4 Babies & 1 Business – Sharon Spink from Booby & The Beads!

I am very pleased to have Sharon Spink from Booby and The Beads guest blogging about her journey to breastfeeding success (which wasn’t at all as easy as thought it would be!) and how a business was born as a result of her experiences.

Nicki x

 Road to breast-feeding success, lined with sharp stones(or in my case acrylic beads)!
I have got 4 children now and have breastfed all of them with varying degrees of success. Kevin, my first, was born when I was only 19 and despite wanting to breastfeed I was also very self-conscious about it and sadly gave up after only 2 weeks. I think it was my fear of feeding in front of other people especially my ex-father in law that caused me very quickly to switch to formula feeding Kevin. He’s 23 now and it has obviously not done him any harm. When Kevin was 2 ½ & I was 22 I had Sarah. Breastfeeding went a little better this time and I managed about 4 or 5 weeks but this time I think it was my fault for stopping. Bottles seemed like an easier option especially when I had a toddler to look after as well, how wrong I could have been.
Move on 16 years and I found myself re-married and expecting baby number 3. Isabel was born in 2009 and I was now a much older and worldly mum of 41. I had also found a great bunch of ladies on an Internet forum that were a veritable mine of information and advice – thank you all of you. Breastfeeding was one of the things I wanted to get right along with how she was born. I’d had 2 previous c-sections and was determined to have a natural birth this time. Well unfortunately that didn’t happened and there I was having c-section number 3. I’d learned about how important skin-to-skin contact was and getting that all-important 1st feed in so kept asking the staff as soon as she was born when I could have skin-to-skin with her. I was so frustrated when I was told it wouldn’t be until we were in recovery. I thought it would be too late and my ability to breastfeed would be ruined. How wrong I could have been. Isabel was great and knew just what to do but it was short lived and by day 3 & 4 she kept me up all night screaming the ward down and me flooding it with tears. We had a lovely midwife that sat for ages with me and got her sorted. We didn’t look back and carried on, not without the odd problem though, for another 4 months. Sadly she started loosing weight – gain 1 week but back again the week later and so the only advice I got was to top her up with formula. I cried buying the carton of milk and cried even more as I gave her it. Mixed feeding was not something I wanted to do but it worked for another 2 months until one day Isabel turned away and refused to breastfeed.
So it was time for baby number 4 and I was more determined than ever to breastfeed. Yet another c-section loomed and despite hearing stories of mums struggling to breastfeed after a c-section I knew as long as we had skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible and she got in that first vital feed we should be ok and yes we were. Had a blip on day 2 so luckily I’d had the foresight to take my Kari-Me wrap in with me so I despite it being the middle of the night I popped her in and off we went for a walk down the ward to get a drink and some toast. Luckily we’ve never looked back.

An idea emerges!
 Don’t get me wrong – it’s not been plain sailing. I’ve shed many a tear but I knew that we could get through it. I had tremendous support from my lovely hubby and my online friends too. Without them I wouldn’t know half as much as I do or have had as much conviction to do a lot of the things I do. That’s where the idea for my business, Booby & The Beads ,came from too. At B&TB I make and sell a range of aids, designed to be both attractive and useful when it comes to breastfeeding, be it helping you remember which breast you fed from last to necklaces which keep babies interested on the job in hand, well boob but you see what I mean and can help avoid the inevitable scratching or pulling at hair, clothes, glasses etc. I’d never heard of nursing necklaces until they were mentioned in a thread in the Baby Talk Room of Hitched I did my research, bought a sample one. When it arrived I looked at it and decided I could make them and actually do it much better than the one I’d bought!
From the first necklace, the range has erupted….! Reminder bracelets were a natural progression, then came the children’s version, just because I’d had several little girls asking for one just like their mummy’s. I adapted one of the children’s bracelets to add in a mobile number so it became a safety feature if the child ever got lost. Recently, I’ve realised they would work for dementia sufferers too and only the other week I took an order from a gentleman that wanted to wear one while he was out on his bicycle because he never took any id out with him. The dummy/toy clips started with one I made for Charlotte to save me constantly having to pick up her toys (she doesn’t have a dummy) from either her pushchair or highchair. Key rings are a recent addition and my latest project is Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces, that help calm and relieve teething pain. Clearly there is a lot of truth in the saying “No rest for the wicked!”
For me, achieving breastfeeding success was not easy and looking back I am gra
teful for not only the support, but the wealth of helpful hints and tips I was given. Many of these have resulted product ideas.
To find out more about Sharon, view the range, see where she is exhibiting next or to buy then visit her here or drop her an email! 

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  1. Wow, can't believe how similar our stories are in many places! When my first was born I was determined to breast feed, but after a 48 hour period where all seemed fine, my little boy dramatically dropped in weight, and it became clear he really wasn't actually feeding. Cue an 11-day hospital stay, SCBU included, trauma, tears and lots of expressing. I fed him on expressed milk from a small cup whilst trying to get him to latch on and feed, before eventually giving formula in desperation. 10 weeks of trauma later, I gave up expressing at all and he had formula. I was so sad, but it simply wasn't happening. Years later we are having tests to see if he has dyspraxia, and this feeding difficulty may have been the first indication. I also had a section, much to my sorrow. Second baby. Another section (apparently I don't do labour, nothing seems to make them come out, and I mean nothing, we tried it all!!), but this time feeding seemed to be working out. He did feed very well, but after two months he was still wanting to feed every couple of hours. I had had every breast infection going several times, and had a very bad chest infection and was really not well. He cried all the time. Quite the worst 3 months of my life. In desperation I gave him a small bottle. Transformation in baby, and we carried on happily breastfeeding with a small 3 oz top up every day for 8 months or so. I now realise that because I was so ill and stressed I wasn't eating properly and just was not producing the goods!! I was sad that he had not had the exclusive breastmilk I wanted him to, but so thankful the formula was there to help us through and it did enable me to keep feeding him myself.So baby number 3 comes along. This time, perfect. I was healthy, she was healthy. Another section of course, but straight onto feeding. I again had every type of breast infection, including agonising cracked nipples, but I stuck it out. I knew from experience what a nightmare formula was, having to take bottles everywhere, find somewhere to warm it up, wait for it etc. Bit of pain was nothing in comparison. But she was exclusively breastfed for 12 months, and carried on feeding until she was nearly 2. She has never had formula in her life, going straight to a cup and cows milk when old enough. I loved it, she was totally happy, and it was definitely the easiest experience.I love all your necklaces etc – shame I am now definitely past the breastfeeding stage. Anyone who hasn't seen them should check them out – they are great. Babies seem to love them, and I can definitely attest how easy it is to forget which one you are supposed to start with!!

  2. Thanks Emma for taking the time to reply and leave your story. Sorry things didn't work out, as far as breastfeeding goes, with your first two and I hope you get some good test results back for your little boy. Great news that 3rd time round you had a very positive breastfeeding experience.

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