Simone (Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor, lactation consultant): Not all mums have problems with breastfeeding. Some of them have an easy run of it and they just put the baby on and that’s it. Other mums do find it’s a little bit more challenging.
Diana (mother of Jesse, 3 months): I had really bad nipple pain so both my nipples were quite tender to the point where I couldn’t even put my clothes to my breast.
Sally (mother of Lolopua, 5 years, and Heleni, 2 years): With my daughter when I first had the attachment issues, she was trying to get the milk and she was sucking but wasn’t sucking right, so the milk didn’t come through fast enough. I even had a lot of lumps in my breast and under my arm that they were saying was because she wasn’t draining it enough.
Natasha (mother of Heston, 2 years, and Georgia, 4 months): With Georgia, she had difficulties initially latching, then she would take a long time to feed and I had bouts of mastitis, which was quite painful.
Simone: You just don’t know what you’re going to get until that baby arrives, until you work out your whole relationship with that baby and what’s going to happen. It could be different from one baby to the next as well if you’ve had more than one.
Natasha: I was surprised that I felt that I needed to access support for the second time with Georgia because I thought, well I know what it is about breastfeeding, I’ve breastfed one child and I didn’t expect to have all these difficulties again – well new difficulties anyway. I’m just glad I had that support.
Simone: My main tip for breastfeeding mums who are having a bit of a hard time of it, would be to ask for help early. So the Australian Breastfeeding Association helpline would probably be your first port of call and then from there they can direct you to probably where else you might need to go. You might need to go to your GP. You might need to go to a lactation consultant. You might need to see your child and family health nurse. There’s no silly questions. You can ring the helpline 24 hours a day and ask them the smallest – what you think is an insignificant question, but it can make a big difference to your breastfeeding.
Sally: I think some nights I just felt like I was going to cry, but as soon as you call and hear their voice and they just know so much about breastfeeding to help you, it’s just really calming and comforting to know that they can be there whenever, and you don’t have to leave the house, you don’t have to get dressed when you feel like rubbish, you don’t have to dress your kid that’s screaming and going crazy. You can just call them.
Simone: The other support services I guess people can look for are through their local hospital, through their child and family health nurse, which is their local council, and you can go to a lactation consultant privately if you wanted to. So some people like that because they might get a home visit and that could be learning to breastfed just in the comfort of their own home.
Diana: I woke up one morning and I thought well it’s either I seek help or I just give up and bottle feed. So I thought okay, well, I know this lactation consultant and I’m going to give her a call. She was so incredible. She went through the steps with me, how to actually put the baby on and my husband was there with me, he was quite supportive. So she started from the beginning and she went through how the baby needs to go on and how the baby actually needs to be latching on properly and why you get the pain if the baby is not on properly. So she’s started off getting me comfortable in the chair and I got Jesse in the right position. So we started the first latching on with her in the presence and I felt the pain within brief seconds and then it was gone and for the first time I could actually look at my baby and smile and I thought that was really magical for me.
Sally: The lactation nurse came around after I think 4 days, from the hospital. She noticed when I was trying to feed her that, she’s like, look something is not right. When I was swapping the whole time while I was trying to tilt to the nurse, she just said, look something is not right, she’s not latching properly. I said, no, no, she’s fine, she’s all good, and she’s like, no, she’s not because she’s swapping every minute, she’s burping, she’s carrying on, she’s screaming. That’s when I tried to open her mouth and realised that she really wasn’t. So lactation consultant stayed with me for about an hour then she said, look I’ll come back in a couple of days and she just kept coming back. She kept saying, if I can’t come back I’m sending someone else from the hospital. They just persisted until they knew that I’d got it. So it was fantastic to have that help.
Natasha: The people that I found were particularly helpful was the early childhood nurse at the early childhood clinic. She was fantastic. It was the same lady who I saw when Heston was a baby. At the time when I thought I was getting mastitis, and it was the first time I had experienced mastitis, I was on the phone to them, and I spoke to them about the soreness I was having and they were really helpful. They said, yep, go to your GP tomorrow.
Sally: If I didn’t have this support that I had through all of those obstacles, I think I just would have given up probably even after the attachment issues.
Simone: A support network is really important and that might not be – it might not be a health professional, it could be the family and friends around you or your cousin or a sister who has breastfed, or something like that. I think tapping into those support networks is really important to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind.
Natasha: The support that I got from the various people was crucial to get through the breastfeeding because without them, I probably would have just given up.
Diana: I believe definitely that my breakthrough was because I actually got up and sought help. I got up and actually did consult a lactation consultant and that was my breakthrough and I am very happy with how far we’ve gone now and the fact that we are still breastfeeding and we wouldn’t trade it for anything else.