Surviving The First Month – Boobs And All (Plus, Win a Breastpump!)

Piper is nearing her one-month birthday. I KNOW.

It’s been an incredible (and incredibly fast) first few weeks. She is amazing. I’m drowning in every bit of her, because she really is growing up way too fast for my liking. In fact, I had a little moment this past weekend when discussing birth stories with friends (yes, this is what we talk about now) and I realised she will be my last every baby. I’m devastated that I wont ever have that experience again. But, I digress.

Coming home with a new baby is always a daunting exercise – regardless if you’re like me and it’s your second, or if it’s baby number 5 you’re bringing home to the family.

You forget everything. It’s amazing how the brain retains only what you really need to remember, and discards the rest. Jokes, you’ve just had a kid, Your brain retains nothing, you are all dumb now. So, in the spirit of helping other new moms keep their shit together, I’ve decided to put together a little ‘Surviving The First Month’ series and chat about everything from boobies and body to blood and ‘bloody hell!’

To kickstart, I’ve decided that the most important thing to discuss is feeding. And in my case, breastfeeding. Apologies to the formula mums – I will be there in a few months when I go back to work (although at times I’ve considered hanging up my boob straps and switching to Nan because of, well, all the below reasons)

The latching… Unlike Carter, when Piper was born they popped her directly on my boob and she latched first time, like a little star. I have nightmare memories of leaking nips from Carter days, so my hospital bag was 3/4 breastpads. Although, you don’t actually need them for the first few days as you are making tiny amounts of colostrum and baby really only needs a teaspoon or less, per feed. So all was good under my proverbial hood and little Pip latched and ate and slept and poo’ed. On day 4 my milk came in, and with it, my boobs doubled in size and became rock hard. Piper was still latching but it was so incredible sore that my toes would literally curl in and I would levitate every time she came anywhere near me. I was using these hideous nipple shields to try get her on (because on top of milk coming in and boobs growing, they also become so rock hard that for baby to get a grip is the equivalent of them trying to wrap their lips around a soccer ball). I was in agony and the breaking point for me came on day 5 when after a feed, I looked down and her little face was covered in blood. I immediately contacted a lactation specialist – Sally – from Noobebe Baby Clinic  who came to my house and sat with us for an hour teaching me how to properly latch my baby. That and a session of physio** helped me so much and I cannot stress enough what an investment this is. I can understand why so may moms give up trying to breastfeed, the pain of early onset mastitis, cracked nippled and rock hard goombies is enough to make even the most hardcore crunchy mom give up and grab a bottle.

The mess… Guys. You must never underestimate the messiness of milk. I can only speak from my experience, but when the milk comes in, it comes in fast ad furious. Like the cast of Absolutely Fabulous at a gin sale. No amount of breastpads can prevent this:

Or this (Incase you’re wondering, this is my duvet cover, which means I leaked through shields, a bra, a top and actual linen.)

And even if they do, its a fucking nightmare when boob is out, baby’s on and she suddenly pulls away. Milk streams out at ferocious 90 degree angles. If a forensic expert had to come in to my home they would find traces of Kates Dairy all over the house, from the curtains to the carpets. I took a break from writing this blog to feed Piper now, and this is legitimately what she looked like after her first suck:

My advice? Stock up on breastpads and keep them everywhere. Baby’s room, your room, under your pillow, wedged between cushion covers and in your car. Also, you will be very sleep deprived and therefore very stupid. Top tip? Don’t apply them sticky side down on your nipples. It’s not pleasant.

Feeding in public… I could never get this right with Carter and hated the thought of going out with him when he needed a feed. The amount of times the poor Woolworths change-room assistants let me borrow a stall is beyond me. It also got very expensive as every-time I used a room to feed I felt obliged to buy myself new clothes. Nursing covers are hot and stuffy and unpleasant all round, plus, they could be the size of a picnic blanket but you are still guaranteed a nip sip when shifting baby from boob to boob. I find it incredibly difficult as I have to help her get latched which means both hands need to be under my top, and in order to see what Im doing that also means that I need to also be under the cover. There is not less conspicuous than a hot sweaty woman with a bright pink shawl draped over her shoulders in 30 degree heat trying to wrestle an infant octopus between oversized leaky mammaries. If I have to, then I will feed in public. If not, I express, bottle the milk up and actually just save us both from tears.

 

Expressing and bottle feeding… I used the Medela double electric pump with Carter and am using it again with Pip. This thing is terrific, the only downfall is that you have to hold the pump in place while expressing which meant you were very limited for however long it took to get the milk out. That is, until Michelle from BreastPumps and Beyond came to my house to deliver, what I fondly refer to, as THE BIGGEST GODSEND AFTER HAVING A BABY. She also brought me chocolates, so she’s basically my favourite person.  It’s a click on bra that allows you to hook the pump in so you can operate hands free. This thing has actually changed my life. I can read, work, blog, watch TV, take hideous selfies or wash dishes while expressing. Jokes. I have a dishwasher for that.

I debated for hours over posting this photo, but decided that in the spirit of honest parenting, you needed to see what real motherhood looks like. It ‘aint pretty. 

I’m using the Medela Calma bottle and teat which mimics the sucking action of a nipple. (God, how many times can one person actually say ‘nipple‘ in a post?). I’ve been expressing from 4 days and giving Piper the occasional bottle since she was 5 days old – so I can get a break, or feed in public or so hubby can feed and I can sleep lie awake wondering if he’s going to remember to change her nappy afterwards. Oh, and also so I can drink. heavily.

So, what have I actually achieved with this post? Apart from perhaps causing a spike in the sale of the contraceptive pill? Well, hopefully to help you realise that you’re not alone in this messy journey of motherhood, and also to help you stock up on shit you really need, versus shit you really don’t.

Shit you really need:

Breastpads. Any brand. The large box. keep them everywhere

Towelling nappies. Not for nappying, for absorbing spillage and mess and milk and tears.

A Medela breastpump and THE WORDS GREATEST BRA. Get them here:

A nipple cream – I use the Medela lanolin. Yes you will gawk at the price. Yes, you will need it. (great for cuticles, too).

The number of a good Sister (like nurse, not biological or Whoopi) who can help you with your latch – chat to Sally from Noobebe. She also does vaccinations.

The number of a physio who can help you should you get mastitis or pain.

A comfy chair. I use the ComfyMummy chair with a foot cushion and it’s really helped with those 3 am feeds when you are so exhausted you can’ see straight Tip> Pay for Scotch Guarding. because, mess. FYI – they have recently moved their showrooms so give them a visit or have a look at their website.

Shit you don’t need:

Breastfeeding tops – They really make zero difference when you have to peel back layers of bras and pads anyway.

Overly warm breastfeeding covers – they are not fun for everyone

Nipple shields. If I can give up this crutch, so can you. I promise.

Judgy opinions. Do what works for you.

** Side note. When selecting a physio to caress, massage and laser your boobs, try not to book your husbands ex girlfriend. You’re welcome.

Competition Time!

The lovely folk at Breastpumps and Beyond and Medela want to try and simplify your breastfeeding experience, so we are giving away one Harmony manual pump to a lucky winner. I also have this particular pump as it’s super handy for on-the-go expressing. I’m shooting a wedding at the end of the month and will be taking it along to express between the ‘I Do’s’ . To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to this blog, like and share the post on your Facebook timeline (you can share it from here) and leave me a comment. Winner will be drawn and announced on Thursday.

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8 Things I've Learnt As A New Mom

I have been a mom for 16 days. 16 amazing, exhausting overwhelming confusing, love-drunk days. So many people have asked me what motherhood is like, and what it is that I do all day with my ‘free time’.

Here are 8 things I have learn about being a new mom:

You have no idea what you are doing. Oh yes, I read the books, downloaded the apps, browsed the forums, joined the groups and asked fellow moms. I always knew that I wanted to breastfeed, and that I wanted a routine, but I never thought further than that until he was here. Suddenly, I had a million new questions – How often must he eat, how much does he eat, why are my boobs leaking everywhere, do I wake him to eat, why is he crying, am I a bad mother for leaving him in his cot while I brush my teeth, if I’m buying premium nappies then surely they can change themselves?!

Your time is no more. We have Carter down on a 3 hour routine – which sounds great in principle. 3 hours in between to do what I like – long walks in the park, afternoon naps and Box Office Movies. Ha! Having a baby is like running a small army. Sure, one has 3 hours between feeds, but if a feed lasts 30 minutes, a burping session lasts 15, a nappy change 5 (I’m getting faster, promise), putting him down to sleep takes 10 minutes (if that even happens) then that leaves me with 2 hours to get myself dressed and ‘presentable’, eat some food, express some milk, sterilize bottles and gear, wash a million tiny baby things and see actual human beings, then your time isn’t really yours, at all.

Babies cry quite a bit. Let it be known that my child (and long may it last) is heaven sent. He is a delightful baby who cries a regular amount. (I’m basing this on a little equation: Regular amount = not wanting to kill yourself from frustration. However, when he does cry it could be for a multitude of reasons. As I am now obviously an exert (being 16 days in and all) I have worked out the following reasons as to why your baby might be crying:

  • He is hungry
  • He is tired
  • He saw the speed of your ADSL line
  • He woke himself up and got a fright
  • He has a dirty nappy
  • He has a clean nappy and prefers the feel of a dirty nappy
  • He saw the price of nappies
  • He spat his dummy out
  • He saw you have that glass of red wine and is now laying a guilt trip on you
  • It is bath time
  • It is naked time
  • The dog farted
  • He sharted so loud that it woke him up
  • He saw his mom up close for the first time and realized she hasn’t tweezed her eyebrows since March.

They are a lot smaller than you anticipated. When Carter was born – at a sizeable 3.64 kilograms – he was still tiny. We had to rush out and buy newborn clothes for him, which he still drowns in. Note to self – always have a few tiny baby things for your newborn, they actually don’t come out ready to wear 3-6 month baby grows.

You leak milk. Everywhere. Breastfeeding is the messiest activity I have ever taken part in (and that includes the one time I vomited tequila on a friends shoes in the Billy The Bums parking lot.) I doubt there is one surface area in my house that has not been drenched in milk leaking from one of my oversized pendulous bosoms. My poor child is soaked through before he even gets close to my chest. This makes feeding in public a rather risky and messy affair. Praise the Lord the inventors of the breast ump came along before my child did.

Baby blues are a thing. Everything I read leading up to the birth of my child warned me about the ‘day 3 blues’. “Beware” they warned ominously “the 3rd day of having a baby shall be your darkest day yet”. I was terrified and put my husband on high alert (after hiding away all sharp objects in the house. Then day 3 came… with my milk…and went. As did day 4. On day 5, Mothers Day, after a lovely lunch out at a restaurant with my angelically behaved child, my hubby and I climbed in the car to go home and I burst in to tears.

“Why are you crying babe, what’s wrong”

 “I don’t know”

 “Are you feeling sick?

 “No”

 “Are you sad?”

 “Yes”

 “Why?”

 “I don’t know”

This went on for about 15 minutes while my poor husband tried in vain to gauge just what in hell was going on with me. Turns out I was sad for no apparent reason, and the more I cried the guiltier I felt, so the more I cried. Hormones are bastard things ladies, and if this ever happens to you, know that you are not alone (I know this because I Googled ‘Am I the only new mother alive sobbing uncontrollably for no apparent reason”)

I wasn’t.

You will mourn your former life. And that is OK. Everything I do now is with Breitling precision. Need to pop out to the shops? Do it between 1:15 and 1:45. (but get someone to drive you because you’ve still had major surgery and can’t drive yourself). Want a glass of wine? Make sure you’ve expressed some milk, or that you drink it with 2 hours to go before the next feed. Want to wear jeans? Haha, cute.

Having a baby means that your life gets turned upside down and hung out to dry. And that’s OK, because

You will love like you have never loved before. I battle to imagine a life BC (see what I did there?). This tiny, perfect creature has landed in our lives and turned what we thought we knew about patience, tolerance and love on its head. I battle to not stare at him for hours, or rub my hand over his tiny shoulder blades or crave my finger to be grasped in his fist. I miss him in my sleep and I cant stop kissing his tiny milk scented mouth.

I still even find his screams endearing.

Motherhood, you can stay.

I call this one ‘honest parenting’ 😉

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Things I Learnt at Antenatal Class.

One of the big pregnancy milestones is being far enough along to attend an antenatal class. (I’m lying, you can go anytime, I just feel I need to congratulate myself on 32 weeks of sobriety). We decided to join the free one that the hospital offers, because cheap.

The class took place over a full Saturday and I tell ya, the last time I was this excited for a full day Saturday anything was our wedding.

One of the highlights of the day was walking into the hospital foyer, pillow in hand, and bumping into our Gynae, Dr D. The look of panic on his face as he thought I may be coming in for an early labour was priceless, because he looked very ready to head on home – coffee and newspaper in hand.

Why a pillow you ask? I too was skeptical when the hospital asked us to bring one with. Turns out, if you can sit through 9 hours of antenatal class in the torture chamber chairs provided (even with a pillow) then you are well ready to have a baby. The nurse who took the class told us about a lady who was on bed rest, and took the entire class lying down on a bed of pillows. Having attended the class myself, I know that was all a lie, and the clever duck just had the foresight to make an ulterior plan.

Suffice to say, the chiropractors at Sandton Medi Cinic must make an absolute fortune on Saturdays at 5pm.

My favourite part of the day had to be the informative videos. For most of them, real life woman were filmed, all looking exceptionally glamorous having just popped out a baby. I also think all the men in the room are now immune to nipples and boob. The word aureole now gets tossed around as casually as you please.

For those who aren’t able to attend an antenatal class, or who want a little teaser of what’s to come, here you go:

1. Breastfeeding is best. They will literally shove images of latching babies and saucer sized nipples down your throat until you get the point. If you are considering breastfeeding, it’s very important to remember these handy, yet almost impossible to remember tips:

  • Baby’s lips must always be in a C shape, bottom lip visibly open, body aligned and latching like a starved fish.
  • Baby’s position should be like that of a football. Excellent analogy doc, as I’m sure a whopping 0.01% of the moms in the class are avid American sports fans.
  • When nipple cracks and bleeds, you are doing it wrong
  • Should baby’s mouth position not be as above, you are doing it wrong
  • If it hurts to the point where you want to stab yourself in the face with baby’s umbilical cord, then you are probably doing it wrong.

Basically, your baby needs to look like these goldfish.

2. Everything comes at a cost. From the nurse talking us all into ‘skin on skin contact’ immediately after baby is born (R700) to the ‘optional’ hearing test performed at birth (R400), not to mention the accommodation (yep, not rooms, accommodation) options – ranging from a R900 only-share-with-one-other-mom to the R2500 per night luxury suite (dinner for hubby included!) it is clear that nothing about having a baby is cheap. (Again, why we chose the free classes)

3. Possibly the most heart-breaking of all the lessons learnt was during lunch. The vegetarian option consisted of a Greek salad with feta as well as feta and tomato tartlets. HANG ON JUST ONE MINUTE, I thought feta when pregnant was the devil’s food, no more or less dangerous than swallowing a bottle of lighter fluid? My emotions were torn friends, do I eat the feta because I’m at baby school in a hospital, or do I listen to 99% of all the advice I’ve been given that’s told me otherwise?

Have the last 219.8 days of my life been a lie?

4. People are soft. And my darling husband is the most soft of them all. Apparently we were the first class to watch the illustrated video of the natural and C section births, due to complaints previously (I BET from men) about the real life videos being too graphic. I’m sorry, but do these folk think that a baby comes out in 2D picture? Nonetheless, 12 seconds into the cartoon video of a C section (think elevator music and a soft narrative) my husband goes as white as a sheet and leaves the room to go find Coke and other sugary treats. Shame – pregnancy is hard on the men.

5. As the class went on and the ‘list for hubby’s’ grew longer and longer (think tremendously intricate tasks like charging the camera, or packing socks) my poor husband began to look more and more distressed. It was at this point that I realised we would have to forego the R700 skin-on-skin option as I would need the money to pay for his stitches from when he passed out during the delivery.(Another item on list for mom’s – sit your hubby down in front of the telly and make him watch a medical documentary. If at any point he looks even close to vomiting, you may want to consider packing several Cokes for the hospital…and asking a friend to be there as a Plan B).

So, with 8 weeks to go I may feel slightly more informed, but no less panicked about what’s to come. It’s fine though, at least I know I will have my husband holding my hand throughout it all after he’s woken up from his coma.

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