Milk and Mother-in Law
Claire Smith had to suffer the indignity of a midwife asking if she “had always had breasts like this?”! With further unhelpul comments from her mother-in-law to follow it’s tribute to this mum that she ever managed to breastfeed! However Claire has now breastfed two babies
and is expecting her third who she intends to breastfeed too.
Maisie was born on 27th August 1997. I had problems breast-feeding from the start. One duty midwife said to me “have you always had breasts like this?” Her insensitive comments crushed me. I’d always had slightly inverted nipples, but to be honest id never even given
it a second thought. It certainly didn’t cross my mind that I’d have problems feeding my baby. I cried and cried and by the following morning Maisie was screaming. One midwife suggested cup feeding her a little formula, which I reluctantly agreed to, thinking this
was the slippery slope to bottle feeding. Maisie lapped like a little kitten from the small plastic cup, and took just an ounce of milk. It helped take the edge off her hunger, and I got her to latch on easier.
When my milk came in I looked like Jordan on steroids, and the engorgement of milk made it nearly impossible to latch Maisie on. I was sore, and after hours of feeding, I was bleeding too. I was in tears most of the time. What you will find out as a new mum is that this is the time when all your well wishing friends, relatives, neighbours and nosy parkers will “pop in” to visit you and your baby, and they revel in dishing out ‘advice’. “It’s not worth this”, “you’ve tried your best, nobody will think badly of you if you give up now.” And one from my Mother in Law “I told you so, didn’t I? She looks hungry to me” So on top of everything, I was also being cruel by starving my child!
By the end of the first week, I was so raw; my health visitor gave me some latex nipple shields to try. They were amazing, the relief it gave me was instant, and Maisie latched on immediately. The downside to this was that the baby learnt to suckle in a different way, similar to bottle feeding, and the shields also caused thrush to develop… six months later I was still feeding, with the shields, until a nasty bout of mastitis helped me decide id done enough.
When my second daughter Ffion was born in 2000, I was more prepared mentally for the breast-feeding. I was calmer, and this must have rubbed off onto the baby, as after the initial problems before my milk came in, I managed to latch her on myself quite easily! I did
suffer soreness, but was determined not to have the hassle of shields again, and it soon went. I used cabbage leaves and chamomile cream, and plain old fresh air. I even managed to feed through two bouts of mastitis, which I was proud of, before I weaned her at eight months.
I am now pregnant with baby number three, and intending to breast-feed again. My advice to new mums would be, Relax, Stay determined and have faith in your decision to breastfeed. You will get there!!