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    My breastfeeding nightmare

    My breastfeeding nightmare

    I had no idea what was coming my way. 

     

    Whilst every bone in my body has felt ready for motherhood for as long as I can remember, nothing was going to prepare me for the breastfeeding hell.

     

    No book or instructions handout, no NCT class, no hospital workshop, no breastfeeding expert, no video, no hypnobirthing app, nothing and no one was going to prevent the two years of trauma that were to follow my child’s birth.

     

    For two full years, whenever anyone would ask me when we’re planning to make another adorable little human, I would literally cease up in discomfort and go into panic mode, my stomach burning with pain and my throat drying up. 

     

    For two full years, I thought it was the trauma of birth that did this to me. 

     

    [Without going into too much detail- every contraction made me re-live the car accident from 16 years earlier. It was as if my spinal fusion was being smashed from the inside and I felt my back breaking over and over for eight longest hours of my life.]

     

    It wasn’t until Lake turned two and I felt that she needed a sibling, that I was ready to address the wound and deal with the pain. I knew I wouldn’t want to bring another child into the world with so much fear occupying my cells. So I had my mum put together a cell memory clearing meditation for me to follow and I enrolled in The Journey course to help me through this.

     

    What I uncovered through this intense healing process was that it wasn’t the birth at all which I was most afraid of, it was the first three months that followed birth.

     

    And so in order to deal with the trauma and to completely let go, I went on to re-live the nightmare. My breastfeeding hell.

     

    I remembered the piercing screams of a hungry baby that simply wasn’t getting enough milk.

     

    I remembered the dozen or so midwives that came through our doors to ‘assist with the issue’ over time. 

     

    I remembered each one of them attempting to get the crying child to latch by forcing her over my breasts while I bit my fist in agony and cried with her.

     

    breastfeeding awareness week

     

    I remembered telling Elliot not to allow any visitors because it was too painful to put a top over the raw and bleeding scabs of my nipples.

     

    I remembered the heartache of not being able to comfort and to hold my baby too close for that very same reason. 

     

    I remembered Lake sucking only to peel the scabs off till blood ran down her cheeks.

     

    I remembered the midwives panic because my baby wasn’t only not regaining her birth weight at 10 days old, she continued to lose weight. She slept for 5 hours at a time because she had no energy and cried when she was awake because she was so hungry.

     

    Still they insisted that I persevere with breastfeeding and not give in to formula no matter what. 

     

    I remembered sobbing in the shower from physical pain of my exploding breasts, the scabs, the blood, the blocked milk ducts; and the emotional pain of feeling like a complete failure in my first task as a mother that provides for her newborn in the most basic way.

     

    I remembered how surreal and dehumanising it felt to literally be milked not only by strangers that came through our doors but even my own husband.

     

    I remembered never being able to sleep, not because I was over-exhausted, but because I needed every minute to mentally prepare myself for the immense agony of feeding a child as soon as she was ready to wake up.

     

    I remembered taking this innocent child into my arms and seeing only a mouse trap that was about to jam itself over my raw skin and send me into more silent screams.

     

    I remembered wanting to slice off my breasts because I thought anything will be less painful than them blowing up till I saw skin tearing with my own eyes.

     

    I remembered Elliot sprinting to Superdrug in freezing January to buy out shelves of any product relating to breastfeeding or soothing a baby.

     

    I remembered how much I wept from the depth of my core when I tried using a hand pump to relieve me of the milk build up, only to feel the scabs of my nipples crack open and see nothing but blood drip into the bottle.

     

     

    I remembered how exhausted I was to care when someone finally picked up on the fact that Lake was tongue tied to latch properly and had a severe case of asymmetry. (Her neck was jammed in one position and her head was always turned to the right, which meant that feeding equally on both breasts was not only difficult and painful for her, it was pretty much impossible, till we called in a cranial osteopath to release the muscles. This apparently happened as she was developing inside me- she was growing into a long baby inside a short mother so there wasn’t much room to move and she kinda found a comfy position to keep growing with her head turned to one side).

     

    Meanwhile a fellow NCT mum offered to lend me her electric pump and I refused because of what happened with the hand pump. She insisted that I give it a try and had it brought to my house. I stared at it with deep fear for at least a week.

     

    By the time we had Lake’s tongue tie fixed, by the time the osteopath’s magic work began to take effect and by the time I discovered how a miracle electric pump was going to give my nipples a break for a chance to heal.... my milk pretty much dried up.

     

    The next round of painful experience began.

    My baby was literally screaming from starvation and I felt like I failed her yet again by not having enough milk and by giving in to formula.

     

    For the first time in weeks, I could see the child was satisfied. Thank you Lord for baby goats!

     

     

    The midwives still went on about how important it is that I don’t give up and continue to breastfeed. 

     

    So I persisted and committed to trying any tip going that might help to increase breast milk production.

     

    Again, there was no chance for me to sleep. I was a mum on a mission...

     

    It felt like I had warm compresses on my breasts around the clock. If I wasn’t nursing Lake, I was expressing. If I wasn’t expressing, I was in a hot shower massaging my breasts to stimulate the milk production.

     

    I upped my calorie intake and started loading on complex carbs like brown rice, beans and whole grain pasta. I was steeping fenugreek, raspberry leaf, stinging nettle and fennel seeds all the time to take as a tea. I started drinking dairy for the first time in years, because I heard that a glass of warm milk before nursing will increase my own milk. It did work for a short time and when it didn’t, I started to drink formula myself. (That was one of the low points of the whole mission). 

     

    The next round of painful experience began. My baby got the taste for formula milk and was no longer interested in mine. 

     

    It was also a big effort for her to breastfeed, while the bottled milk just flowed. 

     

    It was difficult enough witnessing just how much she no longer wanted my milk, but when a stranger dining at my cafe made a remark like ‘I do hope that’s breastmilk in that bottle’, it left me in tears for weeks.

     

    I knew how it looked to an outsider: A raw food expert with her own organic cafe, promoting natural living, that's free from animal foods - wasn’t even breastfeeding her own newborn. Instead she was feeding her dairy milk formula! 

     

    I hated feeling like I had to explain myself to friends before I pulled out bottle feed, but the last thing I thought I’d be doing is avoiding my own beloved haven of a restaurant at the risk of the judging eyes.

     

     

    It’s Breastfeeding Awareness Week and every year starting August 1st, I see hundreds of posts on the importance of breastmilk, as well promotion to stop the shaming of mothers nursing in public.

     

    Although I am 100 percent in full support of this incredibly important initiative, I felt like I needed to write this post for a number of reasons-

     

    1. I needed to do this for my own healing to be complete. I have a brand new life growing inside of me now and I am determined to bring this child into the world without fear. (Surprise!) 
    2. I now know what to look for (ie. tongue tie, asymmetry, electric pump) the second time around. Hopefully someone else reading this will benefit from knowing these signs and won't need to suffer for as long as I did.
    3. If you’re also struggling with so much pressure to breastfeed, while crying from unbearable agony, just know that all this pain and fear is being passed on to your child via the hormones in your milk. Yes, the goodness in your milk may outweigh the fear hormones and Yes, we don’t know what the animal that was being milked went through and what fear hormones it might be passing on via formula, but I do know this... As soon as I relaxed and the pressure (mainly in my own head) to breastfeed went away, the love and the bond between me and my child blossomed. Love is the ultimate fuel. Babies need our love just as much as they need food to survive (if not more).
    4. Please whatever you do, DO NOT judge a mother feeding her child in any which way she possibly can. You have no idea how many tears she cried till the point that she could comfortably breastfeed in public. You have zero clue as to how often she was losing the will to live until she could soothe her baby with a bottle. Believe me when I say ‘she is doing her very very best’.

     

    So much love going out to all the new mamas, the newborns and the judging eyes. We are, after all, the ones that need it the most.

     

    xTanya

     

     

    Healthy baby weaning recipes with 3 ingredients or less

    Healthy baby weaning recipes with 3 ingredients or less


    Weaning can be so confusing.

    Even NHS seem confused.

    First they recommend weaning at five months, then at six months and now they suggest that four months is the ideal time to introduce your baby to solids to avoid possible food intolerances later in life.

    The food intolerance reason does make sense to me, but I had to go with my own motherly instincts here and follow baby led weaning (which I was soon to learn is an actual thing, though I’m yet to read the book)…

    I let Lake lick fruits and my green smoothies here and there when she was four months. I added probiotics to her breastmilk when she was just a week old (via my own diet and by coating nipple in it). I added spirulina to her bottle once a week when she was about two months. When I finally decided to try out with her first ‘meal’, it was a banana and she only had 1 or 2 tiny spoonfuls. I was so excited to see how she likes it, that I blended up an entire banana, only to realise that this is not something to rush.

    For her next few ‘meals’ instead of trying out different foods in a blender, only to see them wasted, I would chew them up in my own mouth like mama-bird and feed her from a spoon. We started this process at five months with just one solid ‘meal’ per day, which quickly escalated to two ‘meals’, that also became a little bigger each day. Then instead of fitting in food in-between her milk feeds, I took one milk feed away and then another and replaced them with watered-down ‘solid meals’.

    Now at 7 months, instead of five milk feeds over the course of 24 hours, she has three milk feeds and two to three solid feeds, which are usually a decent bowl-full. Hungry growing girl.

    I try not to offer any snacks, so she understands her routine. Only water, which she happily accepts especially after rolling around all over the grass in the park.

    Lake Maher _ Lady Lake _ baby weaning tips healthy raw food vegan

    I think it’s always best to introduce little ones to solids with a mono diet and slowly add extra ingredients.

    Here are the foods Lake enjoyed immediately when they were blended up till smooth for her to swallow:

    1. Avocado, flesh only
    2. Peas, slightly softened in hot water
    3. Apples or pears, cored and peeled
    4. Banana, peeled
    5. Sweet potato, boiled
    6. Watermelon, so juicy, no need to blend, just let them suck

    Lake Maher _ Lady Lake _ healthy baby weaning recipes

    When it comes to recipes, I’ve tried sooooo many varieties, many not even worth mentioning, because the little lady just turned up her nose to them, no matter how hungry she was. There’s been lots of trial and error, but the below recipes are absolute winners in our household.

    There are no quantities, because only you will know how much your baby eats. If you find that there’s way too much waste, store it in the fridge and try giving it the next day warmed only by some boiling water.

     

    CREAMY APPLE
    Apple, peeled

    Usual milk (try seed milk!)

     

    -I never cook fruit, so you can assume that whenever I use fruit in baby recipes (with the exception of tomatoes- see more below), it is always raw. As fruits are super sweet already, the moment you apply high heat to them, whether boiling, heating, microwaving (may this never be you), baking or whatever, the carbohydrates in fruits transform into sugars. If you were to leave fruit simmering for hours and hours, all the liquids would evaporate away and the remainder crystallise into sugar. Cooking has its place, but in my opinion- not with fruit.

    -Peel, core and chop up the apple into the blender, add milk and blend. Experiment with millet, sunflower seed, buckwheat, hemp and pumpkin seed milks or even a mix.

     

    LAKE’S FAVOURITE DINNER
    Amaranth, cooked

    Tomato, organic and canned without anything added

     

    – Cook amaranth as per packet instructions. I usually soak 1 cup overnight, rinse and add 2.5 cups water, bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 mins or until it’s cooked to softness.
    -Everything is important purchased organic, especially when any pesticides or herbicides are about to enter the little stomaches of our children (these chemicals erupt the stomaches of insects and bugs, so since size is the only major difference between us and them, the effect pesticide-coated produce will have on us will be in a matter of time. I mention ‘organic’ next to tomato, because it’s one of those fruits all the insects go crazy for, so if they are not ‘organic’, they are 99.99% sure to be coated in chemicals. Tomatoes are also one of those very few foods that are better for us when cooked – tomatoes are rich in lycopene (the phytochemical which makes them red) and this antioxidant can be boosted with heat.

    -Blend cooked amaranth and cooked tomatoes till smooth. I use a ratio of 3:1 of amaranth to tomatoes.

     

    LIKE CHRISTMAS
    Oats, soaked in hot water
    Apple/pear, peeled and cored

    Cinnamon, a pinch

     

    -This blend is so so tasty, but just a little cinnamon would do. Try wipe it off the baby’s face as soon as eating is finished so it doesn’t aggravate the skin. (We made face masks with cinnamon as one of the ingredients at my Lush Escapes retreats some years ago and while most people had the loveliest subtle skin after the treatment, others swelled up for hours. My skin can tolerate it, but I noticed that Lake’s skin looks slightly red unless I wipe it off immediately after feeding.) Taken internally, cinnamon does wonders to balance out blood sugar levels so it’s key for sweets intake, including fruits.

    -Blend all the ingredients till smooth. As your baby grows and starts to chew, you can grate the apples instead of blending.

    -I also buy ready sprouted gluten-free oats from Planet Organic and Rude Health. They are a bit tougher than porridge or smoothie oats, so need longer soaking time in water.

     

    LAKE’S FAVOURITE LUNCH
    Avocado, flesh only

    Ripe Mango, peeled and chopped

     

    -I can’t even tell you how much mine loves this combo. She will open her mouth for more before even swallowing each spoonful! Avocado is such a versatile food and so good for everything. At 6 months, Lake could easily eat 1/2 a large avocado, which worried me at first, but babies are pretty clever and they will soon tell you if their system’s had enough. Now at 7 months, she is only excited if I give it to her every few days, not every day.

    -As both fruits are soft, I just mash them together with a fork.

     

    IRONKID
    Avocado, flesh only
    Ripe Pear, peeled and cored

    Spirulina, pinch

     

    -Spirulina is more than a superfood, it’s a wonder food! It has the highest amount of protein than any other food. Period. There is over 60g of essential amino acids that make up a perfect protein in every 100g of spirulina powder. It also has lots of chlorophyll for healthy cells and blood and it has masses of iron! You only need a sprinkling of this algae, so don’t let the price tag put you off.

    -Mash up all the ingredients together with a fork.

     

    BERRY BREAKFAST
    Banana, peeled
    Blackberry, organic
    or
    Pear, peeled and cored

    Mixed berries, organic

     

    -Tangy sweet berries go so well with creamy kind of fruits (‘creamy’ because you can easily blend these fruits and they won’t separate).
    -All berries (especially strawberries) fall into the Dirty Dozen category. These are the fruits and veggies that must always be purchased ‘organic’ or not purchased at all, because they are so heavily sprayed. (See my note about tomatoes under ‘Lake’s favourite dinner’).

    -Mash up the ingredients with a fork and that’s it.

     

    COCOQUINOA
    Quinoa

    Coconut yogurt

     

    -Quinoa, like millet, buckwheat and amaranth, is a seed not a grain. This immediately earns this wholefood more stars in my books. I don’t know why so much baby food contains rice, when quinoa is what has 3 times more protein, 10 times more minerals and only a fraction of the starches that are in rice. It’s the cost no doubt, although this is quickly changing as the demand and therefore production of quinoa seed continues to grow.

    -Cook quinoa according to packet instruction. I usually soak 1/2 cup overnight, rinse, add 1 cup water, bring to boil, then lower heat and cook for approx 10 minutes or until soft and fluffy. Transfer 4:1 quinoa to yogurt ration into a blender, add a little water if needed and blend till smooth. I kept trying to feed Lake quinoa without blending it up but she really didn’t like the texture and refused it till I tried to smooth it out.

     

    MASH
    Sweet potato, boiled

    Usual milk (try millet milk!)

     

    -Sweet potatoes are a wonderful -potato/not actually potato/ yam/ not actually yam- food for everyone. They are an excellent source of Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotin, amongst many other nutrients and minerals, without the starch content of potatoes. Simply peel, chop and boil till soft.

    -Blend the cooked sweet potato with expressed breastmilk or a seed milk from millet, buckwheat, hemp or sunflower seeds. (You can make your own by blending and straining seeds and water or you can buy a ready milk in Health Food stores, Planet Organic or Wholefoods Market).

     

    GROUNDING ROOTS
    Sweet potato
    Swede or turnip

    Carrot, raw

     

    -The carrots aren’t as starchy as other root vegetables and are perfectly fine raw. I actually try to avoid ever cooking carrots because they are already sweet enough and adding the heat, turns the carbohydrates into sugars, making them even sweeter and of course less nutritious. Peel the carrots and grate them into the blender.
    -Starchy veggies are best cooked, as the starches break down and make it possible for your (or baby’s) body to digest the other goodness in those roots. Peel the sweet potatoes and swede or turnip, chop up and boil till soft. Add to blender with a little of the water and blend.

    -When your baby starts to chew, you may like to just mash everything up with a fork instead of blending.

     

    MEDICINALLY YUMMY
    Avocado

    Medicinal mushroom latte (a blend of cordyceps, chaga, reishi, dates and almond milk, just like in The Uncook Book or at Tanya’s)

     

    -I was enjoying a Medicinal Mushroom Latte at work (Tanya’s) when Lake opened her mouth asking for a taste, I gave her a spoonful and she wanted more. It was almost her feeding time and I already had a mashed up avocado ready to go, so I stirred in some of the latte. She gobbled it up like nothing I’ve seen before. Can only be a good thing especially since Cordyceps is amazing for energy, reishi for relaxation and chaga for immunity. Plus all those essential fats for growth and protein for strength, both in the avocado and almonds, only add to the goodness.

     

    APRICOT PORRIDGE
    Buckwheat, cooked

    Ripe Apricot, de-stoned

     

    -Buckwheat, unlike its name suggests, contains no wheat. This also means that there is no gluten and it isn’t a grain, rather a seed. Check out the tips in CocoQuinoa for more gluten-free porridge options. I grew up on buckwheat porridge in Russia, so for me this baby food has sentimental value. And I’m so glad… it contains protein, calcium, manganese, fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and so much more for healthy development!

    – Cook buckwheat to the instructions on the packet. I usually soak 1 cup of groats for 4 hours, rinse them really well (takes me 4-5 go’s to get rid of the gooeyness), sprout for 1 day and then cook in 2 cups of water. After about 10 minutes, they should be nice and soft and you can pour out excess water. Add the buckwheat and chopped apricot to a blender, blend to a smooth paste.

     

    GREEN & GROOVY
    Pear, raw organic, peeled and cored
    Peas, softened in hot water

    Broccoli or spinach, lightly steamed

     

    -This combo is such an easy way to get all those greens into your baby’s diet. The sweetness and creaminess of the pear will make anything palatable, but you can also try without it at all. Just remember my reason from above for keeping fruits raw.

    -Blend everything or if your baby is chewing already, then mash the ingredients with a fork.

      

    MY ABSOLUTE ESSENTIALS FOR WEANING


    Tribest-Personal-Blender-Food-shot-350-500x500
    This small personal blender from Tribest! It is small enough to produce perfectly sized baby meals so there is never any waste. It’s also super light and compact, that we travel with it and even make our own smoothies on the road (bonus!).
    bamboo feeding bowl and spoon
    This bamboo bowl and spoon set! I've got a few spoon variations and this is the one that's most ergonomic and enjoyable for my little one. It also looks and feels lovely for mama (or dada) to use. And the bowl! The bowl! It has the most clever suction base, so it always remains in place no matter how much Lake wants to smack the bowl full of dangerously staining foods.
    weaning bib
    These easy-to-clean bibs! At first, I was using Lake's milky fabric bibs, but they are now entirely stained in berry spills and even banana stains which I never realised could be so intense. Now I know. Hope it's not too late for you. These bibs have sleeves too, so even clothing stays protected.
    Lake Maher _ Lady Lake - Baby weaning essentials
    This fun feeder for teething and weaning! It was a gift from Lake's Kiwi grandparents, that already have two grandchildren and four kids of their own, so they know aaall the tricks. This one is extra handy, because you can put anything inside, like grapes, cucumber, apples or watermelon and not worry about choking or even preparing anything.

    We are having a baby!

    We are having a baby!

    Hi my friends,

    Do you remember this post ‘When nothing goes to plan‘?

    I wrote about how no matter what I did to locate my passport (which I have never ever misplaced, ever ever), no matter how hard I tried to ignore my own intuition and even the cramps and pains in my body because of the divine messages coming through, the universe had another plan for me.

    A plan to stay home.

    It didn’t make any sense, but I ended the post with this:

    I’d always known that I’m being protected and I’d always trusted that the universe has my back. That doesn’t mean that I’ll give up on something just because my intuition is in a chatty mood, but in this case I know I’ve tried every avenue and I have to believe that my guardian angels are by my side. I also know that I don’t need to know or wonder now about what could’ve happened if I went anyway. I may never find out the reason.

    Well I didn’t have to wait long for the answer.

    It came that very weekend.

    I spent the entire time over what would’ve been the duration of our holiday, bent over the toilet, whole body shaking, head heavy, legs weak, back aching, nothing left to come out, but tears through the thinnest openings of what could pass as wasp-stung eyes.

    And the throwing up still didn’t stop.

    And each time you think that surely this is when you will feel better because the bug must be out of your system. But there is no bug to leave your system, unless you call a life stirring around, fizzing up, sparkling changes and developing inside of your own body temple- the miracle little bug.

    We are having a baby!

    healthy pregnancy