In their own words, mothers discuss breastfeeding challenges and triumphs

When people tell you stuff, you assume it’s right

by Suzanne

My health visitor seemed quite knowledgeable (from what i know) but that’s one of the challenges I think of having a baby is we don’t know. I don’t know everything about babies, so when people tell you stuff, you assume it’s right because you just don’t know and one of my biggest stresses is What don’t I know? I should be reading more..I should be watching videos, I should be doing classes..there’s a wealth of information and I just don’t know

I can’t do this anymore. Get the formula out

by Vicky M

I had a couple of days I was like, Well, I can’t do this anymore. Get the formula out. Then you look at the formula. And you think no, actually like….the amount of different things to worry about there and get prepared. And actually, he’s nice and safe. And he does what he wants here. So then I go back to it. And then like I said, when I thought actually you know what, this is a minefield, just do what you were doing then actually suddenly it’s cracked.

I was told I couldn’t breastfeed

by Michelle

Alexi was born with congenital heart disease. And right away was taken off me. I was told I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. I had to have a section. So there was that space. And then they said, she’s going if you don’t know how poorly she’ll be, and then she’ll need the surgery, you won’t be able to feed after surgery. And it was just really negative of everyone’s position on it. And I really grieved what.. that I wouldn’t be able to feed her.

I wanted to be with my mum but I needed to be with him as well

by Jennifer

I had a little person that kept shouting and screaming at me and I wanted to be with my mum but I needed to be with him as well and my husband did take him off and we he would have formula he would have bottled he had what he needed at that point what he needed to have and for both of us really and but it was still predominantly breastfeeding. I felt so torn between the two and I was in I had massive anxiety at the time everything just feels when I look back now everything just feels really kind of dreamlike I’m not entirely sure how we got through that.

When I was feeding her I felt safe. I felt like I was protecting her, she was protecting me

by Catherine

I’m so passionate about breastfeeding now more so than ever and any new mum that starts breastfeeding I just want to help them i just want to support them I just want to do everything i can to because it’s lonely isn’t it and it can be quite isolating I feel protective over people who are having issues because if they don’t get that support i don’t want them to go through what I went through.

I had more tears than actual milk in the first few days

by Amy

When she got weighed she’d lost about 11.5% of her birth weight. And they were like threatening hospital and put me on a feeding plan. It was just really, really intense. I ended up pumping, breastfeeding and giving her a top of a formula as well at the beginning. And I think I’ve had more tears than actual milk in the first few days because it was just super stressful.

We would be doing better if this was a problem that men had

by Hannah

We would be doing better if this was a problem that men had. It would be, it would look a lot different. And we wouldn’t be kind of we wouldn’t be we wouldn’t be relying on you know, individual practitioners trying to work hard to do the best that they can, it would be a much more joined up approach to making things better

I just wanted someone to show me what to do

by Victoria

I couldn’t get up. And I couldn’t reach the buzzer to ask them to help me sit up. So I just lay there petrified that I was going to fall asleep with this tiny 4lb baby

Whoa, this isn’t from breastfeeding

by Nicola

I had Raynaud’s. It was the cold that would cause the pain and I’d been treating myself, got a doctor to treat me for thrush for through almost a month. And it obviously wasn’t clearing because it wasn’t thrush. And, because of COVID, you weren’t really properly seeing a doctor so no one was giving you a proper diagnosis. It was only one morning, when I hadn’t fed her, the pain came, I thought, ‘Whoa, this isn’t from breastfeeding.” And then I clicked, I looked it up and so I was able to get that treated.

It’s just, really convenient

by Anna J

Well, initially, it was six months. But it just works, it’s just so -and this, this is going to go against everything that we said – it’s just so convenient. As long as you can accept that, your leech is stuck to you all the time, all day, every day, and that’s how it has to be. It’s just, really convenient.

They were like angels. I wasn’t expecting miracles

by Hollie

I was referred to a lactation clinic and they were like angels. I wasn’t expecting miracles. So, that’s what I got, I did get a miracle. We figured out that she had a milk allergy. I cut dairy out of my diet completely. And she actually slept. So, I did manage to solely breastfeed her, from that point.

He had it snipped at day five, it was fantastic…It made such a difference straight away

by Kelly

Because he had jaundice, they referred him really quickly. He had it snipped at day five, it was fantastic. I couldn’t sing the praises well enough of the midwives, postnatally and the breastfeeding families and the tongue-tie service. I couldn’t believe how quickly it got sorted. And it made such a difference straightaway as well. I think that the support’s not there for women.  But I don’t mean like the support services. I mean your family and society understanding how demanding breastfeeding is

Having a child with a milk allergy is really, really difficult

by Natalie B

I knew I wanted to feed her. But having a child with a milk allergy and breastfeeding is really, really difficult. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life

We’re sold an idea that it’s this beautiful, natural, instinctive thing. It isn’t.

by Claire G

People underestimate how much breastfeeding is actually a learned skill. We’re sold an idea that it’s this beautiful, natural, instinctive thing. It isn’t. It’s a skill for you to learn & for a brand new baby to learn as well.

Feeding one child is very, very discreet, generally. Quite often, you don’t notice unless you know what you’re looking for, you’re not going to notice. Feeding two at the same time in public is not discreet at all. And I’ve had to do that a few times.

I Breastfed her in Secret

by Claire D

I breastfed her in secret. At home, at my mum’s, sneakily in the car. And then I attended our breastfeeding group, I remember sitting there looking around at all these women with their boobs out and being like, ‘It’s alright, we all look the same, really. No one’s that bothered’. And it was fine. And everyone had a cup of tea and a biscuit at the same time. And I was like, ‘These are my people. They’re not bothered. I’ve got my boobs out feeding my baby. And they’re giving me cups of tea and biscuits.

It’s been the highlight of my mothering journey so far

by Ellen

Lockdown didn’t help, especially with pregnancy as well. Because you’re just on your own and then connecting with other groups. I think there’s one app called Peanut, which my husband describes as “Tinder for mums”, which made me laugh, but I’ve met some really lovely ladies on there who just helped me get through.

I just thought I could like, ask for the help, and it would be there

by Natalie

I just thought, Oh, the help that I need, like when I want to breastfeed will just be there. How wrong was. I just thought I could like, ask for the help, and it would be there. That was a bit of a shock to the system. And then it was like, right, well, I’m gonna have to teach myself now. And yeah, that’s what I did

I Just Felt better prepared

by Ellie

I just thought, I’m determined to breastfeed. So I got books, I watched videos, I went to classes before I went…. And just felt better prepared than the first time and I suppose more prepared for the fact…that she wasn’t just going to feed and it’d be magic. It might work for some people like that. But the more people I speak to, I don’t think there are many people that that happens for.

By the time I was allowed out we’d kind of got the hang of it

by Amy O

Although I’m moaning about the lockdowns, in a way it was a blessing because I could just stay in, in my pyjamas and not have to wear a bra. I could sit here and and you know, get the boobs out and be topless. And it didn’t matter. I didn’t get stressed about trying to do it, or how I looked or if it was hanging out because I was at home. So by the time I was allowed out we’d kind of got the hang of it a little bit

i guess it always begins before birth

by Lucila

I guess it always begins before birth. I wanted to breastfeed. I knew it might be difficult. My mum breastfeed me and my younger brother but nor my older brother, as she had a lot of pain, and difficulties, and no support. So I was aware that it might be hard. I had gone to my NCT classes, read about breastfeeding, but it felt like reading about running without ever having run….

the open road

by Lisa Creagh

It’s 7.15, Sunday, Mothers Day and I am finally breastfeeding. No expressing, no bottles, no formula, no steriliser. Just me, her and the open road.

A slight ache in my left breast reminds me that this achievement is the culmination of many small battles, won quietly, furiously in the past three and a half months since my baby, Lily was born. Who would have thought it would take so long to get here? Not me. But then I really hadn’t a clue about breastfeeding before she was born.

something just clicked and we both got it

by Emma

With my first boy, it was really hard. He was premature and after a tricky labour, ending in emergency Csection, I struggled to get him latched on. My milk took a long time to come in and he lost a lot of weight and the doctors prescribed formula in the hospital which really knocked my confidence. It was a difficult and painful experience, physically and emotionally.

it brought us together

by Ella

Breastfeeding was incredibly easy for me and Frank. I had a horrible labour and lost lots of blood so I was lucky my milk came in. He was a guzzler from day 1. It really hurt, toe curling pain in the beginning but thankfully that wore off. I remember being stressed about how much milk he was taking, how long he was feeding and feeling like if he doesn’t feed he’ll die! But I really enjoyed feeding and found the night feeds so meditative. It really bonded us together.

it was surprisingly easy

by Liz

Breastfeeding was surprisingly easy. I say surprisingly because when I was pregnant I had a lot of people warning me that breastfeeding is horrendous, painful, impossible. In fact I found it to be calming, painless and easy.

I had very peaceful home births with both my children, with midwifes and a doula who gave me the support, space and respite to be able to focus on feeding and recovering. Generally, I found being able to breastfeed was a huge confidence boost in the beginning. It made me feel strong, important, purposeful. And completely autonomous – as though it wouldn’t matter what situation we found ourselves in, so long as I had my breasts my babies would be fine.

i still find it quite mind blowing

by Polly

I’m very fortunate that I had an easy pregnancy and  lovely home birth with my daughter, Leila, and that she knew what to do right from the start. Happily I had no problems with breastfeeding and I just found it all quite lovely.

Although she was small she even put on weight in her first week and so I just felt rather in awe of the whole process and how amazing the body is to produce just what she needs whenever she needs it. I still find it quite mind blowing. With my son, Louie, again born small, he took to it immediately and is thriving at 4 months old now.

it was literally keeping her alive

by Sabrina

I’m just grateful that I was able and stubborn enough the continue to breast feed Isabelle. It hasn’t been the most enjoyable time that breast feeding is suppose to be. I think I had about a week of being able to enjoy the bonding and comfort of feeding her before it just all just turn into a constant struggle of self doubt if I was even feeding right and worry, having to have midwives suggest 1000s different ways to do it better. I was literally feeding her for 3 hours straight at times, the pain of feed her so much and the worry turned me into a zombie and she was never full. 

But even with all that happening I really didn’t want to give up

by Vickie

Breastfeeding for me in the beginning was a real joy! I know that must make a lot of people feel frustrated but I just found it so natural. This is back when Sawyer was a baby. Then I had Vienna and totally expected it to be a breeze again but that time, due to a bad latch moments after she was born, the whole of my left nipple ended up peeling off!

It is still invaluable if he’s ill

by Mikki

Breastfeeding in the beginning was great – I watched the whole box season of breaking bad & spent a lot of time in bed eating chocolate 🙂 Tully I swear was born shouting ‘boob’ he did the self wriggle and latch within minutes of being born and we didn’t look back.

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