Feeding diaries: a week in the life of an exclusively breastfeeding, working from home mum

12 April 2021

muslim mum feeding baby

Mum-of-three, Aishah Ibrahim, 29, from Wednesbury, West Midlands, charts her week as she juggles breastfeeding her newborn with working from home.

My husband Adam, 34, and I have three children – Sarah (DD), six, Zakariyah (DS1), four, and Muhammad (DS2), 12 weeks.

I have a law degree and also studied Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence. Now I work from home, teaching students about the Muslim faith and supporting the local community.

Since becoming a mum, I’ve become increasingly interested in the rights of pregnant women. I had to fight to have a home birth and noticed that some women are made to think that certain birth choices are out of reach.

Now I work closely with midwives and doulas, serving not only my own ethnic minority community, but also other ethnic minority groups and non-ethnic minorities. It blends in with my other work and I can go from answering a question about what to do when a baby is born into Islam, to talking to a non-Muslim about gestational diabetes.

Due to lockdown, I can’t meet people in person so all my conversations are done by phone or online between feeding DS2. I'm glad to be continuing my work although it’s on a lesser scale due to the demands of having a newborn and homeschooling my older children.

I chose to breastfeed after reading an article on the benefits of breastfeeding during my first pregnancy. I don’t follow a routine or count feeds as I feed on demand. Every day varies, but DS2 likes a good feed in the morning followed by a long nap, which is when I can give attention to my older children. At times, it’s been a struggle to manage my time, and I'm waiting for sling libraries to open so I can find a baby carrier and be more hands-free.

Before having DS2, I worried about sleepless nights, but I’ve not felt the same level of tiredness as when my first two babies were born. In our current house, we have a garden – something we’ve not had before. Being able to spend time outside, enjoying fresh air and seeing nature rather than being stuck indoors means that I’m coping better with the demands of breastfeeding.

During my first two pregnancies, I struggled with all the changes to my body. Then, last year, I started listening to birth podcasts, which helped me see how much my body has endured to bring babies into this world and, this time around, I’ve been okay with it all.

Adam, a supervisor for a retail store, has been working from home during lockdown, so he’s been able to help with the kids. As we couldn’t have visitors after the birth, I focused on healing by resting in my bedroom and so my postpartum recovery was better.

I do remember feeling alone when DS2 was two weeks old though as DH was so busy keeping the house going and homeschooling DCs, so we were barely together. We have a good routine now though and DS2 has slotted into our family and changed our lives for the better.

What’s the one thing that you think all feeding mums should know?

Breastfeeding may not be easy at the start or at six weeks or at four months when there’s a massive growth spurt or even at 10 months when your baby may need you every hour, but every baby is different.

If you’re struggling, remember you’re not alone and that other mothers are there with you. Breastfeeding support groups online such as threads on Mumsnet are amazing. I used them after having my first baby to just say ‘help!’ and ask questions. Then other mums would reply with reassurance and tips which would keep me going.

Is there a MAM product you couldn’t live without?

I rarely use a bottle and avoid plastic, but found MAM’s Feel Good Glass Bottle really helpful when I needed it.

Disclaimer: This diary is an accurate representation of a week in the life of a real parent. All products linked to are products that have been used throughout the seven-day period. Mumsnet champions and supports breastfeeding and its benefits, but we also know that many mothers and parents on Mumsnet feed their babies in other ways, and we champion and support those parents too. Please see UNICEF and NHS guidelines on the benefits of breastfeeding, and NHS guidance on safe mixed feeding.

Day 1

4am: With a Zoom chat appointment booked in with a new mum in the morning, I’d hoped for a good sleep. Muhammad has other ideas though and wakes up needing a wash. Typical! Thankfully, Adam washes him and, to save myself having to get up at 6am to pray, I perform my first prayer (Fajr – the prayer before sunrise). Then we all go back to sleep.

7am: I give DS2 a feed and then we all have breakfast together.

10am: Another feed before my call. Chatting to the new mum on Zoom, we get onto the topic of face coverings and how our babies reacted when they saw us wearing face masks (they were fine).

11am: DS2 is hungry during the call so I have to pop off a few times. I can’t feed him when I’m talking to someone as he’d get too distracted.

3:30pm: DH calls his sister, who lives in a different part of the UK. She had a baby last year, but we've not been able to visit at all yet. I have to go off and feed DS2 mid-call.

5:30pm: It's Jumu'ah (Friday) and there’s a prayer before sunset called ‘Asr. My faith helps keep me grounded and stops me feeling overwhelmed. As a first time mum, with DD, I was so exhausted, I wasn’t practising my faith so much and I felt lost. I didn’t have a support network as we didn’t live near family. I'd sit breastfeeding DD alone for hours while DH was at work. Having grown up in a three generation household, I struggled to adapt to the quietness. When I started practising my faith properly again, I found more of a rhythm as I didn't feel like I was just trying to pass the time entertaining a baby but, instead, a schedule was set for me.

7pm: We eat dinner and, thankfully, DS2 doesn’t get hungry for milk as soon as I sit down to eat (which is what DD always did as a baby!). I feed DS2 afterwards.

Day 2

7am: DS2 wakes us up. My favourite alarm clock. He woke a few times during the night for feeds and now he wants another one.

8am: DH takes DS1 to the park, giving me a chance to answer work emails. DD gets on with activities beside me.

9am: DS2 wakes up from a short nap and I feed him on the sofa. Then I cook and take a lengthy call from a client. Thankfully, DD plays with DS2 close by while I’m talking.

11am: We have an early lunch and Muhammad has a feed, making happy noises which melt my heart.

12pm: After another quick feed, we go for a drive to see a house available to rent nearby. We’re trying to decide whether to carry on renting or save up to buy, but Covid has thrown everything up in the air. As DS2 has fallen asleep in the car, DH drops me and DD at the supermarket. However, there’s a huge queue and I’m worried that DS2 will wake up hungry when I’m not there so we head home.

5pm: I’ve spent the afternoon playing with the older DCs and giving DS2 short feeds now and then. I pop back to the supermarket (no queue now!) and pick up milk, salad and garden flowers for Sarah and Zakariyah to plant and water – a good lockdown activity.

6pm: Dinner and then we start the bedtime routine.

10:30pm: I wake up, having fallen asleep after feeding DS2. I get ready for bed properly and then it’s straight back to sleep. I’m so tired.

Day 3

2am: First feed of the day.

4am: Another quick feed. I can't sleep so I look up homeschooling activities on my phone. I drop back off at 6am after my morning prayer.

7am: Muhammad wakes up for a feed and then we both go back to sleep.

9am: Zakariyah and Sarah bring me breakfast in bed – they were up at 7am. I give Muhammad a feed.

11am: After an early lunch, I head to the supermarket to pick up fruit.

6pm: It’s a very busy afternoon, juggling parenting with work. I feed DS on demand and do language work with Sarah and Zakariyah, teaching them sentences in different languages, including Arabic, French and Spanish. I also send lots of emails to students, offering resources and guidance for learning Arabic.

8pm: DS2 has a feed and falls asleep.

9pm: I have a chat with DH. I’ve started to realise that I’ve taken on more work than I should while DS2 is tiny. We agree that it might be wise to step back temporarily once I’ve cleared my current workload, so that I can recharge and concentrate on the DC.

Day 4

9am: After a sleepless night (I’m not sure how often DS2 woke for a feed), I have a busy morning with Zakariyah and Sarah. We’re playing with a toy till and using real money to buy ingredients for a cake. When it comes to making the cake, I give them each an old school wooden spoon to stir the mix as it takes longer than the electric mixer, buying me time to feed Muhammad.

3pm: DS2 has a feed and then DH takes him and DD to the park. It’s the first time he’s been away from me like this, but I know he’ll be fine and the park is nearby so DH can bring him home if necessary. It’s a sunny day so DS1 and I go into the garden and pot up the supermarket plants.

4:30pm: DS2 is napping after his trip to the park.

5pm: He’s up and it’s time for a feed.

8pm: After dinner, I spend a couple of hours playing and overseeing bath and bedtime – the constant to and from that is life with three kids. Time passes so quickly and lockdown can be overwhelming, but so far we seem to be riding the wave.

9pm: I’m in bed and ready to sleep.

10pm: DS2 wakes up for a feed and then it’s straight back to sleep for us both.

Day 5

2:30am: First feed of the day and, as DS2 only woke once for a night feed, I’ve had a good night’s sleep.

7am: Up for the day. DS2 has a feed and then naps. I'm feeling ill and keep having hot flushes and I suspect that something I’ve eaten has triggered a reaction. During pregnancy I would go like this after eating or smelling certain foods, but it’s difficult to get an appointment to rule out allergies. Now DS2 brings up his feed and I have to give him a full change. He has another feed and then a nap. I can’t help wondering what’s affecting me – could it be gluten or dairy?

11am: Homeschooling the older DCs and feeding DS2, but I feel uncomfortable and hot.

1pm: Baby wakes for a feed and doesn't spit it up. Phew! DCs play with their baby brother.

2pm: DH takes the older DC outside to ride their bikes. I feed DS2 on the bed and then we both fall asleep.

3:30pm: DS2 wakes up, gurgling away – so cute. I could sleep more but there's one hour till Dhuhr ends (the second prayer of the day from the five daily prayers) so I get up and pray then go to eat. I have a late lunch and then feed DS2.

6pm: Muhammad wakes up, unsettled. I cycle his legs in case there is any pressure in his tummy. I'm feeling guilty as I know I’m having a reaction to something I’ve eaten which must have affected him too. Thankfully, he’s soon smiling but he brings up his next feed and needs changing again.

8:30pm: Time for dinner. The older DC are already sleeping and Muhammad is in the bouncer next to me while Adam and I eat dinner. He then has a feed and I can barely stay awake! I perform the night prayer and then head upstairs to rest while DH looks after DS2.

9pm: Baby is hungry so I feed him before we both drop off.

Day 6

7am: The first feed of the day and then DS2 falls back to sleep. He was up a few times in the night. Thankfully, I feel much better today but I’m going to try to speak to the doctor. I need to find out what’s affecting me.

8am: Some students are calling round later to collect work I’ve set them. I leave the packs out by the front door so they can pick them up without us having any contact. Then I give DS2 a long feed. DH takes the older DC out into the garden as it’s a lovely day.

9am: After a quick nap, DS2 wakes up for another feed.

11am: As I feed DS2 again, DH tells me I'm doing a good job. I laugh! He doesn't need to tell me this as I know he appreciates it. He's supportive and we have an equal role in terms of how much we put into our family but it's caught me off guard. I'm not one for taking compliments and feel awkward about it, but it makes me smile.

12pm: Bath time for baby. DD used to get so hungry after her bath that I'd feed her while wrapped in a towel, but DS2 is usually in no rush. Except for today. He wants food! It must be growth spurt time as he’s feeding so much today. Thankfully, he keeps it all down too.

1pm: Time for a feed again – he's feeding every two hours or less. Wow! I can hear someone at the door collecting their work, which we'll go over online later. DS2 falls asleep so I take the time to check in with some clients online.

2pm: DS2 is hungry again. I used to find demanding days like this hard with my first two babies, but it's easier now because my mindset is different. I'm thankful that I can now enjoy it instead of feeling frazzled which is totally normal for first-time breastfeeding. I used to get comments about how tired I looked. Not helpful!

4:30pm: After a lovely afternoon in the garden together, we have tea and homemade cake while DS2 naps. When he wakes, I feed him.

6pm: I run an online workshop on Hypnobirthing and Islam, answering questions about breathing techniques, then feed DS2 after logging off.

7pm: After dinner, I feel a bit overwhelmed, wondering how I’ll cope when Adam goes back to work in his office.

9pm: DS2 has a feed.

11pm: Another feed and cuddles.

Day 7

3am: DS2 wakes for the first feed of the day. Or not? Nope. He just shuffles about and then falls asleep again!

5:20am: Baby wakes up for a longer feed and then we both doze.

8am: The two boys are awake so I get up and make breakfast. Then DS1 plays with his baby brother while I drink tea. DS2 then drifts off to sleep so DS1 goes to play with his toys.

11am: After a nap, DS2 has another feed. Then DH looks after DC so I can get on with work.

12pm: DH has cooked a lovely Indian dish for lunch.

1pm: Baby has more milk and I head to the supermarket to do a top-up shop. I love taking DS2 on little walks in his pram and enjoying the fresh air and warmth of the sun.

4pm: Lots of kisses and cuddles with DS2, but he tries to eat my nose so I guess it’s time for a feed. DD plays with him afterwards.

7pm: As she’s already eaten, DD holds her baby brother while DH and I eat. It's so cute – she loves mothering him. DS walks around entertaining his baby brother.

7.30pm: I wash the dishes while DH changes DS2 upstairs. It's almost time for the last prayer of the day ('Isha), but when I go upstairs I can see DS2 is hungry so I feed him and then pray afterwards. DD selects a different sleepsuit for DS2 as he’s a bit wet. She loves being involved and we give DS2 a little baby massage with olive oil. DD wants me to brush her hair so I do that while DS2 lies in my lap. I then feed him while DD brushes my hair.

9pm: DD has fallen asleep on my bed. I cherish these moments as she's growing up so fast. I'm currently squashed between my first baby and my last baby and I’m feeling the love, thinking how far I've come from being a nervous first-time mum to a mother-of-three who is so much more confident in breastfeeding.

What MAM has to say

“Every mums’ feeding journey is different, but one thing they have in common is wanting that heart-melting moment when they see their LO smile. And that’s all that should matter. So here at MAM, we provide support for all parents with whatever they need to make their feeding experience as carefree as possible so that they can focus on the joy of parenthood.”

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