Whether your breastfeeding journey is just beginning or 10 years in we all have different experiences. In this series I will be sharing journeys and experiences from a range of people who have breastfed or are currently breastfeeding their littles.
Suzanne is a mum of 2 and had 2 very different experiences breastfeeding.
Was / has your breastfeeding experience been positive? Explain your feeding journey.
I struggled beyond belief to feed my first baby. It was harder than I ever could have imagined but I was 100% determined that she would not be formula-fed so I got through it with sheer determination. I had a bit of a difficult time during the birth and I believe that my daughter was forced to arrive before she was truly ready as I went into labour after coming down with severe sickness bug two weeks before her due date. The difficult start probably made feeding harder – I was so tired in the first few days that I was actually hallucinating!
For a good few weeks I found it extremely difficult to get her to latch properly and every time I thought she was latched she would come off. My nipples were cracked and bleeding and extremely painful and my baby would just cry and cry and cry because she was struggling to feed. It was incredibly stressful and frustrating and beyond exhausting. The good news is that I stuck with my determination and it did get easier! I managed to exclusively breastfeed her for a year before she gave up of her own accord.
How long did you breastfeed for? Did you plan on feeding that long?
I initially thought I would feed for 6 months as I thought that was “normal”, which I now know it’s not! I fed my daughter for a year, after which she decided by herself that she’d had enough.
Did you have support from health professionals?
Yes. I went to the breastfeeding clinic at St David’s hospital every week and they were amazing. I honestly don’t think I would have managed it without them, they were an absolute lifeline. The help I received from the hospital staff, health visitor and midwives was not as good as at the clinic and I don’t think I would have managed with their advice alone.
Did you have support / help from family/ partner / friends?
Very little. I had some supportive family members but none of them were living nearby at the time and nobody was really able to offer much practical advice. I was the first of my friends to have a baby and my partner had no idea how to help and was sleeping through the night because he needed to for work!
What was the best breastfeeding advice you were given?
“The Sandwich”!!! Grab your boob like you would a sandwich and literally “shove” it into the baby’s mouth!
What is something you wish you were told about breastfeeding before you began?
I remember my mother saying “it isn’t always easy” but because she’d put the word “always” in I just ignored her because that meant sometimes it’s easy, right?! Nobody else mentioned anything about how hard it was going to be and I was in for a shock when my daughter arrived! You don’t think that something that’s supposed to be natural is so hard to do!! I do think I had a tougher experience than some but I wish I had been warned beforehand that breastfeeding is actually incredibly hard work.
The other thing is, when I had my second baby I joined a breastfeeding group on Facebook. At first I found it useful but it soon made me feel as though I was irreversibly damaging my child unless I breastfed her all night and day until she was school age. After a year I had to give up because she was literally feeding all night long, I was getting absolutely no sleep whatsoever and I was trying to work during the day. What I was reading in the group made me feel like stopping feeding would be incredibly harmful to her and I’d be a terrible mother. I left the group, stopped feeding her that night and after one night she was sleeping through, perfectly happy, perfectly healthy and certainly not damaged or bothered in any way!! I feel it’s important for new mothers to know about this because they can feel so pressured by what others say, especially if it’s a whole crowd on social media, but ultimately they know what’s right for their own baby and should have the confidence to go with their instincts.
Did / have you ever experience negative comments whilst feeding? Was you worried you would before you started?
No, never. I did find it slightly daunting at first but I just used a very big scarf to wrap around my neck and my baby and that worked very well. I’ve had two babies, fed for a year each, and I’ve never experienced anybody staring at me or making any comments at all. Most people don’t even realise you’re doing it, they just think the baby is asleep! Breastfeeding tops are very useful for public feeding as well!
What was your favourite thing about breastfeeding your baby?
The feeling of closeness to them and just looking at them!!
What kept you going on the hard days/ nights?
Bananas and TV!
Thank you so much to Suzanne for taking part, if you would like to take part then please email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Breastfeeding for a month or decade, your journey counts and we’d love to hear from you.