Breastfeeding Toddlers

This is my last post for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, which you can read about here, and the posts this week are based on the theme of 'Breastfeeding Beyond'. 

My first breastfeeding goal was to get to 6 months.  6 months seemed like a realistic achievement and the 'normal' time to stop.  But at 6 months I felt like everything was just starting to go really well so why stop now?! I definitely didn't feel ready to stop breastfeeding, the thought of a feed being his last was heartbreaking.  It would have felt cruel to make Eric stop breast feeding when it was so important to him.  I also felt like I didn't want to switch to formula milk when breast milk is so much healthier.  So my goal became to feed him until he was 1.  However, Eric's birthday came and went and all my other mummy friends had stopped breastfeeding, but I still didn't feel we were ready.  Breastfeeding had become so easy, natural and enjoyable, with Eric only feeding once in the morning and once at night.  I wondered if I 'should' stop, so I read the research and found out that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends breastfeeding until "up to two years of age or beyond", so my next goal became to feed him until he was 2!

Eric is now approaching his 2nd birthday, and I don't plan to stop feeding him then.  My ideas about having breastfeeding 'goals' have mellowed.  I'm happy to feed him until he wants to stop, whether that's next week or when he's an older child.  I am more led by Eric and what seems best for him, and have now read lots about breastfeeding and think it's awesome.  I want to wait for the day when nursing isn't important to him anymore and he feels ready to wean himself.  Before I had a baby I had opinions on what age it was acceptable to breastfeed until and used to say that "when a child can ask for breast milk then you shouldn't breastfeed any more as it's weird" but I couldn't disagree with that more now.  It seems cruel to take something away from my son that is healthy and comforting just at the point when he has made so much effort in learning to communicate verbally with me that he needs or wants it.  Not forgetting that babies communicate their need for milk by rooting, crying, etc. so they are 'asking' for it too, just not with words yet.

I think many people's negative views on breastfeeding toddlers are tied in with our society's sexualisation of breasts.  We see pictures, videos and adverts of breasts in sexy bras, on page 3, on TV, in men's mags.  We judge and value women on their "nice rack".   Everything is about sex.  We don't see people breastfeeding that often.  Mothers are urged to be 'discreet' breastfeeding in public.  Pictures of mothers breastfeeding are banned on Facebook.  Breasts are about sex so people worry that breastfeeding a toddler is a sexual thing rather than a natural thing.  Breastfeeding isn't about sex! At any age! It's about love.  You breastfeed your child for their health, comfort, nutrition and it is NORMAL! It is what our breasts were designed for (and also the reason babies and toddlers have those cute full lips and upturned noses, perfectly designed for breastfeeding). Not because you want to get in their pants or because you get off on it or because your child fancies you.  Really, it is quite insulting that people might perceive extended breastfeeding as a sexual thing.  In other countries and cultures, breastfeeding toddlers really is seen as normal.  By writing about it,  taking part in this scavenger hunt, talking about it, being an advocate myself and sharing my experience etc., I hope I am doing my tiny part in normalising breastfeeding in our society.  

Other opinions on breastfeeding toddlers that I have heard or been told are that older children don't 'need' breast milk as their main source of nutrition and that it becomes for the mother's benefit and not the child's.  I think most mothers who have breastfed will agree with me when I say you cannot 'force' your child to breastfeed when they don't want to! Eric's gone off his milk a few times when he was ill, which was such a worry as I wanted him to be having fluids and all the health benefits of my milk to help him get better, but if they won't latch on they just will not latch on!

As for the health benefits of breastfeeding toddlers, there are many.  Breast milk might not be the main source of nutrition, but it's a pretty amazing extra.  Breastfed toddlers get ill less often and recover more quickly.  The same immunological factors that benefit newborn babies continue to make a huge positive difference to your child's immune system for as long as you breastfeed.  Studies have shown that many of the immune factors passed on through your breastmilk actually increase in concentration in the second year.  The risk of developing allergies remains lower.   Breastfed toddlers are less likely to become obese as an adult.  And there is improved cognitive development.  Breastfeeding also provides emotional comfort, security and a constant and consistent 'safe base' from which your child can explore, meaning that instead of making your child 'clingy' (another negative opinion on breastfeeding toddlers) it can actually make them more confident.

Some of the benefits for mum continue for as long as you breastfeed too, such as a reduction in the risk of osteoporosis and breast, ovarian, uterine and endometrial cancers.

The only downside I feel there is with breastfeeding a toddler is fielding other people's negative and usually uninformed opinions, and this is what I hope to change.

Breastfeeding Eric as a toddler has made me love him and love breastfeeding even more than in the first year, and the more I read about the benefits of continued breastfeeding the happier I am with our decision.

For more posts about 'breastfeeding beyond' check out:
Fi Peacock
Life, Love and Living With Boys
Tales From a Cornish Blonde
Attachment Mummy
Life Happens So Smile

And don't forget to check out Boobie Milk! Thank you so much to Karen at Boobie Milk for organising the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt to raise awareness for breastfeeding and for letting me be a part of it.  Writing blogs for the Scavenger Hunt as been quite emotional.   I've learned so much and it's cemented my beliefs about breastfeeding.  I've really enjoyed reading people's comments on my blog and reading other blogger's posts too, it's been amazing.  You could win a £50 voucher to spend at Boobie Milk as part of the Grand Prize, so don't forget to enter below. 

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Breastfeeding 101 and Support

Hi readers!

As I'm sure you will know from my previous posts, this month I'm taking part in the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, which you can find out about here.  This week the blog posts are based around the theme of support, so as well as sharing organisations that helped me on my way, I thought the best place to start would be my breastfeeding basics. 

Breastfeeding is a natural, normal thing to do, but that doesn't mean it always feels natural or normal to start with.  You put the baby by your boob and they suck it, right? Well, sort of.  It's a skill that both you and your baby have to learn, and learning new things can be really hard! I felt like an idiot because it didn't feel natural, and I just didn't understand what I was physically meant to do.  So don't beat yourself up if you're not finding it super easy, I've been there too.  You will get there, practice makes perfect, and remember your baby won't be judging you or worrying about it as they don't know any different either.

One of the things that I would have found soooo helpful, and would have liked to share with my partner and family, would have been a step-by-step guide to how to position and latch on your baby in the most basic, detailed terms.  When I was absolutely exhausted after labour I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, how to latch Eric on, what that even meant, what day it was etc.  If your loved ones also know how to 'do' it, then they can give practical help and support rather than just replying "I don't know" to your anguished howls of "is this right? Is it working?!"  So if you are confused, unsure, or just plain not getting what the heck is going on, then in the spirit of sharing and support, here is my 'what to do' guide.
First things first, decide which boob to feed on.  When you feed your baby offer the first breast, then when they have finished feeding offer the other breast.  I did not know to do this for the first couple of weeks, and then I was terrified that doing so would mean Eric would 'use up' the second boob and there'd be none for the next feed and he'd be hungry and unhappy and get skinny and die of starvation! Fear not, this doesn't happen, feeding often and alternating sides helps build up a good milk supply rather than using it all up.  It's like a steady stream that's being constantly replenished, not like emptying a bucket.  Some women can tell which breast to feed on next by copping a good ole feel of them.  The fullest, hardest one is probably the one! If you're a bit more organised like me (for 'organised' read 'crazy control freak) then you might prefer to write down the side you last fed on (and in my case the length of time fed on each side, time and contents of nappy changes, time and length of naps and every meal written down for the whole first year!) You can also buy breastfeeding bracelets which you can swap onto opposite wrists so you know which breast to feed on first, and some have numbers so you can move a charm along to show what time the feed was.  I love these ones :)
First things first...get comfy.  Have a special chair or bit of the sofa where you can surround yourself with supportive cushions, a drink, a snack, a magazine to read, etc.  Try to relax! For night feeds I would prop myself up with my pillows and doze a bit whilst Eric had his milk, though obviously be careful not to fall too deeply asleep and smother or drop your baby. Obviously! Some people can breastfeed lying down which makes things easier and more relaxing at night.  I could not do it!  There are some great ideas for positions here, but I will write about the position I found easiest (i.e. the only one I could do).

Next, bring the baby to the breast rather than your breast to the baby.  This means not hunching over trying to dangle or force your boob into their mouth, but rather cwtching them into you which is more comfortable and works best for everyone involved, believe me.

One of the first things I was taught about breastfeeding at a midwife-led Breastfeeding class was "Tummy to tummy, nose to nipple".  We had it drummed into us, chanted it, and I had it down! However, when Eric arrived I had no idea what this mantra really meant or how to put it into practice! So I shall explain in great detail:  With the opposite arm to the boob you want to feed on, hold your baby with your arm underneath them and supporting their head.  You can put the same-side arm underneath the opposite arm for extra support and comfort when your baby is latched on.  Level with your boob, curl them into you so their TUMMY is facing into and resting against your TUMMY! Genius! Your baby should be 'lying' slightly more on their side, rather than on their back, with their head and neck supported but free to tilt back a bit.  

With your baby in this position place their nose right by your nipple which should trigger them to tilt their head back and open their mouth wide so you can then....

Latch your baby on.  This means bringing your baby in closer as their head tilts back and their mouth opens so they get a big mouthful of breast.  Like a hamburger!  If your baby doesn't seem keen to open their mouth just by being placed in the right position try stroking their upper lip with your nipple.  MAKE SURE AS MUCH BOOB AS POSSIBLE IS IN YOUR BABY'S MOUTH, NOT JUST THE NIPPLE! This will stop your nipples getting sore and cracked and will make sure your baby actually stimulates the let down reflex and gets milk.

These are just the tips that I found helpful, but every woman is different, so if they're not working for you then try other positions and don't give up! With proper support and information most women can breastfeed successfully.

Unfortunately many health visitors, midwives and GPs have not had extensive breastfeeding training, and so can give conflicting and even incorrect advice.  As they are health professionals women trust their advice, and many stop breastfeeding unnecessarily, or before they might have liked to stop.  We were given 1 breastfeeding class as part of our antenatal classes, but weren't told about the need for support and other sources of support and information were not signposted for us, which would have been really helpful and I think is imperative if we are to help women to keep breastfeeding.

Sources of support and information that I found most helpful were:

My partner, just for encouraging me and telling me I was doing ok.

The NCT breastfeeding helpline,  0300 330 0771 (7 days a week, 8am-10pm); or one of their local counsellors (look on the 'In Your Area' section of their website).  When I was having some real difficulties and pain breastfeeding (you can read the story of those earlier days here) I talked to a local breastfeeding counsellor called Jenny, and she gave me the correct information that I needed (that it sounded like I had thrush, which I had never been told you could get in your boob before, by any medical professional or in our breastfeeding class!) and the medication I needed (two doctors prescribed the incorrect medication before I finally got them to give me what she suggested, which made it better and pain free really quickly! I rang at several other points, and each time felt more relaxed and confident about breastfeeding.

La Leche League


The Breastfeeding Network

Local breastfeeding support groups (try your local Children's Centre).  

There are also lots of fantastic blogs that offer support!

For more Scavenger Hunt posts check out the following blogs:
Fi Peacock
Attachment Mummy
Mummy Constant
Radical Ramblings
Mama Geek
Mamajewels make really beautiful breastfeeding bracelets and necklaces, I love this Indian Pink bracelet!  They have kindly donated a prize for the scavenger hunt... so make sure you enter below!

Please complete the following Rafflecopter to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize.

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Idea: Mouldy Bath Toys

Eric loves having a bath, and has lots and lots of squirty bath toys, but unfortunately after a while they always go mouldy on the inside and spray disgusting black mould into the bath! Which is bad.  But throwing them away seems really wasteful and bad for the environment, so here is my step-by-step guide to reinventing your mouldy bath toys!

1) Cut out the bottom of the bath toy (be careful!)


3) Scrub the toys inside with a mixture of hot water, eco-friendly washing up liquid and tea tree oil.

4) Enjoy your exciting new bath pourers! 

My Favourite Breastfeeding Accessories

Hi readers!

The theme for this week's Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt is Mum-to-Mum sharing, where we can share our top tips etc., so I want to share with you my favourite breastfeeding accessories.  The really brilliant thing about breastfeeding is that you obviously only actually need one thing - your boobs! But there are a few things I bought that I found helpful, some I wish I'd bought, and some things I bought that were completely unnecesary!  

I Loved:

1. Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra.

I loved these bras as they are soooooo comfy.  When I first started breastfeeding I could hardly bear anything touching my boobs as they were really sensitive and tender, so I lived in cotton crop top-style, night nursing bras until I found these! They're much better for daytime! The fabric is very smooth so they go under clothes well, and they have a thin layer of padding (which you can remove if you prefer) which hides nipples and breast pads.  They are supportive and my favourite thing about these bras is that they only come in 3 sizes: small, medium, and large, which then stretch to fit you, and stretch as your boobs fill up with milk/are emptier after a feed.  They're just so comfortable!

2) Muslin Cloths.  

I use these for everything ... stuffing in my bra when breastfeeding, draping over your shoulder when burping baby, mopping up, as a bib, as a warm liner on a cold changing mat, as a sunshade, and some people use them as a cover up when breastfeeding.

3) Grandad tops. I lived in grandad tops (the ones with a button placket at the neckline) when I was still feeding Eric in the day.  You can easily unbutton the neckline and get your boob out without exposing the other boob or your tummy, and as they're not special nursing clothes they're not that expensive.  I also liked blouses with pussy bow necklines for the same reason - easy access! Oh and surprisingly cream is actually a great colour with babies that aren't weaning yet, as their milky sick doesn't show up as much as with dark colours!

4. Medela Swing Breast Pump. 

I looooooved my Medela Swing pump. It was so, so comfortable, quick and easy to use.  If you are hoping to express some milk for your partner to give your baby a bottle, so your baby can still have your own milk when you go back to work, or to ease your breasts when they are too full when baby drops a feed etc. I'd highly recommend this pump.

5. Fennel tea.  

I was worrying about my milk supply and whether Eric was getting enough milk (I think this is a really common worry as you can't actually see how much is going in!) but I started drinking a couple of cups of fennel tea a day, and since then Eric has stuck to his growth centile line in his red book, and I feel more confident, so I can't be sure it was definitely the tea but I certainly feel like it helps my milk supply!

6. Hot Milk lingerie.  

Unfortunately Hot Milk don't do bras in my size now that they have gone back to their small, pre-pregnancy size, but when I did have fantastically big, bouncy boobs I loved the beautiful underwear from Hot Milk! Even when I was just wearing sweatpants every day (which was for at least the first 8 weeks after Eric was born, non-stop!) if I had pretty underwear on I felt more confident.  Check out their website here.  Hot Milk have actually donated a set of lingerie for the Grand Prize so make sure you enter at the bottom of my post!

7. Mamas and Papas nursing pyjamas.  
These pj's were really easy to feed in, and felt comfortable but smart enough to see visitors in! The quality is really nice too :)

8. Bamboo washable breast pads.  
I didn't want to use disposable breast pads as washable ones are so much cheaper and better for the environment! The best pads I found (and still use) are bamboo ones.  They are super soft, anti bacterial and anti microbial! I bought about 15 pairs and layered them up when I needed more absorbency when Eric was younger.  I wash them in a net bag in the washing machine (with any other loads of washing).

9. Boob nursing hoodie.  

One of the only 'proper' nursing tops I had was a sea green hoodie from Swedish brand Boob.  I got it on eBay as they're fairly expensive, but it was worth every penny.  They have a horizontal envelope style opening just under your boobs, so it's really easy and uncomplicated to use.  It was so comfortable and I could chuck it on over anything!  

10. Notebook and stopwatch to time and write down feeds.  
This helped me remember which side to feed Eric on at the start of each feed! I fed Eric on demand and watched for his cues so I didn't really feed him on a schedule, but writing down the times of each feeds helped me to be organised about when he might need to feed next and when would be better to go out, put him down for a nap etc.  I could spot any patterns, and it also helped when he was ill to be able to tell the health professional any difference in his feeding.  Mostly it just helped me feel more relaxed as I'm a very organised (OCD!) person!

11. My necklace.  

When Eric was about 4 or 5 months old he started to get really distracted during nursing, but I was given a beautiful silver necklace for Christmas with Eric's handprints, name and date of birth on it.  It really helped focus his attention in the right place and stopped him coming off the boob to look around wherever we were, which helped make sure he got a full feed as well as sparing my blushes in public!  He still plays with and looks at it when he's feeding now. 

I Wish I had bought:

1. Booby Tubes.  

I found these on the Earth Mama Angel Baby website earlier this year and really think they would have helped me ease the pain and engorgement when my milk came in.

2. Milkmaid Tea.  

I would have loved to try this, and when I decide to stop feeding Eric or Eric decides to self-wean I will use the No More Milk tea to ease the transition.

3. Bamboobies bamboo pads.  

As I said earlier I love bamboo pads as they're so eco friendly, and these ones are so cute!

4. Sling.  

I have a friend who uses a sling alot, and feeds her child in the sling, and I really admire this closeness.  I had a ring sling but didn't really understand how to use it or even think  about using it in the early days, and ended up passing it on to a new mummy friend.  If I have another child in the future I'll definitely plan to use a sling.

I Didn't Use or Hated:

1. Nipple shields.  I was given these and didn't use them at all or even think about using them!

2. Proper nursing tops, especially tummy-sucking-in vest tops that were supposed to help your mum tum look slimmer! Ow! I couldn't eat, or breathe, and they rode up annoyingly all the time! I gave up after just a few wears! I found most proper nursing tops too expensive and a complete faff to use.

3. Manual breast pump. OW OW! I had a Nuby manual pump which I got free with a magazine subscription. It was painful and ineffective (sorry Nuby).

4. Cover.  I liked the look of some of the breastfeeding covers that you can buy to help you nurse discreetly in public, but I waited a while to be sure I wanted to buy one and I'm glad I did.  In practice being discreet wasn't important to me after the first few nerve-wracking feeds, as my boobs are quite small so I think Eric's head was usually shielding me from view, and people rarely looked or seemed to even notice that I was breastfeeding.  We also both found it really stuffy and claustrophobic the few times I draped a muslin over us! So a nursing cover wasn't for us.

5. Nipple cream.  My early breastfeeding problems were thrush in my breasts rather than cracked nipples, so using nipple cream was unecessary for me (and would have actually made the thrush worse).  Lansinoh cream (the one most people recommend!) is also not vegan, so I didn't want to use that particular brand/lanolin-based cream.  I wouldn't necessarily buy nipple cream to have in your backup arsenal, as you might not need it, and you can also use breast milk on your nipples and let them air dry to heal them if they do get cracked, whilst you work on getting your latch right.

6. Nursing pillow.  We bought a Widgey nursing pillow which you can use to help support your baby whilst they feed, however I found it actually didn't get Eric in the right position at all, so we didn't use it.  It was great for wedging him in to support him in the sitting position and helping him learn to sit up when he was older though! 

I hope you've enjoyed reading my list of the good, the bad and the ugly of nursing products! If you'd like to read more posts on the theme of Mum-to-Mum sharing, please check out the following blogs:

A New Addition
Ponderings of a Doula
Smiling Like Sunshine
My Thoughts on Things
Fi Peacock

This post is part of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt, which you can read about here

To enter into the Grand Prize Draw, please enter your details below!

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Benefits of Breastfeeding

Hi readers!
I'm taking part in a 'Keep Britain Breastfeeding' Blog Scavenger Hunt this month, read more about it here!

When I was deciding how to feed my child, Eric, I was about 90% sure I wanted to breastfeed, purely because it seems natural to me.  You have boobs, they're there to feed your child! There is also no vegan formula milk available in the UK so I was really determined to be able to breastfeed so I could raise him vegan from the start.  The 10% uncertainty about whether to breastfeed was that I wasn't really sure how to actually do it, and was worried I wouldn't be able to. If this sounds like you, try not to worry, it is very, very rare that someone is physically unable to breastfeed with the right advice, support and lots of practice, so don't let that influence your decision! I'll be writing a post about the basics of breastfeeding and how to get the support you need in a couple of weeks.  I'm aware that people who've chosen to (or felt they needed to) bottle feed can feel pressured or criticised by anything pro-breastfeeding, but I feel that the aim of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt is to share experiences, help mothers make informed decisions, build confidence in their ability to breast feed if they choose to and hopefully change society's perception of breastfeeding.  If you are deciding how to feed your baby, and aren't sure whether to use formula or to breastfeed, read on for the positive benefits of breastfeeding...

Benefits for Your Baby's Health:
  • Your milk contains antibodies which help build your baby's immunity and reduce illness.
  • Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cot death.
  • Breastfed babies have a lower risk of obesity or being overweight or having high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, eczema, type 2 diabetes, leukaemia or asthma later in life.
  • Breast milk is custom-made by your body to contain the exact nutrients that your own baby needs at different times.  The breast milk composition changes day by day and feed by feed, to meet your child's changing needs.
  • Colostrum, your first milk, helps "seal" newborn baby's intestines which are permeable, which prevents harmful substances from penetrating the gut.
  • Colostrum contains growth factors and immune components that start to build your baby's immune system.
  • Colostrum has a mildly laxative effect which helps your baby pass meconium.  This reduces the risk of excess bilirubin causing jaundice. 
  • Breast milk has the perfect combination of proteins, fats, carbohydrate, and fluids that babies need.
  • The protein in breast milk is more easily and completely digested by babies than the protein in formula milk.
  • The cow's milk in formula milk can cause allergies and intestinal bleeding in babies, whereas they can't be allergic or intolerant to your breast milk. 
  • Breast milk is your baby's natural diet
  • Studies have shown breastfed children are more intelligent

Benefits for Bonding With Your Baby:
  • Oxytocin, the 'love' hormone, is released when you breastfeed which helps bonding and is also helpful if you have PND.
  • It's special quiet time with your child, when you are really in tune with each other.  Eric just fees once in the morning and once before bed now, and his night feed is my favourite part of the day, when we're all snuggly and cosy together. 
  • Feeding your child yourself feels very rewarding, you can feel proud of your body and what it can do.
  • It feels nice.
  • Eric strokes my skin when he feeds, which apparently babies do to try to make you love them even more. Awww!
  • It soothes and calms your child when they cry or are ill.
  • Your baby's natural reflex is to 'root' for the breast, so breastfeeding fulfils these natural instincts.


  • Your milk is always there at the perfect temperature.
  • You can't run out if you forget to go to the shop.
  • There is no preparation time, your milk is ready right away as soon as your baby is hungry and cries.
  • If you breast-feed, it is impossible to make any mistakes with the milk you give your baby.
  • It's free!

Benefits For Mummy:

  • Breastfeeding helps you lose weight after birth.
  • Breastfeeding is 'forced' relaxation!, where you can sit down, relax and enjoy one-to-one time with your child and have a cup of tea without worrying about anything else on your 'to do' list as nothing else is more important!
  • Breastfeeding reduces the mother's risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • It can make your breasts bigger!
  • Breastfeeding a newborn burns an extra 500 calories per day which means that you could tuck into a nice, big piece of (vegan!) chocolate cake, which contains about 300 calories, and still lose weight!
  • Breastfeeding helps your uterus to contract after birth and to shrink back to it's normal size (which is especially important if, like me, you had a postpartum haemmorhage)
  • Breastfeeding is what your breasts were designed for!

  • Breast feeding is good for the environment.
  • There is no waste.
  • Breast feeding is vegan so it's kind to animals.

There are so many great reasons to try breastfeeding! If you're still not sure, why not try just breastfeeding once and seeing how you go? Or for one day, or one week? Your baby would get some great benefits and you might find that it's the right choice for you and you really enjoy it, and want to continue.  It is entirely your decision and you should feel happy and comfortable whatever you choose, so you can relax and enjoy your baby. 

For more Scavenger Hunt blog posts about the benefits of breastfeeding check out the following blogs:

Fi Peacock
Attachment Mummy
Mummy Constant
Radical Ramblings
Mama Geek

And if you're preparing for a new arrival don't forget to check out the Natural Nursery website. They have donated a prize for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Grand Prize!

Please complete the following Rafflecopter to enter the competition for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Grand Prize.
a Rafflecopter giveaway