Hello. I don’t think this is quite what you were after, is it?

Noodling through the stats on this blog tonight, I noticed that around 1000 people a month are now reading it. I was feeling pretty bloody pleased for myself until I started looking at the search terms some of you are using to find it….

Gold stars to all googling “birth, boobs and bad advice” (in any combination), “Zoe Kleinman book”, “thoughts on bottle feeding”, “breastfeeding isn’t working”, “breastfeeding failures after traumatic birth”, “bad advice given on breastfeeding” and so on. I’m guessing you rocked up here for the right reasons and I hope you weren’t disappointed.

To the eleven people who wanted advice about C-Sections… not sure I’m much help there, I’m afraid. Ditto the one person who typed “why I’m very” into Google. I need a little more to go on, darling.

My heart is breaking for the two ladies who searched “always getting called lazy and a bad mum” and “all I wanted was to be someone”. I hope someone somewhere is giving you the help and support you desperately need.

Dear “I’m pissed I wasn’t breastfed”. I have one question. Why?

As for you lot:

boobsandtits
real boobs hole
me and my friends boobies
boobs I’m bad
december 2012 boobs of the day
babygotboobs.com
I went to the wrong washroom and I saw boobies

Go straight to somewhere ending .xxx. Do not pass go. Do not collect £200.

But  finally. The Birth, Boobs and Bad Advice WTF SEO award 2013 goes to:

“I’m not pregnant but my husband wants me to breastfeed him and he sucks my nipples terribly.does it help?”

Err. Anyone…..?

Why I’m annoyed with The Archers over breastfeeding (yes, really)

I have fond childhood memories of my mum listening to The Archers omnibus on BBC Radio 4 in our kitchen while making Sunday lunch.

The smell of roast chicken and an array of colourful veg is still synonymous with the radio soap’s galloping theme tune for me despite years of making roasts of my own to the music of Blur, Beethoven, Bollywood and whatever else I can find as I flick through the music stations on my DAB.

But apart from those early years, the UK’s longest running soap has generally passed me by.

It used to be all about farming but in recent years it’s got a lot more racy, I am reliably informed (I do hope its fans, who I know to be a passionately dedicated bunch, will forgive me such a crass summary of their favourite radio programme).

Anyway, it’s now popping up here because quite a few people have been in touch over the weekend to tell me it covered the thorny topic of breastfeeding problems on Friday. So I ignored my rumbling tummy and had a listen. You can too, here – but only for the next seven days (the episode you want is Friday 18th January).

I was silently cheering the scriptwriters as new mum Vicky Tucker confided in her friend that she didn’t “want to seem like a useless mother” because her baby daughter Bethany “just doesn’t seem to be getting the hang of (breastfeeding)” and “it must be my fault mustn’t it?”

“They all think I’m rubbish,” she said sadly, and, while my heart went out to her (yes, I know she’s a fictional character), it also soared a little as I could almost hear the sound of a very large nail being hit right on the head.

Because around FIVE MILLION people listen to this show, almost as many who read this very blog (cough) – what a great place, I thought, to say loud and clear that breastfeeding isn’t second nature to everybody, as so many will have you believe.

Unfortunately then it was Vicky’s friend Amy’s turn to have her say. She was supportive, ish – but after saying something a bit vague about the position of the baby’s tongue (she made that sound like it wasn’t a big deal but I haven’t come across that before – UPDATE, i now understand this is because the baby has Downs Syndrome) she said this:

“Lots of mums have problems establishing breastfeeding – but if the mum is keen to persevere, babies usually get the hang of it”.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh

Sorry, did I say that out loud? It roughly translates as “ohyouweredoingsowellwhydidyouhavetofuckitallupbysayingTHAT”

No, it is NOT enough to be “keen to persevere”. You may also be keen to grow an extra leg, or marry David Beckham…. but as we all know there are a few little issues that might get in the way of that (biology, and Victoria to name the most obvious). If I’ve learned anything in the last 18 months it’s that it’s pretty insulting to say to a new mum that it’ll all be OK as long as she is “keen to persevere”.

To pick up on the fantastic point made by Colla, who commented on my last post, would we DARE say that to a man with erectile disfunction? Ha! I can’t see it somehow.

You’ve blown it, The Archers. See you in another 20 years. Maybe.

“Breastfeeding support is one thing but if it isn’t working for someone don’t punish them for it” – Sarah’s story

Sarah’s story

As a personal trainer, I do a lot of work with ladies who are trying to get back into shape after pregnancy. So, I knew how people felt about breastfeeding. I thought I understood the whole thing and I had heard a lot of stories – but nothing can prepare you for when it’s your own.

When I fell pregnant with my first child, Gaby, I took every single course – both NHS and private. I wanted a broad spectrum – but I felt that most of them were run by bullies. One said it was cruel to use a heart rate monitor on a baby – if I’d listened to that, I think my daughter may well have died.

They all said, “you must breastfeed”. At the time I was training a lady who was a breastfeeding counsellor and she said she’d never had a breastfeeding failure.

Gaby’s birth was traumatic. She was posterior (facing forwards with her head in the back of my pelvis), and I had no idea how horrific a posterior birth can be – nobody had told me any of that. I had a birth plan, which was just hilarious. Everything they tell you will happen didn’t happen to me. My contractions started straight away and they were really strong. I went from nothing to 3cm dilated really quickly. My waters didn’t break.

In the hospital I had no urge to push at all. They didn’t realise Gaby was posterior – I have a very strong belief that it would be easy enough to do an ultrasound scan during labour to check the position of the baby at times like this. The epidural stopped working so I went from a little pain relief to nothing. In the end she was distressed, they had to use a ventouse and basically drag her out because it was too late for a C-section. I was in shock.

They put Gaby on my breast and she just sat hanging on my nipple, she didn’t do anything. It got more and more sore. I just wanted to get home. I was freaking out because there was all this advice around that babies shouldn’t get too hot, and the temperature in the maternity ward was so high, I was sweating.

At home Gaby still wouldn’t latch on. She would be on my breast for 16 hours a day but she never once actually latched on. I couldn’t put a bra on. Imagine what my nipples looked like! It felt like someone had shoved a red hot poker on them.

Three days later a vile midwife came to the house and started shouting at me. Gaby’s weight had dropped from 6 pounds 9 oz to 5 pounds 12 oz.

She grabbed hold of Gaby’s head – I seriously thought she was going to rip it off – and she screamed, “you are starving this baby”.

She got me a breast pump and I spent days freezing milk. My milk production was out of control. I put on loads of weight – I couldn’t stop eating, I was pumping so much. Gaby still wouldn’t latch on and I knew I was getting mastitis.

The midwife had ordered us not to give her a bottle in case she got “nipple confusion” (which I now think is ridiculous) so my husband and I were spoon-feeding her because we were too frightened to give her a bottle. She was hungry all the time.

One day a friend came round with his wife, who had also had a baby. She just sat there and watched me suffering on that sofa, she did nothing to help or support me. I stopped going to baby groups because I couldn’t breastfeed.

My husband was in tears most of the time. He thought it was terrible.

Eventually a wonderful male health visitor came round. He said, “this is ridiculous, try a bottle. Let’s just try it”.

Once Gaby had the bottle in her mouth she went for it straight away. All she wanted to do was suck. After that, I had a happy baby. I was happy. I thought, “I can’t believe I’ve been sucked into this”. Normally I am pretty tough.

So I bottle fed her but there were still times when I felt like a complete failure.

I’ve met a few people who’ve smoked loads, drunk loads, and banged on about “breast is best”. It’s disgraceful. I heard one woman banging on about breastfeeding who then put Coca Cola into a bottle for her baby. I knew all this but I still felt really battered.

Breastfeeding support is one thing but if it isn’t working for someone don’t punish them for it. I just don’t believe it works for everybody.

I saw a psychologist for two years after Gaby was born. It made me talk about it – people are frightened to talk about it. You are made to feel like a failure whatever you do.

When my son James was born (we waited 4 years because of the trauma) it was a much easier birth.

The difference was unbelievable. He jumped on and latched on… but this time I found I just didn’t want to breastfeed forever. After a few weeks with James I thought, “I don’t want to do this”. I exclusively fed him at first and he had terrible colic. He screamed every night for 3 months from 11pm – 2am. After seven weeks I put breast milk into a bottle, then started giving him formula. It made no difference! Then I remembered that when he’d been in my stomach he’d always kick a lot at that time. It was just his peak time of being awake.

First time mothers are vulnerable. With the second one, I thought I wanted to try breastfeeding and if it didn’t work I’d give him a bottle. But I still felt emotional when I switched to the bottle – I felt like a failure, like I’d given up. It’s ridiculous.

Neither of my children have allergies. I have happy, healthy kids – they eat well, they’re sporty. I was formula fed too and I’m not dead!

Check out Sarah’s website here.

If you’d like to write a guest post like Sarah did email breastfeedingbattles@gmail.com