Is breast feeding best for YOU?

So is breast really best? If you are struggling with fatigue late on in your pregnancy and wondering whether or not you are going to breast feed your baby then this blog could be for you! There’s been a lot in the international press lately about the pros and cons of feeding your baby by breast or bottle. Looking back at my experiences, and comparing with Gillian and Lee-Anne in the office, I thought it would help to give you a run down on my time breast feeding.

So here are some interesting articles in the press:

  1. In 2017 the Australian Greens Minister fed her baby who produced a “motion” while she did. In 2016 the Australian Parliament changed rules to allow breast feeding while in Parliamentary session. (1)
  2. In Iceland’s Parliament they are feeding babies now. (2)
  3. Well known fashion blogger, Chiara Ferragni from Italy, is breastfeeding her baby.

The late Jo Cox MP told everyone “This is what women do. Get over it” and she’s right. But there’s a difference between doing it well, as we see in the links above, and doing it as a form of exhibitionism. I don’t think most women would do the latter. For most women it’s something the have to do, or want to do, and exhibitionism is the last thing on their minds. It’s a natural process, just like having babies. It’s more about where is safe, clean and quiet to feed my baby in peace with minimal interruption to my life and the life of others and minimal exposure in public. If a baby’s hungry, then a baby’s hungry and nothing will stop it wanting fed on the spot.

I remember with my first child when I decided to breast feed and that was never an option for me, I was always going to give it a go. I have asthma and there is some eczema in the family and medical advice has always been that it is better to breastfeed. 73% of women in the UK breast feed for some period of time, higher than some press articles suggest. Benefits for baby include protection from infection and sudden infant death syndrome. For mum it’s from a variety of cancers, obesity, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. (3) There is often mention that it stops babies developing inherited conditions like eczema and asthma and that it improves their brain function. However, despite feeding all 3 of my boys two of them do have these conditions. And brain function, well they are ok but not child geniuses by any means. A recent flight next to a brain surgeon from London was rather interesting as he mentioned that the wiring of the brain is totally random so that is why we see children who are extraordinary musicians or scientists when the parents have very low IQs. There you go…explained!

For me the first one was easy to feed and expressing I found a complete nightmare, too slow, too fussy and I couldn’t keep up the volume. The problem was then that having not taken the bottle for 9 months, after a 3 month delayed return to work for that very reason, the only choice was to get him onto a sippy cup with cows milk.  He woke every 2 hours for 2 years, long after breastfeeding had stopped. I think he was always hungry!

So child number 2? He was born 2 weeks premature so put in baby care where they fed him a bottle with formula overnight so as not to wake me, feeling they were doing me a favour but I was, at the time, so distressed that he’d been given formula instead. In hindsight? It was the best thing the nurses could have done. He took both formula and breast, which allowed dad some time to feed him and get involved, me to get some sleep, and as he took both it meant I could easily return to work. Not only that but he slept through the night (well for me that meant at least 4 hours) and was on a 4 hour routine from day 1. I did find formula much more of a hassle in terms of sterilising bottles, warming to the right temperature and making sure I always had one handy. And when travelling, especially take off and landing on a plane, breastfeeding is just SO EASY! It even puts them to sleep so less screaming in front of  all the other childfree impatient passengers who are not used to the noise.

Bottle fed baby

Ann-Maree with her niece, who was bottle fed

And child 3? Well after number 2, I wasn’t going to move from that 4 hour routine after it had worked last time! No hassles.

Have you ever wondered why dairy cows queue up to be milked in the morning? You’ve never breast fed if you don’t! Oh, the relief! I did have times where my bust was extremely sore, or they bit me, or I attended a work go carting event and the overalls on one side were soaking wet with warm milk leaking out! Very embarrassing in a group of men but they were all cool as they knew I had just had a baby and were, thankfully, all married as well. I have also had the experience of feeding in the corner facing a wall in a small gallery coffee shop locally and been told to leave the premises as breast feeding was “not allowed on the premises”. I now refuse to go there.  I also hated hiding in Boots (and in those days BHS) toilets to feed the baby. Totally unhygienic but there was nowhere else to go. I don’t think I would have been up for feeding in Parliament but then perhaps times are a changing, and that’s got to be good. I certainly would have fed somewhere quiet and not exposed much skin. But that’s me. Oh, and the cabbage leaves? Yes they work. Bit smelly though, booked cabbage! So does Arnica cream. Labels4Kids also sells the breast buddy and they work too!

In summary, do what’s right for you, what doesn’t cause you continued pain and infections, and what works for your lifestyle. If you are not sure then just give it a go. Remember, the milk will come in anyway so you have it there then baby may as well get the benefit, even if it’s only for a few weeks or even days. At least you tried to give them a good start. Then don’t feel guilty about formula. If you do it then you do it because it’s right for you.

  1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/22/australian-senator-breastfeeds-baby-moving-motion-parliament/
  2. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/icelandic-mp-breastfeeds-baby-debate-parliament-al-ingi-a7358681.html
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/benefits-breastfeeding/

Teaching Kids the Art of Photography: A Learning Experience

Teaching kids the art of photography can be a rewarding experience for them. It’s a great opportunity for parents to interact with their children and spend quality time together. Kids today are fascinated with technology that surrounds them; smartphones, tablets, and anything with a big TV screen interest them. Photography is a form of technology that can be used to motivate kids to be active and explore their surroundings.

New Perspectives

Photography will get kids to look at the world in a new perspective. It can teach them a lot about the environments they live in and enhance their understanding of why things operate the way they do. There are several ways kids can be introduced to photography, but the most common is to allow them to experiment with a camera at an early age. You can start by giving them a disposable wind-up camera or a polaroid camera where they can see instant results. This gives them immediate gratification and can increase their interest in photography. Most digital cameras available today have LCD screens and allow for kids to review their photographic work as they go along. This can be an instrumental learning tool for kids to develop a critical eye of their work.

Confidence

Mastering a new skill can instill confidence in kids and make them want to continue to improve. Providing positive feedback on your kids’ photos can help boost their confidence as well. Kids love to share their artwork with others, and photography is no exception. By showing interest in your kids’ photos and encouraging them to explore more with a camera, they are likely to develop a sense of pride in their work. There is always room for improvement; showing your kids the progress they make along the way can be beneficial on their photographic journey.

Hands-On Learning

Aside from cameras being a motivator for kids to get outside and connect with their surroundings, they can also be used as a tool for learning. They can learn about photo composition, light exposure, and clarity (focus) of the subject they are photographing. For instance; is the subject in the middle of the photo or off center? Where is the light source coming from? Photo journaling would be a good way to document your kids’ progress and could be useful to look back on for self-reflection as their skills develop over time.

Fun!

Photography can literally be a captivating hobby for children. With a bright young mind, and a camera equipped with fully charged batteries, your kid will never run out of things to photograph! Plan out fun photography ideas or themes for your children to capture on screen. You can send them on a letter hunt to capture objects in their environment that resemble letters in the alphabet. Maybe try a theme of “A Day in the Life” and task your kid with taking 5 or so photos of things they use or do on a daily basis to create a timeline of events as they play out. If your kids want to continue to hone their craft and develop new camera skills, you can look into enrolling them in a photography workshop. Just remember to let their creative minds roam and encourage them every step of the way!

 

Keeping precious things close: Memory Keeper Locket

Keeping precious things close is important, as Labels4Kids customers know only too well. Our friends at Lily Blanche jewellery understand that what really makes their lockets precious is not the gemstones, silver and gold they use to manufacture their products but the photographs inside. The Memory Keeper Locket.

 

Treasure your precious memories

Each Lily Blanche Memory Keeper Locket opens to reveal six secret photographs, allowing you to keep loved ones close. Recently, Labels4Kids founder Anne-Maree Morrison teamed up with Lily Blanche to help the tennis coach and Strictly star, Judy Murray, when she lost her precious Memory Keeper.

Judy had bought the locket some years ago and had worn it to all the big matches played by her tennis champion sons – Andy and Jamie. This summer she tweeted that she had lost her lucky locket while on a photoshoot for the car maker Peugeot, so Ann-Maree came to the rescue.

She met up with Judy at a conference in Perth and presented her with a new locket filled with pictures of her sons’ sporting triumphs, including Andy’s Wimbledon final win in 2013 and 2016 and Jamie’s doubles championship win with Bruno Soares. Of course, a sneaky  little Strictly image was in there too. Judy emailed to say she was delighted to have her favourite piece once more.

“I love it. It is amazing,” she emailed to say. “And Anton made the cut too!”

Judy Murray locker keep memories

 

Gillian Crawford founder of Lily Blanche said: “Judy tweeted to say she had lost her Memory Keeper Locket just before Wimbledon. I was about to go on holiday but Anne-Maree kindly offered to give the pendant to her when she saw her in Perth. Anne-Maree is better connected than the national grid and knows everyone! We were so grateful that she was able to get the Memory Keeper Locket to Judy before the start of Wimbledon and we were delighted that Judy wore it to all the big matches, including son Jamie’s mixed doubles final.

“Anne-Maree completely understands the importance of keeping much loved belongings close which is why she founded Labels4Kids. She’s also a big tennis fan and has tennis playing sons so understands the pressure of life on the circuit. We’re so grateful to her and we know Judy is too”.

Gillian Crawford

Lily Blanche

Fiestas Patrias del Peru – Peru’s National Independence Day

July 28th commemorates the liberation of Peru from Spain by José de San Martin, the most famous liberator of Latin America aside from the Liberator himself, Simón Bolívar.  At dawn on the 28th a 21 cannon salute begins flag-raising ceremonies as Peru remembers the anniversary of its birth. During the whole month of July, homes, office buildings, public and private institutions, schools, and restaurants display the national flag. It is obligatory and it is rare to see any of these places without a flag.The following day, July 29th, celebrates establishment of the Republic of Perú. Together these two days are called Las Fiestas Patrias, and are by far the most important national holidays in Peru. In every city around Peru, the Plaza de Armas will be full of festivities. The night before the big day, streets will be filled with criolla music and small parties.  In Lima, the official celebration starts before the Independence Day and takes place in Parque de la Muralla, where a huge variety of Peruvian music and dances, from traditional folkloricos and afro-peruvian songs to modern rock and reggaeton will be played.

I was lucky to visit Peru last month and found it to be a fascinating country with a deep history, ancient traditions and lovely welcoming people. On our trip we visited Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, The Sacred Valley, The Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca with the floating island of Uros and Taquile and Arequipa. So I thought I would compile a list of interesting facts about this marvellous place.

LAND OF THE INCAS

Peru is famously known as the Land of the Incas. They came from the Peruvian highlands in the early 1200s and ruled for over 300 years until the Spanish conquered them in 1572. At its peak, the Inca Empire was one of the largest in the world, covering modern day Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.

Cusco was the most important city in this massive empire and Quechua was the main language spoken within this ancient civilisation.

The influence of the Incas is still prominent today. As well as the potato, Quechua is still spoken by almost 5 million Peruvians, and of course they left behind spectacular world wonders like Machu Picchu. The first census was created by Ancient Incas. They had no formal system of writing, and so developed a system of record-keeping using knots called “quipus” made from wool or cotton strings fastened at one end to a cross cord. Each quipus was different in size or color to represent details like crop measures, thefts, debts, and other events. They were the only ancient culture in the world to define constellations of both dark and light. Some of the main streets in Cuzco are designed to align with the stars at certain points of the year.  At Machu Picchu, each sun temple and ritual stone lines up perfectly with the sun for their assigned solstice.

THE POTATO

The potato originated in Peru and today, there are over 3,000 varieties grown in the country. Peruvians like to say “Soy mas Peruano que la papa” which means “I am more Peruvian than the potato.”

CUY : ROASTED GUINEA PIG!

Roasted guinea pig – Cuy – is the national dish of Peru. It is served whole – head and feet intact!  Guinea pigs (cuy or cuyes for plural) used to be considered an important food source in ancient Peru, well before the Incas arrived in the 1200s. This tradition has survived and today in most rural Andean households across Peru, families will keep tens and hundreds of cuyes scurrying around their kitchen floor. It’s estimated that Peruvians consume around 65 million cuyes oer year.  Shocked?  You shouldn’t be: keeping them as pets only happened over the last few centuries. When the Spanish arrived in the 1500s and brought a few cuy back with them, instead of eating them, they fell in love with them so much that they have since been domesticated as pets.

ALPACA

Three-quarters of the world’s alpaca population lives in Peru. The national animal is the vicuña, a small camel like animal similar to the alpaca. It comes in 22 natural colors and its wool is considered the world’s most luxurious fabric. The vicuña only produces about 0.5 kg  of wool a year, and gathering it requires a certain process. During the time of the Incas, vicuña wool was gathered by means of communal efforts called chacu, in which multitudes of people herded hundreds of thousands of vicuña into previously laid funnel traps. The animals were shorn and then released; this was only done once every four years. The vicuña was believed to be the reincarnation of a beautiful young maiden who received a coat of pure gold once she consented to the advances of an old, ugly king. Because of this, it was against the law  for anyone to kill a vicuña or wear its fleece, except for Inca Royalty.

CANTUTA

The cantua is the national flower of Peru and found at elevations of over 1,200 metres (4,000 feet) in the Andes. They are white, yellow, pink or red in colour and are elongated and bell-shaped. It was a popular ceremonial flower during the Incan Empire because they dedicated it to Inti, the sun god. This is why it is also known as the Flower of the Incas. 

COLCA CANYON

The Colca Canyon in southern Peru’s Arequipa region is an area of astounding scenic beauty. It is best known as one of the world’s deepest canyons,  nearly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the U. S. A,  reaching a depth of 4,160 metres. The depth can most easily be appreciated from the Cruz del Condor, a viewpoint where Andean Condors can be seen most days throughout the year. We saw about 15 the day we visited.

PISCO SOUR

The Pisco Sour is the famous Peruvian cocktail.  We enjoyed many many Pisco Sours whilst in Peru in its birth place. This cocktail of Pisco (a grape brandy) mixed with lime juice, egg whites and syrup was invented in the early 1920s at Morris Bar by its owner, Victor Vaughen Morris in Central Lima. It became so popular that it even has its own National Pisco Sour Day: the Dia Nacional del Pisco Sour is celebrated on the first Saturday of February. 

PASTUSO: AKA PADDINGTON BEAR

Pastuso is the Peruvian name of Paddington Bear, the  well loved children’s favourite character. The story goes he was sent to London from Peru by his Aunt Lucy who could no longer look after him as she had to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima. He was found by the Brown family at Paddington railway station , wearing a name label saying “Please look after this bear. Thank you”. As his Peruvian name Pastuso was too difficult for them to pronounce, they instead named him after the rail station they found him.  We visited his statue in Lima at the Salazar Park in Miraflores, near the Larcomar Mall.

Books vs. e-books: Pros and Cons of Both

Do your kids like to read? If so, do they prefer the traditional paper version or would they rather download an electronic copy to an online library? Whatever their preference may be, we have compiled a short list of pros and cons for both of book vs e-book.

Book Pros

1. Cheap: Though books may be considered outdated when compared to the new e-book versions, they still hold value. It is so easy to find a second-hand bookstore that trades and sells quality books for a discounted price.

2. Higher Retention: Studies show kids are more likely to remember what they have read if they were engaged with reading a hard copy vs. an e-book version.

3. Little to no Eye Strain: Artificial light exposure from light-emitting e-readers may interfere with the reader’s ability to sleep, ultimately leading to adverse impacts on health.

4. Nostalgic/Sentimental Value: The traditional option of reading a book is valued for the design, comforting smell, and passing books on for generations.

Book Cons

1. Size: Books can sometimes be burdensome to carry or transport depending on their size and considering whether it is a paperback or hard-cover copy.

2. Durability: As with all things, kids can be hard on books. They can tear easily and be ruined if wet. After reading the same book multiple times, it is common for the binding to split and pages to rip from their seams.

3. Reading Light: Books are not equipped with backlit screens to light up the text for reading in low lighting areas.

4. Storage: Overflowing book shelves can be a bit messy. This makes organising a book library a bit of a hassle and one mess that will continually need to be cleaned up after.

e-book Pros

1. Eco-Friendly: e-books provide an environmentally-friendly alternative to print versions.

2. Cheap/Free Versions: Most people are turning to e-books as a cheaper alternative than buying a book from the store. In most cases, e-book authors offer their first downloadable book for free. A preview option is available for download as well for the reader to preview before making a purchase decision.

3. Storage: Countless e-books can be stored on a single device. This can help lighten the load of carrying 10+ books at once; save yourself the time and download those 10 books to your portable e-book device!

4. Durable: Most e-book devices are light in weight and compact in size. This makes it easy for little ones to carry and convenient maybe for older adults who don’t want the added weight or reduced space in their bag.

e-book Cons

1. Eye strain: Perhaps the biggest con of e-books is the potential eye strain from staring at a bright screen for long periods of time. Some e-book devices, such as Kindle, offer healthier screen setting alternatives when compared to other tablet or phone devices.

2. Availability: Although the e-book library is large, not every published work is available for download on electronic devices. The book selection for children’s genre may be limited compared to the options available at a online store.

3. Battery: When reading from an electronic device, you can encounter battery drainage and this can limit the amount of reading kids can accomplish per sitting.

4. Non-transferable: It is much harder to share your copie among friends and family members when they are downloaded to a personal device.

Reading is a popular pastime and helps to stimulate young minds. Studies show improved literacy skills when children often read. It is important to know the pros and cons of both when deciding which outlet will help benefit your child’s needs. Paper books are great for shared reading with your children and encourage communication. Depending on the availability, e-books offer audiobooks for the children to listen and read along to. Both versions, no matter the preference, are great for kids to continue developing their reading and literacy skills.

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