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Interview 16

Age at interview: 23
Brief Outline: Baby in Special Care, fed expressed breast milk via tube, syringe & cup. Problems at home, slow weight gain, mixed feeding. Support from lactation consultant for five months.
Background: At the time of interview, this 23 year old, Caucasian woman was breastfeeding her 9 month old daughter. A podiatrist, she was married to a printer.

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Once she had made the decision to breastfeed, this woman was very determined to continue in spite of difficulties. Her baby was in Special Care and she found it 'quite traumatic' being separated from her and not really knowing what was wrong. She felt 'empty'. In the hospital, once she was able to breastfeed, she was loath to bother the busy staff and ask for help. She was left to her own devices and nobody noticed that things weren't right. She feels that she developed bad habits at that stage. At home, the hardest thing was finding the right chair to sit in to breastfeed and getting her positioning of the baby at the breast correct. She overcame conflicting advice by seeking help from a lactation consultant and 'zoning in' on that. She also had good support from her mother and husband who were also able to check the positioning for her and give her lots of encouragement. Eventually, she found that having the baby lying on her tummy so that they were tummy to tummy was the most effective. She recommends reading the books about breastfeeding after the baby is born when it all makes more sense rather than before; trying it for longer than a week and getting help sooner rather than later if things "aren't going right" and talking to other mothers.

 

She said that health professionals need to believe in breastfeeding, be better trained and be...

She said that health professionals need to believe in breastfeeding, be better trained and be...

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What would you like to say to health professionals?

I think be a bit more supportive. I found that more with the health visitor and doctor really that they want, one minute they was like really for me breastfeeding and then the next minute, perhaps it was, but I felt they was against me a little bit because of her weight wasn't coming on and that, and they referred us to the consultant and stuff, that they need to decide whether they believe in it or not first before they voice their opinion rather than, just saying, 'Oh breastfeed', because generally it's what they should be saying to you, but if they don't believe in it then sometimes it can come through or if they've never done it themselves.

Mmm.

But I just think perhaps it was because of the weight they was concerned, with the weight rather than the actual breastfeeding, they wanted to make sure that she was fine which is, is fair enough because she is the most important one and they didn't want her health to suffer from it, which in the end we did have to give her some bottles. But not for very long, we did go back to fully breastfeeding again then once she'd put a few pounds on, she was a bit more stronger then and she wasn't feeding for as long either, so she's only taking a half hour to feed and she was feeding every three hours which was a lot better for me because I was a bit more energetic then, wasn't so worn out. And I just, I think there should be more training then with midwives with the breastfeeding which I think is starting to come in a bit more now, they are starting to do a lot more with it because they are, the government are trying to push for mothers to breastfeed. I think there should be a lot more nurses like the lactation specialists because she's just the only one for our County for like the whole of the County so, and she's just run off her feet sometimes and like she's only there for people that have problems. But I think there should be an opening somewhere for people to go, and, to speak to somebody like her even if they think their feeding's fine, just to still go and just to check that it is fine, just to have like a check to make sure that they are, baby is attached and they are feeding well, rather than just getting, getting longer down the line and the problems starting to build up and then going to see somebody and I think perhaps if we saw, if the mother was interested in breastfeeding like from birth then, perhaps if we saw somebody on a maternity ward like the day after baby was born or whatever, have like a lactation specialist just to give us some hints and show us some positioning's and that or just have somebody to come home with us [laughs].

Is that what you mean by being more supportive?

Yeah, just having somebody there on the ward because I did feel on the ward after I'd had the baby the midwife sort of left you to get on with it a little bit and they're so run off their feet as well that I didn't like to keep saying, 'Oh can you come and help me with this.' And 'Baby's not feeding very long' and that and, perhaps even if like auxiliaries or something took an opening in, into just learning like the different ways of positioning which I know that some hospitals are doing that now, in this area which is I think will be of benefit to mothers, breastfeeding mums in hospital, just to have that little bit of support at the very beginning rather than having the problems and, and then going about them then when their baby's like a month or two old when the baby's already, it's quite hard to get them out of the habit then, whereas if you catch it in the early days they're still learning so you can adapt it, adapt it to them then.

 

Her older baby often feeds for comfort and for skin-to-skin contact.

Her older baby often feeds for comfort and for skin-to-skin contact.

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I still find that quite difficult now, she doesn't go down as well for me, whether she can smell the milk I'm not sure but she goes down better for other people, she tends to play me up a little bit 'cause she can smell the milk 'cause she wants to come back on for more comfort [laughs], rather than a feed [laughs], she does tend to use me as a comforter, more so now than she did before whether it's 'cause she's getting older and she, she's got her own mind now [laughs] I don't know but.

Can you explain that different sort of behaviour at the breast?

She just, she just, she just lies there with her mouth on the breast and does nothing [laughs], just has her mouth on there and she's just go, like do one little suck and then that's it's then, and you can tell she's asleep because she's snoring [laughs] but she just wants, but as soon as you take her off she's start to stir and she is getting better now, now that she's getting older with that and 'cause she's so much more active so she's wearing herself out a little bit more.

And is that what you call comfort feeding?

Yeah, yeah definitely, yeah when she just lies there and you know she's not doing nothing because she's just with her mouth open and she's just there for comfort, just because she likes the skin, skin-to-skin contact.

Is that a problem for you?

No it's not a problem, it's not a problem for me, it's nice I think, I think because I've worked so hard to get it to where it is, I don't want to just stop, I just want to keep going as, as long as I can really until she decides that she doesn't want it any more perhaps. I've said I won't, I won't do it no more than she's a year old, once she's a year old then probably stop then.

 

While she was getting support from her lactation consultant she was also getting support from the...

While she was getting support from her lactation consultant she was also getting support from the...

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Did you try to meet other mothers who are breastfeeding or mix with other mothers?

I did because, for only because I was seeing the lactation nurse and it was like a open like clinic and all the mothers who was having problems would come in so you, I used it then as like my postnatal type therapy thing and we used to talk to each other and we'd have a coffee or a cup of tea while feeding and trying, and then the lactation nurse would come round and see if we was alright and, and then see if we've got any ideas and that's the only way I met them but there are groups around that you can go to but because I was going over there twice a week to get my positioning right I never got a chance to go to the other places but hopefully next time round, now I've got a bit more knowledge of breastfeeding and what to look out for if their attachment is bad, then perhaps if I did need to go and see a lactation nurse again I'd be in the earlier stages rather than the later stages so I won't have to be going over there for so long, and I probably would go to, like other places to meet mums and that.

Why do you think it's important to talk to other mums?

Because you get their experiences and as a mother sometimes when especially when you're like off on maternity leave from work so, you're, you're not having much social contact with other adults so it's a good thing to interact with the persons of your own age and you get to know their experiences, some of them, like not all the mothers over at the lactation group were first time mothers they were like, they were fine like with their first child feeding but with they're second child there're having a bit of difficulty so they can tell you what they found out on the first child, like with like teething gels for instance and teething powders and stuff it, it wasn't just all around breastfeeding it was general stuff that we used to talk about, even if it was just about a good bottle of wine or something like that and, not that you drink much with breastfeeding anyway but it's just for an example [laughs], but it's just nice to have adults to talk to not just to be stuck in the same four walls day in day out, pulling your hair out then, and it was just good to communicate with people and it, it helps you then, as BT say it's good to talk so [laughs], it's yeah I think definitely.

 

Finding the correct position took a lot of trial and error and the help of a lactation consultant...

Finding the correct position took a lot of trial and error and the help of a lactation consultant...

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Well, she [mother] used to come down and have the baby off me if she was a bit grisly and that would help if I was tired if she'd been up feeding a lot, and just support really. Sometimes she used to, be a, well because she hadn't done it herself she was like, “Give her the bottle” and it's like, “No I want to do this” so sometimes she couldn't understand but then she came over with me to see the lactation nurse so she was coming with me for like quite a few months, she used to come over and she used to watch then what the position that I was in and then, when we'd come back home she'd stay a little while just to make sure it was, I was in the right position and that helped a lot as well, and finding the right furniture to feed, me feed, that was the hardest thing getting the right like chair to sit on and the right, just to make sure you're in the right position. So the baby used to feed fine over in the hospital but when I used to come back from that clinic then it was finding the right positioning back at home and trying to get the same height chair and, and that, and I did try feeding on the side and so it was trying to find the right height for something to put on 'cause our bed is very low so I was too low, so it was just asking people if they had things that I could use [laughs] so.

So what sort of, what sort of chair did you find that you needed in the end and what sort of things did you use?

I used my mum's, one of my mum's dining room chairs because it was lower than mine, and my sister's bedside cabinet to put the pillows on and had her on that for a little while, but we couldn't get her to feed that very well that way though so in the end I feed, I still feed her like it now, I lie back and have her on my stomach and she looks for it herself and she feeds that way and that's the only way that we could get her to feed properly then it was the best attachment that we could get, and we couldn't get her to feed on, laid on the bed, or sideways feeding or forward, that was the only way we could get her to latch on properly, we're still doing that now nine months old so.

Lying on top of you…

Yeah.

…on your tummy…

On my tummy.

…sucking upwards?

Yeah, she lies with her belly onto mine and then she just, so puts herself on now, I used to have to direct her a little bit when she was bit younger but now she just puts herself on, and she's comfortable that way and she feeds quite, we was finding her falling asleep if I was feeding her the other way so she wouldn't actually open her mouth wide enough to latch on properly, but by doing it that way she's, she came on then. We'd do it and she'd look for it more and her mouth would open up wider as well.

So was that just a matter of trial and error…

Yeah.

…trying lots of different positions?        

Yeah, that was the last resort really, the lactation nurse said that was the last resort so that, “I tried it with some mum's before so let's give it a go with you” and we tried it the once and we haven't looked back, we just kept doing it that way.

So did you know straight away that first time when she latched on that it?

Yeah because she was, she wa

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