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Interview 42

Age at interview: 38
Brief Outline: Difficult birth, engorgement, sore nipples, used nipples shields, unsettled baby required walking, rocking and massage, expressed breast milk for many months, talks about going back to work.
Background: At the time of interview, this 38 year old woman was breastfeeding her 9 month old daughter.

More about me...

Born and reared in London of Afro Caribbean ethnicity, this woman was not breastfed herself and, in spite of helping to bottle feed her two youngest siblings was determined to breastfeed her own baby. She moved to another part of the country and made many lifestyle changes, particularly in relation to diet and exercise, before being able to conceive. The birth of her daughter was protracted and she stayed in hospital for four days in order to get extra help with establishing breastfeeding and be 'looked after and pampered'. Her daughter kept putting her tongue to the roof of her mouth which made latching on difficult and caused engorgement, sore nipples and a lot of pain. Nipple shields helped and were used for many months until the baby rejected them. A windy baby, she was often unsettled at night and needed to be held and walked. Gentle massage seemed to help. This woman found that her milk supply was low in the evenings so she got up early in the morning to express breast milk which she saved for the unsettled evening period when the baby was frustrated. Then she gave her expressed milk to her daughter through a bottle before putting her to the breast to settle her for the night. She did this for several months. After the birth of her baby, who was born in the winter, this woman didn't go out of the house for several weeks and after her partner left early in the morning for work she was at home all day without seeing another soul unless she went for a walk or to the library. She loves reading and is a writer in her 'spare' time. Eventually, the health visitor persuaded her to visit a local breastfeeding drop-in centre where she made new friends and gained support for her breastfeeding.

 

Her antenatal class, run by the hospital, included the use of dolls and balloons to imitate...

Her antenatal class, run by the hospital, included the use of dolls and balloons to imitate...

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What did you know about breastfeeding at that stage?

It was just a, a theory in a book to be quite honest, I hadn't really given it much thought we were encouraged when I went to the antenatal classes to breastfeed. Oh I went to one of the workshops on breastfeeding as well where, we had a doll and we mimicked the doll breastfeeding and it was nothing like I expected it to be because I mean a doll and a natural baby are very different. But it was quite good because they did things, tried to give examples like, the sucking motion by using balloons and things like that and also told us about breast pumps. So it was a lot more real than the theory but I was probably still only around five months pregnant with [daughter] so it didn't seem, it's, it, thank you, it still didn't seem as if it still didn't seem as if, it was that real to me until she was born.

Who ran those antenatal classes?

I think they were run by midwives'

Right, right.

'but I can't remember their names.

You don't know whether it was an NHS Trust or the hospital or?

It was the hospital.

The hospital.

It was the hospital yeah, and they also, they also had specialist midwives who came in to do the breastfeeding classes.

Right, right.

In fact one woman she said that, I mean her daughter was nine, and she said if she could she would've continued to breastfeed because she loved it so much, she was, they were basically people who were very, very enthusiastic about breastfeeding and that enthusiasm carries through to all of the people there, it was a really big class as well they were around, it must have been seventy or eighty of us, it was a big class.

 

She was reassured when her baby put on the weight that she was supposed to.

She was reassured when her baby put on the weight that she was supposed to.

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Her, she was putting on the weight that she was supposed to put on, I was concerned that maybe she wasn't putting on the weight, I know when babies leave the hospital they say they drop, they drop their weight, and she did drop, I can't remember what it was now it's written down somewhere, but she put on the weight she was supposed to put on whenever we went to the checks so that was good, it was reassuring really, 'cause I suppose it's the indication that you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, so, yeah it was okay.

 

She wanted her daughter to gradually get used to a bottle before she returned to work.

She wanted her daughter to gradually get used to a bottle before she returned to work.

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So we've got to gradually introduce the bottle in some shape or form.

Why?

Because I'm concerned that when I go back to work it'll be harder for her, so I'd rather she got used to the bottle now, I'm quite happy if she wants more breastmilk in the form of expressed, I'll do that for her, if she doesn't take to formula but, she has to get used to me not being here, some, someone else is going to have to feed her, you know, whether it's a member of my family or my partner, someone's going to have to feed her and it, it might not necessarily be me. And if she's still attached to the breast when I'm at work it's not going to work, and it's to be more stressful for her, more traumatic.

How old will she be when you go back to work?

She'll be just about to hit twelve months.

And how do you feel about that?

I don't want to go back to work I'd like to stay at home, I wish I could stay at home, I've been lucky though 'cause I've had, I would have had nearly twelve months with her so I've been very fortunate.

So how do you feel about going back to work?

I feel, that I don't want to go back to work, I'd like to stay at home with her, I feel fortunate that I've had the time I've had with her, I'm aware that, things could've been different I might have to have gone, I might have had to have gone back within three to six months, but we were able to stretch it, because after six months it's unpaid, so it's pretty tough, but it was well worth it, because, this isn't time I can get back, these are memories that are going to be, you know, priceless basically, so it's pretty special for me, so I've, I just try and hold on to that really when I go back because bills have to be paid, but at least I've had this time with her, so.

 

She expressed her breastmilk in the mornings so that her husband could be included in the feeding...

She expressed her breastmilk in the mornings so that her husband could be included in the feeding...

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So what's your partner's role been with this, with a breastfed baby?

Well when I first had [daughter] I would, that's again why I used the breast pump, because in the morning I always, it's quite complicated this, in the morning I always did a, I always used the pump and one was for a night feed, and one was for an evening feed. So when he came from work he could feed her, so he'd have that experience of being able to feed her as well, so rather than, because I know, I remember one of the ladies at the, at one of the clinics, she said, 'Oh it's nice to breastfeed because you have the baby all to yourself, because when it's a newborn you have all these people who want to touch and hold her but breastfeeding is something that only I can do' and that's, that is definitely true, but I did want him to be included in the experience which is why I, did the breast pump as well so he'd be able to feed her, even if it's just a little bit of a bottle, so he'd usually feed her the first evening feed at around six thirty when he came from work.

How old was she when you started this routine?

How old was she? Oh we started it straight from hospital really, well no, probably two months, 'cause not straightaway 'cause I mean [sighs], it was difficult enough just to breastfeed her let alone use the pump so, probably three months in, three, four months in, I started using the pump, and I stopped using it around six, seven months 'cause I was just tired [laughs] and by then I had enough milk in the evenings, yeah, so that's how we worked it but, I think he appreciated feeding her in the evenings 'cause it was that, it was the kind of thing that he wouldn't normally do I mean.

What did he say about it?

He enjoyed it, he liked it, yeah he liked it he just sat there and she'd, she'd feed, but usually after she'd had her feed she wanted more so then she came onto my breast and I breastfed her as well, but yeah she liked, she liked that feed and it wasn't usually the feed that got her off to sleep though, it was more the entr'e before the main course [laughs].

So she would usually go to sleep on the breast in'

Yes.

'the evening?

 

It was fun to see her daughter gradually take on different foods but sad to think that it was...

It was fun to see her daughter gradually take on different foods but sad to think that it was...

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I remember when I started solids with [daughter], she was, oh seven months I think, yes because it's six months they recommend isn't it? I think she was around end of six months or seven months, and I tried her with carrots, and she made, she went, 'what's going on here [laughs]?' but she had it, and she actually finished the, it was just a little beginner one, she finished the bottle, and she was fine with it, and then after I thought, 'Whoa' and we were doing really, really well for a couple of days and then we kind of hit a brick wall where she just said, I'm not having any more of this, and she refused, then we had weeks and weeks where she just spat everything back at me and now we're finally getting into the stage where, after months, where she's beginning to eat. Because I was beginning to get concerned she wasn't eating, I thought she'd lose weight.

Did she?

No she didn't actually, she was, and she's okay. But it was really just trial and error, I'd tried her with all kinds of things and there were some she liked more than, she loved apple for a while, then she loved pear, she liked blueberries, she liked carrots, she like pumpkin and swede, and then she didn't, I mean there was some that she never ever, ever liked, and I've just got back into, there were some she liked and then grew out of, when she was sick with the flu, I didn't, I just gave her things I knew she'd like, like the fruit, she likes blueberries, I didn't bother with the whole carrots and peas and cabbage things, but after she had the cold she went off all those foods, I had to start again so I began looking around the different shops and supermarkets for different brands and I found that, another brand now that she's into at the moment so, she's started eating again properly which is great. It's trial and error because she's changing obviously and her tastes are changing but they do say that when you're feeding the baby you should try and maybe give them the same thing for two or three days just to get them used to the taste rather than chopping and changing and giving them one, a different thing this day and another thing a different days so.

I think part of that too is to see if they have any allergies or anything'

Yes.

'like that.

Yes.

If you're chopping and changing you'll never know what it is.

Yes that's right yeah, yeah.

But if it's just one thing and they react'

Yes.

'to it then you know that's what it is.

That's it, yes so, that's been fun actually, it's been fun to see her gradually take on different foods and, she's not that keen on finger foods at the moment, she tends to think they're toys so, that's not working very well but she likes fruit, and she likes water, and she's okay with vegetables but she's not that bothered, so yeah, it's been quite positive so far, in a way it's also sad because I know it's the beginning of the end for breastfeeding, I'm quite sad about that but I don't want to be one of these mums that breastfeeds until she's twelve.
 
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