Interview 51

Age at interview: 37
Brief Outline: Latching-on problems with first baby leading to cracked nipples, engorgement & mastitis. Good milk supply. Joined breastfeeding support group. No problems with next three babies.
Background: At the time of interview, this 37 year old, White British woman was breastfeeding her 14 month old son. She also had a 7 year old daughter and sons of 6 and 3, all of whom she had breastfed. A housewife, she was married to a self-employed joiner.

More about me...

The mother of four breastfed children, this woman says that she made most of her mistakes and did most of her learning with her first baby and that, provided she paid particular attention to how the baby was latched onto the breast, she had no problems with the others. Motherhood became easier with subsequent babies. She and her husband built their own house in the country and enjoy the rural lifestyle. She has a large and interesting collection of dolls and ornaments. There is a gap between her first two children who are close and now at school and her last two children who are also close and still at home. However, they all play well when they are at home together. She is one of five siblings herself all bottle fed except for the last, a late baby. She remembers watching her mother breastfeed her youngest sister. Her older sister has four breastfed children and she thinks that is where she got the idea to try breastfeeding. Now, with all of her experience, she is able to help other family members who are wanting to breastfeed. She thinks that there is no substitute for learning by experience and hearing about the experiences of other mothers. She continued to learn about breastfeeding at a support group run by the local health visitor and midwife.


She used a dummy with her first two children but not with her last two.

She used a dummy with her first two children but not with her last two.

Did I ever use dummies? With my first two I did use dummies, I found that my daughter was quite a sucky child, so I did introduce the dummy. Again before she was born they were able to show me on the scan where she was sucking her thumb so whenever she was born I did discover that she was a sucky child, so again I did introduce the dummy.

By sucky child you mean that she needed a lot of sucking?

Yes she did.

And she couldn't get that on the breast, enough?

No. She would've used her thumb.

Was that a problem?        

Well, I had it in the back of my mind that sucking her thumb would have maybe proven difficult later on whenever she would've had teeth, so I, that's why I sort of gave her the dummy so she wouldn't be sucking her thumb quite a lot, so she, she would've used the dummy, she would've used the dummy a lot, so she did. It was actually quite hard to get her off the dummy because she would've sucked quite a lot.

So when did you use it, what sort of times did you give her the dummy?

Probably after a feed whenever I discovered that she would've been sucking her thumb I would've given her the dummy, so I did, she would've, she would've looked for the dummy actually quite a lot as well.

And did that help her to go to sleep?

Yes it did help her to go to sleep, yes, it was one thing that she looked for, you know? Maybe it's because I maybe didn't really know an awful lot about dummies so I think I'd really just gave it to her so to speak. Now with my second, again I sort of thought with the dummy I'll give the dummy but my second son now was, was a good feeder but I just really gave him the dummy at, at night time, you know, and then with my third well I introduced the dummy but I sort of got, so not really wanting it so I thought, 'Right, okay, if we can do without the dummy, great', with the fourth I just didn't, I just didn't introduce it because with the third and discovering that it didn't need, didn't want the dummy I thought, 'Oh great', you know, 'look what I've come, I've come through a year of not needing the dummy, a good sleeper, a good feeder, so why have a dummy?', again with the fourth I just didn't introduce it at all. I thought if I could just go through what I went through with my third it would be great so I didn't introduce it at all, and thankfully everything's been grand, I've had no problems.

So what are the advantages and the disadvantages of using a dummy?

Well with a dummy, to me, I would've thought, 'Now are they hungry or are they not hungry?', with the dummy being in the mouth all the time it was sort of hard to tell whether they wanted to feed or not, so with having no dummy I found when they would've cried, looking, snuggled in looking for the breast, I knew that's what they wanted, whereas with a dummy it was hard to tell, you had to go and take out the dummy to see if the baby wanted the breast, wanted a feed or not. So, I do, I definitely would say if I had to start all over again I don't think I would even introduce a dummy of any kind, at all, because I think that you can get confused between the dummy and the nipple. Again the latching on could be a problem with just sticking the dummy in, just opening the mouth, breast like, like again that may have been a problem with my daughter, with her being the first, the dummy and the latching on of the nipple, because with the dumm

Not attaching her first baby on properly led to later problems. She learned how to do it and had...

Not attaching her first baby on properly led to later problems. She learned how to do it and had...


When I was pregnant I didn't really know anything about breastfeeding at all, I didn't get any information, it was just something that I had in my head, that I really wanted to do, and when she was born I, well I had said to my husband that I wanted to do it and I said I would give it a try and see how you would get on, and when she was born well of course I tried it, so well of course I thought it would be easy but whenever I started to do it I found it wasn't just as easy. It was actually quite difficult because obviously she wasn't, I wasn't latching her on properly, I thought it was just a normal thing to do, but whenever I was putting her on obviously I wasn't putting her on properly, she wasn't what they call 'latching on' so this is where the problems really started and then I actually took mastitis as well with the engorgement, so I had to, well I got quite a lot of help from the midwife, she doesn't live really far away and it was, she actually gave me her contact number so I was able to contact her. So, well I was in the hospital I think for about a week, and well they did try their best, I was fine whenever I was in the hospital but whenever I came back out and home, things were different. Things were different at home because that's really whenever the problems started with cracked nipples, and the engorgement, so I had to get help from the midwife. She was really helpful she would've came down and she would've tried to latch on but at this stage I had the cracked nipples so it was quite difficult and I was trying to, to wash the nipple with my own milk, they described to me to wash the nipple with your own milk which I did do, and it, it did help but it just took a while for it to clear up and again Kamillosan cream, I tried that as well, you didn't really have to wash it off because you would've just latched the baby on with it still on. So it was the latching on it was really the problem, every time I was trying to get my daughter on, it was a real, it, I could feel myself tight, my jaws, my mouth it felt as if it was just going all dry, and it was really the latching on that was really the difficult part, that was the, that was the part I found most hurt, I really dreaded to think of every feed time, 'Oh here it goes again', the pain, but she did tell me right enough to take painkillers to try and get rid of the pain, which I did do, I wouldn't really be a tablet person but I did try this for the pain because I had it in the back of my mind, 'Don't give up, keep, keep at it', so I did and.

How long do you think that took to get over the engorgement and the sore nipples, are we talking days, weeks, months?

No, we're talking weeks, I'm sure it was about two, three weeks before the nipple really started to clear up so the midwife that did come and help me she did advise me about times and a place where breastfeeding was taking place so I did decide to go, and there I met other mums who breastfed and, a midwife and a health visitor who was able to advise me as well at this stage, you know, I was beginning to get more information about latching on and, and all the rest of it so this is really where I got the information about latching on, that's really where I first began to think, “Oh there y'are, it's, there's more to it than just putting the baby on”, you must make sure that the mouth's open wide, and that they take the full nipple not just, you know, round the, the brown area that they take the full thing' so that's really where I got the information I was able to find help, she was able to tell me what I was doing wrong, I was really more or less putting my daughter on without really making sure that her mouth was open. They keep tell, they kept showing me, really by them own mouth experience how you, that the baby's mouth should actually be opened so this is really where I le


Her first baby had solids at four months but she waited for longer with the others and simply...

Her first baby had solids at four months but she waited for longer with the others and simply...

Whenever she was four months I introduced the baby rice. Again I didn't really know much about solids so I had baby rice and I thought, 'I'll try the baby rice' and again, now she would've taken it, but more so she liked the breastmilk, so she did, and that's whenever I discovered with the rest of my three children who followed on, well, it was actually changing to solid foods from six months at my daughter's stage it was from four months but then it was gradually changed then to six months, and with my second son actually I kept feeding him for quite a long time, it was maybe round the seventh, eighth month before I even introduced the solids, maybe in-between, maybe a yoghurt or a mashed banana, but really with the breastfeeding I didn't introduce any solid food at that stage at all, I tried to keep feeding him as long as I could and that's just what I did. And then with my other two sons I did exactly the same thing, it was around the seven, eighth, even possibly I think the eighth month before I even introduced solids, I just kept breastfeeding as long as I possibly could before introducing the, the solid food.

How did you know they were ready for solids?

Well, frequently breastfeeding more and maybe putting their fingers to the mouth was another point where you could see that maybe oh, you know, maybe they're hungry and again, you know, as I say wanting to breastfeed more that was another point.

And did they watch you eating and reach for your food?

No, no they wouldn't have, no they wouldn't have at this stage, no.

And so did you start the boys on baby rice as well?

No I didn't start with baby rice, again, I didn't buy any solid foods, I would've just introduced, first of all I would've maybe I started with mashed banana or yoghurts, really fruit. Again I didn't go out and buy jars of food or packets of food, I would've introduced my own food, whatever dinner I was cooking, vegetables, chicken, meat, mashed up with potato and gravy, and that's what I would've given my children, so it was.

So you made it easy'

Oh I did, yes.

'for the later children'


'just whatever you were having?

Just whatever, again, whatever we were having as a family I would've given it to the children to eat, I didn't buy any bottles or jars or anything like that, it was just really family meals whatever was being cooked they were just getting the part of it as well.

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