My daughter, Mini-me, gave birth to Teeny Mini-him just over 3 weeks ago. She is just 21 years old and was determined to breast feed. I had fed her myself and if she had decided not to breast feed I would have thought it odd and tried to talk her out of using formula. However, she was just as determined to feed Teeny Mini-him as I was to feed her so I was over the moon.
She had a traumatic birth, 15 hours of hard labour but the smiles at the end were all worth it. After the marathon, Teeny Mini-him was immediately put to the breast and completely naturally, started to suckle. Every member of staff who popped into the room encouraged her and they all had a top tip. Mini-me listened to them all just as determined as ever.
When she came home, only 24 hours later, she found it difficult. Teeny Mini-him had a tiny mouth and it was difficult for Mini-me to get all of her areola into his little mouth so her nipples suffered; cracked, sore and sometimes bleeding. Lanolin, the best nipple cream on the market, was £10 and not available as a minor ailment treatment and the cheaper creams did nothing to alleviate the pain. I bought the £10 cream. Twice. I bought nipple shields. I bought a breast pump. I bought breast pads. I was as determined as she was she would keep breast feeding and therefore, happy to fund the purchases. Mini-me doesn’t get a lot of money and without my purse she wouldn’t have been able to afford the items. To be honest, I found it surprising the items that should support breast feeding mothers were so expensive. I’m quite sure Mini-me would have bought formula at £7 before she would have bought nipple cream at £10. Regardless, and thankfully, she kept breast feeding.
Then the pain just got too much for her and she found expressing milk and giving it to Teeny Mini-him in a bottle worked better. It helped her, and her concerned partner, see how much he was getting, it stopped the partner stressing and gave Mini-me’s nipples a break. I wasn’t quite as happy but obviously, glad she was still feeding herself.
Late one evening, a couple of nights later she called me. “Mum, if I come and get you can you, will you come with me to Asda so I can buy formula milk? He’s not settling, I’m not producing enough milk and he’s starving.” She was in tears.
“No.” I replied. “Bring Teeny Mini-him down here and I will help you.”
Thankfully she came down.
That night I sat with her. I got her to use the nipple shields. It was sore to begin with but he fed. The more he fed, the more milk she produced. Eventually sated, I took Teeny Mini-him from her and settled him as she fell asleep on the couch. I covered her up and made a little cot on the floor next to her.
He woke during the night and without my help she fed him herself and he slept again.
Since that night, she has stopped expressing and every feed is via the breast. She still uses the nipple shields but she has managed to cut out the middle man of the breast pump. Soon Teeny Mini-him will be big enough to suck her entire areola into his mouth and the nipple shields will be ditched.
She is a great mother, doing a great job and I’m thankful we have such a good relationship she turned to me for help that night. I know without that connection she would have bought formula and Teeny Mini-him, who would still be healthy and looked after, would miss out on the amazing bond that breast feeding gives. Without that bond would she have called?
No-one will ever convince me that breast isn’t best.
Although I’ve moaned about the price of items to support breast feeding, what I realise now is that support from family members is far more important and valuable to a new mum.