I just wanted somebody to show me what to do

by Victoria

I’m Victoria Walsh and the chair of Wirral Maternity Voices from Wirral and this is baby Saoirse.

I mean, I have my daughter in January. And I just wanted somebody to show me what to do because my boy little boy was born nine weeks early. So I didn’t really, I didn’t do very well with the breastfeeding with him. I tried. But they wouldn’t allow me to wear nipple shields in the hospital. It wasn’t policy. And then as soon as I came out, we tried nipple shields on and he latched, because he was only two pounds seven when he was born. And then, but by that point, I just wasn’t making enough milk for him. So he was combination fed, but then at five and a half months, my milk just stopped. So with my little girl, I was determined that I knew she was going to come early, and hopefully not as early as him, when she was 36 weeks.

And it was just apparent that nobody had the time. They were just like, oh, but she’s just second like, yeah, she’s my second that’s not gone into a neonatal unit. I can hold her, I couldn’t hold my little boy. So that was completely different. And three times I was told to lie down, she would latch on if I laid on my side, but I’d had an emergency C section. And they just walked out the room with and they put her on me, they didn’t show me how to latch on. They just got my breast touched it, squeeze it, shoved the baby on and walked out the room. And went, “we’ll leave you and just make a note that she’s done 15 minutes or more”. But I couldn’t get up. And I couldn’t reach the buzzer to ask them to help me sit up. So I was just laid there petrified that I was going to fall asleep with his tiny and I mean she was only 4lb when she was born. And like I couldn’t even press the buzzer to say can you help me sit up again, please?

Going into it the second time around. I thought she’s not as early. She’s bigger. It’s gonna be so much easier. And oh my god, it wasn’t like, I mean, I had HomeStart they’re called Koala Northwest now, but they were home start in January. So I had them round nearly every day. I had them round the day I came home, they were with me for four hours, and she still wouldn’t latch on and they were worried that she was sleeping for so long. And And thankfully, because of my position at chair, I was able to get hold of the infant lead at the hospital and I’m like she slept for four hours. Is that okay? And they were like, Oh, just wake her up and give her expressed milk in a bottle which I did. I was just it was so painful and everyone kept saying, “Oh but your latch is good” But it really hurts. Like it’s not you keep telling me it’s not supposed to hurt but it is hurting so in the end they said “try a nipple shield” which I did not want to do because I never got my son off it.

And then we have whole month in lockdown where she put one ounce on in an entire month. And I’ve never seen so many professionals in my life. And it was they were just like, “oh, it’s the nipple shield” I was like, “Right. Bin it. I’m not using it. It can hurt ” and it didn’t. I don’t know what she’d done maybe she’d learned with the nipple shield, but I just binned them and I was like she’s going on without. And she put on more weight in two weeks than she did an entire month. But then we got thrush and it oh my god the pain. But you don’t see any of that.

Every one of our maternity voice meetings, if I have an open agenda, breastfeeding comes up every single time. And it’s always “The supports not good enough every time”. And they always like the infant feeding lead is always you know, she’s trying her best. But it’s just it’s not enough. I never breastfed my son in public. Not once and I don’t think I would have done had COVID not happened with my daughter because I got to spend so much time at home with her and really get used to positions and managing unclipping a bra and everything else and I’ve no problems breastfeeding her wherever I am. COVID in a positive way has helped with that.

That’s just in time for just sitting topless, you know, anywhere in my house just walking around topless for your dinner. I’d never would have moved with my son I would have sat still and fed him until he was finished whereas with her I’m having a toddler running around on my you know, making dinner you know sit playing with him while I’m feeding and he’s he’s brilliant like, my husband got a bit weirded out but my little boy was like squeezing my boss and he was like “I’m helping mummy”. I went “Yeah, you are you’re helping”.

My plan was to get to six months and then with the pandemic and everything else, and working from home I was just like “No I’m gonna keep going because if I get COVID then at least the antibodies are there” and then it’s not just getting out the house it’s having visitors as well. It will be I don’t want my friends to come around I just “That means I’ve got to wash my hair, make the house look a bit tidier”. So when locked down came I was just like, “She can live in her pajamas or a vest all day. I can live in a dressing gown and like you say pajama bottoms and nothing else”. I think it’s just nice it’s definitely a positive for me.

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