I had my first little boy when I was 18 and I managed to breastfeed him for three weeks. As a young mummy, I lacked the support and encouragement to breastfeed and this really affected me. I often felt ‘shrugged off’ by professionals. It is only now after having my fourth boy that I feel I have found the support I needed to make breastfeeding work.
I was 18 and thought breastfeeding and formula were the same
When I had my first child at 18 I breastfed him for three weeks, I didn’t have support at that age and thought that breastfeeding and formula were the exact same. I found it so easy to give up and go on to formula because I felt there was hardly any support.
In 2015 I had another little boy but due to personal reasons, I couldn’t physically breastfeed. I did make sure to give him my ‘liquid gold’ colostrum but I still felt judged by a lot of midwives and feeding specialists. It was as if I was ‘shrugged off’ by these professionals.
My third boy was born early and we struggled
In September 2016 I gave birth to my third little boy Ted. He was five weeks early and weighed just 5lb 1oz. I was a single mum but really wanted to breastfeed him from the get-go. However, it was difficult to get him to feed properly as he had quite a ‘lazy’ latch, probably due to the fact he arrived early.
He was also a very sleepy baby and I struggled to wake him a lot. A midwife advised I gave him a top-up of formula which I really didn’t want to do as I wanted to make breastfeeding work.
A midwife advised I gave him a top-up of formula which I really didn’t want to do as I wanted a successful breastfeeding journey.Lucy
Lack of support was a big factor in giving up
Ted and I were in the hospital for a total of five days and only received support with his latch once. Despite struggling, it was disappointing not to be visited by a feeding specialist. There were many mums on my ward who just gave up and used formula due to the minimal support.
I had to persevere with Ted and just keep trying him at the breast and hope he would latch on well. It was only when he was weighed and putting on weight that I knew my boobs were working and giving him enough milk.
Once home, the community midwife visited and looked at his latch from a distance and said “looks fine”. I was given no pointers on feeding positions or anything. It wasn’t long before I had mastitis and was so poorly. I had no idea what was wrong with me as I had never heard of mastitis, nevermind how serious it could be.
In the end, I breastfed Ted for five months and then went on to formula. Whilst my cousin and mum would visit me and help with the baby, I was a single mum with three boys and I just didn’t feel like I had the support I needed to continue breastfeeding.
I was determined to make breastfeeding work with my fourth boy
Now onto my most successful feeding journey with my 4th boy Harlem! I had him at 37 weeks due to reduced movements. He was born weighing 7lb 1oz. When I was induced the midwife asked how I was feeding and I said I wanted to breastfeed. She had asked if I’d breastfed my other children and I told her I had and that it wasn’t ‘new’ to me. I couldn’t believe it when she said “I can leave you to it then, less work for me!”. I didn’t know what to say but I told her I would still like to have some support with it as I felt it could help me more.
When Harlem was born I had skin to skin straight away. He rooted for my breast and latched on and we had a really good first feed. We left the hospital that night but no one came by to offer support or advice. Nobody checked his latch or anything.
We were admitted to hospital for three days
The day after we came home, the community midwife came out to us. She took one look at Harlem and said we had to go straight back to the hospital as he was really jaundiced. They wouldn’t accept us in the postnatal ward so we went to the children’s ward. It was there I was told the feeding specialist will come down and speak to me about his latch and possibly expressing some milk to make sure he is ‘getting enough’.
We were in the hospital for three days due to Harlem needing blue light treatment for his jaundice. Unfortunately, the feeding specialist never came to speak to me.
This has been my longest breastfeeding journey yet
If it wasn’t for the support of my partner and breastfeeding groups on Facebook I wouldn’t have carried on and been able to make breastfeeding work. 16 months in and we’re still boobing!
I have battled nursing aversion, cluster feeding, and development leaps but I am just so proud of us for getting this far.
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