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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The Devil Is In The Details. Jokes. The Devil Is In The Sippy Cup.

Being a parent is hard, right? So why manufacturers of children’s products must now go and make things for parents to use even harder, blows my mind.

Take this here sippy cup. A pretty innocent looking device, right? Wrong. This here cup o’ Satan was bought en route to Clarens a few months back, when we realized we had left Carters one at home. The easiest part of using this plastic shit storm was taking it out of the packaging. From there it was all downhill. No matter who I called, what I Googled, or how many times I read the instructions (and I mean really, a sippy cup that comes with a ‘how to’ guide should have already raised some red flags) I just couldn’t get actual liquid to come out the straw. Husband, driving, scoffed at my red face and angry neck vain. Except then he tried to make the fucking thing work and also failed, miserably. Upon arriving in Clarens my mom and dad rolled their eyes at us, but they too succumbed to the devil that is this cup. Not even trying to cut or burn a hole in the rubber straw of death would result in actual liquid coming anywhere near my child’s mouth.

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He looks like he knows what he’s doing. He doesn’t.

Apart from the cup that now resides at the bottom of a landmine somewhere, other ridiculously difficult parenting items I’ve encountered are:

  • Car seat buckles. Is it just me or is getting your toddler strapped into one of these the equivalent of trying to put a bra on an octopus?
  • Speaking of car seat buckles, what about the actual car seats? If prompted with a million Rand or a full nights sleep, I still don’t think I could get the thing strapped in properly. There have been multiple times that I have broken down sobbing in a car park, on the side of the road and even in my garage because the car seat had been removed and had to be put back in. When Carter was 6 weeks old I went away with my folks to the bush, as my husband had to work. This meant moving the car seat and base into my dad’s car. FORTY minutes and several YouTube tutorials later the thing wasn’t even remotely stable and we had to drive to a neighbours house in the hopes that they could help.
No babies were harmed during the making of this very dramatic attack on infant car seats.
No babies were harmed during the making of this very dramatic attack on infant car seats.
  • Battery operated kids toys. I mean really, who has time to now find a battery, a screwdriver and a PHD to try get Thomas the fucking tank engine to actually engine. Not I, sir. Not I.
  • In-ear thermometers. We splurged on a Braun device that nearly cos us our home loan. The thing has never given an accurate reading. One time my child, the pot plant and a mug of coffee all clocked in at the same temperature.
  • The spoon dispenser that comes in a formula tub. People, if you really need NAN to give you a leveler to level some powder, then I feel you probably should never have had a child. I’ve assembled a dining room table faster than I have this ridiculous spoon.
Just complete this quick puzzle, and the spoon is all yours.
Just complete this quick puzzle, and the spoon is all yours.

 

Luckily, not everything made for babies is adult proof, and some clever companies out there have actually realised that a parent generally has about 1.3 fingers available to do anything, and have actually helped cater for this. So, credit where credit is due. I present to you: baby products that don’t suck.

  • Colour coded onesies. Oh, you think you don’t need these, until your child learns to move. And then you wonder how you ever lived without them. The geniuses behind this brand know that changing a baby is like standing one-footed on a bucking bronco whilst holding a tray of fine china. Impossible. These onesies come with colour coded pop rivets, so you get it right the first time. Happy baby? Check. Potential of mom keeping her sobriety that night? Double check.

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  • Dummy straps. Again, in Clarens, we forgot ours and panic ensued. I resorted to buying some ribbon and a safety pin (excellent mothering, I know) to make an impromptu one. If you have a dummy loving baby, you do not want to forego a dummy strap.
  • A sippy cup that does actually work, and won’t leak everywhere. Meet your NBF. It’s adult still proof (I know because I’ve tested it on several family* members with no luck) but the kids love it. Did I mention its spill proof?
These are from Munchkin and are available from any and all good bottles stores. See what I did there?
These are from Munchkin and are available from any and all good bottles stores. See what I did there?
  • Tupperware. In any shape or form.
  • Toys that require no setting up, switching on or batteries. I’m talking plastic balls, rubber dinosaurs, building blocks and the contents of mom’s makeup bag.
As long as you'e not standing on it at 2 am, then building blocks are the perfect no fuss play solution for your little angel.
As long as you’re not standing on it at 2 am, then building blocks are the perfect no fuss play solution for your little angel.

Disclaimer: It’s taken me hours to think of anymore. Surely not all baby things are adult proof? What kid device has changed your life?

*I’m beginning to worry that maybe these products aren’t at fault and that perhaps I just have stupid family members?

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Solids, Sickness and Sucking It Up. Plus – Win A Medela Breastpump!

There’s a magical time in the life cycle of a parent, where for a split second you know exactly what’s going on. Your baby’s schedule finally resembles something of order, he’s sleeping, crapping and eating on time, and you’re high-fiving yourself for a job well done. And by high-fiving yourself I mean drinking 5 glasses of celebratory wine.

Then, without notice or warning, your baby goes through one of his seventeen thousand growth spurts (it’s true, I Googled it) and everything changes.

For me, it was around about the time I went back to work, Carter decided night time sleep was not necessary, and waking up every hour was more of his vibe. He also then decided to bring home every germ known to man from crèche and make me ill and himself perpetually snotty in the process.

So, as if sitting in meetings with racoon eyes, a permanently-resides-in-my-gut-now tummy bug and a third of a brain cell wasn’t bad enough, we then also had solids to contend with. I have been dreading the progression from milk to solids – it felt  like a monumental chore to me.  Not only would I now need to leave the house with everything and then the kitchen sink – now I must remember microscopic portions of blended, pureed vegetables (a variety, just in case he hates carrots), as well as spoons, bibs the size of small countries and another 6 changes of clothes. Lord, it’s hard enough remembering the baby!

Like most things in life though, solids have proven to be way more fun than I imagined. Sure, you end up dirtier than a Kardashians divorce, but the baby loves it, the dogs standing underneath the feeding chair love it, and its overall a pretty rewarding thing – having kept your baby long enough that he or she now eats from a (albeit rubbery and purple) spoon.

Baby weaning to solids

This is not a post on baby food recipes, or tips on how to keep kid clean during feeding (hint: you must actually throw the baby out with the bathwater) but it is a little note to all the moms who are nearing this milestone, on how I’ve managed to incorporate solids into our lives, without having too much of a logistical breakdown.

  1. Start slowly. Your baby still needs his milk (breast or formula) throughout the process. The initial introduction of solids is small, and for the first few weeks it’s simply there to get him used to something other than milk. So don’t panic about it – it’s pretty impossible to mess it up too much at this point. For more info on formula and what’s best for your babe, check out Diapers.com
  2. Start with porridge and then only move on to vegetables.
  3. Because Carter has the ‘crèche-plague’, I’ve been mixing his porridge with breast milk as opposed to formula. Lucky for me I have a nice stash in my freezer to use. I’ve also been substituting one bottle of formula a day with breast milk (the stuff is magical as an immune booster!). If you are going back to work soon, invest in a travel pump so you can express at the office.
  4. When your baby is ready for veggies – make sure to find out what veggies he will eat. It’s completely pointless steaming an entire pumpkin when he ends up hating the stuff. Because we only started vegetables this weekend, I’ve made 1 batch of each veg, and will be introducing one to him a day – that way if he loves a particular one I will know to make more and freeze. My child is 50% my husband, so Im not holding my breath on him loving anything green that rhymes with megemabel.
  5. In term of portions – I’m still trying to figure out how little or how much, but the general consensus is to steam, puree and freeze in ice trays. Then, when it’s feed time, simply pop a cube or 2 out and go from there. Please, and this is very important, make sure you still have normal ice trays available for your wine. It’s also quite important to not confuse the 2, and give Little Johnny a spoon of Sav Blanc, or drop a frozen block of sweet potato in your Chardonnay.
  6. It’s best to introduce solids between meals – and because I work full time, I’ve found that 5 pm works best for us. Carter now also has porridge after his morning bottle, and then a nap. (remind me why we wanted to be adults?)
  7. A few other foodie options I’ve played with are breast milk lollies, teething biscuits and banana in a mesh food bag. In a few weeks I’m going to introduce biltong and dried mango – because I’m loaded apparently.
  8. Like I said, I am NOT the expert. Luckily for you, there are some moms out there who have it waxed. I found Baby Jakes Mom to be a huge help.
  9. Lastly, have fun! I have very quickly had to get over my anti-mess OCD tendencies, and have resigned myself to the fact that for the foreseeable future I will probably never be clean again. I keep reminding myself of the mantra that ‘messy play is good for babies’.

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Lastly, in keeping with the spirt of healthy, happy and well fed babies- the kind folk at Medela have a Harmony breast pump to giveaway to one lucky Rupert Approves reader. So, if you’re pregnant, current owner of a freshly baked baby or know of someone who would like to win this awesome prize, all you need to do to enter is the following:

  1. Make sure you like the Rupert Approves Facebook page
  2. Follow the Rupert Approves Blog
  3. Leave a comment on this blog and tell me a story about your solids experience (if you have a baby) or if you’re as far away from being pregnant as Donald Trump is to winning the elections – simply tell me who you would like to win this breast pump for.

The Ts and the Cs

  • All competition mechanics must be followed in order to be entered in to the draw
  • The competition runs from 22 October and the winner will be picked and announced on 26 October at 3 pm
  • All entrants must visit the Rupert Approves blog to find out if they have been chosen
  • The prize is not transferrable
  • The competition is open to anyone worldwide, however the prize can only be delivered within South Africa.

About the Medela Harmony

  • Medela Harmony single manual breast pump is designed for mums who mostly breastfed and is great for travel or as backup.
  • Light and discreet: Switch between this pump and a double electric pump, or use the pump on its own if you aren’t a frequent pumper
  • Medela Harmony single manual breast pump is designed for mums who mostly breastfed and is great for travel or as backup. (Perfect for the office!)
  • Elegantly designed and comfortable to use: assembly is intuitive and the pump has an ergonomic twist handle
  • Features 2-Phase Expression technology

Medela Harmony

UPDATE

COMPETITION WINNER

Congratulations to DEBS on winning this competition!! Please pop me an email to katenicolekearney@gmail.com to claim your prize! 🙂

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