We Need More Breast/Chest Feeding Support
Updated: Jul 17
When i found out i was pregnant, in 2017, i didnt give much thought to how i would feed my baby. I attended prenatal classes, joined pregnancy/parenthood groups and read books; but the question was never actually asked.
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy i decided i'd try to nurse her and if it didnt work out i just had to accept it.
My darling, Willow Mae MacAlpine, was born at 10.29 am and latched instantly. However this was not the case when her next feed came along. I just couldn't get the hang of this new skill that i was trying to figure out without any advice. After some time a midwife came along to help me, she pinched my nipple and popped it into Willows mouth without a word and off she went.
How did she do that? Why cant i do it?
I know you're all thinking i should of asked for help, the truth is, i felt so out of place amongst everyone one else on the ward. I suppose it didnt help when i asked if i could go home that evening, she was not happy. She didnt even talk to me, she spoke directly to my mother and referenced to me as "that girl".
I just wanted my own bed. They'd forgotten my lunch and dinner so i was starving, i hadnt eaten anything since long before giving birth. i was worrying about what my energy levels would be like once Connor left and i had to do it all alone. So i decided that i'd mention going home again, this time i was met with scaremongering. They told me i'd have to wait until tomorrow so Willow would have her 24 hr check done or something awful would happen. So i stayed put.
After many tears from both me and Connor when visiting time came to an end i gave nursing another go. I still couldnt get the hang of it. In she came again and silently latched Willow to me, that was the last i seen of anyone that night.
I didnt sleep, or couldnt, so i just held onto my sleeping baby. Full of worry and questions. I realised it was up to me to figure this out, so thats what i did.
The next time i seen anyone it was the paediatrician for willows check, by then i had successfully latched willow twice by myself. I was feeling confident by the time Connor was allowed back in to see us, so we stared packing our stuff and arranged for my mother to pick us up.
Finally we arrived home, this is where the real trouble started.
I had no idea how painful nursing Willow would be. Toe curling, eye watering pain.
I had no idea how to know she was getting enough milk from me or about cluster feeding.
I had no idea if my latch was right.
I had no idea about mastitis, blocked ducts, blebs or cracked nipples.
I just had no idea.
I was too embarrassed to reach out for help. This was what my body was meant to do after all.
Eventually the pain stopped, and with the help of groups online full of information on the topic all my questions were answered.
I often wonder what would of happened if i just gave up after that first night, all alone with no support. Would i of managed even 24 hours of nursing?
I have been nursing Willow for 2 years and 8 months. I nursed through my second pregnancy and have now been tandem nursing her and her little sister, Maple, for 6 months.
Yes, i am proud, but i also feel let down.
There was next to no communication when it came to nursing Willow, then when i fell pregnant again there was a lot of negative communication surrounding tandem nursing. My midwife kept telling me things like Willow would become jealous and resentful of her new baby sister; and that her behaviour in general would worsen. This of course wasnt backed up by any form of actual information so i just slapped a smile on and ignored it. When i gave birth there was, again, no support. My midwife assumed since i was already nursing Willow that i already knew what i needed to know.
Tandem nursing is a new type of difficult i hadnt experienced before, i had plenty questions that again had to be answered by online support groups.
I wouldnt change my journey for the world, it made me grow as a person, but why is there such a lack of support when it comes to nursing and tandem nursing?