The great parenting debate

Once you become a parent you soon learn that people likes to judge, pass comment and strike up debate about everything. And I mean everything.

Whether it's breast or formula, bed sharing or a Moses basket, cloth nappies or disposable nappies, self soothing or rocking to sleep... there's always one busy body who has something to say about it all.

I mentioned in my blog the other day how we had started weaning Peyton this last week. We started initially on some baby porridge before giving her pureed vegetables. I mentioned we got the Cow and Gate baby porridge because it was the only one I could see in Boots that was gluten free, and my health visitor told me to not give any gluten before five or six months (can't remember which!) 

I joined a baby led weaning group on Facebook as, ideally, I'd like to do this with Peyton. Possibly with a mixture of purees, but we'll see how we get on.

Anyway, my point (there is one, I promise!)... some of the comments I see on people's posts on this group are absolutely shocking. People genuinely asking for advice or support, and the perfect mum brigade putting them down.

I've seen someone ask if it was ok to start giving puree veg to their little one from four/five months, then do BLW from six months. Only for someone to jump in and say "well, no, because that won't be baby led weaning it'll be baby less weaning."

Well, hang on love, it's clearly not "baby less weaning" unless you were just feeding vegetable puree to your child's high chair. If the food is going in the baby's mouth, I'd say you're managing to wean said baby. Of course, it's not baby led by definition, but there's nothing to say you can't start baby led later down the line.

Another post, on the same group, really rattled my cage. It was from a mum asking if she could start her little one with baby led weaning a couple of weeks before they were six months because they were showing all the signs. The comments were completely split down the middle - half of them saying it was fine as guidelines state "around six months" and the other half saying no.

The half saying no didn't just say no, though. They tore into this poor woman like there was no tomorrow. One woman even had the audacity to say she would risk killing her baby by starting doing BLW before six months because of the choking risk. Slightly overdramatic I'd say, but completely and utterly unwarranted.

Now, I'm no health professional, but I really don't see what difference there will be in your baby in a matter of days. Peyton will turn six months on December 20, but I don't know what she will learn/develop overnight from December 19 (when she will be 26 weeks) that means I can't start with her then.

The guidelines say "around six months" and, to me, that means anything two weeks either side.

If it weren't for all the good meal ideas this group has been giving me for when I do start BLW with Peyton I'd be out of it like a shot. But I wanna stay and watch what everyone else is doing, so I'll just continue to get silently annoyed at the judgemental Judys who are picking on every single thing other mums do.

It really, really bugs me how horrible mums can be to each other on these "support" groups. Of course, the majority are helpful, supportive and full of advice. As with anything, it's the minority that ruin it.

It's similar with a breastfeeding support group that I am part of. Don't get me wrong, it's been invaluable to me at times. There's always someone asking something I have been wondering, and I've picked up so much knowledge and support from it.

But people can be mean.

If anyone dare to mention doing formula top ups, they're instantly told not to do it. If anyone has the audacity to ask for tips on weaning their baby off the boob, almost every comment is someone trying to convince them to continue boobing. If anyone asks for tips and advice on expressing milk at any time before eight weeks they're instantly shot down. This bugs me the most, I think, because expressing for me in the early days was not only necessary because my boobs were like gigantic milk-filled rocks that needed the pressure relieving, but so I could have a break and let Tom give her some bottles (and yes, he gave her bottles of formula too - heaven forbid!!!)

I've seen so many people ask the group for tips on stopping breastfeeding and nobody ever gives any advice, just pressures them into continuing. Now I've noticed people justifying their decision to stop - like you should ever have to justify your decision on how you feed your baby to anyone. When I eventually come to stop I won't ask for advice on there, because I know they'll just try talk me out of it. And that's not supportive.

Similarly, when someone says they aren't convinced their supply is enough for their baby so they are giving formula too. Or, like I saw today, one mum said her baby had formula in a bottle when she left her with her dad/grandma. Straight away the comments were "why don't you try expressing some milk and building a freezer stash so she can take that instead of formula?"

Why? What's wrong with formula? If that mum wants to give her baby formula, she can give her baby formula. It's hardly like she's letting her neck a double vodka and coke from a bottle, is it?!

I'm sure the woman who posted that comment did so with all good intentions, but I would've taken that really to heart if I was the mum it was aimed at. Anything that ever seems to bring into doubt or question your parenting, no matter how insignificant, hits you hard.

The screenshot of that tweet that I have posted above, oh my god. When that was first posted it kept getting shared into this support group and people were going mental.

"My kids won't eat Haribo and McDonald's" and "of course it matters whether it's breast or formula" were common.

News flash: it doesn't matter.

If your baby is fed and happy, and you, as a mum, are happy, then that's all that matters. Not everyone can breastfeed, and not everyone wants to. Just because someone can't, for whatever reason, doesn't mean they should be shamed or made to feel bad about it.

Whilst I have my gripes with these support groups, as I said earlier, they have been invaluable to me at times; particularly the breastfeeding support one. It's a shame the minority ruin it for everyone else. It does make me apprehensive sometimes to post when I do genuinely have a question, just incase someone attacks what I am doing.

I haven't posted anywhere, apart from my blog the other day, about starting to wean Peyton. I don't want anyone to comment on what I'm doing, tell me it's too early or question why. I did my research before starting and was confident that P was ready - which she clearly was as she devours what I give her. Of course, other people's opinions don't matter. But, as I said above, as soon as anyone has anything to say about how you parent your baby you take it to heart straight away.

We've so far tried sweet potato, then carrot, and yesterday tried broccoli. So far, broccoli has been her favourite. But, then, broccoli is my favourite, too!

I'm going to start mixing in some new flavours with those base ones, now. I think, next, we'll try broccoli and pea.

Annabel Karmel's book is fabulous for suggesting vegetables and flavours that work together, so we'll start working our way through them.

As I said the other day, I'm not trying to get P onto three meals yet. I'm purely doing it to get her used to new tastes and textures. She seemed so ready for food, and has done so well with it so far that I am glad I didn't wait.

I took her to be weighed on Tuesday and she now weighs 14lb 14oz - so it can't be doing her any harm! She's still following the 50th centile line on her chart, as she has been since she was born. I always offer her a feed from me when we're doing with whatever flavours she is having that day, so even if she doesn't get full up from her 'food' then she still gets the offer of milk from me.

I don't really know what I'm doing, like with everything else. What's working for us at the moment, might not work for someone else and their baby. What flavours, tastes and textures Peyton likes won't necessarily be favourites of another baby. That's what's so wonderful about this journey that we're on, it's completely unique. While that makes it all the more difficult, it's so special. Muddling through it together, working out what works best for you, and seeing the rewards from that.

As long as Peyton remains the happy, smiley baby girl that she is, goes to sleep at night with a fully tummy, and is loved by us then that is all that matters; and that goes for all babies and their mums/dads.

Debate is great, but let's remember we're all new to this. Supporting someone else won't take anything away from you.


Dear Diary

It's been a while since I put my fingers to my keyboard. I feel like life has been absolutely manic the last month.

There are so many posts I have had ideas for, but just never got around to writing; so I am going to try and condense them all into this one. It could get quite lengthy, so apologies for that.

Right, let's start where I feel like I left off. My birthday.
We had the most perfect day. We started off at Piglets Adventure Farm, near York, then headed into York where we had lunch at The Ivy. It was beautiful and Peyton was so well behaved all day. She had a bit of a run-in with a rather over zealous goat/sheep at Piglets, bless her. She was having a good stare at it when it suddenly let out the loudest baa ever in her poor little face and scared her half to death. She soon recovered, though. After a bit of pet lip action.

She's come on so much in the last few weeks, it's actually insane how much she is learning and developing. I know everyone says "oh, they grow so fast" but honestly, they really do!

She is so much more engaged with the world around her, interested in everything and always so inquisitive. Just looking back at these photos, which were only taken three weeks ago, it already feels like she has grown loads since then. She's learnt so much too - she now rolls all over the place. I used to be able to put her on her back and she wouldn't go anywhere. Now, she rolls straight onto her front, then onto her back again, then her front. Before I know it she's rolled from one side of the room and is about to roll into the next!

After our little jaunt at Piglets, we went to The Ivy. It was absolutely bloody lovely. I enjoyed a couple of glasses of prosecco, we had some gorgeous food, and Peyton slept the whole way through. I was a bit apprehensive about taking her incase she was a bit fussy/whiney and fellow diners got pissed off, but she was a dream. To the point where, when she finally woke up just as we finished our puddings, people were looking at us and saying they hadn't even realised there was a baby there.

The following day we went pumpkin picking at Farmer Copley's, near Pontefract. Yes, that's how behind the times I am - I am only just writing about our pumpkin picking experience!

We had a lovely time - albeit a bit unorganised. Tom decided we didn't need a barrow for the pumpkin(s) and that he would carry it/them - even though he was, at this point, carrying Peyton. Off we set, barrow-less, only for Tom to keep hold of our child and leave me to carry the pumpkins. I barely made it halfway across the field with two before we had to pick our favourite and leave the other behind.

Around my birthday, not only did Peyton leap straight into the four-month sleep regression with incredible gusto, she also decided she wanted to stop taking a bottle. From birth Peyton has switched between bottle and boob really well. She was combi fed for the first few weeks, which I think helped, then always had a bottle of expressed milk before bed; which Tom gave to her.

It also meant that I could leave her/Tom and I could enjoy a date night, because I knew she'd take a bottle if it came down to it.

So, imagine my distress when, literally overnight, she began refusing the bottle. We tried persevering and it just got her so upset, to the point where she'd scream as soon as she got out of the bath because she knew the bottle was coming.

My friend suggested we try a free flow cup with her, so onto Amazon I got purchasing some of those. We also picked up one in Boots to try in the mean time, until the Amazon ones arrived. It took her a few goes to work out how it worked but, once she learnt that milk came out, she loved it. She likes it even more because she can hold it herself (sob); she used to always try and hold the bottle herself.

A part of me sobbed inside, watching my four-month-old using a sippy cup so independently. Granted she spilled rather a lot of it down herself at first - but she is getting there. When my mum looked after her when I worked last week she took the cup perfectly. 

Unfortunately, she hasn't taken to sleeping as well again. The night of my birthday was the absolute worst.

She woke up at least every. Single. Hour. And she didn't just stay awake for a quick 10-15 minute feed, like normal. Oh no, she was awake for 45 minutes to an hour at a time.

It has gradually got better, but she still wakes up two to three times a night. It's a shock to the system when she's been sleeping so well, only usually waking once around 4am before getting up at 6am.

We've struggled with the clocks going back, too. Last week, when I was at work, she was waking up at 4am or 5am every morning. I was like a zombie by Friday. I tried everything - putting her to bed later, hoping she would wake up later; letting her have more naps; letting her have fewer naps; and nothing worked. There's just no routine or pattern to it. We can do exactly the same bedtime routine at exactly the same time every night. Sunday night, for example, she slept from 8.30pm until 6am, then went back to sleep after a feed from 6.20am until 8.10am. Amazing.

Last night, however, we did exactly the same. She was asleep by 8.30pm but woke up at 11.45pm for a 30-minute feed. Then slept from 00.20am until 4am. Fed and slept again from 4.15am until 6am; fell back to sleep after her feed but as soon as I put her back in her bed, at 6.45am, she was awake.

Anyway, I have lost my timeline a bit now. Let's go back to the week after my birthday...

On the Monday morning, Peyton was a poorly little pea. She's had the odd snuffle and little cold but this was like a full blown cold. She was so upset with herself,  bless her. Every time she sneezed or coughed she was sick - it was either shooting out of her nose or her mouth. She was well wrapped up that day!

I wondered whether it was her gums/teeth also giving her a bit of trouble. We've noticed her gums start to go quite white in places and have heard that can be a sign of teeth moving around underneath, ahead obviously of them cutting, so I tried her with some teething granules. She's had gel before but I thought I'd try something else too if she was having a particularly bad day.

Safe to say, my first attempt at administering them was far from successful...

You have to put them on a spoon and feed them into your baby's mouth - something we've never done before. I've never had cause to use a spoon with Peyton so wasn't sure how it would go. As she looked at the spoon with her confused face I couldn't help but laugh, blowing the granules all over her face in the process. She looked so funny, and highly unimpressed.

On the second go, she took them like a dream. She picked up on the spoon's job really quickly.

She wasn't a happy bunny that day, though. Here's a picture of the reality of that day. An unhappy babba. Too often people gloss over the reality, only choosing to share the glowing, happy times.

But we all have bad days. Barely a day goes by where Peyton doesn't poo/wee/be sick on me. I lose count of the number of times I tell her to stop fighting sleep and to just give in. And I don't know how many times I must try take a deep breath and count to ten; in reality barely ever getting past three.

We've got into a bit of a bad habit now whereby she will only really sleep during the day in her pram/the car. I like to be out and about during the day and very rarely have a whole day at home. Even if I have no plans we go for a walk into town and back. In doing this, she gets good sleeps on the way - sometimes she rocks a three hour nap in a morning. However, it means now she won't sleep when we are at home. It's a vicious circle, and one I'm sure will be hard to break out of, but as the weather turns and I can't go out walking as much, I'm hoping she will learn to sleep without being pushed for miles. Ideally, in her own bed. I can dream.

Now for probably the biggest piece of news from the last few weeks - we have started introducing a bit of food.

Now, some people will probably think "oh, isn't it a bit early for that?" but I did my research before we started, and I was sure Peyton was ready. She was displaying all the signs of being ready for food. If she was sat on my knee while I was eating she tried to grab anything and everything she could, trying to put it in her mouth if I didn't interject in time. She was fascinated watching Tom and I eat, almost imitating a dog watching every movement from plate to mouth. And she was past the 17-week mark which a lot of professionals now use as the bench mark.

We started by just introducing a bit of porridge at 19 weeks. People have told me that the first time a baby has anything other than milk they often gag. Obviously because they're not used to the texture or having to do anything other than swallow a liquid. I was well prepared for this with Peyton, but she wasn't phased at all. She didn't swallow it right away, that took a few goes. She just played with it in her mouth then spat it out. But a bit of perseverance and she soon understood what was meant to happen.

I'd bought the Cow and Gate baby porridge because it was the only gluten free one I could see in Boots. My health visitor said to me to not give her anything containing gluten before six months, so I opted for that one. The instructions state to make it with water, but I've always used my expressed milk so it tastes a bit familiar for her.

She absolutely loves porridge now. We just started her with one tablespoon in a little bowl, but now she has three - the recommended portion size. She will troff it in no time, too, barely spilling any.

After the success of the porridge, and a bit of research online, I decided to look into purees. I ideally want to do baby led weaning with P, but you are advised not to do this until "around six months". Pretty vague and something that's really ticked me off on a baby led weaning group I've joined on Facebook, but I'll maybe save that rant until another time. Their gag reflex isn't mature enough until then (or something like that?) and the risk of choking is apparently a bit higher. I bought Annabel Karmel's book, which has really good ideas in for both BLW and purees. I really just wanted to know how to start, and what first tastes to introduce.

We started with sweet potato. Her first mouthful she wasn't quite sure, but she soon couldn't get enough. I bought a Tommee Tippee steam and blend contraption because everywhere stated vegetables had to be steamed - and I don't own a steamer - and I also didn't have a blender. This was just one contraption, maybe slightly smaller than the steriliser, which did it all in one. It's really good, too, and saves on the washing up - even more of a bonus. I made enough puree for eight little pots and she was soon devouring one a day. I've started just giving her it at teatime. I'm not trying to get her onto three meals a day just yet, it's more just to give her a taste and to try stop her stealing stuff off my plate!

This week we tried carrot. She wasn't sure at first, but soon came around to it. I'm not really sure what I'll try next, I'm just winging it - like I am everything else with this motherhood lark! But she seems to be taking to it really well so far. She's fab with the spoon, although she does try and grab it off me to feed herself. I don't mind so much with the porridge but I'm not so keen on sweet potato/carrot puree being launched across my kitchen. That's the only thing about BLW that puts me off - the mess!

We'll maybe try a few more vegetables, and vegetable combinations, before we start on fruit. I'm hoping, by that time, we'll be at the "around six months" mark and can get stuck into BLW. But we shall see!

I'm almost done now, I promise. Just a quick nod to her first Halloween where the little cutie dressed up as a little kitty!

She loved all the trick or treaters, even if she did steal a sweet out of the bowl every time we went to the door. There was a little pile forming by the front door from where she'd picked a sweet out of the bowl then dropped it on the floor as we went back into the lounge.

We should've dressed her as a little monkey!

The weather has got a bit colder the last week or so, so the winter coat has been dug out. My mum's friend got her this when she was first born. She brought it round when she came to meet Peyton on one of the hottest days we had in the summer. She was only about two weeks old at the time and we were sat in the house with all the curtains drawn, a huge air con unit on, and Peyton just in a nappy. I could've cried when she handed it to me - the thought of that warm coat made me melt even more. I was so glad when I saw it was 3-6 months!

And so, to her first bonfire night. I was worried about how she'd be with fireworks. They can be quite scary for adults, especially the big banging ones that you feel in your chest, but she was not bothered one bit.

We went to a display on Friday night before the big one in town on Saturday. It's mine and my best friend's tradition to go to the bonfire and fireworks in Selby every year. Last year we stood there while Peyton was a tiny bean in my belly, and Olivia was just a twinkle in Paul's eye. This year, we were there with our gorgeous girls in tow, introducing them to our tradition.

Peyton was mesmerised, so much so that about five minutes in she absolutely conked out and fell asleep. She must get her sleeping from me because I can fall asleep anywhere, too!

As if we'd not had enough fireworks, we then went to my mum and dad's on Sunday for a little 'bonfi-cue' and more fireworks there.

Oh, and not forgetting she went to her first ever birthday party on Sunday!

I think it's safe to say she had a good time...

It's no wonder that Monday morning she needed that lie-in!

Here she is, looking all cute taking up way more room in our bed than she could ever possibly need.

And that's about it from us. I apologise if this has been really, really boring to read. I realise now I have sat here and written it all out that we are probably not at all interesting, so if you're still reading - thank you (and sorry!) 

I'm hoping to get back into the swing of writing more regularly now Tom's shifts are getting into some sort of swing in his new job. It's pretty much just been me and P from 7.30am on a morning until gone 7pm at night everyday since he started in September. By the time he's got home I've been so tired we've eaten tea, I've showered and then been ready for bed! I get all sorts of great post ideas while up feeding but never get chance to put them into practice. Well, my November resolution (yes, I've decided that's a thing) is to post more. 

And I promise they won't be as dull as this one!


12 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding

If you've been reading my blogs for a while you will know that, when Peyton was first born, breastfeeding didn't come as naturally to us as I thought it would. P really struggled with her latch when we were in hospital and just kept getting really distressed every time we tried.

Despite several nurses, midwives, healthcare assistants and peer support workers coming round and trying to help, it was futile. The first 24 hours she was fed formula, only managing to latch onto me when we got home. 

I was told something different by every person in hospital who tried to get her to latch. One person even swore blind she was latched on, when really she just had my nipple in her mouth. I told the lady I didn't think she was because I couldn't feel anything, and she told me that was good. I knew she wasn't latched on; especially when she eventually did latch and I knew that you could, actually, feel something.

Before Peyton was born I felt completely clued up on breastfeeding. I'd watched videos about different positions to try and how certain foods could affect your milk. I didn't know the half of it, though.

We combi fed Peyton for the first three-ish weeks. This was for a number of reasons. Firstly, I didn't feel confident feeding her in public. We would take pre-made formula out with us when I knew we were going out for the day and she would have a bottle of that. I vividly remember eating fish and chips in a restaurant in Bridlington and her taking the whole bottle of formula but still crying for more. Tom had hold of her, as he'd given her the bottle, and as he looked up at me his face changed. "You're leaking," he said. I looked down in sheer horror to find he was right - my boobs were leaking right through my breast pads, my bra, a vest top and onto my linen shirt. Mortifying. I ended up just whacking the boob out there and then to feed her. Not only to stop her crying and make sure she was full up, but to stop my milk makers from drenching my top anymore.

Secondly, I didn't feel Peyton was getting enough milk from me (I will go through this more later); and thirdly, because I thought it would make her sleep better if she had a big, full tummy at night.

We stopped the formula after a few weeks when I got more confident, learned she was, in fact, getting enough milk from me, and when she started being really sick after each bottle at bedtime. And, from then, she's been fed solely by me (bar one bottle of expressed milk before bed; and any bottles of expressed milk when I have left her.)

I really, really wish, before I had started breastfeeding, I had been told the reality of it. The things to really expect. What it is really like. Every night when I sit up doing the night feed I have thought about writing this blog but, alas, have not yet found the time. Each night I think of something new to add, something I wish I had known before I started. I hope it helps any mums-to-be who are considering breastfeeding. I wish I had been more prepared and clued up. I remember one of my friends saying to me she'd asked a midwife why they didn't tell you what breastfeeding was really like and her reply was "because then nobody would do it."

I hope this list doesn't have that affect on anyone!

12 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding before Peyton was born

1. Cluster feeding is normal
This is probably the biggest, most important thing the midwives should tell you. Cluster feeding is basically your little one feeding from you for what feels like forever. It can be hours on end, or it can just be really regularly. Peyton was never a really long feeder, she just liked it really often. The night my milk came in she wanted feeding every hour. I remember saying to Tom that she couldn't still be hungry because I had just fed her. Yet, each time I tried, she fed and fed and fed. In the end, I was exhausted and sent Tom downstairs to make up some formula. She guzzled the bottle when it was ready and went straight to sleep. "That's it," I said. "She obviously isn't getting enough milk from me!" The next morning I carried on feeding her myself, always with the formula on standby. I was ready to get a Perfect Prep machine and had pretty much conceded defeat. One of the community midwives rang me that day to check how we were doing and I told her I didn't think I was producing enough milk for Peyton. "You are, that's totally normal!" She told me. "She's just getting your supply built up and is getting what she needs little and often. Her tummy is tiny so she gets full quickly, but then hungry again soon after, so will cluster feed like that for a while." Once I knew it was normal, my mind was completely at ease and I didn't worry again about her getting enough from me. Cluster feeding can be absolutely exhausting, but it doesn't last forever!

2. Your nipples will hurt
I'm not just talking being a bit sensitive here. Mine were horrendous. I couldn't even stand the water running on them in the shower, or the towel touching them. Definitely, before your little one arrives, invest in some balm/cream for them. I had two (which came in handy, I'll explain why later). One was a Lansinoh Lanolin one and the other was from My Expert Midwife and called 'No Harm Nipple Balm'. Both were, essentially, the same thing. I used to put it on just after each feed (when I remembered/wasn't out and about) and it worked wonders. Having two came in handy as it meant I could keep one in the fridge, for when they were particularly sore, and have one at room temperature. Another top fridge tip is to keep some breast pads in there, too. The coolness of them will be great when they feel like they're on fire and being sliced by shards of glass. While it can be really painful at first, it honestly does get better. I sometimes now can't even tell when Peyton is feeding because I barely feel anything - which is great. Until, that is, we are out in public and I'm mid-conversation and haven't realised she's popped off and has been gazing around the room for god knows how long, leaving my nip free for all the world to see.

3. If baby doesn't latch straight away it's ok
As I mentioned above, when we were in hospital after Peyton was born we weren't able to breastfeed at all. I was so adamant that I wanted to feed her myself, but thankfully had taken some pre-made bottles of formula in just incase we couldn't manage it. It's a good job we did, otherwise we wouldn't have been let out until she fed from me successfully - and god knows how long that would've taken! I remember one nurse coming to me and being quite funny with me. I kept saying I was struggling and she asked what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to persevere and keep trying, but was worried that she wasn't feeding and was getting really hungry. She told me to give her a bottle then and, when I did, she said I looked relieved and she was glad I had finally made a decision about what to do. She probably didn't mean anything by it, and it probably sounds like nothing now, but after not sleeping for over 48 hours I just picked up a weird vibe. From then, nobody really tried to help me get her to latch. It's only because I persevered with skin-on-skin when we got home that we managed it. I was so adamant I wanted to breastfeed her and, had I not wanted to keep trying, we'd never have got there. When the community midwife came out a couple of days later she was astonished I was feeding her myself. She said my notes from the hospital said I was bottle feeding, so I explained to her what happened. Her whole tone suddenly changed when she knew how hard I was trying to master breastfeeding. It's so bad how people can be when you tell them how you feed your baby.

4. Don't be scared to ask for help if you are struggling
We really struggled with Peyton's latch in the first 10 days. This was another reason why we combi fed, because feeding her was like a form of torture. She latched fine onto my left side, we had no issues with that. But my right, holy hell. It was not a pleasant experience. I asked to see the midwife again for extra support and help with our latch and positioning. Without being too graphic (probably too late to be worrying about that now!) Peyton was just feeding from the tip of my nipple, rather than getting the whole thing in her mouth. Before embarking on this feeding 'journey' that's how I thought that breastfeeding was done. But, no, they need to get the whole nipple in their mouth. You'll know when they do, it's much less painful. It is also a bonus when feeding in public because it means that anyone having a stare can't see anything. Anyway, I digress, my point was to ask for help if you need it. I took photos and videos of how Peyton latched on to me and how she fed, so I could show the midwife when we went. She was able to advise me on what to do and what to try. It was really helpful taking Tom with me, too. The midwife showed me the position to get into with a knitted tit and a doll - all well and good me watching her, but it was a different angle that I'd be seeing it all from when feeding myself. Having Tom there meant he could watch how I did it when we got home, and compare it to what he saw the midwife demonstrating. He was such a big help in those early days. He says he felt useless, because I was predominantly feeding Peyton, but he helped in so many other ways. There are also loads of really helpful support groups on Facebook. I found I never needed to post on them to ask anything I was struggling with because someone else had already posted asking the exact same question. I find UK breastfeeding and support to be fab for advice, help and support (even without me having to ask for any of it!)

5. Your entire wardrobe will need to be adapted, once again
You might be rid of the bump, but it's not as straightforward as slipping back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. High neck tops, jumpers and dresses all pose very real problems when it comes to breastfeeding. 'One up, one down'* will probably become your best friend - it's my go-to now - and you'll find yourself looking at clothes when out shopping and thinking 'can I breastfeed in this though?' then getting super excited when you realise you can. My advice, if you don't mind spending lots of money on new clothes that are easy to nurse in, is to join the Facebook group 'Can I breastfeed in it? UK'. Here, mums share their top tips, high street finds and some great bargain dresses from eBay that you'll find yourself purchasing at 3am while up feeding.
*'One up, one down' involves wearing two layers of clothing - usually a vest top underneath your other top/jumper. That way, when you lift your top layer of clothing up to release the boob, you just flop it out over the top of the bottom layer - meaning your belly stays covered as does the top bit of your boob. Genius.

6. Feeding in public isn't as bad as you think it will be
I was really worried about feeding in public. I was scared people would stare, I was anxious someone would say something. And I was just scared about flashing my tit at a load of strangers. At first, I always covered up. I used gigantic muslin cloths and would bury myself and Peyton underneath them to get her latched on, before burrowing out and leaving her covered to feed. This was all well and good, but she was born in the hottest summer I can remember and she wasn't such a fan of being covered - obviously - and got really hot. I can't remember my turning point for feeding in public. I used to try and time my trips out places when I knew she'd sleep so I'd be back home to feed her. But, one day, something just changed and I suddenly felt so confident feeding her out and about. I've been really lucky and nobody has ever said anything to me about it. I've never noticed anyone staring - not in a bad way, anyway. I've caught other women looking before and when our eyes have met they've smiled and given me a look that makes me feel less 'on edge'. And, in terms of worrying about the world seeing my nipples, I really couldn't care less. Obviously I don't whack them out with the intention of everyone in Costa getting an eyeful, but I definitely don't panic as much as I did at first. If someone catches a glimpse as I'm scooping them back into my bra I don't have a meltdown like I would have before. It's strange how you stop seeing your boobs as a sexual object once you've used them to feed your baby.

7. Invest in shirts with buttons
These are invaluable when it comes to feeding. At first, I used to button from the top down, as you would expect to. However, after seeing on a Facebook group a woman suggesting a new method, my life was changed. She suggested buttoning from the bottom up, meaning that your shirt stays fastened at the top and keeps the canons covered. I always wear a vest top underneath, to keep my gut in check, but it means you get maximum coverage and is a really discrete way of doing it. I've been having a conversation with a group of friends before and undone my shirt, got Peyton latched on, and fed her without any of them even realising.

8. You'll really question why men have nipples
Many, many nights I have sat up feeding Peyton, pinching myself to stay awake, while Tom has snoozed alongside me with his non-lactating nipples. I've lost count of the amount of times I have Googled 'why do men have nipples if they can't feed from them?' and I am still no closer to finding an answer. Apparently it has something to do with the fact that we all start out the same, and it's not until a few weeks in when our gender is decided that we begin to develop separately. Nipples are apparently part of our original make-up, before it's decided whether we'll be male or female. It's all well and good, but you'd think they would have some use. I've never been a fan of science and this doesn't make me like it any more.

9. Sometimes you'll resent breastfeeding, and that's ok
Some days I really, really wish Peyton wasn't solely dependant on me. It sounds awful, I know, but it can be such hard work. Growth spurts are particularly difficult periods of time, and often I feel like I am just constantly feeding. It's exhausting and leaves my boobs feeling like deflated air bags. The days I'm tired, or not feeling well myself, it's hard. However, for every day when I sigh every time she wants feeding, there are dozens of days when I love it. I love that she is solely dependant on me (yes, I know I sound like a maniac switching from one to the other!) There are the odd times when I wish we'd not persevered with breastfeeding, but I read a really good piece of advice on a support group I'm a member of which said to never quit something on a bad day. If you leave it until the next day you'll find that everything is ok again and you'll not want to give up. I keep remembering that now with everything in life, not just feeding.

10. Get a good stockpile of snacks, squash, boxsets and a long phone cable
All of these will be super important in those early days when your bubba is cluster feeding. Make sure you are sat comfortably with plenty of snacks (breastfeeding makes you so hungry, it's unbelievable!) and lots to drink (it also gives you a thirst like I have never experienced before, the second P latches on and I am suddenly desperate for a drink!) ready for your feeding session. Get a good boxset lined up, you'll spend a long time on the sofa stuck under a feeding baby so you may as well make it worth your while. A long phone cable is important, too.

11. It's hard, but so worthwhile
I thought breastfeeding would be the easy option - no bottles to sterilise, not having to wait for the kettle to cool, no faffing with re-heating bottles or having to work out how much milk to take out for the day - but I was wrong. Sure, when she wakes in the night I can feed her straight away without getting out of bed and I always have enough milk wherever we go - but it's not easy, by any means. As I've mentioned, you'll have difficult days. You'll have days where you want to give up. You'll have your doubts that you're doing it right, or that you're giving them enough. You'll wish others could help. And you'll long for the days you can wear a turtle neck again. But it's all worthwhile. It's one of the most empowering things I have ever done. It makes me realise just how amazing the human body is and I am so glad that I didn't give up on those difficult early days. I will definitely be sad when our breastfeeding journey comes to an end.

12. It will get easier
I remember people saying this to me at the start and I didn't believe it ever would. But, honestly, it does. One day you will suddenly realise that everything seems to fit into place. My original goal, when pregnant, was to feed Peyton myself for six months. When she was first born I just wanted to get to one month. When I got there, it was to make it to two, then three... Now she's four months and my goal is almost in sight. Having small, manageable goals is the best way to look at it. When you make it to those original milestones you'll set yourself another small target and, soon, it'll become second nature. It may not seem it at first, but it really will.