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new mom

Our Decision to Breastfeed Our Baby: Why & How Are We Preparing for It?

Firstly, George & myself have tried to keep an open mind about all our decisions throughout this pregnancy. We understand that what we have planned may not work out. This applies to breastfeeding also. Coming from Ireland at a young age our exposure to breast feeding has been limited. At the beginning of our pregnancy I said to George that I would like to give breastfeeding a go but if for some reason it doesn’t work out then we will bottle feed our baby. I believe if the process is causing too much stress and disappointment then mother & baby are both suffering. We would like to avoid this situation at all cost.

 

Generally, when we make a decision, we do our research and prepare ourselves as much as possible to succeed, then if it doesn’t work out, we have the comfort of knowing we did all we could. We applied the same attitude to breast feeding. With limited exposure to breastfeeding other than feedback from friends in Canada (not all feedback was great) I decided I needed to learn more. Friends advise is great but everyone’s experience with breastfeeding is so unique, I wanted to speak to a specialist so they could explain why, how and the method of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding for me did not seem like a natural thing. The idea of producing milk & feeding my child from my own body honestly was completely alien to me. I needed help and guidance to change my mindset so I could see this process as a natural & special connection with our baby.

 

The first step to expanding my knowledge was to download a book called “Guide to Breastfeeding” by Ina May. I would recommend every woman who is planning on breastfeeding to read this book. Ina May is a huge advocate for breastfeeding and gave solutions to all problems & issues that may arise during the process. She is convinced that all women can and should breastfeed. After reading this book it built up my confidence that if I am having trouble at any stage of feeding there is always a solution, for me that is very comforting.

 

During my pregnancy I have been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes & my haemoglobin levels are way below average but I am non symptomatic. Having low iron levels & diabetes could make breastfeeding a little more complicated at the beginning. If myself or the baby are not so great after the birth, it may occur that I am unable to breastfeed right away. Also, if there are complications during the birth it may create a situation that breast feeding right away may not happen.

 

For the above reasons I wanted to meet with a lactation consultant so she could answer my questions which were very specific to my pregnancy and to help paint a picture of when breastfeeding begins, how to breast feed and how we could prepare for any situation after birth.

I searched online for a lactation consultant and found Mommy’s Milk (www.mommysmilk.ca). I booked a private at home consultation with Shannon Joyce at about week 28.

 

In addition to learning how to breastfeed and how we can prepare for complications I really wanted to know how to use a breast pump and when I could pump. A friend of mine gave me her pump and said it was so useful. George really wants to be involved in feeding the baby and I am all for it;-) Its just that I don’t know how to do it and when he can start feeding!

 

Shannon arrived in the afternoon on a Saturday, George left us so we could have the space to ourselves. Shannon asked what my expectations were from our meeting and I told her what I wanted to know. She was such a pleasant person & put me at ease straight away. She listened to all my concerns and passed no judgement just offered her knowledge and wisdom.

 

Shannon went through her presentation on her laptop with me which covered the topics below:

 

  • Benefits of breast feeding for mom & baby
  • How breastmilk changes
  • How milk production works
  • What we should expect in the first 24 hours
  • How to hand express
  • What is colostrum
  • Best time for breastfeeding
  • How often to breastfeed
  • What are babies hunger cues?
  • How to establish a good milk supply
  • Steps to a good latch
  • How to tell if your baby is getting enough milk
  • Frequency and duration of feeds
  • Pumping and storing breastmilk
  • Partner involvement in breastfeeding
  • Breast related concerns
  • When to seek help

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. The majority of the topics above I didn’t even think of before our session. For me the most relevant topic to my situation was that you can self-express from 37 weeks and store your colostrum in vials or syringes in the freezer. Therefore, if anything happens after the birth that I cannot feed my baby I will have a supply of colostrum ready for George to feed the baby until I have my energy back up. It may not come to that but I would like to prepare for it. This is the first time I ever heard of this and I’m sure I am not the only one.

 

After the presentation Shannon demonstrated how to set up, use & clean my pump. During the presentation she used puppets and props to give me excellent visuals of how you know your baby is latched on well and where the baby’s head, chin & nose should be positioned to get a great latch.

 

She insisted breastfeeding should not be a painful process, it may be uncomfortable for the first few moments but then it gets to feel more natural. She insisted that no one should have sore nipples or suffer when feeding. Her advice is to stop feeding and reposition the baby until it does not hurt even if the baby starts crying.

To say I gained knowledge and confidence from this experience is an understatement. Knowledge truly is power. I highly recommend spending the money on seeing a lactation consultant before your baby arrives. This is where your money is well spent, forget about fancy cribs & strollers…. spend the money on services like the above which will make your life and the baby’s life a lot easier from day 1.

 

I now have the confidence that I can breastfeed even if complications occur & I am looking forward to it which I never thought I would. I’m hoping it will be a time for myself & my little girl to bond and be happy. After 6 weeks George can then have this experience with feeding the breastmilk from a bottle and doing skin on skin with the little person.

 

We are excited about the idea of breastfeeding and will definitely give it our best shot! Hoping all works out but you just never know. I will write a follow-up blog to this on how it all went.

 

Thanks so much for reading,

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa

The First Trimester: A Personal Experience

For the past couple of years, I have been tracking my period on a monthly basis. Logging in my bullet journal the date my period started and the date it ended. The reason why I started doing this was to understand my body and my emotions better. The week before my period I would crave sweets, be moody as hell and generally not be myself. By logging my period, I prepared myself for the changes and understood why I was craving certain foods and feeling a bit sad. It was so better knowing it was my hormones and not me who was the crazy one.

To make a long story short my cycle was exactly 26 days each month. It’s crazy how like clockwork my period would arrive. When myself & George were in Cuba on holidays and my period did not show I knew there was something up. We wanted to get pregnant but just couldn’t believe that it happened so soon! Believe me I am not complaining and I know how lucky I am, still I felt a little un prepared.

Before leaving for our month trip to Cuba and Argentina I went to see our Doctor to explain to him that we were planning on having children in the near future. I was looking for his advice on how should I prepare my mind & body before getting pregnant. He mentioned 2 things, to take folic acid and to avoid getting pregnant in Cuba (something about catching the Ezekiel Virus there).  I purchased the folic acid and was actually pregnant already so I didn’t really break any of his rules. Lol!

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Taking a snooze in the middle of the day in Mendoza, this was one of those emotional, I want to go home days…So unlike me!

After the first week in Cuba we knew I was pregnant, no period and my boobs were sore and swollen. We decided not to take a pregnancy test until we got back to Vancouver a few weeks later, as we wanted to confirm the news in our own home.

During the first month on holidays I experience a few moments of slight queasiness particularly after eating eggs. I stopped eating eggs and the queasiness occurred less. To say I have a sweet tooth is an understatement, at any other time in my life Buenos Aires would have been a dream come true, cakes and sweets on every corner. My body obviously was not having any of it as cake made me queasy. (let’s hope it continues after pregnancy…best diet ever!)

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In my PJ’s at 6:00pm reading a great book, fell asleep sitting up! So funny how I had no control over how tired I felt in the evenings. Out like a light. George always ready to take snaps of his sleeping wife!

Foods I craved in the first Trimester were hummus, beans, lentils (We are vegetarian), any plant-based protein really and lots of vegetables. Honestly my diet improved in the first trimester. My appetite increased and I was gaining weight. In the first trimester I gained 7 lbs.

Emotionally I definitely was not myself. On holidays I occasionally felt anxious to get back to Canada and would have little moments of panic to go back home to Ireland or Vancouver. This is extremely strange for me as I am not one to panic, I couldn’t really explain it. My personality was off, George would ask “are you a bit out of sorts?” I couldn’t explain it better myself, I would have moments or periods of feeling a bit out of sorts, not sad, mad, happy or anything in specific just a bit bland. Again, not like me.

My energy levels changed too. I was tired so early in the evenings. I would want to go to bed at 7:00pm. However, in the morning & during the day I had my normal high energy levels. I really don’t have much to complain about as I didn’t have morning sickness and I could go to work as normal after returning from a month holiday. I really did feel good.

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Normally I would do my exercise in the evenings, usually a Vinyasa or kundalini yoga class where I could build strength and sweat, this changed and has remained so since I got pregnant. In the first trimester I was so tired in the evening that I couldn’t think of exercise. The only exercise I got in was my 1 hours walk on my lunch break every day. It’s something.

Usually I would take photos for my Instagram account, work on my blog during free time in the evenings and at weekends but I lost all drive to work on these areas of my life. Its only now in my second trimester that I want to go back working on my blog and Instagram. Honestly, I just lost all interest in those projects I cannot explain why but I did.

The above are all the changes I personally went through and cannot be compared to any other experience as we are all so different. With the above changes there were some really cool moments in the first trimester too.

Highlights of the first trimester:

  • Deciding to call our baby Pebble until its born
  • Seeing the positive result on the pregnancy test
  • Seeing our baby for the first time at our first scan at 11 weeks
  • Hearing the babies heart beat at 11 weeks
  • Telling our parents, the happy news
  • Telling our brothers & sisters the happy news
  • Telling our friends, neighbours and relatives the happy news
  • Receiving so much love and well wishes from everyone who we told
  • Meeting my midwife for the first time (I was on a waiting list so I was relived & happy to meet Clare)
  • Hearing our babies heart beat at 13 weeks
  • Thankful I could still fit into most of my clothes at the end of the trimester (delaying buying maternity clothes for as long as I can)
  • Both of us deciding we want to find out the sex at the next scan
  • Seeing how excited George is throughout the whole process & how much he loves Pebble already

 

We would love to hear about your experience or any great advise you would have for new parents!

 

Have a great week,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xx