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Where's the support for bf?

(21 Posts)
Clueless79 Mon 01-Aug-11 13:23:16

I've just been posting on another thread about how the only place I've been able to get any support for bf my 3month old ds is here.

GP doesn't seem to know a lot.
HV asks 'Are you still bf? Good. Going ok?' and when I said actually we're having a few problems she made faint sympathetic noises and then gave the incisive suggestion to try offering the other breast at each feed! No shit. (problem is re fussiness, poor feeding - poss. slow flow? decreased supply?)
Another HV we saw for injections went off to get me some info on where to go for support and came back with numbers for LLL and National Breastfeeding Support Network! As if I didn't already have these or could have consulted Google myself!

I'm starting to go a bit mad about this - if a sensible, knowledgeable 30something who is desperate to keep feeding is feeling so lost and helpless then how on earth can the NHS expect bf rates to go up? Seems to me they just want that initial tick in the right box and then we can all go off and good luck with it! Incidentally the HV has only ever visited twice, shown little interest in myself or ds and offered no advice - I've never even been advised on sleep safety which I find scary.

Anyway, rant over, can anyone point me towards sources of real life, preferably face-to-face support? Is my experience typical?

Clueless79 Mon 01-Aug-11 13:30:32

In all my venting I forgot to mention a key detail which is that I've tried the LLL and National BF helplines repeatedly over a number of days and never had anyone answer. Thankfully I've managed to have a helpful chat with someone on NCT line but think I need some face to face help next.

worldgonecrazy Mon 01-Aug-11 13:35:01

The best support I found was two hvs who ran a breastfeeding support group. They were inundated as there just wasn't the support out there, and that's in a city the size of Birmingham. It must be even harder for those away from big cities. I also found that the phone lines were pretty useless but at least they were there.

The NHS support was crap - they spend lots of money on "Breast is Best" posters and then when new mums ask for help there isn't any, just lots of MWs and HVs saying 'give them formula' at the first sign of any problem.

I think we also underestimate how important family and peer support is. No one in my family ever suggested giving formula, every problem was met with a 'how do we fix this' query, not a 'give formula' solution. I think the subtle undermining of well-intentioned relatives plays a big part in many women quitting.

JoinTheDots Mon 01-Aug-11 13:37:31

I found my own support here - joined the 2 most local LLL groups (so I get to go to at least 2 meetings a month where there are bf counsellors on hand to chat to) and also found 2 local bf cafes (also once a month) where there are qualified bf counsellors. HV did not get me this info, google and notice boards did.

I no longer need support as such (other than of the moral kind, DD 11mths and a milk monster) but it is nice to be around other people feeding little ones.

Check the notice board at your local childrens centre as well as the LLL website for local face to face support. Do you have an infant feeding co-ordinator in your area?

Good luck and I hope you get the help you need.

Clueless79 Mon 01-Aug-11 13:43:30

I'd love to find out more about local LLL stuff if only they'd answer the bloody phone! Doesn't seem to be a lot in our area but maybe I need to do some more in depth Googling. Just really narks me off that we have to go to these lengths just to do something that is so beneficial and so natural! It was all ok when things were going fine as there's loads of support on regular issues on MN and on websites. And yes, I also have a really supportive family and DH but when it comes to technical knowledge there's this massive void! See, there I go ranting again! angry...steam rising!

JoinTheDots Mon 01-Aug-11 13:49:53

Did I read you are in the NE? Try this... http://www.llltyneandwear.edgoose.co.uk/meetings.asp

EauRouge Mon 01-Aug-11 13:54:38

LLL is staffed by volunteers, most of whom have small children of their own so they don't always answer the phone on the first go. Have you tried leaving a message or emailing? You might have better luck that way. Here's a list of LLL groups.

Cattleprod Mon 01-Aug-11 13:58:18

Ring any of your local childrens centres. Our small town has at least 4 breastfeeding support groups per week, plus the bf counsellors and peer supporters are always there at childrens events (Surestart etc). There is plenty of support out there.

RitaMorgan Mon 01-Aug-11 13:58:54

Yep, it is a pretty shocking state of affairs that breastfeeding support is solely left up to volunteers giving their own time for free.

Given that most women want to breastfeed and most initiate breastfeeding, but then most stop before they wanted to, maybe the NHS should be channelling a little more of their promotion efforts into support. I really didn't benefit from a poster or leaflet telling me how great breastfeeding is, but having someone with a flipping clue working on the postnatal ward would have been brilliant.

Clueless79 Mon 01-Aug-11 16:06:10

I appreciate that helplines are staffed by volunteers and am thinking that I'd like to volunteer myself and actually train as a supporter once I get further down the line. I have rung the numbers many times though over a couple of weeks at varying hours of the day and haven't even reached an answer phone. I guess I just think that there should be more investment into this area as you say, Rita, rather than leaving it down to interested folk who all have busy lives to squeeze supporting others into. I was in no way having a dig at any of the individuals who are actually providing the service just think it's a real shame that they're unpaid and undervalued. There are so many women who could benefit from additional specialist support to sustain breastfeeding.

I'm off to have a look at the links now...

tiktok Mon 01-Aug-11 16:21:52

The NCT line does answer - you may have to leave a message but you will be responded to quickly. There is always someone on duty and the only reason you would get the message request - as opposed to speaking direct straight away - is if the duty person is busy with another caller.

The other helplines don't work in the same way and you take pot luck. In school holiday times, you may not get through without trying several times. This is understandable.

However, I agree - it's crap, relying on volunteer organisations like this. This should be a service everyone can access, confidently, and not have to keep on trying sad

FessaEst Mon 01-Aug-11 16:27:42

I second contacting your local children's centre, they should know if/when a group meets in your area.

MigGril Mon 01-Aug-11 16:34:36

Have you a local childrens centre? They offten have BF cafes running.

Check hear to see if there is a local BfN group near you
www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/support-centres.html

I agree it is crap to rely upon volantires (me being one although not as well trained as tiktok yet). If I could do a paid job in this I would jump at it, so would a number of my fellow volanties. If they would pay to setup support the NHS would save millions in the long run.

I belive the BfN support line works in a similar way to the NCT one so you should be able to get through to someone or leave a message 0300 100 0210 open 9.30am to 9.30pm every day of the year

orchidee Mon 01-Aug-11 16:35:05

I hope you get help via nct.

I agree about support. My postnatal ward's BF "support" consisted of hilarious posters telling me why "bf was a great decision (unlike laughing when my best friend's hair turned green") My hv is similarly unhelpful when I mention any issues or concerns. I am actually surprised that bf rates aren't lower. MN and kellymom are the sole reason I am still bf at 12 weeks. And being stubborn has helped.

Interesting to hear how the helplines work. NHS support seems to be patchy. Same day support is what's required, 24/7 phonelines and quick availability of in-person assistance.

Clueless79 Sat 06-Aug-11 14:03:18

Thanks for all the advice - I had really productive week in terms of finding advice and support and had good help from a GP who led me to a really helpful HV and have also found some local groups to attend. Winner!

orchidee Sat 06-Aug-11 14:48:06

Brilliant news!

Care to share any tips you received?

Clueless79 Sat 06-Aug-11 16:36:59

Well...I'm trying all of them at once (possible old wives tales and all) so not sure exactly what's working but something is smile. In addition to suggestions made on mn:

eating and drinking more - had been calorie counting

having hot(ish) baths before evening feeds which were the toughest (maybe just the relaxation factor but was told it would help milk production hmm)

resting more

expressing a little after most feeds to stimulate more - think this has been effective

stopping for burps frequently when fussing began (ds not me...ok, sometimes me toowink)

feeding little and often during fussy periods - thinking maybe ds is just getting more efficient but still wanting to hang on longer so haven't been so bothered to keep encouraging him back on - if he's hungry he knows how to 'ask' and I'll be happy to oblige!

found out ds obviously has had a growth spurt so maybe it was just that - had put on a really good amount of weight after a slow spell which was really pleasing so probably relaxed me more too

I think just having a chat with a supportive HV and a conversation with a really lovely advisor on NCT line reassured me that what was happening wasn't disastrous and actually fairly normal. Anyway, feeling much perkier!

orchidee Sat 06-Aug-11 19:36:04

That's interesting about hot baths. Soon after my milk came in I noticed that milk would be spraying out during or after a shower blush. We've also been doing the "little and often" approach and have just mastered feeding lying down. Oh lordy, it's the best thing ever, and lets DS snack on and off while we doze and cuddle. There's certain feeds when he seems to have a meal and then others when (like me at night) he's snacking on and off for ages.

I have to say shock though at eating and drinking more - had been calorie counting. I believe a diet of chocolate is the norm while BFing. Do try that one.

orchidee Sat 06-Aug-11 19:39:57

Also - have you tried taking your baby into the bath with you? I started this a few weeks ago when he was a bit fussy. We'd both have a baby-temp bath, very romantic with dim lights, he'd have a feed and cuddle then get out of the bath and have some daddy time while I topped up the temp and relaxed.... totally recommend that one!

Oh and congratulations on the growth spurt. It's great when you the measuring scales or the fit of their clothes give you that positive feedback smile

EllaRees Sat 06-Aug-11 21:20:59

Just wanted to say how familiar this sounds - me one year ago! I just did my last feed today after a year of bf. I live in London and still struggled to find the face to face support that I think you need. In desperation I paid £60 for a private lactation consultant, which was very well spent - we never looked back. The top tip I have from that is to take Fenugreek (from Holland and Barratt). Buy the 600mg capsules and take 3 of them 3 times a day - made a huge difference as did expressing after feeds (though that is the last thing you want to do!).

Clueless79 Sat 06-Aug-11 22:08:12

I know, I can never be bothered with expressing even though I know I'd probably get better results if I was more consistent. And the fenugreek works? Will give that a go.

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