Before Bella was born, I was strongly encouraged to breastfeed during my pre-natal classes. As a first-time Mum I did not know what to expect, however I decided to give it a go, and try my best to breastfeed Bella. To my surprise and delight she took to it instantly and our breastfeeding journey started off very well. However, despite all the pre-natal midwifery advise on how to breastfeed, nothing quite prepared me for the fact that she would literally be feeding every 2 hours day and night. I was not prepared for the incredible frequency and intensity of breast-feeding. Bella wanted to be close to me all the time – to feed constantly. She would not settle in her Moses basket and had to be held almost continuously throughout the day and night. I found that the only way she would settle was by gently falling asleep whilst still attached to me. This was great for Bella, but I was getting more and more exhausted with prolonged sleep deprivation as time went on.
Through talking to other Mums, I came to realise that these feeding patterns were very typical of many new born breastfed babies. In order to help settle Bella, and help me get some more rest, the most natural and instinctive way for me to cope was to lay her beside me to breastfeed. After frantically googling the lateral breastfeeding position, I educated myself on the safest way to position myself. I always made sure that there were no blankets around and created a kind of make-shift pillow ‘fortress’ so she couldn’t roll anywhere. I found that Bella began to thrive and loved being close to me – and I to her. This position had a calming effect on both of us and created a very soothing and loving environment. Above all, we developed an incredibly deep bond lying side by side, the feelings of love were incredible. This pattern continued until approx. 6 months when she was wakening to feed approx. 5 times per night. I found that although I never was fully asleep beside her I gained some precious rest, yet was always instinctively fully aware that she was there.
Despite this, I did worry in case I fell asleep and rolled over on top of her. I would frequently have negative feelings of fear and worry which led to me lying in a stiff position, petrified of moving in case I rolled on her.
My husband also felt very uneasy about having Bella in the bed to breastfeed. Especially as when I switched feeding sides I would move her into the middle of the bed between us. I was constantly pulling the blankets away from her (despite freezing temperatures outside) and taking out the pillows to make sure her airways was fully clear for breathability. Neither of us drank or smoked and we researched and adhered to all the guidelines. I was also using my free arm to push my husband back and away from Bella in the event he moved towards her during her feed. However, with my husband’s deep worries over sharing a bed to feed Bella during the night, we agreed that the best thing to do was for him to sleep in the spare room. This was not ideal either, as waking up to feed so frequently during the night became a very lonely experience.
I loved feeding Bella in the side-lying position, and it helped me gain more rest. I used it during the day and night. I especially loved it at day-time on top of the bed as it made me feel rested and more prepared for the long night ahead.
However, I found that it could be quite painful after a while and I began to develop painful sores in my hips from twisting my legs to try and stay in the one position without rolling. My neck, shoulders and back also began to ache – however my body accepted these growing pains as my selfless goal was simply to ensure Bella was nurtured as much as she needed and as safely as possible.
It was during these lonely wakeful nights that I thought about designing BellaMoon. I thought that surely there must be a more comfortable way to laterally breastfeed your baby yet maintain that loving bond? I wanted to be able to nurture Bella whilst gaining precious rest, yet I desperately missed having my husband beside us. I searched and searched and could not find a product which was designed to help all three of us – baby, Mum and Dad.
I began to sketch out my ideas and one evening and explained my idea to my husband. He loved the idea as he knew Bella would love being right next to us to feed during the night, My husband felt like he would be able to come back into our bed, and I felt that I would be able to relax my aching limbs, whilst gaining some rest. So, we took an old bedsheet out of the linen cupboard and Bella and I lay down on it in the lateral breastfeeding position. My husband sketched around us whilst in our position and I drew a full-scale version of BellaMoon. This old bedsheet sketch became the blueprint for the first ever BellaMoon pattern. Very quickly afterwards I learned how to sew and started making lots and lots BellaMoon prototypes.
The rest of the story involves two years of continued design and testing – all whilst raising our little girl Bella. We have an incredible bond and I truly believe much of our deep bond was created during those early moments where we lay in our own little cocoon, nurturing and resting day and night.
Although Bella is over 2 years old now and does not breastfeed any longer, she still loves to jump into a BellaMoon for a cuddle and a rest with her Mummy.