Mums at Larne Breastfeeding Group say support is essential

Action for Children runs a breastfeeding group through Larne Parental Support Project. Detail Data attended one of their Friday morning meetings to hear about the feeding experiences of mothers.

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Julie Ann Houston, mum to Sophia (2) and 12 weeks old Chloe

Feeding status: Bottle and breastfed Sophia, stopped breastfeeding at 12 weeks. Currently breastfeeding Chloe.

Postnatal experience in hospital: Sophia was initially bottle fed. Was offered the option of bottle feeding Chloe but chose to hand express and then express until breastfeeding was established. Julie Ann was tired.

Comments on postnatal care: “A breastfeeding co-ordinator should always be on hand .... more patience with first time mums."

Factors: Sophia was sleepy post birth. Sophia was placed in a pelvic harness at 12 weeks for hip dysplasia. Initially Chloe wouldn’t latch onto the breast (latched on second day). Chloe was jaundiced. After being discharged Chloe had to continue to attend hospital for a week. Tougher breastfeeding with a toddler running around so Julie Ann had puzzles and toys at hand to keep Sophia entertained.

Advice for other mums: Attend a breastfeeding support group, the baby’s progress can be tracked and you can chat to other mums. “If you have any problems there is always someone who has been through it or a breastfeeding peer supporter can help.” The Northern Ireland breastfeeding group on Facebook (closed group) is a good information source.

Comments on breastfeeding: “I was a lot more confident with Chloe than Sophia. The benefits for Chloe and I make it all worthwhile. Never give up on a bad day because a bad day always comes to an end.”

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Jillian McFaul, mum to Timothy (2) and five months old Rosanna

Feeding status: Bottle fed Timothy. Breastfeeding Rosanna.

Postnatal experience in hospital: Timothy wasn’t having wet or dirty nappies and Jillian was advised to put him onto formula – he remained on formula milk. Jillian was tired.

Comments on postnatal care: “Everybody said something different."

Factors: Babies were sleepy when born. Pain when breastfeeding. Timothy had tongue-tie. Rosanna has been slow to put on weight.

Advice for other mums: “I just thought you put them on the breast and that was it – better knowledge of what is normal beforehand would have helped me. I didn’t know they may not feed much at the start because they are sleepy, that you might have to help them feed and that they might feed every 20 minutes. With Rosanna I had read up a lot more and I knew what to look for in a latch.”

Comments on breastfeeding: “I worked in the health service as a speech therapist so I was exposed to the benefits of breastfeeding. If I did not have this group to realise what was normal I would definitely have stopped breastfeeding. People talk about it as if it’s easy but it can be quite hard at times – but it is really worth it.”

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Marina Fulton, mum to Anastasia (five months)

Feeding status: Breastfeeding.

Postnatal experience in hospital: Marina had diamorphine and Anastasia was sleepy and difficult to feed.

Factors: Marina got mastitis and suffered postpartum depression. Anastasia was feeding constantly.

Advice for other mums: Join a support group – “it is so friendly, I have made friends. Helen Sherry (health visitor) helped me through it. I needed the support and I needed to get out as I was feeling so down. I was starting to withdraw from everybody and that was why the group has helped me. I enjoyed being able to talk, listen to other experiences and I managed to get through it – so you can get through it”.

Comments on breastfeeding: “I ended up with mastitis which was very painful and hard to work through. I was going to give up but I came to this group and I am really grateful I managed to get through those hurdles. It’s so easy to feed her at night, she’s not waiting on me to prepare a bottle – I just feed her and we go to sleep.”

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Megan Shaw, mum to Austin (eight months)

Feeding status: Breastfeeding.

Postnatal experience in hospital: Austin fed well. Megan was relaxed.

Comments on postnatal care: It all depended who was on, some were fantastic, others not so good. Nobody was really checking.

Factors: None.

Advice for other mums: “Be prepared is the best advice, go to your local breastfeeding group beforehand. I came to the group a few weeks before Austin was born and introduced myself. I had a chat with people who told me what to expect. I attended a breastfeeding workshop. Join the Facebook page because you have a world of support from women who have all done it.”

Comments on breastfeeding: “My mum breastfed all three of us and then on Austin’s daddy’s side his mum breastfed all seven of her children so I knew I would have a lot of support, no negativity and no feelings of anxiety about feeding around my family members. I have always felt very well supported. I think a reason for my success was because I knew what to expect, I already knew before he was born and what a good latch looked like and that he could be on you quite a lot.”

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Laura McAllister, mum to Jude (15 months) and a volunteer breastfeeding peer supporter

Feeding status: Jude has been weaned and is still breastfeeding.

Postnatal experience in hospital: Jude latched on but kept coming off. Jude didn’t settle the second night in hospital and Laura was offered the option of giving Jude a bottle, which she did. Laura was tired.

Comments on postnatal care: "I would definitely have liked more time and more help with breastfeeding."

Factors: Initial difficulties with latch, Jude lost more than 10% of his birth weight post discharge so Laura combined breast and bottle feeding for nine days. She moved to exclusive breastfeeding around day 10.

Advice for other mums: “I would say definitely get support from your family, partner and friends. If you know any other breastfeeding mums talk to them. I definitely recommend coming to a group."

Comments on breastfeeding: “I came to the group that first day and it was such a relief to be assured I was doing things right because I had been told I had to give formula, I had doubted myself. Helen (the health visitor) weighed Jude and I got chatting to other parents who had experienced the same things, feelings and was reassured. I found it really supportive and good socially. It’s important to get out of the house, especially if it’s your first child. I am still feeding Jude and if I wasn’t coming to the breastfeeding group I definitely wouldn’t have lasted this long.”

What is a breastfeeding peer supporter? Helen was running an eight weeks peer support training programme. At the end of the course I got OCN level 2 breastfeeding peer support certificate. I come to the group on a Friday morning to welcome the mums. We also collect referrals from community midwives for new mums, contact them and let them know we are here if they need help anytime."

  • Larne Breastfeeding Group is held at St Anthony's Primary School, 43 Fairway, Larne on Fridays between 10.30am and 12pm. For further information contact Larne Parental Support Project on 028 2827 6044 or email [email protected]

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