A-Z

Interview 03

Age at interview: 39
Brief Outline: Relaxed, long-term breastfeeder, very few problems, mastitis, baby fed on demand and sleeps with parents, child-led weaning at around 4 years of age. Child-centred family, home schooling older children.
Background: This 39 year old English woman was breastfeeding her 13 month old son. She also had a daughter (11) and a son (5), both breastfed. A home educator, science tutor and sing & sign teacher, she was married to an estate agent (Interviewee 26).

More about me...

This woman describes herself as very lucky with her breastfeeding which has been enjoyable, pain free, virtually without problems and a positive experience that fits with their lifestyle. She has grown in confidence as a mother, becoming more natural and comfortable with each baby. With her first child she did everything 'by the book' and now with her third baby she is just 'led by him' and follows his needs. She finds this much easier and thinks he is a calmer, happier baby because of it. She can see him developing and growing and has not needed to have him weighed. Breastfeeding allows her to 'eat all the time' and yet remain slender. She gives a detailed description of a recent bout of mastitis. She fed each of her older children until they weaned themselves at age four because a new baby was expected and discusses the realities of breastfeeding a toddler and fielding comments about it being time to wean. After a bad experience when her daughter was two years old and developed pneumonia, she has rarely used traditional health services and prefers homeopathic remedies. She says that her husband is extremely supportive and the children are very central to their lives. The older children visited their mother and sibling straight after the birth of this latest baby while the umbilical cord was still attached. The children are home schooled and the family has one set of grandparents also living with them.
 
 

Her baby attached straight away and she remembers just holding him, feeling him and stroking him....

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With, yes with the baby, just very amazing, it was magical really as, you know, as I say very, very young, just, just a few minutes really the, the midwife was, was amazing, very natural birth and, and then straight sort of latched on and he just took to the left side and that has remained a favourite that, that's his favourite side. And he just latched on straight away and I just remember just, just holding him and just feeling him, and stroking him and looking at him and just, you know, having that wonderful magical bonding experience and, and just that lovely sort of suckling feeling and I think he fed for, for quite some time and then just fell asleep, and I, it was, yes just very, very lovely, very calm and soothing so.

 

She went to bed with her third baby and cuddled and fed him through the night which seemed...

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Well, he was born in the afternoon, we came home very quickly from hospital after just a couple of hours, so when, when we got home we just really sort of cuddled up and, you know, we all went to bed and, and he, he just fed through the night and, and I actually sat up when he was first born and, and fed him sitting up because he did get a lot of wind and whereas with my middle son I, he lit, just was able to lay down and, and feed through, through the night and not have a problem with that at all. With the, the little baby he actually did stir quite a lot because he obviously, you know, kept on, kept held on to his wind if he wasn't actually sort of winded so, I actually sat up most of the night and actually just fed him and I winded him and, and it just sort of carried on like that. But again that wasn't a problem I just propped myself up and I had one of those 'v' shape pillows which I sort of put beside me and put my arm resting on, onto the pillow, I've moved haven't I [Laughs]? I put my arm onto the pillow and, and then that supported us both through the night and, and that, then that, we carried on like that so it was fine.

And he's always been in your bed?

Yes he, we had a Moses basket by the bed when he was first born and he just didn't really settle very well with, with that so between feeds, through the night, he would just sleep like a little kangaroo really on, on my chest like this. A head here and, we would just cuddle through and then as they say when he was a little bit older I was able just to lay him down on the bed beside me so yes he, he has, he would go into the Moses basket for just short periods and then just come, come back in but, but now it's just straight through it in our bed yes.

And what's the advantage to you of that?

Well I think it's been a huge advantage when, when I had my first baby, I sort of did everything more by, by the original book if you, if you like, and baby was sort of in our room for a while but then very quickly we, you know, she was out into her, her own room, and so that meant sort of getting up, and going across to her, sitting in the chair, feeding her and then putting her back in her cot, back to my bed and, you know, it didn't sort of occur to me for, for quite a long time really that actually that really wasn't very natural and very cosy for us and I was so awake and losing so much sleep so the advantage of having him in with us, has just been lovely because it's just sort of been part of, of the night routine, he's just there and he just has his feed and we all just stay asleep or go back to sleep if you know if there's a little bit of waking and it's been lovely so, it's much more natural yeah it's nice.
 
 

She says that she does not know how to wean a baby from breastfeeding as each of her children...

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He fed in fact until I fell pregnant and it wasn't until he actually said to me one night, 'Mummy this milk is awful, I don't want it anymore' that I actually realised that I was that I was expecting another baby, so actually that was quite interesting. And he was, well he seemed happy to stop feeding although since we've had the baby his behaviour has actually changed so he's actually become much less settled and gets quite cross sometimes and cries, quite angry but not with the baby but with me more, and probably with his daddy as well quite a lot. But it could be just a reaction with the baby, I don't think it's a reaction because he's not feeding any more and the baby is even though, you know, the way, as I say, he stopped because I was, was pregnant and then that's when we realised that, but up until then he fed very on demand and very happily so.

So talk to me a little bit about weaning.

Well I don't know how to do that, I have no idea how to wean a baby from breastfeeding, I just have waited until they've been ready, in fact probably the second child was, was easier because of this situation with me falling pregnant and the milk consistency obviously changing and it just wasn't right for him anymore and it just was an overnight thing, just didn't want it anymore. But the first baby, we thought by the time she was four and a half that it was probably about time that she could stop. So it was mainly just the bedtime feed that she was having so, so what we did actually was we introduced a, sort of a more of a different bedtime routine including a hot chocolate and a supper, and we said, 'Well, you know, mummy can't actually make the milk for you anymore because you're such a big girl and you can now have this special supper and this is for you' and you know, and that she took to that very quickly. I think it's harder for me, you know, actually so but yes that's how we weaned those two and I've got no idea with [son] how we will wean him, I'm just going to wait and see, he's still very attached to feeding and I have no intention of physically or forcefully removing him from that so I don't know how to wean a baby.

 

Feeding is always a very special time for her to sit down and feel the closeness of her baby.

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What it feels like, what it does to you.

Yes, well it's been different with probably with each of the children I would say because I think the, once you've got more children unfortunately breastfeeding's much, probably more hurried than when you have your first and perhaps even the second. With the first I can remember it taking a very long time, you know, and remembering sort of thinking, 'Oh right I've got to feed', and then sort of, 'I have to go to the other side' and try to remember which side I'd finished with and having to sort of swap over and, you know, sort of again doing it all a bit, you know, by that, the book but now it's much more natural if, you know, if the baby just wants to feed he signals to me I, you just, I think, I've just known as a very tiny baby you just have that knowledge and now he's a little bit older he, he then sort of puts his hand down my top and you know it's quite convincing that he wants his feed. But it's a very, it is a, it's always a very special time, you know, it is a time when you can just sit down because you have to, and you just have to, you know, just do that really so it's a very nice close time and I tend to sort of stroke his head and just sort of talk to him, and look at him very a lot and get that contact. And with all my children it has often been a time when they have fallen asleep so it's also been a very sort of relaxing time for me as well and if they've been a little bit unwell or something it's always been something that I've thought, 'Oh I've, I've got that, you know, I've got that closeness, they've got that comfort' and it has actually been very important sometimes that, you know, I've actually had that in times of sickness so, so it's been good that way too.

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