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Interview 09

Age at interview: 22
Brief Outline: Initially found breastfeeding hard with tongue-tie, sore nipples latching-on problems and syringe feeding. Sought help from chiropractor with craniosacral therapy for baby. Proud that she persevered.
Background: At the time of interview, this 22 year old, single, White British woman was breastfeeding her 21 week old son. She was a care assistant and her partner was self-employed in the construction industry.

More about me...

Coming from a family of breastfeeders made this woman determined to succeed with breastfeeding, especially since the birth was not as she had planned. She 'felt a bit of a failure' for requiring an assisted birth and this made her more determined to succeed at one of the things that were important to her. She has seen children with attachment disorder in her work and believes that breastfeeding enables a mother and baby to develop a strong emotional bond that allows the baby to grow into a socially confident child and adult. She 'naively assumed' that breastfeeding would be easy and come naturally but had to overcome problems associated with a tongue-tied baby who had had a traumatic birth, such as difficulty with latch-on and very sore nipples. She is very proud of having overcome all of the difficulties that she was confronted with to get to a point where breastfeeding is a pleasure. Her friends at her breastfeeding support group admire her for 'sticking with it' because not many younger mothers these days breastfeed and that sort of praise means a lot to her. She encourages other women to 'keep going' when things are difficult, to trust their instincts and to resist the 'pressures to give formula'. She initially planned to breastfeed for four months but that wasn't long enough so she extended her plan to six months at which time she thought she would switch her exclusively breastfed son to infant formula.

 

Her baby's tongue tie was cut at two days old but he still had problems attaching to the breast.

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Can you tell me what you mean by tongue tied?

Tongue tie's where they have an extra the flap of skin goes to the end of the tongue preventing them to be able to suckle properly also in later life that can cause a lisp, and for him not to be able to lick, so he couldn't poke his tongue out, like that it was held back.

How long did it take you to pick that up?

I didn't, they picked that up in the hospital 'cause, the second, he was two days old, no he was, he was just over a day old and I was trying, having problems getting him latched on and the care assistant actually picked up that that was what was happening why I couldn't get him latched on, and then the next day they came and they cut that in the hospital.

So could you see that his, he couldn't poke his tongue out?

Once they'd pointed it out yes, his tongue rather than being pointed looked like a heart shape that was drawn in at the middle, so once they pointed it out it was quite obvious and he had quite a bad tongue tie as well, so yeah they cut that at two days old. 

Can you explain what that meant?

They basically, they pulled his tongue and then there's this skin underneath, they snipped it, and the procedure took seconds, he cried but he was fine, I sort of held him and he was fine, he forgot about it after a minute if we'd not had it done so young as they get older it's more of a complicated procedure and I believe that if you wait until after they're six months they have to have general anaesthetic and all sorts so we felt it was better to have it done.

So no anaesthetic?

No anaesthetic they just snipped it.

Any bleeding?

It bled, I mean a miniscule amount, the doctor she held some padding to it, to the area and there was a little blood on it when she pulled it away, and then she gave it, him to me and I put him to my breast and he was fine and that was that. And then it looked like he just had a little ulcer there afterwards and it healed fine, so, you know [laughs].

So you put him to your breast?

Yeah.

And?

It didn't, it still didn't come naturally even though he'd had his cut, his tongue tie cut very young it's, can still cause massive problems for babies breastfeeding and I assume maybe bottle fed babies but, so he, he never suckled right, he didn't latch on fully as well, there was always a gap, there was no proper seal made, if you know what I mean, around the, the nipple.

 (Footnote' see Topic Summary 7' sore nipples).

Footnote' Minor brief pain at the beginning of a breastfeed in the first few days is fairly common. However, constant, long-lasting pain of the burning or itching kind or pain after or between breastfeeds is not normal and requires attention.

 

After a difficult birth her baby had trouble attaching. She took him to a chiropractor. Her...

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Yes you could hear a clicking noise also because I held him I could feel milk dropping onto my arm where he wasn't making a full seal but also that we believe was due to the sort of birth I had [son] was forceps delivery, but he was back to back, so he was manually turned and we took him to the chiropractor when he was a few weeks old because of the problems I was experiencing with breastfeeding.

Who's suggestion was it that he go to a chiropractor?

Bosom Buddies, I went there and the, the counsellor there she suggested that we go to chiropractor because my nipples were bleeding and it was very painful [laughs] I still cringe thinking about that [laughs]. So, yeah it was very painful but she could see that he wasn't latched on properly and also when I put him to the breast he was arching himself backwards and that we believe was again down to the delivery he had. He had a lot of tightness when we went to the chiropractor they found he has a lot of tightness in his neck and his jaw so he went there sort of once or twice a week for a while and that did seem to help.

What did they do?

Just gentle, not even massage, just, just finger pressure on the areas that they felt were affected which, as I say was his jaw, his neck, and some of his back, but he loved it and it did help, it definitely helped. It didn't make things perfect but it did definitely help.

What difference did you notice?

It wasn't as painful, because of the pain obviously with [son] was experiencing as I say when I put him to my breast he would arch away, so I was having to force, so there wasn't a very good latch being made, so as he became more relaxed and this area became obviously less painful for him, he was more willing to be put to the breast and wasn't arching away from it so we got a better latch. And so, you know, my nipples started to heal because they were very cracked, very, very cracked and sore for, for maybe the first three months.

How did…

[Laughs].

…you deal with that?

The first four or five weeks was very hard because, because of my labour I'd had, it had gone completely the opposite way to what I'd wanted and I then felt with, you know, epidural and all the pain relief, and I didn't want that, and so I felt I'd failed from, by not, I didn't feel, although I did give birth to him I didn't feel like I had because I'd been assisted, so for me breastfeeding was very important and I was determined that I was going to breastfeed, but it was very hard. The first four or five weeks as I say I did, it got to the point where I actually dreaded [son] waking up and I considered quite a few times giving up because I didn't want, I wanted to enjoy these first special, you know, weeks and months with my child, I didn't want to, you know, dread him sort of waking up and resenting him for hurting me, obviously it's not his fault but that's how it felt. so I considered giving up but [son] was putting on like ten ounces a week which for a breastfed baby is a very, quite a, a lot to put on so, I felt that he was doing so well it was wrong for me to give up so. I did I cried, I [laughs], you know, I bit into books, I screamed [laughs] but I'd just grit my teeth and just got through it and I'm so glad that I did because it has got, you know, it's fantastic now and I'm really enjoying it. Products, what products to buy, I didn't know what products to buy, and I went out and just bought just nipple creams from just, chemists which I found no good. Are you a

 

She naively assumed that breastfeeding would be easy but found that it wasn't. She was determined...

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Can I ask you about your determination to breastfeed? What did you know about breastfeeding when you were pregnant?

I didn't really, to be honest I didn't look into it, my mother had breastfed, my mother's side of the family, my grandmother, my aunt, had all breastfed so they were very much for, my partner's mother hadn't and not, I don't think many of his family had so it's, but because I've grown up like that and I'd grown up watching my aunt breastfeed my cousins etcetera, to me that was just what happened there wasn't another option I wasn't, I didn't look into it I just and I just naively assumed it was easy, which I think, you know, for some people is it but not for all people and there is, you know, it can be hard, but going back to it I, because I had this bad labour and I felt a bit of a failure for not doing things my, I felt I didn't do things myself because it was assisted, that made me even more determined to succeed at breastfeeding, because I didn't want to give up on the two things that were really important to me because, you know, unlike some women and I was really looking forward to the labour, that was a very special thing for me to have a natural special labour was, something that I was looking forward to and enjoy rather than being scared of, and with the breastfeeding I was looking forward to that. So when my labour didn't quite go to plan it made me even more determined that I was going to succeed at one of the things that I set out to do.

And that made you feel better about things?

Yeah, yeah definitely I, because I was confronted with so many problems, you know, now that I've got over that and it is a pleasure to feed but in looking back I do feel very proud that I stuck with it. So I go to a breastfeeding group, Bosom Buddies, and they've been fantastic there as well, the support that I receive there is fantastic. And all the time they say, you know, how much they admire me because not a lot of younger mums these days do breastfeed or they, you know, according to them they said, you know, they perhaps wouldn't have stuck with it as much as what I've done, so that's nice to hear, it's always nice isn't it when you get praise but yeah.

 

Her priorities changed as she adapted to motherhood and her baby's needs became more important...

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How long do you think you'll feed, what are your plans?

I was, I initially said that I'd feed for four months, me and my partner like going out quite a lot and I said I'd feed up until Christmas when [son] was four months and then we'd go out New Year's Eve. I think I was living still as the person that I was before and now obviously my feelings are to do the right thing by [son]. And four months wasn't long enough so he's now four, he's just coming up five, but I'm going to feed till he's six months and get him weaned and then I will give up but I will still, I will give him formula feeds after six months, but I think the first six months are very important for breastfeeding.

And he's exclusively breastfed?

He's exclusively breastfed and he will be up until he's six months. I'm quite proud to say.

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