“Breastfeeding has been my odyssey. I always planned on it as it’s a natural language in my family and I consider myself lucky to have such positive role models in my mum and my sister. My mum breastfed me for a year (at a time when it wasn’t the norm in the country) and my sister breastfed both her children until well past toddlerhood, so the thought of bottles and formula was something completely alien to me. Nonetheless, it hasn’t come easy. My daughter had jaundice and tongue tie and was drastically underweight for the first five months of her life which meant I had to fight tooth and nail to continue breastfeeding. I find looking back of photos of her at that time very upsetting still. I saw countless midwives, lactation consultants and paediatricians. I even took my daughter to Spain, by myself, at four months, broken and heartbroken at the prospect of losing the connection we had, to see a wonderful lady who taught me the importance of passion and good positioning in breastfeeding.
“Baby needs to be encrusted into your breast”, is her mantra.
I feel like support is very mixed in this country. In some areas there is great lactation support and in some not so much. My main criticism of the health service is that when breastfeeding problems are experienced not many health care professionals ask why, they just try to fill the hole with formula. I’m not against using formula when absolutely necessary, in the end it helped us to continue feeding, but it wouldn’t even exist if midwives, doctors and families, were properly trained to support mothers in the very early days.
I’m so glad that I persevered, despite the adverse pressure to give up, as boob time is so much more than milk to her and me. My partner has always been very supportive in that aspect and I’m lucky that he is. I enjoy being a proud breastfeeding mum because of everything we went though and have no qualms about feeding in public. I wish more people did so that others wouldn’t feel scared to because it is the most natural thing in the world. My primary goal was to get to a year. My daughter is now 15 months so we might as well keep going for as long as it’s mutually beneficial. I feel like I fought too hard to just give up now that it’s become relatively easy.
My advice to a new mum or mum-to-be would be to really check your positioning (don’t just rely on NHS guidance), look out for tongue-tie, and relax! Stress is a milk killer. Support from your partner and family is crucial though, because when the going gets tough (and it will at some point), if everyone is telling to give up, you probably will.”