Sunday, 28 August 2011

We went to Tiny Town in Larkfield and Loved it

I am always looking for places to take my energetic three year old boy.  He has absolutely no fear, and is happy to run away from me, and would probably happily go home with anyone willing to play with him.  So, my criteria for a playground or activity is that it be contained, I love fences.

Tiny Town in Larkfield is a large indoor play centre between Sevenoaks and Maidstone very close to Larkfield Leisure Centre (the place with the swimming pool that has a wave machine), behind the Kent Messenger building.  It's one of those great kids places that does not charge for adults, so we got in for only £5 during the summer holidays, and I think they have a two hour limit.

It had been raining most of the day, so the place was pretty busy and noisy, but not too moisy to have a conversation or for my 4 month old to fall asleep in her buggy.

What I liked about this play centre (and we have been to a few) is that it was big and open.  You could take a seat, have a chat and still be able to look up at any time and see where your kid is without moving or having to look for a long time.  There is a variety of activities for the kids which include a climbing obstacle, baby area, messy play and a huge soft play structure with multiple slides and lots of different areas for imaginative play.  The other huge pull for them I'm sure is the indoor football pitch which can be rented for 5-a-side games or birthday parties.

The staff were very friendly, they kept circling en-mass to keep the tables clear from rubbish, and didn't spend the whole time telling the kids off for being kids.  Snacks are available for a reasonable price, the cupcakes looked great, and some of the options were on the healthy side.  I saw another nursing mother there, so I definitely felt comfortable nursing my baby there.

I have only one complaint - why do these kid friendly places that charge to get in always have toys that need money.  My kid is obsessed with riding on these toys, and is always asking me for pennies to use them.  In this case it's a Balamory school bus, and the crowds around it were constant.

Tiny Town - Get rid of the pay to ride toys and you would be perfect in my eyes.

Karen McCully - BoobieMilk Ltd

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Nursing in public can be hard

You're sitting in the darkest corner of the local supermarket or shop ready to nurse your baby.  The baby is screaming, there is no chair so you are sqatting on the floor, trying to balance a blanket over your babies head without it falling to ground whilst you are trying to get the baby latched on without the comfort of a couch and your Boppy.  In the meantime your husband is standing guard at the end of the aisle making sure that noone sees any exposed skin.

Sound familiar?  This was my first public nursing experience out with my husband.  This wasn't my first experience in public.  My first experience was at BWI airport right in front of the international arrivals gate waiting for my brother to arrive to meet his nephew for the first time.  Actually, when I compare each experience I felt much more confident at the airport.  I tried a blanket but it fell off and noone batted an eyelid, they were too busy watching for their relatives and were just glad the baby had stopped crying.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that for me, the hardest part of nursing in public is keeping other adult family members happy when I do it.  I think of myself as a very confident person, and after childbirth I really have little to be embarrassed about (after delivering in a room filled with ten strangers, a little bit of boob does not shake me).  But, why is it that my family is able to rattle me so much when I am trying to feed my baby in a public place.

By the second child I thought my Mother would have gotten over the embarrassment of her grandchild being fed, especially seeing as she is an infant and not a 50lb three year old (I am tandem nursing), and you'd think that I would have stopped caring about what she thinks.  But it is my Mother, her opinion of me is always going to matter.  She blames her concern on the older generation, worrying that I might cause someones Grandpa to have a heart attack, but I always have the greatest responses to nursing from the elderly.

Luckily I have a brother.  As mentioned above, he came to visit when my son was very little.  His first reaction was of course "Hide my eyes, I can't see my sisters boobs!"  But that lasted for all of 10 seconds and he then turned into the biggest breastfeeding advocate you could meet.  We travelled all over Maryland taking advantage of the shopping outlets.  He shopped, I drove him, and he helped me to eat while the baby nursed.  He actually spoon fed me on a number of occasions and cut my food into bite sized pieces.  I probably would have lost more weight in those two weeks if it were not for him (could be a good or bad thing I suppose).

My advice for newly breastfeeding Mums has always been to find someone close to you to be your breastfeeding advocate.  It might be your husband, your best friend, your Grandpa, Mum or your brother, but there will be someone out there who can help you feel more confident about nursing and keep your spirits high when you might be thinking it is never going to be easy.  I would never ever have thought that it would be my brother, but I'm glad it was.

I know that many new Mums can be scared to bare their belly in public (I have stretch marks too), so check out these nursing tanks on my website.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Breastfeeding at 3 1/2. How did that happen?

I can't believe that we've got this far, I never imagined breastfeeding this long it just kind of happened.

I remember talking to my husband when we were pregnant with our first about breastfeeding.  We knew that we were going to breastfeed, we had gone to the classes, had our support all set up.  I was prepared to breastfeed until William decided to stop, and some friends and family thought that this was a little odd and were concerned that it wouldn't happen until college (a common comment).  I remember telling people that it would be great, after a year he would only feed maybe once or twice a day and then maybe by 18 months he might breastfeed twice a week or something, maybe I should have asked someone who had done it?

William is about 3 1/2 now and he has a sister of 4 months, and I am tandem nursing.  When did THAT happen!

As with most things in life, breastfeeding evolved.  It wasn't planned out or scheduled, it just happened.  At a year William was feeding just as much as in the first twelve months, he was just a little quicker and he no longer had milk from a bottle at daycare, he would wait til he got home.  At eighteen months he nursed at least 6-8 times every day.  At 2 1/2 he started sleeping through the night.  At 3 1/2 he nurses maybe once a day, but not every day and he only nurses from the left side.

I think the fear for many, or at least the TV celebrities who debate it is that child in the supermarket who shouts at his Mum for "Boobie" and then helps himself.  The truth is a totally different story.  I think most nursing Mums out there will tell you that the word their child uses is not obvious, and when their children are talking early on, only Mum can understand them anyway.  For lots of older nurslings it is a comfort for when they hurt themselves, need a nap or are going to sleep at night.  I rarely got demands in the supermarket, and even if he did ask he could be easily distracted with a box of cereal until I could find a comfy chair.  He would nurse quickly, and then get on with finding something new and naughty to do.

Only recently have I had any doubts.  Nursing during pregnancy can be a little painfull.  My nipples became very sore, but William was very willing to be "gentle" and he never complained if I asked him to stop.  We started counting down from ten so he could be ready to stop.  Now if he nurses and he wants to stop he asks me to count.  I was also a little overwhelmed when Ellie joined the family.  It was OK nursing two at the same time to get to sit down for a minute in silence.  The one thing that has freaked me out, if you can even call it that because it still hasn't stopped me, is that William is so much bigger than Ellie.  He seems so much older than Ellie, and I guess the media has gotten to me too, I doubt myself for a fraction of a second.

When I think about all the amazing things breastfeeding is doing for our family, I know I am doing the right thing.  I've never had to deal with an ear infection.  My son has been at some type of daycare or nursery since he was three months old and he has only ever had one sick day for pink eye.  I could go into more details about the benefits but you all know them.

I guess my point is that you don't plan to breastfeed forever, it just happens one day at a time.

Learn more about my family and nursing bra business on my website

Friday, 12 August 2011

Pubs - The new meeting place for Mums and their newborns

This would never happen in the US, or maybe it does?

I remember a time when I lived in Boston and my Dad came to visit.  We were walking around the Faneuil Hall area and decided to stop into a pub for a drink around lunchtime.  We had plans for lunch so asked for a drink at the bar.  I swear they thought we were drunks by ordering drinks without food at lunchtime.

Well, fast forward 10 years (or so), and not only am I searching for friends on the internet "Mummy internet dating", but we all meet up with each other in the local pub.  You might laugh but it's true, Mummy's all over the UK are meeting with their babies down the local pub and it's a roaring trade.  The pubs sell hugely over priced coffee, and the Mums get some quality adult time.  I go to the local NCT coffee morning at The Bullfinch pub in Riverhead, Kent every other Tuesday and the place is usually heaving when I leave.  I think at the last count there were four different Mothers groups meeting there on Tuesday mornings.

Today I went the The Chaser in Shipbourne, Kent.  It wasn't so busy, but then you can't really walk there from many places.

The best thing about groups of Mums meeting in public places is that everyone breastfeeds with more confidence because they are not alone.  It's an informal support group, everyone sharing their experiences and stories.

Check out your local coffee mornings run by the NCT or start your own, it's the closest you'll get to a pub in a while with a newborn.

Find local and national breastfeeding resources as well as great nursing bras in Kent on my website