Celebrating World Breastfeeding & Chestfeeding Week

My breastfeeding journey isn’t one that I often talk about… I was really proud to exclusively breastfeed / pump Charlotte for 6 months then went onto combi feeding until she was just over a year old.

The biggest thing I will say about my journey was that I was incredibly naïve about how breastfeeding worked – Charlotte latched straight away, yet walking into the new world of other parents and baby groups – it quickly became evident to me that breastfeeding was bloody hard work and it wasn’t easy. It opened my eyes to the struggles of other parents and how different our experiences are.

I had absolutely no idea that babies did not only breastfeed for milk but for comfort and felt drawn into questioning myself about how much milk I was able to give her when people would look in shock that she was crying at being passed around.. the truth is.. she wanted her Mummy, she wanted the breast for comfort. I very quickly decided that for me personally, I wanted to give Craig the opportunity to give Charlotte a bottle in the night… a decision which I was nervous about telling others for fear of judgement, but ultimately, I knew getting a bit of time to switch off would make me a better mother to my baby. And that’s okay.

The sheer lack of education and discussion on feeding once Charlotte was born is just mental to think back on and still exists to this day… Everyone has an opinion yet the real facts still seem to be buried underneath the surface when educating parents.

When I talk to the families that I work with about feeding choices, I often say –

  • Get educated before birth. If you would like to breastfeed / chestfeed – learn about how supply works and how babies like to nurse for reasons other than food
  • Get to know your local groups for feeding support (Leeds Bosom Buddies is great for you Leeds folk!)
  • Learn about different organisations that can support you
  • Ask for the support of your midwife to get that initial good latch
  • Make it clear to friends and family how you intend to be – visiting the YOU and the baby doesn’t mean automatic cuddles!
  • Always speak up and ask for help, it is available

Julie’s Positive C Section Birth

On the morning of 5th October 2019 my partner & I found out that we were expecting our first child. Almost immediately, I began to research vaccination options, water births and hypnobirthing.

With the pregnancy becoming a reality, I was unexpectantly scared of the pregnancy, and more understandably, the birth & of not being ready for the big arrival.

Before we met Laura I had it all sorted in my head – I’m having a water birth, hopefully no more than gas & air (but open to all pain relief if needed) and my hypnobirthing.

Simple!!

I was amazed at the stuff Laura was telling us – who knew that you have a right to say “no” to a stretch & sweep? Who knew you could request preferred birth positions?

Who knew that the “traditional”, Hollywood movie type of delivery on your back is less helpful than others? The one that really got me though was this – you can have birth preferences when having a C-Section. I thought she was mad when she said you can still have birth preferences with a C-Section – how much say do you have when you’re
numb from your toes to your chest & in my mind, at their mercy; but she was absolutely right & due to how things panned out, I was even more grateful for having spent the time and money on the course.

My pregnancy was fairly straightforward, however, my baby decided at week 38 during a positional scan she was absolutely not ready to be engaging. She was having too much fun freely floating around in all that lovely excess amniotic fluid; apart from that, her favourite position was transverse – lying across the top of my stomach.

My baby was officially an “unstable lie” due to her constant moving around. The hospital admitted me immediately and booked me in for a C-Section in just over a week’s time. I reached for my hypnobirthing toolbag & for Laura. I used my affirmation cards, lavender pouch, visualisations, breathing techniques etc during peaks of anxiety & Laura held my hand via WhatsApp & calls all the way.

When the doctors were attempting to make decisions on my & my baby’s behalf about how we would move forward if baby did decide to engage, I had the knowledge & strength to say “no” and “I would appreciate it if you would discuss the options with me, rather than decide for me”. Additionally, I had faith in my gut instinct. All of this was thanks to doing Laura’s hypnobirthing course.

I gained further confidence in my approach when I found out a senior midwife was also fighting my corner in the background as she agreed with me.

I wrote down my birth preferences, discussed them with my partner & ensured there was a copy in my file & a spare for me. My partner was prepared and ready to create a bubble for me & him & he knew that I didn’t want anyone else speaking to me or telling us what was going on.

On the morning of my C-Section I asked if my birth preferences had been noted & was told that the team would read it before I went down to the Labour Ward. I was advised that this had been done when I arrived in the theatre. I won’t lie – I was really scared of the spinal but I was able to get into a zone of calm with the help of a hypnobirthing track & breathing with my partner. The spinal was effective very quickly & once all checks had been made my partner created our bubble. This was the last time it would be just us & he reminisced & breathed with me. He helped me to move the focus away from the room, the noises, the knowledge of what was happening to me.

I have little memory of the birth as I was so focused on our bubble which is how I wanted it. I can honestly say that my birth experience was really positive & that was due to what we learned with Laura. I can also report that our daughter’s birth was a positive experience for my partner as he felt he had a role to play.

Not only was he able to create and maintain a safe space for me, he told me the sex of our baby & gave our daughter her first cuddle.

We did it together.