Breastfeeding Tips for the Big-Titted Mama!

Breastfeeding is hard. For the ‘most natural thing in the world’, it’s trickier to get right than the FT cryptic crossword with a hangover and a broken pencil. What seemed to make it even harder for me was the fact that I have tits. Contradiction in terms, right? Alas, no.

It seems that the more you’ve got going on in the chest region, the trickier it is to master proper positioning. Also, the bigger the norks, the harder it is for you to not accidentally smother your newborn in all your extra flesh and skin when they’re feeding.

What used to be a tremendous boon in my hay-day for guaranteeing a drink offer at a bar, was suddenly a pain-in-the-arse complication in an already very confusing and painful new endeavour for me.

However: ample-mammary-mums-to-be, fear not! It is still possible to successfully breastfeed! After 18 months of feeding my daughter with my ma-hoosive melons, I’ve worked out a few ‘pointers’ to ensure lactation jubilation! Here are my top tips:

  1. Positioning. Most experts will advise mums-to-be to start feeding with the cross-cradle position. It’s supposedly the easiest. But for new mums with giant breasts, this one is not all that easy to master. I also just couldn’t get the ‘lying down’ method to work, my boobs would just flop over and I couldn’t establish a good latch lying down. After trying (and failing) with dozens of methods, the best one to accommodate my chesticles was the underarm, or football / rugby hold. It squished my breasts less, which enabled a ‘free-flow’ and reduced the risk of pressure across my chest that could result in blocked ducts or sore spots. I was also able to better control and adjust the positioning of my daughter’s head to ensure her nose and air-ways weren’t restricted. All in all, it was the most comfortable position for me until feeding was properly established. Plus it’s also great for twins!

  1. Wait til that mouth is nice and wide. Then shove them on. The bigger the boob, chances are, the bigger the nipple. It’s important that as much of the areola is in the baby’s mouth when feeding, so it’s really important to wait for them to open their mouths as wide as they can. If it’s not quite right, detach and try again until as much of it is in their mouths as possible. A bad latch hurts more than someone taking a lighter to your nasal hair. When in doubt, take them off and try again until you get it right.
  2. Nursing bras make all the difference. If you’ve got huge boobs, it’s trickier to find a suitable nursing bra that fits properly. If it’s slightly too small, or fits before your milk is established, you could end up with a bra that squishes your assets, and this can lead to complications like mastitis. I always found Bravissimo the best for a really well-made, supportive bra in ample sizes. M&S have an OK collection too – just ask for a fitting to ensure it is suitable. They’re expensive I know, and not particularly attractive – you might look like Les Dawson in drag when you’re wearing it – but I would happily re-mortgage my house if it meant I could afford a comfortable, supportive bra.
  3. A little lift. If the process of gaining / losing weight has resulted in your nips gradually facing in the direction of the carpet, it makes it even harder to be able to see what you’re doing to make sure you’ve got a good latch. I spent weeks holding up my breast to the baby, rather than finding a natural position that worked for the both of us. This meant that I was squishing my boob with the hand I was holding it up with, and also meant I didn’t have a free hand to browse on my phone with. Anyone who has latched on a newborn and then subsequently realised they haven’t got their phone on them will tell you that it can be the longest 40 minutes of your life. A spare hand with which to peruse facebook whilst feeding is almost essential for your sanity. After deciding I couldn’t carry on ‘lifting’ my breast myself, I discovered an amazing product that does the job for you – the Booby Booster. It attaches to your bra and basically acts as a sling lift which raises your breast slightly, making positioning easier (and freeing up a hand to read / eat / text). A DIY version can be created by using a large piece of muslin that ties around your neck and lifts your breast. Alternatively, a natural sponge that you can cut to fit under your breast will also give it a bit of a lift.

  1. Pump it up. You can now get different size breast-pump funnels, and this can make a huge difference to the success of your pumping, if you have large breasts. I never managed to find a pumping bra that was designed for the large-chested mother, so I made my own by cutting holes in an old nursing bra! Nothing beats a bit of hands-free pumping.
  2. Feeding outside the house. I was always self-conscious of feeding the baby in public, because there’s nothing discreet about whipping out a 3lb lump of fatty tissue in the middle of a coffee shop. If you don’t give a shit about doing this, then that’s fantastic! If you do, however, don’t let it put you-off feeding out and about, and absolutely don’t let feeding make you feel like you’re a prisoner in your own home! Discreet feeding is achievable for the busty mamas! I would wear a nursing bra, a strap top, and then an over-sized top over this. It enabled me to ‘drape’ the extra fabric over the exposed boob skin when I lifted my top up to feed the baby, without covering-up the baby’s head. You can also use a light scarf, or invest in a nursing apron. Those sometimes these can look more eye-catching than sitting there with your tit out. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. So long as you’re happy and comfortable.

Hopefully, these tips will come in handy for the ample-chested mum-to-be. It is possible to control those beasts and make breastfeeding work. If you have any other tips like this, do comment below. Likewise, if you’ve tried any of these tips, give me a shout and let me know how you found them. Happy feeding, busty-mamas!

From ‘Yummy Mummy’ to ‘Mumsy Matron’ – Why it’s time for me to put down the Baby Bell and pick up the kettlebell

The Pramshed

God, I feel gross. The culmination of a birthday straight after Christmas, slathered on top of months of coffee and cake with friends on maternity leave, has seen me morph into Jabba the Hutt in a floral dress.

I’m not normally one to bemoan my weight or appearance. I usually think life’s too short for all that malarkey. But recently I’ve had the diet of a 18th Century French Duke and now I’m worried that life literally might be too short if I don’t change-up my routine.

A couple of things have tipped me off that I might need to change my ways. Visiting public loos with tiny cubicles has become a pain in the arse. Literally. I have to wedge my colossal behind on the seat next to the sanitary bin so often, that I’ve got a permanent ‘PHS’ logo impressed on my hip.

I’m also wearing the only pair of jeans that I own that have not yet succumbed to ‘chub rub’ from my thighs. Seriously, I could start a pubic-bush fire with the amount of friction down there. Eat your heart out, Bear Grylls!

To make matters worse, I’ve had a few false-starts when it comes to rejuvenating my exercise regime. Last week I marched into the kitchen in my joggers and hoodie. ‘Why are you in your pyjamas at this time of the day?’ Asked my husband, to which I replied, ‘these are not my pyjamas any more, my love! These sweat pants will now be used in the official capacity for which they were created! I’m off for a run!’

I managed a couple of circuits around the park until I collapsed on a bench. A passing child voiced his concern; ‘Mummy, that lady is purple!’. That was enough humiliation for me for one day.

The husband and I also dabbled in some ‘couples exercising’ (get your mind out of the gutter, please), so we decided to have a kick-about in the park. I thought some football drills would be light-hearted and enjoyable. But after ten minutes of kicking wildly and missing the ball more often than hitting it, I was getting increasingly frustrated. My husband’s condescending advice was also getting on my nerves. ‘Visualise the ball! Be the ball!’, he said. ‘You’re being a big enough ball for the both of us,’ I snorted back.

It’s bloody hard to find a way to work out when you have a toddler in-tow too. The only way I can raise my heart-rate when I’m with her is to crawl around the soft play area after her, like a less-fun ‘It’s a Knock Out’. When I do work-out, I spend the next few days in an extreme state of achiness where even putting the baby in her cot is agony.

As of yet, I haven’t found a work-out regime that’s ‘working out’ for me. But the intent is there, and that might have to be enough for now. Maybe I’ll try a few burpees after nursery drop-off. And if I don’t pass out, perhaps I’ll try a few more the day after. Who knows? In a few months, I could be the next Jane Fonda. Realistically though, I’d be lucky to be the next Natalie Cassidy.

I have invented a new work-out for parents – ‘Baby Gate Gymnastics’

Fucking baby-proofing. I’m sorry for the Big Swear but I needed to get that off my chest. I feel like I’m a prisoner in my own home. I’d open a bottle of vodka to calm my nerves but it’s bloody locked in a cupboard behind a sophisticated and incredibly fiddly child lock, and I can’t be bothered with the faff.

The truth is, the baby is no longer really a baby at all. In fact, she appears to be a toddler-come-amateur-parkour enthusiast. Today I found her precariously balanced on the top of our fire guard which, ironically, we installed to keep her safe from the fire. I’m contemplating the need for a fireguard-guard.

With her gymnastics skills reaching new heights – literally – my husband and I have set about barricading sections of the house into ‘baby-safe zones’. With the introduction of baby gates seemingly everywhere, it’s currently easier to escape from Belmarsh Prison than it is our living room.

The weekend that we installed the gates culminated in a text-book passive-aggressive argument between me and my husband. He was sick to death of me nagging him about it, and when I asked through gritted teeth for the twentieth time how much longer he would be putting them in place, I got the ultimate tradesman’s spiel in return; “Look love, it’ll take as long as it takes, OK?”

The one-size-fits-all stair gate turned out to be a one-size-fits-most-but-for-some-inexplicable-reason-not-my-stairway-gate. These contraptions seem to have been invented less for the safety of a toddler, and more as some sort of cruel aptitude test for new parents.

Now with the gates and locks finally all fully installed, getting around our house is like an automatic lock-in game on the Crystal Maze. As I’m trying to navigate my way through two separate gates and a flight of stairs from the living room to the bedroom with a sleeping toddler, I half expect a leopard-print-clad Richard O’Brien to be loitering in the hallway with a sand timer, playing the harmonica.

It takes all the agility and cunning of Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment to successfully make it to one side of my house from the other without tripping up, setting off an alarm, or having to fumble with a stubborn child lock.

This has led me to seriously consider setting up a post-natal exercise and mental aptitude training session, involving installing and then hurdling baby gates and opening a series of child locks with a pinky finger, all whilst holding a 15-pound sack of flour. Think a ‘buggy run’ will get your heart racing? Try child-proofing and then moving around your home with your partner without totally losing your shit at each other. I’m thinking of selling this idea to Joe Wicks or Davina McCall. I think I’d make a killing.

 

The Pramshed

Top five things you should NEVER say to a new mum about her appearance

When your stomach has the consistency of a kangaroo’s pouch without the joey inside, you can undoubtedly feel insecure about your appearance. As a new mum, the last thing you want is for people to draw attention to how you look, but for some reason people feel compelled to comment on what having a baby has done to your physical appearance. It’s as if they think that by ignoring the elephant in the room, they’re suggesting that YOU are the elephant in the room. Even when they think they’re being kind, these comments can often make you feel more self-conscious about the fact you’ve just pushed half a stone of human being out of your privates.

So with that in mind, here are the top five things you should NEVER say to a hormonal and self-conscious new mum about her appearance:

  1. ‘You look…well’. Ha! Well fat you mean. You might as well have called me ‘jolly’ or ‘bubbly’. You don’t need to be Alan Turing to work out these comments are in fact code-word for ‘fat’.
  2. ‘That dress is so flattering on you’. Unless you are Gok Wan, I don’t want a critique of how I’m looking, especially if it implies I look like a netted ham in everything else you’ve seen me wear recently.
  3. ‘It’s ridiculous all this pressure some new mums put on themselves to lose the baby weight, isn’t it?’ When people say this they’re generally trying to be supportive of you by being critical of a social trend. But to a post-natal mum, they might as well have just said, ‘Jesus! You really did a Kelly Clarkson after you dropped that sprog, didn’t you?!? You’re not eating for two anymore, love!’
  4. ‘Have you lost weight?’ Unless it’s blindingly obvious that a new mum has morphed from Monstro the whale into a skin-covered clothes horse – in which case they may need some help – you should only use the word ‘weight’ if it refers to the baby. Or maybe a boxing match. End of.
  5. ‘You look tired’. Well duh. This comment is usually reciprocated by a slap to the face, so steer clear.

The only thing worse than any of the above are the four words that all new mums dread when they venture out without the baby for the first time, and they are; ‘when’s the baby due?’ Ouch. It’s the verbal equivalent of a rusty dagger to the eyeball. If in any doubt of what to say, the only really safe and acceptable comment to make to a new mum is that having a baby has done all sorts of amazing and wonderful things to their tits. And that’s literally it.

A letter to my daughter on her first birthday

Dear Sausage

Happy birthday*, my baby girl! It amazes me that you’ve been in my life for a whole year. In some ways it feels as if it was only a moment ago that I was first holding you in my arms in the hospital bed, shitting myself (literally and figuratively) over the sheer weight of responsibility that faced me.

In the last year you have managed to change me more than you can ever know. My life before you was, well, mine. Now, my life is all about you. And I’m not gonna lie, that took some getting used to!

Before you were born I didn’t realise what bliss there was in simple freedoms, like being able to say, ‘I’m bored, let’s go to the pub / cinema / Prague.’ Now everything is planned to the most minute detail like a military take-down of a dictator. A tiny, screamy, pooey dictator.

But what I have lost in terms of superficial spontaneity I have gained in a million other ways by having you, and by learning about myself and what I’m capable of.

You have taught me to take stock and just breathe. It sounds simple but in 30 years I’ve never managed to master the art of dealing with stress. I’m hardly Deepak Chopra now but I’ve come to accept that shit happens. I will have sleepless nights, I will forgo any semblance of a social life, I will struggle to get back into my old clothes and I will grimace at my unsightly stretch marks (seriously, posters of me post-partum should be hung in family planning centres to warn teens off sex). But you know what? None of this stuff bothers me. Not even a jot. I feel like the luckiest person in the world because for some miraculous and unexplained reason, I get to be your mum.

My biggest ambition is to make sure that you grow up healthy and happy; that you know without exception that your mum and dad love you more than anything in the world and that you know we’re already absurdly proud of you, of who you are, and who you will become.

On top of all that you’ve taught me in this never-ending but expeditious year, you’ve made me want to be a better person, so that I can be the best mum I can be for you. And you can’t even talk yet. How impressive is that?

So for all you’ve accomplished and for all you’ve taught me in your first year on the planet, I want to say thank you. And hopefully, someday, when you’re old enough, you’ll thank me back for being your mum. And for that time you weed up my nose and I didn’t even shout at you. But I’ll tell you about that on your 2nd Birthday.

Lots of love,

Silly Mummy

X

*Actually your birth-day was weeks ago but what you’ll come to learn about your dear old mum is that even with the best intentions, things don’t always happen exactly as they’re planned. One of the quirks you’ll come to love about me, I’m sure!