Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Breastfeeding - not as easy as it looks!

I am writing this post as I am now 26 weeks pregnant and so have to think about how I am going to feed my baby so I can get myself prepared. As this is my second child I have experience of breast feeding but despite my sheer determination it didn't go as successfully as I thought it would last time.

When I had my boy K he was born 2 weeks early and weighed 6lb 1oz. I was lucky to have a quick natural birth and enjoyed skin to skin contact and immediately breast fed my baby after the birth so all started off smoothly. I knew all the way through my pregnancy that I wanted to breastfeed as it is the most natural way which is good for the baby and good for the mother in many different ways:
  • It gives your baby all the nutrients he/she needs for the first 6 months of their life.
  • It helps to protect your baby from infection and other diseases such as chest infections,ear infections, constipation, upset stomach, being obese and developing eczema.
  • It helps reduce the mothers chances of getting illnesses in later life such as breast and ovarian cancer.
  • Breastfeeding helps the emotional and physical bond between mother and baby.
  • It saves money!
  • You use up to 5oo calories a day breastfeeding which will help shift that baby weight.
Sounds like a no brainer . . . . . 

I had to stay in hospital for 3 days after having K as I spotted jaundice just as I was checking out so he had to be treated on a 'billy bed' to help fight it. While in hospital I breast fed him and found it hard work but I felt he was latching on well and feeling satisfied after his feeds so I was doing o.k. I had been given a barrier cream which I was using called Lansinoh which seemed to help.

K in his Billy bed

When I got home K was feeding every 2 hours and I was finding it hard work, my nipples were starting to hurt in the most excruciating way and I was counting to 10 from when I would first put him on to feed to get through the pain. Not only that I was bursting with milk in the morning and in the afternoon I couldn't seem to satisfy him at all and he was constantly wanting to be on my breast. 

After a week or so of this I spoke to my midwife who advised and watched me breastfeed to ensure K was latching on ok, he had not put on much weight but I was advised to persist with the breastfeeding. Because I was still finding the process so painful I decided to buy some nipple shields, I read pro's and cons on using these but by now one of my nipples was so cracked that I thought it might drop off altogether so I was willing to give anything a try. Again I struggled with these. K was still not putting on any weight and trying to feed constantly and I was an emotional wreck and tired. I started expressing my milk and brought an electric pump.

K with a bit of baby fat on him
The pump helped me see that no matter what I did I ran out of milk in the afternoon, I don't know why but I did and I tried everything!! I then started expressing all my milk so I could make sure K had enough for his feeds and supplemented the afternoon feed with formula milk. K started gaining weight. I managed to keep this up for 3 months before changing over completely to formula milk. Expressing in this way was such hard work but I was so determined at the time. When I stopped giving K breast milk I found it a hard thing for me to give up because I felt such a failure not being able to breastfeed in the proper way and really beat myself up about it but it was taking such a toll on me that it was the right thing to do in the end.
Fun Times
After having a baby it is difficult in the first few months as your emotions and hormones are everywhere anyway and I did feel I had a case of the baby blues after K was born. With K being my first I was always trying to do everything by the book  & 'in the right way' and put so much pressure on myself. All the advice you receive points to breastfeeding and the midwives also encourage it. Breastfeeding was really important to me but I just couldn't do it with K.

This brings me to my decision now, do I put myself under the same pressure again? Will I be more relaxed about it all this time which may help me be more successful at it? I think the biggest lesson I learned with having K is to trust your mothering instinct as you are usually right, nobody knows your baby better than you and you just have to trust yourself. 

As I stand now I am going to try again as I still feel it is important and it is something I really want to be able to do for all the reasons I listed above BUT if I can't for any reason and it is affecting my baby's weight and making me unhappy in any way I will be switching to formula milk. Surely a happy baby and mum is more important than anything else?

I would really like to hear how other mum's have successfully or unsuccessfully breastfed and any tips that can be shared to help me next time. I will let you know how I get on!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Thomas Land at Drayton Manor Park

Our boy is a Thomas the Tank fanatic, he has a Thomas bed and bedroom, tons of wooden track, Take n Play track and loads of the Thomas engines. He makes tracks and plays with his engines on a daily basis and I read him a Thomas story book practically every night. We have already taken him to A Day out with Thomas at Llangollen which was fantastic so for his 4th birthday we had to take him to Thomasland at Drayton Manor Park, Tamworth.

We were a little worried as his birthday is smack bang in the middle of the summer holidays so you automatically think the park is going to be packed full of people and you are going to be queuing for rides half the time you are there but after a look online I found there was a deal on for the summer so we decided to go for it! We paid £25 each adult and our boy was free as he was still 3 years old, then £3 for parking.

We arrived there on a Monday for about 10.30am and the rides open at 10am, when we booked online I didn't have a printer to print the tickets so had to leave them to be picked up on the day which in hindsight I would have tried to print them off somewhere else as we did have to queue to go in whilst others who had theirs printed walked more or less straight in. Not that we had to queue too long.


We walked through the gates and my boy walked through to Thomas Land practically shaking with excitement running around trying to take everything in, shouting out the names of all the characters he could see, we were thrilled to see his little face all lit up. We had a quick look around and quickly noted that all the rides were close together and there were plenty of shops, restaurants and amusements nearby.

The first ride we went on was Diesels Locomotion Mayhem which my boy loved, we were spun around past different locomotives on a small track, my boy was thrilled he got his first engine choice Mavis to ride! Next we jumped on Harold's Helicopter Tours for a spin round capturing views of the park.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that we were only queuing for between 10 to 20 minutes which was brilliant as a 4 year old does not want to wait long to go on a ride, as we all know you could quickly have a tantrum of some kind on your hands!

As we walked round the park to the next ride we heard some music coming from Knapford Station and sure enough the Fat controller was singing and performing a welcome song for us all  so we stopped to watch the show. Then to my son's delight Percy chuffed into the station to take passengers to Farmer McColls Farm. We decided to join the queue and Percy was closely followed by Thomas who we jumped aboard.

 It was a short trip to the farm and as we arrived we spotted some reindeer from the train and immediately thought how lovely it would be to spend a magical day here near Christmas. We stepped off Thomas and there were pens with different animals in, my boys favourite was the little field mice in a huge glass enclosure all scurrying around.

My boy then went running over to Terence's Driving School to have a go at driving his own tractor. We were really impressed that there was no extra cost because they could have easily put a slot machine on this ride. My boy loved being able to drive all by himself like a big boy!

We then had a look around the Thomas exhibition which was opposite Terence featuring a model railway with all the usual suspects that any Thomas fanatic would love.

There were lots of animals as we walked round, owls, eagles, meerkats, wildcats, a panther and lots of monkeys. We also took a look around the reptile house with snakes, turtles, lizards etc. It was good to have something different to do besides the rides. Not far from the reptile house was Spencers Outdoor Play Area which we managed to avoid as we wanted to go back on the rides but again a great idea and it was keeping lots of little ones happy.

My partner then wanted to try a couple of the bigger rides so he decided on the Shockwave, me and my boy stopped for an ice cream and stopped to see if we could spot him on the ride. Again I was pleasantly surprised to find he only queued for 10 minutes so it wasn't long before we saw him whizzing around on the stand up roller coaster. Next he went onto the Apocolaypse with again a short queue time, I had been on this before and vowed never to go on again - its not for the light hearted!!

Then back to Thomasland or a ride on Winston's Whistle Stop Tour which was a slow ride in the Fat Controllers car high up on a track with views across the park. We also noticed while waiting for this ride that they had a large indoor soft play area for the little one - another brilliant idea, especially for rainy days and parents who need a break!

After riding Winston a ride on the Troublesome Trucks coaster for my boy and his dad. I sat this one out as I was restricted on the kind of rides I could go on being as I was 24 weeks pregnant and this ride wasa bit fast and furious!

Of course we had to stop of at the Thomas Shop for a birthday gift before we went home and our boy had huge pleasure in picking a new engine to add to his selection - a battery operated Edward.

What a fantastic day to be had all round, lots of fun for the whole family grouped together so nobody had to walk far to each ride or attraction or queue for hours (which we have had to do before at other theme parks). There were plenty of shops and places to eat and the rides at Thomasland were such a good assortment for the kids. We were so impressed and would recommend Thomasland and Drayton Manor to everyone and will certainly be back to try out a few rides we couldn't fit in!

#Toptip - purchase the tickets online and print them off at home to avoid queuing on entry.

This is an honest review which I have not received any payment of any kind to write.