18 March 2014

Breastfeeding, Tongue-tie &
                    Nexcare Maternity Compresses

When I was pregnant I intended to breastfeed, not just for a couple of months, but for at least a year. I knew it would be hard, but everything suggests you just need perseverance and I'm not short of stubbornness - so it was utterly heartbreaking when we had to stop at just 15 weeks.

When Twitch was born I could get him to latch, but I was pretty sure something was wrong. The nipple kept coming out pinched no matter how carefully I latched him on. I asked several midwives & 'bosom buddies' for help, but they all kept repeating the same advice I'd already heard. The implication was that it was my fault for not latching him properly, and I just had to try harder.

Once I left the hospital things just got worse. The nipples were getting damaged at every feed. I was in so much pain we had to limit Twitch's feed to every couple of hours. By the time we got to four weeks Twitch was clamping on so hard that he was cutting off the blood supply. The ends of my nipples were permanently white. It would take another few weeks, but we eventually discovered the problem - no one had noticed Twitch was tongue-tied.
Luckily the lovely people at Nexcare had sent me a pack of ColdHot Maternity Compresses to review, as there were several nights I wouldn't have made it through without their help. When cool the compresses helped numb the pain and reduce the swelling after feeds, and when warm they helped treat my blocked ducts. I only needed to use one compress at a time and they lived happily in the fridge, so there was always one ready when I finished a feed. I actually found they worked better when they were just lightly chilled rather than properly cold as the skin was so sensitive. I also loved the cotton slip covers, they were much kinder on my damaged skin than the polyester covers of other brands - in fact I think it's worth choosing the Nexcare Maternity Compresses for the covers alone!
** Especially when you can use this discount code
3Mmaternity01 to save 20% at http://www.3mdirect.co.uk/ **
My only frustration was that the Compresses were more difficult to warm up. They worked wonderfully, but you need to submerge the Nexcare ColdHot Compresses in warm water for ten minutes first. I found it very difficult to plan that far ahead when feeding on demand.

Before Twitch was born people had suggested you didn't really need to buy special breastfeeding compresses, but they were certainly a necessity in our experience!
We contacted our NCT breastfeeding counsellor and after many conversations she suggested we have him checked for tongue tie. We got a hospital referral from our GP, and were promised it would only be a couple of weeks, but when the letter arrived the appointment was seven weeks away! There was no way I could face another seven weeks of pain. So we began to look privately.

We finally managed to get Twitch's tongue-tie cut at six weeks, but the damage was done. Normally about 50% of the tongue is free to move, but Twitch had only about 30% free - but there was an even bigger issue. To cut the tie, they swaddled Twitch and had someone hold his shoulders. Twitch's tongue-tie was so tight that when they snipped it the lactation consultant could feel the pop all the way down in his shoulders!

Twitch's feeding did improve greatly after the tongue-tie was cut, but we went from utterly horrible to just bad. Because he'd been unable to move his tongue properly in the womb, his palette hadn't smoothed out and was quite high - which was causing much of the pinching. On top of that Twitch had spent six weeks trying to chew the milk out, and even though the tie was now fixed, Twitch didn't know how to feed properly. He never drained the breast properly, and I had to try and press the milk out for him while he feed.

The lactation consultant recommended we take Twitch to see an osteopath and in desperation we did. The initial consultation suggested while most babies just need two to three sessions, Twitch would need more like four or five. We took him to more than ten sessions, and his feeding still didn't improved.

Twitch's weight dropped significantly before the tongue-tie was cut, and though it stabilised after, for the next couple of months he hovered in the second percentile. The breaking point came at fifteen weeks, when Twitch started screaming in the middle of his feeds and repeatedly biting. He might not have teeth, but the biting left me in tears.

We'd spent weeks looking for help - contacting the lactation consultants for advice, trying the breastfeeding support groups, speaking to the health visitors - but we found either they had no advice for babies that struggle to feed or they held information for ransom. The consultants certainly wouldn't give us any information on combination feeding or even expressing some feeds so I'd have time to heal. We spent weeks rushing from one crisis to the next and eventually we had to give up.

15 weeks.

17 March 2014

Announcing the Arrival of...


Born in the early hours of 13th of August 
by emergency c-section.

7 lbs 6 oz

24 July 2013

Review: HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan

I'm at an age where everyone I know seems to be having babies, so when we finally got pregnant there were plenty of people ready to offer advice. One thing that came up repeatedly was HypnoBirthing - my cousin and a friend both found it extremely helpful before their births. So when Souvenir Press Ltd offered to send me a copy of Marie Mongan's HypnoBirthing book for review, it seemed an obvious choice.
Marie Mongan is one of the leading voices in the HypnoBirthing movement. She has used her experience as a hypnotherapist to build on the Dick-Read birthing method to form her own HypnoBirthing philosophy. The general premise seems to be that by using self-hypnosis techniques you can remain calm and relaxed, easing your labour and distancing yourself from the pain.

I have to admit I was a bit dubious. To get the full benefits of HypnoBirthing you really need to take classes alongside the book and you need time to practice the recommended skills. With just six weeks to go, I doubted I could really put HypnoBirthing into practice.

I was also a bit worried that HypnoBirthing might be quite heavy reading, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it light and accessible. I really enjoyed the first 50 pages which covered the history of child birth and how our perceptions have been influenced. Mongan suggests that birth doesn't have to be the terribly painful experience we often see on film - instead with practice birth can be embraced as a positive empowering experience.
While I may not be able to use the HypnoBirthing skills described in the book, I still found sections useful. We've also been attending the hospital antenatal classes, and I've found Mongan's descriptions of labour much more helpful. Rather than focusing on cervix texture and centimetres of dilation, there are explanations of how the muscles are working together to open the cervix and how you can help them work efficiently to progress your labour.

HypnoBirthing has also made me consider the skills I already have. Many of the breathing and meditation techniques Mongan recommends help you to stay calm and relaxed, which in theory reduces the pain you feel. I noticed there were similarities between the HypnoBirthing techniques and my experiences in Quaker worship. Though not immediately obvious, I discovered skills I hope may give me more control over my birth experience.

I think that's one of the books strongest aspects - it suggests that we can take active control of our child's birth. It also places a lot of importance on the support of a birthing partner, which can help engage husbands and partners - making them an integral part of the birth process.

Definitely an interesting book, HypnoBirthing offers an alternate perspective that may encourage you to look at childbirth with new eyes - though we'll have to wait a few more weeks to see if it's helped me. I'd probably recommend reading HypnoBirthing early on in your pregnancy, so you have time to find a class if you decide if it's something you'd like to explore further.

Has anyone else given HypnoBirthing a try?

14 July 2013

I'm Kate, and I'm going to Blog On 2013!

Blogs Up North Blog On 2013
I spend an awful lot of time at home on my own, so when an opportunity come up to get out and meet people I'll jump at the chance. It's even better if I don't have to explain why I publish the personal details and minutia of my life on the internet. I was thrilled when I heard about Blogs Up North, here was an opportunity to meet loads of people with the same strange hobby.

Next weekend 70 northern bloggers are meeting to trade ideas, tips and laughs at Blog On 2013. Of course the challenge at these events is working out who everyone is, so we're having a bit of a who's who linky where everyone introduces themselves - I hate doing these things, but here goes.

I'm Kate, and I should be fairly easy to spot as I think there are only a handful of ladies with bumps attending. You'll probably find me crashed out in the nearest chair, but I promise I'm friendly and always happy to chat!

I'm in the middle of decorating our nursery, so if your interested in refurbishing furniture, Ikea hacks, crafting, real nappies or bargain shopping I'm sure we'll find plenty to talk about!

I can't wait to meet everyone on the day, but if you want to chat before hand you can also find me on:

8 July 2013

32 Weeks - Parenting Classes

Last week we started the hospital parenting classes. I'm not sure we really learned anything new at the first class, but it did offer a revelation.

The midwife has us go around the room and say what our biggest worries were. Most of the women were wary of the unknown and worried about the pain. The midwife said "Of course most women have only experienced tooth ache or menstrual cramps." The voice in my head just went "Really??"

I know I've been unlucky when it comes to health issues - just in the last two years I've had thyroid problems, the ectopic pregnancy rupture, a cancer scare, two cycles of IVF and the ever present Fibromyalgia -  but I don't think I'd realised that most people have had none of those experiences. I'd been unlucky, but I assumed most people would have faced their own problem. It suddenly put the anxiety I'd been feeling in a bit more perspective.

To be honest I'm not that worried about the pain. I'm not suggesting labour will be easy, but it's something you get through. I'm mostly worried about the doctors, midwives and nurses. I've spent a good portion of my time in hospitals, and I know that the difference between a good experience and a bad one is all down to who you see.

In virtually everything I've read people have been so worried about the pain, that I was starting to think I was missing something - but with this revelation, I suspect it's just that I have a different perspective.

Otherwise, my pregnancy is going surprisingly well. I've been a bit fatigued, which has made sitting at the sewing machine difficult, but it's not been too bad. I've also had some back pain, but I think that's just the kidney stones acting up again. It caused a bit of a blip on one of the midwife's tests, but apparently everything's fine.

As for Twitch, just after my last post he seemed to be feeling a bit cramped. His new trick was to stretch and push at both sides at once. At one point we could feel a small hard bump that was a tiny little foot pushing out. Since then he's turned and the kicks have reduced, but he either has daily hiccups or he's taken up drumming as a hobby!

Just 8 weeks to go!

30 June 2013

Warrington Foodbank

I've recently started volunteering at our local foodbank. Foodbanks have been opening up across the country to help bridge the gaps, supporting people in crisis situations. The Warrington Foodbank opened it's doors in December, and helped over 700 people in the just the first couple of months - and the demand is increasing.

The Warrington foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust, which offers support and guidance for groups looking to start their own foodbanks. Technically it is a Christian organisation, but that's not a requirement for volunteers or recipients. I'm very uncomfortable with charity that is offered with conditions, whether that be in the form of religious lectures or required beliefs - I can happily say that I've never seen anything to concern me at the Foodbank. The volunteers I've met simply try to offer help and kindness without judgement.
I've been volunteering at the Foodbank distribution centre, which is held at Friars Green Church. The Foodbank holds two hour sessions five days a week where people can come and collect their food parcels.

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about how the Foodbank works. People can't just walk in off the street for a food parcel. Instead red vouchers are given out by places like Job Centres, Sure Start and CAB, to people they know to be in a crisis situation. These vouchers are intended to be a stop gap for people trapped in limbo while waiting for long term help. Though I obviously can't give you any specific examples, many people have been effected by the government abolishing crisis loans, the new benefit sanctions and the recent benefit changes.

When people arrive at the Foodbank they hand over their red voucher card to one of the volunteers and are invited to sit down at one of the tables. We offer them a drink and some biscuits and someone sits down to chat with them, while other volunteers assemble their food parcel.
Below is the room where volunteers pick the items for each food parcel. The red vouchers tell us how many people are in the family, which helps us select the right picking slip. Each parcel should provide three days of nutritionally balanced food for each person. Most of the food is donated by the public, which can make it a bit of a challenge.  We had a jar of Christmas mince pie filling hanging around for months before we found someone who could use it!
There's often two or three volunteers picking tickets at the same time, which makes this room a bit of a squeeze. The shelves are organised by type and follow the order of the picking ticket. We start behind the glass door and then work our way around the room.

Off the top of my head, a single person may get:
  • A small box of cereal
  • 2 cans soup
  • 2 cans baked beans
  • 2 cans of tomatoes or pasta sauce
  • 2 cans of meat (including things like cans of curry)
  • 1 can of fish
  • 2 small cans of vegetables
  • 2 small cans of fruit
  • 1 package of Jelly or Angel Delight
  • 1 pack of rice or pasta
  • 500g of Sugar
  • Tea or Coffee
  • 1 small pack of biscuits
  • 1 ltr milk
  • 1 ltr of juice
If we have some available, we may add instant cup-of-soups, extra baked beans, toiletries if needed and loo roll.
We aren't allowed to give out expired or damaged foods in the parcels, so items that expire before we can distribute them are placed on a table where the recipients are welcome to take them if they wish.
Personally I'm very angry that foodbanks are necessary in modern Britain - I'm even angrier that David Cameron will consider the foodbank an example of his "Big Society"! It's frustrating that the Tories will use the foodbanks as a reason to ignore the problems they are creating, hoping that they will simply disappear.

But I try to take comfort in that we ourselves and the Trussel Trust are acting as witnesses to these hardships. We hear people's stories and the Trussel Trust publishes statistics that will hopefully hold the government to account in the future.

24 June 2013

Step Down Nursery - Ebay

Step Down SundayI've found a new obsession - I've become a bit of an ebay fiend.

As part of our Step Down Nursery I've been trying to buy as many second hand items as I can. There is a theory that says that any second-hand items you buy have a carbon-free footprint, as the original owner was responsible for the items carbon costs.

Compared to charity shops, ebay offers a huge range of products and there's always the chance you'll snap up a bargain!
So far I've managed to pick up an over-the-bath Mothercare Supabath for £5
and a Fisher-Price Woodsy Friends Bouncer for £13.01
Unfortunately ebay's not without it's surprises. I managed to pick up a Stokke Tripp Trapp with the baby set and cushions for £36, but we were disappointed to find that there was a large crack in one of the legs. I don't think it's a structural problem, but it's still a concern, especially when using the baby bar.

In the end Mr Goldfish decided that we'd buy a second Tripp Trapp on ebay, and repair the first one to use as a spare for guests. We can use the baby bar and cushions from the first chair with our new one and I suspect that once our little one has out grown the baby set, I'll be able to sell that and the cushions for at least £36 - so it will all work out in the end.
We also managed to buy an Uppababy Vista for just £205! It came with a PiggyBack board for older children, a car seat and a couple of cup holders. What we weren't told was that it was a 2008 American import, which made it an older model than the description suggested. This has made it difficult to find the bassinet safety recommendations for sleeping.
We know that second-hand car seats aren't recommended, but it turns out that it wasn't even a possibility. Because the car seat we were sold was an American import, it is illegal to use in the EU. It also had been part of a recall at one point and had a sticker stating is shouldn't be used after five years! While it wasn't a key reason why we purchased the push chair, it was frustrating to be given something that had to go straight to the tip.
I have to admit that ebay doesn't always make sense. I was looking for some baskets for the Cosatto Hogarth changing table we got free on Preloved. The best baskets I could find were £25 from Babies-R-Us, which seemed awfully expensive.
I happened to spot similar baskets being sold locally on ebay with a changing table. In the end I managed to buy both the baskets & the changing table for £11.50 - cheaper than it was to buy the baskets new. I didn't really need another changing table, so I listed it on ebay again. Imagine my surprise when it sold for £16, so after the ebay fees I was £3 in profit!
I also managed to sell the vintage handles we had left over after refurbishing the nursery dresser. Only for £4.67 mind, but I was pleased to see them head off to a new home rather than dumped in a drawer or sent to the tip.
Ebay can be a bit hit and miss, but if you do your research you can find yourself a bargain - and of course you can always sell things on again when you're done with them!