The village takes vulnerability

“What’s wrong with the baby?” a child asked at a music event when my youngest was a few weeks old. The question innocently reminded me that the intense rash all over her face and body was unmissable. I kept telling myself it would go on its own. I hoped it would. I also hoped her bubbly poo would settle down. It was the right colour so I was confused about what it could be and I wondered whether the two symptoms might be connected, along with the colicky evenings. By then, I’d been a breastfeeding peer supporter for four and…

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Ten things that happen when you’re tandem breastfeeding

Despite the universal-sounding title, this is just how it’s gone and is going for me, breastfeeding older and younger siblings at the same time. The first thing you learn when you start asking other tandem breastfeeding mothers about their experiences is that nothing is exactly the same for everyone. No one can predict how they’re going to feel or what they’re going to need to do. We can share ideas and offer solidarity but there’s no roadmap, no rulebook. I tandem breastfed for sixteen months the first time around, until my eldest, Talitha, was four years old. Who knows how…

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34 weeks pregnant with baby number three

Six plus weeks to go still feels a long time but a look through our calendar with most weekends booked up until then and it really isn’t a long time at all. Physically, all is looking as it should. A midwife appointment last Thursday confirmed that the baby is head down and that my iron levels are in good shape. A Spatone smoothie a day has kept the anemia away so far. This is my first non-anemic pregnancy. The girls went with me this time. Talitha was delighted to hear the baby’s heartbeat and fascinated when the midwife took my…

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Things I’ve learned while breastfeeding through pregnancy

I’m 24 weeks pregnant and this is my second time breastfeeding while pregnant. Believe me when I say this is not something I imagined doing once, let alone twice. Struggling for months to establish breastfeeding with Talitha (y’know, tongue tie, low milk production, the most stressful experience of my life), the idea of making it to a year seemed a vague “maybe”. So I couldn’t have expected that not only would age two find us still breastfeeding but that I’d fall pregnant around then and wind up breastfeeding her for two more years. As I said before, baby number three…

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How weaning happened – the end of our breastfeeding journey

I didn’t set out to breastfeed my older daughter as long as I did. I doubt anyone gazes into the face of their newborn and imagines breastfeeding them for four years. Certainly, at the time, I felt like we’d be blessed to get to six months. When the difficulties with her tongue-tie and my low milk supply kicked in, my goal became to take it one feed at a time. By the time her first birthday came into view (a landmark I was just relieved to make), I’d learned a lot more about breastfeeding, through reading, meeting other mothers and…

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Top tip for breastfeeding mothers: Relax and Accept

I had a love-hate relationship with the phrase “This too shall pass” when I was doing the new baby thing with Talitha. Sometimes it was my mantra. I would declare it and draw great strength from it. We would live to see another day. She would not be thirteen and waking me up hourly (or, I really hope she won’t be!). All these biologically normal newborn things that did not fit with my industrialised, isolated lifestyle would settle down, would be survived. Other times, a more experienced mother would tell me that her crap naps, insane feeding, constant night waking,…

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Making my peace with formula

I cleared the last couple of baby bottles out of my kitchen cupboard today. My supplemental nursing system (SNS) went to the breastfeeding group some weeks ago as a demo aid for mothers struggling with milk production. These pieces of kit powerfully remind me that I cannot claim to have exclusively breastfed my daughter. Big deal, you might say, especially since I’m still breastfeeding her now at 22 months. How dare I feel any regret when so many don’t manage to breastfeed at all? Well, OK. I’m being real here. There’s nothing wrong with what I feel. Every time I…

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