I get messages every week asking me for info or advice about breastfeeding or weaning onto solids so I figured I would write a little post on how Ellie is doing so far with both. If there is anything I’ve left out or that you’d like a bit more info on, feel free to DM me on my Instagram page and I would be more than happy to try and help. I’d also like to point out that I ‘didn’t do things by the book’ particularly for weaning, so whatever I explain I have done in this post is not recommended by HSE guidelines; so please don’t think that I recommend what I have done. It has worked great for myself and Ellie but my approach may not suit you or your baby. No one is textbook!
So I am thrilled to say that 8 months into Ellie’s life that we are still going strong with breastfeeding. As I have previously mentioned in other blog posts, I was very fortunate that Ellie was the easiest baby ever to get established with feeding off the boob. She latched on straight away in the delivery room and I haven’t looked back since. I understand not many are so lucky with this, and I commend any mother who experiences initial difficulties with it; as even though I’d class my breastfeeding journey thus far as normal… I still wouldn’t say it’s been ‘easy’ and that’s without throwing any other related challenges into the mix .
At the moment our breastfeeding schedule is still very much on Ellie’s demand , a general idea of how our feeds go at the moment looks like this (bare in mind she is now eating meals as well so the frequency has reduced since she was just having milk)
5:30am feed (usually short)
17:00pm feed (usually short)
For some that may still seem like a lot, but her feeds are a lot quicker now and sometimes they can just be for a little comfort. If I am in work she will take two 5-6oz bottles of expressed milk between 07:30-16:45 (I still find it hard to gauge how much to pump for her as I haven’t a clue how much she gets when I am at home with her feeding myself) . She will have another 3oz with her Dad between 17:00-21:00; at which point I will feed her the moment I get in from work (I am usually like Dolly Parton and in agony ready to give a big feed!).
I am proud to say that I never had to supplement her over the past 8 months (that’s not knocking formula FYI ; I am just proud of my body for keeping up with her!!) . I often find every couple of months she goes back to ‘cluster feeding’ which is totally normal; although exhausting as she can end up wanting to feed like a newborn every two hours. This is in order to increase my supply to match a growth spurt, so I have to just ‘get on with it’ until my supply increases to keep up with her. During these times I increase water intake, drink fennel tea, and supplement with Brewers Yeast capsules which I really find effective for milk production.
If I have any advice for someone in the early days of their breastfeeding journey, I would say KEEP THE FAITH! It does get easier I promise, and the convenience of having milk ready to go anywhere, anytime is so handy. I have huge respect for bottlefeeding mothers having to take all that extra time to prepare and sterilize bottles. When I am I work and have to prepare Ellie’s bottles for her minder it drives me bananas! I absolutely adore the bond that I have with Ellie from feeding her and my heart still jumps when I see her little beady eyes gaze up at me while she’s latched. Whenever she gets upset a breastfeed comforts her like the flick of a switch and (touch wood!) bar the odd little sniffle; she’s never been sick; which I attribute to immunity passed over to her from my milk.
I never put myself under pressure to have a target for how long I want to feed her for, but as it’s going so well I certainly want to make it to the year long mark. I’m not sure what I want to do after this point, and I am very open minded so I will cross that bridge when it comes. For now though, I couldn’t love breastfeeding her any more . If you are reading this and are an expectant mother who is undecided about giving it a go or not (I can only speak from my experience) I would defo say give it a shot, but don’t put yourself under pressure!
So like I said at the beginning of this post, I didn’t do things by the book. Ellie had very bad reflux for the first few months of her life, so on the recommendation of family members (and my GP) I started to wean her early at approx 18 weeks.
I am very fussy about what she eats and I am so conscious these days about what is in our food. I think in an age of packaged and processed foods…. there has to be a link to I’ll health (i.e. Cancers ) in later life. I want Ellie to enjoy a full and varied diet, however with majority from homecooked, non processed fresh food.
I get a bit freaked out when I look at packaged baby food when I see the amount of crap (sugar, preservatives etc) added to them. For that reason I first started Ellie on spoon feeds of mashed sweet potatoes, mashed avocado, bananas, blended berries etc. I did a mixture of Baby Led Weaning and Puréed food which has worked really well so far.
I got a message this week questioning my choice to make Ellie’s food with coconut oil and use almond milk etc in her breakfast sometimes (given the risks of nuts and babies). This was purely my own decision as dairy affects her reflux and it affects my eczema so I am cautious with adding dairy to her diet. The benefits of coconut oil are huge and thankfully Ellie has had no reactions to anything I have given her. I will stay away from peanuts etc as they trigger highly on allergen levels on anything I have read, but for now I am happy to continue to use these in her diet. These days I feel any food is a potential risk for an allergic reaction , so the process of weaning has this threat with everything you trial.
I make majority of Ellie’s food myself, however if I am ‘stuck’ I will happily give her food from the Pip and Pear baby food Range; as this range is as good as homemade in my view. The shelf life is shorter (as it should be …. it’s fresh!), it is found in the refrigerator section (again… shows me there’s no preservatives keeping it at shelf temp!) and the ingredients are of a really high quality and are organic.
I make up most of her food combos myself, but it is a good idea to just scan the baby isle to get ideas of mixes from packaged baby food and recreate them at home yourself. Initially Ellie loved my mixes of avocado, tomato, sweet potato and broccoli . She also loves strawberries, blueberries and apple. Even weird and wonderful combos like sweet potato butternut squash, blueberry, and apple.
At the moment she’s at ‘Stage 2’ of weaning so she’s enjoying lumpier textures and I have introduced her to fish and meat which she really likes.
She currently has two meals a day along with her breastfeeds. A typical example of her breakfast would be organic oats made with with my milk or unsweetened almond milk or water ( the oats are the ones I’d eat, I never gave her baby porridge) with mixed berries and some dairy free Koko plain yogurt with cinnamon. A dinner could be salmon or chicken with potato (sweet or white mashed with a little coconut oil) broccoli/peas/carrots it depends on what I have in the house. She will also snack on fruit or plain rice cakes etc throughout the day if she’s giving out.
That’s just a brief idea of how we are doing so far. I am so happy that Ellie is really enjoying both the breastfeeding and weaning and I hope that she continues to enjoy a varied diet and develops a good palate.
If you’ve any questions…. feel free to get onto me!