Breastfeeding Awareness Week: Sophie’s Story
Sophie is another peer supporter who decided to give something back after the support she received herself.
When my son Josh was born I was a very naive 21 year old first time mum, and I think to be honest I just expected it to be easy and all fall into place. I knew I wanted to breastfeed, and bottle feeding never crossed my mind before he was born. I had done a little bit of reading up on internet forums, read the literature the midwife had given me on breastfeeding and attended an antenatal feeding course run by Sure Start and I thought that was all I needed to know and I would be fine.
I had a long labour with Josh and was exhausted by the time it came to giving him his first feed. I remember soon after he was born, I asked the midwife if I could feed him and she passed him to me and I just looked blankly back at her as if to say “what? How on earth do I do it?”. I really struggled to get to grips with it at first; I felt all fingers and thumbs and totally uncomfortable. To make matters worse Josh was a very sleepy baby (due to a traumatic birth) and he didn’t latch well; in the early days he had to have a few feeds out of a cup as he couldn’t latch, so we stayed in hospital for quite a while after he was born to get feeding established. I must say at this point that the midwives on the maternity ward at the hospital were really good, and I wouldn’t have stuck to it if it wasn’t for the support they gave me. I called for someone to check his latch at just about every feed, and ended up in tears on multiple occasions.
When he was little, Josh had a kidney problem meaning we were in and out of hospital a lot, which made me realise the wonders of breastfeeding. During the first few months of Josh’s life I didn’t really feel like my feet hit the floor; we spent days trawling round the hospital, backwards and forwards from the doctors to the hospital and home again and I loved that no matter where we were or where we had spent the night before, if he was hungry all I had to do was find somewhere to sit and I could feed him. If I had chosen to bottle feed I would have had to make sure I had sterilised bottles, and milk and somewhere to make up bottles and for me at the time that would have been a logistical nightmare!
Im not going to lie and sugar coat things and say everything was easy because for the first 6 weeks it was an emotional roller coaster; I didn’t really enjoy breastfeeding, I felt very self conscious when I had to feed in public, I felt all fingers and thumbs and like I had no idea what I was doing. When he was three weeks old we started going to my local Sure Start breastfeeding group, I would ask any questions I had, no matter how silly I thought they were. I found the group was a life saver when it came to feeding in public as it’s a really safe environment to try out feeding around other people and it’s really nice to hear other people’s stories and to hear that your worries are quite normal. I continued going to this group throughout the time I fed Josh and still pop in to see everybody now. It was from here that I was offered the opportunity to do my peer support training, and I jumped at the chance so I could offer others the same support I had in those early days when times are hard.
From about 8 weeks onwards my feeding story was a breeze really;, Josh slept through from 10 till 6 at night from 6 weeks old although he did feed a lot in the day and have long periods of cluster feeding in the evening to make up for lost feeds in the night, but for me that was a much better option than being up all night.
Before having Josh I planned to feed him until he was 6 months old but actually we were both so happy doing it that we carried on almost until his first birthday, when he went straight onto drinking cows milk from a beaker. He is now a very happy and independent little 14 month old boy and I am pregnant again and due in 3 months time. I am looking forward to breastfeeding this time and looking forward to using some of the knowledge I have gained from having Josh and from doing my peer support training.