Intro

All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

If you faced challenging breastfeeding problems did you receive effective, timely NHS support?

How good is NHS support at meeting the needs of mothers who want to breastfeed in the UK?


I'm close to completing my book (keep an eye on the Pinter & Martin page if you want to stay in the loop) which got me wondering, just how good is the support on offer for parents today?

Lots of mums need basic help like being told what is normal or tips for using a breast pump, but what if you face more complex problems?

I'd like to hear from parents who experienced more severe issues such as having a baby who didn't gain weight well, or perhaps fed constantly despite some help with positioning and attachment.  Did you experience bleeding or trauma to your nipples that made feeding unbearable? Recurrent mastitis or something else?

You're welcome to add any comments to the blog, but please only do so if you're happy for me to potentially use your quote :)


If you faced challenging breastfeeding problems, did you receive effective, timely NHS support?

14 comments:

  1. My daughter (and therefore myself as well of course) was forcibly admitted to hospital for a week at the newborn health check due to feeding problems after a homebirth. I had been hand expressing and syringe feeding for the first couple of days as she couldn't latch properly. I believe we would have got on better at home with a hired hospital grade electric pump and easy access to community health support and the internet, but the hospital staff threatened to call the police if I took her home.

    The admitting paediatrician accused me of not having enough breastmilk because I was vegan, and tried to make me to give her formula (as well as giving her unnecessary antibiotics "just in case").

    The midwives in the hospital didn't have much time (or willingness, in most cases) to help, nor the skills to deal with us. I was told the Infant Feeding Co-Ordinator would come to see us, but she never turned up in the 7 days we were there.

    I called an LLL volunteer (a lactation consultant) to the hospital, who diagnosed posterior tongue tie. We were referred to have it cut at a different hospital, but they wouldn't do it till she'd had vitamin K (even though she had none of the risk factors for bleeding disorders) so it wasn't done till she was 10 weeks as it took time to source an oral vegan vitamin K. This caused me weeks of agony and hours spent on inefficient feeds.

    I believe NHS staff should focus more on supporting mothers determined to breastfeed than blindly following procedures (or inventing their own) as the health risks are far higher for babies not breastfed (and mothers not breastfeeding) than those who are supported to receive their biologically normal source of food.

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  2. I did receive a lot of visits from the breastfeeding support team but unfortunately it wasn't very helpful. My son's tongue tie was completely missed by midwives, health visitors, the infant feeling team, gps and the paediatrician who saw him when he failed to thrive, despite near constant feeding. Once they'd decided that they couldn't help, that was it basically but their reaction to me seeing a professional outside the NHS was openly hostile. I was discouraged from seeking outside help and my hv even suggested that the person we would be seeing wasn't qualified to treat my son and that only hospital consultants should treat tongue ties. Despite this I was able to see an Ibclc privately and at 23 weeks my son's tongue tie was finally diagnosed and cut. If I'd not been able to seek private treatment I have no idea where we'd be now. As it stands I now have a happy, thriving 15 month old who has gone from under the 0.4th to the 75th centile since his tongue tie was dealt with! The struggle we had to get there though has left its mark. I hated my first few months of motherhood because of the inadequate support we received and I will never get that time back.

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  3. https://www.patientopinion.org.uk/opinions/208375

    My story can be found here (please feel free to quote any of it). In the end we did get my daughter treated on the nhs, but only by paying for a private lactation consultant. Oh, and the lady at the bottom who asked me to call her said she wanted to meet with me to discuss and after me ringing a couple of times over the last month, has done nothing to this end. The NHS has woefully inadiquet teaching on breastfeeding. I have even recently had a doctor (gp) ask me if it was even possible to breastfeed a baby that had cut teeth. Mothers with hard to address issues are failed often, but sadly so are those with only basic problems of thrush etc.

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  4. The midwives had a go at helping, on hindsight it wasn't good quality help and mainly they offered us pre-made formula. The only effective help has come from volunteers.
    At least my gp has been sympathetic when prescribing.

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  5. Tbh, if I hadn't been a trained peer supporter with a goo friend who was a breastfeeding counsellor, the NHS woukd have failed me entirely. My youngest had a posterior tie. I knew something wasn't righ, as his poo smelt acidic (not like breastfed babies poop). My H.V didn't have a clue, then my son started passing blood, the midwives said it wad just a cold (he had been bunged up since birth). There was also a dairy allergy going on. So my BfC friend refered me onto an NHS midwife who diagnosed his 25% tongue tie, and cut it (in hindsight she failed to pick up it was posterior and also didn't cut it). I realised my son had a dairy allergy, he passed a huge piece of blood (think teaspoon sized piece), he was rushed to hospital where he was finally diagnosed with allergic colitis,

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  6. I breast fed for the first week, i hated it, the pain the feeling how awkward me and my son were trying to get him latched. So i went to bf groups at the childrens center. They told me what i was doing was.right, and they didnt listen to how i found it. How could i bond with my son if i hated feedi g him? I bruised and damaged my nipples by trying to pump pump pump. I found myself crying hidiously to my husband daying i cant do this anymore, and he turned and said lets by some formula. Its the best thing i did, me and my son bonded amazingly i became a happy mum who was confident in herself my son was feeding well and growing he was happy.
    I just wish the nurses and hv had listened to me and seen me, rather than making sure i was another mum breast feeding. For us breast wasn't best.

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  7. I trained as a peer supporter and set up a local breastfeeding support group because there was nothing else in my local town - in everything I've encountered there is little NHS breastfeeding support and they rely heavily upon volunteers to fill the gap which is fine but you need people to train and volunteer (and then there's the whole issue of groups like the NCT excluding peer supporters trained by other organisations)

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  8. My DD was assessed feeding by 4 different midwives by day 2, all said she was feeding great and that my concerns that she was popping off and on throughout a feed were just first time Mum paranoia but that they would ask bf support to come out to me anyway. Day 4 no wet/dirty nappies and they told me she was fine and that they'd see her the next day for her day 5 check. Day 5 check we were told get her to hospital now. She had lost 15% weight and when we got there she needed IV fluids etc. Paediatrician told me we didn't have a good enough routine and that tongue ties do not affect feeding. The breastfeeding nurse (the only person in the NHS that didn't fail me re feeding) found a strong posterior TT. Ironically the bf support lady who I'd asked for on day 1 rang me that night to see if I still needed help... I told her no thanks our feeding issues had got us admitted. She didn't know what to say. We waited from the Friday night to the Monday to have the TT revised and when I complained about that meaning she needed bottles I was told "that I was lucky to give birth in a hospital that had a TT trained feeding coordinator " During a 7 day admission I was having to breastfeed then force feed my child formula every 3 hours via bottle, I wasnt offered another way to supplement and I didn't know better to ask to cup feed. complained at because she wouldn't take 'enough' formula, I had my breastmilk mixed with formula against my wishes, I has a nurse tell me not to breastfeed or pump for a night so I could sleep and she would feed my baby - which I not only refused I put in a complaint. My daughter was moved to an open room where I found it hard to do skin to skin and feed and the screens were so small around me it was clastrophobic and the feeding room was a cupboard so small my husband couldn't fit in - which is pretty isolating when feeds are taking an hour and pumping another half hour on top. When we finally left we had no support on how to stop supplementation;and my DD would only latch via a shield due to teat confusion. The next 3 and a half months my DD fed 16 hours a day and gained weight really slowly. All the while I was told breastfed babies feed a lot, it's normal. Apart from my gp who told me "some babies just need formula" and the nurse at her imms saying thst maybe I should stop feeding becuase I was putting myself at risk of PND. My HV wanted us to see a paediatrician re her weight but I managed to get hold of the IBCLC off the NICU and she saw me at a group aimed at premies so she could help. She instantly saw latch was poor and spent 2 hours with me helping us fix it. She rang we every few days for about a month despite technically all her help being outside of her work remit. She also showed me how to supplement via SNS. All in all if I simply had access to experienced/qualified support before leaving the hospital or when I asked day 1 or 2 my daughter and I could have been spared admission and a 4 month struggle. I've since trained as a peer supporter and it shocks me that no one checked my DD when feeding to see if she had an active swallow pattern which she never did until after that appointment at 4 months. The one nurse was amazing. It's just a shame she is only employed part time only for the NICU and when the community nurse team wanted her on staff the funding was rejected.

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  9. I think we were pretty lucky but I think it helped that I couldn't have been more clear that I was only going to breastfeed and that formula feeding was out of the question. From day one my LO would latch on then fall asleep instantly. Although he amazingly didn't loose much birth weight (about 4% I think), it was extremely stressful. He was jaundiced and slept constantly for about three weeks (sounds like heaven now!!) but our midwife/health visitor put us on a strict feeding schedule of every 3 hours. During that time we were advised to have as much skin to skin time as possible, then attempt to breastfeed for as long as we could (stripping and tickling him to keep him awake). Then once we'd given up with that, whilst still skin to skin we tried to get some expressed milk into him, then top up with a little formula. Then after all that I'd express the next lot which all in all took about 2.5 hours, giving me 30 mins to do whatever I wanted or needed to do before starting the gruelling process again. From day 1 I had no issue with feeding in public, talking about it or asking for help, and the midwives and health visitors were really helpful.

    I've had less help when required now my LO is much older.

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  10. The work of the local support workers (Cherubs) was fantastic and I wish they had been around when I had my first child. Sadly, the support at the hospital was lacking, particularly in the middle of the night. One midwife actually shouted at me as this was my second child and I "should know what I was doing". I didn't ask for help again until we were discharged.

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  11. I had a planned section due to health complications but was only allowed to stay for 48 hours due to lack of beds. I received support in hospital but not as much as I would have liked and some advice was lacking. I wanted to stay longer as feeding was not established but I was told he was feeding fine. Even as a first time mum I knew he wasn't. Within 24 hours he was dehydrated and jaundiced. A midwife was sent out who advised bottles and for me to continue to express. Some of the bad advice was that I should start trying to feed him myself again once my milk had come in/my supply had increased and not to worry if I was too exhausted to express in the early hours. In the end I got an NCT counsellor out as NHS support was via drop in clinics too far away (couldn't drive due to section)... She was fab, but by thus time my supply was low and my son was used to the bottle. We almost cracked it with nipple shields, but then he began to suffer with acid reflux so was refusing to feed even from the bottle. After 6 long and emotional weeks O reluctantly stopped expressing/ trying to feed. I am still upset by this and angry that the NHS did so little to help. They even congratulated themselves on assisting me to feed for 6 weeks in their stats!!! It is so important to offer support in the home and provide sensible, sound advice. I found the NHS staff were encouraging me to stop whereas the NCT support was just right! Hopefully next time I will succeed :)

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  12. I had an emergency c-section so had to stay in hospital the mandatory 3 nights, by the time I left hospital I had one bleeding nipple and had received no consistent advice from the midwives in hospital. Every time they changed shifts I had someone different telling me "no do it like this". Some were so brusque I didn't dare call for breastfeeding help during their shift because they just made it worse. I felt a lot of pressure the first 24 hours to get her feeding with the silent threat of giving formula if I couldn't. Once home I ended up with both nipples bleeding, various kinds of pain during and after feeding, and kind but not very helpful midwives watching me feed her and telling me "well it all looks ok". I went along to a couple of the NHS breastfeeding support groups, but I still continued to be told that everything looked ok. I had 9 weeks of agonising feeds before things just got better without any help. I was determined to breastfeed and just "grinned and beared it" (and am happily still breastfeeding 19 months on). If there was a next time, I would look for help and support outside of the NHS and wouldn't take being told "well it all looks ok" as an answer if there was pain.

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  13. I'm still struggling as my daughter wants to feed all day long. I barely have time for the toilet. I had a great birth and a healthy baby, but feeding started badly in the labour ward. People just kept giving different advice and telling me that if it hurt I wasn't doing it right. I'd tell them it hurt and they'd look and tell me it was fine and to toughen up. I went home with cracked nipples, hating every moment of every hour-long feed. I did seek further nhs help, but again different people came with different advice. Then after 10 days the baby had lost 5% of birth weight and wasn't regaining. I was told to supplement with formula and pump to increase supply without any support to stop supplementing. The lactation advisor gave me formula and left. It's taken weeks but I think we're almost off formula. That said, it's at the cost of constant feeding that I don't know how to resolve

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  14. I'm still struggling as my daughter wants to feed all day long. I barely have time for the toilet. I had a great birth and a healthy baby, but feeding started badly in the labour ward. People just kept giving different advice and telling me that if it hurt I wasn't doing it right. I'd tell them it hurt and they'd look and tell me it was fine and to toughen up. I went home with cracked nipples, hating every moment of every hour-long feed. I did seek further nhs help, but again different people came with different advice. Then after 10 days the baby had lost 5% of birth weight and wasn't regaining. I was told to supplement with formula and pump to increase supply without any support to stop supplementing. The lactation advisor gave me formula and left. It's taken weeks but I think we're almost off formula. That said, it's at the cost of constant feeding that I don't know how to resolve

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