Chris’ breastfeeding story

June 27, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The committee are going to introduce themselves and their breastfeeding experiences to you. Here’s our first instalment, from Chris, our membership secretary and primary motivator.

 

Before giving birth to my daughter, I knew very little about breastfeeding except that I had heard it was best for baby so I thought I would probably do it. During my pregnancy lots of people, friends, family, work colleagues asked me if I planned to breast or bottle feed. I said “I’m going to breastfeed”. Lots of times I was corrected, I should say that I was going to TRY to breastfeed. “Don’t put yourself under any pressure, it doesn’t work out for everyone”.
Not knowing any better I assumed that they knew more about it than I
did and if asked I began to reply that I was going to TRY to
breastfeed.

At ten days overdue, I gave birth to my very beautiful daughter Eliza. She was put to the breast while the umbilical cord was still attached. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t really got a clue what I was doing. I felt that breastfeeding was natural so this was going to be easy, right? Her first feed in the delivery room was a bit of a fumbly one. I think she was latched on properly but she popped off a few times and we had to do the whole reconnecting thing again. The midwife told me that it was fine and I could try again when we got down to the ward. I was only on the ward for a day. Over that time I had various different midwives and nurses helping me to latch her on.

One midwife would tell me to feed her in one position, then another
would come in and tell me that I should be doing it another way. It is
easy with hindsight to see that there are lots of different positions
so it’s not that any of them were wrong, but as a new mother it meant
that I didn’t get a proper chance to master any of them, leaving me
feeling all the more clueless and vulnerable.

As we came into my daughter’s first evening, they started to ask me how long she was feeding for. She was staying latched on for about 10 minutes at a time. One midwife told me that unless she fed continuously for at least 20 minutes it didn’t count as a proper feed (which is not true) and that I should ‘top her up’. She had been given two ‘top ups’ and only on the 3rd time it was offered one of the midwives asked if I had been expressing. I felt like I was being told off for not expressing despite the fact that no one had told me I should and I didn’t know to ask! At that point (about 2am I think), I was brought down to the pumping room. The midwife explained how it worked and told me that they would cup feed anything I expressed to my baby. I fiddled with the equipment, which I wasn’t very sure about but the midwife had left, there was no one there to ask.

 After the 20 minutes I had been advised to pump for, I closely examined the container. Not a drop.
Well it was clear, wasn’t it? She needed top ups because she obviously
wasn’t getting anything from me! Just a couple of words from any of
the medical staff could have put my mind at ease. If someone had only
told me that what comes out with a pump is no indication of what a
baby gets, and that colostrum is there in such small quantities that
it is perfectly normal for there to be nothing coming out.

The following morning it was time to go home. She still hadn’t fed at
the breast for longer than 20 minutes. I was told that they weren’t
happy with that and for her to go home they had to make sure that she was feeding well. The midwife gave me a bottle and sat to watch me feed it to her. I was told to get my husband to buy formula, bottles
and a steriliser on the way to pick us up, which he did.
Once we got home I felt so much more relaxed about breastfeeding. The first couple of nights we gave formula at night which seems like
madness now. Instead of just feeding her at the breast, my poor
husband was running downstairs to make up a bottle. After those two
nights my confidence had grown because I had had time to find my feet, time to realise that I could do this and she was doing well, so we
stopped giving her any more formula and started to settle into life
with our gorgeous little girl.

Until she was five days old I was under the care of the Domino midwife system, then the Public Health Nurse came to see me. She weighed her and expressed concerns about her weight. She said that she would have to come back in a few days to check her weight again and if the situation hadn’t improved then we would have to consider giving her formula. My growing confidence took a serious hit from this! We had quite a lazy couple of days and when she weighed her again she was very pleased with her weight gain. That’s
great, a nice happy ending, all’s ok you say?

 Well, no.

Having told me that my little one was doing great, she then went on to tell me to make sure to give her formula regularly. I was confused by this and askedher about the recommendation to exclusively breastfeed. Wasn’t that what the medical professionals recommended? She told me that it was
important to give formula so that if I ever got caught away from my
daughter unexpectedly, I knew she would be ok and not starve.

 I didn’t know much about it at the time so the conversation was left there, but if I was not advised to exclusively breastfeed in my circumstances, then who is supposed to do it? I ignored this faulty recommendation. My daughter has not had any formula since she was 2/3 days old and she has not starved due to me getting stuck down a mineshaft which I can only guess is what the PHN was concerned about!

 I don’t feel that breastfeeding has limited me in anyway, instead it has liberated me. My husband and I went away for a whole weekend when she was 5 and a half months, leaving a freezer of expressed breastmilk with her and my mother. At various times she has been minded by her dad, my mother-in-law, my brother and friends. If she is only going for a couple of hours, maybe while I get my hair done or something then she didn’t really need milk. She would be fine with water. Otherwise a bottle of expressed milk was just as easy for them to give her asanything else really.

Breastfeeding is so incredibly portable, there are no worries about having enough bottles with you when you go out, somewhere to heat them or anything else, it’s just there, ready
whenever your little one needs it at the right temperature instantly.

 

My reasons for being involved with Friends of Breastfeeding

I feel that everything was fairly ideal in my situation. I was fit and healthy, I had no birth complications, my daughter was a healthy weight at 9lb 2oz. I feel that everything was completely normal, yet I was advised by Nurses, Midwives and my PHN to give formula which I did. If I wasn’t given full support to breastfeed exclusively as someone who had made it clear that this was my plan with no indications that there should be a problem with this, then who is given that full support? Unfortunately the answer to that question
seems to be no one.

 I feel I should have been encouraged more with breastfeeding rather than putting a bottle in my hand. I want to help others who want to breastfeed to get the information they need before they give birth, so they can have the breastfeeding experience that THEY want.

Artificial milk has its place but it should not be offered so freely to mothers and use of it encouraged so commonly. Those who want to breastfeed deserve to be supported and encouraged in every way and I am going to do everything I can to help with that.

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1 Comment »

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  1. My apologies about the skipped lines – I don’t know why it’s doing that, I’ve tried to fix it, but I’m missing something. Will try harder next time!

    Doesn’t this story say a lot, so well?

    Jo


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