This post is part of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt. The theme this week is support, so I thought I’d share my experiences.
Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally. It’s a tough cookie to crack. The baby doesn’t know how to latch on, you don’t know what you’re doing, and it can be a really stressful time. If you don’t ask for help, you’re probably going to struggle.
I have a number of friends who breastfeed, or attempted breastfeeding, and all of them had troubles along the way, so I knew it was going to be tough. My Mum had warned me that it is hard work at first, and had offered support if I should need advice.
When I was pregnant I had recurring nightmares about not being able to breastfeed the baby. In the dreams I wasn’t producing milk, and I couldn’t get the baby to latch on, and the baby would be screaming and getting thinner by the second. They were really horrible dreams, and forced me to do lots of research into breastfeeding to counter my fears!
I attended the NCT antenatal classes in my local area. They were great, they’re expensive but I highly recommend them. We had three sessions; one on labour (which had a real focus on natural birth which I found really reassuring), one on life with the baby (which terrified me because it was all about sleepless nights and dirty nappies) and one on breastfeeding. I was really looking forward to the breastfeeding session, because I wanted to be as prepared as possible.
I have to say, I was really disappointed with our breastfeeding session. It was two hours long, and didn’t contain any new information for me. The time was used badly, the counselor spent a long time setting up pointless demonstrations at the beginning and then had to rush through the important bits at the end. And, most frustratingly of all, she split the Mums and birth partners up at the end and taught the birth partners lots of positions for breastfeeding. Surely that information would have been better in the minds of the Mums??
I was really disheartened when I left the session that evening. It felt like a total waste of time (unlike the other sessions of the course which had been great). The session hadn’t spent enough time going into potential problems, and that was my biggest worry.
When Ebony was born, I breastfed her within an hour of her birth. But the first feed is easy, because the midwives pretty much do all the work for you. After the midwives left, the next feed went pretty well and I felt really proud that I was able to do it.
But after a few feeds, it started to hurt and I didn’t know why. I was latching Ebony on just as I had been told, but it was still hurting. I kept taking her off, and latching her on again but the pain didn’t go away.
My main support system during this time was my husband. He knew how worried I was about breastfeeding problems, and he was really nice when the pain started. He immediately told the midwives that we were having difficulties. And he was really nice looking after me, and being sympathetic when I was in pain, and being supportive and saying what a great Mum I was for trying to work through the pain. Having a support system is so important, and I know his kind words went a long way in encouraging me to be strong.
The midwives were fantastic, I cannot stress how lucky I feel I was with my midwives. They came round every day, morning and night, until I felt confident with breastfeeding. They helped latch her on, showed me different techniques and offered me advice for helping with the pain. They were amazing.
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, ask for help. Don’t struggle alone. Breastfeeding can be tough at first, but all you need is a little support and you’ll be fine. Speak to breastfeeding friends, I’ve found my experienced friends to be fountains of invaluable knowledge!
For more advice on where to find breastfeeding support, check out Tea with Felicity, Where Roots Flourish, Really Rach, My Mummy's Pennies and The Secret Life of Kate.
To be in with the chance of winning over £500 of breastfeeding goodies, all you need to do is comment on this blog! So please leave a comment below and you'll be entered into a raffle as part of the Scavenger Hunt's grand competition.