I started this draft when my application form came through from the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers to train as a Mother Supporter. You have to include a covering letter talking about your breastfeeding experiences. I started writing, and before I knew where I was I’d covered 1500 words and had no idea where to stop. Meggan spoke about her booby traps so I decided to do the same.

I’ve tried to cut this down a bit or reference old entries where possible because I know you guys don’t want to read 4000 words on breastfeeding. That said, if you want any more info on anything I mention here please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or e-mail me (jem@jemjabella.co.uk)

The Beginning – Tongue Tie?

Initially, both Isabel and I seemed to take to breastfeeding without any problems. It wasn’t the lovely heart-warming experience that I’d read about (TBH it was a pain in the arse, and very full on for the first 12 weels) but it worked and Isabel was clearly thriving. Once I got the hang of feeding without tons of pillows to support her, it was really convenient.

At around 12 weeks I started to experience some nipple pain, and became convinced that Isabel had some sort of tongue tie (her tongue forks slightly at the end). I couldn’t seem to get her comfortable on the breast at all. I sought the advice of a lactation consultant who ruled out tongue tie, and gave me a little tip about flipping the top lip out with my finger if it looked curled in. This seemed to do the trick.

Gallstones

When Isabel was about 4 months old I was diagnosed with gallstones and quite severe jaundice and admitted into hospital. The linked post details my constant fight with doctors and surgeons to maintain the breastfeeding relationship without interruption.

Nursing Strike

At 10 months old, Isabel went on nursing strike. Two weeks of struggling to get her latched on, through biting and refusal. It was very hard not to take it personally, and I spent most of the two weeks in tears. I’ve detailed the strike in Nursing Strike and Nursing Strike, Continued.

The reason why I consider this a “booby trap” is because of the attitude from doctors (again). Whilst I was struggling to find a cause (and a solution) I had numerous suggestions to move her on to cows milk and fresh orange juice(!) The doctors could have easily provided me with the number to any of the breastfeeding support organisations who would have been able to advise.

Other Problems (Misc)

In addition to these hurdles, I have beat mastitis in its early stages, thrush, and 2 lots of blocked ducts. I have recently discovered that my on-off pain from 12 weeks, and the reason why I need to manually adjust Isabel’s lip all the time, is because she has a lip tie.

Formula Marketing

Anyone who denies the impact formula marketing has on breastfeeding is seriously naive. The really sad thing is how targeted breastfeeding mothers are. What with HiPP sending formula samples I didn’t ask for, and Google kindly displaying formula adverts alongside e-mails and web pages about breastfeeding (not Google’s fault, mind you; this is all down to the individual companies choosing which keywords to target) it’s a wonder any of us manage to keep it up at all.

All of this and I still think I had it easy. I have a supportive family around me who’ve not once questioned my choice to breastfeed (or continue breastfeeding) and the stubbornness to believe that I can’t fail. I can’t even begin to imagine how women without a support network, maybe those nervous about milk supply or the “quality” of their milk, manage to feed for as long as they do. Until we fix the system that’s supposed to support mothers, we’re fighting a losing battle.

Comments

  1. says

    Great post. I’ve been relatively lucky and just had mastitis to deal with a couple of times but I’m sure I only think that’s lucky because of the fantastic support I have always had from friends and family. Every woman deserves that support and encouragement!

  2. says

    Thanks so much for writing this! Like you, I consider my journey a BFing success, despite all the hurdles, but I feel for the ladies who do not have a good support system.

    And ack, mastitis and thrush. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that we haven’t had to deal with those yet. I’m hoping I can avoid it entirely.

  3. says

    Yikes. I will say one thing that I have taken away from your blog is a ton of information on breast feeding that I otherwise probably would not have known. The US is apparently VERY anti-breastfeeding (especially in public, I’ve shown my previous ignorance on this very blog once before).

    If it is any consolation due to the information from your blog when the time comes for me to have children I will definitely be breastfeeding for at least 6 months. But I have to admit I already feel a little scared of the adversity that I will undoubtedly face in doing so: like you said the UK seems much more breastfeeding-friendly than the US. At least through your blog I will have plenty of information to back up my case and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m doing the right thing. :)

  4. Mumblies says

    I am proud of you Jem. Many would have fallen by the wayside when faced with some of the problems you have encountered and beaten and still carried on regardless. Isabel is a happy contented supersmart baby and that is down to you and your hard work and determination to succeed.
    I hope that by becoming a nursing supporter you can help others to fulfil their wishes too. I know from personal experience that sadly the lack of concern and help out there for breastfeeding mums is still as bad as it was 20 years ago but each and every supporter does form a part of an essential chain of supporters that will offer sound advice for others which in turn hopefully brings new mums that will want to pass on their advice too.
    Never doubt your abilities Jem, you have a sound head on your shoulders and are doing a fantastic job at parenting and with Karl there too at your side you will succeed in whatever you set your mind to.

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