Interview 10

Age at interview: 26
Brief Outline: Little help from midwives in hospital. Used nipple shields for inverted nipples, affected milk supply. Postnatal depression with one child. Dairy intolerance with another. Practices attachment parenting.
Background: At the time of interview, this 26 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 4 month old son. She also had a 10 year old son, not breastfed, and a 2 year old daughter who was. Both she and her husband (Interviewee 20) were self employed.

More about me...

A self-employed, home-schooler, this woman has three children, the last two of whom were breastfed. She noticed a big difference in hospital practices when her daughter was born eight years after her first son, feeling as though she was left to do things on her own more with her daughter. Neither the midwives in the hospital nor the community midwives helped her with latching her daughter onto her inverted nipples. Eventually her mother suggested nipple shields which she used until her breastfeeding counsellor advised her to stop. This woman also suffered from postnatal depression with her daughter and used antidepressant's which she says helped but did not solve the problem. Her daughter started to lose weight at around eight months which she blames on the oral contraceptive that she was taking and she feels that she was 'bullied' into giving her formula which she thinks made the child ill. So, after two weeks, she went back to breastfeeding. With her next child she was told to use nipple shields again but the baby became very windy on the nipple shields and was very unsettled. After seeking a lot of help from a variety of health professionals he was diagnosed at six months as dairy intolerant. She went on a dairy free diet and the baby settled. She feels that health professionals give too much conflicting advice and that women need a lot of support for breastfeeding. 'If the government want more people to breastfeed, they've got to put more money into it' she said.


Breastfeeding is not common in her area and she received undermining suggestions from a lot of...

Were there other people that you got help from?

No just the breastfeeding counsellor really, I didn't really, groups weren't really that helpful, everybody else bought formula feeds, you know, I was one of the very few people that do breastfeed and people sort of look at you strange, and even on my board at the moment that I'm on, everybody's given up because it was too hard or, you know, and I'm thinking, 'Well I've had a baby that screams for three hours every night, I've got two other, he's not sleeping, I'm the one that should be giving up not you lot', but people do, they give up very, very, very quickly they find it's very, very hard and think well bottles are easier but they're not.

Have you had pressure to give up?

Yeah, my Mum, she doesn't want me to do it.

Tell me about that.

She spent, when I had my daughter, she spent the first four days saying, 'Oh it's no good, no good, give her a bottle, give her a bottle' yeah she was really trying to pressurise me in the first four days, and I just.

How did you cope with that?

Ignored her, but it was really hard to ignore what I thought I was doing best she didn't, and it was really hard to ignore her. But again it just, I think again that could have contributed towards my postnatal depression because again I was concentrating on so much to try and block her out, to try and get baby to breastfeed, I wasn't concentrating on what I should have been concentrating that was just me and baby, I was concentrating on everything around it, which you, you know, you can't do.

Was you mother a breastfeeder?

No, she didn't breastfeed any, 'Couldn't be doing with that' she said. So I said to her, 'It's different people, different, different attitudes', you know, 'I want to do, I had a lot of health problems with my son', I didn't want that for my daughter, I wanted to bond better and well I did everything I was meant to do for my daughter so, I said there's, the, you know, the pros outweigh the cons, and it's a lot easier so. And I can see why people are so opposed to it, because it is hard and nobody tells you, it's the whole I think, it's the whole wedding concept, you think the marriage is going to be the best thing ever and you think it's going to be all easy, but when you actually get married [laughs] it's not easy [laughs], it's an uphill struggle, and it's the same with a baby you go into the same thing having a baby, you think it's all going to be lovely, you have this lovely baby that sleeps all day, you don't, it's hard work everything you've got to work for and people don't want to work for things nowadays they just want it all given to you and that's, that's why I think people unfortunately, marriages fail and babies don't get breastfed, sorry but I think it should, that's what I think, you know. And it is hard, you know, people are, you know, I've been told by my doctor, the paediatrician, my health visitor, a registrar that I should top up [2nd son] with formula and then he will sleep through the night. And when you get told by four people who are meant to be supporting you to top up your child with formula you think, 'Well maybe I'm doing something wrong' and you need an extra drive to, for yourself, to push you through and say, 'No actually, I'm not going to do what you say, I want to, I want to do what's best for my child', but it's really difficult when you don't get no support, really difficult.

How do you deal with that advice that goes against what you want to do?


For her, breastfeeding is all about an overwhelming urge to love.

All I'd say is I've had a really good experience and I'd love to carry on doing it forever really, it's brilliant, it really is lovely and I really do enjoy it, it is hard, but for me it, the hardness outweighs it, it's lovely.

Can you describe the physical sensation of a breastfeed?        

It's not real physical, it's just love, you just feel love, that's it, you just feel an overwhelming urge to love and that's about it. It's just there, the love's just immediately around you and you have that closeness and it, also very close, if you're not used to being close to something you will feel very, very close to something if you breastfeed, so yeah, it's amazing.


She was devastated when her daughter rejected breastfeeding at one year but knew that she could...

Was your daughter weaned before you became pregnant with your son?

Yes she'd lost, she came off me at a year, I was devastated after a year. She didn't want me on her first birthday she just said, 'No' just kept pushing it away. I said, 'no you can have more' 'no' and she just kept pushing away, so I pushed, I mean I pushed it at, at the ten months she didn't really want it but I kept pushing and pushing, but by her birthday no, she just said, 'No', I said, 'please, I need it' but no she didn't want me at all. But I'm hoping that he'll go a little bit longer than a year, if he gives up at ten months I'm going to be devastated because I need it.

How did you deal with her rejecting you at a year?

It was really upsetting, really upsetting, I was, because it's that moment of special time where you look into each other eyes and you just have that second it's lovely. I'd have it twelve times it wasn't so bad, if I wasn't so sick in my pregnancies I'd have it twelve times, I love it. It's just a really lovely feeling no one can take, no one can give it to you, no one can take it way from you it's lovely, it does hurt, but because I know I could have more it wasn't an end thing I knew I could have more children so it wasn't, although it hurt at the time I knew I could go on and have more children and I knew that it was best for her to give up like she did because I'd heard of a lot people that were three still trying to get them to wean so, and I didn't want to do it that far. So I mean although it was upsetting I knew that I could have more children and I knew that it was best for her, do you get my meaning?

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She had great difficulty in getting a diagnosis of dairy intolerance but noticed a dramatic...

Breastfeeding's been really, really hard work actually there's been real times that I'd thought that I'd give up for definite.

Why was that?

Screaming, pure screaming, he just would not stop crying it was horrendous and horrendous to watch, he would scream for three hours at night, which is fine if you've got, if you're on your own and you've not got any other family then that's fine, but being that I've got two other little ones, you just can't physically give all your time to one person and that's what we were doing, and giving all our time to one little boy, person at night he was going to be up for two or three hours it was like taking the night shift so one of us would be up one night, the other one would be up the other night. It was just getting to the point where none of us were getting any sleep, we were just walking round, tired all the time. and I basically kept on going back to my doctor's saying, 'This isn't right, this isn't a normal child, there's something got to be wrong here', I took him to numerous places, homeopathy, cranial, all the places that you get told to take them and no one could say whether or not what was wrong with him, they just kept saying, 'Go back to your doctor's, go back to the consultant's'. We went to see a consultant in [hospital], and they said that there was nothing wrong with him because he was gaining weight, and I was neurotic being that I've had two children I was still neurotic and I should maybe, you know, look into other things that could be wrong with him, if I was that tired to put him on formula by this point I wasn't happy with what she said.


In fact I shut her off halfway through because I just couldn't be doing with what she was saying, but it just seemed every doctor we came to see it was either put him onto solids or give him formula, you know, and that's not something I want to do, you're meant to be given support, I wasn't given any.

How old was he at this stage?

He was four months.


Four months old. and I think it got to about, when he was about five months old and I got to the point where we just couldn't cope any more, the crying was just absolutely awful, and we kept taking him to all these different people and they weren't, none of them were helping, and I basically said to my husband, 'You've got to, we've got to do something' so I phoned the practice manager of our doctors surgery and we said that we've got a screaming child, no one can tell us what's wrong with him we need diagnosis, you know, we've been told to go on all these crash diets, I don't want to go and put myself onto a diet until I know what's wrong with him. I was given, he looked through my notes and there were the tests that had been done by the hospital, but it came back clear.

A test for what?

Didn't tell me, they wouldn't tell me what sort of test it was, I kept getting told from about five or six different people that it was, a test for this, a test for that, a test for this, and no one would give me any clear answers to what the test was, even the person when we rang up and asked didn't say what the test was, it was just, it didn't show nothing, and would just leave it as that. So there was no clear answers, so we had the practice manager ring us up and he said that there was obviously something wrong, and he would get someone to call us over it. In the meantime we got a letter from [hospital] saying that they had done a test on baby, but the test, they couldn't test it properly because there wasn't enough of it, and.

Her baby sleeps with her and after a breastfeed her husband brings their baby downstairs to settle.

Your night time arrangements, where did you do the feeding?

In bed always in bed. I'd, in bed and if, even now if we can't settle baby in bed, husband brings baby downstairs so that I can sleep. So, it's a good arrangement, it works well so, but I, if I'm not feeding in bed I'd feed down here, depending on, but at night I like to keep it all dark so that he can go down.

And sleeping arrangements?

Sleeping? Oh well they sleep with me [laughs], I can't be doing with that. [daughter] they turned round and said I shouldn't, I was just knackered, so I said, 'No, stuff it, you can sleep' and, well [2nd son] was already going to be, 'You're sleeping with me' and from birth he did sleep with us, duvet over him [laughs] much to everyone's disgust, but, I mean my health visitor actually came out two weeks before I had my son and said, 'Well you do know the new guidelines on cot death' I was like, 'mmm, okay', and I sat here and switched off. She went to the door, out of the door, and I just didn't tell anybody, I didn't bring it up, I made sure that I never ever brought it up with my midwives, any heath professional I never brought it up, and even now if he's getting too bad he comes in bed, with us.


She used nipple shields to help her babies attach to her inverted nipples. They didn't affect her...


Midwives were just not really interested at all, they'd come out for my normal visit and they just kept, said to me, “You've got to keep waking her up, you've got to keep pushing her, poking her”. But that's all well and good I mean trying to wake up a newborn baby, it's pretty hard work [laughs], 'cause they just go straight back to sleep again and that's what she was doing, she was getting so frustrated because she couldn't get on my breast, she was going back to sleep again. So finally a decent midwife came out to me, my actual midwife, when I came home, 'cause I went to my mum's for a few days and she said to me, “You're going to have to go on shields otherwise you're gonna have to give up” but I was devastated when she said I had to give up so I said, “I'll go on the shields”.

The nipple shields?

Yeah, nipple shields. So I went on nipple shields and it worked really, really well, I didn't have any pain yeah it worked really, really well and then I think it was she was about four weeks old and I started getting really hot heavy breasts and I remembered mastitis with my first, so I got in touch, touch with the local group which was Bosom Buddies and got in touch with a lady's name, breastfeeding counsellor, [lactation consultant], she was brilliant, she came out to see me, superb, and she said to me that nipple shields I shouldn't have been put on because they're not good at all, they actually diminish, they take away your milk supply and that I had to get off of them really quickly. So I was like, 'cause once you, unfortunately when you're, you get taught how to breastfeed with nipple shields on you get comfortable and when you have to take them away it's like a security blanket, your security blanket's been taken away, and [lactation consultant] basically said, “You've got to get rid of them, take a weekend and just say throw them in the bin and get rid” and I was like, I did it, I did it within a whole weekend and I was off…

Did you have any other tricks for getting her on an inverted nipple? Putting her on?

No [lactation consultant] said that it was just down to luck, you just have to hope and pray that she'll click, you'll both click together, it's a learning curve she said for both of us. And she was right, a weekend now and I managed to do it, it was really hard, I mean it took ages to and the patience was just.

Can we just explore the nipple shields thing a little more? What effect did they have on your inverted nipples?

They were really good actually they really brought my nipple out, it was superb, I thought because my nipples were really quite out after I had my first, my daughter, when I stopped using the shield my nipples were really out 'cause she, she drew them out, I didn't think I'd have a problem with baby, [2nd son]. But because he just was such a greedy baby he wasn't willing to wait for the milk he wanted it there and then, it, my boob just wasn't good enough for him he wanted to get on and just have it glug, glug, glug, glug. He used to, I mean it, it was really funny because when he latches on, when I had my shield you could hear him going glug, glug, glug, glug, it was really like, I want it there and then so without actually having the shield to get him on, it is really upsetting though because you think it's a problem with you and you can't do anything to fix that problem so it's really upsetting for you because you're just wondering, 'Well why? Surely nature should intervene, you know, and bring your nipple out' but it doesn't work that way unfortunately, so it is frustrating really.


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