When I was pregnant with my first and second child in 2009/10 I remember being asked if I was going to breast or bottle feed and when answering that I was unsure was given a breastfeeding DVD and it not being mentioned again, I really didn’t know at that time about the benefits of breastfeeding – only saw the restrictions I thought it would have on my lifestyle. As neither my mum nor my grandma had breastfed it wasn’t something which was discussed or encouraged by my family. I then made the decision to bottle feed my first two children.
I started work with Breastfeeding Together in April 2014 doing administration; I had minimal knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding at the time, but quickly gained a great deal of information. When I found out I was expecting my third child, I had very clearly in my mind that I wanted to breastfeed and would do anything in my power to ensure my baby had all the benefits of being exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of her life.
As I didn’t breast feed my older children I decided to book myself and my husband onto the breastfeeding workshop – although I will have to admit I felt I would be out of place as I wasn’t a first time mum, this wasn’t the case two of the other mums also had older children but hadn’t breastfed before ! The workshop was really informative and enjoyable it helped dispel a lot of the myths I thought were true around breastfeeding, such as I would be sat in a chair all night feeding when in reality I have found I have had more sleep this time, it also really helped my husband realise the role he and other family members could play in helping me breastfeed successfully.
My daughter arrived a week late in May 2015, I desperately wanted to feed her soon after she was born however I had trouble getting her to latch and feed, after help on the ward from the infant feeding team I brought Kate home where I started to really struggle, something I thought would come very naturally wasn’t as easy as I had assumed – it was going to be a skill both Kate and I would have to learn together, luckily we wouldn’t be alone in our journey.
Helen my peer supporter contacted me on the day we came home from hospital to talk through feeding and see how things were going, feeding had become quite painful and I was unsure I was holding Kate in the right way. The next day Helen observed a feed at home and noticed that Kate was tongue tied and made a referral for this to be divided.
I found feeding Kate challenging and at times exhausting she seemed to be constantly hungry and on the Sunday when she was 6 days old I felt at breaking point I sent Helen a very long text message as I was too upset to speak clearly on the telephone. I had a reply within the hour and a visit that same day, to be told I was doing a fantastic job and showed us some different feeding positions really buoyed my confidence with regular contact and helped me persevere with feeding until we had the tongue tie divided.
Helen came back the next day to observe a feed and help adjust our positioning slightly- what a difference this made within a few days I had healed and feeding became pain free and felt like the natural experience it was supposed to be.
I honestly feel that I would not be writing this case study if it wasn’t for the peer support I had, both with the workshops in pregnancy and after my baby was born. I am so very proud to still be feeding my daughter at 2 years and knowing all the health benefits she has and will continue to have from my milk, not to mention the financial saving we have made enabled me to have a longer maternity leave then we had previously anticipated.
I have always thought that the service was important and helps mums a great deal but having gone through the service myself I have come to realise that the support is absolutely invaluable, so much so that I decided to do the volunteer training course and hopefully give something back.