Áine’s Story

_MG_0006To me breastfeeding is the normal thing. I had no negative or positive feeling towards it, it just was the way to feed a baby. Giving a baby formula just seemed like too much hard work for me. I have to admit to being a very lazy individual!

My own mother died when I was two and my Dad remarried when I was 10. My step-mother breastfed both my sisters but as her maternity leave at the time was only for 3 months she weaned them then.

I remember my step-mother making up the bottles every night. Sterilising the bottles, warning us under pain of death not to touch the kettle as she had to wait 30 minutes or so until the water was cool enough to make up the bottles. Invariably my Dad or I would forget and want some tea and used up the water on her! So she’d have to start again! She was not best pleased!

When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to breastfeed. A friend of mine who had had a baby a few months earlier was breastfeeding her baby but had had a few problems and one thing she said she wished she had done a breastfeeding class before the baby was born so that she knew what to expect. So I went to see a friend of mine who at the time had 3 children and was a breastfeeding counsellor with Cuidiu. I got as much information as I could from her and she became my “goto” person. I also did the Cuidiu ante-natal class and as part of that there was a comprehensive breastfeeding section. And just to be sure to be sure I also did the breastfeeding class in Holles Street. So I was prepared…

The birth was fine, normal if not very painful as she came out facing the wrong way! I was determined I would breastfeed her so the first thing I did was put her to the breast and she took to it like a duck to water. Latched on and fed for about 10 minutes. It was one of the most amazing feelings I have ever had. I had just spent 9 months growing my beautiful baby girl and now here she was and I, yes I, was still growing her!

The second night in the hospital was the worst. My milk had come in early as she was a great sucker and she ended up feeding all night. At that stage I had been awake for nearly 2 days. When my husband came in the next day I was fit to die I was so tired. I went home at lunchtime feeling like my life would never be the same again.

I had the usual issues for the first 10 days – sore, bleeding nipples and they eventually cleared up. I fed on demand, however whenever she had a growth spurt I was in agony for a few days as my supply adjusted (10 days, 6 weeks, 3 months, 4.5 months old). It was as if I had glass being dragged through my breasts! I went to see my PHN and my GP and they both said I had thrush. To be honest neither really seemed to know what was going on. After much heartache I eventually spoke to a very knowledgeable lady in Cuidiu who said I had something called “Duct Cramping” caused by my daughters ferocious sucking and that it would pass. The first time it happened I nearly gave up on the breastfeeding as I thought I would never get through the pain! As each growth spurt occurred the pain got easier.

Then there was the time my daughter bit me! It happened at about 5 months, she was teething badly and my nipple got quite sore, again went to PHN and GP and they said thrush! Nope not that time either just a cranky little baba. She eventually started taking a soother instead of using me to soothe her gums!!

Cuidiu were the best help when I had problems and needed expert advice. I used to go to a meeting whenever something came up that I needed advice on. The breastfeeding support group run by the HSE was a great place to meet other Mums. We used to exchange tips and meet for lunch, just support each other when we were feeling a bit low.

My Good Bits:

Not having to get up in the middle of the night to make up bottles.

Feeding lying down  (once I got the hang of it!)- I could snooze while she fed!

The closeness and the cuddles.

Feeding whenever and where ever was required.

Not having to go home to make up a bottle cos I forgot to bring one with me!

Knowing that she was doing so great and it was all down to me!

My own breastfeeding experience has been mixed. Sometimes very hard but mostly brilliant. It has been one of the best things I have ever done and would recommend it to everyone. My motto was take one day at a time and now nearly 10 months on I’m still breastfeeding. I will continue until we are both ready to stop, which unfortunately much to my dismay, may be soon enough, as she seems to be self-weaning!