Tandem Breastfeeding a Newborn & Toddler

As Babe, my daughter of two years and nine months enjoys breastfeeding so much, we as a family have chosen to let her decide the time in which she wants to wean from mummy milk. When I became pregnant with Boyo, my thoughts did not waver. In fact the more I learned about tandem nursing and the benefits, the more I wanted to be one of the lucky ones to give it a go.

So here we are, Boyo is six days old and I’m successfully tandem nursing them both. You might wonder how this works, from a supply, milk quality, logistics and relationship perspective.

Supply
The mama cow and her feeding equipment is amazingly adept at catering to the milk supply needs of both. Even as Babe has upped her intake for reassurance and desire for a joint snack experience, my body has been highly efficient in increasing the milk to serve both her and newborn Boyo. I’m definitely sporting a more top heavy look, which I’m embracing – shame about the post baby floppy belly though.

Milk Quality
A mamas body is geared up to provide the right milk for the new baby, so Babe has been enjoying the good stuff innabundance (colostrum). I know it’s pretty good produce because I’ve seen it (a thick rich yellow colour) and because Boyo had a fantastically small weight loss from birth. At his three day check, he had only lost 3% of his body weight, compared to the more average 8-10%. At day five he was over his birth weight, which usually doesnt occur till about day 10.

Logistics
Some mamas who tandem nurse won’t breastfeed their children/babies both at the same time. Whereas others have mastered the art of acrobatics in order to make the most of having a pair of boobs. This might be because nursing two at once can help for a quiet life, like me.

Babe doesn’t appreciate that there is a time and place for such antics. In front of dissapproving visitors is not the time to test mamas resolve, because right now she wins. “oh go on then, just a tiny bit”. The visitors are too polite (but most likely too scared) to say anything, but I know are judging me all the time. Am I bothered, clearly yes in some ways and in other ways no.

We’ve already established some favourite positions:

1) sitting on the sofa nursing Boyo in cradle hold, then Babe sits next to me and nurses from the side

2) sitting on a chair nursing Boyo in cradle hold, then Babe stands next to or in front of me drinking from the other side

3) more adventurous, same kind of position as above, but lying down or sitting up in bed

4) most adventurous to date involved lying down with nursing toddler then latching newborn on the other-side using football hold (he curled round my back or lay on a cushion).

Relationship
It’s tough on everyone’s emotions when you already have children and introduce a new baby. I’m conscious of the feelings of insecurity that Babe might be feeling. For me I have a mixed bag of conflicting emotions that combine with my desire to reassure and comfort my toddler, conflicting sometimes with my over powering instincts to protect and always be with my newborn. Then the guilt that comes with occasional resentfulness towards my needy toddler.

Tandem breastfeeding is helping Babe and I with these emotions and ensuring that our bond stays strong. This is the biggest benefit for me right now. Forget my desire to allow her to self wean, I’m just living in the moment.

Advertisements

Natural Homebirth Birth – Did that just happen?!!!

I’m still in shock and awe at what happened yesterday. In fact I can’t sleep for thinking about it and gazing at my little baby Boyo.

It was better than I can have ever imagined, don’t let the world scare you that it’s some horrific experience. I’m not about to launch into my full birth story here, cause that is going to take some proper writing. But I couldn’t wait to share some of the highlights:

A) No intervention

That is nothing, no internal examine till 1pm to check dilation, and he was born just under three hours later. I was only 3cms dilated at the time but the midwife knew it was ramping up super quick.

B) Homebirth

This is the BIG one for me, I really wanted one but it was just too much of a fear challenge for daddy (quite understably many will agree) for him to get his head around until we reached the point of almost no return. The plan was to labour as long as possible at home and then drive to the low risk birth unit at the hospital just some ten minutes away. It all progressed so quick from my examination at 1pm that getting in the car 45 mins later was almost out of the question.

3) Born in the caul

This means that baby was born in the amnionic sack that surrounded him in the uterus. Usually your waters break or the medical team break them for you to help things progress. His head came out in the sack and the midwife tore it open.

4) Full labour was totally natural, including the third stage of delivering the placenta. Soon after giving birth I had the urge to push, so kneeled up and out it popped. Only pain killing was gas and air plus Tens machine.

5) Total physiological third stage labour and delayed cord cutting

This means you don’t cut the cord early, you let all the remaining oxygen coming from mama be absorbed by the baby. It also meant that we didn’t cut the cord until a good few minutes after the placenta had been delivered. A job that daddy did.

6) Partnership with daddy

This time because I had a midwife one on one at home with me, we chose to wait until I was well established in labour before daddy come home to do his job as the birth partner. It worked very well and kept all as calm as could be. By the time he got home I was ready for his support. Never under estimate the importance of a great daddy as a birth partner in the labour process. We made the perfect team and this time I made him work hard. Running up to ‘transition’ I laboured standing up, hugging him and then finally pretty much hanging from around his neck as my legs could no longer support me and I had the urge to push. Our amazing partnership and teamwork ran flawlessly for the rest of the day.

More coming soon from one euphoric nurturing career mama 🙂

Nearly 41 Weeks Pregnant

thank you note for every language
Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

“Hi, how are you? Still pregnant then?”

“Umm yes, I’d be shouting it from the root tops if I weren’t”

Actually I’m not getting wound up at these kind of enquiries, I’ve been really pleasantly surprised at the amount of people who have been tracking these last few weeks of my pregnancy and want to say thankyou. I appreciate the words of encouragement and the regular contact makes the waiting all the more bearable.

In many ways I’m not surprised that my due date has been and gone and I’ve had my nearly 41 weeks midwife appointment. In other ways, this time last week the I thought the chances were exceptionally slim that I would be sat here today all alone, enjoying another few hours of peaceful chill-out while Babe is at the childminders. I also thought I would be going out of my crazy little mind if I did reach this point. But I’m not, I’m actually feeling calm and philosophical about the whole dragging on process. Besides according to the World Health Organization, you are not officially over due till 42 weeks. So another 8 days yet.

Midewife visit
My midwife came by my house this morning for the routine (nearly) 41 week check up. Where I had the usual checks and it seems baby and I are really fit and well. My blood pressure has continued to stay nice and low and baby Boyo’s heartbeat is good. My bump measures much smaller than last week, from 38cms down to 34cms. But apparently that is because his head is right down in my pelvis now and his back is swung over to the side. As a consequence of him being down low, his movements are pretty uncomfortable, so I’ve been relieved that he is a little quieter. Yesterday I was also able to bend down and contort myself into a position to redo my chipped toe nails without being out of breath – this IS important, as I’m still living in flip-flops (despite the rain). I hope to not be in a position where I need to do the toe nail painting contortionist act again.

What happens next
I go into labour that’s what! No seriously, if that doesn’t happen by Thursday I agreed on some ‘interference’, NOT induction. Induction is a dirty word to me. I’ve made it very clear, that is not an option till next week unless there is a medical requirement. The midwife talked about booking me in for an induction on the 12th day over due, – Sunday. But we discussed and agreed the alternative option, which is to go and see a consultant (pediatrician) on Friday or Monday to be monitored instead. They can then discuss further extension options with me…yippee! Credit to my midwife, she was great today. Even brought me a pack of big floor/bed soaky pad things should my labour progress quicker than I expect and Boyo arrives at home.

In the meantime (for the moment at least) I’m going to make the most of this waiting to enjoy time with Babe, the OH and bask in the glory of getting plenty of sleep.

What NOT To Do When You’re Heavily Pregnant

During the last week I’ve learnt some valuable lessons of what not to do when you’re heavily pregnant and have a toddler in tow.

1) Don’t go to the park without a stroller /buggy when you have a strict home deadline to meet. That is unless you fancy carrying the kicking (biting and pinching) ball of brat home in your arms. Do this once at 40 weeks pregnant and you won’t be doing it again. Partly because your back is so screwed that it will never recover (little over inflation but you appreciate what I’m saying) and partly because you have the bite marks to remind you.

2) Don’t venture near a dual carriageway when the toddler is set on running ahead to press the button for the pedestrian crossing traffic lights. There is clearly no choice but to break into a run to detain the kidlet. Leaving you feeling like you might need to crawl on all fours for the rest of the trip home. Trust me, when baby’s head is pretty much fully engaged and wedged in your pelvis not only does it make you wonder if it’s going to drop out, but it’s pretty uncomfortable too. Fortunately you are so preoccupied in saving your toddler from the perils of the speeding cars, mid run you don’t much notice the discomfort. It’s afterwards you think, mmm that was NOT good. In my case Babe rounded off this experience by deciding she needed to pee on the grassy curbside and proceeded to pull up her dress and begin squatting. “Nooooo” I bellowed, “not here”. She has a thing now for peeing ala carte, out and about.

3) Don’t go shopping with toddler thinking you’ve taken your purse when you havn’t, pay with cheque and then get home and expect not to kick start some contractions in the meltdown resulting from the panicked thought that you’d lost it. Turns out in my case, that my purse was in my handbag at home all along, that was after calling the mobile shop asking them to search high and low, retracing my route to the shop and the park and generally getting into a sobbing dribbly mess. This scenario was combined with item number 1 (above). It resulted in kicking off some great contractions that promptly disappeared when I cried in joy at discovering my purse in my handbag. Doh!

Just Past Midnight and Another Labour False Alarm

The midnight hour was here, the clock had struck and it was officially my birthday. I was asleep at the time working on some weird complex prego dream, when four minutes past I woke suddenly to feel…ooo ouchie. With the thought of ‘oh puck, you little minky, you wait until now to get this labour show on the road.’ I really did think I was going into labour this time, but fortunately it was another practice run. How many rehearsals is this gonna take? Do I keep flunking my lines that much? I didn’t have this first time around, just a long labour.

I have been comforted by knowing that all this prep is likely to result in a quick a smooth labour when it does happen for real.

Today I am tired, because sleep from midnight to four am was very broken and Babe has had me awake early this morning to nurse. So happy birthday to me, and thankyou to Boyo. Now we just need to keep labour away for the rest of the day.

I feel now that this baby really is coming soon. Just not till past midnight tonight please.

Going For The Water Birth

Impact of a drop of water on a water-surface.

Image via Wikipedia

After extensive discussions and research I’ve settled for aiming to have a natural waterbirth in hospital. If I’m honest, it’s not my first choice, a homebirth is, but with our current circumstances its not something we can realistically consider. Although we do have some emergency supplies just in case things should escalate before we get to the hospital.

I wanted a waterbirth with Babe, but her position was such, that I needed to get out the tub and try other positions. So I part laboured in the water and gave birth on the bed – not ideal, but it was natural and we had tried every other natural birthing position. So this time, I’m aiming to actually deliver in the water.

I’m lucky, we have a good maternity facility at my local hospital with three roomy birth pool suites, complete with CD player and ensuite. The labour care from the midwives is great and they are very good at promoting breastfeeding. The downside is the post natal care, but as they like to kick you out straight away when it’s not your first born, I’m not dwelling on this issue as it’s unlikely to affect me. If I do need to stay overnight I doubt they will bundle me in a room with others because of my sleep apnea and loud snoring. Last time there was no question, I got a room of my own. I’d not want to inflict that on an exhausted new mother and her baby. I made sure to note this in my birth plan just in case. That’s the cool thing, my babies know nothing different than me snorting away in my sleep.

So now I’ve banished those pictures you might of had in your mind of peaceful sleeping mother and baby… there is no peace in my house what ever the time of day.

My TENS machine is ready to go for early labour pain relief, and I was going to pursue the aromatherapy option, with lavender. I heard Jasmine was good, but upon nearly purchasing a bottle, found out how pricey it was – about ÂŁ17, ouchie ouch! I quickly told them to put it back.

As for other pain relief, I confess, don’t brandish me too hard with the hippy stick, but I’ve always been a fan of creative visualisation. So I’ve been working hard on some great places to go visit, or things to picture in my mind during contractions. One lady in my active birth class explained that during her last labour she imaged being on a nice caribbean beach with a wonderful caring round faced caribbean lady tending to her. I kind of like that one, might take a trip there myself yet.

Right, so plans are in place, all I need is labour to start.

“I’m ready Boyo, all ready, please finish up in the bathroom and make yourself presentable.”

40 Weeks Pregnant Today

I can’t help feeling a tinge of disappointment as after some great signs of imminent labour yesterday, all has gone very quiet on the “baby a comin” front today. Well I appreciate it’s early days, the middle of the night in fact, but still. Saying that, as I type this sentence another braxton hick makes itself known, but of the gentle kind. Not the back aching, I wonder if this is the start of something amazing kind.

So here we are, at the scan predicted expected due date. I wouldn’t be feeling quite so pissed right now if it wasn’t for how I’d been feeling yesterday. Having intense braxton hicks, real niggly back pain and undergoing a system clear out. I really did wonder if tonight, what with the full moon and everything, might be the night.

Yesterday I also had my full term midwife appointment which went well and she confirmed that baby Boyo’s head is now pretty much all in my pelvis. If I thought I looked like an obese penguin before, now I’ve really got the act down to an art. But no Happy Feet here (great film by the way), just the plop flop waddle poddle, scuttle shuffle of my glum ass moving around the room.

But on the lighter side, although I shouldn’t use the world lighter, as I lie on my side trying to find a comfortable position to resume sleep; I definitely feel like a beached whale. But back to looking up, yesterday’s progression is still great to hear, I guess it was my body training to get me physically and mentally ready for the marathon of labour ahead. At least it prompted me to charge my iPod ready and get the cupboards stocked up with food.

There was also a small part of me that didn’t feel quite mentally ready, I was surprisingly feeling a little apprehension about labour, which I was somewhat taken aback by. Maybe I just needed yesterday to force me to straighten my ducks out, as they had already been neatly placed in a row.

The midwife did offer to help things progress yesterday with a sweep (membrane separation). I declined and I don’t regret that. It’s much too early in the process to start interfering with what my body is trying to naturally get on with. I was surprised she even offered. But she did agree, that it could just irritate things and my body seems to know what it’s doing. We went ahead and scheduled another appointment to review progress in a weeks time and she mentioned that nasty word, ‘induction’. I clenched up at this point, there is no way I’m going to embark on this without consulting a paediatrician first. But she did doubt very much that we will be waiting till next Monday to see each other. So here’s hoping.