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Interview 52

Age at interview: 33
Brief Outline: Slow weight gain with both babies even though they thrived. Never expected to be feeding an older child, it just happened. Expressed for occasional bottle for first baby.
Background: At the time of interview, this 33 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 18 month old daughter. She also had a 6 year old son whom she had breastfed. A farmer, she was married to a dairy farmer.

More about me...

Amongst the advantages of breastfeeding, this woman lists being able to feed one-handed with a broken arm. She, her husband and two children live on a dairy farm and she slipped and cracked her elbow going down the lane during the foot and mouth outbreak when they were isolated on the farm. Another interesting aspect of living on a dairy farm was that her five year old son quickly understood the principles of breastfeeding when his baby sister was born and marvelled at the fact that he too had been fed that way. She says most people in her area bottle feed but that breastfeeding is becoming more popular. For instance, she was the only woman to breastfeed from her antenatal class when her son was born six years ago but when her daughter was born eighteen months ago four or five of the antenatal class women went on to breastfeed. There is a breastfeeding support group that operates in the area and that may be having an influence. With almost a five year gap between her children, she says it was like starting all over again with her second child. The biggest difference was the change in the recommended age to begin introducing solid foods from four months to six months. Her daughter was born three weeks before Christmas and the business of Christmas and her mother being admitted to hospital was quite stressful and resulted in an unsettled baby for a few days. She feels very strongly that too much emphasis is put on growth charts and a baby's weight and not enough on other indicators that a baby is thriving. She thinks that this can result in pressure being put on women to alter their feeding patterns with negative consequences for their confidence and enjoyment of breastfeeding.

 

The guidelines for introducing solids changed between her babies. She was more relaxed about...

The guidelines for introducing solids changed between her babies. She was more relaxed about...

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You'd asked earlier about whether I'd noticed any difference in practices changing? Not so much with the breastfeeding but I had noticed that in the case of when you wean your child onto solid foods, with my son it was sixteen weeks was the recommended time, and with my daughter it was six months, and I fed her until the six months, at five and a half months I think maybe she was waking up during the night but I just, I fed her more often just, I wanted to wait until the, until the six months, which my husband found quite amusing, you know, six months to the date that's when she got her solid food.

Did she take to it all right at that stage?

She took to it fine.

What did you give her to start off with?

Baby rice just, and then we progressed on to pureed vegetables and stuck more with the vegetables rather than introducing fruit because I wanted her to get the savoury feel rather than the sweet feel. And she was nearly, fed different things a lot quicker than my son was, when I started to wean him, he got the pureed carrot and to make sure he didn't react to it, or that I knew that would be the only thing he would react to, he got fed pureed carrot for a few days before I changed him onto anything else and I fed, it was pureed carrot, then the next time say it was parsnip, then it was something else, and then whenever I knew he didn't react to any of those then they were mixed, whereas with the second one she seemed to progress a bit quicker on to the different things.

And did you make food especially for the babies or did you just give them'

Just gave.

'some of what you were having?

What we were having and just kept extra over and pureed it and she actually, with keeping her to the six months, she went on to the solid lumpy food very quickly. I had a hand blender and one of the times I was washing it was fine and then I turned it upside down and there was like brown water come out and I thought, I don't want that anywhere near her food, and I didn't get back in to get another hand blender so everything was just mashed and she took it no problem.

Just mash it with a fork?

Just mashed it with a fork and then she went quite, I say lumpy food very quickly and was able to deal with it. I had friends and they had, their oldest was the same age as my son roughly, and they also weaned their second at the sixteen weeks and whenever I was visiting I was passing my daughter a banana to hold and to eat, and their child, three months older was still on pureed food, but perhaps that was just the, they just seemed to choke, you know, and gag if there was any lumps in their food now maybe that was just that child I don't know.

But you think it might've been because they were started on solids quite early?

I'm just wondering if they were, you know, because if you start at four months you are pureeing things, and whether whenever you're at six months and you just tend to give that wee bit lumpier stuff in it quicker, maybe they are more ready for it, plus at six months you don't have to worry so much about what you are actually giving them, you know, between four and six months, there's wheat in this, what's in it? Can we give it? Whereas at six months you can nearly get, they can nearly get anything.

Did you have a routine of breastfeeding before or after a solid feed, or not breastfeeding at all when it was time for a meal, a solid meal, how did you kind
 

Her five year old son was supportive of her breastfeeding his younger sister and fascinated to...

Her five year old son was supportive of her breastfeeding his younger sister and fascinated to...

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And whenever, you know, my son would come home from school I maybe would be feeding her, she would've slept on my knee, I sat and we did his homework beside us, you know, tried to involve him that way, sometimes you sort of feel with whenever you've the two that he's not getting the attention, or not getting up on your knee as often 'cause you always seem to be feeding her, but you just tried to make a special time for him.

You've got a five year gap'

[Mm-hm].

'did you notice, can you talk about that, what was the impact of a new baby in his life at that stage? What you said it's like starting all over again'

Uh-huh.

'for yourself can you comment on all of that a bit more?

Well he was very supportive about breastfeeding.

Your son was?

My son was and.

Did he remember it from his own times do you think?

No, he didn't remember about breastfeeding, the first night he came into the hospital I did feed in front of him, but we had a little gift for her, from her to him to try and he was more taken with that, he didn't actually notice feeding and, the next night he came in he said, 'How do, how do you feed Mum?' and before that whenever we had been going and getting things for the baby he was looking at bottles and I said, 'No son, hopefully we won't need bottles' and he just took it that was alright. So I showed him in the hospital how, how I fed her, and it was like, '[gasps] Oh my' you know, and with being on a dairy farm, you know, and you kind of, you [laughs], you relate it yourself to a cow, you know [laughs], type of thing, and he knew how that worked, and it was, 'Mummy, did I?' and I said, 'You were fed with these son too', you know, and, 'Was I really Mummy?', I went, 'Yes', and I can remember in the hospital going down then and my husband was looking after my daughter and, and he was about to, I mean I just wanted to nip down to get yourself freshened up for five minutes and she started to cry and he came down, knocked on the door, 'Mummy, Mummy, Mummy, you have to feed her she's looking for a feed come on hurry up' [laughs] so you talk about feeding on demand [laughs]. She wasn't the only one that was demanding. But he took to it, you know, it was whenever you come home it was like, oh he, he would go, 'Get your belly out Mummy, Mummy's got two big belly's', and I found it actually strange because, my cousin, his wife had a second one and their first child actually talked about mummy's big belly's as well, you know, and I can remember my son drawing a picture for me over the Christmas holidays just after she was born and there was Mummy with her two big belly's feeding and I went, 'Okay' [laughs]. But no, he was very supportive and.

So there's been no jealousy?

No, he was fine, good. We didn't realise but he maybe was a bit more insecure at, at school, you know, a bit tearful, but at home I suppose whenever I was home, whenever he come home and seen I was at home, you know, still here, he was fine, we hadn't noticed it at home, and he was very good with her and would run off to get the stuff to change the nappie's, and cream and everything he could do that way.

So he was a big help to you?

He was a great help and he was very good with her and, and, was getting his toys to share with her, you know, he thought he had asked for a baby [laughs].

Maybe
 

Initially, she thought she would breastfeed for four months but got into a routine and just kept...

Initially, she thought she would breastfeed for four months but got into a routine and just kept...

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From one extreme to the other, you know, and was looking for it quite often and he would've been a long feeder, you know? And you nearly just did feel sometimes that's what you're doing nearly all day when my husband went out I was feeding, when he came in I was feeding, whenever he left to go out again I was feeding, but I just felt as if I wanted to breastfeed and I thought, 'Well I'll go on'. Initially as I say my, my sister-in-law, she had done it for four months and I thought, 'Well if I could do it for that length of time' I didn't know how long you can breastfeed for, I went to the feeding group and there was a girl there and her child was, I think nearly two, and there was other mothers and, and their children were six months and eight months and I thought, 'Oh you can still feed to that length of time' and whenever it got to four months I thought, 'Well I'll go on to six months, I don't have to change the formula milk, to follow on milk', and I got to six months and it just, the routine then just kept on going and then I thought, 'Well I'll go to the year and I'll just put them on cow's milk' and that's what I did.

So you set yourself little milestones?

Yes.

How did you feel as a young mother with a little baby when you saw the nearly two year old feeding, do you remember, were you shocked? Interested, just astounded? 

Yeah I think kind of, I think kind of surprised, you know, I think whenever you think of breastfeeding you do think of babies and sometimes whenever you see a youngster running around initially you kind of think, 'Oh my goodness', I know a lot of ones it's, they think, what about the teeth? And, you know, they kind of think once they have teeth that's it no more breastfeeding but we would have, I'd say half the group, and there's new mums come in and they see how long we have been breastfeeding for, and we're also trying to encourage some mums in the antenatal classes, there's a few of us from the breastfeeding group will go now at the time when they do the breastfeeding talk and they can ask us questions, and that's one, one question I asked, one of the mums is, 'What do you think when you see my daughter sitting there?' You know, because at that stage she was about thirteen months, I said, 'What do you think?'

And what did they say?

One of them said, 'Well, it could be for you, it wouldn't be for me but if you want to do it that's alright' and I says, 'Well to tell you the truth I never thought it'd be for me either' and because I'd fed my son on for the year I thought I'd try and feed my daughter for the year too. Whenever it came to the time she was the year, it was winter time my son was bringing home colds and whatnot from the school, I thought she would still be getting the benefits of it, she did have the cold but it never settled on her chest and I thought, 'Well I'm giving her the resistance to this', so I, thought 'I'd feed her on till they got over this, and then she was due her MMR jab so it was 'I'll feed her on until after this' and then I'll feed her on to the two weeks later in case she reacts.

Can we just go back to an earlier topic about seeing an older child feeding.

Uh-huh.

You wanted to tell me a bit more about that.

Whenever you're starting off to breastfeed and you have all those number of feeds and for the length of time and all the rest of it, you sort of assume that that's how it will always be, whereas whenever they get older they might feed for less and sometimes they might feed maybe slightly more frequently i
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