Interview 40

Age at interview: 19
Brief Outline: Baby had jaundice and lost weight at first, needed to be woken 2-3 hourly to feed. Engorgement, sore nipples in first two weeks. Dummy for comfort sucking.
Background: At the time of interview, this 19 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 4 week old daughter. An activities coordinator (elderly), she was living with her partner (mechanic) and extended family.

More about me...

Unexpectedly pregnant, this woman decided to keep her baby and make the necessary lifestyle changes, such as giving up clubbing and drinking and improving her diet, to do the best she could for her baby. Before a friend introduced her to a local Sure Start breastfeeding support group, she had never considered breastfeeding as something that she would do. Now she is very pro-breastfeeding for the benefits that it affords both mother and baby, and wishes to help other young women with breastfeeding. She did not enjoy being in hospital and described giving birth as a production line 'one in, one out'. She had very little help with breastfeeding from the midwives in the hospital and her baby lost weight and developed jaundice. Her health visitor suggested waking the baby 2-3 hourly to feed her. She overcame engorgement with hot flannels and breast massage. For nipple soreness when the baby latched on she used her breathing exercises. She bought a can of infant formula before the baby was born but it remains unopened in the cupboard. She uses a dummy when she thinks that the baby wants to suck for comfort. Her family is not very supportive of breastfeeding but her partner is 'a diamond' and one hundred percent behind what she is trying to do. To other women in her situation she says 'it's worth while, you've been through worse, and you've been through labour 'just keep trying'.


Her friend took her to Bosom Buddies meetings run by the local PCT and Sure Start. She found the...

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Her friend took her to Bosom Buddies meetings run by the local PCT and Sure Start. She found the...

Well, I wanted to bottle feed before I knew how to breastfeed I didn't know about anything about breastfeeding really, it wasn't until my friend then took me to Bosom Buddies at [local] Sure Start that the people there slowly introduced me to it I started doing workshops on breastfeeding and speaking to other parents about their breastfeeding and things like that.

So while you were pregnant you had a friend'


'who took you to Bosom Buddies?


Can you tell me what Bosom Buddies is?

It's at a Sure Start Centre which is a local centre for mums-to-be and things like that. they do Bumps and Babies, things for children and it just generally to help the local community mums, single mums, working mums, everything like that. They do it every Thursday, they have the parents that are breastfeeding or want to breastfeed go there for a couple of hours, have a chat, cup of coffee, other mums there, children are there, it's nice, it is nice.

So prior to that you wanted to bottle feed your baby?

Yeah but well [laughs] I didn't really think anything of breastfeeding I didn't think, you know that was something I wanted to do, I didn't know anything about it really.

So you've had no experience with it, you'd not seen sisters or aunts or friends?

No there's not any of my family that have breastfeeding, that have been breast, have breastfed.

And none of your friends?

No, no apart from this one, yeah.

So how did that change your mind?

I, well, I got to weigh up the pros and cons of it really, I got to find out, you know, that breastfeeding's better for the baby and better for you as well you get to lose the weight that you do really quickly, and you know it's, much better because it's on the go if you [laughs] see what I mean, I don't have to worry about making up bottles and things, which I am I'm quite a, got quite a hectic life I'm afraid so it's just up and go, I don't have to worry about making up bottles and things, it's all there [laughs].

And you saw other mothers there feeding their babies?

Yeah, yeah everyone was quite open, it was mainly no there were women, all women, men are invited but I think that, you know, because women are there quite openly feeding that they don't tend to come.

How did you feel about that when you first saw it?

When I first saw it I was a bit, I don't know, I didn't think they should be doing it in front of me sort of thing, it's quite openly, you know, they would quite openly just feed their baby. But then after a while and going there every Thursday like I was it just become natural to me, you know, that they were feeding their babies and it's natural so there's nothing to be afraid of, if you see what I mean?

So at first it was off putting'


'but you got used to it?

Yeah I got used to it yeah.

How many of those sessions do you think you did before you got to the birth?

I started going when I was about twenty weeks I think, it may hav

She had an unplanned pregnancy and it took her a while to accept her baby after the birth. She...

She had an unplanned pregnancy and it took her a while to accept her baby after the birth. She...


I'm afraid I wasn't really interested, I didn't take to her straight away, I did after all, it took me a while, I got up and I had a shower and everything and, you know, later on I did feel much better but first of all I really didn't wanna know my child [laughs] as awful as that sounds.

Why do you think that was?

I don't know. With, me and my boyfriend had a chat afterwards because he was really concerned about why I was being that way, but we had a chat afterwards and we did come to the decision that maybe it was because I didn't want the baby in the first place, it was an unexpected pregnancy, and, you know, I had so many hopes and things before I, I wanted to go to university, I had all my GCSEs, I've done NVQs and things like that ready to go and do my nursing, and then suddenly, you know, [laughs] I was pregnant and I've got this baby on the way and everything's on hold, you know, I've gotta put that off, I was, I was really quite upset about that but it was too late to terminate the pregnancy and I don't think I'd a done it anyway, to be honest, I think that was the main reason why I acted the way I acted.

So how long did it take you to come right?

I went, she went, she went off to see, all my family were outside, she came back to me, she went to sleep, it was, about five, six o'clock in the morning when she woke and it wasn't until she woke, then I'd been to sleep as well, it wasn't until she woke that I was like right, okay, no one's here to look after this baby so [laughs] I'm going to have to stop her crying [laughs], somehow, so I took her out and I sat in the chair with her and just stopped with her for a second and just looked and then I was a bit like okay, that's my baby [laughs] wow.

And what did you do with her?

I attempted to breastfeed her, yeah the midwives hadn't asked me if whether I wanted to breastfeed I was quite annoyed with that they didn't actually ask me how I was feeding her until the next day, it was, it the, the evening of that next day they came to me and said, “Oh how are you breastfeeding your babe?” I was like, “Well I've been breastfeeding her since five o'clock this morning so” but because I'd been to the workshops and things with Sure Start I was well away, I knew how to position her, I knew what I was doing, although I was upset, I was crying a lot because I couldn't get her latched on, but she on and off fed for about three hours I was there, just keep, kept putting up with it, you know, putting her on, she'd suckle for a bit and then she'd let go, have a scream, and just on and off like that, I was quite surprised they didn't hear her actually [laughs].

How long, how long after the birth was this?

This, well she was born at half eleven at night, once I'd gone from the delivery I'd gone up to the, my room so what's that six hours?

Five or six hours afterwards, about five o'clock in the morning she woke, from then, yeah, gave me a chance to have a good rest and whatnot.

So you struggled on your own?

Yeah I did, I did struggle [laughs], I did struggle a lot but my boyfriend came and.

Did you push the buzzer for help or anything like that?

No, I didn't, didn't feel that, you know, I'd, I'll be honest I didn't feel very comfortable there I didn't like being in hospital I had to stay in for the twenty-four hours because she ha


Her extended family did not approve of her breastfeeding and thought that it was why her baby was...

Her extended family did not approve of her breastfeeding and thought that it was why her baby was...

There's no offence to bottle feeding mothers but I just didn't want to bottle feed, I really didn't, from looking at other babies that are bottle fed and all the disadvantages to it and things, you know, I really didn't want to bottle feed, especially since I'd worked so hard to get to where I was, and I had, to be honest, no support from my family towards the breastfeeding and things like that, because.

Is this because they just didn't have the experience or the understanding?

Basically yeah, they didn't have that and also they've, they did, they had their own thoughts on what the breastfeeding was doing, they didn't think that the breastfeeding was doing any good for the baby, because she's also got colic, so she's quite windy and they thought that the breastfeeding was making her like that, and I tried to, I tried to explain in and out to them that you know the breastfeeding's so much better but, older generations they think, otherwise I think, not being rude [laughs].

How do you deal with that?

Ignoring them, to be honest, I'm, I've got my mind set on what I want to do, and that's what I want to do, I want to breastfeed my baby so, either deal with it or don't. Some of them actually don't like me feeding in front of them, but, that's up to them [laughs].

So you do it?

No I don't feed in front of them if I'm at his parents I'll go out in the kitchen if they're in the lounge, or I'll say if, you know, if I can't find anywhere to go, 'I'm going to go upstairs' or something to feed, they don't mind that as long as I'm not around them.

What about your boyfriend is he supportive?

Oh yeah, one hundred percent he is a diamond [laughs] definitely, and those weeks that, you know, I was having troubles, I was getting so frustrated and things like that, he was always there to, you know, try and calm me down and say, you know, 'You go off for a sleep and I'll take her away', and things like that, you know, he's, and he is, loves that I'm breastfeeding, it's so much better for her.

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