This week we can CHANGE LIVES. Join me!

March 19, 2017  •  3 Comments

Ok, this week is going to be emotional. Mother’s day is approaching and this year I want to celebrate it properly. I want to celebrate Motherhood by empowering women and mothers. You don't want much Ana! I hear you say.

I know we all have different stories to tell. I am going to tell you mine, hoping I can help you, or that if you know somebody in a similar situation, you can share this and help others too.

I became a mother for the first time 8 years ago. During pregnancy, I was a little worried about the pain of giving birth; about labour; about sleeping; about looking after the baby; a million things. But I never really thought about how would I feed the baby. I probably thought at one stage I would try to breastfeed, but I didn’t give it much importance. Until my baby was born.

I remember wanting to feed my baby the minute he was born. I was embarrassed to ask if I could, and I was so relieved when my (female) doctor simply asked ‘do you want to feed your baby?”  and I did. It was a wonderful feeling. From that moment on I felt this instinct of wanting and needing to feed my baby. But this instinct was challenged and questioned daily for years to come. By midwives, doctors, nurses, family members, friends, and sometimes even myself.

It all started in the hospital. I was asked if I wanted to use bottles; your baby needs top ups; write down every time you feed. 15 minutes on each side, only feed every three hours said the doctor. This baby lost 100grs, you may not have enough milk. Do this, don't do that. It was a constant and confusing. 

After a few days at home, I suffered mastitis, which was extremely painful, and I had a high fever. I had to go see the doctor, take antibiotics and I lost the support at home. You are making yourself sick; just give him a bottle. Go to bed and we will give him a bottle. The health nurse came to the house for a regular visit and told me I needed to rush to the pharmacy and buy formula because the baby was losing weight. I was terrified, tired, in pain, hormonal, and so I got dressed and went to the shop and bought bottles and formula and I gave him one bottle sobbing because IT FELT like the WRONG thing to do, for me.

I felt people were approving though. Finally, she came to reason and switched to bottle-feed! But I just couldn’t do it. I threw everything away and I kept at it. It was so painful. I had massive cracks. There was blood as I fed. I was anxious about nights because the pain when I fed was so intense I cried. And I had to keep some of it to myself, or else I would hear the dreaded ‘just give him a bottle’.

I argued with my mother, my husband, the health nurse told me she wouldn’t take responsibility for the baby if I continued...but I knew I was doing a good job. The baby was happy, and alert, the nappies clearly showed he was feeding. In the middle of this misery I decided to trust my body and my instinct. I felt so isolated with the lack of support. And I understand they meant well. They were concerned for me because I was in pain. They didn't really know better and were desperate trying to help me. 

So I read. I read everything that was there to read. Why does this hurt so much. What am I doing wrong? By the time my baby was 5 months old I couldn’t take it anymore. Yes. I did say 5 months old. I rang a local group and asked them for help! I went to one of their meetings, 5 mns away from my house and one of the ladies said to me ‘hun, you are not doing anything wrong. This pain you experience is because you have thrush in your breast, it is normal after having mastitis. There is a cream and drops you can get to solve this. It is simple’. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even know one could get thrush in the breast!! You cannot see it, it is all internal in the milk conducts and it feels like FIRE. I went to see a (female) GP and this was her reaction: ‘what are you doing to yourself. Do you know what you need? You need a day off, go and get your hair done; Meet a friend. And just give the baby a bottle and forget about this’. I was so angry and frustrated. At the time I just said, ‘But I still need to be treated for this infection’. It turns out what I needed was something I could get over the counter. Double frustration.

I can honestly say that breastfeeding was one of the hardest things I have ever done (which later became one of the easiest thing I have ever done), and unfortunately, I didn’t need to be like that. All I needed was support. Support from people who knew more about breastfeeding, from other experienced mums, from my own family and circle of friends. I was very lucky that my husband happened to have a conversation in work with a mother of four who breastfed for years and she educated him. Told him to go home and stand by my side; 'make sure she is fed', she said. 'Make sure she is comfortable'. And he came home that day with the biggest bunch of flowers and said ‘I am sorry, I didn’t know. You are doing an amazing job and I am here to support you’. I could never thank that woman enough for what she did for me that day.

This week, I want to be that woman. I am opening a platform for all you who are pregnant and considering breastfeeding. All of you who are having a hard time and feel like I did. All of you who know somebody that may need support right now. Breastfeeding can be, AND IS, an easy, enjoyable journey. I ended up doing it for 6 years!

I asked my dear friend Lisa O’Leary to join me this week and talk about some of the myths and facts about breastfeeding. Lisa is a busy mum of 3 children aged 8, 6 and 2 months. She is currently on maternity leave from her job as a community pharmacist. She has trained with the Irish Childbirth Trust, Cuidiú, to become a breastfeeding counsellor and runs support groups. She has amazing supportive advice in store for us this week. We also want you to know where the resources are (websites, links, books, support groups, contact numbers) so you don’t have to struggle like I did, and so many other women do.

Clothing featured provided by www.FrankandNora.com Clothing featured provided by www.FrankandNora.com Clothing featured provided by www.FrankandNora.com

 

Join me on the blog this week, and send us any questions, or even share your story if you feel like it.

As a way of helping spreading the word, I am doing an amazing GIVE AWAY in collaboration with Frank&Nora on Instagram and the winner will be announced on the 26th of March, for Mother’s Day.

Frank&Nora is an independent growing brand run by Stephanie. A creative, a designer, a wife & a mother. Using 100% organic cotton, they provide affordable quality with a unique customer engagement ethos. 

We will give you all the details tomorrow, so make sure you are following us @anadorado @frankandnora for a chance to win!

Big Love,

Ana 

 


Comments

Marion(non-registered)
Thanks for sharing that article Ana, I felt I was reading about myself in parts. I would love if Public Health Nurses were more educated on breastfeeding or those with personal experience are assigned specifically to breastfeeding mothers.

My nurse sympathised with me regarding the troubles I was having (all down to the latch) cracked nipples, bleeding, mastitis and I initially felt relief that someone understood... until her main bit of advice was "maybe it's not for you" i.e give him the bottle. At my two week appointment with the same nurse I was still having issues and from reading and reading I now knew it was latch related. I explained I needed help getting my son to latch on properly but all she could do was give a list of support groups. This was very helpful but I don't think it's good enough - the opportunity to watch the latch was perfect as my son was hungry there and then but she was useless with no experience. I came away so disappointed and frustrated and realised it was up to myself to persevere.

The Public Health Service need to address the lack of breastfeeding experience in Public Health nurses and provide ones who can authentically support breastfeeding mothers in a practical, hands on manner.
Sinead Finn(non-registered)
Well done on the article. I can relate to totally & utterly. I agree that support of those around you is KEY! My husband gave me his full support - despite nobody else having any knowledge or experience with breastfeeding & him not being familiar with it either or how it worked, he trusted my judgement & believed I could do it & I did! Others in the family typically tried to question my decisions, they came from a place of good intention but didn't realise their support was what I actually needed. It was a tough & painful experience but I BF my first for 8 months & went on to feed my other 2 sons for a slightly longer timeframe & even managed to donate milk to the milk bank recently!

I remember the public health nurse arriving into the house after my first son was 4 days old. I was emotional & fragile & in severe pain & the baby was bawling as he couldn't get the milk. Her response was immediate & resolute "ah that baby is starving! You need to give him a bottle!" One part of me was relieved but as she went on to sterilize a bottle & brought some formula from her car, I said to her that I knew I could do it & just wanted help & could she show me how it was done. She helped me then & after a second or two she commented "oh you have plenty milk. That was my problem, I could never produce enough milk!" She was basically putting her insecurities on me & not realising her position of such importance at that vulnerable stage of motherhood for me.

The whole way through the early months with all 3 of my kids, the emphasis & obsession was with weight gain. Oh he's underweight, he's below the average percentile for this age. Apparently using a formula fed baby chart is the standard to use & ignore the advice of the WHO & EU that there should be a formula fed & breast fed baby chart & the 2 are not comparable. By rights bottle fed babies should be classed as being overweight rather than breastfed babies being considered as being underweight! Well that was the norm that was drilled into me during all my visits to the health nurse. Where is the fairness & encouragement with that approach? By baby 3 I just let their advice go in one ear & out the other - I trusted my judgement on whether my child seemed to be content, gaining weight, gradually (I say gradually...) sleeping a little longer as time progressed....& took the PHN's advice with a grain of salt from then on (with all due respect).

I'm glad to say I was able to help my sister in law with some advice when her first child arrived on the scene & also my own sister when she recently had her baby. It's great to be able to say to people with real confidence & certainty essentially to trust your body, it will do what you need it to do, you don't have to worry. And to give some practical advice that makes the tough task that little bit easier.
June(non-registered)
Thank you so much for sharing this Ana. I too had a very difficult time breastfeeding my first baby and didn't have the confidence to tell people that all I needed was someone to do all the other jobs-washing cleaning etc. And leave me to feed my baby. Luckily I found this confidence with my other babies and people closest to me realised how important it was for me to feed my babies myself. What I really commend you for is your sharing of supports for mothers. All too often we get on our soapbox about bf and how hard it is and so on but don't actually help by directing mothers to quality evidence-based support. So thank you for that and good luck. I'm sure many women will benefit from your advice and education.
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