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Breastfeeding after childhood abuse

(12 Posts)
ConfusedAndStressed Wed 26-Mar-14 16:56:57


I'm a regular on here, but have name changed for this post, sorry if it's a bit garbled, but I have my DD(3) playing up and also I am very confused and emotional about this post.

With my DD I formula fed her straight away and didn't even attempt to breastfeed. The thought of having her suckling on me was repulsive to me (sorry, but that's how I felt, I don't have any issue with anyone else breastfeeding and I'm not trying to be inflammatory). I am sure that this stems from my childhood. While what I went through was by far not the worst, when I hit about 10 (puberty for me) my father started to get very inappropriate with me, i.e. grabbing at me, watching me bath etc. I don't know of this constitutes sexual abuse because of how minor it was compared to what others have suffered, but it used to make me feel very vulnerable and unsafe and has led to various mental health problems in my life. I have never got any help for this, mainly as we don't have the money for private counselling.

Anyway I hope that provides enough of a background, if not I will try and elaborate on it. To the main point - I am currently 30 weeks pregnant with our second DD and I am starting to wonder about breastfeeding. For one formula has become even more expensive than when we had DD! It was also very tricky to feed DD when out and about, though of course it is possible. Anyway it is now something which I feel that at least I would like some more info on, as I have no clue about it at all.

I'm not sure what I am asking for really. I guess any info about breastfeeding, how it works and is done etc. Also if there is anyone who has gone through similar issues to myself and who has managed. I am worried as to me my breasts are sexual (I know, I know, please don't shout at me!), and due to the nature of the abuse I'm worried about the sensation of breastfeeding. Also I am planning to go back to my MsC course in October, so is breastfeeding still viable with how soon I am planning to have baby in nursery (1 day a week)?

Also what differences would I experience with this baby after having bottle fed our DD1? Again I'm sorry if this is inflammatory, but will the baby be less settled, have less of a routine etc?

Thanks for any help and info, I feel like I am totally in the dark over this. I have no idea where to start, or if I even want to breastfeed.

isisisis Wed 26-Mar-14 17:46:02

No one is going to shout at you. I think you're being very brave. How's you relationship with your community midwife? Would you feel comftable talking to them about this?
My local hospital has posters up in the loos about drop in sessions to see the domestic violence specialist midwife. I know it's obviously not the same but thought they might be more trained re trauma/counselling/easier to talk to etc & be able to point you in the right direction of some further help?

isisisis Wed 26-Mar-14 17:46:48

Would being pregnant bump you up an NHS waiting list for some counselling?

MinesAPintOfTea Wed 26-Mar-14 17:53:40

Echo that it might be a good idea to seek counselling, but if you don't want to you can always just try breastfeeding. If it is unpleasant or overwhelming to you then stop or offer a bottle and mixed feed.

The only thing to now about bottles is you need to introduce them by about 8 Weeks and daily after that to not risk a bottle refuser. Ds never drank from one although took a cup happy from about 6 months. There was a room in my university nursery that at lunchtime had a few of us bfing in (daft to go to the bother of expressing when ds was a five minute walk away).

ConfusedAndStressed Wed 26-Mar-14 19:36:18

Thank you for the kind responses. To answer a few points. I am actually waiting for some counselling via the NHS, however there is a question as to whether I will get it or not as they like you to do other approaches first in my region, no matter your issues. They are seeing if they can put me straight into counselling though, so fingers crossed.

I will see if I can get the strength to talk to my midwife about it. As this is my second baby though and due to staffing I have seen a different midwife each appointment which is a shame.

With regards to actually breast feeding, how demanding will it be? With bottle feeding a feed took 1/2 and hour, is this much different for breastfeeding? Also does it change how settled the baby is? And can they still be in a rough routine?

Sorry these all probably sound like really stupid question, but I honestly have no idea about any of this.

Thanks you all again for being so kind

ExBrightonBell Wed 26-Mar-14 20:13:40

Hi confused. I had some issues around giving birth and was referred to a midwife counsellor attached to the hospital. I had a couple of meetings with her, and she wrote a comprehensive letter which was stapled to the front of my notes.

This outlined what the issues were, and what every other hcp should/shouldn't do to help me with my particular situation. I found that this reassured me that although I was seeing a variety of different midwives, there was a continuity of information without me having to explain it over and over.

I would ask to speak to the supervisor of midwives at your hospital and ask if they have something similar.

Regarding the bfeeding itself, perhaps just think to yourself "one feed at a time" and see how you go. It doesn't have to be a black and white decision.

Also, it's not particularly helpful, but everyone's bfeeding relationship is different. Some babies feed for 10 mins, others for 30. Some feed 2 hourly others 4. The best approach to establish breastfeeding is to feed on demand (assuming no issues with the baby that might interfere such as jaundice) and not to worry about a routine for the first few weeks. Again, some bfed babies are very settled and others are less so, just depends on your baby!

isisisis Thu 27-Mar-14 15:29:12

Does your hospital run breastfeeding classes? You could pop along to get some more general information.
The NCT have trained breastfeeding experts that will see you for free, you don't have to be a member or anything. I wonder if you could see one before baby arrives for a chat. You could just say your worried/anxious if you don't want to tell them everything & that you found it difficult before. Then you'd have a friendly, known face that you could get support from once baby arrives.
Excellent idea about a chat with the supervisor of midwifes, I'm sure our local hospital does the same with putting you in with a midwife counseller but they can't help you if they don't know. If you don't feel you could talk to them what about writing a letter and posting/handing over. That might be easier. Good luck to you. If you manage to breast feed, great. If you formula feed, also great.

ConfusedAndStressed Mon 31-Mar-14 08:33:35

Thank you for all the advice. Sorry I haven't been back, I've had a manic weekend!

I'll try and talk to my midwife at my appointment this Wednesday and see if I can go to some classes, and if there is a counselling midwife I can talk to. Luckily my family are very supportive, but unfortunately not my husbands family who all formula fed and find it abnormal to breastfeed (tbh I feel very pressured about this).

ArtFine Mon 31-Mar-14 08:39:21

I always felt that BFing was a bit weird. I suppose I found it difficult to understand how it couldn't be sexual.

After birth, it was so painful for me for a couple of months that it definitely wasn't sexual smile. So that sorted itself out.

ConfusedAndStressed Mon 31-Mar-14 11:26:23

Thank you Art, that's great to hear! My biggest fear is that it will feel sexual, so to know that someone else has felt that, still given it a go, and found it not to be is a relief to me! It helps me to feel that maybe I can actually do this.

ArtFine Mon 31-Mar-14 12:08:19

Confused, I'd say give it a shot but don't stress too much if it doesn't work out. All the best smile x

ceara Fri 04-Apr-14 08:00:06

There is an article on breastfeeding for survivors of abuse on the Pandora's project website with advice which might be helpful

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