Breastfeeding Stories Guest Post Series
Welcome back to the #BreastfeedingStories guest post series, an opportunity to bring together stories from other mums who have breastfeeding experiences that they would like to share.
This months guest post features Kelly from The Best Version of Kelly who shares her story about how the lack of breastfeeding support from those that she needed it from the most impacted, her family and her decision to bottle instead of breastfeeding a second time around.
Kelly’s breastfeeding story
The breastfeeding debate is something I feel strongly about. Let me tell you my story, or should I say my nightmare, so you can understand why.
My daughter Annie was born in October 2008. I wanted to feed her myself. I imagined it would be a wonderful and special experience and I had been regularly told it would be better for her.
I thought I was doing fine and the midwives told me I was doing great. I expected it to hurt but not to the extent it did. My husband couldn’t watch me feed as he hated seeing me wince in pain. I bled a lot too. Annie would take a break from feeding and blood would dribble from her mouth, I found that upsetting and concerning.
Annie was a very unsettled baby. She cried a lot and barely slept, more than once she went 6 – 8 hours without a minute of sleep and she was so distressed.
Yet the midwives when they visited just said it was normal, one said ‘babies do cry, be grateful you have your husband, I had to do it alone.’
As she turned two weeks old I noticed she had green bits on about 6 of her fingernails. We went straight to the GP. When the GP opened Annie’s clothing to examine her she was shocked to see how thin she looked and called the hospital immediately. Her Dad and I drove her straight to the hospital, we were so exhausted and so scared.
Annie had to have blood tests and had a tube inserted to her hand ready to take a drip. She also had to have a lumbar puncture, where the fluid is taken from the spine. We had to stand outside the room whilst they did it as we were told it would be too traumatic to watch.
At that point, I couldn’t imagine anything making me feeling more traumatised than I already felt.
We were put in a side room to wait whilst a room on the ward was found. The nurses brought me a machine so I could extract milk so they could monitor how much Annie was drinking.
I tried my best but could barely extract any, they said when I was done to let them know so it could be refrigerated. My husband went out countless times to tell them but they were so busy no one came for over an hour at which point they declared the milk useless as it hadn’t been refrigerated and they poured it away!
I was defeated. I insisted at that point I couldn’t feed her any longer and for the sake of seeing how much she was drinking, I would switch to bottles.
Eventually, after hours of waiting, we were taken to a room on the ward where I could stay with Annie and she was started on a course of antibiotics for the infection on her fingernails. I had to record how much milk she drank and she was weighed regularly.
We were in for a total of 5 days. I stayed the whole time. When I arrived on the ward I was asked if I was breastfeeding. I said no and was made to feel like a second-class citizen.
I was told they only provided food for mothers who were breastfeeding. I had to wait for our visitors to come each day so I could go and get something to eat.
To this day, I don’t know what caused the infection, it was never explained to me. All I cared about at that time was that Annie was getting better and putting on weight.
When we arrived home she immediately started to cry less and sleep more. I was still paranoid though and noted what she drank at each feed for weeks after.
In January 2012, my son Freddie was born. I had decided I wouldn’t breastfeed him. I couldn’t risk having what happened with Annie happen again and I knew if I breastfed I would be constantly worried and stressed and that wouldn’t do him any good.
The midwife that delivered him asked me whilst I was in labour if I planned to feed him, I said no and explained my reasons. I felt the need to justify my answer as I knew she wouldn’t approve. I was right she didn’t.
Whilst I was in the second stage of labour (the worst phase) she was trying to convince me to change my mind by telling me that he would get sick much more often if I didn’t. How cruel to emotionally blackmail a woman at that time!
Midwives are amazing in so many ways. I respect the work they do greatly. I just think they can force the breast-feeding issue too much and it verges on bullying.
My advice would always be that if you are happy to try breastfeeding go for it and if you’re lucky it will work for you. However, if it doesn’t or if you are not enjoying it then change it, a happy mummy means a happy baby.
Having not breastfed feels like a dirty secret. I’m often made to feel inadequate or less of a mother when I read articles and social media threads on the subject.
Let’s please be less judgmental of those who for whatever reason didn’t breastfeed. If you did manage it then be eternally grateful and please never be smug.
For the record both Annie and Freddie are very well children. I’m scared of tempting fate writing this but to date, Annie has only had two upset tummies and Freddie just one. In three and a half years of school, Annie has only had one day off sick.
As Parents There Is Nothing More Powerful Than The Stories We Share.