Just because breastfeeding didn’t work first time round it doesn’t mean that it will always be a problem.
My first baby was born when I was 15 years old and I wasn’t even given the choice of breastfeeding; he was taken to the nursery less than an hour after he was born and was given a bottle. I half-heartedly tried to feed all of my other babies but, because of lack of support at home from my partner at the time, I always gave up. When I remarried, and had my first child with my new husband, we decided I would give breastfeeding a go. Sadly, this failed too as I had problems latching the baby on and was not given any support by my midwives.
I decided that, with baby number eight, I would get all the support whilst pregnant. I spoke to people online and on the phone who were all willing to help at a moment’s notice if there was a problem. Troy was pretty easy to latch on and, with support from my husband and midwife, I didn’t really have any problems at all. I made it as far as six weeks but had to give up as I had to back to work at six weeks. As I was working two nights in a row then having to sleep all day, I felt unable to keep this up.
With my ninth, I had an independent midwife who was very pro-breastfeeding. We did all the skin-to-skin stuff after a beautiful home water birth and Trinity seemed to have read all the books and knew exactly what to do! We are already almost seven weeks along and still feeding OK, despite a nasty bout of thrush and a blocked duct.
As I have failed at breastfeeding before, I do sometimes think it will fail again. Sometimes it’s better not knowing the bad bits! In other ways, my experiences with my other children have helped as I have gained the confidence in my baby to know that she can tell me what she wants. As a first timer, you are always trying to guess but with subsequent babies you already know a lot of the signals to look for.
I think that if the support was there from health care professionals a lot more people would feed for longer. Also, internet access allowed me to get in touch with others who knew exactly what I was going through. It shows that I am not alone. When things start to go wrong it’s not always easy to get hold of your midwife or health visitor but in the middle of the night I can always turn to the boards!” Liz
“When I had my daughter in 2000, she was a twin, and my son had spina bifida and did not survive. My midwife and health professionals were so focused in my pregnancy on the problems that they seemed to forget that I was still going to have a baby at the end. I was not offered any antenatal classes and went into it all a bit unprepared. I had a C section at 1pm in the afternoon and asked when I would feed my baby and the midwife on the ward was uninterested and said “later”. By 2am the next morning, I was desperate to start feeding and asked the nightshift midwife to help me. She was annoyed at having been disturbed and told me to feed her on my side which, when you have a morphine drip, a catheter and a big wound, is easier said than done. For the five days in hospital I battled on and was offered no advice.
On getting home, the pain was close to unbearable at times, and I had no idea this was down to bad positioning. My midwife said she’d help but all she did was grab my boob and shove it into the baby’s mouth until she sucked. My daughter lost 20% of her weight in 5 days as she was not getting enough food, and I was devastated. After a particularly painful night, I could not take any more and sent hubby off to the 24hr Asda to get bottles and formula. From then on my daughter was much more settled. My GP did my home visit the next day and said I should keep trying or my supply would dry up, but offered no practical advice!
When I was pregnant in 2004, I was determined to breastfeed and signed up for a workshop, bought lots of comfy bras but, most importantly, was more relaxed and determined to get the help I deserved. I was more sure of myself as a mother. I had another C section, but the key difference was the midwife in recovery was lovely and patient and put Evie to the breast when she was less than an hour old. She fed frequently from then, and that night slept for four-hour blocks.
I did get mastitis when she was four weeks old and fed through it whilst also expressing. I know a lot of advice says not to express or use bottles until after six weeks but I think you have to do what is right for you and go with your instinct. I co-slept which made feeding easier and Evie has slept 8 hours minimum through the night since about three or four weeks. We have now transferred her to her cot and it has made no difference. She was slow to put on weight and my health visitor told me I should “top her up” with formula but I refused and she is now on the 25th centile and a healthy girl.
I love breastfeeding. It’s much less restrictive than using formula. I can go where I want when I want and not worry about having enough bottles. I have fed in restaurants, children’s parties … anywhere really, and I am proud to breastfeed and refuse to hide away. I am now training to become a peer-to-peer breastfeeding counsellor and hope I can help people have the experience I wish I had had the first time.” Nic
“I did find breastfeeding difficult with my first two children. I had them aged 20 and 21 and, at the time, I thought it was going to be really easy. It seemed such a natural thing to do – how could anything go wrong?
I started Ryan on a bottle at night because I was told it would help him sleep better. He was constantly feeding and I thought his lack of sleep was due to him being hungry. I thought it would be a miracle cure and he would soon start sleeping through … that of course didn’t happen. After a short while I introduced more and more bottles and in the end I gave up. With Jodie, I gave it a try but it was very difficult having a toddler as well so it was only a half-hearted attempt.
When we decided to have a third child I thought it would happen straight away, as it did with the other two. In the end it took over a year to conceive Lewis and I suffered a miscarriage in-between. I think that because it was much harder to have him I was determined to do everything in my power to give him the best possible start to life. I was determined to breastfeed this time no matter what it took. I was prepared for it to be a struggle again but I wasn’t going to let anyone or anything put me off. I told myself that no matter how hard it got I mustn’t give up and thankfully Lewis took to it really well, much better than the other two ever did.
There have been a couple of times when things didn’t run so smoothly: with growth spurts when he wanted to feed all the time. I thought at the time that I wasn’t making enough milk to satisfy him anymore but I stuck with it, even when the health visitor suggested giving him ‘just one night-time bottle’, to help him sleep better. I had made that mistake before and there was no way I was going to do it again. I intend to breastfeed until
he is at least a year old and able to have cow’s milk. I think that being older this time round I have more confidence. I know it is the best thing for him and I feed him whenever and wherever he wants. People’s attitudes would never put me off and I’m proud to be able to say I breastfeed my