I recently came across an article that a couple of friends posted on social media recently. The headline caught my eye simply because I related to it – The depressing truth behind mums ‘unable’ to breastfeed. I put together three of the words – depressing, unable, breastfeed – and immediately thought of myself. If you have read my blog before you will know that I really struggled to breastfeed both J & N.
The months after J was born were some of the worst of my life because I was unable to breastfeed. I blamed myself, my body didn’t work properly, I couldn’t provide for my baby. My inability to breastfeed led to an enormous amount of breastfeeding guilt. In turn this led to me developing post natal depression. I mention in the post I linked to for the experience with J, that I had help from the support workers. But that was it. They could see that I couldn’t get J to latch, but they didn’t suggest anything else. Now I see it wasn’t my fault, but is a possibility that J had tongue tie; but nobody could diagnose that because I didn’t know about it back then, and nobody else mentioned it to me. So I gave up before I even really tried.
My experience with N was slightly different in that I tried battling on for longer but we had the exact same problem – his latch, or lack of it. We had help from the NICU nurses when we were in transitional care, but nothing when we were discharged. I refused to give him formula as I was so so scared of developing breastfeeding guilt and depression again. The support workers came out to me a few times for a week or so after he was born, but every time they came out it was the same. They could see he couldn’t latch, but nothing else. We attempted, but no other suggestions, nothing. I was simply told as was said in the linked article, “Stick at it and it will click”. So we stuck at it. It didn’t click. This time though I didn’t blame myself as I know I tried my hardest for four weeks, on my own for the most part. Again, a friend mentioned to me recently that N could have tongue tie too. No-one mentioned anything during support.
So far (fingers crossed) I have gotten away with developing depression because I was yet again unable to breastfeed.
Both times, I believe I really could have done with specialist help. Maybe it would have made a difference, maybe it wouldn’t. But just the fact that it would have been a ‘professional’ rather than just support, might have helped me not to become another statistic.
It is so sad and such a shame that there is no specialist help for so many women who really want to breastfeed. It’s okay saying that breast is the best option (which it is, I know), but where is the help, rather than just the support, if women don’t know about it and therefore can’t find it?