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Sometimes Breastfeeding Looks Different… By Beccy Hooper

When we are thinking about becoming mothers we picture the perfect scene of the birth you planned, of our babies latching on just minutes after coming into the world and the breastfeeding journey beginning. If only this was everyone’s story.
For some mothers they know that breastfeeding Is very important to them – knowing you are giving your baby the milk you have made especially for them. But this sometimes does not happen how you imagine, with some babies starting off in special care or with tongue-tie the breastfeeding journey does not start how you pictured it.
For some this means pumping breastmilk instead, this may only last a few weeks while you find a normal for you and your baby, with the right help from either health professionals or your local breastfeeding support group but for other mothers this is a journey of exclusive pumping.
It may feel like a daunting prospect but there are many mothers that breastfeed their babies this way for anything up to a year. But with the right support and information you can make this work.

Breastfeeding needs to happen eight to twelve times each day so this would be the same if you are exclusively pumping, which means that you would need to pump every two to three hours through the day and twice in the night, this would need to be no longer than a four to five hour break in between.
Each pumping session would need to last around 20 minutes, but what we need to remember is each mother is different and this may take slightly longer for some. It is also helpful to carry on pumping for two to five minutes once the milk stops as it will help stimulate your supply.

If you are concerned about your supply there are several things you can do to help.
Fenugreek can help supply, drinking plenty of water, some say eating oatmeal for breakfast can be helpful.
And just as if you were breastfeeding, regular pumping will keep your supply at the level you need to feed your baby.
Another great way to help supply is to be close to your baby. You may want to be cuddling your baby, or have either a photo or a piece of clothing close by. This helps boost the oxytocin in your body which will then help the let down of your milk.

Storing your breastmilk is important after all the work you are putting in – you don’t want to waste any!
As breastmilk has antibacterial properties it can be kept at room temperature for 4-6 hours before using; it can then be kept in the fridge for up to a week, and in the freezer for 6 months.
What we must always remember is to let it warm up naturally or in a jug of warm water. Please do not microwave as you will damage the antibodies and nutrients within the milk.

Breastfeeding this way does not mean you have to have a strict schedule, you can still feed your baby on demand, look for their feeding cues. Your baby will start licking their lips and rooting for milk, and when feeding it is a good idea to pace feed – let your baby take the lead, and don’t force a quick feed.
By holding your baby more upright and allowing them to take the teat in slowly gives them the control to feed comfortably and rest as they need to, just as if they were feeding at the breast.

Always remember each feeding journey is different for each mother……

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Discrimination In The USA… By Beccy Hooper

Discrimination in the USA…..

I know over the summer I wrote a few times about the breastfeeding rates and support women and mothers receive in America but I felt that maybe I needed to re-examine it now and to see what can be done hopefully from January once the new President and Vice President will be in The White House.
I’m sure the women of America are very hopeful that there will changes, I know I certainly am waiting with eagerness to see women become equal in what has become such a biased country favouring the men.

So apparently Biden and Harris will increase basic pay from $7.25 to $15 to start with, there is talk of paid sick for the individual and 12 weeks family medical leave, this would help so many families in America. With the policy at the moment being there is no pay unless the Individual company offers this it can often cause great loss finically for families if they need to take time off.
They are also going to work on the equal rights amendment, which should end discrimination against pregnant women or nursing mothers. It will also protect mothers against sexual harassment within the work place.
The American work force is made up of 50% women and within that number 85% of these women are likely to become mothers.

Over the last 10 years there have been 50,000 pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the equal employment opportunity commission in America and family employment practices agencies.
The discrimination has involved treating women unfairly because of either pregnancy, childbirth or medically related illnesses through pregnancy. This includes returning to work as a breastfeeding mother.
Many cases have involved being denied expressing breaks, which leaves women uncomfortable and often the breasts leaking. Or if they are given breaks not being given a private space, often mothers are having to express in unclean areas, or in public areas at work.
And the most severe cases are being fired due to asking for this right to express while at work.
Mothers have shared that they have had comments towards them about being a cow with udders or being mooed at!!
When women are treated this way not only does it cause mental health issues but also physical complications such as mastitis, low milk supply and early weaning from breastfeeding.

Now there does seem to be a Pregnancy Discrimination Act which is supposed to protect women and mothers.
This Act should stop discrimination in hiring women, firing, equal pay, job assignments given, promotions, training and fringe benefits such as leave or health insurance. Over half the states in America do follow the Discrimination Act but more need to get on board making sure all women are treated in the best possible way.
The Nursing Mothers Law was also put in place when Obama was in the White House, which should give each woman the right to a safe clean space to express. But as I just mentioned unfortunately it does seem that way only part of the country follows these policies.

But I have hope that 2021 could bring a different version of becoming a mother in America, that with a socialist President and Vice President stronger rights will be put in place and followed.
The following need to happen for women to feel more equal, and comfortable within the work place….
An established non-discriminative culture with the work place,
To provide a more flexible working schedule
To keep information channels open within the work place to discuss work and family benefits and expectations on leave after your baby is born
And obviously very important to normalise breastfeeding or expressing within the work place.
This last one is the only way to keep numbers of breastfeeding mothers higher as the months go on.
What would be truly amazing is some form of paid maternity pay for all mothers, not just the mothers that work for great companies that offer this.

I look forward to women in the future being treated differently, for their mothering journeys becoming a happier healthier experience. I just hope that none of us are disappointed.

(Information collected from Forbes 2020 and http://www.pregnantatwork.org

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So Here We Go Again… By Beccy Hooper

So here we go again….

There are two things I feel we need to talk about this week.

Firstly, the UK is in a weird semi lockdown with shops and cafes closed and no meeting your six people, but we as a support group are able to meet up.For the mums that we help this is truly amazing. BEST were able to carry on last thursday as normal with 7 mums and babies coming to us for support.
As a supporter I can welcome mothers into a safe space to help them get through these weeks. It made life feel more normal, and it definitely felt good for the mums to know they still had somewhere safe to go.
The government are very aware that this is needed and for GBSN to be able to still offer this is just amazing.
I know I’ve said this before this year but I’m so proud of the work GBSN have continued to do throughout this time. We’ve supported 600 mothers via 1•1 face to face calls since March and re-opened our support groups as quickly as we were able to. It’s so important to be able to talk to mums and to make sure their feeding journeys are still moving the right direction.
GBSN are also still running preparation to breastfeeding workshops via zoom, this is a great help to mums to be with so little other support out there right now we as a charity are trying to make sure mums are receiving as much information and support as possible in this time.

Secondly I wanted to say how happy I am for the women and mothers of America. This weekend the people of America finally spoke and elected a new President and the FIRST woman vice President. For the last four years America has been run by a man who feels women have no rights. It seems and I really hope it’s true that Joe Biden is a man who feels that everyone is equal. But with a Kamala Harris by his side I hope that women, mothers, and girls have the respect and support that other women have in other countries.
I have friends and family in America and they are so ready for a happier time, I have been close to tears so many times over the last few days hoping that having not just a women but a African-American Indian woman helping steer the country into happier healthier times, I feel with the reading I have done this year so many mothers in America are not given the support and happiness they deserve I look forward to that changing in January 2021!

So to another week of this crazy world we live in. I look forward to making a cake for the mothers that visit BEST this week.
And thank you as always for checking in.

Illustration By Steph Gale, instagram: @stephy_gale
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Fertility Week… By Amy Curtis…

Fertility Week… November the 2nd is World Fertility Day alongside Fertility Week. For many this day is a significant reminder of how the world sucks, to some a day of hope, to know you are not alone on your journey, for some it’s a day to count your blessings and hug your rainbow baby a bit tighter, some not so sure what the date means… prior to my fertility journey I thought IVF and infertility only affected older women and men and people with a known medical condition preventing them from getting pregnant naturally.

You could say I’m one of the lucky ones – our IVF worked first time! But for those who know me well it was the icing on the cake amongst the grief of losing both my parents in a short space of time. To be hit with another type of grief, grief for the loss of your future dreams, a family of your own. Low egg reserve and my husband’s low sperm count and shite sperm meant our chances of conceiving naturally were low if at all. But there is a happy ending for our story and we got our rainbow baby a few years later, for which I forever count my blessings!

For some they are still waiting and so many different variations of this bitter sweet journey of trying to conceive. Some turn to other options to fulfil their dreams of becoming parents, via adoption, surrogacy, egg & sperm donors…

Knowing that my body failed and didn’t do its job properly to conceive our baby naturally, a forceps and healthy delivery later, I was even more so determined to breastfeed our baby! It started off so wonderful our baby finally in my arms, suckling on my breast getting the good stuff, colostrum! Then literally three days later my milk had come in, boobs as big as mountains the poor guy was struggling to latch. Thankful for a home visit from the midwife who told me I also had an infection in my 4 degree tear, that made it difficult to sit and feed… We expressed some milk into tiny cups which Albi licked at like a little kitten, the same suckling movement he’d do on my breast, but I was already feeling like I was failing. We managed to get him latched whilst the midwife was there but that day and night was the longest ever. I remember crying in the middle of the night wishing my mum was there for support. I remember taking a deep breath and saying to myself, ‘ I can do this’ and decided to stand and that was the key for me … Perseverance and positivity was key even in my emotional state and 23 months later we were still feeding. I was desperate to breast feed for all its benefits for baby and me and we did it. I think I really wanted it to work as I felt at the time I failed at conceiving naturally and birthing him naturally but also because I so desperately wanted to feed him with what my body was designed for and I wanted to be his source of comfort and great nutrient…

I always knew in the back of my mind there was a local breastfeeding group if any issues arose, Aaron’s cousin being one of the main Peer Supporters and even though we had no further feeding issues I did pop along to boost my confidence about feeding in public and just double check my latch and from there on it became my weekly saving grace where I went to chat to mums about my sleepless nights etc.. Eventually I became a Peer Support myself as I feel it’s important to support new mothers on their journey and empower them…

Fertility Week shows us how many it affects. And even after one naturally conceived child, secondary infertility is quite common too, where a second child can’t be conceived naturally for various reasons. Therefore IVF and other routes are looked upon.

There are so many supports groups out there if you are worried.Chat with your GP too for the next step. A link to fertility network below. 

https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/ 

I’m not sure what the current stance on IVF with another lockdown looming I know many have had their treatments paused with the last lockdown. An already tough time let alone the pandemic on top. The postcode lottery of who gets IVF and how many attempts is another factor and then those who don’t qualify, have to pay.

If you know anyone seeking IVF, going through IVF, pre pandemic I would have said give them a hug or a high five, (maybe just touch base and reach out) It’s one of the toughest journeys. Or even if they’ve been through it and had a success, remember infertility doesn’t just go away once you have a baby and you don’t always miraculously fall pregnant naturally the second time (although there are some lucky ones who do)!

Thank you for reading this blog. Stay safe. Keep checking in on each other and sending all the love, strength and baby dust to those who need it xxx 💜 Love Amy 

https://fertilitynetworkuk.org/ 

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Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex… By Beccy Hooper & Kate…

Dysphoric Milk Ejection reflex…….

You may ask what is this…. well a mother that had visited us at BEST some years ago messaged me to talk about this condition last week.
She has just had her second baby and with a bit of research realised that this is something that she suffered from in her previous breastfeeding journey and this time round too.
Kate and myself messaged a few times and she very kindly said she would write about her experience.

But before I share Kates story I wanted to give you some information about it..

It’s a condition where women develop negative emotions while the letdown of milk happens. This may only last a few minutes at the beginning, but could possibly come back when you have a second letdown while feeding your baby.
The principal sign or symptom of D-Mer is an emotional feeling – it can often feel like depression, anxiety or even as strong as anger. But with these feelings you can sometimes have physical symptoms such as a churning feeling in your stomach, nausea and restlessness.

This has only really been looked into since 2004, there is no evidence of any information before this time.
The research that has been done shows that it is not a psychological response to feeding, but very much a physical reaction to the letdown of your milk.

Unfortunately there is no medical cure to these feelings, but it seems that with a healthy diet and maybe less caffeine can help.
It also seems that with the mother knowing why she feels this way it can help prolong the breastfeeding journey, whereas mothers who are unaware of why they feel this way may stop breastfeeding and switch to formula.

Now for Kate’s experience….

I realised I had D-mer only recently after doing the classic googling of symptoms. I typed in “anxiety when breastfeeding” and was immediately directed to D-mer – it was a revelation.

D-mer for me begins a few seconds after every breast feed. It starts with a sick feeling in pit of stomach and throat, and feelings varying between, and can be a combination of homesickness, being overwhelmed, panicked, emotional and anxious. The anxiety is usually in my ability as a mother; which isn’t the nicest thing to deal with, especially when feeding!

I had my son in 2017, and when I started to feel low, anxious and that I wasn’t coping I put it down to new mum anxiety. It’s only now with my daughter, who is now 4 months, and knowing that I was coping much better this time that I started to notice the wave of emotion hitting me at the start of the feed, then disappearing after.

It sounds like a horrible experience, and when I’ve spoken to others about it they tell me to simply stop breastfeeding, but I won’t. It hasn’t put me off, I just wish I’d known with my son for my own sanity! There were times with my son that I thought I had a form of depression. I never said a word to anyone other than my husband, as I didn’t want the midwives or anyone to think I had postnatal depression. I wish I’d known back then that it was a condition, so I knew what I was dealing with so I could manage and cope much better.

Kate really felt it was important for more mothers to know about this condition. She realised that very few people knew it existed and like Kate may feel that they were failing. But in fact like most things with more knowledge and understanding we can cope with the physical and emotional feelings that happen to us.
Thank you Kate for bringing this subject to us xx

For more information follow the link
https://d-mer.org/