Without really thinking about it too much I decided I would breastfeed. I didn’t know much about it and I didn’t know anyone else who breastfed but after attending some online classes I felt confident in the theory and didn’t think it would be that hard.
My birth didn’t quite go to plan but within the first hour of giving birth Rosie was given to me and the midwives helped me get her to latch. Only Rosie didn’t want to latch; she wouldn’t open her mouth and put her head back like the online class had told me. This continued for the five days that I was in hospital. The infant feeding team were really helpful, but it had been tough and I decided I would go home and just give her a bottle if it didn’t work. Going home was harder than I could have imagined; I had visits from the feeding team but after a couple of weeks they stopped and I felt a bit alone.
I was finding it really tough being a new mum. I was exhausted, my breasts were getting engorged and blocked, it was painful and I was exhausted because I was feeding all day and night. I wanted to give up, but I didn’t at the same time; I was determined to get it to work and give myself at least six weeks in order to establish my supply.
I found Baby Umbrella on Facebook and saw that they offered free face to face support with a Lactation Consultant not too far away. My husband was really supportive and gave me the confidence to book the appointment and it was one of the best things I could have done. The person I spoke to actually listened to me and there was absolutely no judgement. She had a look at the latch and gave me some advice to help. I left feeling much more confident and feeding drastically improved. I decided to go back to the social group for a few weeks and it was great talking to other mums and hearing their stories, it gave me a real boost. After a few weeks, the feeding was going really well and I suddenly saw new mums coming in who I could offer support and encouragement to.
Once Rosie hit 3 months, we had problems with feeding again; she wasn’t putting on weight and wasn’t sleeping. She was also getting angry and upset and feeding all the time, so I started to give her bottles to help, but I needed support because it didn’t seem right. I booked appointments with my local infant feeding team but they told me I was doing fine, it was normal and I was being a good mum. Whilst that was lovely to hear, I still felt that there was just something not right about the situation. It was really getting me down and life as a mum was not going so well.
Initially, I thought I couldn’t book another appointment with Baby Umbrella because Rosie was too old, I thought it was for new mums (why would you need support when you have a baby who is older?!). Despite my reservations I booked the appointment, mainly because I wanted to stop breastfeeding, I had had enough. When I went along, they once again listened and really understood. They checked the latch and also checked for a tongue tie which is when we realised that Rosie had a posterior tongue tie. This explained a lot! The Lactation Consultant was able to refer me directly to King’s College Hospital for an assessment which was amazing. It made me feel so much better and that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Suddenly everything made sense.
Rosie is now 7 months old and whilst I never thought I would say this, I’m still breastfeeding and plan to do so until it doesn’t feel right for us both. I know that I wouldn’t be here without the support of Baby Umbrella (and their chocolate brownies!).
Stories of early parenthood
One of the things parents often say when they’ve recently had a baby, and even more so when they've had a difficult journey, is why did nobody tell me that this was going to be so hard? Why did nobody tell me the truth about breastfeeding, or birth, or sleep, or the emotional transition, or the physical recovery? If I'd have known some of this, I could have prepared myself... and maybe I would have known better if something was wrong.
We'd like to start to tell some of these stories. Every story you will hear here is unique, but it can still be helpful when you’re going through a difficult experience to realise that you’re not the only person who's been through this, that someone else has been here before.
So we want to open up the floor to you all and give anyone who would like to a chance to tell their story of early parenthood - both the joyful parts and the challenges you faced. Not just the shiny story on Instagram or Facebook but the truth of the things that were beautiful and delicious and wonderful as well as the difficult things, the things you might have struggled with, the things you miss from your old life, the things you regret or you wish you'd known.
If you’d like to contribute to our stories of early parenthood we would be really happy to hear from you. Please email or message us and we would be delighted to hear from you.
We hope you enjoy the series and do let us know what you think.