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Interview 11

Age at interview: 29
Brief Outline: Baby wouldn't latch on so fed expressed breastmilk through a syringe for first three days. Delaying return to work to spend more time with baby.
Background: At the time of interview, this 29 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 14 week old son. A Retail Assistant, she was married to a Military Policeman (SIB).

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Because many of the women married to Navy personnel are a long way from family and friends, the neighbourhood where this woman lives was included in the local Sure Start area. This meant that she had access to the local Breastfeeding Caf', a drop-in centre for women to meet and talk to other women who are breastfeeding. The Caf' is run by a health visitor who is there to give support and answer women's questions. Breastfeeding is not very popular in the area and this woman told me that, unfortunately, none of the 'Sure Start Mums' go to the caf'. However, this woman had lots of support from family and friends and was thoroughly enjoying breastfeeding and being with her baby. In fact, she was enjoying time with her baby so much that she had decided not to go back to work at six months as originally planned because 'it is such a special time' and she just doesn't want to miss it. During pregnancy, this woman attended antenatal classes, read all the material that she could find on breastfeeding and had a lot of contact with breastfeeding women. She thinks that this was the cause of her dreaming about breastfeeding and waking to find that her breasts had leaked milk. After a ventouse delivery, involving the use of pethidine and gas and air, her baby would not latch onto the breast, so after 24 hours she expressed colostrum and fed it to her baby through a syringe. After four days her baby latched-on without further trouble. When the baby was seven weeks old, this woman began to express breast milk so that her husband could give their son a bottle and experience the closeness of feeding.

 

She had never seen anyone breastfeed and was very unsure about it to begin with but now she is...

She had never seen anyone breastfeed and was very unsure about it to begin with but now she is...

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Can you think back to when you were pregnant, what made you decide to breastfeed?

I went, well the antenatal class I went to, because to be honest before, before I fell pregnant I wasn't overly high on the idea of breastfeeding, I wasn't quite sure, I know it's a natural thing but there was something about it that just made me think that [laughs], that just made me think that it was a bit weird, it's hard to describe really because it wasn't like I thought it was perverse or anything in that respect, but I just, it just didn't seem normal although I know it was nature's way of obviously feeding your baby, but when I was explaining this to the antenatal group, but then I was never very maternal even when I was pregnant, so I don't know if that was it maybe I just hadn't clicked into the mother baby side of it. But when I was talking to them and they were saying how nice it is to breastfeed and how good it is for the, for them, obviously I want the best for him so I thought well I'll try and see how I go [laughs].

So what was your experience prior to getting pregnant of breastfeeding?

I hadn't, I didn't know anybody that's ever done it, my mum breastfed me and that was all I knew [laughs] I hadn't seen anybody else do it, all my friends that had babies had always bottled, so I think that's why I wasn't quite sure about it, because I'd never seen anybody do it, I'd never known anybody do it other than my mum obviously [laughs] that was twenty-nine years ago, so it was a, a long time.

Did you talk to her about it?

No not until I went to antenatal and it was brought up by them. Yeah so until I'd been to antenatal and it, it had been brought up, because I'd never really, even whilst pregnant until I went to antenatal I'd never thought, contemplated, thought about it. Is that okay? [laughs].

So you decided that you might give it a go?

Yeah [laughs].

And?

And then obviously when I was in, I don't know it just seemed more natural than I ever thought it would do. And then when it was a case of the fact that he wouldn't take, latch on, and I just thought, 'Well it's natural for you to latch on, why aren't you latching on?' [laughs], you know, it's, I'd completely, my idea of it had completely done a like a flip turn on itself and it was just, it just felt so right that, that was the way nature had intended you to feed so why aren't you feeding that way [laughs]? So I just persevered and, and now I'm really glad I did.

So you're really glad you did?

Yeah, really glad I did.

Why?

Why? It's, it's nice contact with, between us, it's obviously doing him good because obviously it's got all the best things, breastmilk's supposed to be the best. He's putting on weight so I know that it's working, it's got enough fat and all the nutrients that he needs in it so, and while, while it's supposed to be the best brain food or something [laughs] so I might as well give him the best start I can [laughs].

 

She received so much advice about breastfeeding that she began dreaming about it and woke to find...

She received so much advice about breastfeeding that she began dreaming about it and woke to find...

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I don't know because he was quite a, because I got quite a lot of help actually in my antenatal class from, and not just from the, the lady that run it but from the mothers who was breastfeeding at, you know, for their other children that they'd breastfed, so I was quite fortunate in that respect, the fact that I'd got quite lot of advice beforehand and also I've read a lot of the breastfeeding leaflets that you get given. In fact to a point where before he was born I was dreaming I was breastfeeding, and only on the last sort of few dreams of me breastfeeding I would actually leak in, in the bed, and I would, my breasts would leak whilst I was dreaming [laughs] so I found that really quite odd, but it was like my brain was, obviously taking in all the leaflets that I'd read and all the information I'd been given and was processing into like a training programme in my mind, it was really quite special [laughs]. So I was quite fortunate in that respect, because I would literally wake up thinking 'have I had my baby? No, no it's still inside me' and my pillow, my bed would be all wet where my boobs were been [laughs], so they would just leak just to reinforce the fact that it could happen [laughs] I think [laughs], quite strange.

Footnote' For discussion about leaking see 'Talking about' Getting started with breastfeeding' Early experiences' Sensation of breastfeeding'.

 

Her fourteen week old son is hungrier for some feeds than others, feeds more frequently in the...

Her fourteen week old son is hungrier for some feeds than others, feeds more frequently in the...

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Well he feeds when he wakes up, then we sort of play and talk for a little bit and then he gets a bath, and then he feeds about half an hour after that, then he'll probably feed about two, two and a half hours after that again. And then he'll probably sort of go on like a three, three and a half, three hour cycle until the evening and then he'll feed like every hour to an hour and a half. So he really sort of like bulks up in the evening before bedtime.

How do you know when he wants to be fed?

He sort, he sort, we've sort of got it down to like a, a communication, like a talk, he goes [makes baby noise] sort of thing [laughs]. We'll check his nappy and if it's not that then I know that it's, it's a feed that he's after, and he sort of latches straight on so. If I get, if I offer it to him and he's not hungry then just looks away and doesn't sort of make contact with my breast at all so, I know if he's hungry or not.

And can you describe a feed in close detail, what you're doing, how long, is he having both sides, that sort of thing?

It depends, how, how it depends on how he feeds, 'cause sometimes he does, and he's hungrier than others obviously. And if I latch, I latch him on to one side and if he takes, if he takes a while to sort of eat, excuse me, then he's probably just wanting a drink and it's probably not like a full, full feed that he's having, whereas if you've suckled on he go, he just goes for it when he's really hungry and it, you can feel yourself if you've got like a full breast you can feel it literally emptying. And then at the end he'll sort of latch on, latch on, latch on and he'll sort of come off and on, and coming off and on, and coming off and on and if he does that then I offer the other one because, he, he's obviously not getting enough out of the one I've got left. So if I do that then he latches straight onto the other until he's finished but he's, he does tend to latch off, if I offer him both he does tend to latch off quite soon onto the second. He doesn't sort stay there long.

So he comes off on his own?

Oh yeah he always.

When he's finished?

Yeah he always comes off on his own I never take him off. So, just literally however long he wants [laughs] to be there for, but he doesn't take that long now, to start with it was, it was taking sort twenty, twenty-five, sometimes thirty minutes but I think his suckle must have got better because it's probably ten, fifteen now but he seems to still empty me as well, so I think he's just, his sucks probably just got quicker [laughs]. Initially it was quite tiring obviously, but we've managed to get him into a little routine now where he goes to bed about eleven and he doesn't wake up till seven so [laughs] I can't complain at all. But on the evening he does feed every hour to an hour and a half, it's like he's bulking up before he goes to bed, and then the second he wakes up he gets his, he gets a feed and then after his bath he gets another feed. So he does tend to sort of build up, empty himself while he sleeps all night and then feeds again to fill up.

 

For the first week, her nipples were sore for the first couple of suckles only of a feed and then...

For the first week, her nipples were sore for the first couple of suckles only of a feed and then...

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Initially, to start with obviously it, your nipples are a little raw was probably the way I'd describe it, it wasn't so much painful, and I was fortunate in the fact that they didn't crack but then I used that Lansinoh Cream right from the beginning to prevent that from happening, and then a couple of weeks after that I think we both just got used to it really and my nipples had hardened up enough not to be an issue, you know not be a problem.

Can you describe that soreness when you first got the baby home?

The, the first, the first sort of week when you, the milk just starts coming out it's like a, a sharp pain, but it only lasts a couple of suckles and then it's gone. So I mean it's literally, you know, you get him on, you go and then it's over and then it's just like straight through to normal feeding. But now I don't get that at all now, not even the initial thing it's completely gone, it went after about a week and a half that.

 

Going home was overwhelming at first until she was able to get her baby to breastfeed properly.

Going home was overwhelming at first until she was able to get her baby to breastfeed properly.

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We came home on the fourth day and I think I'd been breastfeeding, I'd breastfed that night and then I breastfed that morning and they let me come home. But I think because obviously I'd been trying for so long they knew I knew what to do it was just a case of getting to grips with it [laughs].

Okay and what was it like coming home?

It was actually overwhelming. It didn't think it would be, I thought, 'Oh yeah I've managed to get it down pat and now it will be fine when I get home', and my parents were still here, they left as I got home, so I managed to spend some time with them for a few hours and then they had to go for work commitments. But once it was just me, him and [husband] and I tried to latch him on and he wouldn't latch on, and I knew he was hungry and I thought, 'Well you've been latching for', you know, 'the last couple of feeds what's your problem now?' and I did get upset I thought 'oh God I'm not going to be able to do this', 'cause he just wouldn't latch on. Oh [baby chokes] choke, choke [laughs]. 'Cause he wouldn't latch on and I was just really kind of upset with it, so [husband] took him off me so that I could calm down 'cause I don't think that was helping him then once I'd started to get upset I think he could sense it, and then he was just getting more, then he started to get upset so [husband] just took him away from me, allowed me to calm down and the second he came back he went straight on. So I was like all that upset for nothing it was obviously just because he was in a new place, he was too nosy about his surroundings that he didn't latch on. And he's like that now if I'm breastfeeding him out and about at playgroups, he feeds for just long enough for him to get rid of the starvation thing that he's got going and then he's off and he's looking around and he's too nosy I think [laughs].

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