As part of my ongoing project with Medela I was asked to hold a get together with fellow breastfeeding mum’s to chat about breastfeeding over coffee & cake. We went along to Lollipops & Ladybirds
on Friday and enjoyed cappuccinos & homemade carrot & orange cake while chatting all things breastfeeding and putting the world to rights!
My mum’s are Victoria, mum to four week old identical twins Madison and Kendall, Natasha, mum to Eva, Emma who is a breastfeeding peer supporter and mum to Nate & Isaac, fellow blogger Georgina, mum to Squidge and Joanne, mum to eight month old Amelie.
I asked my mum’s four questions each to begin, here is how they replied.
How long did you/have you been breastfeeding? What is the best thing about breastfeeding? What is the worse thing about breastfeeding? Do you feel that you have adequate support from both family and health professionals?
Victoria – I have been breast feeding for almost 4 weeks, but manually expressing for 6. This was due to me expecting identical twins and preparing for the scenario of my twins being taken into special care from a very early stage as I was being prepared for delivering premature babies via c section. I was hand expressing Colstrum at home.
I am combination feeding my twins – this was something the hospital midwives prompted me to do. The midwives recommended I breastfeed and then ‘top up’ the babies with formula milk to keep their blood sugars raised. To ensure I have enough breast milk I expressed also.
The best thing about breast feeding is the connection I feel between my babies and I. I have very individual connections with my two babies, as both feed very differently. It has become something I enjoy doing with my babies.
The worst thing about breast feeding is how time consuming it can be (especially with twins). I began tandem feeding my girls immediately. Initially I was supported by all the hospital staff and midwives but once I was home, tandem feeding became very difficult very quickly. Supporting two babies to latch on properly, feed sufficiently and support them individually is not for the faint hearted. My partner is very supportive and even supports one of our girls whilst she is feeding, if only by supporting her shoulders. Breast feeding is very time consuming, almost a full time job, so expressing eases that stress.
I have had great support from both healthcare professionals and family. The support I received both ante & post natal has been fantastic. I have had a fantastic experience being a patient of my local midwifery team.
The only part of my experience that was unpleasant came after being told my babies had stopped growing in the womb at 34 weeks and needed to be delivered ASAP. I waited 10 days for special care cots to become available. There were no special care cots available in the whole of Wales during this time. This led to my consultant contacting special baby care units throughout the country and preparing a contingency plan for delivering my babies in another hospital – as far as Aberdeen. Luckily two cots became available, even better my babies were born healthy.
Natasha – I have been breastfeeding for five months and am still going with formula for top up. The best thing about breastfeeding is the bond with my baby, she’s all for mummy! The worst thing is that it is all on me for feeding and she uses me for comfort quite often.
The support received isn’t always good, most family members are understanding (usually the one’s who have experienced breastfeeding for a good few months) but the health professionals put a lot of pressure on new mum’s to breastfeed, it is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done especially in the first few weeks, many times I’ve felt like giving up through worrying about my supply, I wasn’t sure if she was getting enough milk, it was tiring, she was cluster feeding. In the long run it has been well worth it. I think there needs to be more information and support for first time mum’s as it’s only when you’ve experienced the hardships of breastfeeding that you can relate and fully understand just how difficult and demanding it can be. I was at a tough point in the early weeks of breastfeeding and my friend sent me this (who also breastfed), it really struck a chord http://realgirlramblings.com/2015/03/03/why-i-dont-sleep-mum/
Emma – I breastfed Nate for 9 months and Isaac for 6. I would have done longer but Nate preferred a bottle once I went back to work and I found it awkward asking for time to express when back in work. With Isaac my milk dried up when he was 3 months old, which was probably due to loosing my dad. I loved breastfeeding, I loved the closeness I felt and I loved not having to worry about sterilising or getting up to make a bottle, I could be there on tap. The worst thing about breastfeeding is the starting off. No one tells you what to expect and how hard it actually is I think, if you can get through the first 4 weeks you can see how easy it can be after that. The first 4 weeks is really stressful.
My family were very supportive and even though on Nate I would go into a different room to feed at the start by the end they were just all used to me whacking them out! I’m from a family of mainly men. With health professionals they give too much conflicting advice that really isn’t helpful. You judge yourself all the time being a mum and thinking you’re not doing that right I think some women give up because of the guilt! I went with my gut feeling I think maybe I was even more determined to breastfeed as a result of having a section, I felt that my body had already failed me. I loved the feeding so much that I went on to do the NVQ in breastfeeding peer support.
Georgina – I only had 2-3 successful breast feeds, with the help of the Medela nipple shield, but I did express for 2 months. The best thing about breastfeeding was the bonding. It was also so much easier than preparing bottles, sterilising, etc. The worst thing was the stress to both William and I, it always ended up with both of us crying as it was such a struggle. I had really good support from breastfeeding support workers, but no one at the hospital was able to get a successful breastfeed done, despite the fact that he was supposed to be a breastfed baby – they just didn’t have the time to spend with me to get it to happen. But when they came to the house they did.
Joanne – Amelie is now 8 months and still breastfeeding. She solely had breast milk until the age of 6 months. Now that she is weaning I could just breastfeed her morning and night, which means that I should still be able to breastfeed when I go back to work.
The best things are being able to be lazy, no sterilising bottles, etc, no need to get out of bed in middle of the night for first 6 months, I could just take her from Moses basket and feed her in bed still half asleep. If we were out for day the checklist was simple, nappies, wipes, clothes and boobs! There was also hardly any winding needed. Health reasons are the best thing, she only had her first cold/illness a few weeks ago! Other things are the bonding, comfort and closeness.
The worse things were at first I worried that she was having too little/too much milk. I had hyperlactation syndrome, producing too much with a fast flow so she would gag sometimes, thankfully it was easily resolved.
I received great support from Flying Start, I go to their breastfeeding group each week and can always call someone with questions. My family are also a great support.
Following answering the questions we had a chat about feeding in general. We discovered that people who attend groups are a lot more likely to carry on breastfeeding, sometimes you have questions that you wouldn’t necessarily call someone to ask, if you are at a group you will bring the question up in conversation and find great answers from other breastfeeding mother’s. A lot of people (myself included) are put off going to groups as they have a reputation of being cliquey, don’t less this put you off, attend and find out for yourself, if you don’t like that group try another. If you really can’t get on with groups try a forum, I joined the pregnancy forum
when I first found out that I was pregnant, I still talk to a lot of the girls from there on a daily basis, we are all there to support each other and answer any questions.
We all agreed that the conflicting support from healthcare workers can lead to a lot more confusion than necessary. One week someone will show you a position that they suggest you use, the next week you see someone else who wants you to use another position, when you are struggling to begin with this can lead to confusion and knock your confidence.
We also chatted quite a bit about feeding in public and the fact that some places have private feeding rooms. Those of us who were less confident about feeding agreed that we would use these and they were a great idea, those who were more confident wouldn’t want to be forced away into a room on their own. We all agreed that these rooms should have a sign on them stating that you don’t have to use them, they are just there if you want to use them.
We discovered that those of us who struggled with feeding & the new mums weren’t confident enough to feed in public, but those who have been feeding for a while and have no problems with feeding will happily do so in public, even when walking around! So long as you feed discretely and don’t make a big song and dance about it people usually don’t notice. Wearing two tops helps to feed discretely.
Here is a great poem/film about feeding in public, it puts it into perspective!
The Flying Start group that Jo attends are going to be running campaigns to promote breastfeeding during breastfeeding awareness week (1-7 August), they are going to be doing something different everyday including chatting to people in shops. We were disgusted to hear that they had contacted a local Boots store and the manager agreed that they could hand out leaflets, put up posters, etc but politely asked that they didn’t feed in the store and made sure they use the private feeding room if necessary! They have contacted Head Office who have confirmed that they are allowed to feed in the store if they need to.
Thank you Medela for allowing me to host a cafe on your behalf, we had a great time!
In summary – conflicting advise from healthcare workers can lead to confusion and knocked confidence, chatting with fellow breastfeeding mum’s is the best type of support that you can receive, consider joining a group or at the very least a forum, don’t be ashamed to breastfeed in public.