The truth about breastfeeding, and products that can help you along the way.

So there is phase of motherhood that no one really “tells you about”… You know all about the milestones and a little about the burping and sleep patterns, but everyone fails to mention those first 8 weeks, where as a new mother, your body aches in places you never knew existed. If you have chosen the breastfeeding route, you feel as if someone has put you through 12 rounds of a boxing ring. The one thing you don’t see in those cosy cute pictures of mammas breastfeeding their babe’s is the endless hours of “back end” work to get them there. Soothing hot towels, cabbage leaves to reduce swelling, nipple creams slathered on 🙂

So let me set the record straight, Breastfeeding, in the early days is PAINFUL! Before everyone jumps on and shouts at me to say Breastfeeding shouldn’t be painful, I’m not referring to the ACTUAL act of breastfeeding, I’m referring to everything around it. Your breasts are adapting, your milk kicks in and they are they are full, hot, swollen and bruised and then dealing with a baby learning to latch correctly you can get all sorts of issues happening with your nipples (I looked for a more kosher word but sorry, there isn’t one 🙂 ). Let me say this does only normally last for about 3 weeks, the pain does go away, but in that moment, it can feel like a lifetime. I encourage all mums to HANG IN THERE! Please, continue on in your breastfeeding journey, if you can, it is one of the worlds most beautiful experiences.

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This blog is focused on products that can help you through that, and hopefully, get you on track to one of the most rewarding experiences ever. I managed to exclusively breastfeed both of my boys for over a year each (I don’t have anything against formula, I personally just found it more convenient to breastfeed.) Here are some of the things that helped me through:

A lanolin based salve can do wonders for sore, cracked nipples in the early days. I tried both Medela and Lansinoh. My personal favourite was Lansinoh – it has no horrible “stickiness” to it.

Seamless nursing bra – A good nursing bra is a God send, you will literally spend 24 hours a day, and then some in them 🙂  Personally I used “Carriwell”, and used both the normal t-shirt ones and the ones with extra padding. The extra padding can really help especially when baby starts sleeping for longer stretches.

Electric pump – Personally for me, this was my best friend and I would never have lasted so long in my breastfeeding journey without my Medela swing pump. I actually started off with the single swing pump, and after spending 20 mins each side expressing thought I should switch to the double. Ironically, the single pump was waaay more effective and remains my staple. Going back to work when expressing is always fun, I would hide myself in a locked interview room pumping while interviews were taking place in the rooms around me J. I will say I HATED the time spent pumping, I felt like I was wasting time (though I know the end result was far from that), often I considered pumping on the way home whilst stuck in traffic and I know many mums that successfully do so. Pumping also helps to stimulate milk production if you have a dip in your supply.

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Nursing pads – I started off using the Phillips range and to this day that was by far my favourite. Soft, non itchy and disposable but for some reason I couldn’t find them anymore in South Africa, so I switched to Pigeon. Once your milk is more settled and more of a routine formed I switched to cotton based, washable ones which were a big cost saver.

Cooling Gel Pads – Can be used hot (to stimulate your milk production) or cold (to soothe the pain). I will be honest, I didn’t use mine . I found them a bit uncomfortable and heavy, and in the early days the ONLY thing that worked for me was warm wash cloths and cabbage leaves J YES, Cabbage leaves. However I know a lot of new mums that swear by them.

Extra Vitamins – This is a must! breastfeeding, coupled with lack of sleep, or rather broken sleep, drains you! You need essential vitamins to promote healthy supply. Continue with your prenatal vitamins even after birth. You need all of those extra vitamins for breastfeeding. Personally the found the hugely popular Preg-Omega disagreed with me, the Salmon Oil content (or something) was too high and made me terribly nauseas. I switched early on to a generic pharmaceutical brand and that worked like a dream. My best breastfeeding tonic was Vitaforce’s Schlehen Blackthorn Berry Elixir (with my firstborn I swore by it). I would make up litres of jungle juice to store in the fridge. With my second, I just took a good old tablespoon every time I felt I needed it. The other thing you desperately need is WATER, and lots of it!

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C Shaped nursing pillows – These are life changing. They take all the weight off your arms and baba sits at the perfect position, so no wriggly awkwardness. If you have had a c-section, it also protects your scar.

Nursing Cover/ Breastfeeding blanket – Debatable … Ummmm I will admit I never really used it. Nothing that a good old muslin blanket won’t quickly cover up when you need it to and IF your baby doesn’t mind the cover over him/her.

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Whatever your breastfeeding journey is, or for however long it lasts, remember each day is an accomplishment. You have given your baby precious anti bodies and created a beautiful bond. Try and join your local la Leche league to invaluable advice and encouragement.

I’d love to hear your breastfeeding stories, one thing I have learnt is to talk about it more. Every woman who has had children and gone through the same thing but for some reason, the struggles around breastfeeding aren’t spoken about enough. The aim of this blog is to open that up. Its okay, we have been there, and as fellow mother’s we should all support each other. Every way we can.

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Empowering our future, making South Africa a better place.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela

There is nothing more that breaks my heart than the fact that around the world there is STILL no balance in terms of education. I was fortunate to grow up in a country where we didn’t have racial divide, or rather, social issues CREATED BY racial divide. As such we didn’t see “townships” and at that point, our main concern was helping orphans. As such it really makes my blood boil to think that not everyone has an equal right to education, this is the very founding of our future. 

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Every single child deserves the right to a full education.  That, as a society, is the LEAST we can do. This is how we can start by building a better nation, this is how we eradicate social injustice, this is how we can alleviate poverty.

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 Our adventure clubs outing this week took us to the Kya Sands Container Pre School, created by “Build the Future”. Build the future has 3 projects within South Africa, a preschool in KZN, Gogos Soup Kitchen in Soweto and the Kya Sands preschool.

I really feel it’s important to instil in my children, from as young as possible, that we are all one, and as human beings we should always try to do our best and give to those that have less than us. So before we went the boys went to their toys to pick out ones they don’t play with any more and to choose books that they thought other children would like to read. My 3 year old was so enthusiastic about it and proudly wanted to give his SOME of his toys to children that had less than he did. (Proud mummy moment). They then took the selected toys along with some soup and bread to give the children at snack time and together they enjoyed story time and a competitive game of soccer.

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But more on the fantastic work that Build the Future is doing:

Build the future was founded in 2006 and since then they have made tremendous ground in establishing early learning development in informal settlements in South Africa. Their mission is to plant container schools throughout the country. Children are given a safe haven in which to play and learn and they are also fed healthy meals twice a day. If memory serves correctly, they started off with one container for 40 children and now have 3 classrooms with over 100 children. At Kya Sands they have their own vegetable garden, teaching sustainable development, which had a fantastic array of green beans, spinach, and cabbage to name a few.

 So how can you help?

There are a number of ways to assist the preschool. Firstly you could sponsor a child for R350 per month, this covers the costs of food and education for one child. Secondly they often host “Work days” which are great days where you can get involved in the community. Food donations are always welcome and they are always looking for nutritional food donations and cooking supplies. Lastly of course, get in touch with them to see if you can volunteer your time or expertise. The children loved having visitors and you could sing songs, do puzzles or get involved on a weekly basis with some of the preschool projects.

Build the Future is also always on the lookout for artisans to volunteer their time or expertise. Even if you are not able to make a financial contribution, maintenance and upkeep of the schools is always needed.

Being in containers and exposed to the harsh elements, winter in particular is a harder time. If you can knit beanies or can give a donation of warm clothes/ shoes this would also help a great deal.

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 So with all the uncertainty of the world happening around us, and South Africa officially being in a “recession”, lets all work together to improve our lives, one child at a time. Nelson Mandela so truly quoted again, There is no better judge of society than the way in which we treat our children.

Lets Rise up and create a better future for ourselves, and our children.

Contact details for Build the Future:

Director of Build the Future Phillip Shapriro 0823438886 or visit the website to donate through there at www.buildthefuture.org or email info@buildthefuture.org.za

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