"Conflicting advice on breastfeeding"

About: Chesterfield Royal Hospital / Maternity care King's Mill Hospital / Maternity care

(as the patient),

On the birth of my daughter at Kings Mill I found the support put in place to introduce me to Breastfeeding both conflicting and unsupportive.

The initial help from the birthing team to help me to latch my baby was great, I felt like it clicked straight away and I was really relaxed about the whole thing. My baby fed brilliantly through the night very few hours and was clearly settled after each feed. However, morning came and the first midwife I saw in the morning asked when my little girl had last fed, I wasn't entirely sure but took a guess. The midwife was shocked, it was over 4 hours since baby had potentially fed and she needed feeding immediately. I had already changed baby's nappy and tried to feed her but she was flat out and wouldn't even attempt to latch on. The midwife made me panic. I tried three times whilst babe was sleeping to no avail, getting increasingly worried as the midwife made me feel like I was a. Neglecting my baby and b. harming my baby in some way.

My next intervention came from the lime green feeding team. They gave useful advice but seemed insistent on attempting the rugby hold rather than the cradle hold I had been shown before. Apparently this was easier - having successfully fed my baby 5 times in the cradle hold I found e rugby hold both confusing and difficult... The team member seemed insistent that this would help though. I tried, baby fed but it hurt, a lot!

Next a midwife came to check on me, I told her of the discomfort I experienced during feeding, she asked me to demonstrate my technique which I did happily, I was manhandled into position and still I experienced soreness. I was told to get out of my bed and sit on the chair to feed, this didn't seem to make anything better. It was suggested that I call for help next time she needed a feed if I was having problems.

This time I was helpfully told that my nipples were too big for my baby's mouth which did not help!

Eventually we went home and I fell into my own routine with feeding and successfully breasted my baby exclusively for 4 months - despite the range of conflicting and confusing advice I received from the range if midwives that I saw during my stay in hospital.

Day 3 after delivery arrived and I hit an all time low, I felt like I wasn't feeding baby properly, I thought I was failing. I contacted the Staveley Midwife base to get support, the midwife I spoke to was excellent, she really helped me to settle my emotions and get me back on track. The midwife I spoke to said she made a habit of contacting all of her new mums on day 3 to check in as it's the day that hormones go a bit crazy. If I hadn't spoken to this midwife I could have really easily given up on feeding my baby myself so early on, I wish this support was in place for all new mums automatically.

I wanted to introduce a bottle of expressed milk into our routine so that my husband could help out with feeds and alleviate some of the pressure on me. I was told even before my baby arrived to wait until 6 weeks when Breastfeeding was fully established. 6 weeks came and we attempted the bottle and baby wouldn't entertain it. It was a nightmare of screaming fits every time the bottle came near her. I asked my health visitor for advice and was told there is a window between 2 and 4 weeks when introducing a bottle is straight forward... This frustrated me, it made me feel like I had been duped into exclusively direct feeding by yet more conflicting advice. Thankfully at 12 weeks baby finally started feeding from a bottle but I seriously think that had we been able to give her an expressed bottle earlier I would have lasted the full 6 months with Breastfeeding, as it was I felt like I was absorbing the full pressure and responsibility for baby with little chances for my husband to get involved other than nappy changing (and who honestly enjoys that job! ) which I think did impact on bonding opportunities between baby and Daddy.

All in all I feel like more useful streamlined support could have been given from the outset to help support my Breastfeeding. And most importantly a consistent approach between different professionals both before and after birth of baby.

(My community midwife team are based in Chesterfield.)

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