10 May

‘BfN helped me through some tough times’

Loisa Hayward is one of the runners in our Mum’s Milk Run. This is her story.

Loisa running for BfN‘I am running the 20km Mums Milk Run virtual race for the Breastfeeding Network to help raise funds to keep this amazing and much needed organisation going.

I am a mum of a beautiful 14 month old girl who I have proudly breastfed since birth. No one told me how tough it actually was to do what is supposed to be a perfectly natural thing for your baby. There were so many times at the start of our journey that I said enough was enough and it was time to stop. But it wasn’t the choice I wanted to make, I wanted to keep going.

We had a ventouse delivery which gave my little girl pain when feeding on a particular side, which led to three initial bouts of mastitis in about 8 weeks. We also had nipple blisters, lack of confidence in feeding out in public, and poor latch (due to prematurity). It was very painful to feed at the start.

The Breastfeeding Network offered support, information and understanding. I was never coerced in to thinking bottle or breast. I was given the space and time to make my own decision and they helped me with that. They helped with positioning, techniques and with allowing me to feel compassion for myself and what I was trying to do.

Going to the group helped me feel reassured that what I was going through was normal for some women and that camaraderie got me through the hard times. What I have found so helpful is the local Facebook group which has gotten me through some very long nights, huge self-confidence issues, and all the other little bits that come up that completely throw you if you haven’t breastfed before.

The atmosphere of the group I attended was very relaxed and friendly. I remember turning up for the first time and my baby girl had a nappy explosion in her car seat; I’m a first-time mum and this sort of thing used to really throw me in to a wobble, but even this non-breastfeeding related issue was taken in its stride as just one of those things at the group, which instantly put me at ease. The volunteers were absolutely lovely, kind and empathetic.

Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I am so happy that I made it through all of the tough early days, the endless nights, the tears and tantrums (from both mum and baby), and all of the happy bonding memories too.

The BfN were a big part in my continuation of breastfeeding my baby. I want to do something to give back to this voluntary organisation by raising some money to help them train more amazing volunteers who give that community support to all parents.

If you would like to sponsor Loisa, please visit her Just Giving page

 

27 Apr

The non-runners guide to our Mum’s Milk Run 2018

The beauty of our virtual run is that you can complete it any way you like. You don’t have to run it at all if running is not your thing. To give you a bit of inspiration for our Mums Milk Run 2018, we have interviewed two of our supporters who did the Mums Milk Run a different way last year

Sukie is Vice-Chair of the BfN board, and last year did the Mums Milk Run through spinning.

I don’t like running, I’m not built to run, and I find it boring! But I’m a member of my local YMCA gym, and they do spinning classes every day, which I love. I do six of those a week. So last year, I decided to do 20 spins in a week for the Mums Milk Run.

I really wanted to be part of the Mums Milk Run because I’m the Vice-Chair of the BfN board, and the longer I’m involved with the organisation, the more I see the inequalities in breastfeeding support, and I really want to help do something about that. I did it because I know we need the funding, and we need to raise awareness.

So I decided on 20 spins in a week, because that seemed like a good challenge compared to my usual six, and I thought it was something people might give me money for. And last year was the 20th anniversary of BfN so 20 seemed like a good amount.

The main challenge was that I couldn’t wash my gym kit quickly enough! It’s an average of three spinning classes a day. Towards the end I was wearing really unflattering mis-matched cobbled together outfits!

I felt extra fit by the end of it. My clothes started to feel loser, and I felt so good about myself, it really helped my self-esteem.

I definitely would recommend spinning to others – I think it is great fun. The music is great, there are some great instructors, and we have a laugh, it’s not too serious. And it’s a great community of all ages. There’s a couple who regularly sit next to me who are 82. They always save me the bike they know I like! I always say I see more of my spinning friends than I see of my husband!

 

Nina is Programme Manager for BfN and last year did part of her Mums Milk Run in Lake Windermere!

Nina at Lake WindermereI am a keen runner, I’ve been running for a long time, and I love long distance running. I’ve done marathons and ultra-marathons. Last year I had to have a knee operation, and by the time the Mums Milk Run came around, the doctors said I could only do a short slow run – 1 mile at the most – because I had to build back up slowly. So I thought ‘OK I will do my Mums Milk run in 20 short little physio runs, getting my strength back’. I really wanted to be part of the Mums Milk Run if I could, because I’ve received so much support from BfN, and I want other people to be able to experience that support.

When all my other running friends were doing spring marathons, for me it was getting back to running after the operation. It could have been quite a lonely time for me, as running is a big part of my social life. But instead of feeling like I was missing out on all the long runs, I became part of such a lovely group of BfN ladies supporting each other through the Mums Milk Run.

That year I even swam part of the Mums Milk Run. I always enjoyed swimming before I was a runner, particularly outdoor swimming. That May I was supposed to run a marathon around Lake Windermere, but I had to defer. I still went anyway to cheer my friends on. Whilst they ran around Windermere, I went and swam the last mile of my 20 miles across the lake. As I was swimming I could see the runners running by, it was lovely, and I felt like I’d achieved something that day.

I do love outdoor swimming. It’s peaceful and calm. When you’re running you can hear other runners, chatting, pounding of footsteps, panting and grunting. In the lake it’s absolutely quiet and peaceful. I regularly just stop and float on my back, because it’s not about the swimming for me, it’s about the quiet and the beautiful views. It’s invigorating. You come out the other end and feel amazing. 

Registration is still open for our Mums Milk Run 2018. If you fancy doing it, but don’t like running, why not do some exercise you do like. It all counts and every registration raises much needed funds for BfN’s work providing independent evidence-based support about breastfeeding. This is all about raising funds and having FUN, plus you will get a unique BfN medal at the end!

 

17 Apr

Why I do the Mums Milk Run

claref - run2018Ahead of the Mums Milk Run 2018, we interviewed some of our regular fundraisers to find out what they get out of doing our bi-annual 20k virtual run. Clare Farquhar is BfN’s Central Support Manager and she got into running recently. Here’s her story.

Why do you run for BfN?

I have been doing the Mums Milk Run virtual run for BfN since the first event in 2017. I used to volunteer as a breastfeeding supporter, but I find I don’t have time for that now, so this is my way of supporting BfN on top of the job I do as BfN Central Support Manager.

I think there are a lot of similarities between running and breastfeeding in terms of things that help make them successful. Being single minded, determined, not caring what others think or say (no one did say anything, but I was worried) are all factors that helped me get into running and into breastfeeding. There’s also the physical and mental health benefits, of both activities, and the sense of achievement when you reach your own goals. They’re both free, you can do them as a group or on your own, at home or out and about. Mentally, breastfeeding and running have a lot of the same challenges, so running for BfN makes so much sense to me.

How did you get started?

I’m from Newcastle, and that’s where the Great North Run starts. Every year I would see the run on TV and wish I could do it, but I never thought I could. Then one year, I don’t know why, I just thought ‘this year I’m going to do it’. That was in 2016, and I was so determined that when I didn’t get a place in the ballot, I signed up to run for a charity – I did it for Mind.

I had never run before, I always hated running at school, and wasn’t really very active at all. I’d just done a bit of netball. But I got a free training plan from the Great North Run website, which was for beginners, and I stuck to it rigidly.

The race was brilliant, and also very emotional for me. It was held on my Dad’s birthday that year, and I wasn’t to know but it ended up being his last birthday. It was held in the September and he died in the January.

I think it was my Dad that motivated me to do the Great North Run in the first place. My sister did it a long time ago, and he’d always said he was proud of her, and I wanted him to be proud of me too. When I look back on it, it’s strange that that year I was suddenly so determined to do the run. My sister did it that day too, although she was a lot faster than me, and I think he was very proud of us both when we came back with our medals.

I completed it in 3 hours and 22 minutes and I did the whole thing on a run/walk basis, which means I ran for a couple of minutes, then walked for a couple of minutes repeatedly.

Since then, running has really helped me get through the bereavement. I think it’s so good for your physical and mental health. When I go running I get to clear my head, and I don’t really think about anything else other than how I’ll get through the next half mile.

What do you like about running?

I like going running on my own, it’s time to myself, and I enjoy listening to my music while I run. Some people like running groups, but they’re not really for me. It’s the peace and quiet I like – being able to go out under my own steam and leaving the house with just a front door key and a bottle of water – it’s quite liberating!

How do you keep going when you really don’t feel like it?

It’s determination that really got me through the tough times when I first started running. I wanted to do it, and so I just did it. Initially I felt a bit self-conscious and was worried what people might think – a woman in her 40s running around, and not having the right gear. But eventually I just decided, I don’t care what other people think. I actually got a lot of support from family and friends, and still do. Occasionally someone will beep their horn at me, and I nearly always automatically assume it is someone having a laugh at my expense, only to find out later it was someone I know beeping to wish me well!

Running for charity really helps, because I get lots of encouragement from friends and family who sponsor me and that gives me added motivation to get out when I really don’t feel like it.

What are your running goals?

I recently completed my first 5k event where I ran the whole way. I was pretty slow but I did it! I’m now working on being able to run the whole way for a 10k. I’ve signed up for the Great Womens Run in Glasgow in June, which is a 10k, so the BfN virtual run will be perfect as part of my training. For me it is all about achieving my own goals and not worrying about what anyone else is doing.

03 Apr

6 Top Tips for New Mums who want to Start Running

trainers on fallen leavesIf you’ve recently had a baby, or even not so recently, getting back into exercise once you are a mum can seem like a big hurdle. Being active is good for physical and mental health, but taking your time and waiting until you feel ready to get back to running or any other exercise you enjoy is very important.

In preparation for our Mums’ Milk Run 2018 we asked some of BfN’s volunteers for their tips on getting active after childbirth. All are mums and have taken that first step back into exercising themselves, so they speak from personal experience alongside their breastfeeding support training. Thank you, Lindsay Cook, Sally Carter, Erica Harris, and Joy Jones for your tips!

1. Take it easy at first

Don’t expect too much from yourself. Pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond put your body through a lot and it takes time to recover. Every mum is different so make sure you wait until you feel ready, some mums are keen to get back to exercising quite quickly and others find they have other priorities once their baby arrives.

Lindsay and Sally advise that walks with the pram, or whilst babywearing, will be enough for most mums in the first few months. If you want to go to an exercise class maybe try and find one where the instructor is post-natally trained so you don’t over-do things.

2. Find a good sports bra

Lindsay says “Get a proper supportive sports bra (or even two layered up), there is nothing worse than trying to run with breastfeeding boobs bouncing around!”

For most breastfeeding mums the best choice will be a non-wired sports bra to reduce the risk of mastitis. It may be worth going to a store that offers a bra-fitting service and getting yourself measured to make sure you get the best fit, and the most support for your size

3. Planning is keycropped-milk-run-189x300

For Lindsay, planning was the key to actually getting out and running: “I have 3 children, the youngest is 3, and I found it hard to get back into exercise, I think it was because I was so tired and the windows for getting exercise in are so few and far between. I recommend planning ahead to make the most of any small opportunity you may get. I always fed mine immediately before exercise to maximise the time I had”.

4. Get into the habit

Another good planning tip from Lindsay: Have some time that is yours for exercise and stick to it, once the habit is formed then it is easier to stick to it.

5. You don’t need to feel guilty

Erica says “Taking time to run (or any activity that takes you away from your baby) does not make you selfish. I think some mums can feel that somehow they are. In fact exercise provides an invaluable space to be “you”. It’s restorative and is a form of self care, which is vital for all, especially parents!”

“And you’re modelling great behaviour for your kids – both because you are keeping fit, and because you are practicing self-care”, adds Joy.

6. Express!

Feeding your baby, or expressing before you go running will make it much more comfortable.

And when you’re ready for entering your first event, take Lindsay’s advice. “Express before you take part, I have a not very fond memory of expressing in the portaloos at the start of the London Marathon…I sterilised the equipment about 5 times afterwards!”.

Mums Milk Run 2018

mumsMilkRun]If you would like to start running, registration is now open for our Mums Milk Run 2018. It is a 20km virtual run challenge open to everyone, raising much needed funds for BfN’s work providing independent evidence-based support about breastfeeding.

A virtual run is a run done in your own time, you can run (or walk/cycle/swim) at your own pace and you can do the run in one go or over several smaller runs spread over the month.  You can complete your virtual race at the gym on a treadmill or running round your local area and you can do it by yourself or with your family and friends. There are four Saturdays in May so you could do the 20km by going along to your local Parkrun each week. There is no time pressure, this is all about raising funds and having FUN, plus you will get a unique BfN medal at the end!