The First One Thousand Days – The Importance of Protein in Breast Milk

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The first one thousand days of your baby’s life, right through from conception to toddlerhood, are not only the craziest, and often toughest days, but also the most important days for both baby and parents. During these days you will form bonds, discover new roles, and also set up your child’s nutritional foundation for life.

The first one thousand days are also the hardest days, the days when it is near enough impossible to think about getting through until the end of the day, let alone worry about health and nutrition. Thankfully these clever bodies of ours do all the hard work for us.

Fellow sleep deprived mama, do not fear, your breast milk is enough, your breast milk is packed full of good quality protein and will see your little baby flourish, as they’ll get the right amount at the right time.

In fact, breastfeeding has been proven to support an appropriate rate of growth* in infancy (*UK-WHO growth charts based on the growth of breastfed infants, and World Health Organisation/Department of Health advice to exclusively breastfeed for 6 months). The protein level in breast milk changes and decreases as babies grow, meaning it contains the right quality and quantity of protein to help them grow at a steady rate.

Over the past 90 years, SMA® Nutrition has invested in early life nutrition research, and is committed to supporting good nutrition for babies during the first 1000 days which is why they have created this fab little infographic showing just how amazing protein in breast milk is.

blog post about the importance of protein in the first 1000 days of a babies life

ZTC1722a/04/17 SMA® Nutrition UK

The Jamie Oliver Breastfeeding Debate – My Thoughts

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will be well aware that all hell as broken loose following Jamie Oliver’s views on breastfeeding. I’ll be honest, I saw the backlash before the original comment and assumed that Jamie had said something incredibly out of order.

blog post in response to the Jamie Oliver breastfeeding campaign in support of jamie oliver

I was shocked to see that he hadn’t criticised formula feeding mother’s at all. He is just keen to support those who want to breastfeeding. I don’t think Jamie means any offence to formula feeding mum’s, I think he simply used a bad choice of words, stating that breastfeeding is ‘easy’ probably wasn’t his wisest move. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy.

If you’ve read my breastfeeding story you will know that I struggled with it, I think I lasted a total of six weeks, and I only managed this by expressing milk and giving it to Aria from the bottle, during these six weeks, and up until the age of one, she also had formula. I am aware that some people would be disgusted with my decision to use formula, despite the fact that it was actually the Hospital who told me to put Aria onto formula because she had lost too much weight. I don’t think that this is what Jamie is trying to stop, he simply wants to try and encourage more women to give breastfeeding a go, by increasing support and getting the facts out there maybe he will.

I have experienced exactly how difficult breastfeeding can be, to the point that I’m not even sure if I will try breastfeeding any future babies. Yes, their mother’s milk is the best for them, but at what cost? Surely a healthy, happy mum is more beneficial to the baby than breast milk? I say this because I’m pretty sure that if I had carried on breastfeeding I would have eventually become depressed. I could feel it happening which is why I stopped.

I had a lot of support, and I’m aware that not everyone does, though I must admit I personally don’t think that the support helped, if anything it made me want to stop even more because I felt like I was under constant scrutiny and pressure, I knew that if I just went onto formula the continuous two hour appointments where we would put Aria in various positions to see if she would latch and the constant questions would stop. We could be happy, under no pressure, and most importantly Aria would be fed.

As a ‘failed’ breastfeeding mother Jamie’s comments haven’t upset me in the slightest, in fact, I support him and wish him the best of luck with this campaign. Yes, he shouldn’t have said breastfeeding is easy, because it isn’t. But surely campaigning for support of breastfeeding in public is something that we all want?

I personally feel that this whole thing has been taken completely out of context. Jamie himself admits that he isn’t an expert, just that he wants to encourage more people to breastfeed, if he feels that he can help give women the support that they need to carry on then why not let him try?

You can listen to Jamie Oliver’s breastfeeding announcement here.

What do you think of this ‘campaign’? Do you support Jamie or do you think he is out of order? What are your reasons for this?

My Breastfeeding Essentials
If you’ve read my breastfeeding first impressions post you will know that I tried breastfeeding for a little while and struggled with it. In that short period of time I stumbled across a few items that made my life a lot easier. While everyone’s essentials are sure to be different I’m hoping that my list may help a few soon to be feeding mother’s prepare.
my breastfeeding essentials. Pictured black nursing bra, medela swing, chocolate digestives and a cup of coffee

A breast pump* – There are several different breastpumps out there, my battle of the breastpumps post may help you to decide which is for you. You really need to think about how often you plan on expressing before making this decision, another thing to consider is would you want to solely express if breastfeeding didn’t work out for you. If I didn’t have my electric pump I think I would have given up expressing milk as the manual pumps can be difficult if you are constantly pumping. 

Coffee & biscuits – They say that when you are breastfeeding you need extra calories as you burn so much energy feeding, the problem is finding time to eat and prepare these extra calories. This is where chocolate biscuits come in handy, easy to grab and quickly eat. As strange as it seems expressing became my ‘me time’, I would make a cup of coffee, tune into Netflix and eat chocolate biscuits while holding the pump to my breast, they were probably the most relaxing times during the early stages! 
Comfortable nursing bras – You will likely leak milk quite often, including while you are sleeping, therefore you want your nursing bras to be as comfortable as possible for sleeping in. I bought this pack of two which were comfortable, did the job and didn’t break the bank. 
Breast pads – As mentioned above, your milk will probably leak. Make sure that you purchase decent breastpads, I tried a lot of varieties as we were given loads. A lot of the pads aren’t very sticky and tend to fall off or move about, out of the pads that I tried Medela* really were the best. 
Pump & Save Bags* – If expressing milk you need somewhere to store it. These bags are handy as they can be sealed, have the measurements on the front (though this isn’t very accurate) and can be frozen. 
A comfortable chair – Your baby may be on your breast for a long time so it is very important that you make sure you are comfortable when you begin. Personally, I wasn’t happy to feed in front of people so used the arm chair in Aria’s bedroom to breastfeed peacefully and privately. 
A support group – As discussed in my breastfeeding cafe, a good support group really can make all the difference to deciding not to quit when you are going through tough times. Find a local support group and attend regularly, whether you need to or not. Just by going you may be helping yourself and others at the group. 
Most importantly of all, patience. Breastfeeding can be hard, really hard in fact. It can be very stressful and you may feel like packing it all in, just be patient and persevere. Though if you do pack it in, there is no shame in that at all, I’m not ashamed to admit that I packed it in as it was best for both Aria and I.
Did you breastfeed? If so, what were your essential items?
Please note, these essentials are based on my own personal experiences. Everyone is different.

Giveaway : Breastvest

While breastfeeding isn’t something to be ashamed of some mothers (myself included when I was doing it!) are very paranoid about feeding in public. One of the many worries is that you may expose your postnatal tummy when breastfeeding, this is where breastvest comes in, they literally have you covered!

Breastvest promotional picture woman sitting on stool breastfeeding her baby with a stripy top and a breastvest underneath

Breastvest easily converts any top into a breastfeeding top. It was invented to make breastfeeding in public easier and to let new mums get back into their favourite clothes while still doing the best for their babies.

Created, designed, tested and approved by breastfeeding mums, breastvest is held in place by specially designed straps and sits just below your nursing bra, comfortably covering your postnatal tummy whilst offering a comfortable layer of support and modesty.

* Available in S, M, L and XL.
* Available in Black and White and a steady stream of Limited Edition colours.
* Made from 95% viscose and 5% elastane and is machine washable.

Fill in the form below to be in the chance of winning your very own Breastvest. You must complete at least one entry to be in with a chance, but remember the more entries you submit the more chances you have of winning!


 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information or to purchase visit breastvest.co.uk.

T&Cs : The winner will be contacted by email, if I receive no reply within 28 days I will draw another winner. UK only. Under 16 year old’s must have permission from their parent/guardian to enter. If you claim to have submitted an entry which you haven’t all of your entries will be disqualified. The giveaway will commence 22.7.15 12am and end 29.7.15 12am. The prize is being provided by Breastvest who will ship directly to the winner.

My Breastfeeding Cafe with Medela
As part of my ongoing project with Medela I was asked to hold a get together with fellow breastfeeding mum’s to chat about breastfeeding over coffee & cake. We went along to Lollipops & Ladybirds on Friday and enjoyed cappuccinos & homemade carrot & orange cake while chatting all things breastfeeding and putting the world to rights! 

My Breastfeeding Cafe with Medela - Six mum's breastfeeding experiences - blog post with breastfeeding questions and answers, including the mother of identical twins - coffee & cake at Lollipops & Ladybirds Cwmbran

My mum’s are Victoria, mum to four week old identical twins Madison and Kendall, Natasha, mum to Eva, Emma who is a breastfeeding peer supporter and mum to Nate & Isaac, fellow blogger Georgina, mum to Squidge and Joanne, mum to eight month old Amelie.

I asked my mum’s four questions each to begin, here is how they replied.

How long did you/have you been breastfeeding? What is the best thing about breastfeeding? What is the worse thing about breastfeeding? Do you feel that you have adequate support from both family and health professionals?

Victoria – I have been breast feeding for almost 4 weeks, but manually expressing for 6. This was due to me expecting identical twins and preparing for the scenario of my twins being taken into special care from a very early stage as I was being prepared for delivering premature babies via c section. I was hand expressing Colstrum at home. 
I am combination feeding my twins – this was something the hospital midwives prompted me to do. The midwives recommended I breastfeed and then ‘top up’ the babies with formula milk to keep their blood sugars raised. To ensure I have enough breast milk I expressed also. 
The best thing about breast feeding is the connection I feel between my babies and I. I have very individual connections with my two babies, as both feed very differently. It has become something I enjoy doing with my babies. 
The worst thing about breast feeding is how time consuming it can be (especially with twins). I began tandem feeding my girls immediately. Initially I was supported by all the hospital staff and midwives but once I was home, tandem feeding became very difficult very quickly. Supporting two babies to latch on properly, feed sufficiently and support them individually is not for the faint hearted. My partner is very supportive and even supports one of our girls whilst she is feeding, if only by supporting her shoulders. Breast feeding is very time consuming, almost a full time job, so expressing eases that stress. 
I have had great support from both healthcare professionals and family. The support I received both ante & post natal has been fantastic. I have had a fantastic experience being a patient of my local midwifery team. 
The only part of my experience that was unpleasant came after being told my babies had stopped growing in the womb at 34 weeks and needed to be delivered ASAP. I waited 10 days for special care cots to become available. There were no special care cots available in the whole of Wales during this time. This led to my consultant contacting special baby care units throughout the country and preparing a contingency plan for delivering my babies in another hospital – as far as Aberdeen. Luckily two cots became available, even better my babies were born healthy. 
Natasha – I have been breastfeeding for five months and am still going with formula for top up. The best thing about breastfeeding is the bond with my baby, she’s all for mummy! The worst thing is that it is all on me for feeding and she uses me for comfort quite often. 
The support received isn’t always good, most family members are understanding (usually the one’s who have experienced breastfeeding for a good few months) but the health professionals put a lot of pressure on new mum’s to breastfeed, it is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done especially in the first few weeks, many times I’ve felt like giving up through worrying about my supply, I wasn’t sure if she was getting enough milk, it was tiring, she was cluster feeding. In the long run it has been well worth it. I think there needs to be more information and support for first time mum’s as it’s only when you’ve experienced the hardships of breastfeeding that you can relate and fully understand just how difficult and demanding it can be. I was at a tough point in the early weeks of breastfeeding and my friend sent me this (who also breastfed), it really struck a chord http://realgirlramblings.com/2015/03/03/why-i-dont-sleep-mum/.
Emma – I breastfed Nate for 9 months and Isaac for 6. I would have done longer but Nate preferred a bottle once I went back to work and I found it awkward asking for time to express when back in work. With Isaac my milk dried up when he was 3 months old, which was probably due to loosing my dad. I loved breastfeeding, I loved the closeness I felt and I loved not having to worry about sterilising or getting up to make a bottle, I could be there on tap. The worst thing about breastfeeding is the starting off. No one tells you what to expect and how hard it actually is I think, if you can get through the first 4 weeks you can see how easy it can be after that. The first 4 weeks is really stressful. 
My family were very supportive and even though on Nate I would go into a different room to feed at the start by the end they were just all used to me whacking them out! I’m from a family of mainly men. With health professionals they give too much conflicting advice that really isn’t helpful. You judge yourself all the time being a mum and thinking you’re not doing that right I think some women give up because of the guilt! I went with my gut feeling I think maybe I was even more determined to breastfeed as a result of having a section, I felt that my body had already failed me. I loved the feeding so much that I went on to do the NVQ in breastfeeding peer support.
Georgina – I only had 2-3 successful breast feeds, with the help of the Medela nipple shield, but I did express for 2 months. The best thing about breastfeeding was the bonding. It was also so much easier than preparing bottles, sterilising, etc. The worst thing was the stress to both William and I, it always ended up with both of us crying as it was such a struggle. I had really good support from breastfeeding support workers, but no one at the hospital was able to get a successful breastfeed done, despite the fact that he was supposed to be a breastfed baby – they just didn’t have the time to spend with me to get it to happen. But when they came to the house they did.
Joanne – Amelie is now 8 months and still breastfeeding. She solely had breast milk until the age of 6 months. Now that she is weaning I could just breastfeed her morning and night, which means that I should still be able to breastfeed when I go back to work. 
The best things are being able to be lazy, no sterilising bottles, etc, no need to get out of bed in middle of the night for first 6 months, I could just take her from Moses basket and feed her in bed still half asleep. If we were out for day the checklist was simple, nappies, wipes, clothes and boobs! There was also hardly any winding needed. Health reasons are the best thing, she only had her first cold/illness a few weeks ago! Other things are the bonding, comfort and closeness. 
The worse things were at first I worried that she was having too little/too much milk. I had hyperlactation syndrome, producing too much with a fast flow so she would gag sometimes, thankfully it was easily resolved. 
I received great support from Flying Start, I go to their breastfeeding group each week and can always call someone with questions. My family are also a great support.
Following answering the questions we had a chat about feeding in general. We discovered that people who attend groups are a lot more likely to carry on breastfeeding, sometimes you have questions that you wouldn’t necessarily call someone to ask, if you are at a group you will bring the question up in conversation and find great answers from other breastfeeding mother’s. A lot of people (myself included) are put off going to groups as they have a reputation of being cliquey, don’t less this put you off, attend and find out for yourself, if you don’t like that group try another. If you really can’t get on with groups try a forum, I joined the pregnancy forum when I first found out that I was pregnant, I still talk to a lot of the girls from there on a daily basis, we are all there to support each other and answer any questions.
We all agreed that the conflicting support from healthcare workers can lead to a lot more confusion than necessary. One week someone will show you a position that they suggest you use, the next week you see someone else who wants you to use another position, when you are struggling to begin with this can lead to confusion and knock your confidence.
We also chatted quite a bit about feeding in public and the fact that some places have private feeding rooms. Those of us who were less confident about feeding agreed that we would use these and they were a great idea, those who were more confident wouldn’t want to be forced away into a room on their own. We all agreed that these rooms should have a sign on them stating that you don’t have to use them, they are just there if you want to use them.

We discovered that those of us who struggled with feeding & the new mums weren’t confident enough to feed in public, but those who have been feeding for a while and have no problems with feeding will happily do so in public, even when walking around! So long as you feed discretely and don’t make a big song and dance about it people usually don’t notice. Wearing two tops helps to feed discretely.

Here is a great poem/film about feeding in public, it puts it into perspective!

The Flying Start group that Jo attends are going to be running campaigns to promote breastfeeding during breastfeeding awareness week (1-7 August), they are going to be doing something different everyday including chatting to people in shops. We were disgusted to hear that they had contacted a local Boots store and the manager agreed that they could hand out leaflets, put up posters, etc but politely asked that they didn’t feed in the store and made sure they use the private feeding room if necessary! They have contacted Head Office who have confirmed that they are allowed to feed in the store if they need to.
Thank you Medela for allowing me to host a cafe on your behalf, we had a great time! 
In summary – conflicting advise from healthcare workers can lead to confusion and knocked confidence, chatting with fellow breastfeeding mum’s is the best type of support that you can receive, consider joining a group or at the very least a forum, don’t be ashamed to breastfeed in public.