Weaning off the breast- How we did it!

When the time came to stop breastfeeding I felt really emotional. I worked so hard for weeks and weeks to get it right and many obstacles came our way! Despite this nursing became a really special time for just the two of us to stop everything and just…be. We could be in our own little bubble gazing at each other, feeding, cuddling and resting. However it seems to make sense to stop for many reasons. Arlo has slowly improved since I cut dairy out of my diet so this could mean he has an allergy/ intolerance to cows milk. We are still unsure of this and are due to see a paediatrician soon to fully investigate what is causing the issues. Either way I can’t carry on with this diet as it’s stripping me of energy and there are other reasons to stop including; returning to work and the fact that my supply is naturally reducing as he takes more solids. Plus I am dropping night feeds in a bid to get more sleep! BUT.. it still feels like the end of an era and I am going to really miss it. We had a good run my boy, 7 months is not bad, not bad at all…

Now I must say that I am NOT any sort of breastfeeding expert but I thought I would run though what we did to wean Arlo off the breast. I know from speaking to other mums that babies who have been exclusively breastfed do not take to the bottle very well and many people really struggle to make the switch. It’s actually been less stressful than expected as we have done it really slooowly…

Here are the steps we took:

1. Slowly introduce the bottle with some expressed breastmilk in it. You may have already got your little one used to having a bottle which will really help when switching to formula. We tried to offer EBM from 6 weeks every few days which went well at first but when he hit 3 months he decided we would not take a bottle anymore. 3 months on and we have persevered which means he is starting to get the hang of bottles again. Yay!

2. Offer a little bit of formula in the bottle in the middle of the day when baby is not too hungry and not needing comfort. Timing is everything! If you dive in at the bedtime feed with this foreign milk then your baby is likely to be rather p***ed off! Trying offering the formula when they are relaxed and not starving. Arlo started off by just chewing the teet and getting a taste for it. Soon enough the chewing turned to sucking. Also I will emphasise just giving a little formula. It’s expensive stuff to be wasting if baby is refusing to drink it and you cannot reheat it!

3. Offer the breast first and then switch to the bottle half way through the feed. It’s a bit of a cheeky move but it seemed to work with Arlo. He would suck at the breast for a while and I would gently pull him off and place the teet in his mouth instead.

4. Get someone else to do the feed. Obviously as I am the one with the breasts and the warm milky smell that he has come accustomed to. So, if I try to stick a bottle in there he looks at me as if I am mad and pushes it away. Therefore, we have got Dad to offer the bottles more often than myself and to start with he appeared  to take more of the milk this way.

5. Make sure it’s warm! Breastmilk comes out at body temperature so this is what your babe will be used to. We have found Arlo even prefers it a bit warmer than body temperature. If you heat it a little extra it is likely to stay warm for the whole feed.

6. Get them sleepy. Antony tried rocking him until he almost entered a state of sleep and then gently placed the bottle in his mouth. He happily suckled away in this dreamy state and this is when we finally got him to take a decent amount- about 4/5oz.

7.Mask your scent. When Dad was not around I tried number 3 but I also tried to wear a t-shirt that my husband had been wearing for a day. It smelt of his deodorant and his general manliness so it masked the scent of breastmilk (well a bit anyway).

8. Swap just one feed a day. Slowly but surely we having been swapping one breastfeed for a formula feed each day. I thought if we tried to do too many at once then both myself and baby would get very stressed. We started off by swapping feeds in the day and then more important feeds like the bedtime feed.

9. Go cold turkey. This weekend I went to a hen do. It will be two nights away from the boy and I was so nervous. Nervous about how he would get on with the milk feeds, nervous at how he would sleep and if my husband would cope on his own (we’ve both been in it together so far) but mostly nervous at how I would feel without him! It felt like I had lost a limb it was very strange but I just kept my mind off it by having fun with my girlies. I guess as I wasn’t there then he had to go cold turkey and perhaps that was the best way to wean him off completely.

Since I have returned he seems to be quite happy to take formula off either one of us and has dropped his night feeds which is positive! I am really proud of how well he has adjusted. I have been careful and made sure I have expressed a little milk off here and there to stop myself becoming too engorged as this can lead to Mastitis…. I have heard from others that this is really painful so best avoided!

I really hope this will help someone out there. I have appreciated all the advice I have received from other mums so its time to pay it forward.

Thanks for reading.

peace2

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We made it!

I can’t believe it but he’s 6 months old this week! Where has half a year gone? It seems it has gone in a flash but at the same time I feel like I’ve known him forever. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster and a massive learning curve but also the most amazing adventure of my life. I have had down days when it has been so hard I’ve sobbed ( I mean proper crying, like a child) and there have been days where I have thought I might combust with happiness. I’m not often proud of myself but during the past 6 months… actually during the past 15 months (including preganancy) I have indulged in a little self respect and pride. I have been amazed at what the human body can achieve and how much we can endure. Here is a list of reasons why I am proud and why other mothers should be too:

1. I grew a human! And it was really difficult at times. Nausea, exhaustion, pain. Pregnancy throws a lot of challenges at you but we overcome them knowing that our babies are growing happily inside. In the third trimester I also suffered from symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), swelling and high blood pressure but everything was always forgotten when I felt him wriggle and kick.

2. I went through labour and surgery. I surprised myself during labour. I handled the pain better than I expected. Although it was tough…really tough…. the strongest thing I felt was excitement. I was finally going to meet my baby! I was doing OK and managing the pain with gas and air but was really disappointed that everything came to a standstill at 9cm dilated and my (rather large) baby was back to back. By this point it was going so slow I needed some extra pain relief and I went on a drip to help me fully dilate but after another wait there was no progress. When I was told I needed a caesarian I felt like I’d failed. All that hard work, so close to the finish line and I couldn’t quite make it… not on my own anyway. I’ve got nothing against having a c-section. I think whatever is the safest way for mother and baby is best but going all the way is something I really wanted to achieve and after all that contracting I felt it was my right as a woman to birth my child. It wasn’t to be. Turns out having a spinal block when your contracting is pretty tough ‘keep still’ they said ‘lean forward’ they said. I can’t! I’m in pain and have a massive bump in the way!! Recovering from surgery with a newborn is pretty tricky too. So I just want to say ‘well done body, you tried and we got our baby here in the end!’

3. I’ve fed my child myself. Breastfeeding is exhausting, its frustrating and its awkward but somehow, amazingly I’ve managed to do it for 6 months. I know not everyone is able to breastfeed so I am truly grateful that I can. I wouldn’t have managed without the support of midwives and my husband but mostly I was just really determined. Arlo’s tongue tie resulting in poor latch, oversupply, fast letdown, too much fore-milk, reflux/allergy- whatever breastfeeding threw at us we did what we could to overcome it. There have been a lot of tears but we have really tried. It turns out that Arlo’s reflux could possibly be an allergy (most likely to cows protein). It explains a lot. It explains why feeding has been even more of a challenge than it should have been for us both but we have made it this far and I hope some goodness has got into him even if it has upset his system too! I want to continue for as long as I can before returning to work and I am in the process of cutting foods out of my diet in order to find the allergen. I had already tried eliminating things but chose lactose free products or soya which apparently are not good enough so sticking to oat/ rice/ oil based products instead. I hope I can find out whats causing the problem. I really want my baby to be comfortable and I’m not ready to give up breastfeeding just yet, although even if I did there’s the issue of him not taking bottles- read my ‘Battle of the bottle’ post, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it!

4. I am alive! My baby is alive and we are happy :). I am ssoooooooo tired but I have survived 6 months of motherhood and although there have been a few issues with feeding/ sleep/ illness along the way for the most part Arlo is happy and thriving. Don’t get me wrong there are times when you miss the freedom and  feel like you are going crazy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Becoming a mother is all I’ve ever wanted. This is just the beginning, there is so much more to come. I can’t wait for all the next milestones and all the exciting things we will be able to do as a family. It’s going to be so fun!

If you are a mother or a father there is a lot you should be proud of too. You are raising a little person and that it amazing. Go you!

peace2

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Battle of the bottle – Doidy Cup Review 

One of the biggest battles we have had  since having Arlo is getting him to drink anything from something other than a breast!! I’m sure I am not alone in trying to get my baby to take milk/ water from a cup or bottle. Problem is I really need him to do this so that someone else can care for him while I go out to…..well….. anywhere. Don’t get me wrong I love being with Arlo and breastfeeding him is a lovely time to bond and have cuddles (well saying that breastfeeding has become enjoyable now– it was pretty tricky to begin with but thats another story). But there are times when I need to go out without him for example to an exercise class, out with friends (a few hen dos coming up) and to work. Wherever I go I won’t be able to concentrate and enjoy myself as I will be panicking that he will spend the whole time screaming and the poor person looking after him will be desperately trying to comfort him/ feed him. I’m sure my husband/mum/mother-in-law are more than capable of dealing with it but its not nice for then or for Arlo to be upset.

It’s frustrating as I tried really hard to do all the right things with feeding right from the beginning. Once breatfeeding was established at around 6 weeks we started to introduce the occasional bottle to get him used to it. We also made sure different people had a go at giving him the bottle in hope that he would not relate it to just one person. To start with he would take the bottle with fairly little fuss which was great. In fact Nana first babysat when he was 10 weeks old and he took a bottle & a half off her! But since then it has gone downhill and although he will sporadically take a few ounces here and there in general he will scream every time you get a bottle near him !

Trying to give him water is an even bigger battle! Breastmilk is his favourite thing so although he doesn’t like a teet as much as a boob at least the taste is familiar and like I said SOMETIMES he will take a few slurps. But then there’s water… plain boring water… water which he NEEDS if we want to get anywhere with this weaning! Weaning started off OK (as you may have read in one of my previous posts) but since starting solid food it seems Arlo’s gut has gone on strike and whatever goes in is NOT coming out … It’s not fair, just as the solids were sort of helping the reflux, along came constipation to ruin any progress we were making!

So we have been trying some different methods of getting water into him including different bottles, sippy cups, a syringe and a Doidy cup. The idea of a baby using cup without a lid seemed like a bad one but I thought it was worth a try as a few people had recommended it.

We bought ours from Amazon for £3.59 in a sparkly green colour. We have had a go at using it a few times now and so far Arlo is still working out what to do with it. He sort of laps the water at the edge but ends up dribbling most of it down his front. The slanted shape is good as he can see the liquid inside where as with his Tommy Tipee cup you have to learn to tilt and suck at the same time. Apparently when babies drink from a Doidy cup they use the same jaw movements as when they suck from a mothers breast so I guess it is more familiar to them. Arlo still needs some practice with this but we will persevere as its good training to use a proper cup. Also he seems calmer when I offer water in the Doidy cup. Even though most of it gets spilt at least he does not get as upset as when I put water in a bottle or syringe. 

I have also offered Arlo some expressed breastmilk in the Doidy cup. He responded it a similar way to the water (not much actually got drunk) but I think it might just take time and practise. I have also been struggling to express milk lately as my supply has slowed to match Arlo’s needs in the last month or so. If I want anything above what he normally takes it can be a struggle to produce it. This is so different to what it was like previously. I had an over supply and I had to pump before most feeds in order to not choke and gag my son!! I try to do a little bit of expressing here and there and i am slowing building up a stash in the freezer.

It would be brilliant if he took to the Doidy cup….or just any cup. It would definitely make things much easier. I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Has anyone else had a battle with bottles? Perhaps you have a tip of what worked for your little one? I would love any advice!

Thanks for reading.

peace2

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