Help a Heart

A few days ago I sent out an email to my mailing list informing them that I will soon be offering my services as a naturopath to support mothers through pregnancy, birth preparation and the post-natal months. I was busy celebrating my baby’s first birthday and feeling my heart swell with love and gratitude for my family when I received a response to this email from a lovely lady called Rosie telling me of a mum that needs some support. Upon further investigation and several back and forths with Rosie, I found myself compelled to help as best as I possibly could.

Rosie has been trying to help out a family during a very difficult time. She has made up a flyer and is distributing it on her own. Rosie has only just gotten her first computer and has no social media connections and is unaware of how powerful social media can be in lifting people up and supporting them through times such as these.

I want to show Jane, the mum that Rosie is helping that she is not alone.

I  have had 2 children in and out of hospital for every couple of months for nearly 2 years. Every time we ended up in hospital, I felt so lucky that I was only going to be there for a week at the most. I knew that my children would have surgery and come home and be OK. I had the support of a loving partner and a dear friend and still I found it a terrifying ordeal.  I know that many mothers know the pain and stress of having a child chronically ill and in hospital. I know that there are many people out there that can empathise with this situation and if they knew about it, would like to help.

Please read the flyer below that Rosie has put together. Read Jasmine’s story.

If you feel moved to do so, here are some things that you can do to Help a Heart and support a mum.

  1. Make a small donation-  Anything, no matter how small will be appreciated. I’m not going to bother with a paypal widget because I want all funds raised going straight to the mother that needs it rather than paypal getting a cut. You’ll find donation details on the flyer below.
  2. Help me spread the word. If you have a blog, please consider blogging about this as I have.  Tweet about this or post about it on facebook. For anyone more social media savvy than me- I welcome help, suggestions and advice on how to spread the word.
  3. Leave a comment of support below. I’ll compile them and send them in card to Jasmine’s mum while they are in hospital. There is huge power in just knowing that people care and if that’s all that comes out of me writing this post, then I’ll consider it time well spent.

Birthaversary Reflections

WARNING- This is a bit of a soppy self indulgent post. Today is my baby’s first birthday. It’s my party, I can sniff if I want to 😉 
You can read about Lachie’s birth here.

This time last year, I was doing my best to sleep with excited anticipation knowing full well that I’d wake up some time during the night in active labour. I didn’t know how beautifully gentle it would turn out to be. I expected it to be fast and furious like my third birth. I had the intention right from the beginning of this pregnancy that this was to be a healing experience for me and the very gentlest welcome possible for my baby. It was. It was perfect.  I really want women to know that drug free, intervention free, gentle births can happen in hospital as well as at home. They do and can happen, but that’s a whole other blog post for another day.

I tweeted throughout this birth. I had read a lot differing opinions about twitter births in the month leading up to Lachie’s birth day. Most of them were negative. The biggest concerns were that it should be a private experience and that both mum and dad should be focusing on the labour. As usual, I did away with other peoples shoulds and found that it was still a very private and intimate experience for my husband and I. We were alone for most of the labour and hubs was very definitely there for me when I needed him. Twitter was a nice distraction at times.

My experience of twitter birthing was wonderful. I would do it again in a heartbeat if I was to ever have another baby ( I won’t, but if I did…) I felt so much support, I could feel so many people from all over the world holding me in their thoughts. There’s power in that. Those tweets from people offering kind words, positive thoughts, gentle birthing vibes and even cheering me on were truly uplifting. Plus… it gave my husband something to do while he was feeling like there was nothing he could do.  I’ve loved having my husband with me while birthing each time and this time, it was so relaxed that we had some fun together. Lightened the situation a little. I think that laughter during childbirth is just as good a medicine as it is at other times in life. Not during contractions though. Husbands need to shut up during contractions.

I wish I could bottle the feelings I had following the birth of this little guy. That feeling of absolute bliss. That sense of achievement and super hero like empowerment I had. I remember looking in the mirror after birthing and thinking that I looked beautiful, I think I even told myself I looked beautiful. I’ve never, ever thought that about myself before. Ever. Clearly, I was completely off my face on oxytocin and happy birthing and bonding hormones.

I don’t know where the time’s gone. I’ve said that before and I know it’s such a cliche, but this year… seriously, that can’t have been once around the sun. I’m sure I’ve missed half a year somewhere.

This itty baby I had a year ago is now an amazing individual who toddles around the house, delightfully enjoying the company of whoever he can find. He’s so affectionate. He presses his face to my lips when he wants a kiss and has just learnt how to give baby kisses himself.  He hunts me down in the night like a little heat seeking missle and tucks himself under my arm to sleep. He’s so full of joy and determination and love. So much love. I really am blessed beyond belief to have this blossoming bonus baby.

9 Things to Know About Breastfeeding and Alcohol During the Festive Season

At this time of year, many women who don’t normally drink will have a few and those that drink regularly, have a few more. A study of 1006 Australians has been reported to show a 1/3 increase in alcohol consumption during the festive season. I know myself as a breastfeeding usually non drinker, that I’ve already had 3 nights out with alcohol consumed in the past 2 weeks. My baby is 11 months old and I can easily metabolise a glass of wine in between feeds. But are there guidelines for combining alcohol and breastfeeding? How long do you need to leave it between drinking and feeding? What about younger babies? Are there any risks to the baby if Mum has a drink or two then feeds?

It turns out we know quite a lot about how alcohol works in breastmilk. It gets into the breastmilk from the blood and leaves the breastmilk at the same rate as alcohol leaves the blood. So if you feel drunk, there will be some alcohol in your milk. The concentration of alcohol in the breastmilk is less than 2% of what mum has had to drink. So unless you’re drinking large amounts, it’s fair to say that baby would be getting only very, very small amounts of alcohol and it’s better to drink and feed than to not feed at all due to the problems the disruption to feeding patterns can cause. However, while we know that only very small amounts of alcohol will be passed through the milk, we don’t know how occasional tiny, tiny amounts of alcohol effects a baby.

Here are 9 things that I think every mother needs to know about drinking and breastfeeding.

  1. Time taken for alcohol to clear from breastmilk depends on your weight. For an average sized women, it conservatively takes 2 hours to get rid of each standard drink. That’s 2 hours for 1, 4 hours for 2, 6 hours for 3 etc. The smaller you are, the more time it takes to metabolise each drink. Alcohol becomes present in your milk 30-60 mins from the time you start drinking.
  2. The only way to reduce the amount of alcohol in your breastmilk is to wait it out. Once you stop drinking, the amount of alcohol in your blood and breastmilk will start to drop.
  3. There is no point to expressing milk while you are drunk to throw affected milk away, the ol’ pump n’ dump is a myth. You just need to wait enough time for the alcohol to clear from the milk. Express only if you need to for comfort. If you do express while affected by alcohol, throw it away because the alcohol will stay in the milk once removed from the breast.5.
  4. For very young babies, it is best NOT TO DRINK at all. Babies under 1 month old cannot metabolise alcohol, their liver is still maturing. Also, to establish a good supply and avoid feeding difficulties you need to be available to feed a newborn at their whim. This may mean that on the day you decide to have a drink baby decides a feeding marathon is in order and wants to feed every hour.  In this case, you don’t have time to metabolise even 1 standard drink between feeds. This may seem a little harsh but, if you wouldn’t drink while pregnant, it’s not that much more to refrain for another 4-8 weeks while your baby develops the ability to cope with the alcohol and you get supply and demand in synch.
  5.  Binge drinking is never a good idea for anyone- breastfeeding or not. But, if you plan to go out and write yourself off, or if you sometimes accidently do so- freeze milk to leave for your baby and find someone take care of your baby until you’re no longer affected by alcohol.
  6. Breastmilk with a small amount of alcohol in it is still better than any breastmilk substitute. So if baby is hungry, you have no expressed milk, you’ve had a drink or 2 and think you still have alcohol in your milk, feed anyway.
  7. Alcohol can affect your let down and slow the flow of milk. This may make baby a bit fussy at the breast.
  8. Babies that are affected by alcohol in the milk may fall asleep quicker but wake more frequently and suffer tummy upsets the next day.

Peace on Earth and good will to all.

x  Julie

Additional Information
Women who are breastfeeding are strongly advised not to drink in excess because alcohol impairs a mothers ability to look after her baby. If the mother continues to drink a lot, perhaps it is time to consider alcoholic detox programs to help both mother and child.