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Interview 47

Age at interview: 31
Brief Outline: Excellent help with getting breastfeeding established with first child. No problems with either. Anxious about going back to work and being separated from baby.
Background: At the time of interview, this 31 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 6 month old son. She also had a 5 year old daughter, whom she had breastfed. A health care researcher & PhD student, she was married to an entertainment agent.

More about me...

With a family background in breastfeeding this woman just assumed that she would breastfeed her own children. She remembers her mother breastfeeding her brother. She and her mother talked about breastfeeding while she was pregnant and they still talk about the children's progress. After the birth of her daughter, she had the option of going to a smaller hospital to concentrate on getting breastfeeding established. There the midwives checked on every feed, brought the mothers tea and toast and propped their feet up and made sure that the baby was latched on properly. She described that as a 'really nice experience' and as a consequence went home confidently breastfeeding. She has not had any problems with breastfeeding either of her two children. For her, contact with and support from other women who are breastfeeding is 'absolutely paramount' because it allows her to talk things over and to compare notes. With her daughter, she used the internet a great deal for chat room contact with other women and for information. She has not needed that so much with her son because she now lives in a small village outside the city and has local friends who are breastfeeding. Her husband now works from home too, so his support has increased with their second child. Her six months maternity leave had gone very quickly and she was getting anxious about going back to work and being separated from her baby until her health visitor pointed out that it was only for three days a week and most of the time she would be at home with the baby. Because she will be unable to feed him on working days, as she did with her daughter, she is planning to express breastmilk at work whenever she feels full and leave expressed breastmilk with the nursery each day.

 

She saw relative's breastfeeding and assumed that she would too. She remembers her younger...

She saw relative's breastfeeding and assumed that she would too. She remembers her younger...

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Can you think back to prior to your daughter's birth, what did you know about breastfeeding at that time?

Just from personal, well from experience of my mother and relatives who had all breastfed, just assumed it would be easy and that's what I would do'

So you come'

'and that.

'from a breastfeeding family?

Yeah uh-huh, and I suppose I had read a lot about how important breastfeeding is I did a lot of research in mental illness and a lot of the studies that I had read were to do with neuronal development developments so I knew about prostaglandins and the importance of breastfeeding so I was determined that I would breastfeed anyway.

When you say from your mother did you see her feeding siblings?

Yeah my, she fed, I saw her feeding my youngest brother.

Right, and are you the oldest in the family?

Yeah.

Yeah, do you remember much about that?

About her breastfeeding? Yeah I remember her feeding him I remember seeing her feeding him, I remember when she was pregnant with him and then I remember seeing her feeding him, yeah and it being a nice experience, yes yeah.

Have you talked to her about breastfeeding?

Yeah all the time, yeah, when we were when I was starting to breastfeed my daughter and just my experiences all along the way as with all aspects of the babies I sort of spoke to my mum about them yeah, yeah.

And you said aunts as well, you've seen aunts doing it?

Just, I can't remember exactly who in the family, but I just remember always being surrounded by someone, more often breastfeeders than bottlefeeders, just always being aware that was.

So you always assumed that you would breastfeed?

Yeah, yeah.

Yeah you didn't have to make a conscious decision about it?

No I just always assumed that I would and I was at, maybe anti-bottle feeding'

Oh.

'so.

Why?

Just because I always thought 'well breast is best' and for all the reasons that it was the bonding and, my mum had also always spoken about how she felt she really missed out with me because I was born early and she, I was in an incubator for about six months so she couldn't breastfeed me and she found that really difficult so I don't know if that, you know, would've probably made me think, 'Well I really want to do that for the bonding and all the rest of it'.

 

She got “a bit panicked” about going back to work until she realised that she would be at home...

She got “a bit panicked” about going back to work until she realised that she would be at home...

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I was trying to cut down the amount of feeds that I was giving him just now because I'm going back to work on Monday, I was trying to cut them down, trying to up the solids so that I could cut down the feeds, whereas my instinct tells me feed him, don't worry about when it, what time it is, if, offer him a breastfeed and if he takes it he takes it, if he doesn't he doesn't and he'll self-wean but, because I was going back to work I was trying to not do that and the advice was from my mother and other people were saying, 'Don't offer him it, he'll, you know, because otherwise you'll have to keep on expressing at work' but as I was speaking it through with the health visitor, I realised I'm actually going be at home with him, more than I'm going to be at work, so I shouldn't be tailoring my breastfeeding round my three days at work and because I can express fine I'm just not going to worry about it, I'm just going to offer him a feed at the normal times which are mid-morning and mid-afternoon, morning and night, and if he doesn't want it he doesn't want it, and if he does he does. And when I'm at work if I get full I'll just express, I don't want to be dictated to by anyone other than my baby and his needs if you know what I mean, so I feel a lot happier about that now, and I've got plenty in the freezer so, I also bought some ready made formula so that if ever one night I haven't got enough for him the next day to leave with the nursery he can have some formula, so I feel a lot more relaxed about that now. I don't like watching the clock, I like just watching him and letting him dictate whether he needs or not, because he doesn't have an awful lot of fluids, he doesn't, he quite likes water and he quite likes the little fruit juice that I give him but he enjoys his breastfeed as well so.

So will he be in a cr'che?

Yeah he's going to be in the same nursery my daughter goes to, for three day, three full days.

So will you be able to get to him and do that feeding like you did with your daughter?

No, no unfortunately because my husband doesn't work for the hospital any more we can't get a place at the hospital nursery, although I have applied and there is a chance that I might get in, but so he's going to a nursery out here now rather than.

Away from where you work?

Away yeah, so there's no way I could come back to feed him, so and he doesn't have breastmilk at lunchtime he'll just have it mid-morning and mid-afternoon so I'll just leave a bottle and, I have contacted HR [Human Resources] at work and asked them for a room to go and express milk and somewhere to store it and they're looking into getting a room that they I can lock, there's a problem where our offices are none of them lock from the inside so, and I'm not prepared to go and express for him in the toilets 'cause it's, you know, it's his lunch it's not very.

So what sort of response have you had to that request?

Very positive, they haven't managed to locate anywhere yet, and I've actually suggested a few places and asked them to look into it, I've got, I've bought myself a cool bag to, you know, the ice packs just to, to keep it in so if there isn't a little fridge I can use to store it in I can always keep it cool myself, and then just put it in the fridge as soon as I get home it'll be fine, but I'm sure, I'm sure they'll be able to find me somewhere in the hospital.

Today is Thursday, you're going back to work on Monday?

Yeah.

Just talk me through all the feelings
 

When her baby wanted to feed constantly she received help with attaching her. She appreciated the...

When her baby wanted to feed constantly she received help with attaching her. She appreciated the...

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Okay so that first feed obviously was a bit difficult because you weren't sure whether you were doing the right thing?

Yeah I just didn't know how to get started, I didn't know how to hold her or how to prop her up or, how to get her latched on, yeah so it was, it was difficult.

After that did you get better help?

Yeah I did there was a change in staff, over that actual night and she was then hungry, and they go through that phase of where they just feed constantly and I was just began ringing the buzzer and getting them to come and help and she would just, “She's come off again can you help me get her latched on” and they did they helped, and then it was fine. And then I went out to the small hospital and the way they did it was whenever you fed, no matter when it was, no matter what time, they wanted to come and check, and it was a smaller hospital so they had time. But they came and they brought you tea and toast and they propped your feet up and they made sure your baby was latched on so it was really nice, the experience every time you got up for a feed it wasn't, “Oh no, I've gotta get up and feed” and then they were really good, that was a really good experience.

They obviously made you feel good too?

Yeah, it was like a treat because you were getting a cup of tea, and you were getting looked after, and them encouraging, saying how well you were doing, because it is it was hard to begin with when they go through that long, long, long feed in the first few days, yeah it was good, it was fine.

 

Breastfeeding made her sleepy and relaxed. She did not lose weight but waited to diet until her...

Breastfeeding made her sleepy and relaxed. She did not lose weight but waited to diet until her...

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Tell me a little bit more about the impact of breastfeeding on you, you said it makes you sleepy and relaxed, what else does it do for you?

Really close to my baby, I really like the experience, it is a really bonding experience, and it is really, to think that you're their sole, provider is, it's fulfilling I suppose in a way, especially when they're only on breastfeeds, only ever been breastfed and they're not on any solids and you know that they're totally reliant on you for everything, at first it can be overwhelming when you're just getting used to it all, and it can be, you want to escape it, when you're, the other side of it when you're, they're weaning and their starting to go mixed foods and you look at it slightly differently. I think it is a positive experience, yeah sometimes you think, 'Oh I wish I could just get my body back and not have to wear the breastfeeding bras and, pads and, have a big chest' [laughs] all these kind of things but, the pros outweigh all of that, it's nice, that my favourite time of the night is the end of the day giving him his last feed and, him being all full up and satisfied and sound asleep that's nice, and I don't like it if he doesn't take a full feed because I feel that something's amiss and I find that really a positive yeah.

What about your figure? Has breastfeeding had any impact on your figure?

I think to begin with, once with both children there's, I think it helps, it does help everything, go back, like if your stomach muscles sooner than if you didn't breastfeed, but I think for me I will, didn't lose the weight with my daughter until I stopped breastfeeding, until I don't know if it was because it gave me a bigger appetite, or because I didn't go into a really strict diet, because I don't want to diet while I'm breastfeeding, I don't want to.

Why?

You're always told not to diet, not to cut your intake of food, not to do any faddy diets because it can affect the quality of your milk, and some of the diets are just, I've done in the past have been drinks, you know, food replacements and I wouldn't want to do that while I'm, I wouldn't want to take anything that I'm not a hundred percent sure it wouldn't be healthy for my son, so I don't know, I think I've just put him first and just made sure I've been eating healthily. So I think that's probably, has delayed me getting my figure back, I know for other people they get their figure back quicker because they're breastfeeding, but I definitely didn't with my daughter, and I don't expect to with my son either, I seem to retain the weight round my middle and my chest until I've finished breastfeeding. I do find that hard and that's the only reason why I would be tempted to give up sooner, so that I could give up and then get on a really strict diet, but it's too selfish I wouldn't do that, because that, have to carry on and I dare say I could be stricter with what I eat, but I find I have an appetite when I'm feeding as well so it's, it is difficult.

So you eat more?

I think I could starve, for me to lose weight I have to really starve myself and really exercise hard, I don't lose weight by just eating three meals a day I don't, I have to have no bread for breakfast and lunch, you know really be hungry is the only way I lose weight and exercise hard. I just, I can't do that when I'm feeding I just feels it's, that's more important just now it's such a short time, but I have to keep telling myself that, I don't always think that, every now and then I, like with going back to work I panic about that because I'm not going to get into any of my work clothes but.
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Her health visitor advised her to give her baby water as she introduced solids and cut down on...

Her health visitor advised her to give her baby water as she introduced solids and cut down on...

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About what age did you introduce solids and what did you start with?

At the time of having my daughter the guidelines were four and a half or, four to four and a half months so that was when I started with her, and I just started with pureed fruits and baby rice, baby rice made with breastmilk, baby cereal made with breastmilk, and then, different vegetables and eventually I added in some protein as she got older, and I started giving her water at about four months as well.

How did you give her the water?

Pre-boiled, cooled pre-boiled water, just in the Tommee Tippee cup, sometimes just out of a beaker with a lid as well, she could manage it.

What made you decide to give her the water?

Just that the health visitor's advice was always well, just when you're cutting down the milk you need to make sure that they're still getting enough liquids.

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