The milk diaries

Breast is best, that’s what we are told. The huge NHS booklet entitled ‘feeding your baby’ ONLY mentions breast. Company’s aren’t allowed to advertise their breast milk alternative formulas until stage two which is recommended for babies six months and up.

BUT is breast really what is best, always and for everyone? This post is on an emotive topic but I am talking purely about my own experience it’s not a judgement piece although I feel that I was judged.

Back in 2009 when I found out I was pregnant I wrote to PR’s and let them know and said I was happy to try out any breast-feeding aids. I was sent a multitude of items including a breast pumps, bottles, nipple shields, bras, disposable pads, nursing bras, cover ups and muslins. Here’s me naively thinking I just needed ‘me’ apparently not.

Emily took to feeding but she wouldn’t let go, I quickly not only became the milk giver but the equivalent of a dummy too. She woke up lots during the night. Did I lose weight during the breast-feeding time? The simple answer is no. I gained weight. I was sleep deprived and throughout the night I suffered from ‘the munchies’ and I’ve just come across this article published in The Guardian that backs this up.

I spoke to the health visitor about my increasing tiredness but she just nodded and said,

At this point it’s not about you it’s about the baby, isn’t it!

PERFECT not only did I feel like I was a less than able mum which you can read about in my blog posts entitled Pregnancy, childbirth and the happy ever after; not always and  Pregnancy, childbirth and the happy ever after; not always part two but essentially I had to give up every ounce of energy and sleep to take care of her and I did this until she was seven months but I shouldn’t have continued I shouldn’t have let society dictate what was right for me or my baby.

Experience one:

Continuous feeding seemingly around the clock, I was often found feeding Emily on our daily bus journeys and this was greeted from ‘ahhh’ to ‘that’s disgusting!’ Baby to toddler to little girl her sleeping patterns established early on lasted until she started school. Feeding was a control thing for me, whilst I was doing that I knew I was able to do atleast one thing right for her. Dismissive health visitors comments could have had disastrous consequences.

So onto baby two. Luke was born at 35 weeks at a very healthy weight of 5lb 13ozs. He lived his first few days in the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) and had a feeding tube up his nose. His tummy was first filled not by my milk but by formula and I hated this. I did lots of skin to skin kangaroo care and was shown how to hand express, which infact is a little humiliating where you basically kneed you breasts and a nurse collects the meagre drops in the tiniest of syringes. I was so proud feeding my boy with my milk through his tube.

Next my milk came in. I requested a proper machine and pumped away until there was a surplus of milk and astounded the nurses at just how much I produced. He took to the breast no bother even though he was still having the majority of his feeds via the tube. Once he had a proper taste of boob milk he actually pulled out his own feeding tube, enough was enough.

Feeding Luke was easy and no fuss. He had his fill and came off naturally with a smile. He never used my nipple as a dummy. Then when he was five weeks old he started to vomit, a little at first then increasingly to the point of 75 percent of the feed almost 100 percent of the time. I started to worry. He was only a wee one! What was I doing wrong? Reflux was suggested so I went to the doctors and requested baby Gaviscon but was denied. The locum doctor wanted Luke to be assessed as paediatrics wasn’t his specialism (as a GP I didn’t expect it to be but reflux is a common issue).

I took Luke to a hospital department and his feeding was observed and six hours later it was decided he was milk intolerant and I was making him poorly. Instead of talking me through what I should alter in my diet Luke was prescribed a specialist milk. Boom. In that instant the consultant expected me to give up feeding as it was right for my son.

I tried to go dairy free and not use the formula but after a slip up of drinking a huge latte my boy was again in pain. Before jumping in may I point out that I did consult my health visitor and local La Leche League but no support was given.

Being bottle fed though meant other people could join in. My initial job role redundant. This is my last child and instead of weaning him off my breast gently he was forcibly removed. He didn’t mind the formula which stunk of malted milk. He smiled again after a feed. My boy was happy and so was I.

Experience two;

Slow start due to circumstances, happy smiley baby after feeds, no breast or nipple pain then projectile vomit, Luke looking in pain, no support to continue breast feeding which is so contradictory to my last experience.

I NEVER thought at that point that weaning would be affected but Luke will be put on a weaning ladder and foods introduced in a slow and steady manner with different levels of milk content.

I was given the opportunity to talk with Baby Moov’s chosen little person nutritionist Julia Wolman RNutrand here are some of the questions that I asked;

  1. What are the best substitutes for dairy products when weaning?
  2. His porridge/breakfast cereal tastes disgusting to me as I make it with his milk but will he just be used to it?
  3. Is milk intolerance and lactose intolerance different? (Luke has had no formal testing just observational).
  4. Luke will often accept some food one day and then completely refuse it the next (purse lip and turn his head) is this common and how can I tackle it?
  5.  Is it better to mix foods or keep tastes separate? The reason I ask is that shop bought jars/pouches seem to be a mix of 2-5 items which I seems strange as wont it be dominated by the stronger flavoured items?
  6. I don’t want to rush through stages but I do feel like we are a little behind which may have led to Luke refusing new foods. How can I tackle that?
  7. I’m still puréeing pretty much everything, with Luke being early I do see that I’m doing things more slowly then I did with his big sister. Can this cause more harm then good?
  8. What are the best finger foods to start with?
  9. What was your childs’ most favourite thing to eat when they were 8.5/9 months.

Read my next instalment to find out how the #stresslessweaning programme is progressing and see the answers to my questions.

PS. I forgot to say whether I consider breast to be best or not. Here I am going to sit on the fence. Do what is right for YOU as well as your baby. You need to look after yourself as without a healthy you then everything in a baby’s immediate world is affected!

Suzanne pregnant Jan 2010

Where was I? Oh yes, Emily was born with Erbs Palsy and I was feeling guilty. Because everything was my fault. 

I did what I thought I should and attended the baby groups as it was the right thing for my daughter. Apparently, there’s always the need to have bonds with other mummy’s and I agree with this if they are people you’d want to spend time with outside of mummyhood. I didn’t attend national childbirth trust (N.C.T) or have any friends who had recently had babies so I was swimming alone. And I only have a 25m badge at the best of times!

People who know me, know that I don’t sugar coat anything. I am black and white with no shades of grey. And mostly, I believe what people say, why would they lie? These baby groups had me on my knees, I felt useless! Perfect feeding, perfect routines, perfectly polished! Me on the other hand rarely slept (it’s currently 02:57 – history isn’t repeating itself but because I’m so emotionally involved in this post I have to keep stopping to catch my breath and have a cuppa and compose), my diet was poor, I saw myself as a bad mother.

I seemingly hid this so well from not only my family but myself (but not my best friend). The post natal depression questionnaire presented to me by my health visitor asks;

  • During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
  • During the past month, have you often taken little or no pleasure in doing things that normally make you happy?

I answered ‘no’ with tears welling in my eyes but the health visitor didn’t push me on it, it seemed a form filling exercise. Now I realise that by admitting I had PND was akin to admitting failure and who wants to embrace failure? I kick myself now for not being brave enough to put my hand up and say, please can I have some help. But then, how could I ask? I couldn’t even fill the form in.

The words  were three words that existed in other people’s lives, not mine. I was a strong woman, a woman who would give up my life for anyone, a woman who hated to be labelled. However, throughout my past, when things got tough, I always hid away and throughout 2010 and 2011, I did this a lot.

I muddled through the first year in a haze of pea soup and escaping wherever I could. I went back to work as a H&S officer when Emily was 10 months old and before that, I often put work and blogging first before my family. It was the place I escaped to when I couldn’t face the real world. The world I created.

I started to see light around Emily’s first birthday, then BOOM one of the shining lights of my world my Uncle Bill died (24.03.2011). He was such a non-judgemental person, but I hadn’t even shared my pain with him as he had suffered a stroke and was trying to mend himself. Another year of fuzz and a redundancy, I simply didn’t feel like me and hid behind a broken smile.

The feeling of uselessness only seemed to get greater but then one day, and for no real reason, the fog seemed to lift and I saw light.

Still I certainly wasn’t ready for baby two. What if it happened again? Potentially losing another two years or even more to PND? When we became pregnant, I told EVERY health professional that would listen about my undiagnosed episode.

What I do find strange is, even through I readily passed this information on and told my current health visitor the PND form was useless, I have received absolutely NO monitoring at all. In fact, I’ve just realised the severity of this; I actually think in this regard that as a health trust they have failed me.

Thankfully, even though Luke came at 35 weeks I don’t believe I have PND this time. (Nothing is easy; my waters broke, I suffered a prolapsed umbilical cord, was rushed from home to hospital for an emergency c section and 59 minutes later, Luke arrived!).

My life revolves around this new tiny creature and instead of being scared,  he is teaching me how to be a better mummy to both him and his big sister. I don’t put my computer on and create posts if he wants me I am his 100 percent. Hmm, sometimes around 95 percent, as I may tweet whilst he’s in my arms.!

I am giving him the mother that Emily deserved but didn’t get (I was a good mum to Emily but I think part of me blamed her for my lady bits NEVER being the same again, even though I know she was absolutely not to blame).

Whilst I have been writing this, I have fed Luke and also been shouted for by Emily who needed the toilet. When I held her hand and guided her back to bed, she asked me to stay with her and stroke her hand and watch her sleep. At that moment I felt so very, very lucky and privileged.

Now it’s time to sleep.

Hold up! The reason I wrote these posts was to say that 2015 was going to be the year of me. Now, it’s going to be 2016. So there! Project 4.1 (stands for my 41st year) starts now. No sports car, but a wedding and a trip to NYC are on the cards. I’m looking at health, fitness, sleep, mental health and finance.

Project 4.1 – 42lb to go!

Suzanne x mummy of two and master of me.

If you’d like to be part of Project 4.1 please pop your details below. [contact-form]


I had scheduled 2015 to be the year of me, the year I turned forty, which when I actually see this in black and white seems rather selfish. 

My dream was to get a little sports car, get married and have a honeymoon in New York or in fact team the wedding and honeymoon together in NYC. This is all before I knew baby two, Luke, was making an appearance.

For nearly four years, I had put off having baby number two, making every excuse under the sun not to. The reason I did this was simple.

I was scared, no petrified that I would loose myself again. Here’s my frank tale of my own personal experience. 

Following the birth of my gorgeous little girl Emily, I felt bereft. Actually thinking back, it started to happen during my pregnancy.  I didn’t know who I was and how to be.

I mean, who in their right mind launches a new business just four weeks before the birth of their first child? Who works at their own event just six days before the birth humping boxes and putting up rails? Me, that’s who. I wasn’t in my right mind and I should have listened to the alarm bells already sounding.

I was used to being a fabulous partner, daughter, granddaughter, niece, friend and health & safety manager but then a new title of mummy was bestowed on me. It’s the one I’d always dreamed of having (although I felt I didn’t deserve it) but in reality as I looked in the mirror I ONLY saw mummy, I no longer saw ‘Suzanne’ a person whom I actually quite liked.Suzanne at 36 weeks pregnant (1)

Physically, my pregnancy was near on perfect, yes I got a bit tired and needed to take a week off work, but that’s by-the-by. But emotionally, it was a different story. My constant love/hate relationship with my body reared it’s ugly head when I didn’t get the ‘perfect bump’ – the one that is portrayed in all of the pregnancy magazines. Mine was a ‘B’ shaped bump so immediately I thought I’d done something wrong. What the heck could I have done?

I vomited at the ward visit to the RVI when they did a show and tell of all of the instruments that ‘may’ be used in birth. Who in their right mind wants to see them?

I stuck my head in the sand when it came to possible complications that could arise and read nothing. I liked the bubble I was in and I wasn’t going to do anything to burst it.

Then there was the the labour. I sounded (apparently) like a screaming banshee and 39 hours and a hideous forceps delivery later, little Emily Elizabeth was born. Nicola was with me from the start of contractions. I insisted on going for a cuppa in the tea room on Belle Vue bank, Low Fell; when I literally stood up at the start of each contraction, she insisted on me going to get a tens machine. Richard took over and had to watch his usually very composed financee, change into a gibbering wreck.

I won’t go into the whole saga of the birth but here are a couple of snippets…

I was so drugged up (something I didn’t expect to happen) that I didn’t realise I had a team of people behind me when the epidural had not been administered correctly. I was then prepped for theatre as I got so tired that I was no use to anyone, and as my waters had been broken for me, I really didn’t have any other option.

At this point I hit an all time low. I did not want to go to theatre.

After the birth of Emily, our daughter was passed to Richard and a lovely photo was taken, but there wasn’t one taken of Emily and I, or the three of us. I can’t remember if this was because I requested it or ‘just because,’ but instead of having a beautiful picture of the three of us on that day, I have memories of being scared and alone.

I sustained a double prolapse from over exuberant pushing and I went through two years of physio to help.  To this day I’m still not right, Pilates is finally helping but I still may decide on reconstruction.

But the pain of the day. Beautiful Emily was born with Erbs Palsy and was my little tea pot. I felt guilty, viewing it as my fault being so stubborn and not accepting a C-section, I put my baby through this and how dare I do that?

And breathe. I’ll take a break and get part two finished very soon.