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Interview 28

Age at interview: 36
Brief Outline: La Leche League Leader, long-term breastfeeder, needed to take care with latching on, engorgement, dealt with occasional blocked ducts herself, breastfed while pregnant, tandem fed baby & toddler.
Background: This 36 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 19 month old daughter. She also had sons aged 9 & 7 and a 4 year old daughter, all breastfed. A nanny prior to having her own children, she was married to a self-employed plumber.

More about me...

A trained nanny, this woman breastfed each of her four children, with support, until they weaned themselves naturally. She doesn't remember receiving any information about breastfeeding during her nanny training but did come into contact with a friend who had worked for somebody who knew about La Leche League. It would not be exaggerating to call this a life changing event. While she was pregnant with her first child, this woman attended La Leche League meetings which she says had a huge influence on her breastfeeding experience because she then knew where to turn for help when she ran into problems. She wishes that she knew then what she knows now and thinks that breastfeeding enabled her to parent her children in a better way. She became more and more involved in La Leche League with subsequent children until she became a Leader herself. She also became more and more relaxed in her mothering and tuned into her baby's needs with each child. Her mother, whom she says is also her best friend, lives close by and has been a huge support to her and her family.

 

A friend introduced her to La Leche League meetings while she was pregnant. She saw women happily...

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A friend introduced her to La Leche League meetings while she was pregnant. She saw women happily...

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I was really lucky I had a friend who had her daughter the year before I had my son and she found out about La Leche League from somebody that she worked for and she went to meetings when she was pregnant with her daughter and then when I became pregnant with my son she invited me to go along to meetings with her, so it's her that I thank really for introducing me to La Leche League.

Did you find that useful?

Very, very I think, I do often wonder whether I would have had problems with breastfeeding if I hadn't gone to La Leche League meetings. I think I probably attended three meetings before I had my son and I can't really remember a lot about them, but I think what I gained from them was that breastfeeding shouldn't hurt and that all the previous information that I'd kind of gathered in my head from other mums and friends that had breastfed, was that breastfeeding hurts and it's painful and you have to go through all the problems of sore nipples, but I think the one thing I gained from La Leche League meetings before I had my son was that it shouldn't hurt, breastfeeding doesn't have to hurt, you haven't got to harden your nipples off to breastfeed and that's my ultimate thing I think I got from those meetings, not only that I also had the support of my friend who had breastfed and I knew that if I was having problems that she was there and also that I'd got the information from the Leaders that I met when I went to the meetings, so yeah that's that was my experience with him.

Did you go to any antenatal classes or anything like that?

I did, I went to some at my local hospital. I didn't go to my local ones and I went to some at my local hospital and we had a breastfeeding video. I remember it being a breastfeeding video and I remember not being impressed at all with what they did about breastfeeding because I'd been to my La Leche League meeting. 

So what was it about this breastfeeding video at the antenatal class that you think you didn't like?

I think it was, it's a long time ago so it's difficult to remember, but I vaguely remember it being very prescriptive about this is what you should do and, and lots of information about how good it was to breastfeed but not actually any of the real realities of breastfeeding. What to expect when you have a baby because I think that is more important. You can't show anyone how to breastfeed or tell anyone how to breastfeed and they weren't seeing it from the perspective of the baby, and what the baby expects when it's born and other things as well, how the birth, because breastfeeding can be influenced by the kind of birth that you have as well and I don't remember it being, it was just very prescriptive about this is what you do, and I, I vaguely remember it being kind of coupled with some talk about bottle feeding as well and maybe a video, then something to do with bottle feeding which I don't think they are allowed to do now I think that's probably not allowed, you're not allowed to promote bottle feeding at all.

So this was in contrast to what you were getting from the La Leche League meetings?

Yeah, see my first experience of a La Leche League meeting, I can remember there was one mum there who actually went to my antenatal classes as well, she was there. There was a mum who'd got a baby who was probably about three or four months old and just seeing her, she was responding to her babies needs every time her baby needed her and, her baby didn't cry to be fed, she just, the baby would just fidget and then the mum would feed her and I think just seeing mums, seeing mums happy, babies happy, mums happy.
 

After a quick birth and meconium in her waters, her baby did not want to feed. She says that she...

After a quick birth and meconium in her waters, her baby did not want to feed. She says that she...

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I had a very quick birth, my son was born very quickly and I nearly only really just made it into hospital [laughs], we went in an ambulance and he was born. He wasn't interested in feeding at all which I tried to feed him and obviously for my husband it was a completely new experience, completely because he hadn't been to any meetings he had, you know, I'd not, not really involved him in that really other than that I wanted to breastfeed and he we, yeah we, I tried to feed him first and he didn't he wasn't interested and it was, my son was born on Christmas Day so [laughs] I remember it vividly it was the day after, it was Boxing Day afternoon when my sisters came to visit, that actually no, it wasn't my sisters I think it was my husband's Granddad who was there and he wanted, and he suddenly wanted to feed and he fed, quite small, quite a small feed it wasn't very long and then I think he fed once more probably that night but he had a lot of mucus and he kept coughing, coughing that up and choking and gagging and I think he wasn't ready to feed because of that it was like he needed to get all of that up, but then we went home the day after Boxing Day and I remember feeding him probably before we came home I don't remember him feeding that much, in hospital but when we got home, the night, that night we got home he fed and he fed and he fed all night long and I can remember like yesterday sitting up in bed and I'm looking at my husband and saying, 'Well if this is parenthood we're never going to survive this?' [laughs] because we just sat up, I mean, he was, he was great, he sat up with me all night long and he just he just fed, obviously he was ready to feed and, I don't remember having any soreness or problems, sorry we.

Why do you think he wasn't ready to feed sooner? The mucus obviously but was there anything about the birth? Was it a medicated birth?

No, I had I didn't use any pain relief, well I used a tens machine but I think because it was very it was quite dramatic actually it was when I look back I always wish that we would have stayed home because he what happened my labour was it'd started my labour started very early in the morning and it was just niggles and then it was it was something like I think it was about two o'clock half past two when it suddenly kind of things got you know got going and then it got quite painful and we called the midwife 'cause at that time in our area midwives came to you and then when you were ready to go in the midwife went in with you and delivered you it, it was a really good system and, we asked them to come sooner than they were supposed to be so I don't think they left you for three or four hours and she came once she was only probably about ten minutes early than she was going to be, and she took one look at me and I think I was eight centimetres at that point and but leading up to that I I'd gone upstairs to the toilet and then I'd gone and I couldn't get back downstairs and I was sick on my bed I'd been sick and it was all very kind of scary because I just didn't 'cause for me I probably thought I'd got another twelve hours of labour I hadn't realised how soon, and the midwife came in and she checked me and she said, 'No, that's it, ambulance, we need to get you in now' but looking back I was in my bedroom I was on my bed and if we'd have stayed there another fifteen minutes then he could have been born at home so we went we went in the ambulance literally by the time I got downstairs the ambulance was here we went and, you know, got by the time just literally got to the delivery suite in time and he was born, now when at some obviously at some stage they'd noticed that there was some meconium in the water, in my waters and, so when he was born they had to, I don't know what they call it they had to suction him out so I think that might have made his throat sore
 

Her baby fed frequently one night and then the milk came in. She had to take extra care with...

Her baby fed frequently one night and then the milk came in. She had to take extra care with...

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So the evening of day two, he just fed and fed?

Yeah, fed and fed and fed, yeah all that night literally felt like it, felt like all night but I don't think, I think it was probably started at, before he did we probably didn't go to bed early, which is classic in our house and we probably didn't go to bed till about eleven o'clock and then the excitement of being home, being back here and he probably then, when we were ready to go to sleep he was ready to feed and it just was, it literally felt like all night but it was great 'cause we didn't have to get up the next day [laughs] only having one at that point so.

Did that bring your milk in?

Do you know I can't remember [laughs] I think I can remember it, I remember the feeling, feeling very full and very hot, my breasts feeling very hot and full and, it probably was the night, that day or next day it could have been the day after though, it's difficult to remember [laughs] because it was a long time ago, but I, that is my, that is my experience with him was my, the only time I from all four of my breastfeeding experiences of being engorged, feeling full, I didn't feel that with the others.

So what did you do for it?

I just fed him yeah, just fed him, I don't, I didn't do any of the people talk about cabbage leaves and things. I didn't need to do any of that I just fed him and I knew as well that it's not just milk, it's all the other fluids and the lymph and it isn't just that your breasts are completely full of milk and that they've got this big cavernous [laughs] sack of milk so yeah I just remember feeding him. I vaguely remember having, being a bit more difficult to get him latched on because I was engorged, but not yeah not.

So you just had to take the extra care with the latch, you didn't have to do anything?

Yeah, no just making sure that being more careful and I remember having to, having to keep, you know, to putting him on and then taking him off and putting him on again to make sure he was right, then I remember one, I can't remember when it would be but I remember the one midwife helping me with positioning, no not with positioning helping me be, be comfortable 'cause I was sat on our sofa and it's quite high up and I was sat with my toes on tiptoe 'cause I hadn't, I hadn't got to the stage where I, you can just cross your legs and be really comfy and I was trying to sit up right so that I was in the right position to feed and she suggested I got some phone books [laughs] to put my feet up so that my feet were more comfy, that's the main tip I actually remember from a midwife. I don't, I didn't get well I don't think I needed any help from midwives really, I just managed it myself I was lucky.

 

She let her babies take the lead regarding solid foods and thinks that it is not a sign of...

She let her babies take the lead regarding solid foods and thinks that it is not a sign of...

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Yes, solids, starting solids, because of my experiences as a nanny and my experience well from you know from what the standard thing was to wean at four months old, I did that I mean he wasn't he was nearly five months when I weaned him, not weaned him started him on solids and I started spooning slops into his mouth you know for weeks on end and they'd come back out again and I'd spoon them back in again and I spent hours making healthy purees making all these wonderful things for him to eat, whizzing up food and he's nine and he's an appalling eater still [laughs], he eats really well, he does eat, he eats well, but he's really bad at trying new things and he'll try the tiniest thing and put it into his mouth and ugh, now with my second child, I found out about not starting solids, just letting the baby take the lead when they were ready and I did that with him and he was eight and a half months when he started to eat solid food. We went on holiday just before he was six months old and I was determined that we weren't going to do it till we came home because I thought it would be so easy to go on holiday with just a breastfed baby and I came back from holiday and offered him things that we were having, he wasn't interested at all and every time I took him to be weighed, which I think I took him a bit more than I would have done because I was worried that, because I hadn't done this before and every time I took him to be weighed he still was piling a pound on a week and the health visitor used to clap her hands in delight well I didn't take him every week I probably took him every two or three weeks and she would clap her hands in delight and say, 'Wow!' and she was so supportive she never pressurised me at all to start him on solids but by eight and a half months he started to eat bits.

How did you know when he was ready?

Well I, from I think from him being six, six and a half months old we used to sit him on my knee or he was sat in the high chair, so he was sitting for a start he would, I would wait and he would take things say he would take something off my plate or he would if I was trying to put something to my mouth he would take it off me which babies because that can be kind of misconstrued to thinking that, you know, if you're on the phone or you're, oh I don't know, you've got a pen, or you've got it in your mouth your baby might take it off you, a younger baby might do but that's because whatever you've got your baby wants and they want to try things in their mouths and I think he was doing that then, so everything we had he wanted and he did that for a while and he would put them in his mouth and he would, play with it and it would come out and it would be all over the floor and then one day, at around eight and a half months, he just started to, things started to go in you know, he would he would swallow things and he would eat things. I would say he was probably nearer to one before we actually had a plate of food with a fork and a spoon, I never fed him he used to just feed himself and he's a fantastic eater now he tries anything and he eats anything, so he eats really well.

And with the girls?

The girls I did the same, my eldest daughter was she was ten, ten and a half months really before she was really bothered she was, it's interesting because she's the third she's a very similar build to my son, my oldest son and she eats, she kind of used to just eat very small amounts but it was probably her from then to probably eighteen months before she really ate any great quantity.

So she was still breastfeeding'

Yeah.

'quite frequently at that stage?

Yeah, very well when I became pregnant with my second because I've nursed I have breastfed through all my pregnancies and if one thing that mums talk about and reasons they say for giving up breastfeeding is because they are tired and I've never found I'm tired because I'm a mum, I'm tired because I've got children I'm tired because I do work for my husband, I'm tired because I do, I'm doing other stuff but I've never seen breastfeeding as being what makes me tired and I've always found that breastfeeding through pregnancy is actually one way that makes you sit down because if you weren't breastfeeding you wouldn't sit down and probably if you've got a toddler running around, with a toddler, you wouldn't sit down half a dozen a times a day and put the telly on and get your book and read like you do if you're breastfeeding, so I've always found that, that nursing through pregnancy hasn't made me tired. In the beginning of still nursing when I'm first pregnant, it's a bit uncomfortable it has been a bit uncomfortable and I've kind of grimaced a bit and probably limited, tried to avoid feeding as much but that was only for weeks you know never for very long and I think probably I can't remember who, but I think one of the kids might've been worse than the others, it wasn't a you know, it wasn't really bad with all four of them, or all three of them I should say and so yes so I've breastfed through pregnancies and then hoped that they would wean by the time the baby came along.

From going to La Leche League meetings and from experiences of other mums and that I've talked to other mums, their babies seemed, their toddlers seemed to have weaned by the time their next baby came along, there was one mum who had tandem fed and I felt at the time it wasn't something that I was that keen on doing but I wasn't completely opposed to it so it would be if it happened it happened anyway, it didn't my son weaned, he weaned himself with I think he was down to one feed in the morning and the way I stopped that was I just used to, I just got up out of bed before it happened and that was it and it was never an issue, he was never, I didn't, he wasn't upset about feeds stopping he just, he just stopped when my second son was born. I can remember saying to my La Leche League Leader, 'What will I do if he asks for it?' and she said to me, 'Don't offer, don't refuse' so if he asks don't refuse him just say, 'Yes, let me just finish feeding the baby then' and he did ask and I did that and when I said, 'Come on then come and sit on my knee' he ran off [laughs] and it and it's like, 'What are you doing?' so he, once he knew he could have it, it wasn't an issue for him and that was it, he never looked back. Next one again he weaned but he was older he was three because I had a bigger gap and he weaned, he was having two feeds, no he was down to one feed, this was the night and I started just around I started when he was three, trying to wean him and he no I didn't start his last feed, would have been around his third birthday and what I did instead of lying in bed and feeding him I just sat on, knelt on the floor and cuddled him and I think we had something like two nights where he didn't have it then the next night he asked for it and I let him because I didn't want him to get upset about it and it went on like that for I think a week and then it just gradually, he just stopped having it and it took me from then which was February till May to wean him off me actually being with him in the room to go to sleep and I gradually, I remember reading a book, got further away from his bed to actually standing on the landing and sorting out the washing to go in the machine that night and that was how I got him to sleep by himself and that was three and then my next daughter, my first, my eldest daughter she again I nursed her through pregnancy but she didn't show any signs of giving up at all
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