Breastfeeding Support: A Mother’s Right!

Photography: Poppy Peterson Photography

By Sofie Thomson

We have reversed away from what is natural and biologically correct and as such have forgotten the knowledge that was once passed down from generation to generation.

As a race we seem to continually spend time frantically searching for replacements in lieu of practices that give humans the optimal start to life. Arms are being replaced with vibrating bouncy chairs, bed sharing with cots and breast milk with artificial feeding alternatives.

Growing up in Sweden, breastfeeding was the norm and the only method of feeding I was really exposed to. I never questioned baby feeding because breastfeeding was all there was.

I knew I would grow breasts and that they would be there to nurture the babies to whom my future self may give birth. This was just the way it was.

This was one of the major cultural shocks when I moved to the UK. I felt like bottles were everywhere and walking down the baby aisle in the supermarket I was overwhelmed with brand after brand of infant formula and, even more so, I found it confusing when I witnessed pregnant mothers pacing these isles choosing formula for a baby still in the womb, a baby she had not yet held or offered her breast.

When I was blessed to fall pregnant with my daughter, I knew I was going to breastfeed; that was the only option.

I was somewhat worried about the efficiency of my nipples which were inverted and felt “non-existent”, but after being repeatedly reassured that I would have no issues breastfeeding I finally relaxed and enjoyed my pregnancy journey.

Unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be the journey I had hoped for and my daughter was born under stress and intervention in the local hospital. I was in shock and struggled to come to term with the fact that my birth plan was lying on a unit in a corner, untouched.

I was really just relieved that my daughter was lying on my chest, skin-to-skin as she should be.

She made little effort to move and spent her first hours just looking around dazzled by the light and sounds. She had not made any attempt to nurse so when she started to root I gently attempted to offer her my breast in a laid back position.

I knew what to do, I had seen this many times, except my daughter cried and turned her precious face away from me in frustration. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen!

I knew what to do, I had seen this many times, except my daughter cried and turned her precious face away from me in frustration. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen!

I knew that we were both new to this. I knew that we needed to get to know each other and I knew we would get there. Unfortunately I didn’t know how to speak up for myself nor did I know that I had rights as a mother to say “NO”.

After several hours, my daughter was still not accepting my attempts to latch her on my breast so I decided to ring for a midwife. When she finally arrived, I was holding my newborn daughter in my arms. She was quietly crying and turning hear head as though she was in pain but when I asked if she could be in pain after the traumatic forceps delivery, I was told to not worry. “She won’t feel any pain, dear,” the midwife answered.

I didn’t believe her.

The midwife was impatient and frustrated when I again asked her to help me latch my daughter on to my breast. She informed me that I wasn’t the only lady who had given birth. She looked stressed and tired! I begged her to please help me feed my baby. After several reluctant tries, the midwife hadn’t gotten any further than I had. I was aching to do for my baby what she needed me to do. I was sobbing in a bed, feeling alone in a country that wasn’t my own, wishing that my mother or my husband would have been there by my side. I needed someone to hold us both and tell us all would be OK.

My daughter started to become more lethargic and I was really getting worried, so I called for the midwife, one last time.

“That baby needs milk,” she told me. This time she was more impatient than she had been the times before and without warning she forcefully grabbed my daughter’s neck. She forced her little head in to my chest, time and time again. My daughter was now screaming hysterically and I was sobbing as I felt my daughter repeatedly being forced towards me.

My beautiful, peaceful girl started turning purple, screaming and screaming, louder and louder.

“STOP!”

I didn’t even realise I was shouting. I pushed the midwife’s hand away, turned away and held my daughter tight. I comforted her with the little strength I had left and she fell asleep, exhausted and drained.

This was her birthday.

See next page for the rest…

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