In my previous life, I’d listen to pregnant colleagues referring to their pregnancies by weekly increments (and sometimes days too). Surely the monthly milestones were enough? I mean, there are nine after all.
I’d hear friends and family call their babies ‘13 month olds’. Wouldn’t it make much more sense to call them ‘just a bit older than a one year old’?
Then I got pregnant.
From the moment you pee on that stick and see those little lines appear; every second feels like a lifetime until you’ll meet your little offspring. As the pregnancy develops, weekly changes to the fetus are enormous, turning ‘it’ from a kidney bean shaped blob, through the alien phase, and into a ‘baby’ as your due date approaches.
So initially, when I first heard about the ‘first 1000 days of my baby’s life’, my head almost exploded.
What is 1000 days?
To anyone who didn’t just Google the phrase, 1000 days is 2 Years, 8 Months, 3 Weeks, 5 Days, 11 Hours, 33 Minutes and 19 Seconds.
So that’s around the longest I ever stayed in the same job, and in fact not far off how long we lived at our last house before moving to our new one.
It’s 270 days of pregnancy niggles, 365 days of mostly sleepless nights in their first year and 365 days of catching a wobbly toddler during year two.
Basically, from the moment you get pregnant to your child’s second birthday.
Anyone with kids will know that these are amongst the most important days of your child’s life as they develop skills almost on a daily basis (my daughter actually worked out how to unlock the front door today, which is just great).
These 1000 days are when they are building their immune systems, and shaping a strong nutritional foundation for life that affects everything from their growth and brain development to allergies they may have into adulthood.
So as Lady P approaches her 2nd birthday in the autumn, I became aware that her 1000 days were almost ‘up’, and like any job or project undertaken, there’s always an ‘appraisal’ where you look back at what you have achieved.
During the ‘beached whale phase’, my main aim was to resist the urge to gorge on cake when the mid-afternoon slump occurred, but rather to eat a balanced diet full of lots of goodness to give my body the best chance to do what it was designed for; grow, birth and feed my baby (if I could).
My reasons for wanting to breastfeed were simple. I wanted to give Lady P the best possible start, and I knew that the protein contained in breast milk is just amazing.
I’ve also been quite intrigued to know what I’d look like if I ever had a boob job too, so I thought it might be a good insight.
protein in breastmilk is vital for a baby’s growth. The right quality and quantity of protein contained in breast milk is shown to have an impact on their growth rate, cells, muscles, brain and other tissues.
Did you know that a baby’s brain is approximately 50% of the size of an adult’s by the time they’re one year old? Pretty important, that protein.
The more amazing things is that protein in breastmilk decreases over time which makes sure that the baby won’t grow too fast. As if by magic, the mother’s body knows how to produce just the right amount of nutrients that their baby needs, which means the protein in the breastmilk is right for each stage that they are still breastfeeding. For this reason, breastfed babies are also less likely to become overweight.
I wanted to at least give it a go when she arrived.
This neat video actually helps to explain breastmilk protein in a bit more detail:
The 1st year
Luckily, despite a shaky first week and with a bit of help from my local clinic, breastfeeding came pretty naturally and my baby was a great feeder.
I don’t know how much I ‘enjoyed’ it personally, and I’m certainly not an ‘earth mother’ (as I was once referred to because I chose to breastfeed my child), but at about 8 weeks in, I remember the moment where I stopped and thought about it.
For almost 2 months, my child had consumed nothing but what had leaked from my misshapen boobies.
I was watching her gain weight and outgrow all of her clothes – just from my milk.
As time went by, and as my husband slept whilst I sat on many an unsociable hour feeding my baby, I considered how much easier it would be to bottle feed and be able to split the feeds.
But for the first time since I had had her, looking at how well she was doing, the ‘what if Mummy guilt’ clicked in and I decided I wasn’t ready to stop, wanting to make it to the six months that I’d initially planned to do.
A photo posted by Rhian Harris (@fromtumtomum) on
I know it’s not always quite so straightforward for a lot of Mums. I have friends that have struggled to breastfeed and ended up in a right state over it, so I am not for a second advocating you keep going at the expense of a hungry baby – after all, no nutrition and a stressed out Mum is not the way to go.
But for us, it worked.
As I introduced solids, I wanted to continue a good balanced diet, and she went from strength to strength gaining a healthy weight that helped her to crawl and then walk the day before her first birthday.
The 2nd year
Now that I am just three months away from her second birthday, it seems like a lifetime ago since I was sat for hours on the sofa feeding for hours, or trying to watch TV over the noise of the milking machine as I expressed.
I watch her run around, tearing up the place and I realise the importance of those first six months and the natural nutrition that breastmilk provided for her.
I’m no doctor, and I have nothing to compare it to, but all I know is that I have a smart, healthy and energetic 21 month old and I like to think that the protein she received from my breastmilk and introduced through weaning gave her a head start.
I only wish now that as she refuses the food I lovingly make for her, discarding it to the kitchen floor, I’d quite like another tap of readymade food that she won’t refuse!
Disclaimer: I was approached by SMA Nutrition to write this article. The opinions in this blog are based on my own experiences.