It’s funny to look back on a few short years ago when I planned my year based on where I would travel to, how long for and when.
I’ve always been a travel addict, I guess because my first passport came before my first birthday and by 5 I’d already had a stint living abroad. But maybe not. Maybe it’s simply because I love sunshine on my face and sand in my toes, eating street food and pounding pavements without a schedule.
Who knows. But travel, and travelling, has always been my happy place. For me: “the journey is the destination” rings oh so true because I ADORE flying. When the plane’s wheels lift and woosh you’re above the clouds is like taking a HUGE breath of air.
Past tense. I adored flying. Travelling was my happy place.
Enter Anaïs Lucraft.
This little bean who makes my heart pop with love and is the ultimate, squidgy delight managed to kill all that joy in just over a year.
I despise travelling with her. I tolerate travelling without her. And that would be fine, I guess, except that I’m kind of, sorta a travel writer. Apparently.
Can I still be a travel writer if I sorta hate travelling? It’s not that don’t have the urge to visit anywhere new, although I feel super settled being at home in Brighton. Of course, I long for a break with my husband and yep, I’d happily hop on a plane or train to Europe. I think about my time in India with super fond memories and long to wander down Khao San Road eating street food again but honestly? I could take it or leave it.
I was chatting with a friend recently who used to be a flight attendant. And she admitted that after having kids she developed a fear of flying – I can relate to that too. Being above the clouds no longer gives me a sigh of relief, it makes me feel anxious. It makes me wish I were on the ground with my feet planted close to home. A 45-minute delay wouldn’t have entered my mind as an issue before Anaïs, but now it feels like the biggest waste of my time.
Everything I do has to be weighed up against time spent with my family. I have to ask myself: “Is this worth it? Is this better than hanging out with my baby?” Not much passes the test!
Yes, I could take her with me but honestly….have you ever navigated trains, planes and automobiles with a screaming toddler who won’t sit, stand or lie down? It’s not fun.
Trying to make travelling with kids less stressful is tricky. Because I don’t necessarily think it’s possible. But should I try, even if that means I have a great time, just so I can say I did it? Who do I need to prove anything to?
Answers on a postcard please. And if you find my wanderlust, post that too.
I never thought I’d be a ‘changing bag kind of gal. Similarly to my views on travelling with Anaïs I presumed I’d be super chilled out and wouldn’t need to worry about a specific bag with all its faff and status.
‘I don’t need a changing bag’
So from day one, I used my handbag or my Kanken backpack to lug Anaïs bits and bobs around. Which worked……briefly. I breastfed for 7 months so.didnt need much more than the changing mat I picked up at yummy-mummy heaven Jojo Maman Bebé, and our trusty Sophie La Girafe.
‘What an earth mama I am!’ I thought, smugly.
Pahahaha…what an idiot!
As soon as Anaïs started eating solids, stopped breastfeeding AND she grew sick of Sophie (pretty quickly btw) I needed so much more…..stuff.
I soldiered on like a smug douche for another six months until one day when I really lost it.
Having to pack and unpack a bag several times a day, never being able to find things when I needed them (despite the fact I’d packed meticulously) and still always losing my phone, wallet, and keys pushed me to my tether.
Earth mother be damned. I needed a jazzy changing bag.
‘Erm, I NEED a changing bag’
I’d seen lots of stylish looking bags online, and I knew I wanted something that didn’t irritate me. Yes, I am the mother of a small human but nope, I don’t need baby animals everywhere. I also needed one bag to double as Anaïs changing bag and my own too.
Obviously, I took to Instagram immediately but, to be totally honest, everything I found was so expensive & didn’t tick all my boxes anyway.
I needed something hardy, lots of compartments as well as designated spaces for bottles and wet wipes. Not too tall an order, but super specific!
As Instagram and Google failed me I turned to my most visited space online – Amazon! You guys, I am obsessed with Amazon. For both vegan stuff and finding good zero waste alternatives it’s been totally invaluable. (ps this is not sponsored by Amazon……)
It also helps I get a teeny bit of commission when you buy anything from one of the Amazon associate links in this post too ❤ Read my full disclaimer here.
There were so many options, but I plumped for the Brightshow backpack which was £29.99. I LOVE it so much! In fact, I don’t usually do reviews but I’ve had so many requests on Instagram I thought I was being a little selfish keeping it to myself. Also…..if thousands of you go mad and buy it through my Amazon associate link I’ll potentially earn PENNIES!!!! I know, baller.
So here you go, an actual review.
First off, I like the look of it. Simple, if not especially stylish I don’t feel like a yummy-mummy or a backpacking teenager. It’s also really comfy to wear as a backpack (for both me and my husband) and the shorter handles mean you can hold it jauntily (!) or do what I do and clip it to my buggy hook.
It has LOADS of compartments perfect for hiding snacks, wipes, dummies, my phone and wallet AND my keys too.
And when you open the bag up (which is Mary Poppins deep) it stays open. That was a really big deal for me because there’s nothing worse than having to root around when your baby is screaming and you also need to find your gin stash. JOKES. But it is annoying so I love that the wiring around the bag’s opening keeps it open.
The insulated bottle area fits three bottles (mine are Avent) and I love the fact they have there own little pocket. Makes life infinitely easier.
And oh, hallelujah to the wet wipe dispenser on the side of the bag to grab wipes on the go. Although I’ve now switched to reusable wipes, this is still an incredibly handy little feature.
The bag doesn’t come with a changing mat which is a downside if buying for a new mum with NO gear at all or if you are said new mum. I like having a separate changing mat so it wasn’t an issue for me but I can see how this might be a con.
The bag is hardy, for sure, but it’s not technically waterproof (although the lining makes it fairly waterproof) and the bottom isn’t wipe-clean (ha). Again, this isn’t a big issue for me but given how mucky soft play/kiddy club/the park is it would be a nice touch.
As I mentioned before, the bag is simple but it’s not particularly stylish and I’m almost positive it’s not ethical. That’s a downside for me, but on this occasion, I shopped with different values (aka, left my values at home so I could get the bag I wanted.)
I honestly love the backpack, and it’s one of the very few items I’ll keep for future babies!
Let me know if you have a changing bag you’ve really loved (or want to know more) in the comments 🙂
I’m pretty sure this is one of those topics that strikes fear into the heart of those who discuss it. As soon as you announce your pregnancy until the sweet release of death you’ll be asked how your kids sleep.
When they are tiny, it’s how often and for how long. When they start toddling it’ll be the ‘do they sleep through the night?’ one and, I imagine, when they hit those smelly teenage years everyone will wanna know if they’re: ‘still asleep?’
Why are we SO freaking obsessed with how other people’s kids sleep? I find it annoying now, and mine actually does sleep through the night.
I hesitated to write this because I don’t think there’s a one size fits all method that works for all babies. If there was, we would’ve been given the manual at the birth along with a creep Bounty photoshoot and the red book. Sorry to my non-UK readers, that’s an annoying in-joke.
But then I remembered those sleep-deprived days when I searched for the ‘answer’ and blamed my shit parenting for why Anaïs woke up every few hours. I listened to those who insisted one thing or another and wondered if I’d ever sleep again. I even started to think I never would and that my life was simply going to be a series of awake moments punctuated by snippets of sleep and grumpiness.
The first helpful thing I did was get myself a serious coffee habit. I didn’t really drink coffee before Anaïs and hadn’t had caffeine throughout pregnancy really so the hit was aggressive and welcomed. That aside, I also read voraciously….from ‘proper’ books professing they had the answer to YouTube videos of mama vloggers right through to endless blog posts. I tried things, I failed, I cried, she cried and none of us slept.
But then something happened….I stopped listening to everyone else and tuned into my own intuition. THE END.
Jokes. Obvs that’s not the end of the story because that would be MIND-BLOWINGLY IRRITATING OF ME. But genuinely, listening to my own intuition as a parent is probably my only hard and fast ‘rule’ and honestly, the quicker you start listening to yours, the better.
It certainly makes for some interesting kitchen ‘chats’ with yourself while making another coffee.
I’ll start with how we were pre Anaïs sleeping through the night so you can get a bit of context, but PLEASE lord don’t compare yourselves because every child is different and don’t start despairing if yours sleeps ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than mine did.
I breastfed Anaïs from birth until about seven months with some formula top-ups so Oli could take night feeds on occasion, and because I was never able to pump enough breastmilk for a bottle.
She actually slept ‘through the night’ fairly quickly…..about a month in, but obviously that was just to fox me and she then didn’t do it again until she was 10 months old. But anyway, we co-slept so I didn’t wake up every time she needed milk as she just latched herself on and fell asleep feeding most nights…….so I never really knew how many times she was waking up in the night, and, to be honest, I wasn’t fussed.
In those early days, I firmly felt that co-sleeping and feeding on demand was best for us both. Easy to say as I was getting plenty of sleep, but I’d probably do the same again.
The real bugger came when we kicked her out of our room at seven months, when I stopped breastfeeding. She started waking every few hours, to which we’d go in with a bottle, she’d fall straight back to sleep and the cycle would begin again. Some weeks it would be once a night, often much more than that.
I was SO confused and desperate I was ready to sell her for scrap.
I am obviously joking, she is the best thing in the universe and I’d claw the eyes off anyone who said different.
On the edge
So, with shaking, overcaffeinated hands and quivering lips we signed up for a sleep class at our local children’s centre.
‘What are you doing, how much does she eat, when does she go to bed, what’s her ROUTINE?’ were all asked and I felt like lying because, erm, NO ROUTINE. ‘Ah…..that’s the issue. You need a routine and you need to break her sleep association.’
HOLY CRAP, what have I done? I’ve traumatised her with milk so she can’t sleep?
We left, felt hopeful we knew exactly what we’d been doing wrong (everything and what we need to change (everything)
Only guess what? It stayed the same. Probably for another two months. Until I’d had enough and decided WE ARE SLEEP TRAINING THIS TYRANT.
I remember hearing about the dreaded ‘sleep training’ and ‘cry it out’ when I was pregnant and thinking how mean it sounded. But to be honest, I think it’s just very misunderstoof (ahem, protests too much?!)
We’ve never left Anaïs to cry for endless amounts of time until she slept from exhaustion……..and nor would we. But we did employ some sleep training and structure. Do you know how long it took to work? TWO DAYS. How did I find this method? A combination of gut, intuition and advice from people I trusted.
We implemented a routine
Boy did I resist this! i never wanted to be in a situation where I had to say ‘Ooooh 2 pm? Can’t meet because Anaïs naps then’ but guess what? I REALLY LIKE IT WHEN SHE NAPS. I don’t really like anyone, or anything as much as getting a full night sleep so I sucked it up and implemented a pretty strict routine.
Anaïs wakes up around 6.30am and plays for a bit. She has some breakfast with me/Oli and has water too. CBeebies saves my life at this time because I am NOT a morning person.
She starts getting tired about 8.30/9 so goes straight down for a nap. Blinds closed, same elephant teddy.
11-2 = playtime/lunch.
2-4 = nap following the same rules as before.
4-6 = playtime
5.30 = tea…..and me getting giddy for imminent freedom!
6-6.30 = bath/bedtime routine, which consists of a little baby massage, blinds down and her elephant teddy.
This might not look the same for you and as we’ve done it for so long now it’s easy for me to spot her cues and vice versa. But at first, we were really regimented because it made our life a lot easier if we both followed the exact same rules.
It takes the guesswork out of it, you know? I know when she’s getting sleepy now but at the start, I could just go by the clock. 9am? Nap time. And even if she didn’t seem tired, she would always sleep.
We broke a ‘sleep association’
When Anaïs was waking up every few hours we would automatically give her a bottle. Which, to be quite honest, she really didn’t need! We looked at the guidelines on the back of the formula tin and she was drinking twice the recommended amount so I knew that had to stop.
We didn’t do anything fancy with the milk, although I read about people watering it down, because the next step we followed meant we cut out those extra bottles……
‘Cry it out’
I’m not gonna go into the usual here and justify why cry it out is super misunderstood because it’s really a gut decision to do it, so there’s no point trying to explain the pros and cons.
What I will say is this. This phase lasted two days, and we implemented the ‘5 minute cry’ after which we went in, gave her a cuddle and popped her back down. Then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes…….but she never went past 7 minutes and that was only on day one anyway.
After day three, she cried for about 3 minutes before falling asleep and by the end of day four she went to sleep with no complaining at all.
There has been a couple of times she’s cried in the night when we’ve known it’s a ‘different cry’ and gone in straight away and we were right both times; once she got her head stuck under the Sleepyhead stuffing (I know, I am such a div for leaving it in the cot) and another she was teething really badly, so needed some Calpol.
But I can hand on heart say that now, when we pop her down for a nap and at bedtime she goes down happily and with no tears at all. And the best bit is that she sleeps solidly for twelve hours.
So there you have it. Everything we did to get our little creep to sleep like a legend. Was it a bit tough? Hmmmm once I’d decided to pick and choose the advice that made sense to me, leaving the bits that didn’t aside, nope, not really. I can’t speak for anyone else but when we left Anaïs to cry for two minutes, we knew she wasn’t hungry or in any imminent danger (you actually do get to know those cries eventually!) so it didn’t stress me out too much.
Would I do it again? Erm, hells yeah.
Sending the most energetic, and soothing vibes to your babies and to you.
If you’re a new mum to a little baby you might be going mad from all the sleepless nights. This is how I got my baby to sleep through the night (in two short, painless nights!)
First off, let’s review the title and agree it’s HEINOUS. The juggle is real for us all and I am NO different so the implication that anyone would get value from learning how I do it is arrogant at best.
However, I wanted to talk about it because it’s my blog. And I kinda write whatever the fudge I want to here 😉
A bit of background: prior to having Anaïs I was a travel reporter at the Express, then a freelance journalist. I presumed I’d just slip back into that when she was born, expecting I’d need ‘a few months off’ and that I’d ‘work whilst she napped.’
OBVIOUSLY, I AM A HUGE IDIOT.
Because that didn’t happen at all. In fact, I took a whole year off ‘work’ choosing to pursue creative projects like starting the podcast and growing my Instagram. At the end of maternity leave (January 9th this year…….yep, that date is etched in memory forevermore) I was DREADING going back to work properly.
I never imagined I’d have felt like that last year but you know what it’s like – you make your dream job a real job and it suddenly loses its appeal. But it wasn’t so much the fact I didn’t love my job (I still adore journalism, even if I have a LOT less time to do it!), it’s the fact every hour I choose to work is a big old compromise.
But I guess I’m doing it. Badly, perhaps, but it’s happening. Here’s how.
Knowing my limits
Starting a podcast when she was a few weeks old and breastfeeding was easy. All she did was sleep and she barely made a peep. But past five or six months? NO CHANCE. Although ever since we started a super strict routine (honestly the best thing I’ve ever done, despite my obsession with never having a routine) she naps twice a day for about two hours each time. So, in a sense, I could work around her naps.
Except I don’t want to. Because if she’s ill, or a bit fussy or teething or growing or….god forbid, decides to drop her sacred naps (that’s happening as I write this by the way!) then I’m up shit creek without a paddle. And I HATE feeling resentful of her. I hate that feeling of: ‘Why can’t you just SLEEP so I can get on with work’ because it makes me feel super stressy. Some people cope with the changing schedule of a baby and manage to work around them with aplomb, and I applaud those people. But for me, it just doesn’t work.
Which is why I opted for nursery. Anaïs has been going since she was about six months old. Just a couple of days a week, which we were able to flex up when I officially went back to work. I loved her nursery so much, and they adored Anaïs showering her with affection as if she were one of their own. She really flourished there too, gaining confidence and learning things daily.
But since March I’ve been looking after Anaïs full time, and despite thinking I’d hate it — I’ve honestly loved it. Because here are the downsides to nursery — sickness all the damn time. Mucky clothes, always. Getting up early to take drop them off, and knocking off work early to pick them up.
And OMG expensive. So expensive.
Multi-Tasking with caution
This isn’t always possible, but when I can I try to multi-task a little bit. Mostly in the form of using the audio function in my notes app to record a stream of rambles I later turn into a blog post. iPhone and Android users should all have this functionality, but (allegedly) Android users have it best as Google transcribe the rambles more accurately.
It’s not perfect, but it makes a huge difference to me. I upload the gobbledeegook, then it needs a quick edit and the usual bloggy jazz and et voila!
I also try to batch tasks as much as poss. Taking pictures whenever I can, editing them in one go at another time and drafting captions at the same time too.
This is probably the best lesson I’ve learned in this whole motherhood malarkey. Because whilst I honestly there is no such thing as defeat, or failure (we are all doing bloody amazingly!), I do think there’s a beautiful grace in accepting shit won’t always get done.
And being okay with that will set you free. The old adage ‘Done is better than perfect’ walks with me when I worry I’m not good enough or it’s not good enough. I prioritise things that need 100% accuracy and ‘perfection’ and let go of the rest. What that looks like is
- Shorter blog posts if needs be, perhaps a typo or two and images that haven’t been shot specifically for it.
- Imperfect podcast edits because: ‘Hey you, this is FREE content’
- Not getting back to every comment across social media.
- Never having inbox zero and not giving too many f@cks about it.
Are you a working mama? How are you finding it?
Firstly, god bless transcription and really jazzy notes apps. Thank you, Google because without these I basically would never write a blog post anymore. Seriously.
Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write something a little bit special to mark the fact that Anaïs is almost a year old. I toyed with ’12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of motherhood’ and then I realise that I really haven’t learned all that much.
Then I thought maybe I could use something about Anaïs and how amazing she is but, I mean, yes she’s amazing — but who wants to read that? I don’t.
Then the strangest thing happened. I had the strongest urge to have another baby and when I had that urge I suddenly thought: ‘Oh I wonder what I’ll do next time around because I had a home birth and that home birth didn’t go to plan which meant I had an emergency caesarean which means I’ll probably never be allowed to have another home birth’
I realised that I hadn’t particularly thought about what I wanted to do next time around. I think I sort of nonchalantly thought: ‘Ahhh, what will be will be, I’ll try again and see what happens.’ then ‘I’ll just have a c-section again. Easier.’
My home birth
If you follow me for a while, and certainly if you followed me while I was pregnant a couple of years ago you’ll know that I planned a homebirth. Although I was pretty realistic, in that I knew that things don’t often go to plan the first time around.
So I wasn’t expecting a magical waterbirth where I breathed Anaïs out. Needless to say, things turned out kinda as I expected them to, or kind of how everyone else expected them to you when I had to have an emergency caesarian.
My c-section recovery was swift and painless (well almost painless) and it really felt like a positive experience.
I wrote about my beautiful birth afterward and talked about how happy I was with the whole experience. And I stand by that! I remember the moment my waters broke and how that first contraction threw me to the floor and how freaking amazing Oli and I worked together for 27 hours. I wore my ’27 hours with no painkillers!’ like a badge and laughed at how many drugs I had for the three hours I was in the hospital too (epidurals you guys……MAGICAL).
But in the months following Anaïs’ birth little bits of language popped into my rhetoric, ingested after oh so many conversations at the doctor’s surgery, mum and baby groups and at health visitor checkups.
‘What went wrong?’ I was asked endlessly. Was it ‘failure to progress’ they asked? ‘Very common’…….
‘Well, the cord was wrapped around her neck too tightly and we were both too tired to carry on’, I’d say. Still chipper. Still positive because SQUEE look at my beautiful baby!
A bit of time passed and as I settled into mama life I knew we’d want to grow our family but, hey teething, I’m in NO rush.
Then I got broody.
My baby is getting bigger and not as much like a baby…..she sleeps through the night. Yep, I can do this again! (Sidenote: what the hell is wrong with our bodies we forget sleep deprivation so easily?!)
But when I came back to thinking about what I would do next time; even before looking into things I realised I would have an uphill battle to get my home birth.
When my midwife told me: ‘You are the perfect VBAC candidate’ (VBAC = vaginal birth after caesarian) I asked her: ‘Great, can I have my home birth?’…….’No…..they like you to be in a ward’
Urgh. Well, f@ck it. If I can’t have a home birth, why bother. That might sound silly, but I’d even have to fight to birth in a birthing centre. Which means no water birth, no calm environment and no chill.
And here’s a big truth.
I’m scared about next time. Because I know what your birth is like (FYI I loved it and I would do it again in a heartbeat!) I don’t want to spend 9 months fighting my midwife and stressing I am not going to be supported.
And I know how scary it can be when everyone goes quiet and your midwife tells you they’re going to call an ambulance.
And although my caesarean was super easy last time, I HATE stitches, My scar was small and beautiful but it feels gross, and you know what? It’s still really irritating when knickers rub against it.
So second time around, yeah I’ve got risks. My pregnancy will be slightly different because with each caesarean there’s an increased risk with each birth. And I want a massive family! If I have another caesarian, does that mean I’m less able to carry on having babies?! Victoria Beckham’s had about twenty…….surely it’ll be fine…..right?
Okay, so maybe I have a c-section again. It’s certainly simpler in the short term. Nice to know the exact time your baby will be born I guess. And it wasn’t so bad the first time around…..
Screw you Davina
THEN I listened to a podcast that made me SO mad, and ultimately led to these icky feelings I’ve been having of late. Davina McCall awas talking about her first baby on a podcast, and how she was encouraged to have a caesarian. She said: ‘I thought I’d like to try for a natural birth, to do it properly’ (not verbatim)
That really hit a nerve because I realised that I might never be one of those women that has a natural, normal birth.
I’ll always be one of those women who was too posh to push.
I might never be able to talk about what transition is like or be part of the club of people who can talk about their pelvic floor being screwed and episiotomies and all those dubious accolades.
And I have to admit that everytime I think about that it makes me really, really sad.
Don’t get me wrong I had a beautiful childbirth. I have an amazingly happy baby and I feel so lucky, and proud of myself for what I did. I grew a human for 9 months. I breastfed her for 7 months and I’m so proud of that. And I’ve been keeping her alive for 12 months!
But course there’s a but. I really, really wish I’d been able to have my home birth and it’s hard to say that. It’s embarrassing, and a little shameful too. I had a baby, and I didn’t have to go through any hardships to get there. How incredibly privileged am I? But that’s my truth.
If you’re planning to have a homebirth I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Go into it with your eyes open and your ears closed to horror stories, because I had a beautiful 27 hours labouring at home and then I had a very nice 3 hours having all the drugs too 🙂
Can I travel without my baby when I’m breastfeeding?
Niche topic, I know. But to be honest I needed this info before my trip to Japan last year as I was still breastfeeding Anaïs. But for love, nor money I couldn’t find anything useful so I may as well add my two cents to the mix!
I managed it, but it was a tricky situation. At the time (almost six months ago) I was still breastfeeding Anaïs 100%, so I knew that we would either have to use this trip as the time to stop altogether, or I would have to plan how to pump enough milk to last three or four days worth of feeds.
Whichever option I chose, I knew I’d also have to work out how to cope with my bursting boobs while I was away because swollen breasts are insanely uncomfortable at best, and at worst, gte mastitis. Not ideal when working on the other side of the world.
Your travel strategy is totally dependent on what you want to do when you get back to your baby. I was already weaning Anaïs off a solely breastfed diet onto a part milk, part formula, part food one. But like I said, going away for four days without breastfeeding her at all could have led to all sorts of problems, so in the week leading up to my trip I went a step further and started dropping feeds, switching to formula.
This is a totally personal decision, but for me — a necessary one. Going back to work as a travel writer meant, ahem, travelling (shock, I know!) And while I’ve made a decision I’ll be travelling differently going forward, be it work or pleasure, I won’t always be taking Anaïs with me.
All this is to say that I knew after this trip I wanted to stop breastfeeding.
So for me, the main issue I needed to worry about was how to cope with engorged, painful boobies. Breastfeeding is a supply and demand situation, so dropping feeds = less milk. BUT if, like MOI, you want to stop feeding…..I guess it’s best to drop feeds gradually. I didn’t have that option, so……
PUMP OR BUST
That’s right, you seriously need to pump or pop regardless of your end goal. The only real difference will be how much you need to udder up and take a breast pump break.
Regardless of why you’re pumping, or how often, you will probably need to dump your milk (this is obviously completely dependent on where you’re travelling and for how long).
I have two breast pumps, both by Medela. Neither of them ever got much use because I’ve never been able to express much milk. I don’t know if you’re aware, but milk supply isn’t solely dependent on sticking your nipple into a plastic cone and vacuum sucking away.
You need something called ‘the let down’ to happen. Yep. The let down is when your hormones help to dictate whether your milk should rush in and fill your lovely empty bottle. These hormones tend to happen when your baby latches, snuggling into you and giving you all those warm, fuzzy, mama feelings.
Funnily enough, said feelings don’t happen quite as easily when the latch is cold and plastic cone and you’re sat for three years watching your nipple rhythmically get sucked in and out of a mechanical teat.
Ruth Crilly said it best when she declared pumping was like trying to get unicorns tears.
That is so TRUE. Needless to say my trip to Japan went swimmingly. When I got back, Anaïs went straight back on the boob for a few comfort feeds but quickly stopped and that was that. Writing this so long after I stopped breastfeeding, it’s easy to see now that I didn’t realise how emotional it would be to stop. my decision making was purely a practical one and I didn’t stop to think about the fact that I was having to give something up because of work.
No concessions were made for me, as a breastfeeding mother. And don’t get me wrong, this was my favourite press trip ever – so I can’t imagine what it would have been like had I been on a more challenging one.
Yet, even so, the option was either – take the job, or don’t take it. I chose to take it because, honestly, jobs like this don’t come up very often. We were given a budget and free reign of our flights and itinerary with only a few clauses. It was amazing! The perfect job.
But now, as I look back I realise (late, because privilege) that had I had to go into an office after six-months maternity leave I would be screwed. As someone who couldn’t express enough milk for one feed, let alone several — I would’ve had to stop completely.
Which is totally shit really, isn’t it?
BUT, I promised a practical post so here it is. Here are my best tips for travelling without your baby while breastfeeding.
Pump up the volume
Whichever option you go for you’ll need a pump. I have two Medela pumps (both kindly gifted) – one electric, and one manual. Like I say, I couldn’t tell you how amazing they are because I had such a tricky time of it expressing milk. But, I certainly preferred the electric version, as it was just so much more convenient (manual pumping for an hour is a touch tiring……)
However, the manual pump is so small and light (and doesn’t come with the udder-milking sound the Swing does!) so I took that. And it was perfect for my needs as I could just whack it under my jumper on the plane (and in the airport too…..my poor travelling companion Elle Croft had to witness a lot of boob!)
Onsen if you can!
If you can, have a hot bath or hot shower. OR, do what I did and have TWO dreamy Japanese Onsen experiences. That really soothed my swollen boobs and I felt so much better afterwards.
I found that for the first 24 hours, my boobs were rock hard but after onsen and by the time I was on my way home my boobs felt full, but not uncomfortably so.
Plan, plan and plan some more
Decide what you’re going to do beforehand, ideally a good month before, as it’ll make your time away so much easier. I didn’t have that option so it kind of meant that I had to stop breastfeeding entirely. This was the right decision for me (I was already planning to stop fairly soon.)
I am a skincare GEEK, so I double cleanse with oil or a balm cleanser and always pack flannels when I travel. If you don’t do this already, I suggest you add them for this trip because they double up as a great breast-soothing tool.
You can soak them in really cold water or really warm water and rest them over your boobs. They will soothe them and, if you are trying to pump, they’ll probably help the milk to flow a little bit easier.
This is going to sound super weird, but when I needed to pump even just a few drops and I was really struggling — I would look at pictures of Anaïs and it sort of triggered a bit of a hormonal response helping the milk to flow. I definitely never got the bigger let down that some people get but it certainly stopped me from crying with the pain!
Et voila! Have you been on a trip without your baby while breastfeeding?
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