Monday 25 March 2013

Mine! Mine! The Story of Ellie's Breast Milk Keepsake

A Pendant with a large heart shaped milk bead with a pink background

Hands up all those that have had a smooth, unmemorable breastfeeding journey with their loved one/s?

No hands?

Even my second journey with Ellie, which had no initial nipple pain or latch problems has never been unevenful and she surprises me every day.  Last night she asked for "boobie" and then blew a raspberry on it and laughed!

When I think about breastfeeding I remember;

William would feed any time, anywhere and never said no.  Ellie would only feed when she was ready and not before.

My right breast has always had a fast let-down and would choke even my 9lb son in his first few weeks and that when they came off during let-down they would get a face full of milk.  My right breast was also my best pumper and after a while I didn't even bother trying to pump my left.

Both my babies needed only one breast per feed until they learned to ask for it and then went from having 2,3,4...... per feed just because they could.

The feed at the end of the day when they would fall asleep at the breast, snuggling close to me as we all get some well deserved rest.

The first time that William met Ellie and he was gracious enough to let her have the "Other" boobie while he had "My Boobie" (the right).

Breastfeeding has been how I have parented for the last 5 years.  It's how I have nourished and comforted my babies and I wouldn't change a thing.  All things worthwhile in life are challenging which makes them all the more cherished.
 My Breast Milk Pendant and Ellie's Pendant

I want to remember this precious time for the rest of my life and now I have a beautiful keepsake as a daily reminder of each special moment and the pride I have felt for achieving what I set out to do so long ago now.

 Claire and her adorable twins

I have known Claire for a while now.  I first met her after she won a competition on the breastfeeding resource blog Dispelling Breastfeeding Myths.  Her prize was a free nursing bra fitting and nursing bra so I travelled out to her lovely home in Kent to meet her and her lovely twins in May 2012.

 A selection of charms suitable for Pandora bracelets etc.....

I think that before I moved back to the UK I could count on one finger the number of Mums that I had met who had successfully breastfeed twins.  Since then I have met many such inspirational Mummy's who have defied the myth that "you can't breastfeed twins" and found the support and determination to breastfeed their twins.  Claire is one of these Mums.  Now, when I am asked about breastfeeding twins I can say with conviction that it is completely possible and direct them to a couple of great blogs that talk about their experiences.

Claire, AKA Twinkle Mummy to Spud and Sprout

Jennie, AKA Edspire, Mummy to Esther, William and little angel Matilda Mae 

Claire also dispells another breastfeeding myth "small breasts = not enough milk" which she has written about here so I hope she won't mind me sharing that.  I will however, keep her size a secret (a bra fitter never tells).

 You can have your bead embedded in a bangle

I think it was towards the end of last year (2012) that I first heard about Breast Milk Keepsakes.  I saw a picture of the first breast milk pendant on facebook with the names "spud" and "sprout"* and thought to myself "Gosh, those names sound familiar".  I filed the keepsake away as something to do later on and went to Texas for Christmas until I saw a blog post written by Twinkle Mummy talking about the pendant she had with her sons names on.  So I thought to myself that the person making them must have made one for Claire to review and again thought nothing of it but wanted one even more. 

 The First Pendant for Spud & Sprout

While in Texas The Breast Milk Keepsakes were launched and it finally all fell into place that Claire AKA Twinkle Mummy AKA Spud & Sprout's Mum was also actually the one making and selling the Breast Milk Keepsakes.  It's Claire that has worked hard over the last year experimenting with her own milk to make her very own keepsake and is now making breast milk keepsakes for women around the World, including me!

 My William and Ellie Pendant

On my return to the UK Claire and I made a pumping/bra fitting date and I travelled out to visit her family again along with Ellie (22mo).  Our kiddies are pretty close in age and they played together very well while we talked colours, metals and shapes for the milk bead, and Claire even had a few minutes to try on some pretty nursing bras from Hotmilk.

 Charms can be made for your bracelet

I hadn't pumped in over a year, so I was rather excited to express almost 50ml from my right side (my pumping boob).  Ellie wasn't as excited and tried to fight the pump shouting "My Boobie!".

I do think that I received the better end of the deal.  Claire sent my keepsake just a few weeks later and it is just stunning!  I asked for a large star to represent my big boy William who is currently 5 who breastfed for 46 months and a small star to represent little Ellie who is still breastfeeding at 23mo.  I've always loved silver and navy blue as a combination so that was an easy choice.

 Ellie's pendant

Claire surprised me with a small pink pendant for Ellie when she gets a little older.  It's so beautiful with a tear drop of milk at the centre and Ellie loves it already.  Actually, every time Ellie sees one of Claires business cards, flyers or her facebook page she points and says "Mine, Mine!"

It's hard to explain to someone else why a Breast Milk Keepsake might be an appropriate gift for a breastfeeding Mum.  Each breastfeeding journey is unique and special to both the Mother and child.  Breastfeeding for many is one of the hardest yet greatest achievements of their time as a new Mum and a keepsake can help symbolise that time.

 Cufflinks for your greatest supporter

To own your very own keepsake you will need to send Claire about an ounce of milk (30ml).  You can then choose the shape of your milk bead, the background colour and the piece of jewellery you would like it embedded.  I have taken some photos from the Breast Milk Keepsake Facebook page to show you an assortment of what is possible.

 You can have something engraved on the back

I bet you are wondering how Claire does it, but that's a closely kept secret.  It took Claire over 10 months of trial and error to create the finished keepsake toay so I don't have an answer for you.  You can contact Claire to order your very own Breast Milk Keepsake at;

*Names have been changed (excuse my poor graphics abilities)      

Friday 22 March 2013

Rene Schwencke - Independent Midwife Answers Questions About Dividing Tongue-Ties in Kent

Rene is an independent midwife practising in the South East of London/North Kent area providing ante natal, labour and post natal services in the comfort of your own home.

Rene uses a lot of complementary therapies during her day-to-day practise such as Australian bush flower remedies, Raiki. aromatherapy, homeopathy, massage and reflexology.  She has also taken additional training so that she can perform the initial infant checks and complete tongue-tie divisions all in the comfort of your own home at a time when you want to be safe and calm after the birth of your newborn.

Rene and I have somewhat crossed paths previously because we both work with pregnant women and new Mums and we both work in the same area doing home visits.  The subject of tongue-tie comes up a lot in breastfeeding forums, support groups and in random conversations on the bus when people find out I work in breastfeeding.  There are two complaints that are raised during these conversations;   

"It wasn’t diagnosed or the Doctor did not believe that a tongue-tie could cause feeding problems" and 
"I couldn’t find someone to do the procedure or convince the Doctor to make a referral"

Rene trained in Southampton to perform tongue-tie divisions (frenotomy’s) in 2012 and she has agreed to answer some questions about tongue-tie and about the services that she provides locally.

What is Tongue-Tie?

Tongue-Tie is when either, there is a piece of skin under the tongue (anterior) which being too tight stops the baby from latching onto the breast correctly, or under the tongue at the back is very thick (posterior).

With an anterior tie the tongue cannot reach the top of the mouth so the baby cannot create enough suction to hold the nipple in the mouth.  Baby will latch and then slip off causing damage to nipples.  Mum will usually experience nipple pain and baby will become exhausted as they try so hard get enough milk.  This is more obvious in the early days.

With a posterior tie, the tongue action pushes the nipple out of the mouth rather than pull the nipple in. You may also hear a “clicking” when baby is feeding and see milk dribbling out of the corner of the mouth as the suction is lost. This tends to show itself as the baby gets a little older.

This is my daughter's tongue shortly after birth.  I have a family history but this one caused no feeding problems

Is Tongue-Tie common?

Tongue-Tie occurs in about 10 in 100 babies of these about 4.5 will have a problem with feeding and or speech.  It can also run in families.

What are some possible symptoms of a tongue-tie?

Symptoms from Mum:
Sore Nipples
Pinched or blanched nipples after feeds
Mastitis (a breast infection) because milk emptying is not adequate
Lowered milk supply
Stress and exhaustion from frequent feeds or extended feeds and a feeling of failure to feed adequately.

Symptoms for Baby:
Restricted movement of the tongue or a not very wide mouth when feeding
A baby that is not content after feedings
A baby coming off of the breast a lot during feeding
A baby that falls asleep quickly at the breast
Very frequent feeds or very long feeds
A large weight loss or failure to gain weight
Clicking, drooling, excessive gas due to a lack of suction during feeds

Why have you decided to train and perform tongue-tie divisions (frenulotomy)?

In my Independent practice I have found more and more tongue-ties.  In the past I would need to refer them to a local lactation consultant and we would both have to agree that further treatment was needed.  The parent then had to get a referral from their GP to be seen by an NHS consultant, which could take weeks or even months.  This was unacceptable to me supporting Mums who were in pain, with a baby losing or not gaining, and Dad being completely at a loss as to what to do. Now I am qualified, I can do the procedure quickly and so minimise any disruption to breastfeeding.

How do you divide a Tongue-tie?

I use the same technique that is used in hospitals.  General anaesthetic is not needed and it only takes a minute or two.  I simply wrap the baby in a towel, divide the tongue-tie with a pair of sterile blunt-ended scissors, and then hand them back to Mum so that they can be fed.

Are there any potential problems with this procedure?

Not really, a number of small babies are asleep when I start, asleep when I do it, and asleep afterwards.  Older babies do not like being wrapped up so they usually cry out, and it can sometimes be really quite difficult to know whether or not dividing their tongue-tie is actually painful, as they are already complaining from being swaddled. I accept that some babies will cry for up to 60 seconds but on average its 15 seconds. I would emphasise that there are some babies who remain asleep. So although common sense says that it ought to hurt, there are some babies to whom it does not hurt at all and for the rest it does not hurt very much.

A few drops of blood are normal, but this always stops and is never a problem.
There will be a wound that you may feel needs something done about.  The inside of the mouth heals much faster than other areas of the body.  It is normal for the lining of the mouth to continually be worn away and renewed. This happens even more quickly in babies, so there is no need for any form of wound management, merely breastfeeding. Often there is a white patch under the tongue which takes 24 - 48 hours to heal.

What do you charge for this service?

I will be very happy to divide your baby's tongue-tie, especially if they have a feeding problem. There is a standard fee of £120, within 10 miles of Bexleyheath. If over 10 miles mileage is chargeable. All you will need is your child's Red Book (Parent Held Record) so that l can record relevant details.

If you have any questions about tongue-tie or would like to contact Rene for a consultation here are her details-

You can read more about the services Rene provides as an Independent Midwife on her website.