Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Funny Story about Breastfeeding Guilt

When I was a teenager I had unstable asthma. My mum and I attended sessions at the Asthma Foundation  some were led by Dr Rubinfeld. He shared some information that stuck with me. That breasfeeding can protect from asthma later in life. My sister was breastfed, I wasn't. I had asthma, she didn't. From then on my mind was made up, I was breastfeeding.

So I have documented elsewhere in this blog the struggles I had breastfeeding my son born at 27 weeks. He did have my breastmilk for 10 weeks via tube before switching to formula. It was a horrible decision to have to make and for a couple of years after I cried pretty much every day that I hadn't been able to breastfeed my baby.

I was certain it would affect our bond, that he might be at risk of infection and indeed asthma due to my maternal failings. I completely beat myself up over it. I tried to relactate, but that didn't work, I was bereft. Over time I realised I had done an amazing job to express for as long as I did, that Joseph was happy and healthy and all was well.

Not long ago I was putting Joseph to bed, we'd had stories and it was cuddle time. We cuddle for ages at bed time. He gazed at me and said "I miss breastfeeding with my mummy" I explained he was bottle fed once he came off the tubes.

Well the look of horror on his face was a picture. "Who knows about this?" he asked. I was dumfounded. "Joseph it's common knowledge you were a bottle fed baby" "Well I am telling nobody, if anyone asks I was breastfed. Ok?" he said threateningly. Then gave me a long cuddle before falling asleep.

I have no idea where this came from, not a clue. I think it's very interesting he sees breastmilk as superior, and that he doesn't like the idea of bottles. He was never keen as a rugrat either! Bottle feeding was always difficult and I was very pleased once he was weaned and on a cup.

For the record Joseph has a good immune system, and no sign of asthma.

I still wish we'd been able to establish breastfeeding, but I've let go of the guilt.

For the most part. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

First Day

The first blogger I ever met that made me realise "oh hang on a minute" was Chris Mosler who blogs at Thinly Spread. Chris taught me that blogging gives you a voice. Since blogging I have used my voice for maternal and newborn health. Today's post is important. Please support Save The Children, I donate monthly. I also support their global campagns through the Born Too Soon initiative.

Joseph's first day. I wasn't there. He was born at 10 am. He was taken directly into a treatment room then to special care. He was gone, away from me.

Joseph's first hours were spent surrounded by people I had never met. Trained people, caring people, good people. Joseph was taken to a clean incubator, in a good hospital, and cared for until I could take over some 10 weeks later.

My life was saved by midwives. Midwives who detected my pre eclampsia, who took care of me, and made sure my newborn was safe.

1 million babies die on their first day. If Joseph had been born in Bangladesh, Malawi, Sierra Leone, he may well have been one of those babies who did not live beyond day 1.

Every mother deserves a midwife. Qualified midwifery is proven to save the lives of not only newborns but their mothers. In many countries women do not deliver with trained attendants.

Prematurity is a massive risk for newborns, and trained midwifery care can and does save preterm babies lives. Trained midwives can help initiate breastfeeding, treat infection and teach mothers life saving techniques like kangaroo care.

Readers of this blog will know 450 000 babies per year could be saved just by introducing kangaroo mother care.

Please support this campaign

Monday, 24 February 2014

Having a Premature or Sick Baby is Not A Game

I know I have been a bit of a pain lately on social media asking you all to sign up to the Bliss Thunderclap 

As well as the Thunderclap I have an on topic Mad Blog Awards nomination request too.

Bliss are launching a new campaign to raise awareness of having a premature or sick baby and how this can impact on family finances. Money is always a hard thing to talk about, and we are incredibly lucky to have the NHS in this country. I have friends who have had babies in other countries who have had eye watering bills to return to once their babies are home.

However, the fact remains, having a premature or sick baby does have an impact. Firstly there's the impact on maternity leave. Maternity leave starts as soon as your baby is born. So if your baby is born 3 months early for example, that's 3 months earnings potentially you have missed out on. In terms of budgetting this is a big issue for a lot of families.

No one can disagree hospitals are expensive places. Parking for a start is often astronomical. Some hospitals offer relief but not all. If you have had a c section or don't drive, public transport can get incredibly expensive. We were close to home but it was an additional £5 a day. That's £380 I wasn't expecting to pay out, on top of losing my salary and going on to SMP 3 months early.

In addition were meals. In some hospitals breast feeding mothers get meal vouchers, but not all by any means. However for many women of sick or premature babies breast feeding/expressing isn't possible and they shouldn't be discriminated against, in my opinion.

Then what if your baby is transferred many miles away? What if you have twins in different hospitals? What if your baby develops complications and spends months even a year in hospital?

What if you have older children? What if you have no grandparents to help out? What if you need to cover childcare costs?

What if your hospital doesn't have a Ronald Macdonald House? What if you have to fund accommodation on top of everything else? What if you have no savings? What do you do?

The Bliss campaign contains suggestions for parliament, but I also think, personally that as a community we need to care for one another too. Making meals, helping with lifts, childcare.

Please join our Thunderclap and lend your voice. Tiny lives depend on it.

Mad Blog Awards

It's nomination time and I would love for you to nominate Oliver's Progress  for best baby blog and Premmeditations for best writer. 

Loads of other amazing blogs out there too but these two are close to my heart, carrying the mantle of premmie mum bloggers.

Thank you all for reading

Friday, 21 February 2014

Safe as Houses

Like many people, I take my safety and security at home for granted. When I walk in the door at the end of the day, and sit inside with my family, my home is my safe place. When I leave for the day, locking all the doors, checking our home security alarm is set, and everything is secure, I trust my home will be safe.

Over the summer something happened that made me reassess how I felt about the safety of our home, and our own personal safety. We had an armed robbery next door. Like a scene from a movie men with balaclavas running down the street and swiftly our house looked like a scene from Luther, without Idriss Alba, sadly, although there were some rather nice looking Tactical Response Group guys marching down the street. The police, council and housing association were all very responsive and helpful in making us feel secure and safe again.

It's not just our homes, we have to take great care of our own personal safety too, learning how to take care of our personal information. As a parent a real challenge is teaching my son how much to disclose, when and who to. So much of personal safety is our responsibility and learning to manage that is quite a challenge when you think about it. Most of you reading this will be aware of my own personal history as a child, and teaching Joseph to be safe whilst not scaring him, is such a real challenge for me. I don't want him to lose his sunny personality and his natural openess. Once he starts using services on line, what I have taught him so far hopefully will provide a good base for the challenges that lie ahead.

Like many people I only learnt the importance of data security when I failed to back up the data on my computer and lost a lot of pictures and documents. I am not the best at remembering to back up, and until recently I didn't realise what was out there in terms of data storage. Tesco compare home insurance sent me a Seagate hard drive to try. 

 This device is so easy to use, and provides me with the added security that if my laptop is lost, stolen, or has a nasty accident (a fate which befell my last one – thanks Joseph) my data is secure. I did learn a useful tip recently. On a television show about security a woman had her lap top on her desk near a window. An opportunistic thief stole the lap top. She had three external hard drives next to the lap top and he stole all those too. She was a wedding photographer and lost all her photos she had taken for couples. So ensure that once you have backed up you secure your hard drives somewhere away from your computer.

It's so essential not to leave security to chance. Review your security regularly, home, personal and online too. And if you do have devices like external hard drives, make sure you have a back up schedule and utilise them regularly, don't learn the hard way. 

I was sent a Seagate Hard Drive to try, all opinions my own