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Interview 30

Age at interview: 26
Brief Outline: Enjoyed breastfeeding, few difficulties, support network extremely important to her especially family, friends and the breastfeeding support group, La Leche League.
Background: At the time of interview, this 26 year old, White British woman had a 2 year old daughter whom she had breastfeed for 2 years. A Peer Counsellor Programme administrator, she was married to a head waiter/plasterer.

More about me...

The realities of having a baby didn't really sink in for this woman until after the birth. Then she was in the fortunate position of having extended family support, few other demands on her time and being able to concentrate on getting to know her baby. Breastfeeding became very important to her and she loved doing everything for her daughter but eventually realised that she had inadvertently not allowed her husband to form his own relationship with his child. She discussed the relationship issues with a La Leche League Leader and read 'Becoming a Father' How to Nurture and Enjoy Your Family' (by William Sears, published by La Leche League International in 2003) which includes how fathers bond with their babies and the importance of that relationship. She says that the book was more of a benefit to her than to her husband. She faced similar emotional issues after weaning when she realised that there was no longer anything that someone else could not do for her baby. Looking back she says that 'proud' is a good word to describe her breastfeeding experience. She is very proud that she managed to change so many people's opinions of breastfeeding, proud of what her daughter achieved while she was breastfeeding and proud that she 'kept strong throughout'.
 
 

She expected her baby to feed frequently at first and kept a diary of feed times for one day....

She expected her baby to feed frequently at first and kept a diary of feed times for one day....

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She fed very often I remember she fed a lot but, I think that's one of the things that I went in expecting, you know when I, even before, even without practically thinking about things, I knew that a baby could feed you know every half an hour, they are young they need a lot of food, they need re-filling quickly. So, I think, I remember that one day, writing up a diary because she seemed to be feeding all the time, and just writing down times of nappy changing and things like that, and, actually she was only feeding like every hour which, when you, when you've not really got anything else but your baby as a focus, it's not really that much. At night I don't think she, I don't think she fed an amazing amount and it slowed down quite gradually but over a fairly short period of time I'm sure in the first couple of days she was feeding, just as she'd feed in the day, I think it was around every two hours, although I never clock watched so it was never an exact time and I'm sure she did that at night as well but I was never, overly affected by that because she was so close and getting her in and out wasn't ever a problem. And then, she just gradually cut down her feeds so that she was just not feeding very much in the night at all.

So she slept longer between feeds?

Yeah she slept longer between feeds but then she went a little bit longer in the day between feeds as well but once because she learnt night-time very quickly, may be it's because she was so close so we never had to turn the light on, so it was everything was done in the dark so, she did associate the dark with her sleep time so I mean, maybe it was that, that's what I personally think it was but, but you just never know.

Did you change her in the night?

In the first couple of weeks I changed her but breastfed poo's, breastfed babies' poo's don't have as you know the same effect on their bottoms so if there was a time when I was overly tired and I knew she had pooed, I could leave her until the next time and it she was never I mean she never ever got sore it's only recently that she's ever got sore so, I did change her a couple of times but even then I had everything next to me and we never turned the light on I'm fairly lazy once I get into bed [laughs] and I, reluctant to get up and turn the light on and things like that so.

So the nights were very low key?

Yeah, yeah, we never, and because, my husband was always next to me asleep, although he's quite a heavy sleeper I didn't know how, you know, how much he could be pushed to wake up and he had work the next morning and things like that so, even if I did talk to her, it was very quiet very calm voice because I didn't want my husband to wake up, so everything was kind of kept quite quiet and mellow at night-times.

 

She developed very sore nipples on day three. She got help with positioning her baby and used a...

She developed very sore nipples on day three. She got help with positioning her baby and used a...

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I had a couple of difficulties, I was expecting, I must admit, I was slightly cocky, for want of a better word, about the fact that I didn't think I'd ever have any problems, you know I've got people who would help me and I thought I had all the background and knowledge I needed but over, I had a caesarean birth, so, I was on a lot of morphine, I was quite, well drugged up basically, I had quite a lot of pain killers going through my system so, on about, I think it was day three I was supposed to stay in hospital for six days but I only stayed in for three because I just don't like hospitals at all, that wasn't really the birth that I'd planned, so on about day three I found that I was getting really sore, really sore nipples, just right on the end and obviously I had my mum there and I had another La Leche League Leader who funnily enough I asked, I felt more comfortable asking for help, so I asked her and she basically talked me through positioning, and within about, I think within two or three feeds it was completely pain free again so, well I thought it had been pain free all along but obviously I'd had a lot of pain killers, so, within two or three feeds, definitely by the next day it was completely pain free, I remember changing positions, like the rugby ball under the arm and things like that, to kind of try and adjust it.

OK and for your sore nipples did you apart from the football hold changing position and stuff, did you use anything else?

Mainly for my, for the soreness, I used just positioning I did you know tried things like pulling her chin down a little bit making her open her mouth a bit wider and things like that, I also did use creams, I used Lansinoh.

Did you find it helped?

Lansinoh was excellent it meant that the end of the nipple which had been going a little bit white on the end because obviously now I know that was positioning and your nipples should pretty much come out as they went in and it was coming out with like a white tip and it meant that white tip didn't ever scab over or you know become irritable and it didn't rub on anything because the Lansinoh was there it was like a barrier and also it meant that I didn't have to wash it off before I latched her on and it was just easy.

 

She practised breastfeeding techniques in front of a mirror to make sure that she was comfortable...

She practised breastfeeding techniques in front of a mirror to make sure that she was comfortable...

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Feeding in public was something that really worried me, I didn't think, I'm quite an outgoing person, I didn't think it would ever be something that bothered me at all but actually especially the first couple of weeks when, I was comfortable about feeding but not comfortable exposing myself and I never, and I was really anti-exposing myself because I wanted breastfeeding to be a positive thing and I didn't want to ever feel like, feel uncomfortable outdoors and then think well I can never do this again. I always wanted to make sure that I could do it anywhere and I'd feel relaxed and people would feel relaxed around me and other people's opinions on me feeding and things like that really mattered I had a couple of friends, none of my friends my age have children, so for them it was a huge thing to watch me feed and we never exposed ourselves and things like that, it wasn't, and we didn't really talk about breasts or handle our breasts or anything like that and so it was a huge issue at first feeding, but I found that if I wore stretchy tops because I had a caesarean you have six weeks kind of period when you're not supposed to do anything however you do so after a couple of weeks I practised techniques at home to feed while I was out, well you know in front of a mirror to see what people could see and what kind of angles to get and what were the best clothes to wear and things like that.

And did that give you confidence?

Yeah it gave me confidence because it gave me a lot of confidence because I knew that then even when I was feeding her nobody could see and it was never going to be something that could bother anyone else because they couldn't see anything for it to bother them so I always fed with like stretchy tops, I never used buttons because there's too much like exposing. After a couple of weeks she started to pull off and look around at different noises so a stretchy top meant I could whip it down quickly so feeding in public although I thought it was going to be a huge issue, after the first couple of times and actually one of my first times feeding her out was in the middle of town, she's screaming I can't cope with it, it's a really emotional time for me and I sat down on a wall and fed her because I had no other option and I really thought that would have put me off but not one person gave me a second glance and nobody, even everybody just assumed I was cuddling my new born baby, no one ever looked at me and you know in an odd way or anything like that and so, that really gave me confidence to think I can do this and it's never going to affect anyone else and it's and it's you know going to be the best thing for me, the easiest thing for me I just need some nappie's and some wipes and we can go anywhere yeah [laughs] and it was reassuring definitely I mean, getting the hang of feeding while I was out was a real, real bonus.

Yeah, thank you. That's true, did you have any other hiccups or problems in the first six months or so?

I never really had amazing problems I think I am quite good at overcoming problems, you know, quite quickly and more a coper than anything else so sometimes I had issues about what people said about breastfeeding or how long I was going to breastfeed and it was more because I have a lot of friends who don't have children and it's not the way their life's going and things so they were intrigued, so they'd ask me questions that sometimes made me feel a bit difficult and think you know they'd ask me like, 'Well how long do you plan to feed for?' And I'd say, 'As long as she needs I'm not sure' and they would say things like, 'Well what if that means you know till she is four?' And I'd say, 'Well you know I'll approach that when I come to it' ,you know maybe I won't feel comfortable when she is tha
 

She recommends setting up support networks, taking time to discover the breastfeeding...

She recommends setting up support networks, taking time to discover the breastfeeding...

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To a for a new mother who's planning to breastfeed I would say, 'Make sure you've got all your support networks in place, make sure you've got a lot of time to relax and a lot of time to discover your baby and discover the breastfeeding relationship lots and lots of skin to skin contact definitely a really big positive and if you have any problems at all get in contact with someone before they get so bad that you can't bear them.'

 

When she looked back, “proud” was the word that she used to describe how she felt about her...

When she looked back, “proud” was the word that she used to describe how she felt about her...

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I'm very proud of the fact that I've changed people's opinions on breastfeeding I'm very proud of the fact that I managed to breastfeed comfortably and make other people feel comfortable about breastfeeding. I think my whole breastfeeding relationship with me and my daughter is definitely something that 'proud' is the main word that I'd look back and use for it now. I'm proud that my daughter achieved what she achieved while she was breastfeeding, I'm proud that I managed to change so many people's opinions and, I'm proud that I kept strong throughout you know everything and always came through so yeah, proud is definitely a huge word when it comes to me and my breastfeeding relationship.

 

She describes her let-down as a tingling feeling and the sensation of breastfeeding as pleasurable.

She describes her let-down as a tingling feeling and the sensation of breastfeeding as pleasurable.

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Did you feel your let-down?

I thought that I had felt my let-down a couple of times I felt tingling especially in the early weeks I felt a tingling and then I could watch my milk come out as soon as the tingling had like passed so, I'm convinced that that was my let-down happening. I never felt any pain with the let-down and that was, it was literally only, up till about, up till she was about six weeks, and after that I just didn't feel anything. I mean it didn't hurt I could always feel her feeding I think you always feel you should be able to feel, it's not, you know, you've got nerves in your end of your nipple as well so.

Can you describe that feeling at all?

The feeling of her feeding was, almost like a pleasurable feeling sometimes especially if you had got slightly engorged especially in the first couple of weeks, it was a relief when she fed it felt like she was, kind of emptying what needed to be emptied and it felt natural and that's what she was there for and it wasn't just something that benefited her which I knew it did, it benefited me as well.

 

She had several ways to relieve engorgement, including feeding the baby, having a hot shower,...

She had several ways to relieve engorgement, including feeding the baby, having a hot shower,...

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Engorgement for me was, it was never to the point where my breasts were bursting, but it was to the point where they were uncomfortable and, I would always try and feed her straight away when I felt engorged because it was a relief when she fed [laughs] but if she didn't want to feed or she'd just fed or something like that then I would have a hot shower, I'd run a hot shower on my breasts and, even though they felt hot when they were engorged, it would for some reason it would cool them down and it would just you know it was almost like this is you know they're hot but this is hotter kind of thing or a cool flannel but, obviously that's not amazingly practical when you [laughs] when you can't get up and have a shower all the time but I tried I did, like a knuckle and what I have been told a technique to use if you ever have blocked ducts or mastitis kind of things, it like get your hand your fist into a like draw a fist and massage down from the top to the nipple all the way round the breast and it means that you leak a little bit and it's quite good in the early days that the colostrum so you don't pour it everywhere but I did that like all the way round my breasts, I tried that and I also hand expressed but I learned hand expressing when I was about thirty-six weeks pregnant so, I it was a technique that I kind of got the hang of and that was obviously I think that was my best kind of weapon against engorgement.

 

She could have gone out for a few hours at a time while her daughter slept but she didn't want to...

She could have gone out for a few hours at a time while her daughter slept but she didn't want to...

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Okay. What about going out at night? When did you start? Were you able to ever do that? How did you manage it? 

[Daughter] was quite predictable at night after a couple of months so I always had the opportunity, she would leave maybe four and a half hours in between she would be very fussy and things around seven o'clock, seven to maybe nine o'clock but after that she would settle down and be down for maybe you know four, four and a half hours and so I could always guarantee that I could have left her for that time and gone out, and I know that a lot of people had said that breastfeeding was tying in that way but for me I could have always done that and I had that opportunity for a long time and never ever used it, I never wanted to leave her I never it just didn't cross my mind to leave her when I did get invited out I knew that this was a time when [daughter] needed me and, I'd hate the thought of her waking up and me not being there and not only that but, how long was it going to last for and realistically it's over now and it wasn't a very long time and in the grand scale of how long [daughter]'s going to be with me that was just nothing at all and so staying in just didn't you know just didn't matter at all. I also, I mean I went out a lot with her at night so I would feed her put her down in you know in the pushchair keep her right next to me at any point when she woke up I could feed her I could go out have a couple of glasses of white wine we could go to a restaurant we could you know socialise with friends still go round to friends' houses and I would always take her with me and that way she could feed whenever she wanted to and she always knew that I was there and now I think that's been a hundred per cent positive because she knows that I would never ever leave her and even I've spent one night away from her and on that night she asked for me when I would have normally been there but she was never upset because you know I asked my sister who was looking after her you know if she ever asked for me tell her, 'Mummy will be back very soon mummy's thinking of you mummy loves you' the things that I would have told her had I been there and so, it was just reassuring for her and she knew that I would you know I was always coming back so she just got on and did it.

 

She developed a strong emotional bond with her daughter and had to work hard at allowing other...

She developed a strong emotional bond with her daughter and had to work hard at allowing other...

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There was a couple of nights when I, you know when my husband who hasn't got so much breastfeeding background, you know, [daughter] was awake quite a lot in the night and he said, 'Oh, you know, well why did you why are you breastfeeding anyway, why don't you just bottle feed', you know that kind of thing but he didn't really have a background in either way and the only background that he has is just through friends that he's seen so he's not really got any knowledge on it really [laughs] so but I talked my way out of that one and convinced him that he was talking rubbish and not me.

What did you say?

Actually, I think I got quite angry 'cause I think I was wound up at the time anyway because the baby was crying and, you know, distressed, and it wasn't down to breastfeeding, it was just down to, we're both over tired, we're not, you know, it is, only being back from hospital a couple of days, that kind of thing, just she wanted to be awake and I wanted to be asleep and I think I got quite snappy and basically said, 'Breastfeeding is the only way [laughs] [daughter] you know this is the only thing I'm going to do, she is only so young, you know', I mean I don't think I'd have ever been pushed into anything else but, you never know [laughs] so, yeah, but from there, I mean it wasn't plain sailing, I don't think either breast or bottle feeding ever is plain sailing 'cause babies have problems and it's not necessarily related to their feeding but they have problems.

Introducing a bottle was never an issue for us, it was never ever going to be an option, it wasn't something that I ever considered and I know that my, the things that my husband missed out on when she was very, very young was not the feeding, I could feed and he could do everything else and had I let him I think he quite willingly would have done everything else but, no [laughs] we never really communicated enough right at first I mean up to about six months after that, we kind of worked our way around everything but, he never missed out on feeding her, and especially once she started solids, he realised that actually it was a chore for him and he really could have done without it and we started solids, just finger foods we never spoon fed [daughter] so obviously for the first couple of months, may be months, may be weeks, the food that had started on the table ended up on the floor and he used to say things like, 'Well, I'll just cut the middle man out and throw it straight on the floor' you know so, he realised actually how much he didn't miss out on her on the feeding thing and then, and after a couple of months he took advantage of the fact that I was breastfeeding and that I, it was a huge comfort for [daughter] and it wasn't just food and if she fell over or she cried and he felt difficult in that situation then he would hand her back, you know, 'She needs, she needs food' and it, and it would calm her down straight away and she, you know and she was never a kind of crying baby, never, it wasn't ever something that you would say she was, 'cause.

So apart from that one time, he was totally supportive of the feeding, right behind you by the sound of it?

Yeah, I mean he, I think he was, he was a hundred per cent behind me doing what I wanted to do and if at any point I had felt uncomfortable about it, then I'm sure he would have, you know, weighed up the options with me but he, from an outsider point of view, because since then we've looked back and we've talked about you know what situations we were in and things and, I think the thing that he found hard was the fact that I didn't let him in enough, not anything to do with the feeding, you know just not enough playing with her, a lot of people don't realise that little n
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