When I was 19 I gave birth to my first son, I always said I'd “try to breastfeed but if I couldn’t I wouldn’t get upset” Alex was born under very stressful circumstances, I'd lived with my partners mum most of my pregnancy after falling out with my mum, I couldn’t get on with her either and 8 weeks before Alex was born I turned up at my physc nurse and lost it after a bad argument (i had previously been diagnosed with Ante-natel depression) I got taken out and put in temporary accommodation, 12 miles from where i had been living, and i don’t drive, I was on crutches with SPD. After another HUGE argument my partner came with me, only for us to move again 4 weeks later.
Alex’s birth was very bad, not an experience I wish to repeat, as soon as he was born he was taken to NICU for a few hours and then bought back to me. I had no idea what i was doing in hindsight, and I had no help from the ward, I remember waking up at 4am and asking the night staff why he hadn’t woken and why he kept coughing and being a bit sick, I got told to go back to sleep and leave him to it. I hadn’t even had a bath. I got in the bath and left him in the nursery, he did feed later but he was small, and as we found out later, sick.
We discharged ourselves the afternoon after he was born, so we went home, me, my partner and Alex. I carried on feeding, he carried on being incredibly sick, the midwife came and weighed him at 4 days old, he’d lost, a LOT, we got taken back into hospital, I got told I was failing him. Turns out he had Gastro Reflux. I kept feeding him, with infant gaviscon to “help” he put on minute weight, at 4 weeks we were back in hospital, the local children's this time, who gave him stronger reflux medication. I went to see my health visitor the next day and she told me enough was enough, it was SMA gold (those specific words) to top up and that was it!
That was the beginning of the end for us. I lasted another 12 weeks, with the formula slowly taking over, my partners mum, not helping by telling me I couldn’t breastfeed him after I ate chocolate, spicy foods, fizzy drinks, strong flavours. All the things i was, unfortunately, surviving on as a new young mum whose partner couldn’t take any time off work.
So at 16 weeks I stopped, it broke my heart! I had zero support from anyone we saw, and we saw a LOT of health professionals with Alex being so ill, neither my mum or my partners mum, breastfed any of their children either, and non of my friends did. So much for I wouldn’t be upset!
When Alex was 9 months old I fell pregnant again. This time i would NOT be taken for a mug! I found out any online resource and read and read and read!!! Olli’s birth was 26 days late, drug free and 1hr 18 minutes! A stark contrast to the pethidine, gas and air, epidural and 8 day labour I had for Alex. I picked him up, put him to my breast and cried when he latched like a pro!!!
Within 6 hours i was heading home on top of the world!!! My own midwife came to see us the next day, I told her my nipples were sore, she asked to watch him latch on and told me there was NO problems and why didn’t i go to the new Baby Cafe on Friday. I still didn’t feel that her insistence nothing was wrong was correct so again, turned to the internet and discovered he had a shallow latch, so i used the (controversial method) of using your thumb to open their mouth wider, it worked! By the time i turned up at our new Baby cafe I was comfy and happy!
Olli was 4 days old the week it began, we attended every week for the entire year the “youth” one was open, even training to be a peer supporter with them. Olli became the poster child for our Baby Cafe, he was worn in a sling, he was breastfed on demand and he packed on over 1lb a week EVERY week until he was 6 months old!!!!! He self weaned at 12.5 months and I cried for 3 days! In blessed hindsight, we introduced a bottle at bedtime at 11 months, He refused me one bedtime just after his birthday and I knew then I'd never get him back, I was right, i didn’t!
Just after Olli turned 2 I was pregnant again! I was working at an active Baby cafe this time, had access to 2 top lactation consultants in the UK, had a wealth of knowledge, experience and support behind me! Amelia-Mae was born at home, drug free, in just under in 3 hours! Again, i picked her up, my first words to her were “Hello my beautiful princess, would you like some boobie?”
She’s now 13 months, and as I write this is indeed having her beloved “Ba, Dis Ba, Dat Ba” (left and right LOL) we co-sleep full time, she’s worn, full time, she’s bf on demand, and always always has been, I have nursed her through her health problems (She has chest issues and kidney ones) I have nursed her in a church, on a train, a bus, a kids party everywhere I go, so does Amelia-Mae.
I have met some WONDERFUL friends through breastfeeding support groups, online, through working for Baby Cafe. I am actually about to start work at our local children's and family centres as a breastfeeding support with some friends, and at the local hospital doing the “11 ‘O’ clock stop”! I have come so very very far from that scared 19 year old girl to a fully fledged mother of 3, passionate lactivist and peacefully parent! I thank breastfeeding for it ALL!!!!
Kai, Alex, Olli and Boobie babe Amelia-Mae!