Breastfeeding is very much a personal and often private activity, however, at the same time it is a public concern that is affected by societal values, culture and norms. It’s something that as the founder of Lotus Maternity, a brand which I have nursed (no pun intended) since training to be a midwife, I work to support and protect. It seems as though everyone has an opinion on it, whether they’re with child or not, feeding in public for example, is always guaranteed in the UK to cause somewhat of a stir! So what if I mention the term ‘extended breastfeeding’, where do you sit with that? Supporter, unsure, on the fence, makes your stomach churn?
However, if you are a breastfeeding mother and are returning to work, the term ‘extended breastfeeding’ will probably get mentioned. There is a lot of debate around this subject as to what constitutes ‘extended’ breastfeeding. As midwives, we advocate and recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months, however the majority of women that I have supported with breastfeeding feel a sense of bereavement when their babies start dropping feeds with weaning and actually those first six months passed so quickly, so why not carry on? There is a lot of evidence to support extended breastfeeding, this image demonstrates how it continues to support babies immature immune systems due to the antibacterial and antimicrobial properties within breastmilk:
*Microbiology assessment testing breastmilk properties at 3, 6, 18 months.
Also other factors play a role in wanting to continue with breastfeeding, such as mothers not wanting to lose that intimate bond with their baby, or a yearn to provide comfort and nourishment from nursing, or it could be something as simple as the sense of pride mothers feel that only they are able to provide such liquid ‘gold’ for their infant.
Remember as well that there are lots of healing benefits to extended breastfeeding such as
- Reducing the chances of childhood obesity.
- Less tummy troubles. Those that are still breastfed when solids are introduced are less likely to develop coeliac disease and breastfed babies have less chance of developing gastrointestinal problems.
- Fewer ear troubles. Studies have found that babies who are breastfed for more than 4 months have half as many ear infections as their formula fed peers.
- Increased immunity.
With this hot weather, what to do? Just don’t put ice lollies up your foo!
I’m sure all of us have had a little chuckle at the doctor’s warnings today regarding not putting ice lollies up our vaginas. Now whilst I am one to praise and recommend a cold compress with lavender essential oils combined with chamomile as this is a good anti-inflammatory (soaked in ice cold water before being wrung out and placed on top of a dry pad in your pants) to help soothe a healing and bruised perineum, or placing your sanitary towels in the freezer before putting them in your pants, I do not advocate this new craze.
How to make up a cold compress:
Use this is to promote healing and to prevent infection.
-Half fill a bowl with warm or cold water. I find ice cold water works the best if you are able to tolerate it and add a combined total of up to 3 chosen essential oils, mixing well.
-Use a clean face cloth folded in shape of sanitary towel. Dip in water, squeeze out excess water and apply directly to the perineal wound. DO NOT INSERT INTO VAGINA. Put a sanitary towel under the compress to catch excess water; do NOT use the sanitary towel for the compress.
-Leave for up to thirty minutes, remove and put in a dry sanitary towel. This can be repeated when necessary. A warm tingly sensation may be experienced which is normal. If stinging occurs remove the compress and rinse area with plain water.
*Remember that good perineal hygiene is important to prevent infection so change your pads regularly.
Running a business is blooming hard.
Aside from the invaluable work experience and countless lessons about small ways to help save the environment, this is what I have learnt in my far too short 100 hours interning at Lotus Maternity. And being a woman in business brings its own unique set of challenges.
From disasters with ale taps (Olivia’s idea of a *small* glass of beer is to almost flood the room!), to factory trips, to careers presentations, no two hours, let alone two days, are the same. Working in a start-up means teaching yourself to become proficient in innumerable and diverse sides of business. Passion and a true belief in the importance and usefulness of your products aren’t enough – you have to be willing to put in the hours to master every business-related skill imaginable, to make connections with everyone and anyone (especially the tech guys next door – very helpful when coding for your website has you stumped!), and to use every ounce of your creative energy dreaming up new and ingenious marketing methods.
*Myself and Olivia at the office summer BBQ, shortly after the accidental flooding with the difficulty turning off the cask ale tap!
I’m sure by this point you’re thinking: ‘this is all very interesting, but what does this have to do with a maternity blog?’. Firstly, thank you for considering my article interesting! Secondly (and on a more serious note), look at it this way: neither I nor Olivia, founder of Lotus Maternity and my wonderful boss for the last four weeks, have children, nor are either of us intending to have children anytime soon. I have seen first-hand the incredible amount of effort, time and commitment that Olivia puts in to her company, and can’t imagine how difficult it would be to juggle this alongside looking after children.Read More
I have made a demonstration video on expressing milk by hand. Rather than creating a ‘How To' guide to read, I thought it was most effective to show the techniques via a video.
The video can be found on the next page.
I will however, reiterate the main points overleaf and why hand expression is a useful skill to know.
The Baby Friendly Initiative require that all mothers are shown how to hand express, however, I am aware that in reality this is not always the case, as I know plenty of new mothers that haven’t been taught this skill. I would always demonstrate it to mums in my care throughout my midwifery practice but we’re all different and not everyone practices the same.
So for those of you who aren’t aware, this video will teach you everything you need to know.Read More
This, in my opinion, is the second most important factor as to whether you will sustain breastfeeding, second to determination.
The latest figures from Unicef’s Breastfeeding Friendly Initiative states that 80% of women will initiate breastfeeding but after three months that takes a significant drop, to just 30% giving some breastmilk. Plummeting even further with a mere 1% of mothers exclusively breastfeeding at six months. So why is support so important?
Let’s look at this type of scenario. A first time mother who wants to breastfeed, she lives in a community where the majority of women artificially feed. She is one of three girls, her mother formula fed, as did her grandmother and her sisters have too. Her friends in the local area are also all formula feeding and the idea of breastfeeding here, can be considered unnecessary and sometimes even taboo.Read More
First off- don’t you just hate that word- ‘shame’ it’s such an ugly word but it seems to crop up time and time again when it comes to mums talking about their journeys in regard to Infant Feeding. It is a theme that will be featured within this article and others this week and something that I hope to explore. Not as a means to offend, although I have no doubt that there will be plenty of people that disagree with my views but that’s fine, we live in a world of free speech and thank goodness that we do- as it would be such a dull life if we all shared the same opinions!
Yesterday marked the first day of World Breastfeeding Week, which is one reason why I am sat writing this. I was speaking with some mums yesterday morning at the local mother and baby group that I help to facilitate every Wednesday. We were discussing 'Dispatches- Breastfeeding Uncovered’, which aired this week, and how it seems as though you can’t do right for doing wrong when it comes to feeding your baby. A mother was saying to me that she feels she can’t celebrate and be proud of her breastfeeding milestones, as she fears she might upset women that are bottle feeding. Conversely, I’ve read some of the reactions to Channel 4’s programme from mums who artificially feed their babies and it’s become apparent that they feel they are being ostracised as a result of documentaries like this.
This article is not exclusively for breastfeeding mums, nor is it necessarily for mums- it is simply for all women. And if by the end of this piece, just one woman feels more at ease with her infant feeding decision, then I will feel content.
*Aunty Diane bottle feeding William on holiday with us at Sutton on Sea, 1992.
If anything this should be read just to marvel at the fashion!Read More
*I will be using pseudonyms throughout this account to maintain patient confidentiality.
As I’m sure you can imagine midwifery brings with it some exciting, sad and loving tales. Some of the things that happen in this line of work can provoke an intense array of various emotions. Where I trained at Nottingham we were nicknamed ‘mad-wives’ as the general consensus was that you have to be a bit whacky to work in the profession!
Of course there are also an abundance of humorous moments, some you can’t quite believe and don’t exactly know how to react to certain things you see or hear. It’s almost as though you have to take a step back and think to yourself, ‘did that actually just happen?’
I’m going to now share a funny tale that happened to me. Just as a forewarning, it could quite possibly gross some readers out. My best friend who is currently 24 weeks pregnant, is reluctant to have sex with her partner now because she is reminded of this story whenever he tries it on. Sorry Steve*- I shouldn’t have shared it with her the other week!
A small introduction to part of the story behind ‘Made in the UK’, that is so much more than a statement of origin.
As part of the social media campaign for ‘March Meet The Maker’ I wanted to start showing more of the behind the scenes work that goes into Lotus Maternity’s premium, unique and UK made nursing wear. So I decided to take a visit to The Nottingham Label Company because I’m having some new materials made there, for an exciting product launch coming soon!
I have always used this printing company for our garment’s wash care labels but never realised or seen how they are actually made. In the past I have placed my order, approved the artwork and received the goods, so this was a truly eye-opening experience.
I was so surprised by the volume of work that goes into making garment labels and printing in general! I was there nearly 2 hours, learning and taking it all in and having a laugh too (that goes without saying!) It was described to me as a ‘Tardis’ and it’s safe to say you truly would not expect the size of the factory or the abundance of machinery, as well as all the highly skilled operators and years of craftsmanship behind the office doors.
It can only be compared to that of Narnia, whereby you open a set of doors and there’s a whole other world inside!Read More
After seeing this video on Mumsnet and experiencing a mix of emotions at the end, I had to start writing this blog immediately! Such feelings included anger, disappointment, sadness, guilt, frustration but overall a general remorse and empathy for the mothers and families who have had a negative experience as a result.
(Mumsnet Video From Facebook. Opens In A New Window)
This video was all about postnatal care. It saddens me to say that none of these experiences were positive. Without encroaching too much into the politics of our National Health Service, unfortunately the maternity service is incredibly understaffed and overstretched. It’s really difficult to try to explain the pressures practitioners are under unless you work for the service and have experienced it first hand.
All I can really say is that 99% of us are trying our best but certain things prevent us from giving 100% of our time to direct patient care. It works both ways though too, as some patients can abuse the service and also treat it like a hotel. My friend who is a nurse once had a male patient shout at her whilst she was busy seeing to another individual, “You are going to give me what I want right now- I pay your wages!” As I’m sure you can imagine she wasn’t overly impressed by this comment.
Anyway in an attempt to steer away from these negatives, as most women (I hope) do go home having had wonderful maternity care. Plus, the majority of mums that I speak to have really positive experiences too. I’ll throw some in throughout- some you could say are too honest but I’m trying to give an accurate, reflective account. There are in fact many benefits to be gained from the postnatal ward. So in no particular order of importance, here are my,
10 top tips for making the most of your time on the postnatal ward:
~Claire with baby Eliza, less than 1 hour old (the vernix gives it away!) Born 26/4/17.
Claire stayed one night on the postnatal ward at QMC Hospital, Nottingham. You can see them both in action, in our breastfeeding demonstration video for our nursing tops! Click here to watch.
Olivia xRead More