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

You Baby Me Mummy

Miscellaneous mum hacks

Hello everyone. It’s been a little while since I’ve written a post so I’ve got a lot to blog about in order to catch up but I wasn’t sure where to start. I decided that as I’ve only featured one ‘mum hack‘ on this blog so far so I ought to share a few more. Many bloggers have helped me with parenting tips & tricks so I thought I should pay it forward. The hacks this week are all related to digestion- sorry I know it’s a grim topic! As you may have read in previous posts Arlo has had a few feeding issues so we have had to work tirelessly to work out what causes his vomiting/ diarrhea/ constipation and what can ease these symptoms. Isn’t it hilarious that as soon as you have a baby you become obsessed with bowl movements and talk about their colour & texture & frequency!? #rocknroll …Anyway here a few tricks that have helped us recently.

1. Camomile tea for sore bums and skin! When Arlo was a new born he had a BM after every feed! Needless to say he ended up with a very sore bottom. I found that giving lots of nappy free time and keeping the area dry helped. In addition to this I would put camomile tea bags in his bath and use camomile tea and cotton wool instead of wet wipes. This cleared it up really well. We have used this method since- for example when his bottom has been sore with constipation and it has worked just as well as before.

2. To continue with the theme of bottoms haha Dried apricot puree for constipation. Since we started Arlo on solids he appeared to get very constipated. Obviously it is important to get them to drink lots of water (a battle most of the time) but even with water he struggled to go and dry spells could last 6 days (unheard of for him). He has been prescribed lactulose and I have also tried pureed prunes, prune juice amongst other things but the only thing that has really worked has been dried apricot puree! 

 

3. Apple juice in water. As I said above (and in previous posts) it has been a real battle to get Arlo to drink water. A Doidy cup has worked in getting a few sips in him but a friend advised that we add a few drops of apple juice to give some flavour to the water. It has worked! Arlo enjoys the hint of juice he can taste and I am happy he is getting some more H2O!

Anyway I hope these hacks can help someone out there. I know that sometimes what works for one child will not for another but it’s worth a shot!

More hacks will be coming your way!

peace2

Linking up with #SundayStars & #mummymonday

 

Mami 2 Five

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

Linking up with #brillblogposts

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Things I am grateful for #3

1. Monthly Milestones. Yay we’ve made it to 5 months! It’s so amazing to watch these little people grow and change. I still feel amazed that he’s all mine and I made him! I feel so privileged to be his mother.

2.  Maternity leave. I am so grateful for this wonderful time off I have had to be with my son. Even though we have very tough days where I want to pull my hair out … I really can’t complain as just this week we have spent our time walking on the beach, attending baby yoga, swimming, chilling in cafes and enjoying messy play at our PEEPS group.

3. Foodie baby. The weaning process so far has been a real adventure, challenging at times but mostly good. Touch wood, Arlo seems to have eaten all the fruit and veg we have tried him with (although some mealtimes we have had to put on ‘pause’ only to continue later due to his mood). Hopefully this means we have a child who will be fuss-free about food in the future!

4. Thoughtful touches. My husband sometimes does little things that can brighten my day like making me a coffee, sharing his muffin with me (even though I’ve already had one) and listening to my worries. After a bit of a meltdown at the start of this week he reassured me that I am doing OK at this whole motherhood thing. I tend to doubt myself. A lot. It’s nice to have someone who believes in you.

5. Simple cooking. Sometimes the tastiest things can be the most simple. Antony and I are always searching for dinners that are quick and easy to make especially now our time is more limited. This fortnight we tried tortilla pizzas. I just part-baked some tortillas in the oven to create a crispiness and then we chucked on a load of ingredients including: tomato paste mixed with herbs as a base, mozzarella balls, chorizo, spinach and peppers. It took less than 10mins to cook and was delicious!

6. Cute outfits. I feel sad when we have to move Arlo into the next size up of clothes. It’s only a few short months of wear out of some adorable ensembles. I love these skinny jeans with braces that we got from H&M. At least I have lots of exciting 6-9month outfits to look forward to!

Hope you’ve got lots to be grateful for.

peace2

 

Linking up with Mummy Mondays

Weaning Worries

 

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So I’m going to be controversial here and admit that I have started weaning Arlo onto solids early *dun dun daaah!* I have read everything under the sun on weaning: when to start, signs of readiness, baby led vs purees, food choices ect ect! So I am fully aware that the guidelines state to only start weaning from 6 months (Arlo is currently 5 months and we have been slowly weaning him for about a week and a half). I know many people strongly disagree with the choice to wean early and I know there are risks involved including; choking, infection, obesity, diabetes and development of allergies. However (you must have expected there would be a ‘however’) I am trying to trust my maternal instincts and do what I think is right for my baby, for myself and for our family.

Throughout my journey into motherhood I have worried far too much about what everyone else thinks and have tried to do as I’m told as I have felt clueless about what is right and what is wrong. But, I am trying to take the reins and gain control over important parenting decisions for my child. I am starting to realise that while advice from other people can be valuable I am Arlo’s mum and I know him the best. My mantra needs to be “I am the expert on my child”.

Arlo may not be 6 months yet but I do think he is showing some signs of readiness to eat solid food.

* He is able to hold his head steady and can sit up with some support. I realise the guidelines suggest that a child needs to be able to sit unaided and we are getting there but at the moment he is sturdy enough and the high chair helps to keep him upright!

* His tounge thrust reflex is pretty much gone.

*He is very interested in our food and is often trying to reach out and grab it!

*He is a hungry boy and breastfeeds mostly every 2 and half hours, day and night (and no it isn’t a growth spurt or phase as he has done this since birth). This is very draining to someone who is very sleep deprived and I don’t think I can increase his feeds as this would mean breastfeeding every hour or so!

* I haven’t had him weighed for 3 weeks but he is not far off doubling his birth weight (9lb 7!)

More than anything though the decision to wean was more to do with the dreaded… reflux. My lovely bubbly baby is made unhappy most of the time by gastro-oesophageal reflux. After a feed he becomes very irritable and uncomfortable and brings up his milk. This can be in one projectile spurt or little bits over the next hour after a feed and usually all over himself, me, my husband, over furniture and our family and friends or all of the above! I have become paranoid that people judge Arlo on this behaviour and class him as a ‘grumpy’ or ‘difficult’ baby when in actual fact he is incredibly uncomfortable at these times and the rest of the time he is lovely! If an adult had constant indigestion/ heartburn after eating I don’t think they would be too chirpy either. I have tried everything from different breastfeeding positions, keeping Arlo upright after feeds, giving him medications such as Gaviscon & Ranitidine, changing and monitoring my own diet, feeding him little and often and burping him often but some of these are just quick fixes and some only make matters worse. At times I have found it very difficult and it has really got me down as it seems no matter what I do I can’t make it better for him. I have been to talk to the GP on numerous occasions and have also been to seek advice from the midwives at my breastfeeding support group and the health visitors. All of these professionals have re-suggested all of the above and together we have come to the conclusion that weaning could be an option and it may reduce the reflux. The health visitor did suggest I try changing my diet again but this time to be more strict with what I am eating and cut out all cows protein for 3 weeks to see if Arlo had an intolerance to this. After walking around Tescos looking at the alternatives to diary I decided it was just too depressing to give up those foods especially when I had a strong feeling it would be a waste of time. Most children who have an allergy of intolerance show more signs of this through rashes or other problems with their skin, they may have diarrhoea and a very sore bottom and have problems with their weight. Arlo does not have any of these problems and there is no history of allergies in our families. I am also so exhausted from lacking sleep, cutting out a major food group would steal even more of my energy! I decided something has go to give…. let’s wean!

So to start with I followed the advice of the health visitor and midwives and I gave Arlo some baby rice mixed with breastmilk. I was not keen on baby rice as I know there is no nutritional value, it is very processed and just turns to sugar. But as it is so plain I figured with his regular milk mixed in, it would be something familiar to him and it would give me the chance to test the waters and see how he reacted to a heavier substance. It seemed to be going down OK and staying down but after a few days Arlo was spitting it back out, probably because it is pretty tasteless! I tried mixing in some pureed banana which he preferred but then I thought “this is pointless” and just gave him the banana puree (again I mixed in some of my milk to water it down and provide a bit of familiarity). It has been just under 2 weeks since we started and I must say Arlo is loving it! We are taking things slow and for the first week Arlo was eating once a day and only one teaspoon of food. We have increased this to two mealtimes and a few teaspoons of pureed food. We have tried banana, sweet potato and pears and he enjoys it so much that he gets frustrated whenI’m not spooning it in fast enough! We have stuck to the each food for 3 consecutive days just to make sure Arlo does not have a reaction to it and so far, no problems. More importantly….. I think there is an improvement with the reflux! I have been offering him a milk feed, waiting a short while (15-30mins) and then giving him the solid food as a dessert. 9 times out of 10 the solid food appears to be keeping the milk feed down, HOORAY!

I know it is still early days and the reflux is still there but I am hoping as the amount he eats increases and the texture of food develops the reflux will disappear. I was originally keen on baby-led weaning (before I discovered I had a baby with reflux) but once he turns 6 months old I plan to dive into baby-led as it looks like so much fun.

Please share your weaning experiences whether you weaned early or not, did baby led or purees, your baby reflux or no reflux. I will keep you posted about Arlo’s journey with food.

Thanks for reading!

peace2

 

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