The hotMaMa Diaries Blog - Breastfeeding blog and parenting blog
Everyone has a different experience of parenting and motherhood and there is no right or wrong path. The hotMaMa diaries is a place to read stories from other mothers and even share your own!
To be featured on the hotMaMa Diaries contact us an email to [email protected]
Hello, I'm Maya, a first time mum to a beautiful baby girl who is now 4 months old. I hadn't expected to become a mummy so soon but I have fallen in love with motherhood and my baby girl takes my breath away every time I look at her- I feel so lucky. I am now sharing my experiences and stories with you, so if you would like to read more feel free to check out my blog over at allthingspinkuk.comFor some reason being a young mum seems to give everyone the right topass judgment on you. Announcing a pregnancy often does cause a bigreaction and you would hope for it to be a positive one, but for most youngmums this is not the case. I guess I can't speak for everyone, but it seems asthough 9 times out of 10 a young female is faced with a mixed receptionwhen she shares her news. The negative comments received often take overthe initial excitement of it all, and to me it just doesn't seem fair. I mean,would you turn round to an older woman who just announced she wasexpecting and respond with, 'was it planned?'. Or 'are you going to keep it?'Having a baby is a blessing and whether it's a surprise or if you've beentrying for months, what has that got to do with anyone else.In my case those were the most common questions that were thrown at me,but I also had the pleasure of receiving sly digs from those who felt I'd liketo hear their opinion, (I didn't!). They would say things like, 'it's a shameyou won’t get to do the things you'd hope to', and 'don't you wish you hadexperienced life a little?'. Well first of all, for that individual to insinuatethat I won't be getting the opportunity to do everything I wished iscompletely wrong. I am just as motivated, if not more, and in as good aposition as any to still go out their and achieve every single dream I have onmy bucket list. This idea people seem to have stewed in their minds aboutyounger mums being restricted to living a life of changing nappies, andwiping noses are completely ludicrous. My daughter is the driving forcebehind everything I do now, and she will always come first but she hasn'ttaken over my individual identity. As much as I am a mother, I am also awriter, a friend, a girlfriend, an actress, a business woman and all the otherthings I choose to be.So I would love to know where these ideas stem from; and why peoplethink that at a younger age you are less adequate to raise a child. Being anew mother already puts you under the spotlight as it is. All the healthchecks and midwife appointments after baby is born aren't set up as tests,but I can't help but feel nervous, as they sit there watching me handle mynew born. Before they pull out their scales, weighing her to make sure she'sput on enough weight, and checking her body for any marks. I wait withanticipation, almost to get the all clear that I'm doing things right. Then ofcourse there are the visitors that come round after the birth to see you, andsilently judge whether or not they think you're a good mum. It soundspretty cynical of me I know, but I don't think it's a conscious decision towitness a situation, and not create an opinion in your own head. I havehuge amounts of admiration for younger mothers, because they have todeal with all of that, as well as the judgments people pass on their age. It's alot. One of the inspirations I had for writing this post came from acollection of comments my health visitor made during our 3 week check up.After seeing my daughter was a healthy weight, that I was managing tobreastfeed, and that everything else was okay, she light-heartedly said, 'Ihave to say I'm impressed with how well you're doing'. Before adding, 'youwould put some of the older mums to shame'. I know she intended for thesecomments to be complimentary, but it came across in a condescendingway. Her words subtly communicated her opinion that she was surprisedby the positive example I had made of a new mother; having expected meto be struggling a lot more in comparison to those who are older. Well I'mglad I was able to "impress"! but you shouldn't have had such little faith inme in the first place.So in conclusion here's what kind of "young mum" I am... I'm kind,thoughtful and loving. I'm a little bit silly and have a playful nature. I getworried about little things, so am constantly checking in with Google. I'mcompletely besotted with my baby, my boyfriend and our little family. I'mexcitable, and get giddy about the future, and watching my baby grow. I'mimperfect, but I learn from my mistakes. I'm super organised, and obsessedwith items having their own place. I love the company of friends, but alsothe company of social media! I'm squeamish but have a high tolerance forpain. I love putting together outfits for my daughter every morning. I stillhold my breath when I change her pooey nappies. I try and take her outevery day, mostly to keep my own sanity. I am learning on the job, but I'mmotherhood's most keen student....Is that so different to every other mum? Do those qualities show that I amyoung in age? And if they do are they bad qualities to have in Mum?Maya x
Throughout my first pregnancy I did absolutely no research or preparation for breast feeding. It was one of those things I just assumed was going to be easy. I did attend one of the free NHS classes on breast feeding where they make you hold a doll and a knitted titty for practise, which I'm sure we'd all agree is pretty useless. There was no mention of difficulties you may come across and it was all made to sound very dreamy and beautiful.
Dreamy and beautiful it was...for perhaps the first couple of weeks. Junior was born with an infection which meant he was rushed to the hospital’s neonatal unit for special care. Despite the tubes in his mouth and nose to help regulate his breathing, I was able to breast feed him with ease. After a week, he had responded well to antibiotics and gained enough weight for us to take him home, where the feeding continued to be a success. After week two however, his appetite increased to the point where he was feeding constantly, probably around 90% of the day he was latched on. This obviously took its toll on my nipples and I was in absolute agony. I found the Community Midwives and Health Visitors quite unsympathetic and unhelpful, simply telling me it was normal and to persevere, rather than recommending any helpful solutions. As a new mum, I knew nothing about products available that might help like nipple shields and lanolin cream, and there was no mention of these from the medical staff.
By this time, I was really struggling with the pain and Junior was clearly starving. My husband suggested trying some formula, which I really didn’t want to do but seeing how distressed both me and Junior were, he insisted. So off he went to buy all the kit we needed and after just 2 ½ weeks old, Junior had his first taste of formula milk. He gulped it down in seconds and fell asleep for hours. After this we never looked back. Obviously I had the guilt almost every day, and I have to say, I know a lot of people talk about public breast feeding shamers but I found the amount of criticism I got when formula feeding in public far outweighed when I breast fed. Seeing how much more content Junior was made it worth it though. For the following 4 to 5 months, I persisted with a small amount of breast feeding alongside the formula. I still feel regret sometimes that I should have tried harder, but I look at Junior today and he is a happy, healthy boy with good eating habits so we must have done something right.
Following this challenging experience with Junior, I have felt super determined and motivated to make it more of a success with my twins. During the pregnancy I focussed a lot of my time on preparation for breast feeding, making sure I had all the right kit and getting myself well informed by reading loads of books and info online. I bought a brilliant twin feeding cushion made by Peanut & Piglet, something I genuinely don't think I could have tandem fed without! Other things on my shopping list included a decent supply of nipple cream, nipple shields, washable breast pads and a double electrix breast pump. I began hand expressing colostrum during the final couple of weeks before the birth and froze it; this meant I had a small stash for those first few days, which just took the pressure off me a little at a time when milk production and supply can be unpredictable and often insufficient. I wish someone had told me about colostrum harvesting first time around! It was also so nice to later see my husband feed them in the hospital with the colostrum I'd expressed.
The twins are now more than a month old and as I write this I'm sat on the sofa breast feeding them. I'll be honest, it's not been easy (particularly during the hot weather!) but I think I have a better attitude this time around and have not put any pressure on myself which has ultimately made me relax into it better. I think it's also helped that the girls are nowhere near as hungry as Junior was. The key thing about the twins has been feeding them in tandem; if I didn't stick to feeding them together I would literally be feeding every hour of the day. I've also discovered some great tips about "lactogenic" foods from Hilary Jacobson's book 'Mother Food." I've been amazed at how much diet can affect my supply and fenugreek supplements have been my saviour. We've introduced a bottle of formula at bedtime every night and unlike last time, I feel absolutely no guilt about this. The girls love their bottles and it's nice to share the work with my husband, not to mention the extra sleep they get when they've had it! It's a welcomed moment of peace and calm that the whole household appreciates. I'm now focussing on expressing more so I can build up a supply in the freezer. This will give me more freedom both at home but also when I go out. As I'm trying to keep the girls fed together, I'm forced to use bottles when out and about as tandem nursing in public is pretty impossible, so that supply of expressed milk is really important for my sanity!
I'm still on the journey and I know there will be highs and lows ahead, particularly as the girls go through growth spurts, but I'm proud of what I've achieved so far. If you'd told me during my son's first couple of months when I was a hormonal and emotional new mum with no idea what I was doing, that in 4 years time I'd be successfully breast feeding twins, I would have laughed in your face. My biggest advice to anyone about to embark on a similar journey is just to prepare as much as you possibly can...read read read, learn as much as you can about what to expect, talk to others who've been through it and absolutely 100% do not put any pressure on yourself; that way you'll actually be able to enjoy the experience.
Post submitted by Amy, a thirtysomething brit mum of three (including twins!)
Read more from this amazing mummy at: