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As a new Mum I had read all the literature and was sold on the benefits of breast feeding, it felt really important to me to provide Maisie with the best start in life that I could. I had also imagined that it should be pretty straightforward, this was where I can unstuck a bit. Maisie was born 16 days early, and weighing in at 7lb1oz was a healthy weight, whilst in the hospital we managed to get her to latch on a couple of times and she seemed to suckle for a bit and so I knew she was getting that all important colostrum. However, when we got home things didn't quite work out - she would suckle for a short while and then lose interest and stop. Despite numerous attempts by day four I had to resort to giving her a bottle of formula, as my milk was slow to come in and Maisie was really fretful - she was hungry and I couldn't provide for her. It was at this point a friend recommended Sarah, who returned my voicemail and promised to come out to see us the next day. Her confidence in the fact that we would get Maisie latched on the breast gave me the boost I needed. Sarah advised using a supplementary feeding system, with me expressing milk and then offering this to Maisie through a tube that I attached to my finger. I hired a hospital grade pump from Sarah to increase my milk production, which soon began to flow! It took a week for Maisie to get the hang of sucking on the finger, we then moved on to nipple shields and once again it took about a week for her to get the hang of suckling on my breast through the shield. Some days we took backward steps and I had to give her a bottle, but as we both grew in confidence we dropped the nipple shield and then there we were breast feeding as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Maisie is now seven weeks old and we've established the breastfeeding routine, last week we even braved a public feed in a cafe. So my advice would be to persevere, Sarah's confidence and tips gave me the strength to continue and I'm so glad I did.
Esther & Maisie, Newmarket
When pregnant with my first child I was determined I was going to do my very best for him and exclusively breastfeed him as was recommended. I was bombarded at antenatal classes (NCT and NHS) about how natural and straightforward it was going to be, how the mother and baby instinctively know what to do, how 'if you're doing it properly it shouldn't hurt' etc. Well it didn't go according to plan at all we really struggled on with minimal constructive support, i had mastitis, cracked nipples the lot, 'all my fault' I thought and it really broke my confidence - I really wish Sarah had been in business when he was of breastfeeding age!
Whilst pregnant with my second I was worried I would have similar issues in struggling to establish breastfeeding and discussed this with my midwife who almost convinced me it would all be fine, that there are hardly any problems with a second because the mother is more experienced in what to do and because I fed my first for 9 months it should all be fine. Imagine my dismay and trauma when it wasn't 'all fine'. After a stressful emergency home delivery on the Friday, that left me and Erin a bit shell shocked, she wouldn't latch on at all and it took until the Tuesday for me to manage to get any help from the NHS team, by which stage my confidence was a mess again and Erin had lost a lot of weight. I saw the NHS bf advisor a few times but I felt she was always in a rush and usually came at a time when Erin wasn't ready for a feed. Erin started to latch on on day 6 for 4 days but then stopped on day 10 for no apparent reason - crushing my confidence yet again and meaning I had to express each feed and bottle feed her.
My health visitor visited on day 13 and found me an emotional mess about having bf problems yet again and recommended I call Sarah. I did straight away and, wow, what a relief. She calmed me down even on the phone and told me she'd be out first thing the next morning and would stay until Erin needed a feed, she had lots of practical advice of what to do with Erin for the rest of that day to try to establish a bond, that was quickly fading through the stress of me trying to latch her on at each feed.
Sarah's first visit was brilliant, she had no urgent timetable to dash off anywhere and so everything was calm. She assured me this was all perfectly normal and that we'd get Erin feeding again and all would be fine - I totally believed her, my attitude changed in that instant. The most important thing to me was the time factor, she told me that although it might take a bit of time it was best not to rush Erin (and me) as this would only cause stress and worsen the situation. I hired a brilliant electric pump meaning I got a bit of life back as a feed took only 10 mins to prepare instead of 40 with the hand pump! By 4 weeks old Erin was feeding again! She is now 22 weeks and is still gaining weight beautifully, sleeping well and is a very satisfied baby! I am so grateful to Sarah for calming me down, assuring me there was plenty of time to establish bf, giving me such brilliant advice and assuring me this was all very very normal - there is nothing more confidence sapping for a mum than all the books and classes telling you 'this is natural and easy', so many people out there are having bf problems and it helps to know you're not alone and with the right help and attitude you will succeed!
Clare & Erin, Witchford
I also wanted to say thank you so much for your help with Abigail's sleeping. I took things very gently with the 'sleep training', but have had some great results. Abigail usually just wakes once in the night for a feed now (a few times she's woken twice, and a few times she's slept through!), and any other time she can get herself back to sleep without needing to be fed. Her naps have also improved, and I think she's really benefiting from sleeping better. Thank you so much for your help and advice!