Breastfeeding Awareness Week: Carol’s Story
I met Carol at peer support training and found her to be knowledgable, supportive and inspiring. It was partly Carol’s experiences of baby led weaning that led us to try it with Plum. Here, she shares her own experiences of breastfeeding.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I planned to breastfeed him for six months and I expected it to be easy. Things worked out quite differently.
I had a lovely natural birth in hospital. I knew enough from antenatal classes to know that the help and advice I was being given on the ward was wrong, and went home still struggling to get him to latch on properly. By the next night I was in agony. The nipple pain was harder to cope with than labour. I managed to get help from a breastfeeding advisor, and gradually it got easier and stopped hurting. By 6 weeks I’d started to feel more confident.
Breastfeeding was becoming enjoyable: I love the way it makes me calm and relaxed, I love not having to think about how many bottles to take out and about, I love being able to make my baby feel better when poorly, I love the way it’s a “magical cure-all” that can stop a baby crying in an instant.
I found attending breastfeeding groups helpful, and wished I’d realised I could have visited them whilst pregnant. As time went on I had lots of new problems, and lots of lovely help from peer supporters. They also opened my eyes to new possibilities like continuing to feed when retuning to work, not having to introduce follow-on milk and trying baby led weaning (not bothering with purees.) They boosted my confidence when I felt bombarded with criticism about feeding on demand. I had a fussy baby who needed more of everything except sleep! Life got much easier when I learnt to feed lying down. My peer supporters referred me to factual information about co-sleeping safely, which made it so much easier and enjoyable to manage with a baby that woke up frequently.
At 6 months I continued to breastfeed – I wasn’t going to give up when it had just got really easy. His first birthday came and went, and still he showed no less interest in feeding. I remember how shocked I was the first time I saw someone nursing a toddler, and now here I was doing it myself. The only reason for me to stop would have been pressure from our society. This didn’t seem a good enough reason. The NHS guidelines also changed to recommend breastfeeding for at least 2 years.
Breastfeeding has been a joy from the start with my second baby. She took to it easily, after a fabulous un-medicated birth. Also, I was well prepared this time having read lots about breastfeeding – my favourite book being “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding”, despite its strange title. When I encountered minor difficulties, I had lots of information about what might help, who could help me, and the confidence to just relax and believe in my baby’s and my body’s ability to do it.
Now ‘breastfeeding’ means more to me than just a means of delivering the best nutrition and some useful antibodies to my baby. Nursing is a source of comfort for my baby and relaxation for me. I find it great for bonding and helping me to parent more positively.
I never expected breastfeeding to be the fantastically rewarding experience it has proved to be.