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Did you really know how to breastfeed - did you get support?

You buy the books, I thought I could give Supernanny a run for her money, bring that baby on! I thought I knew it all! Yeah right!

I was convinced for the first half of my pregnancy that I was going to bottle feed baby bean, my mum never breastfed us, only one of my sister's tried breastfeeding but I don't think her experience was good, but the fact my mum has been so poorly through life and me and my sisters have had a number of illnesses and such a weak immune system I started to seriously think about this and decided that maybe it would give Bean the best start in life plus I did feel pressured by everyone else to do it, media, nurses midwifes, leaflets!

I really did have a terrible childbirth it was quite traumatic and I was semi unconscious I don't really remember much about the first night with Tillie, I was too poorly to watch her all night, I was in desperate need for a blood transfusion and was told on the labour ward that I was not to be left on my own or attempt to go anywhere, however they decided to let me have a bath and leave me unattended with Tillie as they had sent Nick home. I was sent to the ward below which was very busy and I ended up in a cubicle which had no curtain, I was surrounded by a woman with twins which screamed non-stop and just as they stopped other babies around would start crying, I had no privacy couldn't even pick Tillie out for a cuddle without buzzing a nurse, I was literally green in colour and the slightest movement made me feel like I was going to pass out.

I remember thinking that I had no idea how to breastfeed, I had flicked through the leaflet but I did feel very nervous and conscious especially being in a cubicle with no curtain!
Not one midwife or nurse came to see if I was doing it correctly. I had Tillie at 18.42 on Wednesday 7th October 2010 - I was stuck in hospital till the Saturday due to the complications after the birth. Mum had to ask a number of times for them to put me in a private room, I felt much better but still had no idea how to feed her, she sort of latched on but she didn't seem hungry. It wasn't until the Friday evening when a nurse came to tell me after I had had my blood transfusion that she asked me if Tillie was feeding ok - I said 'I think so' Showed her how I held Tillie and her quickly looked and said that was fine.

I remember going home, I found everything about breastfeeding 'unnatural', I didn't feel like it was working well, but Tillie was putting on weight and the community midwives praised me saying it was fine, but no one told me that I was supposed to swap breasts, I just honestly was clueless I had to research it all online and I was still confused. Tillie was feeding every 30 minutes and when she wasn't feeding she was sucking on her hand. I remember being in excruciating pain every time they were filling up, it was like electric shocks and burning then just leak - very attractive and I used to dread hearing other babies cry - OUCH! I tried expressing but it could take me up an hour to produce 1oz!

Oh and the poops - it was like a volcano erupting and was ok for the first few weeks but then went green and slimy but I was still told that this was normal she was getting very fussy and I was finding it harder to relax as I knew my milk hurt her, I was scared to eat anything in case it hurt her belly. I had read that the green slimy poo's were not normal so was frustrated when I kept being told to persist and it was fine. She was 13 weeks old she had stopped putting on weight and was just not thriving, it turns out she was lactose intolerant - I was so angry and felt so incredibly guilty at the fact that I had been 'hurting' her but was told by health professionals that it was 'normal' and 'fine'.

I was trying to please the health professionals I realised that she wasn't a subject that I needed to get an A* in - she was my baby and I knew best and so did my mum! My attitude completely changed and from then on I just did what I wanted and stopped taking advice from others.

She was a different child when we put her on lactose free formula - never looked back and I honestly think that if I ever had another baby then I would really have to think hard as to whether I tried breastfeeding again, as I have a baby who is lactose intolerant and has a severe egg allergy who gets rashes on a weekly basis and eczema - so I personally think it didn't give her the best start.


  1. Luckily Little P just crawled on me after birth and fed. But when I got taken to the post natal ward, no one saw me for hours. My husband had to kick up a fuss as I just didn't know what to do. Actually breastfeeding was fine - no pain for me, but Little P was a very unhappy baby. It wasn't until we weaned her onto solids that we discovered her multiple allergies. I tried to eliminate the foods from my diet but it got too complicated working out if it was something i ate or she touched etc and she has been on Neocate ever since. My Boy breast fed easily again, but he has severe eczema. We are going to the hospital tomorrow to see the allergy specialist. I have cut dairy and nuts out of my diet to see if it helps...It is so hard to know what to do...we can only do our best...I think you did give her a good start - you weren't to just sounds like you lacked the professional support you needed...well done for sussing it all out on her own..prove again that mum knows best xx

  2. I'm sorry to hear breastfeeding didn't work out for you - it's something I'm really nervous about: I want to do it when my baby is born but worry I won't be able to. I definitely think there's a lot of pressure on new Mums to breastfeed which isn't fair as for some babies it's just not the right way to go. Glad to hear you've found a formula that works for you :)

  3. Hi...just come across from Twitter. This post has made me so angry for you :( You did exactly what you thought was was the medical profession that let you down. It is fantastic that you had the courage and belief in your own instincts to make things right. I am so lucky, I've breastfed all of my children without any problems. But it doesn't work for everyone and no new mother should be made to feel guilty, inadequate or pressured into something that may not be right for her or her baby. I'm following your blog now...loved the engagement story hehe!! xxx

  4. I had various problems but stuck it out as I was bottlefed and was very ill with digestive problems, plus my teeth/jaw development are/is awful! At some point I trained as peer supporter and it has been an eye opener. It is a postcode lottery - some areas are better than others for support. I lived and volunteered in three different counties, so I have seen very different situations and heard many complaints about postnatal care. I could well complain of mine too, but I didn't at the time.

    Pushing women to breastfeed is not what support is about, it's working with mums and trying to find a way for them to continue as long as they can and want to by suggesting alternatives, such as expressing (there are ways to make it work with the right equipment).

    We have mums at the dropins who mix feed for various reasons and we support all. You can breastfeed if you have a lactose-intolerant baby by modifying your diet. I know a woman who did - she switched to soya products (milk, desserts, eccetera). But really it's up to the mum and what she feels she can do.

    If your baby is fine, you have done a good job, so don't beat yourself up, do complain about postnatal care through PALS, I wished I did...

  5. See my midwives were so lovely but I still didn't feel like i knew what I was doing, I remember one showing me the 'rugby ball' position, but after she had gone, i thought - how do i do that again? I just had no idea that I had to swap breasts etc....
    The work you have done sounds amazing! What a role model! Thank you for your comments x

  6. My hospital was rubbish when I had my daughter. I wanted to breastfeed, but as Elle was drowsy they were trying to make me give her a bottle! My mum wouldn't let them though, and eventually I managed to breastfeed Elle. She would only feed off one side though, hence the odd boobs. Little monkey.
    Anyway, I decided to give you the Leibster blog award :) Always enjoy reading your blog.


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