Category Archives: breastfeeding

BiPs Mothers Day Letter to ME!

It’s not actually Mother’s Day in France until the 29th May this year (the French HAVE to be different!) but I thought I’d wish all the Mummy’s around the world who are celebrating today a VERY Happy Mother’s Day!


Isn't Motherhood SO Glam?

Dear Mummy,

On Mother’s Day I wanted to thank you mainly for the unlimited boobie you have provided for the last 377 days (yes I am counting). I’d also like to let you know that, even though you hate your belly I love it, it’s squishy and comfy, it’s the perfect place for me to hang out during boobie time.

Thanks for the great stuff you have bought me over the last year – I know I only have them because you wanted them. The toys are great but I actually prefer the wooden spoons, your socks and the toilet roll.  My room is lovely and coordinated but seriously? A cardboard box would have probably worked just as well. Maybe you could have saved that money and started a trust fund instead? I don’t know if universities accept complete collections of Fisher Price toys in exchange for tuition.

I’ve had the delight of sampling culinary delicacies such as venison and octopus which is cool – good you took photo’s to mark the event because I WILL be eating pizza’s and chicken nuggets like the rest of my friends by the time I am 4 (I don’t want to be teased for eating weird things!).

Thank you for taking the time to assume what I am thinking and put into words. You will not really know what I think for another 12 years and THEN I’ll let you know, loud and clear!

Happy Mummy’s Day!

Love, Baby in Provence (BiP)


Obviously BiP didn’t write this … she is only 377 days old (1 year and a bit) … I will ask her in a few years what she’d really like to say … Until then, Happy Mummy’s Day!

10 things I wish I had done differently

With BiP having just celebrated her first birthday I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year. I was reading The Alternative Housewife’s list of 6 things she’d do in her next time which inspired me to make my own list.  Isn’t it amazing how hindsight is 20-20? I came up with few things that I wish I’d done differently but, as a first time mummy, I am not beating myself up about any of it. Its all been a learning curve albeit, a very, very steep one!

BiP and I on her 1st Birthday

So, here are my 10 things that I wish I’d done differently.

1. I wish I’d done more research on breastfeeding. I wish I’d read books on it rather just attend a 2 hour class with an uninspired midwife who used examples of crazy American and Canadian women who breastfed for “excessive” amounts of time (12m+). I wish I’d found the Le Leche League group that has English speaking Lactation Consultants before BiP’s 9 month birthday!!! Maybe my journey wouldn’t have been so hard.

2. I wish I’d planned to wear my baby. I did plan, I bought 2 slings and a BabyBjorn. NONE of which were comfortable or practical. So by the time I bought a wrap BiP was 3 months old and I wasn’t that great with it as I didn’t have anyone to show me how to use it and BiP wasn’t used to it.

3. I wish I’d given myself a break over the way my post partum body looked. I had, and still have, major issues with the way my pregnancy weight didn’t melt off. It wasn’t until I came across this post by The Mommyologist that I started to relax. I wish I’d bought clothes I actually LIKED! I’ve hated most of my clothes over the last year which is no way to go. It’s hard enough being not quite yourself without adding the horror of ugly clothes to the mix.

Potty feet

4. I wish I’d started Elimination Communication sooner. We started at 3 months but I think we could have started earlier. I still feel a bit guilty holding BiP knowing she was pooping and doing nothing about it.

5. I wish I’d started BiP’s routine earlier. BiP LOVES her routine. The day we started she was a new baby. I was told to wait until she was 6 weeks old or until she set it herself – we started at 5 weeks and she was a new baby. It made everyone happier and sleep better.

6. I wish I’d been realistic about being a mother. I had crazy, unattainable ideals of what motherhood was and would work myself into the ground and end up disappointed. I was trying to be a supermom and was setting myself up for disaster!  Relax and go with the flow. Most things can wait!

7. I wish I’d chosen a more practical diaper bag. I know this sounds ridiculous but it’s something that annoys me so much. My bag is too big, too heavy and quite impractical. If you plan to breastfeed and EC and then BLW you don’t need a massive bag for diapers, bottles, food etc … I plan to get one soon which can be worn as a backpack, not a slick as a shoulder bag but much easier to handle a tiny toddler … the number of times my bag has slid off my shoulder and taken BiP out when holding her hand is getting silly!

8. I sometimes wish I’d not bothered with the flashy highchair. I suffered from the idea that BiP had to have EVERYTHING and the best of it (within reason) so I went for the STOKKE Tripp Trapp … ok, it’s a gorgeous piece of furniture and it serves BiP well as a highchair until I discovered the IKEA Antilop … SUPER cheap, easy to clean and practical (even if the legs do come out too far and I kick it flying across the room). We now have both and it eats me up seeing the gorgeous chair collecting dust … BUT I still love it so it stays!

9. I wish I’d printed photo’s month by month, or maybe week by week. I sporadically printed photos to send out and now I am left with the daunting task of trawling through 365+ days of photo’s to find the perfect ones to be printed and framed and put into BiP’s album. I wonder if it will ever get done!

10. I wish I’d tried cloth diapers sooner. I didn’t get BiP’s cloth diapers until she was 9 months old and I wasn’t particularly impressed, I’m still not.  I never intended to cloth diaper because I thought we’d not really need diapers with EC but we do use diapers so I gave in and got some. I can’t help but feel that, if I had tried sooner, I’d have been happier with them!
So there are my 10 things I wish I’d done differently … what are yours?

Everything I never wanted, but it was perfect: A birth story

“If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.” Folk Proverb

2 hours after BiP was born

This time last year I was exactly 40 weeks pregnant with BiP. I was huge, uncomfortable, scared, excited and totally organised. So I thought. As part of this week’s review of the last year I thought I’d share BiP’s birth story.

The best laid plans … My bag was packed, actually my bagS … I had so much stuff it looked like I was moving house. I’d read everything I could get my hands on, I’d done all my classes, the nursery was picture perfect and I’d mentally written my birth plan. My plan? To go into labour naturally, arrive at the clinic, see how far I could go without an epidural (I made sure I’d done all the paperwork to ensure that, if I wanted, I could have an epidural), I’d be moving around the room working through the contractions, I’d give birth in the position that I felt most comfortable in and I would leave with my nether regions intact. Pretty easy going birth plan. I knew that I did NOT want to be induced, be strapped to a bed and deliver flat on my back with my legs in stirrups and I definitely, under any circumstances, did not want an episiotomy.


My huge 40wk bump that had dropped twice and I'd been told I'd never make it term. Well. I did!

The reality… by the time I reached 40 weeks, BiP’s due date I was in agony. The sciatica that had plagued me for much of pregnancy had become excruciating. I couldn’t walk without searing pain, I needed help getting on and off the toilet (nice) and I couldn’t get into the bathtub to take a shower without help. Oh, and I couldn’t sleep. I was miserable.

I’d been prescribed home visits for a midwife to come to my house every 48hrs to check on me (an excellent service provided free of charge in France). My stats were all good and BiP was fine but she could see I was rapidly going downhill physically and mentally. I requested a sweep (stripping of the membranes) at 40w1d as I was already 1.5cm dilated and I spent the whole day doing everything I could to help things along; I walked miles in pain but it was for a good cause, I ate a whole pineapple, aubergine parmigana, had a spicy curry (it just gave me heartburn), bounced on my ball, studded out my poor husband, etc I did EVERYTHING short of downing castor oil and vodka. NOTHING. Not even a promising contraction. She obviously wasn’t meant to come.

The next morning I was a mess – I’d overdone it and I was in agony (something I deeply regret). By Monday morning the midwife arrived to find me in my bedroom, having not slept more than an hour or 2 in 48hrs, crying my eyes out in just a t-shirt – I was in too much pain to get my underwear on. She decided to make the call to my gynecologist and recommend an induction. Her fear was that if I was to wait I wouldn’t have the energy to push. At this point I was 2.5cms dilated and anterior – BiP was ready to come any moment. My gynecologist agreed to the induction the following morning. I cried my eyes out. I had failed.

D-day … I slept all of 2 hours the night before my induction. I cried. I cried a lot. What was I doing? I didn’t want this. I could wait, but no, I couldn’t, the pain was intolerable.  I prayed my contractions would start and my waters would break as I climbed the stairs to the clinic but they didn’t.  We arrived at the clinic at 7:30am and I was admitted. The midwife came and told me to get onto the delivery table and strapped the monitoring belt on to my gigantic belly and they put the needle into my hand. I cried. I wanted to go back, I could, but I couldn’t. Then they started the Pitocin at 9am. My husband was by my side the whole time (except for when he snuck out for a coffee around 10am and a midwife decided to tease him and tell him that his daughter was already here – the look on his face when he saw me still very much with BiP in utero was priceless!) Then the contractions started, mildly at first and then stronger. Then around 11am they came and broke my water. It was the weirdest sensation and my bump became noticeably smaller! All the time I am strapped to a monitoring machine lying on my side.

Umm … someone get me an epidural! After my waters broke the contractions became harder and harder, I was sad they broke my waters but who was I to say anything considering I’d scrapped my birth plan? The midwife kept saying “Oh it’s your first baby, things take time”. I sent my husband to call her back to tell her I really needed the epidural and she reluctatantly checked me and ran out to get the anesthetist – I’d dilated 2 cms in 45 mins!

In comes the anesthetist! A real character who’s favourite sentence in English was “I’ll be back” obviously learnt from the Terminator! He struggled to get the epidural in because my bump was so big I couldn’t lean forward and my sciatica didn’t help. Every time I had a contraction my waters gushed on the floor and I had to laugh! At this point I was cursing the midwives for not telling me that if I sat up my contractions were more manageable!!!! It took a while for the epidural to kick in but when it did it was great! It was the first time in months that I could lie on my back with ZERO pain. I did find it weird seeing my belly tense up with each contraction and not feel anything, it was so unnatural but at this point I was more than ok with it. I had decided that if I did have to have any intervention I would go all the way with it.




BiP and I getting to know one another from the outside just after she was born

Time to push! Within 3 hours the midwife checked me and I was fully dilated. She repeated “Oh it’s your first baby, things take time” and she wanted me to start pushing. I was on my back, legs in stirrups – I pushed twice and she told me to stop! She dashed out the door and 30 mins later my gynecologist arrived. It was showtime! I couldn’t believe that BiP was actually going to be born! In came the midwife, the anesthetist and the puericultrice (I think that is a kind of midwife but don’t know the exact translation, she is responsible for weighing, dressing and care of the baby). So here we go.

We all look at the screen and with each contraction I push. Then I rest. Push. Rest. Then it get’s fun. My gynecologist obviously got a major buzz from deliveries so he started yelling “Poussez! Encore, encore, encore, encore!” (Push, again, again, again, again) but no words would ever describe the enthusiasm in which he yelled it – My husband and I were laughing so hard! In between pushes they were all talking and laughing which made the atmosphere amazing. The anesthestist asked my gynecologist if he was a football fan by the way he was yellling to which he laughed and said he was too busy to follow football – the delivery room roared with laughter once again. Time push again.

“She’s blonde!” The gynecologist cried as BiP was crowing – Blonde? Excuse me? I am dark haired, so is my husband – again, laughter ensued! I pushed again. At this point I was feeling more which was better because I felt I had more control. Next thing I feel is “snip” and then “snip” – OMG – I turned to my husband and said “he just cut me!” I freaked out but there was no time to worry about it as it was time to push and this time BiP was here!

She was placed on my chest the second she was born and she found her way to my breast and immediately latched on. I couldn’t believe it – she was here, she was perfect (kinda, she had a bit of cone head from all that pushing). She was born at 16:55 on the 27th April 2010 weighing 4 kgs (8.8lbs) and 50cms (20in) long.

The proudest Daddy in the world! When BiP was 18 hours old

She spent 2 hours on my chest and my husband cut the umbilical cord.

The end of life as we knew it … but the start of something incredible! So that is the story of BiP’s birth. It was everything I never planned or wanted but it was perfect.



Breast is NOT best, if you live in France

It’s not the first time I have written about my struggles of breastfeeding in France. I’ve been told repeatedly by medical practioners to stop breastfeeding and that it’s “abnormal” for my baby to NOT take a bottle. Today, I was sent the article “In France, breast is definitely not best” published in yesterday’s Guardian. The article highlights how breastfeeding in France is frowned upon, I wish I could say the article was untrue or unfair but in reality it is true. All true.

France has the lowest breastfeeding rate in the western world. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA (via

I urge you to read the article but if you don’t have time I’ll take some of the more poignant parts that’s ring true and give you my take on it (since you are reading this I guess that’s what you want after all!)

Everyone, however, knows the dangers of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding destroys lives. It starts by robbing women of their most powerful weapons of seduction, then their style and then their feminine mystery.

Breasts are very important in France – I have never, ever, in all my life (even after living in the Middle East) seen so many lingerie shops – beautiful and expensive lingerie is abundant in France. I am even told that many women collect lingerie yet when it comes to finding a good nursing bra I had to look abroad which makes it painfully clear that breasts are to be beautifully adorned in the finest silks and lace, both of which cannot accomodate a suckling baby.

women must beat back their babies with bottles of formula milk and rigid feeding regimes if they are to retain their independence and their sex lives. You won’t be in the least surprised to learn that breastfeeding, like so many other grave threats to civilisation, was invented in America.

There is this crazy fear that breastfeeding will make you a “slave” to your baby. How on earth can you live your life with this parasite that seeks to drain every last drop of your soul, being and femininity?  Urrr … firstly, breastfeeding is not like that and secondly, how does breastfeeding make you unfeminine?  I was asked repeatedly if breastfeeding was making me excessively tired and if I really wanted to carry on seeing as I was still hanging on to my baby weight months after delivery – surely I wanted to wean and go on a French diet of coffee and cigarrettes and regain my svelte silhouette (which just FYI was never really that svelte to start with). Didn’t I want to leave my baby to go and do something better with my time? Actually no I didn’t, not on a regular basis – this shocked people – why would I want to spend ALL my time with my baby? Scheduling appears to be very important to the French so breastfeeding on demand was akin to a crime against my being – I shrugged, I guess I am a “slave” to my baby but I’m happy …

the number of French mothers still breastfeeding after six months is so negligible that it doesn’t even make the graph. Frankly, as my partner and I discovered, getting a mother out of a French maternity ward while she is still breastfeeding is something of a miracle.

This is a very sad but true statistic. I gave birth in a private clinic where there was a lactation consultant on call 24/7 yet I was the only mother breastfeeding on the corridor of 10. Even when I asked for help from my independent midwife once I was home she shrugged her shoulders and said maybe I should try a bottle. It wasn’t until MONTHS later that I found that La Leche League operate in France, but sadly for me my French wasn’t up to speed to benefit from the meetings – later I found a leader an hour away who spoke English and found the support I so desperately craved. I know if I hadn’t been so determined and stubborn I would have undoubtedly failed.

She will get her perinea retrained to return her to peak sexual performance – a wonderful French tradition that is actually about preventing incontinence, and which the NHS would do well to copy

Ahhh “rééducation périnéale” something that horrified me when I first learned of it during my pregnancy. I leapt on to Facebook to find an old school friend who I’d not spoken to in  almost 2 decades but I knew who’d had a baby in France recently and I asked about it. Nothing quite like pregnancy and childbirth to break down social norms and dive in to a conversation about your nether regions! She replied “It’s not very sexy but you HAVE to do it. They insert this thing into you, its connected to a machine and it makes all the muscles work again. Your husband will thank you for it” … OK as a first time mum to be I was mortified – what is this crazy thing? I jumped on the internet and found no record of it anywhere in the world other than France. Fast forward to my 6 week check up post delivery and I was prescribed 10 sessions with a physiotherapist plus a prescription to pick up my, umm … well, probe is probably the best way to describe it. Off I go to my appointment and its basically kegels on speed with a screen to track your progress – you have sets of 10 umm … squeezes and then you have a bit of electro-stimulation to make the muscles work harder. Yikes. Not really something you want to talk about but I am the first to say it’s excellent aftercare. They say its to ward off incontinence but it’s not the real objective – it’s to get your sexual prowess back as soon as possible. THAT is the focus. PLUS it’s free completely 100% free – making it more important under the healthcare system than chemotherapy or the flu vaccine!  The physiotherapist, who’s sole responsibility was to get women’s pelvic floors up to speed was mortified when I went one day with BiP who was hungry as usual so I fed her – “breastfeeding! Stil? But she is almost 3 months old!!!”

So yes, sadly, if you breastfeed in France you do so at your own risk. You will be asked if your husband is ok with it – or if you are a foreigner like me it will be chalked down to the fact that you are obviously not French.  BUT if you really do want to you can, you will and it will be great!




I will wean when WE want to

Today BiP turned 11 months old. It’s an incredible milestone for us especially as our breastfeeding journey has been far from easy.  Before she was born I knew I  wanted to breastfeed her, I never thought for how long. Now, she is fast approaching her first birthday it’s amazing how many people have announced that it is time for me to call it day and start weaning her.

In all honesty the thought of weaning makes me want to cry. Finally, I love feeding her – it no longer hurts, it’s easy and, I feel, it is the reason she is such a confident, happy, healthy baby. It is something so special that we share, no one else can give her what I can and I know one day it will have to stop but why does it have to be based on a date in the calendar? I doubt BiP’s ideal birthday present would be to weaned. She loves her “boobie” so why would I take that away from her when she is still so young? The answer is, I won’t. Not yet.

I won’t list all the “advice” that I’ve been given but here are a few (one of which came from my doctor):

You’ve done your bit – time to call it a day

There is no benefit to breastfeeding beyond 6 months

The only reason you breastfeed is for selfish reasons

It’s time to think if yourself now

It’s abnormal to be still breastfeeding a baby of her age

It truly is no one’s business yet everyone seems to have a take on it. Weaning will happen when it happens; when WE decide not because the calendar says so.  So, here is to 11 months of breastfeeding and an unknown number of months in the future!

Breast milk ice cream? What about the Milk Banks?

An ice cream parlour in the heart of Covent Garden, London, has just launched its latest ice cream called “Baby Gaga” made from breast milk. Whilst Milk Banks around the country, and the world, are begging for breast milk donations 15 women have already signed up to be part of this bizarre gastronomic creation.

Milk banks rely solely on donations from women who have been blessed with over-supply. Breast milk is vital for premature and sick babies who cannot tolerate man-made alternatives. Some mothers are too ill or too stressed to provide milk for their sick or premature babies have to rely on breast milk donations and without it they would not survive.

Reactions to the launch of this new ice cream have ranged from disgust to intrigue. Some argue that breast milk is a better choice for humans to consume versus cow’s milk and even go on to suggest that those who are lactose intolerant would be able to enjoy this new “product”.

The ice cream parlour is paying women to give their breast milk to make ice cream for healthy adults to enjoy as a quirky snack. This precious commodity is now going into the bodies of adults and not to those who need it.

Personally I don’t care about how it tastes or how healthy it is, the gross factor lies in the fact that women, who have an abundance of breast milk, and are capable of donating in order to save a baby’s life are now faced with the dilema of pumping for charity or pumping for cash.

10 Tips on How to Handle Post Partum Body Distress

Today I came across an awesome blog post by The Mommyologist called The Reality of Post-Partum Mom Sexy who tells it like it is! Like so many, I aspired to be a MILF within seconds of giving birth, when, in reality I was anything but! Images of celebs who are back to their pre-pregnancy shape within weeks were all I clung to in the first few days but they are the exception, the very, VERY annoying, irritating exception.

I cried when BiP was a month old because I was still huge and in my maternity clothes. I was told in my breastfeeding class that if I breastfed I would lose the weight  faster – that was not the case. My friends told me that by the time BiP was 3 months I would start losing weight. 3 months came and went, I cried again. I joined a gym. I tried a diet, it hit my milk, I felt stupid, I had to eat. I resigned myself to being a “Yummy Mummy”. I had to accept that I was not going to be one of the lucky ones who had their baby weight melt off. Well, maybe melt is the right word. BiP’s weight has always equaled my weight loss … lucky me – she’ll be 3 by the time I am back to my pre-pregnancy weight!

Here are some tips for handling post-partum body distress …

1.  You will still be fat after giving birth
– your belly MIGHT be softer but it will certainly be there

2.  Those who tell you that breastfeeding will help you regain your body faster are liars. Yes, for some it does but for many it doesn’t. Yes, it burns an extra 500 calories a day but you will be HUNGRY if you are feeding a little milk monkey. The insatiable hunger I had in the early days, and sometimes still do, will probably exceed the extra 500 calories recommended.

3.  Some (stupid) people may ask if you are pregnant again months after you have given birth – try not to cry, insult (or hit) them – they just lack social skills.

4.  DON’T be so hard on yourself – bringing a new life into this world is a huge responsibility and as long as you are healthy that is the focus for now.

5.  Find support from Yummy Mummy’s – Avoid MILF’s at all costs. They will just make you depressed and jealous – which you don’t have time for right now.

6.  Try not to hang on to other people’s experiences – they belong to other people – not you (and remember celebs have Photoshop).

7.  When having photo’s taken of you and your baby focus in on the breasts up – you’ll probably have a cleavage to die for and the empty, protruding belly will be out of the frame.

8.  Wear your baby – when you are wearing your baby no one can see your body.

9.  Accept the fact that when you are with your baby no one is looking at you.

10.  Go shopping for scarves, bags and make-up – it doesn’t matter what size you are.

I hold on to the fact that I won’t be like this forever … so I am promised by many mothers who have been in the same position!

Five Confessions of a Breastfeeding Mother

breastfeeding confessionsI was talking to a friend today about how breastfeeding changes your attitude to your breasts. I laughed at all the things that I have done, many repeatedly, that would have, pre-baby, mortified me and now I just shrug and smile.

Here are my top 5 confessions:

1. Your breasts are now your baby’s, they are food – no one, I mean NO ONE else is allowed to touch them!

2. Despite the no touch rule, you don’t care who see’s your breasts whilst nursing (and yes, you will flash dozens of people during your breastfeeding journey)

3. You will wander around with your breasts free, your nursing bra unclipped and not even care that you can’t remember how long you’ve been like that

4. Your new wardrobe can only be described as “easy access” – anything that can be pulled up/down/to the side easily will be coveted!

5. You will feel your breasts in public (checking which side to feed on next) whilst talking to someone and think nothing of it

It’s all for a good reason and a good sense of humour will take you a long way! What else have you done?

Wordless Wednesday – My card from the Milk Bank

Today I received a card from the Milk Bank … bittersweet as I am no longer donating but I am so glad I did.

Translation: "on behalf of all newborns who have benefited from your generosity, the entire team from the Milk Bank thank you for your donation of breast milk"


For more information on Milk Donation in France click here:

The breastfeeding milestone I never thought we would reach!

Today BiP is 9 months old. We reached a breastfeeding milestone that I never thought we’d manage; 9 months!

I can’t say it has been an easy journey but it certainly has been a rewarding one. Countless people have questioned, and even scorned, my breastfeeding BiP – not that it has been anyone’s business!

The pain, the cracked nipples, the agonising feeds, of the early days which left me totally exasperated, covered in lanolin, and mostly topless, have faded into the past. Over supply and forceful let down led me to the local milk bank where I donated all the excess milk BiP couldn’t consume. Months later I was still dealing with excruciating pain whenever I fed on one side, tests and scans proved inconclusive and was probably due to bad latch that was too late to correct – the advice I was given was to wean as my milk had no nutritional value and it was abnormal to breastfeed at 7 months old … ummm … thanks! Last week I dealt with my first bite, wow, no one tells you how much that is going to hurt, but what hurt more was the look on BiP’s face when I told her that biting wasn’t going to work and that we would have to stop feeding if she continued – it made me cry, both from the physical pain and the thought of stopping so soon. But, as always, we figured it out and we are back on track.

Fortunately I have been lucky enough to use the negative comments and turn them into a positive and continue with what I felt was right… The internet is a precarious world with, often faceless, people there to throw support your way and I have been encouraged by so many people I know only by screen names yet their support has been invaluable! Now that we’ve reached this milestone I have decided that I’ll be leaving it up to BiP to decide how much longer we continue!

Thank you to all those mama’s (and a couple of dad’s) for all your support in getting us to where we are today!