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Writing essay about bf - come & tell me your experiences

(28 Posts)
rosmerta Mon 14-Jul-08 17:59:40

As the title says, I'm writing an essay about bf and looking at what support women need both ante- & post-natally in order to successfully breastfeed.

I'm looking for some anecdotal evidence to put in - no names mentioned!

I'd appreciate your experiences of either successful or unsuccessful bf and why it might have gone that way. Did you have good support? Who did you turn to? Did you have any information about bf/ff ante-natally and was it adequate? What was the post-natal support like?

If there any any antenatal tutors out there, how do you present bf/ff to classes?

Tiktok & Hunker - not picking on you, just know you two as the resident bfcs - do you find most problems women have bf are common and easily solvable?

Sorry for the long post, thanks if you've got this far!

reethi96 Mon 14-Jul-08 18:00:35

Would you prefer it emailed to you?

WilfSell Mon 14-Jul-08 18:00:53

Why do you want anecdotal evidence by the way? smile not being arsey, just interested, given there's research out there...

tiktok Mon 14-Jul-08 18:03:02

Wilf has a point, don't need anecdotes, really, unless you have been asked to collect them.

rosmerta Mon 14-Jul-08 18:04:55

Reethi96, I don't mind it posted here but you can email me at jokeoghsmith at yahoo dot co dot uk if that's easier

Wilfsell, I'm using research as well but its hard to find the quotes from people, tends to be quite academic. Hope that satisfies you smile

WilfSell Mon 14-Jul-08 18:08:17

I can advise on finding research if that's any help... what level of study is your essay for?

Paddlechick666 Mon 14-Jul-08 18:12:20

Ros, I'll email you.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 14-Jul-08 18:21:11

Message withdrawn

cmotdibbler Mon 14-Jul-08 19:42:37

My problems were all in the very early days when DS was prem and in SCBU - he was taken straight from me at birth, and the first time I really saw him he was in an incubator, IV lines in, NG tube down. And I was asked, 'Which formula shall we give him ?'. Obv he did need something straightaway as he had very low blood sugar, but this wasn't the most supportive thing to say. No one would show me how to hand express (or give me something to do it into) until I'd had a rest, and then I had to track someone down (and I'd had a PPH), then express, then take it round to SCBU (who to be fair made a fuss over the amount of colostrum). Postnatal ward refused to wake me up in the night to express (or to breastfeed when he became up to it), and there was nowhere to store milk on the ward either - which made it a real palaver overnight. Absolutely no support from ward staff or any feeding support from anyone except two nurses on SCBU, and I felt like noone had any sort of a plan to help mums of preemies bf (in fact I generally felt ignored, but thats another story entirely)

I was determined to bf though, and had gone to NCT classes antenatally, and had a doula to call on if I needed. She especially, empowered me to just get on and feed as he and I wanted. Although the info from the NCT BFC was great, she was very judgemental about going back to work, and rather than supporting my bfing when I did, kept harping on that I could take more time off.

I went back to work when DS was 4.5 months, exclusivly fed after the first 3 days, till DS was 6 months, and continued to feed until he weaned at 23 months.

StealthPolarBear Mon 14-Jul-08 19:54:05

I had good advice antenatally and good support (from MW and in general) postnatally. HV team, although specific advice seems a bit dated have been very supportive - made positive comments when realised I was feeding at 8 months, had a bit of weight loss at about 17 weeks after D&V and was reassured that there was no need to wean onto food or top up with formula (I already knew that from MN but was nice to have my own HCPs say the same)

VictorianSqualor Mon 14-Jul-08 20:09:13

<hijack> Paddlechick are you near me yet?

Paddlechick666 Mon 14-Jul-08 20:53:36

hi VS, not quite.

I've found the house I want, just haven't sold mine yet.

On the upside, no one has bought the house I want yet either!

Instructed a new agent so hoping to get a result soon.

dreamymum Mon 14-Jul-08 21:23:18

1. a friend who had a proper bf course before giving birth the first time around had a much easier time than all of us. perhaps a large part of the difficulties the first time is not knowing what to expect and all the stress around it

2. i was advised to get a medela breast pump. i used this and suffered for 4 months.
after 2nd pg i rented a real breast pump and only then realized how all the pain and suffering the first time around were actually more than the usual bf problems and were a result of the pump!

3. i think many women who have a hard time feeding don't have the 4 four basics down - you need to drink plenty of water, eat well, be well rested, and hold the baby in a way that he can latch on in order for it to work!

4. the first contact with bf should be smooth. so it is really important for someone who knows to be at the birth to help you if you need. the first time i had my husband and a doula only, neither of them knew to show me what to do! it made it all very frustrating and upsetting.

Antenatally I was asked how I planned to feed a couple of times, and BF was discussed in an antenatal class but in a pretty uninspiring way. If I had been in two minds it wouldn't have been very helpful to hear someone ramble on about oxytocin for half an hour. Having said that, there was no info on FFing whatsoever.

In the hospital I was manhandled quite a bit but at the time I wasn't bothered at all. I just wanted DS to be feeding whatever it took. I was discharged 48 hours after a C-section (no complaints about that per se) and we were fine, but nobody warned me about the havoc that engorgement can play with a little sleepy baby trying to latch on, so 2 days later we were home and struggling. Thankfully my community MW was superb and would visit a couple of times a day if required until we got over it. She pretty much begged me to stick at it for a fortnight if nothing else, and spent long periods with me while I fed.

I think things which helped me feed successfully were mainly that I didn't ever consider that I might not BF - my mum breastfed us (and I knew she'd really, really struggled to get it established with me) and to me it is normal, so there was no 'optional' element to it. So when things were tough I just kind of got on with it (not to suggest that people who don't 'get on with it' are limp, just that I didn't see that there was an alternative). I think that alone is a huge, huge thing - the 'normal' factor.

I also think I was very lucky to find it quite easy going once the engorgement was out of the way, and I realise other people aren't always so fortunate.

I have a fairly good understanding of the physiology involved because I'm a vet (think dairy farming!) which was helpful when it came to grasping the supply/demand thing (although I do think I was such a wreck I forgot a lot of common sense at the time). And the other thing which was really helpful but sounds totally weird was reminding myself that we're mammals and that animals haven't got a choice. So I kind of relied on instinct and fed if it was what DS seemed to want and let him be my guide as much as possible.

I don't know how helpful any of that is because I was really fortunate that feeding wasn't a huge difficulty for us, but then again I also feel strongly that for some people the key thing is believing you can do it and making your mind up that you will succeed. I hear a people saying things like "I didn't have enough milk, but then neither did my mum" and "He wanted to feed every hour and he was hungry all the time so we gave him a bottle and he was much happier" and it makes me sad because I think in these cases often there's been misinformation at the root of everything. I am very much aware that there's a lot of heartbreak involved for those who have that determination but who do not go on to BF successfully. But I also think you need good information and a bit of stubbornness to get going with it in the early stages. I would say in my experience more antenatal support and information would be invaluable from the 'it's normal perspective.

rosmerta Mon 14-Jul-08 22:43:48

Thanks for all the replies. I know it can be hard to write about again so really appreciate it.

BlueyDragon Mon 14-Jul-08 22:59:35

Anecdote from someone who didn't have a successful experience might help, too.

Antenatal: no-one ever told me how hard it could be and that I might have to fight to get it right. Sounds daft, but the NCT classes were full of how wonderful and natural it was and how humans had been doing it for thousands of years. This meant that I felt like a complete failure when I couldn't do it when DD was born and we couldn't get the latch right. I wasn't prepared to really fight for it and so let it go more quickly than I should have (I say that now with 17 months of hindsight though. At the time I was busy having a complete meltdown). I understood all the supply and demand stuff and the "technical" side, just not the emotional side of it.

Postnatal: Rarely saw the same midwife twice and they didn't seem comfortable staying around for long periods. The hospital told me I was doing fine, which just compounded my sense of failure when it all went wrong so quickly. NCT BFC wouldn't come out because it was the weekend and I, like a not wanting to make a fuss English fool, said that was OK.

IAte is right - better support is key, but postnatal as well as antenatal please. And a midwife who knows you, hopefully well enough to say "You can do this but you're going to have to hang on in there" when your world's just turned upside down.

Mummyfor3 Tue 15-Jul-08 08:54:11

I am with BlueyDragon:

To have pointed out how hard it can be would have helped!

I always assumed I would BF my children. DS1 came along a terrible screamer, I HATED how physically intrusive BFing was and as he never seemed satisfied I started mix feeding him aged 6 weeks. That put on the beef however he still screamed all day! He is now 5 years and still very very dramatic child..

DS2 was 9 weeks premature, CS for placenta praevia and spent 5 weeks in SCBU. I expressed BM for him for about 4 months as he never mastered proper latch and by the time he came home I had abovementioned DS1 to look after. Expressing was more predictable than actually BFing, but demand soon outstripped supply and he was also mix fed.

DS3 now aged 16 weeks is fully BF smile, but took to 2 months to really get the hang of it, mainly lacked confidence re supply.

I had LOTS of BF advice and support, but with hindsight I had low confidence. A LLL leader said to : "Successful BFing is 90% confidence and 10% technique". She was also of the opinion that "it is the stubborn ones" who manage to BF!

I have not found it easy, but v rewarding to be able to do this this time round!

Looby34 Tue 15-Jul-08 10:08:49

My eldest daughter is 2.5. We were shown a video about bf in our parentcraft classes - ways to sit, get a good latch etc. The community midwife put it on and then sat back making comments such as 'stupid women - how does she think the baby is going to get latched on in that position' - we all sat there thinking what is she talking about (cos obviously as first time Mum's we didn't know what was right and what was wrong). There was very little discussion afterwards.

I wanted to breastfeed so in hospital dd was put on me straight after a very difficult birth but did not latch.

On the post natal ward dd slept for 27 hours before nurse came in and told me that if she hadn't woken in 3 hours we would wake her and 'get that baby latched on' - which we did.

Day after I was finding it painful - my dh wanders out into the corridor trying to find someone to come and help us - a midwife told him to go and buy some nipple shields - no offer of anyone coming to sit with me. I persevered without the shields.

Once home, dd fed every 4 hours .She'd feed for 40 minutes on one side, and at the next feed, 40 minutes on the other. Noone had ever told me to do it this way - or offer both sides - thats just what she did. She slept all the time in between - a dream baby and she was putting on weight good style. I on the otherhand was incredibly anxious, not eating or sleeping, dreading her waking for each feed. This was in part because it was painful, especially on one side - the midwives just told me to try different positions, but it hurt whichever position she was in. After 3 weeks she woke up and only fed for 5 minutes, and she'd usually feed for 40. I was completely thrown and worried about what to do at the next feed as se hadn't drained my breast like she usually did. I called the tel no of an NCT bf counsellor and it went to ansaphone. I was not in sufficient sane of mind to even consider getting on the net and looking for another helpline number - and had not been given one by the midwives. (The NCT lady called me back 3 days later ).

Next morning I woke up and was engorged. I called the hospital my midwives work from, in tears as I did not know what to do and was spoken to very harshly by one of the midwives. I then called my gp surgery where the community midwives are based. A few hours later one of them came out to me as I was crying and trying unsuccesfully to get a screaming dd latched on. She go some hot flannels, applied them and proceeded to squeeze my breast as I cried out in pain.

At that point I said I no longer wanted to bf. She warned me that if I stopped suddenly I would feel quite unwell and it was better to stop suddenly, but I felt it could not be worse than what I had already gone through.

She told me that my milk had to be absorped into my blood and it was like a poison to my blood to so would make me feel unwell. She told me I had to starve my body of fluid so it would take the fluid from my breasts more quickly. Dh was told I could have an ice cube every 4 hours - with pain killers. I was desperate for fluid and begged him to get water for me but he thought he was doing the right thing by following her advice. She also told me that hearing my dd cry would keep my milk coming, so my husband slept downstairs with her for the 3 nights I was up in bed with horrible flu symptoms. I had no marks on my breast so did not know it was mastitis, but she never advised me to go for antibiotics.

Needless to say after various so called health professionals giving me shit advice, I did not try breast feeding my ds (now 8 weeks). I just could not face risking those problems again. When I stopped I changed overnight into a happy Mum and for the first time felt love for dd.

You can imaine how I felt when I gave birth again 8 weeks ago when everyone goddamn person who came to see me in the hospital asked me if I was breastfeeding and then continued to tell me it was best for my baby (I believe since dd was born they now have targets to achieve). I did not hold back in telling them my story.

There is a real lack of good support and advice to prepare Mums for what can happen. I suppose hp's don't want to say anything negative in case it puts people off but this is just doing women a great diservice as a lot of us go into it with their eyes pretty much closed.

With my second child I used to sit in the ante natal waiting room at hospital surrounded by hundreds of posters of women smiling with a baby latched on. That is how a lot of first time expectant Mum's then expect it to be - but a lot of the time it isn't.

Good luck with your essay x

Looby34 Tue 15-Jul-08 10:10:59

...sorry - she told me it was better to stop gradually, not suddenly - she was shit, but not that shit !

jammi Tue 15-Jul-08 12:14:59

Message withdrawn

Dawnie6577 Thu 17-Jul-08 20:36:46

Antenatally, I attended a breastfeeding workshop, which was good to know the 'theory', but totally different in practice. I don't think any information antenatally bears any relation to the reality!

My DS had jaundice/lost weight/eye infection in his first week, so spent some time in SCBU. We had fantastic support from MWs, although we were in hospital 9 days in total, so I pretty much had support 24/7, much of which was about getting him to feed without falling asleep. The one-on-one support I got was fantastic. Yes, a lot of it was being told to 'relax my shoulders' and forcing my DS on to me whilst grabbing my boob, but all I was bothered about was him feeding and regaining his weight. Not one MW told me to give him a bottle of formula, which for how knackered and desperate I was at the time, I will be eternally grateful. I had hours of one-on-one help, night after night of how to latch, how to recognise when he is feeding, keeping him awake to feed etc etc. I couldn't praise them highly enough.

Once home and more established, I had problems for the first 3 - 4 months, very painful, blisters, blocked ducts, DS permanently feeding etc etc. I went to NCT drop in session, saw breastfeeding specialist in maternity unit and spoke to BFN telephone counsellor. All of these were useful and very supportive. It is so nice for someone in the know to check the latch and offer guidance to improve the experience and reduce the pain!

My HV was rubbish, told me to feed every 4 hours, 10 minutes each side. If I'd followed her advice, I wouldn't still be breastfeeding and loving it 9 months later.


rosmerta Thu 17-Jul-08 22:31:19

Thanks so much again, I really do appreciate it!

Cicatrice Thu 17-Jul-08 22:45:32

I was an unsuccessful breastfeeder. DS would not co operate I had multiple midwives on the ward (I was in for a week) and then at home every day for 3 weeks.

I also attended a breastfeeding clinic at the hospital where I gave birth. The lady there was very good but we still couldn't get it together.

Tried nipple shields and that provided an inital improvement but it still didn't work. I expressed for 3 months so he could be exclusively breast fed but mixed fed and cut down after that because I just couldn't get out of the house!

The health visitor seemed to think that the forceps delivery had a lot to do with DS refusal of the breast. He had physio later because he would only turn his head to the left and only use his left hand.

I don't think the NHS could have done much more for us really other than have someone there at every feed.

Dawnie6577 Fri 18-Jul-08 09:06:34

Also, I totally agree with Looby34. Initially, breastfeeding can be blooming painful and there are messages everywhere saying 'breastfeeding shouldn't hurt'. Whilst this information is good to encourage a better latch, I genuinely believe that there is a period of learning and nipples do have to harden up! Why oh why don't they say that it is a really tough thing to do for some women. The stress that 'it should be the most comfortable natural experience' gave me really hindered my confidence! From speaking to friends etc, varying degrees of pain initially seemed more normal than abnormal?
I would have liked someone to say to me - 'it isn't instant, it is bloody hard, it takes time, but you will get there and love it, even if you feel like you are never going to get there'.

stretchmarkqueen Fri 18-Jul-08 09:43:23

Just incase you needed any more!!

Dd1, me aged 20, was asked once, during antenatal appointment, whether i intended to breastfeed. I went, "er...yes?" In hospital, dd was "helped" to latch on to me, fine until i needed to feed her again 2 hours later. Seriously, i was clueless. I never knew about offering her the other side either, just thought i had to feed her every 4 hours, then when she cried, i tried to rock her/calm her/stick a dummy in her mouth sad I stayed in hospital an extra night so that i could get help feeding her. I asked for help every time i needed to feed, as i just couldn't work out how to get her latched on. (They were doing for me..not surprising really!) Went home, struggled alot, was told by mw to top up,(!)and things deteriorated from there. 3 weeks later, dd was fully ff.

Dd2. I was a lot more grown up!(23) I asked about bf before the baby was born! i had moved house as well and was part of a surestart area. THAT made a huge difference. Postnatal help was great. I had a 2 mw's, 2 surestart team members, and 1 student mw, who i could talk to. The student was great! That time, instead of mw latching dd2 on for me, i was told to latch her on, then was given suggestions on how to improve, rather than doing it themselves, so i learnt how to do it IYSWIM? DD2 also wouldn't open her mouth very wide, but they helped me overcome that. All this time, DD1 was being played with by one of the other team members, kept her out of my way! I fed for 6 months (yay!), but stopped then because that was what i thought everyone did! hmm (The health visitor wasn't great.)

Ds1. He is now 9 weeks old. I am currently bf him. I discovered mumsnet while pregnant, and it has been the best thing ever!! I have found bf much easier because of all the advice on here!! (Thanks guys!!!) grin Mw great too, and she even told my (new) hv i didn't get on with my last one, so we (hv and i) have a great understanding!! (she doesn't advise me at all!)

It's despairing to listen to mw/hv spouting the same old crock of shit!

Don't know if it's been helpful, but it's good getting it all out!!

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