Where to turn if breastfeeding gets tough – #KBBF2013

As I’ve written before, I probably wouldn’t be here writing these posts for the Keep Britain Breastfeeding scavenger hunt if it wasn’t for the support of several people. I know I am pretty determined, so that also plays a role in why I was stubborn enough to plough on in the face of adversity, but I know that it could have turned out so differently had I not met the right people at the right time. I’m going to focus in this post on the people who gave me specific breastfeeding support, but I can’t forget to mention the strong support of my husband Tom and our families, who were very encouraging and helped out with so many things in the early weeks after the birth of both my boys so that I could concentrate on feeding; without them I would have found things much harder than they already were.

When we went back into hospital with Andrew at 6 days old because he was dehydrated as my milk hadn’t come in (and the community midwife team hadn’t had the staff to come and see us between day 2 and day 6, despite our phone calls for help), we were visited on the ward by the maternity hospital’s infant feeding specialist midwife. She was fantastic, and knew just what to say to me and how to listen to me, clearly an emotional wreck, feeling like I’d failed as a mum in less than a week of being put in charge of a baby. She assessed us both and how he was feeding, and she suggested some things we could do – I didn’t feel like she was pressurising me to carry on breastfeeding him, but was offering support if I did want to. It was this midwife who first introduced us to the SNS, which was key in our breastfeeding journey. I will never forget just how important the information she gave us and her ability to listen to my concerns were to us.

After that I started going to the weekly breastfeeding drop-in clinic not far from our home. This is run by volunteer health visitors and breastfeeding peer supporters like La Leche League (LLL) trained mums. Cambridge is probably quite unusual to have a regular drop-in like this almost every day of the week, and anyone is welcome to attend for support. Half the appeal is just to be able to sit down and have a hot drink made for you and have a chat with other mums who are also not finding it all plain sailing. Again, the ability of the supporters to just listen and let you tell them exactly what’s going on is amazing, and the information they give is accurate because they have a special interest in breastfeeding. I found that my assigned postnatal community midwife and health visitor knew very little about breastfeeding, because this is such a small part of their training unless they do more on their own initiative; I had some what turned out to be very inaccurate advice from my midwife, which could have been a lot worse if I hadn’t had access to more accurate info elsewhere.

Well done! You've found another hunt logo - you can enter the competition again at the bottim of this post.
Well done! You’ve found another hunt logo – you can enter the competition again at the bottim of this post.

It was through the regular drop-in that I got to know a lovely lady who is one of the LLL leaders in Cambridge. She encouraged me to go along to a meeting where I could meet more mums who could offer me support and friendship. So I went along to our first meeting when Andrew was 4 weeks old, not sure what to expect, and we’ve been going pretty much every fortnight for the last nearly 2 and a half years! Before I went I wondered whether I would feel odd in the group as I wasn’t able to excessively breastfeed, but I was soon welcomed into the group and never felt embarrassed that I had to take formula along in my SNS – they were happy to help and it didn’t matter one bit that we had a more unusual breastfeeding story, as everyone in the room had a different story. There was also no pressure to breastfeed at all, they were just there for me if I wanted to persevere, it was my choice.

Now we are very much involved in the group: I’m on the committee, we go to every meeting that we can, and I have been able to chat with other mums who are going through issues similar to what we have experienced and give them some support too. This is exactly what LLL is about – mum-to-mum support. Apart from my milk supply issues, we’ve also had experience of breastfeeding through pregnancy and tandem breastfeeding (I’ll talk about these more in my next hunt post), both of which I’ve been able to share with other mums who are thinking of having another baby. Although I’ve often wished that I didn’t have IGT and had a ‘why me?’ attitude for much of the first half year of Andrew’s life, I have now come to see that I can turn this into something positive by offering other mums support based on our difficult experiences – it’s only because we had issues that we sought support and ended up getting involved with LLL, so if it hadn’t have been for our problems, I might well have not had the opportunity to do this.


It was also through LLL that Andrew’s tongue tie got spotted. One of the leaders noticed his tongue was a little anchored when he smiled at her, and as she wasn’t an expert, she said that it might be worth getting it checked out my someone who specialises in tongue tie snipping. I tried to ask two GPs at our surgery if they could refer us to the nearest hospital with a specialist, but they didn’t want to know (I wrote about this here). So we decided to pay for a Lactation Consultant to come and assess him. She said that he did have a posterior tongue tie, which was quite hard to spot, so she snipped it and things did improve for us as Andrew started to gain more weight from that week on. But it wasn’t just the tongue tie snipping that was good – she spent about 3 hours one-to-one with me talking through all sorts of things to do with our breastfeeding story so far, going into so much detail both in the questions she asked me and the info she gave me. Of course that’s her job and that’s what we paid her to do; I just wish this level of help was available for free on the NHS.

I wouldn’t wish our breastfeeding situation on anyone, I’d far rather not have the faff of topping up with formula, but I do hope that through my writing about it other mums will be encouraged to seek support in places that will really help. Local drop-ins are usually advertised in places like health visitor clinics (or asking your health visitor), maternity hospital postnatal packs, NCT newsletters and children’s centres. Organisations such as LLL, NCT and ABM have details of local groups on their websites. Lactation Consultants are listed by area on the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain website. You might find that your own midwife, health visitor and GP are more helpful and knowledgeable than ours were – it depends how personally interested they are in breast-feeding. I hope this has been informative, and I’m always open to questions about my supply issues, use of an SNS, feeding in pregnancy and tandem feeding.

Today, as well as the main competition with over Β£1000 worth of goodies in the prize kitty, I have a competition running to win 5 pairs of washable breast pads hand made by the lovely Leah at I Sew Green. Leah is aΒ work at home mum trying to make the world a greener place to be by making all those things you normally throw away. She has some lovely breast pads, cloth sanitary products and cloth nappy-related products that you can see through her Facebook page. To enter both competitions, follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.

And finally, why not pop over to some other blogs and companies who are participating in the hunt….

Circus Queen

Diary of a First Child

The Secret Life of Kate

Oh So Amelia

Hinckley Yummy Mummy

Breast Milk Keepsakes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

34 thoughts on “Where to turn if breastfeeding gets tough – #KBBF2013”

  1. Your breastfeeding story is inspiring!
    Sadly, I didn’t find the right support in the early days but thankfully my problems did resolve themselves over time. I would urge any pregnant women intending on breastfeeding to know where there is professional support available before having baby.

  2. Its sooo nice to see people carrying on despite the odds! We too lacked actual support, despite the midwives thinking they were helping. Its so important to keep searching for the right help and not giving in!

  3. My OH has supported my want to breastfeed and hasn’t once suggested formula. He now gets to feed a little girl from a sippy cup when I go to work so he isn’t missing out either.

    1. I think there are other ways to bond, Dad doesn’t have to feed to bond. Mine enjoys bath time with the boys and reading to them, amongst other things.

    1. Hooray for LLL! I don’t know where I’d be without them. Certainly not here commenting on a post abour my breastfeeding experience πŸ˜‰

  4. Luckily I knew about tt’s when ds arrived and knew where to get help ASAP privately as mws all said he wasn’t!

  5. My husband and best friend Kat. I haven’t started yet but am expecting twins any day now so will need all the support I can get!

  6. My oh is my supporter. Does a days work and then comes home and does tea and washes up as littlun cluster feeds then.

  7. except for the midwife and health visitor I had no support so I trained to be a peer supporter in my town

  8. I have been lucky enough to not need any support while I breastfed my daughter and still not needed any while feeding my son, but when times are hard my hubby is always there to listen!

  9. Thanks for sharing your experiences, you have overcome so much.
    my biggest supporter is my OH who saw me through the early nights with baby no 1 when we struggled with latch issues, and ended up referred back to the hospital for a feeding plan which involved a very difficult schedule of expressing and topping up. he also understands how important breastfeeding is for both mine and our childrens health.
    But I also have a community of women friends who have breastfed/are breastfeeding and its their support that gets me through the ups and downs.

    1. Family and community support are so important. A few generations ago mums would have these in place without thinking about it, but now we’re not so fortunate in today’s society

  10. what an amazing read, I know that your determination got you through, but great to hear you also had good support

    1. Hehe, we joke that my name should be Little Miss Determination πŸ˜‰ It is true, but suport was vital too

  11. In the early days I had wonderful support from my mum and my best friend, and my husband is my greatest supporter. I like to class you as one of my supporters too, as if I hadn’t chanced upon your blog, I probably would have carried on thinking I was the only one in the world going through what I was going through, and you’ve given me such great hope for when baby 2 arrives in November. Thank you.

    1. Aw, thank you Laura for your kind words. I’ve found great comfort in finding you and your blog too, it’s so good to know I’m not alone, given that everyone says it’s ‘rare’. Hope all goes well with number 2! x

    1. Yep, she had a big role to play for us too! Just a shame you have to pay for these things even though there’s an NHS!

  12. I know I worked through a lot with DS1 but I have every respect for anyone who works through having to pump or supplement by SNS. For me, a supportive midwife and BF counsellor at “Feeding Friends” made the difference, and I kept going until we moved 18 months later and trained as a peer supporter. I’m now feeding DD2 too, and “Breastmates” is great – I’m attending the normal one as a mother and peer supporter, but they also have an extended BF support group which helps as I only know 2 other mums still feeding DS1’s contempories.

    1. Thanks. Support at all ages of breastfeeding a baby and toddler is important, especially if things get really tough

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