I almost didn’t make it with this post today – the move from cot to toddler bed almost got the better of me! But I refuse to be beaten by a tiny, adorable dictator, so here I am, phone blogging while I guard his bedroom door to stop any escape attempts.
This week I’m featuring Sue’s experience of feeding her, now 11 month old daughter, Aria. Similar to Dad Up North last week, Sue is also from my hometown! However, she’s currently living in Australia. I thought it would be so interesting to feature her story, especially to see how the culture of feeding a newborn on the other side of the world might have its differences or similarities to doing the same here in the UK.
British girl living in Sydney
Growing up in a house as the second eldest of five children, with a baby/toddler/4 year old child always being breastfed around us, it was always my intention to breastfeed my baby. I remember watching my mum, aka superwoman, chopping vegetables, holding conversations, handing out lunch money all with a baby latched on sucking away contently. So when my, now 11-month-old daughter, Aria, was born, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the midwives having to extract the colostrum from me and syringe feed it to Aria. Or having my boss come round about 4 weeks in to help me position her while I sat semi-naked. Or sitting up at night in tears on about day 5 pouring hand expressed milk from a shot glass into Aria’s mouth. I struggled hugely with attachment in the early days and not having my mum/sisters/grandmother around I relied on my husband’s help, a technical consultant who used angles and his impeccable spatial awareness to help me position the baby along with all the amazing and free support that is available to Australian parents. The National Breastfeeding Association has a free 24 hour phone line you can call at anytime of the day or night and speak to trained breastfeeding counselors; midwives and nurses hold drop-in clinics three times a week where you can bring your baby to get help with feeding, again completely for free; a donation ran organization also offers free phone/email advice on feeding, settling and sleeping and even offer a home visit service. The people working round the clock, some of them as volunteers, can only be described as Saints to new parents. I felt incredibly lucky to live in a place where so much help was available. Breastfeeding finally settled after about 6 weeks, just at the time when my GP told me, “oh it’s like a new dance mum and baby both have to learn and it takes 6-8 weeks to learn the steps” – hindsight is a wonderful thing. The girls from my mother’s group were also, and still are, a huge support. Out of about 10 of us, 3 formula fed, 7 breastfed (around 4 of us still are) and I can honestly say I have never experienced one flicker of judgment amongst us about how we other feed our babies. We’ve all experienced night waking, teething, bad days, and food refusal. 1 year on, mums and babies still remain firm friends.
I used to hear people talk about their feeding journey and not really understand what they mean. Now I can kind of look back and think; weeks 0-6, discomfort, anxiety about attachment and starving the baby and generally sitting topless in public; 4-6 months, distracted baby not feeding during the day so feeding every hour at night to make up for it; 8 months, upside down, somersaulting, head turning while still attached drinking, and 10 months back to cuts and cracked nipples but this time from teeth (apparently she was too busy for her four feeds a day). Which leads us to now, 11-12 months still keen to breastfeed but very excited to drop to a morning and night feed which means days out alone for me while Aria stays with Dad and clothes that don’t involve buttons!
As far as advice for new parents go, I don’t want to give too much as you get enough of that from random strangers, but perhaps just seek out the help offered as early as possible. The only thing which may have stopped me at first was my pride, but let’s face it, after giving birth I left most of that behind in the hospital room!
Firstly I want to thank Sue for sharing her story with me! And also the other non-blogger ladies who’ve done the same. I hadn’t thought about it before but it must be pretty daunting to write something for the public about something so private when you’re not already a blogger – you’ve all done brilliantly ladies and I’m sure your experiences will be a great help to at least someone out there.
Also, I think Sue’s experience highlights some really important points that all prospective and new mothers need to be aware of – there is help out there, please find it and ask for it if you need to! There’s no shame in reaching out to organisations that are there for the sole purpose of improving hours and your babies lives in those early stages, especially if you’re away from family, like Sue was. You can find Sue on Instagram @suesiddiqui, be prepared for some adorable baby and beach shots!
If you have a Newborn Feeding Story you’d like to share I’d love to hear from you, blogger or not! Please email me at email@example.com.