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blogging, motherhood, self-discovery, self-judgement

Internalising

I’ve been on a path for a while to find acceptance with who I am. Acceptance of my body, acceptance of those parts of my personality that I often think are ‘too much‘ or ‘not enough’. Too sensitive, too emotional, too bossy, too strong-minded, not funny enough, not extroverted enough, not laid-back enough.

I have long periods of peace with who I am and have made great strides forward in gaining love and acceptance of myself – I know that my body does not define who I am inside, I’ve learnt to find beauty in my strong body instead of berating it for not being waif-like and I’ve also gained a great respect for my body after being pregnant and giving birth to my beautiful baby boy. It is so much more than flesh that should bend to my will – it is precious.

Yet I’ve noticed my mean girl voice come back into my head of late. Judging my body that has not and may never return to its pre-pregnancy form. And commenting on all the ways that I’m not enough and too much in each situation. Doubting that I’ll find acceptance from those I hold dear. Fearing they’ll find me lacking in some way.

I experience this mean girl voice as an uncomfortable niggle, like a bruise I can’t stop touching. Sometimes I can say “thank you for your thoughts but I don’t need to hear them” to my inner mean girl and other times her words stay in my head and make me feel paranoid and self-conscious, wondering if everyone else is bored by me or thinking how much I’ve let myself go.

Luckily I’m able to do the former a lot more than before but it’s still exhausting to deal with.

But when I ask myself what my mean girl is truly about, I know it is an internalisation of tiredness, of being overwhelmed by this new experience of being a mother, of things being too much in life, of feeling that I’ve lost myself to then find myself and then feel lost all over again.

There are people I know who deal with these feelings by externalising them – talking about it, crying or raging. But with me, I’ve always internalised what’s going on for me.

I don’t know why this is, although I do think a lot of pressure is put on girls to be happy and that being sad or angry or grumpy is seen as unacceptable.

Perhaps it’s not the ‘why’ that is important though. The key is what I do now that I’m aware of the internalisation. Because I know it’s not healthy for me.

Thank the mean girl

I could continue to fight this voice or I could treat her as what she is – a prompt that something is out of kilter in my life and needs addressing. So I could thank her and deal with the underlying issues. It’s exhausting to do this, especially as the mean girl voice raises its ugly self when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable. But if I start to look at what is going on underneath, I think it can only get easier.

Put myself first

Over the past few weeks my husband has taken Jenson for a few hours to give me the space and time to do things for myself. And it has been what I’ve needed to reconnect to myself and feel back to my normal self. It’s what I’ve needed to keep my mean girl at bay. So I think I need to keep on having this time to keep my sanity. For me, it’s not a nicety, it’s a necessity.

I’ve also found myself being ‘rude’ over the past few weeks as I’ve prioritised my needs over other people. I already feel torn in so many ways since Jenson came on the scene and I can’t split myself anymore to accommodate other people. So I’ve turned people down, I’ve asked people to visit at a different time that suits me or said no altogether to seeing them, I’ve not gone along to things I didn’t want to. Because if it’s a choice between being seen as rude or going crazy, I’m going to opt for rudeness.

Share away

I have written before about how I find it hard to share what’s going on with me face-to-face. There are a few good friends who I feel safe sharing with – those who have earned my trust, are good at asking the right questions that open me up and have been as vulnerable with me as I am with them. And to be honest with you, I think it’s fine to be like this – to have a select few people who are trusted to hear my stories as I’m trusted to hear theirs. But I need to find time to connect with them around the time constraints of motherhood.

Externalise

I know that pushing down what I’m feeling is a one-way street to comfort eating and people pleasing. The two things I’m proud to have stepped away from for the most part. So to not push down my feelings, I need to find a way to externalise what’s going on for me in a healthy way. This blog is a huge part of that – sharing my experiences and expressing what I’m going through with you, dear friend. But I also think that there are other places where I can externalise my feelings. And I’m taking some steps to get there by arranging some coaching for myself to deal with the perfectionism which says ‘it’s not ok to not be ok’ and holds up an ideal of what I should be – funnier, easy-breezier, more extroverted.

I know that this is going to be a journey I take over the rest of my life – that of tuning into my intuition and learning to listen myself and what I need. It feels hard to be here, but it also feels honest and truthful and like things can only get better from this point onwards.

blogging, self-discovery

Keep breathing

I’ve been thinking a lot about being in the present moment ever since I wrote my last post where I shared my memory of running through the rice fields in Japan and feeling a real sense of well-being.

The song I was listening to when I had this special moment of presence and flow was ‘keep breathing’ by Ingrid Michaelson.

The song speaks about Ingrid wanting to do so much – change the world – but the reality that all she can do is keep breathing.

It makes me consider all the striving I do in life and how I usually have so little time for just being. I’m not saying this with a judgement or a view that I shouldn’t strive – I think that to do so would be to fight against my personality and everything which makes me me.

But I do think that I could do some more breathing – giving myself space and time to step back and relax for a moment. Putting less expectation and pressure on myself to push, to achieve, to be great at each and every moment. I can see the benefit of finding a moment to not get drawn up in the busyness of life but instead be present to the immediate moment and all that I’m experiencing.

And so at 3am, as I’m sat here feeding my son, Jenson, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to use this night time awakeness to plan our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia or think about all that I want to achieve when I get back to work.

All I will do is keep breathing and be fully here in this moment. And I hope that you can find a similar moment of calm as you start your day, wherever you are, dear friend.

blogging

Life is good

I’ve been in Bristol for a few days to visit my family before my maternity leave is over and Gregg takes over in caring for our son, Jenson. It’s been a lovely, relaxing time and I’m sat here before I set off back to Brighton thinking about how good life is and how fortunate I am.

My dad and I were talking about travels we’ve done over the past year and our favourite moments. He spoke about how he learnt to windsurf in Jamaica and, whilst surfing along, had a visit from a turtle who popped up next to him. It reminded me of a memory I have from when I lived in Japan – a snapshot from my time there which I still remember vividly and fills me with such happiness.

I was training for a half-marathon and was going out for a run along the rice fields of Toyosato, the town I lived in. The sun was shining, I was in my stride and was listening to one of my favourite artists, Ingrid Michaelson. I was in a state of flow, just present in the moment and only aware of my immediate surroundings. My heart beating, my feet pounding, the feeling of the warm sun, no particular thoughts in my mind.

And then a beautiful butterfly suddenly appeared next to me and flew with me for the duration of the song.

It fluttered, almost dancing along and in that moment, I knew that I was truly blessed in life. Life was good.

It was such a small thing – the presence of this tiny thing of beauty while I ran – but summed up how good life is.

How I had my health, as I still do.

That I had no immediate, burdening concerns in my life, like now.

How life is ripe for the picking and filled with moments of beauty and grace. If only I open my eyes to them.

I knew in that moment that all was well in my life. And I know this is true for my life now.

And in many ways, my son is my butterfly. Bringing me back to the present moment, showing me the beauty of the world in his gorgeous, gummy smile and helping me to see things anew as her shows such curiosity and wonder at each new experience he has.

Sure, life can be full of hardships – suffering and struggles, pain and predicaments.

But life is, for me at least, fundamentally good. And I’m so very grateful for it.

blogging, coaching, compassion, self-discovery, self-judgement

Perfection

I’m sat here at 4am next to a sleeping baby who was, until a few moments ago, wide awake and more wriggly than a sack of frogs. Now that he is sleeping I find myself unable to get back to sleep so thought I’d share my thoughts about the coaching that I’m going to invest in for myself over the next few months.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I’m a coach and will also probably know that I’m really passionate about the power of coaching to help people make the changes they want in their life. And over the last few months I’ve become aware of some changes that I’d like to make for myself.

  • Stopping the negative self-talk and self-berating when I don’t do something ‘perfectly’
  • Getting some support as I go back to work and find myself stretched and pulled between wanting to be the best I can at work and doing my best for my son
  • Finding kindness for myself as I find my way along this new journey of parenthood

For me the perfectionism is where I really want to make some progress and I can see it in all three statements above. I know that the high standards I hold myself to have meant that I’ve achieved a fair bit in life (cue Ms Perfectionism – “have you really achieved that much?! I mean, it’s not like you’re in a really high flying career or have done something really significant with your life”) and I’m not looking to get rid of my desire to strive. It’s such a big part of me that I don’t think I could change this even if I tried.

But I do think that I could be kinder to myself when things don’t turn out perfectly. I could learn to change what I measure my perfection against. I could expect myself to try my best in any given moment and knowing that this is enough.

I was struck by the blame I put on myself when I wrote about how Jenson put on such little weight over a three week period. I felt I should have done more but I know that I didn’t knowingly take actions that negatively impacted his weight gain and I know that I did my best in each and every given moment. I wasn’t perfect, but I did my best.

And I’m taken back to all the other occasions in my life where I’ve blamed myself for not doing enough – the development programme at work that had some hitches, a reflective session I ran with my previous employer which tanked, the coaching sessions I’ve done which didn’t go as well as I wanted, the Christmas presents I agonised over which weren’t the best.

I don’t want to live like this any more.

Yes, I want to strive, do my best, achieve greatness through my efforts. If it wasn’t for my strong drive:

  • I wouldn’t have completed my professional HR qualifications alongside working full-time,
  • I wouldn’t have become a coach in the year that I started a new job, had a hectic social life and was growing a baby,
  • I wouldn’t find the energy or time to build my beautiful website alongside raising a baby,
  • I wouldn’t have such big future plans, goals and dreams for myself

But there must be a kinder way to be with myself. A way that can bring greater ease into my life. A way that I can also role model for my son so he knows that his best is enough.

And that’s what I’m hoping to get from my coaching. I can’t wait to get started.

blogging, motherhood, self-discovery, Wellbeing

I am his. But I am also mine

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll have noticed that the subject of my posts has changed since I’ve had my baby boy. And that’s to be expected because, as a new mother, he is my world.

Since I’ve had him, I’ve realised that I am no longer my own. In fact, I’m coming around to the realisation that I will no longer come first. He comes first regarding how I spend my time, my money, my love and my energy and I know this will continue to be the case even as he grows and relies less on me. He’ll still come first.

I well and truly belong to Jenson. I am his.

But it doesn’t change the truth that I am also mine.

In fact, I have a tattoo on my right foot which says “I am mine”. A tattoo I had done after a bad relationship break-up where I realised that all too many decisions in my life were being made to please other people (in this case a boyfriend who told me I was too fat, my hair wasn’t pretty enough, my taste in clothes wasn’t right…) instead of following my internal compass and my own desires.

And while I love Jenson with a selfless love that I have never experienced in my life, it doesn’t change that I am still mine.

I still have needs, desires, hopes and a personality that is at its best when I have regular time alone to process, to think, to breathe, to exercise. And that’s ok.

So I’ve started to take a few hours for myself in the weekday evenings and to have a period of time by myself while my husband hangs out with our little monkey at the weekend.

And this time alone is so sweet. I can’t express just how marvellous and precious it is to me. It’s like oxygen to my soul.

A time to go for a run in the spring sunshine, a time to geek out revising my coaching training notes, a time to put music on and write this post to you in uninterrupted bliss.

And I’m reminded that it’s ok to be mine. It’s ok to need this space. It doesn’t make me less than a mother – it gives me the capacity to be a better mum. And I feel lucky that I’ve got a partner in life who supports me to have this space and time just as I support him to have his own space and time doing things that he loves.

But I want to look at my tattoo more often and remind myself of it’s new meaning – that I’m allowed to my own person and take time for myself, even as a mum to a new baby.

I belong 100% to Jenson but I also belong to myself. I am mine.

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self-discovery

FFS

Just a quick note for the start of this post – I’m going to be totally honest here and not the cheeriest Amy. Not that I’m not usually honest you, friend, but I’m working through some pretty frustrating things here and am giving myself a pass for a bit of a pity party before I try to get back into ‘glass half-full’ territory. Oh, and a pass to swear as much as I want to.

And I’m really not writing this for pity or anything from you. If anything, what you’re giving me is the space and audience to share how I feel and that’s all I need from you. Truly. Nothing more. So thank you and here I go. 

For fuck’s sake. 


I had been a bit smug and high at the end of the last visit from my health visitor. Jenson had put on 400g in 2 weeks – pretty badass for someone so little who had struggled so much to put on weight. We’d been doing a pretty hardcore regimen to increase his weight (as I’ve shared here) and had continued on the same lines, with a little bit of a decrease in efforts with some things. Because of exhaustion, because of not having enough hands to express milk and hold a baby at the same time, because I thought we had built momentum up and believed Jenson would continue to build up his weight.

And then the health visitor came today and Jenson had only put on 200g in 3 and a bit weeks. I could go into all the positive reasons why this might be the case (and there are reasons – he’s more active and so is using up more energy, it’s still a good sign of progress to put on weight…blah, blah, blah) but I don’t want to. He only put on 200-fucking-grams in 3 and a bit weeks and I feel so disappointed about it. Sat here in my weird maternity bra expressing milk I feel like screaming and crying and stamping my feet in a tantrum.

All the effort for so little gain.

He’s still in the 9th percentile, the health visitor wasn’t overly worried but I feel furious with myself and so sad that I can’t produce enough milk for his needs.

But then again he hasn’t been crying at my breast in want of more milk than I can give him. He feeds until satiated and tells me again when he wants to feed. So is it true that I’m not giving him enough milk?!

And so it goes around and around in my head. Sadness that he’s not put on more weight, thinking about why that is, recognising that he doesn’t seem to be going hungry (and when he does, it’s usually after I’ve expressed some milk and taken what he would have got from me), then feeling frustrated that if this is the case, why is he putting on so little?  Then I ask myself why I’m so anti-formula – because I don’t judge anyone else for using formula.

  • It’s because I’m pig-headed stubborn and want to be able to do it myself. I want to be able to produce enough milk.
  • It’s because I don’t want to chain myself into the frustration of sterilisation when I’ve got a baby who wants to be held so much and who leaves little time for this faff.
  • It’s because Jenson, Gregg and I are travelling to Cambodia and Vietnam in June and Jenson will rely on my milk to be immunised against any nasty bugs out there.
  • It’s because I love the experience of breastfeeding and want to keep doing it as long as possible. It makes me feel womanly and strong and powerful and like a provider.
  • It’s because I want the breastfeeding to help me get back to my pre-baby body

There, I’ve said it in the last one – something I’ve thought a little on my list of ‘whys’ but felt shamed to admit. Breastfeeding allows me to feel like I’m getting back to me and takes away the stress of thinking ‘I shouldn’t eat a piece of cake each day‘. Because I need the extra calories to feed Jenson. And, sleep deprived with a slightly prima-donna baby, I sometimes just need the piece of bloody cake. And then I judge myself for feeing this way when I feel it’s my life’s calling to be compassionate and kind to people who struggle with comfort eating.

Surely this compassion and kindness should extend to myself? And if it doesn’t, who am I to try to help others?

And I feel really shitty because a good friend confronted me today. She’s been my biggest cheerleader on this breastfeeding path and I shared with her that Mr Perfection was beating me up emotionally and putting so much judgement on me.

You’d have seen more weight gain if you’d have done more. If you’d sat up to feed Jenson in the night and made him take more milk in. If you’d expressed every day. If you’d eaten oats that morning instead of the toast you wanted for taste and convenience. If you hadn’t forgotten to take your supplements three times during the three weeks. 

My friend told me that I was such a good mother but her words were meaningless if I was going to measure myself against the unrealistic bar of perfection.

Spot on.

She was spot on.

And it made me think about why I beat myself up with perfection so often. Why is that my continual go-to? It makes me fucking mad.

Because I know that I did my bloody best on all those occasions. I did my best in the dead of night when I was feeding my little boy, despite him not having every single last drop of milk out of me. I did my best to express when I could and when I didn’t, it was because Jenson’s immediate needs (as he was crying) were more pressing than the time it takes to set my silly expressing machines up. I did my best to eat porridge 95% of the time. I did my best to take my supplements the 68 other times.

I did my best.

So when can I fucking put down the perfection standard? For all it’s doing is hurting me.

I did my best and Jenson gained 200g. I did my best and it kept him in the 9th percentile. I did my best and I have a happy, headstrong and chubby-cheeked baby who giggled properly for the first time today.

My best has to be good enough because I want him to know that his best is all I’d ever ask of him.

So there you are. There’s not much more for me to say here. It feels good to get this out in the open. To express how I feel without holding back and to accept that things are what they are and that maybe I need some support to drop the perfectionism. Because I can’t help thinking that life would be a lot better without it.

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self-discovery

How I broke up with my phone…or didn’t

I shared a few months ago that I was reading a book called ‘how to break up with your phone’. It provided a 30 day challenge to get rid of the habits I disliked about how I used my phone (over-checking it and reducing the 3 hours + that I find myself spending on it each day).

It was a really useful and thought provoking exercise to go through, one which has changed my relationship with my phone…but I still find myself on it a lot. And at the moment that’s ok.

I’ve got a 14 week old baby and a lot of the time I find myself trapped on the sofa under him as he’s sleeping. Reading a book or magazine is impractical when I find myself in this situation as the movement of turning the pages wakes him up and is not very comfortable for me. So I look at my phone. I catch up with friends on WhatsApp, write on my blog (as I’m doing now!), plan my trips abroad…and that’s ok.

This is a time where I have to come to peace with looking at my phone more than usual to keep my sanity.

But I have recognised the unhealthy aspects of my phone use and the book has really helped with that. I’ve realised how I mostly look at my phone when I feel awkward in social situations or to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings like anxiety, boredom or stress instead of dealing with them.

And with this awareness comes an ability to choose. Do I really want to use my phone to avoid tough feelings or can I sit with them until they vanish or instead reach out to someone.

So I haven’t broken up with my phone completely, but I have started to redefine my relationship with it and that is exactly what I needed to do.

blogging, conflict, courage, self-discovery, trust

The sort of person I am…

I spoke to a good friend recently about how I tend to back down if someone tells me that I’m incorrect about something. Faced with their conviction about being right, I assume that I must be in the wrong.

I suppose it’s a good way to be in part as I’m open to the ideas and thoughts of other people. But I also find that it makes me concede on things that are important to me, makes me avoid or give into differences of opinion or confrontation at work and also removes the fun from many activities (pub quizzes are no fun when you constantly doubt yourself when faced with a difference of opinion!).

I had a conversation with my husband, Gregg, the other day about cheeky wipesa reusable baby wipe set we have. I said I wash them at 30 degrees and he said he read in the instructions that they needed to be done at 60 degrees. Only a small matter but still, it made me panic to think about how the wipes must have been unsanitary to use on Jenson and the germs I had spread to our other clothes that had been washed with the wipes.

Two days later, Gregg mentioned having re-read the instructions which said to wash them between 30-60 degrees. So I had been right! But had doubted myself!

The friend I spoke to about this made a great point that I’m the sort of person who would read the instructions properly and this got me thinking…

What if I took more confidence in the sort of person I am instead of doubting myself when faced with individual differences of opinion?

I would have more faith in myself. I’d enter into dialogue (“that can’t be right, I’m sure I read you could wash them at 30 degrees“) instead of doubting what I know. I’d ask for evidence of what the other person was saying before backing down.

It feels good to think about taking more confidence in the person I am. It’s a small shift in mindset but one which will allow me to stand firm in who I am and what I know.

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blogging, motherhood, parenthood, self-discovery

The witching hour

I have to say, I was a bit smug about my son. Sure, he’s a baby who expresses what he wants and is fairly quick to protest if we don’t respond to him. But if we made sure he was fed, clean and loved, he was fine.

Until yesterday. When I got to experience what the witching hour really means. A time where, no matter what I did, Jenson was inconsolable. Crying louder and louder and unable to be comforted by song, feeding, rocking or any sort of soothing activity Gregg or I could think of.

It went on for about 30 minutes until he fell, exhausted, to sleep but it felt like 2 hours of endless crying. And tonight has brought about the same witchy madness, sending him over the edge and causing him to scream louder and louder with each passing minute.

Gregg took him for a walk, something that always manages to send him to sleep but I’m left a bit shellshocked at my inability to calm my son. I know it’s not my fault but it sort of feels that way.

I think it must be overstimulation, but what triggered the transformation from peaceful sleeping babe one moment to screaming wild-thing the next? Responding to him a second too late perhaps – he wanted to feed and I took a moment to try to attach a pump to express from the other breast? Or would he have just screamed, regardless?

I suppose I’m writing this for no real reason really. To get out my feeling of hopelessness. To not stew in my feelings of inadequacy and to remind myself that it’s not my fault.

Babies sometimes cry and it’s ok for me to find it tough.

It’s also ok for Gregg take Jenson for a walk to soothe him (although sat here I feel helpless and like I’ve done something wrong by not being the one to calm my son down).

Geez, parenthood.

The most beautiful, complicated, challenging, dizzying, joyful, destroying, uplifting experience I’ve ever known. Where I have to let go of control and go with just what is in this moment. Where I’m unable to steer the journey much of the time. Where I have to rely on the help and support of others more than I ever have done in my life.

It helps having this safe space to write down my thoughts and express what’s going on for me. To not keep all this stress, anxiety and worry inside myself. So thanks for being here for me, dear friend.

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blogging, motherhood, parenthood, self-discovery

My supply

So before I start getting into this properly, I want to put a big caveat on this post – I’m talking about breast milk and all the things I’ve done to increase my supply so if it’s not your thing, please feel free to stop here.

I also want to caveat that I don’t think that breastfeeding is the be all and end all. Some mums make their choice to bottle feed and if that’s your choice, good for you! I just knew that I wanted to breastfeed from the moment I got pregnant and have continued to want to do so despite being faced with some challenges. Especially because Jenson will rely on breastfeeding to have immunity from disease when we’re travelling in Cambodia and Vietnam in June. Yes, breastfeeding has some great benefits – supporting your baby to get over sickness quickly, the beauty of relaxing while your baby is slowly feeding, not having to faff with sterilisation, supporting your body to return to its pre-baby state. But it’s a personal choice and I support anyone to do what is best for them whether it’s the bottle or boob.

I’m hoping to write this to partly come to terms with what has been a really hard journey and also to put my experience out into the ether to hopefully help other new mums who want to persevere and keep on feeding their babies if things get tough.

And for a lot of people it does get tough. I think I heard that less than 10% of mums are breastfeeding when their babies are 3 months old. It is challenging – a skill you and your baby are having to co-learn when you’re at your most vulnerable and exhausted. And it takes the perfect cocktail of hormones for the milk let-down reflex to be triggered and for your baby to latch on properly.

I wasn’t told that it could get tough before I had Jenson but I wish I had been.

Why was it hard?

Breastfeeding didn’t get off to the best start for me. Jenson was tongue-tied (as I’ve shared before with you, dear friend) and while he was able to latch on, he didn’t feed effectively. This meant he was either feeding, sleeping or crying for the first three weeks and didn’t put on much weight. He didn’t drop into a danger zone but went from being in the top 75% of babies, weight-wise, to being in the bottom 9%.

And since he wasn’t latched on properly, my milk didn’t come in properly.

It wasn’t that the tongue-tie was undetected. It was picked up straight away but the protocol at the hospital where I had him was to not treat it unless it proved to be problematic. But the pity is that when it was apparent that this was the problem, the damage had already been done. To my milk supply and to Jenson’s weight which is only just starting to pick up 13 weeks into his life.

I don’t know for sure this was the problem. But I do know that it might have been the problem and I wish that I had spoken up more to the doctor who brushed off my concern and didn’t give me the option to treat it when I asked about the condition.

There were other issues at play too which impacted my milk supply – severe blood loss in labour, being treated with lots of IV fluid, anaemia, perhaps not resting enough when he was born…

So I don’t know why it was hard, all I know is that it was and has continued to be hard.

What I do

Since it became apparent that breastfeeding was an issue, I’ve done a number of things to increase my supply including:

Supplements

I take brewers yeast, blessed thistle, goat’s rue, fenugreek and marshmallow root supplements three times a day with food. I’m not going to lie, it’s a lot, both in volume and in cost. I probably spend £30 a month in supplements but think I’d spend even more on formula if I was using it so I’ve come to terms with this.

Medication

I’ve been prescribed medication by the GP which is used to treat nausea/vomiting but has the side effect of increasing lactation. If you’re struggling, speak to your GP to see what help they can give you.

Food

I eat oats every day – porridge for breakfast and a flapjack whenever I can for a snack. I also sprinkle savoury meals with nutritional yeast which is meant to be good for milk supply.

I don’t drink alcohol (it can decrease milk production by 30% for the few hours following drinking alcohol) and have boosted my water intake as much as I can. I can’t wait to have a G&T but it’s not worth it at the moment for me.

Peppermint and sage can decrease milk so I also try to avoid these. Instead of peppermint tea, I have a new Mother’s tea that my friend bought me.

I’m also not trying to get back to my pre-baby body, although I personally feel pretty damn great in myself. The most important thing is to eat well so I’m having plenty of good fats, not skipping meals and have also started to eat locally sourced, free range eggs to get more easily absorbable omega fats. It was a hard choice to make with my veganism but I feel like this choice to re-introduce eggs is not at odds with my principle of being vegan to opt out of the large-scale and (often) damaging meat and dairy industry.

Skin-to-skin

I was told how powerful skin-to-skin is in increasing milk supply. Jenson doesn’t like snuggling close to my chest during the day as he’s a nosey little man who likes to look out to see what’s going on in the world. So instead we both sleep topless while co-sleeping to get the skin-to-skin benefit during the night.

Expressing

I have tried to express milk to increase my supply but find it a difficult experience. Having to make sure everything is sterile, finding time to sit alone to express and timing it with Jenson’s frequent feeds has proved difficult and I’ve not done this as much as I should. But I have done this where possible.

Seeking help

The best thing I’ve done is sought help from people. I’ve called the La Leche League hotline to get their invaluable help and advice. I’ve been to breastfeeding drop-in clinics. I’ve gone to my parents house to get some rest and a chance to express while they look after Jenson. I’ve spoken to my GP who has referred Jenson for further tests to make sure his slow weight gain isn’t the cause of an underlying health issue. I’ve stayed under the care of my health visitor to get support. I’ve asked friends for help and advice to support me.

I’m getting there

I’m happy to report that Jenson has started to put on weight at a more rapid pace. And I’ve taken steps to help myself feel more in control – I’ve written to the NHS trust to ask them to improve how they treat tongue-tie and have implemented the things above that fit into my life. So I’m not expressing as much as I could, but I’m keeping my sanity and hopefully making gains with lots of skin-to-skin and supplements.

It feels good to write all this to you and share my story a bit. It’s been a long road to get to where we are, but I’m glad I persevered and hope I can help people in the future.

I suppose the biggest advice is give you is that if you’re going through difficulty with breastfeeding, reach out. Get help. And know that things can get better.