When I fell pregnant with Jacob, I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding but didn't know how long I'd plan to do it for. I bought bottles ready just incase I didn't like it or if I just couldn't do it for any reason.
Jacob was born at 11.07am and my mum helped me to latch him on. It took a few attempts as my boobs are quite big so I needed to make a bit of a wedge to help him get on but once he was on, it was ok. I made the decision then that I'll see how it goes over the next few days and then decide if I wanted to carry on or stop. I'm very lucky to have had my mum at the birth and also in general as she's also a midwife so I knew I had the prefect person for advice.
Jacob had swollowed alot of fluid and was sick yellow liquid for the first 24hrs of bringing him home. In those 24hrs, he fed 5 times from anything between 5-25 minutes.
Around 8am the following morning he had finally cleared his stomach and did his 5th feed which was a good 25 minutes long. I'd been on the phone to my mum and she'd said how brilliant that was.
At 10am, the midwife arrived for Jacob's day 1 check and so Jacob was literally just under 24hrs old. She asked all the questions and then asked how many feeds he'd had since birth. I said 5 and explained that he'd been very fluidy and been quite sick but I was sure that he'd cleared his stomach that morning and although it takes me a few goes to get him on, I'm happy with how it's going and the 5th feed had been alot longer. Her whole manner changed and she said something like, '5 feeds isn't nearly enough!'. I said my mum was a midwife and she'd said how great it was and that I was sure I'd read on some paper work I had that 5 feeds in the first 24hrs was good and some babies may not feed at all but it's in the next 24hrs that 8 feeds was expected. She told me no and repeated that it wasn't acceptable and asked, 'did I want my baby to be poorly and ended up in hospital?' Que Jacob starting to wake and cry and the midwife saying to me, 'He is hungry, let's see how he gets on with a feed'. I felt very 'put on the spot' and knew it would take a while to latch him but picked him up and proceeded to form a 'wedge' with nipple to try and get him to latch. The midwife then processed to swipe my hand away and said to me that I shouldn't be touching the breast at all. I told her I didn't know another way but my mum had shown me this way and he does latch after a few tries. I tried to go again with forming the wedge and again she swiped my hand and said I wasn't too touch the breast I was going to feed with. I got a bit flustered at this point and said, 'well I'm not sure what else to do then'. She said i should change the way I held him so we had him instead with his head in the crook of my arm, with his bum in the crook of my arm and me holding his head in my hand. I told her I was so uncomfortable and that I was struggling to hold his weight in my arm like that and wouldn't manage a 5 minute feed, let alone 20 minutes or longer. Then she proceeds to direct me with other holds, all of which I found equally as uncomfortable and I got more and more flustered and Jacob's crying got louder and louder and louder.
Suddenly, I could see how this midwife had escalated this whole thing and that actually, I was confident in what I was doing before she arrived and I knew my baby was feeding well once I got him on and that her words about him becoming ill etc. were unnecessary at this point. I snapped and I told her to get off me and to get off Jacob and that since he'd been home, I'd not heard such desperate crying from him and that it was her that was doing that. I stood my ground and said that the technique I had was fine. Yes, it took me a few goes to get him on properly and yes, I touched my boob to make a wedge with my nipple, but it was working for me and for Jacob so I was going to continue as we were and told her to leave. She started to protest and said again that he'd be poorly etc. but at that point, I'd stopped listening and was standing up and telling her to get out. Her parting words were, that she wanted me to keep a diary of his feeds for the next 24hrs (number and length of feed) and that she was sending a breastfeeding support out the next morning to me. I think my parting words were something along the lines of, 'Do what you want but I never want to see you ever again!'
After a good cry and settling down, I managed to get Jacob to latch using my technique and after he'd fallen asleep, I managed to dig out the form I had that confirmed that 5 feeds in the first 24hrs was great and that some babies didn't feed at all but atleast 8 feeds were expected in the next 24hrs. This just confirmed even more that I was doing fine and to ignore her.
The next morning, when the breastfeeding support knocked on the door, I very proudly produced a diary I'd kept, that showed something like 18 feeds in the last 24hrs, ranging from 5 minutes to 35 minutes. I explained to her what had happened and she agreed that the midwife was wrong in how I was treated and I said to her that if I wasn't a strong person, she could have completely knocked my confidence in my ability to feed my son and I was cross with myself for almost letting her. 3 years and 1 month later we were still going strong.
I finally had to call it a day after I'd fallen pregnant with my daughter. When I was about 6 months in, my milk dried up and feeding became agony. I was already uncomfortable from having a bad back caused from my first pregnancy and suffering with pelvis girdle pain in this pregnancy so this was just the icing on the cake and I had to make atleast one pain go away. I felt terrible that night telling him my boobs were 'broken' and there was no milk. He cried and I cried and my husband hugged him and gave him sips of his water and he finally fell asleep.
The next morning, he tried to help himself as he usually did and I reminded him that they were broken and I couldn't believe it when he just smiled and went off to play! That was it, all done. His sister arrived 3 months later and we're now just over a year in to our breastfeeding journey and no idea when it will end. While I'm happy and she's happy, we will just carry on as we are.
One of the most important pieces of advice I have for anyone when parenting is to believe in your capabilities.
Happy mummy is a happy baby. You do what you feel comfortable with. If you don't want to breastfeed, don't do it because someone is making you feel like you should. You do what makes you feel happy/ comfortable and your baby will be happy too.
If you're feeding, have drinks and snacks at the ready. It can be so physically (as well as mentally) draining at times either through a long feed or lots of shorter but regular feeds so keep your energy up.
Breastfeeding in public really isn't so bad. I have fed everywhere from in restaurants, cafes, swimming pools, in church, on a bench on a busy street and on a chair in a shop near the till and the rest. I've never recieved any negative comments and if I've had negative stares, I've never noticed (not that I'd actually care). I had two elderly ladies at different times approach me and say how wonderful it was to see feeding in public and well done which was so lovely. If anyone ever did make a negative comment, my reply would have been something about, would the prefer to have a crying, screaming baby ruining their meal or whatever than a quiet and content baby who after 5/10 minute feed will sleep the rest of dinner so no bother to anyone and the other being... they don't have to look! If whatever they were doing was so fun and enjoyable they wouldn't even notice little ol' me sat feeding. My other reply if they were disgusted to see feeding would have been that if they can't see nipple, then it doesn't count as seeing a boob! 😂
Author: Claire, go check her out on Instagram @clairealexandra10.
Photo: Lisa, @mandalas_and_rainbows