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Sex And Breastfeeding… By Beccy Hooper…

The last 2 months have very much been talking about Covid 19 and the effect it’s having on our mental and physical health. I thought maybe it’s time to talk about something else. So here goes…We live in a society where sex can be seen as a bit of a taboo subject. Why is this? I’m finding it quite interesting how recently this is beginning to change. I’m not interested in the TV programmes on extreme sex, but more on the mothers now talking about their experiences and how being a mother has changed the way they look at it. With podcasts and Instagram sharing more stories of what’s going on in different people’s lives, is it time for us to be more open with our peers? Without talking to other mothers we may be walking around thinking we are the only ones not having sex! I personally think there are two sides to the lack of sex after babies come home from the hospital. When you bring your baby home, those first few weeks are often a blur of tiredness, feeding, and learning how to look after your baby. Even when you go for your 6/8 week check up with the doctor we are often still feeling all of these things. So the doctor might sign you off. But this doesn’t mean you are ready to start having sex again. So often the physical and mental state are not in the same place. If you have a baby that likes to be held all day, by the time you and your partner are alone you may feel touched out, and therefore don’t have the energy to or want to be touched by another human. If this is happening you must be honest with your partner. Explain what is happening with your body and how the constant touch of your child leaves you feeling exhausted. Our bodies have also gone through a massive change in the last 9 months you may not be happy with how you look. Even though we know our bodies are amazing for making this beautiful baby, and nurturing it each day…this can cause low self esteem and being naked in front of a loved one can be difficult. But of course there is also the science behind it. When breastfeeding our hormones change. Our estrogen levels fall and the hormones prolactin and oxytocin levels rise. With more oxytocin in our bodies our emotional and physical needs are being met in a different way. Where you may have got this satisfaction from having sex with your partner you now are feeling happier after breastfeeding your baby. For some mothers breastfeeding can actually make you feel more sensual. Either of these feelings are completely normal. While I was researching this subject I was messaging with a friend and I asked her opinion on the subject. ‘ She bottlefed her first and breastfed her second yet it had the same effect on her sex life. With having a new born in the house. She was going to bed at different times to her partner and the want for sex wasn’t the same! ‘
The facts about sex and breastfeeding….it can help with birth control. In the first 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding mothers often don’t ovulate. Obviously this isn’t true to all breastfeeding mothers, so please remember that it isn’t 100%. 
During sex you might find that your milk starts leaking. Your body is being filled with more oxytocin and therefore your letdown of milk will happen. 
If you do find that your sex drive comes back you may not want your breasts touched. It might be they are out of bounds while you are feeding and producing milk. 
Again all these things are completely normal just keep the conversation open with your partner to keep a connection there. This maybe a different relationship for a while but with having open discussions you will be able to stay close to each other. 
There are some great resources out there to help with this time in your life. 
Hollie McNish the poet talks lots about being a mother and a women. A lot of her poems touch on sex and how important it can be to feel the happy release through your body. 
The first latch podcast has a great podcast called ‘All thing’s postpartum-sex’ which is a great listen. 
And be brave, talk with your friends and ask what is going on in their lives. Don’t be afraid to talk honestly about how you feel in this time.

Image Credit: Steph Gale
Instagram: stephy_gale
email: ohstephydraws@gmail.com
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It’s Ok Not To Be Ok…

By Beccy Hooper

There is so much talk now about mental health but really it’s only been in the last year or so that people have started talking more about it.
Everyone always presumes if you have a smile on your face you are truly happy and content, but as we all secretly know that’s not always the case! 

Alison at BEST sent me this article from Buzz Feed this week all about the true thoughts of mothers after they have their babies…we all presume that everyone is ecstatic about becoming a mother, but often behind the smile are many anxieties.
A campaign was started called #speakthesecret this then went on to being an online forum for mothers to talk about their thoughts, stresses and anxieties over becoming a new mother.
The founders were Maternal Mental Health expert Karen Kleiman and Illustrator Molly McIntyre.

The response to the forum was great and they started to produce comic strips to illustrate the thoughts that go through mothers heads everyday. 
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Karen Kleiman felt that no one had been talking about mothers negative thoughts and this gave an out lay for mothers to express how they felt.

But what they truly found from the forum was that once mothers shared their stresses they started feeling better.

Even with more talk about Mental Health issuesthere can still be a stigma attached, especially tonew mothers having negative thoughts towards being a mother. 
Showing thoughts through comics maybe lightens it a little, or maybe it’s just that it’s offering a way for others to see that not everyone finds their new job the easiest.

As mothers we all have moments throughout our child’s life that are tricky, those first few months are exhausting and you are constantly looking for reassurance.
But by sharing our thoughts and everyday experiences with other mothers we realise that most new mums are in the same boat.

Obviously it’s not all bad which is exactly why we should all be talking; the more you talk about it the more you can realise that the good bits are definitely hiding amongst the dirty nappies, the lack of sleep and the sick….😊

https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/these-comics-are-shockingly-real-about-postpartum-anxiety?fbclid=IwAR3wYQCWUbv8qDajmOucNYHfZyc2OeF4Rd0RiKHb2ofkIw4NpQ91CZZPfZs

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My Experience Of Having A Baby In Lockdown By Sinead Isaacs…

My experience of having a baby in lockdown

Bodhi was born at home on 7th April during lockdown. We’d planned to have a homebirth from the start of the pregnancy, like we’d planned with our first baby, Isla, who is now a boisterous 2 year old! The impact of COVID-19 hadn’t changed that decision, it actually made us even more comfortable with a homebirth. We are so glad we stayed at home; it was an amazing healing homebirth experience compared to Isla’s birth. I felt really lucky that it was an option for me, being a low risk second pregnancy, and that homebirths were still an option in our area amongst the pandemic (they had been withdrawn in other areas). The original plan was to have my mum as a second birth partner, this wasn’t possible with the new restrictions, but she was able to be in the house and look after Isla while I birthed with my husband by my side. 

On the 7th April, I started getting surges at 2am and my midwife, Sonya, arrived at 4.30am. She checked me and I was 2cm dilated, so she left at 6am and said to call her when I need her back. I then spent some time changing positions frequently, from standing, to hands and knees, to leaning over the birthing ball. I then rested for a while and lay on my side on the sofa watching friends, with a hot water bottle on my back. The surges grew and grew, I suddenly felt like I needed Sonya back. I’m so glad I asked my husband to message her then, because after we contacted her, I went to the toilet, feeling a little bit of pressure. To my surprise, I had a huge surge, my waters broke and I could feel a head! I called for my husband and luckily Sonya had just arrived. She helped me move from the toilet and onto my hands and knees, Bodhi was born shortly after. I enjoyed skin to skin for the rest of the day, cuddled up on the sofa and eating jam on toast with a cuppa. The midwives cleaned up for me and made sure we were both ok before leaving. Family came by and looked at him through the window, it was a surreal experience not being able to receive a big comforting hug, but we were just thankful that a lot of our family live locally, so we didn’t feel so isolated. 

In the weeks leading up to Bodhi’s birth, I was getting more and more anxious about our homebirth option being taken away, but my amazing midwife continued to keep me updated with any developments, and she was always honest but reassuring when I saw her. In the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, lockdown began and I had limited contact with Sonya, when I did see her, she had a mask, apron and gloves on and kept her distance where possible. This was so different from our usual experience, where I’d bring Isla to my appointments, and Sonya would let her be involved in checking my BP and baby’s heartbeat. Even so, there was always a smile behind the mask and a calming look in Sonya’s eyes, so it really didn’t matter. This was still true when it came to the birth – Sonya was supportive throughout, and went out of her way, even more so, to make sure I felt ok. I was frustrated for them that they didn’t actually have enough PPE or the correct gear, she said it had been promised to them but not yet arrived. Sonya didn’t let it impact on my birthing experience or change how she cared for me and Bodhi at all.

I must admit, alongside the anxiety in the last few weeks when preparing for the birth, there was also some sadness – feeling like experiences were going to be missed or taken away, and I think this is a natural feeling. You don’t get to have a baby very often! This was my second baby, but I really felt for all those first-time parents – missing baby showers, showing off their bumps to friends and family, going shopping for baby items and maternity clothes. For me, it was, and still is, the sadness of not being able to see my parents and in-laws especially, and our close family and friends, after the birth. We’re still in lockdown now and Bodhi is 4 weeks old, thinking that he might be 2 or even 3months+ before his grandparents get to meet him and hold him made me very emotional at first. Thinking that the special ‘newborn’ stage will be completely missed was strange – they grow so fast and they’re only newborn once! We’ve been taking so many more photos this time around to make sure we don’t miss a thing, and can share the pictures with everyone. 

I know there are plenty of positives to this situation for us as a family (we are in a very lucky position, I’m aware how different it is for everyone). We keep getting told how “there’s not much going out and seeing people anyway when you have a newborn”, and this is true! No worrying about ferrying my 2 year old around to nursery and groups whilst trying to establish breast feeding, and no worrying about hordes of visitors turning up unexpectedly! My husband is also unable to work at the moment, so we really do have this golden time as a family together, and that’s been really special. 

Bodhi is a very different baby from Isla, and we are so relieved about this! Isla had various difficulties with feeding, tongue tie, jaundice, weight issues, silent reflux and hip dysplasia all in the first 3mths, which meant regular hospital visits. Our friends and family support at this time was invaluable and I don’t know what we’d be feeling right now without it, if Bodhi was similar. I really feel for other families who are having these difficulties. I really relied on support groups locally, and BEST to help keep me up, luckily lots of these amazing groups are now offering support online at this time. Postnatally I’ve been visited by my midwife, and the health visitor to check us both over and weigh Bodhi. They answered any concerns or questions around feeding, or other worries, and reassured me that I could contact them at any point if things changed and I needed more support. Considering the amount of stress and strain they are all under, they couldn’t have done any more to help us. My midwife even stopped having any alcohol in the evenings for 3 weeks in the lead up to my due date, to make sure she’d be able to be on-call for me anytime – she really wanted to be there for the homebirth, I’m so glad she made it too!

Having a global pandemic during pregnancy and the postnatal period is bonkers and not something anyone would have thought would be happening. My advice to others going through this is, be as prepared as you can be and focus on what you still have. Practising my breathing and relaxation tools, was beyond invaluable in the lead up to the labour. Physiologically your body needs this calm state to go into labour and for labour to progress. Also, having back-up plans for possible scenarios (even the ones you would rather didn’t happen) will at least help you feel prepared. We desperately wanted a homebirth, but had plans for if one of us started showing symptoms of COVID-19, or if we needed to be transferred to the hospital for any reason, we’d planned how my husband would get there and who would watch Isla while we were gone. Postnatally, we’ve focused on our little family bubble, calling friends and family on facetime regularly, and getting out for fresh air once a day has helped. Local family were amazing in dropping off food parcels in the early days, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Sending lots of love and thoughts to those awaiting the arrival of their little one, and to the new parents navigating this postnatal period. You’re all amazing, and we’ll soon be able to enjoy those big hugs when all this is over. 


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So Week 7 Of Lockdown…How Are You All Doing? By Beccy Hooper…

So week 7 of lockdown…how are you all doing? 

Don’t know about you but some days are great, then you wake up the following day and it’s flipped to being hard work! 


Steph drew this great picture showing the two sides to lockdown with a new baby…which one are you, or are you both?


There is without a doubt the up side of being able to bond with your baby without disruption, this would not normally happen. In what we class as normal circumstances we would have lots of visitors coming over to the house, or you’d be popping to visit parents and friends. Without this happening you are able to spend more time with your baby getting to know each other. You are able to spend time breastfeeding your baby and working on any issues you might be having. There are no stats but there is talk that breastfed babies are back to their birth weight more quickly at the moment. 


Obviously as much as this is great I do understand that you may be feeling anxious about not having the support you would normally have, not having checkups by health professionals, this can be difficult as you are unable to talk through questions that you might have. ‘It can also be hard not having friends around to help, we often talk about our village helping bring up our children. Its those regular catchups with other mums that help us understand that our babies are normal! I guess what we have to remember that, because we live with so many smart devices, we are able to still have connection with so many people. I get that it’s not quite the same as face to face…but definitely better than nothing at all! As each week goes on more help is going online or virtual, this is helping get you the support you might need right now. At GBSN we are running virtual 121s Monday to Friday – you just have to book a slot. It’s been a great help to mums. Also this week sees the start of a “Preparing to Breastfeed” workshop for mums-to-be who are unable to get to antenatal classes. It really is quite amazing what we can achieve in a short time when needed. We are constantly working towards getting the best support to you that we can. I really hope it’s working…..

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The Fourth Trimester

By Beccy Hooper

Had you ever thought that perhaps there was one more trimester to your pregnancy?
The first 12 weeks of a baby’s life is an adjustment for both mother and baby; mothers need to act as if the baby is still in the womb, so it’s all feed, cuddle and soothe.
This is a crucial time in your and your baby’s life, it’s about taking it easy and slow.
New mums have a lot of pressure put on them to be all back to normal, feeling good, looking good. Having a baby that sleeps and feeds to the book, our busy lives mean that we are supposed to get everything sorted and in a routine over night!
So what if we look at it differently, what if we say that during the fourth trimester we are going to heal from our pregnancy and birth, and your baby is going to adjust to living in the outside world?
So maybe there is no right or wrong to those first three months of being a mum.
In the last few weeks of pregnancy our hormone levels are very oestrogen-heavy ready for labour, then after birth they drop drastically; this often makes you feel quite fatigued, sometimes even giving hot sweats and aching joints, as well as the fact you have a new-born baby that wants to be fed all night – oh the joys of motherhood!
It’s good to remind ourselves that we aren’t being moody, instead it’s to do with hormones and often lack of sleep.

The best thing to do during this last trimester is to embrace everything that comes with it, take every day as it comes; lower any expectations you may have, does it really matter if you are ten minutes late to meet a friend?
Don’t just put on a brave face, tell people how it really is. That way people around you may offer real help instead of just cuddling your baby while you do all the housework!
Think of the fourth trimester as your friend, don’t push yourself to be more than you need to be, which is a mother to your new baby.

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GBSN By Beccy Hooper…

GBSN 

So we are in the second 3 weeks of lockdown, we all knew they would make this decision but it didn’t make it any easier. Throughout my time volunteering for GBSN it has been about the face to face time spent with mothers and their babies. We, like many other support teams, are unable to do this right now. We have 65 plus volunteers unable to do what they signed up for which is to support those around them. This is hard when all any of us want to do is to carry on supporting our mums at what will probably be the most vulnerable time of their lives. 
My role within GBSN has drastically changed in the last month. As one of 7 trustees we now spend a lot of time keeping in touch talking about how we can carry on supporting our mothers and mothers-to-be. We are having weekly meetings on Zoom or FaceTim,e with many emails and ideas being thrown backwards and forwards in between. 
With such an amazing team of people GBSN was able to set up 121 sessions for mothers to book in to to discuss any problems they were having. We are so very lucky to not only have our peer supporters but breastfeeding support workers to step in and run these virtual sessions. We have had such amazing feedback from mothers who are using this service. 

This is the link if you need to book a slot:https://gbsn.org.uk/gbsn-virtual-support-registration-form/

But with another 3 weeks ahead of us we as a Charity know that we need to keep evolving into what is needed right now. We have many more projects in the pipeline that we are working on. We know that mums to be are in need of support too, which is something we are working on. We are also aware that the 121 slots may need to stay accessible to mothers even when the lockdown is lifted. This could be quite an uncertain time for many in the coming months. We at GBSN will try our very best to try and support mothers as much as we possible can within our ability. 
We are so very grateful to our peer supporters for their patience as we know they would love to be helping. And I am in awe in how hard Elizabeth, who is our chair and the wonderful founder of our charity, is working. 
Without this tribe of amazing women we could not keep this afloat. You all impress me everyday. Thank you 
And to the mothers who are at home with your babies, or navigating toddlers at this time, be strong you are amazing women…keep in touch with your tribe because right now that is what we all need ❤️

Image by Steph Gale
Instagram: @steph_gale
ohstephydraws@gmail.com

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How Are You All In This Lockdown? By Beccy Hooper…

How are you all in this lockdown?

I know this isn’t what you thought maternity leave would be like…but maybe things happen for a reason! Here we are at home with our children being their mother, maybe their teacher if you have older children….the cook, the cleaner and anything else that needs to happen to keep everyone in the house sane! 

In this time of lockdown I’ve been struggling to write the blog, luckily one week Steph wrote it for me! My blog ideas normally come from being sat with a mother or from new research being shared, but it’s been four weeks since I sat with one of you, and the only information being shared right now is to how to feed your baby in this pandemic; but how many times have you been told to wash your hands before you pick your baby up? I did need to remind you again. 
So I thought I’d have a flick through professor Amy Brown’s Facebook page and I came across an article about parenting books…there are so many great ones out there. Prof Amy Brown herself has written some amazing books about breastfeeding. But a lot of books on the market are about getting your baby into a routine. It made me think what are you all doing in this time, are you being free and easy with how you are parenting or are you thinking this is the time for routine? I know I’d be a free and easy mum at this time – embracing just being able to hang out. I guess there are pros and cons to both. Being free and easy takes the pressure off you, giving you time to get to know your baby. If you breastfeed on demand your body will be able to learn how much your baby needs from you. If you choose a routine you may find your body won’t produce the correct amount of milk for your baby. A lot of books suggest feeds to be 4 hours apart, for a baby this is a long time between feeds. You may find your baby becomes less settled as he or she is hungry – whereas the books might say that they should be more settled! 
We have to remember at night as well that our babies might wake up for feeds and this is ok, not many babyies sleep 7-7 with no milk through that time. All humans are different whether you are two months, two years or 55 years old! This is something we have to continually think about. However there are some great books to read in helping us figure out what is best for our individual families. We just need to read a wide variety of information and choose not to put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to have what some might class as the perfect routine. 
Stay sane in this time my lovely mummies and daddies ❤️