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MN Bumpfest: Tell MNHQ what your expectations and realities were of breast feeding after giving birth – £50 voucher prize draw NOW CLOSED

(263 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 07-Aug-14 09:38:26

In the run up to BumpFest (if you haven’t got your ticket yet - what are you waiting for?) we’re looking to get a better understanding of the experiences Mumsnetters have had around different issues surrounding childbirth.

Looking at the many threads on the subject, it seems that breastfeeding can often be one of the most challenging aspects of the first weeks after birth. Whether it’s deciding if it’s right for you, or to trying to achieving the perfect latch, we know that everyone has a different experience.

We are keen to find out what Mumsnetters’ initial expectations were around breast feeding, and if they were met. Whether you planned to breastfeed, planned to formula feed or ended up somewhere in the middle - we’d love to hear about your feelings on the subject, What did you base your expectations on (e.g. NCT class, stories from friends or family, books you had read)? Did you expectations turn out to be correct? If you had a subsequent birth, to what extent did your experiences of breast feeding (whether you breast fed your children or not) differ?

As a token of thanks, everyone who posts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 John Lewis voucher.

Thanks thanks,

MNHQ

Catsize Thu 07-Aug-14 11:52:31

Hello, I thought it would be a lot easier than it was. My first birth was meant to be at home but ended up as an awful experience in hospital. Received no support to feed in hospital, so got the latch wrong, so damaged my nipples. A brilliant breastfeeding counsellor subsequently saved the day and I ended up feeding for ten months, when my son decided to stop. For the first few weeks, I dreaded every feed and cried with the excruciating pain, but soon started swinging from the chandeliers.
With my second baby, it wasn't straightforward but much much easier. She is 5mths now and we will stop whenever she wants to. Hopefully before she is 11.
Love the convenience and the fact that babies are soothed and comforted so much more than when fed formula.

GingerRodgers Thu 07-Aug-14 12:03:06

I planned to breastfeed from the start. Bought bottles and pumps as I wanted to express too.
First 6 weeks is say were really bad. Have since found out dd has tongue tie and lip tie- neither of which anyone would so anything about hmm.
She was also a very sicky baby which I struggled with but we stuck it out and ended up bf for 2 years.
Didn't attend any classes before or after birth- wasn't given any details of any available. Contacted a bf lady who came and talked to me about it but that was a one off.

Expecting dc2 and hoping it goes well again. Would love to do another 2 years. Not going to any classes/groups but have found mn and other online resources to be a lifesaver.

CMOTDibbler Thu 07-Aug-14 12:16:47

I had a lovely picture in my mind of sitting and feeding ds straight after he was born, lovely glowing snuggles with just our new family.

Well, ds was 5 weeks early, not very well, and was waved at me before being whisked off to SCBU for an assortment of tubes to be inserted. So, my first breastmilk experience was sitting on my bed, bleeding everywhere, crying and hand expressing into a tube while people poked the curtains open every 2 nanoseconds. They did let me syringe it down the tube.

The first actual bf was in a very uncomfortable chair in scbu under the glare of observation, so not snuggly really and trying to negotiate the tubes.

Fortunatly, he got the hang of it reasonably quickly, and I fed with no problems at all till 23 months

Rummikub Thu 07-Aug-14 12:26:53

I expected breast feeding to be easy. I had a c section and that I think affected my ability to feed comfortably. I didnt expect that it wouldn't come naturally and that we would have to learn how to bf. after struggling first few days, I saw a breast feeding counsellor who was very good. It still took weeks to get the hang of it. Latch wasnt right, I had to get into position exactly right so latch would happen. And i only Fed at home. Thinking back I wish I'd just stopped and bottle fed instead. In the end I mix fed for 6 months.
With dc2, bf was brilliant, latch happened easily, I could feed standing up and walking. I loved it.

atos35 Thu 07-Aug-14 12:28:06

If someone had told me the first few weeks can be awful I would have felt less like a failure. I would dread each feed as the pain was excruciating and reduced me to tears at times. My health visitor wasn't very helpful, she just said keep preserving. It was my sister who saved the day after advising me to express from the sore side for a while and try holding the baby in different positions. After that it was fine but HCP's don't warn you about any of the negative stuff.

GetKnitted Thu 07-Aug-14 12:34:16

I was incredibly naive with my first baby. I had no concept of just how much time needed to be devoted to the process of feeding and how painful it would be. I persevered with it and did 50 50 bf and bottle, but I don't think he ever had a proper latch so I was virtually house bound for 5 months. With baby 2 I was pre warned and I took the approach that if he cried, he was hungry. He was much happier and less anxious about the opportunity to feed, which I'm sure helped us to really get a latch and position that suited us. 2 other things helped enormously, lasinoh and watching a cbeebies programme about milking animals, no really!

hallamoo Thu 07-Aug-14 12:41:09

I always knew I would bf, my Mum had bf me and my sisters (against the grain in the 60's and 70's). I found the midwifes in hosp very helpful, but it was my community midwife who sat with me for ages helping me get the positioning and latch right.

I never bought bottles or formula - just in case. I always knew I would do it. I had a really useful ante natal session on bf and the different positions and what a correct latch looks like.

However, I think what made the most difference was that I had a very supportive DH, mother and extended family when it came to bf - it was just the normal thing to do/the default method of feeding.

That was 13 years ago, 4DC later, and I've clocked up 8 years of breastfeeding!

I had no positive expectations, but knew that 'breast was best'. No-one I knew had breastfed or had given up quickly so I thought it would be hard. I hadn't ever seen anyone breastfeed so had no idea what I was supposed to do. DS1 was premature and would not latch. I expressed milk for him but switched to formula after a couple of weeks as I was too exhausted to continue. I wish someone had told me that it was normal for preemie babies/ some babies to struggle with feeding at first - I just thought I was doing it wrong. I also missed the NHS classes due to his early arrival so was clueless!

I had the bottles and steriliser ready for DS2, who was also early but who took to breastfeeding easily and happily. He did have some formula top ups for the first week or so but I saw an infant feeding advisor who encouraged me to carry on. Still going at 10 months! grin I think that seeing other breastfeeding mums after I had DS1 made a huge difference as this normalised feeding and made me feel that I could so it too.

I knew there could be issues with latch, tongue tie etc and considered myself well educated about it beforehand-I had been to workshops, had a session with an NCT BF counsellor, seen friends feed and it was also the norm within my family. What I didn't expect was to have a baby who just would not latch on at all, not once, not ever. She got within mm of the breast and would then just scream and scream. We had help from various specialists but none of them could ever get her to latch on. I also didn't manage to get any milk out through expressing with a machine, and only a few mm through hand expressing-and that was a one off and took over an hour. Very frustrating as the milk was definitely there. I spent 10 days in a hideous 2 hour cycle of trying to get DD to feed, then trying to express, then giving formula in a cup/syringe before I finally decided enough was enough. It's now nearly three years later and I still beat myself up that I couldn't feed her though I try not to dwell on it. In retrospect I think the labour and delivery had a lot to do with it and one lactation consultant I spoke to recently (as I'm pregnant with DC2) told me that in her experience it sounds like DD just wasn't ever going to do it, which did make me feel slightly better.

I am hoping for a different birth and a baby who is interested this time round!

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Thu 07-Aug-14 13:07:46

I thought it was going to be difficult and it was, but not for the reasons I thought.
With DD1 my milk took ages to come in and she was very sleepy - I struggled to keep her awake for more than a couple of seconds at a time, so she didn't really suckle much. I had her stripped down, twiddled her toes, spoke loudly to her etc, but she was zonked. (Unfortunately the sleeping didn't last after the first month)
With DD2 it was much easier - she was latched on an feeding almost straight after delivery - but I still struggled to keep her awake for feeds in the first couple of days.
I managed to pretty much avoid the painful cracked nipples I'd been terrified of, but ended up with mastitis at about 12-13 months with both DDs.
The hard part that is had no idea about was giving up.

ThreeYorkshires Thu 07-Aug-14 13:34:02

I assumed I would breastfeed, and thought it would be much easier than it was (NCT breastfeeding class, seeing friends feeding)

The first few weeks were horrendous-night one, DS was sleeping and I was woken up by a HCA so she could syringe colostrum, which was never really explained to me, so I just ended up having my nipples squeezed and breasts massaged by a stranger at 3am hmm
I found it hard to get the latch right (breasts on the large size) and was completely freaked out when my milk came in, as my breasts went HUGE and hard feeling, with a very noticeable vein sticking out. I also found it weird that milk leaked out if I had a hot bath. We muddled through the first couple of weeks, then something to do with latch made it absolutely agonizing every time DS fed (like scraping broken glass across my nipples) and then suddenly things improved, and I fed him for over 12 months. I do remember when he was less than a week old and screaming, I couldn't get him to latch on and DH kept saying 'Nose to nipple!' in a helpful way. Telling him to fuck off unless HE was able to feed the baby made me feel much better smile

No mastitis or cracked nipples, and I've never got to the bottom of razor sharp pain when latching on thing, but I'm glad we got there in the end! Oh, and I NEVER managed discreet feeding in public, think that's a bit trickier with bigger breasts.

WarmHugs Thu 07-Aug-14 13:40:29

I read lots of information online, attended nct classes, watched DVDs. I was pretty clued up, and though breastfeeding might be difficult, but manageable.

I had a dd who didn't latch, and saw around 15 different midwives/lactation experts/professionals. Not one person could help me. I ended up exclusively expressing for 6 months.

Everyone assumed I wouldn't even try with my second, and were quite negative towards it. After a day or so of getting the hang of it, he took to it like a duck to water.

I fed him for a year, and it was a complete doddle.

missorinoco Thu 07-Aug-14 13:47:30

My expectations were woefully naive, based most on the ante4natal classes, but also that I hadn't heard the friends I knew with babies saying it was hard.

I believed the midwife who told me in the antenatal class that helping me BF my baby would be a priority, and was surprised to find that post CS when I asked if the latch was right the MW just relocated the latch. I was more surprised when I asked for help the next day and was told by the BF adviser it was too tricky to teach my with a CS and a cannula, and they would wait until the next day to show me. Cue shredded nipples.

I also had no idea that newborns normally want to BF all night, and that the one person who has told us her baby went four hourly from the start was in the smallest of minorities.
I didn't know that letdown could be uncomfortable and had no idea about the milk shakes.

My MIL couldn't remember what it was like, her comment, but also thought hers had all BF fine, and my mother, who had us in the 70's, told me is should feed four hourly, or I would be spoiling him, and that I should use a bottle to give my nipples a break....

DC2 and 3 were a doddle. It cries - I feed. It keeps wanting to feed - that's what they do. Ow ow ow ow ow. It will pass. Including a DC3 who needed an NG feed initially.

I know you didn't ask, but what I I would have liked was more honest realistic information. I would have still BF, but I would have known what to expect and been more prepared.

BornOfFrustration Thu 07-Aug-14 13:49:25

I planned to breastfeed for 12 weeks and assumed you just held baby in the vicinity of the boob and off you went.

It was a bit more technical than that, and I got some help from the infant feeding team at the hospital and the Breast Feeding Network came to my house once a week for 6 weeks until I knew what I was doing. It got easier and easier as the weeks went by and I stopped feeding at 2 1/2 years.

I didn't read any books or go to any classes so I was completely in the dark really. I was lucky to have the support in the beginning.

If I have another child I'd like to think I'm more prepared and able to identify an incorrect latch, and correct it, so won't have to go through that toe curling pain that you can get. I've done the BfN training myself since too, so I feel more confident.

ThreeYorkshires Thu 07-Aug-14 13:51:33

Oh, and expressing-never got more than about 30ml (manual pump) so always feel a bit hmm when people say 'just express and go for a night out!' so my social life was kept on hold unless DS could come for a year...

JellyStrawberries Thu 07-Aug-14 13:58:33

First baby - I knew it might be difficult. It really was! I stayed in the birth centre for five days until we got it sorted. I couldn't believe how much a newborn feeds for the first eight weeks! After that it became a joy and has been easy from the start with my second.

teddygirlonce Thu 07-Aug-14 14:23:18

I didn't really have any assumptions at all about breastfeeding. It just struck me as the easiest and best option for myself and my baby! Possibly because I wasn't anticipating that it would be a problem it wasn't with either of my two. Couldn't ever get the hang of expressing milk though and as I demand fed it did mean that I seldom got a break from the DCs when they were babies.

Think I was just very lucky though...

PunkyBubba Thu 07-Aug-14 15:06:30

In my birth plan I put down that I wanted to try breast crawl techniques in the first instance.. In my mind I expected my newborn to crawl onto a boob and just start feeding, as that is something I had read some <miracle> babies did... I was sadly disappointed as it was a tad harder than that. He certainly wouldn't latch on one side, so I had him constantly latching on the opposite boob at every feed for the first day/night until I mentioned this to the midwife whose look of horror showed me this was the wrong thing to have done, and who helped show me different holds (rugby, etc) which he seemed more comfortable with so I could latch him on to both sides. Turns out he had a neck problem which wasn't picked up for 2 months which us why he didn't like turning his head to latch to one of the sides in a normal bf hold.

My boobs are still lopsided now 2 years after stopping bf dc1. I'm hoping dc2 who is due in a couple of months will help put them right!

Bubbles85 Thu 07-Aug-14 15:20:12

Oh god it was absolutely awful! I was not at all prepared as I had been given the impression that is was totally natural and would just happen. After all we all practiced holding a doll up to our chest beforehand and I thought I was pretty good at that!

Fast forward to LO being born and it was anything but easy. It was probably the hardest thing I have had to learn and it hurt like hell! I remember sobbing through night feeds and with the baby crying for a feed telling my husband that I would rather give birth again right now than feed her again!

However, it did get better and better as the weeks and months past and it's totally pain free and easy except for LO getting distracted at of the time. I am still going strong at 8 months having not had to resort to getting out the formula. I plan to continue until about a year, which is far longer than I would have imagined before.

Having said how awful it is, if we have another LO I intend to do it all again (perhaps I have forgotten just how hard it was) but it was definitely worth it. In fact I feel even more sure about next time because I will be going in with my eyes open. I just wish that someone would have told me how it was beforehand this time.

vezzie Thu 07-Aug-14 15:44:18

I always assumed I would breastfeed and I had no idea it would hurt so much. I had NCT classes which did a session where we held dolls in our laps and this was pointless as dolls don't latch and for me, the whole thing was in the latch. I knew what breastfeeding looked like as my little brother, cousins, nephew etc were all breastfed, but I had no idea what those violent little razor blade mouths were doing close up!
When it hurt like hell my mum revealed that she had been through all this but she had never mentioned a thing about that ever before.
When dd1 was 6 days old a mw showed me (quite roughly but I didn't mind) how to get enough breast in the baby's mouth and everything was fine after that. I was astonished how quickly I healed.

I think my mum was right not to tell me it was going to hurt. I worried constantly throughout pregnancy and this was one thing where worrying would do nothing to help. There was nothing I could have done to prepare better without a real live hungry baby.

I didn't expect it to be so physically tiring, something my mum also mentioned only when I was actually doing it. She is very pro-bf because she says it is better for the mother not to have to do bottles, but even still, she says that bf is in itself physically draining. Some bf experts deny this and I think this is unhelpful. It may not happen to everyone but it happens to some people. The second my babies went down to 1 feed a day and were eating mainly food, I felt a million dollars, although the rest of the routine did not change.

When I had my second baby 2 years later we had a brief period where it hurt similarly at the beginning, although I knew how to correct it. It was better though. Another thing that made it better was that I remembered from dc1 that when you begin, the way you learn to do it is the only way you can do it. With dc1, that was sitting up straight, cross legged, with pillows in my lap - comfortable, but felt like a million miles from horizontal at 3am. With dc2 the mw encouraged me to feed her lying down as soon as she was born and I stuck to this for the first few days knowing that getting the latch right lying down would be a great advantage at 3am. It was!

I loved bf-ing. I am a worrier and I liked that I was doing something incontrovertibly right. This is a downside for many other worriers who can't make it work. I think it is a pity that so many women get so sad about bfing not working when they are great mothers.

I bf'd both mine to 15 months and they never had formula. I have not told anyone that in real life except my sister as I don't want people to think I look down on formula. she never gave hers formula either.

rupert23 Thu 07-Aug-14 16:35:15

i breast fed all of my five children. I had a few problems trying to feed my first baby as i had pre eclampsia and when she was born she was given a bottle as i was unable to feed her myself due to my high blood pressure. that was 26years ago and i dont think that would happen now.

i did give bottle and breast so found it a bit difficult. With my other four i only breastfed them did not use any bottles and found it easier. i Breast fed my daughter until she was two as she had allergies to lots of things and my three boys i fed for eighteen months. I loved feeding them i developed a really strong bond and dont feel i would have had that if i bottlefed.
Also as a single mum of five my baby feeding time gave me a chance to sit down with my baby and spend time with him. overall it was great and i met some good friends at the breast feeding group who i have kept in touch with as our children have grown up.

Phineyj Thu 07-Aug-14 17:11:12

I had a similar experience to lots of the other posters in that I didn't expect it to be too difficult (as my DSis and friends had managed it) but found it very painful and fiddly. I'm not good at visualising physical things and trying out different positions to do bf in was fine when the midwife was there, but I couldn't remember any of it when she'd gone. I had a lengthy discussion with her (she was independent so there was no time pressure) and concluded that I didn't particularly want to do it. I could see the reality was I'd be stuck to the sofa trying to desperately to get the rugby ball hold sorted (or whatever), DH would be getting stressed and the house would be in a tip. I was also worried DD would not get enough milk while I was getting the hang of it (this was not a random worry but from talking to several other women whose babies had been admitted to hospital after becoming malnourished). Also, having spent 6 years ttc and gone through IVF and other invasive treatments, I was very much looking forward to 'feeling normal' and could see that bf would delay that significantly.

It worked out well for us - DH is an engineer and liked having a rota for feeding and the sciency-ness of the sterilising. I don't feel guilty - I think I did the best thing for me/us. I'm not going to have another DC, but if I were, maybe I would give it a proper go as I like a challenge - just not after pregnancy, c-section, first baby and all the rest! Given how difficult it seems to be for many women, it seems miraculous anyone gets the hang of it at all. But I don't think 'it will hurt like hell for six weeks then get better...probably...' would be very motivating as a message following labour. Nor do I think it is right to make women feel they have failed, as babies can be fed in other ways. So I have no solution, sorry.

I took v well to it both times; hadn't really given it much thought beforehand, other than that I wanted to do it if at all possible. The midwife helped me with latching on each time and it was pretty much plain sailing, apart from one infection with dd1.

What did take me by surprise was using a breast pump - I went back to work v early after both pregnancies and had planned to express, but absolutely hated it. I bought a pump when pregnant with dd1 and only used it once. I just couldn't bring myself to try again.

With dd1 - when I went back to work when she was 12 weeks, she stopped wanting the breast pretty much immediately so just had bottles. With dd2, I went back full time when she was ten weeks - she had bottles when I was at work but I fed her the rest of the time, until she was 13 months.

Thought it'd be lovely. It bloody hurt.

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