in mind”. It has created an absolutely GORGEOUS collection of tops, jackets, shirts and dresses that start from a size 8 but have three different “curvy” fittings depending on how big your bangers are. I couldn’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I realised that there was an entire brand devoted to body types like mine! 

I really needed a new posh, formal dress that I could wear for my little brother’s wedding – one that would fit well, look lovely and actually be comfortable (let’s face it mummies, we do have to have an element of comfort nowadays huh!?). I selected the navy blue “fleur” occasion dress from Pepperberry in a size 12 “curvy”, which is the first of the three settings for boobs. Although Pepperberry is mainly an online brand, the sizing guide is really straightforward with no tape measure required! It simply asks you how many extra sizes you need to go up when you buy tops and shirts, compared to your usual dress size. It’s very easy to understand. 

I was super excited when I received the beautifully presented box in the post, and the dress really did not disappoint at first glance – it was really well made, fully lined and gorgeous. I tried in on and I am happy to report that it fit perfectly with no pliers required! There was no pulling or tightness over my boobs, no having to choose from either a well fitting bottom and a tight top half of a nicely fitting top half and a baggy bottom! 

I decided to team the dress with sparkly silvery/gold heels and a matching clutch bag from Next, a statement necklace, a lovely blue scarf/wrap with sparky bits from Next and sparkly silver/gold nail polish from Barry M. 

  
The dress was a big hit at the wedding and I received many compliments. For once, my boobs were not an issue at all when I was getting ready, and didn’t get in the way of my efforts to look stylish and a tiny bit sophisticated (for once).

Additionally, I didn’t even need to wear my Spanx underneath the dress as it was so beautifully made, which was another massive bonus on a hot summer’s day. I’d even be tempted to go for a smaller size in future as there’s no need to err on the side of caution size-wise, as your boobs are taken care of. 

I love love love this brand! I am honestly set for life here, ladies – Pepperberry is my new go-to place for posh dresses from this day forward, and if you are blessed with a large chest, I’d really recommend that you give it a go. 

Pepperberry stuff is not cheap and cheerful, I’d say it’s on a par with Monsoon, Coast, French Connection or M&S’s Autograph collection price and quality-wise. Tops start from £29, dresses are from £45 – £95. The clothes are beautifully made and utterly timeless, and you’ll be able to wear them time and again for many occasions. There’s a fabulous holiday collection, too! A big thumbs up from me, and my big buzzies! 

Maybe I’ll treat myself to a crisp white shirt, after all… 

Check out the collection at http://www.pepperberry.com
The Navy Blue “Fleur” dress, £95, was sent to me from Pepperberry in exchange for my honest review. 


  

Curveball central.

Howdy again mummies (and mummies to be, and daddies etc etc…)

So, continuing on my theme of the things that people fail to mention to you before you embark on the mummy journey, here’s the next one.

THINGS NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT MOTHERHOOD #2: Babies throw you curveballs.

Ok, so I can only really speak for myself here and I only have one baby to date, but blimey has little J surprised me. I’m sure there are a million small things I could mention to you, but here’s the main one:

Little J is a bottle refuser.

This may seem like a small thing. “So what?” you may shrug. But just think about that for a minute. He has so far, in his six months on this planet, refused to have his milk from absolutely anything but my boobs.

When I first realised this, I won’t lie, I felt like I had just been kicked in the face. It dawned on me slowly and very painfully that I couldn’t go out for a long-overdue night out with the girls, I couldn’t join a gym, I couldn’t go and get my hair done – essentially, if J can’t go with me, I can’t bloody go. FACE KICK.

Before I had J, I was convinced that I’d be able to express milk like a pro (or crack out a bit of ready-mixed formula) and therefore enjoy the occasional night out with my much-loved girlies.

Don’t get me wrong, this last six months with this little bab permanently attached to me like a Joey have been the most joyously beautiful of my life. I utterly love being his mum, and genuinely enjoy having my new little buddy around all the time, but I am really seriously in need of a night out now! There’s a nightclub attached to a country club not far from where I live. I’m not mentioning any names, but if you google “halls” and “bredbury”, you might see what I mean. It’s hilariously cheesy and you can stay over in the attached country club hotel. There’s even a resident’s bar that serves post-dancing sandwiches with karaoke until 5am. My girlfriends have promised to take me out as soon as I can persuade my bub to embrace tommee tippee/medela/Avent/NUK (yeah yeah I’ve tried all of them) and let daddy take a shift. This may go against the hippy mummy grain, but the lure of high heels, hot beef butties at 4am, copious amounts of rose wine and dancing to Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long” have proven too much to resist.

He’s weaning now, so maybe he will skip the whole bottle stage anyway and move straight to Sunday Roasts, but he still LOVES breastfeeding. I just hope he can give up the boob before he starts university.

One last thing to point out though – apparently, I was a bottle refuser too. Karma, it appears, has decided to bite me on the ass.