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Is Breast Best? Live Q&A with Cherry Healey and Dr Trisha MacNair

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Dana Stevens | 15:33 UK time, Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The Bringing up Britain season launched with the brilliant documentary Is Breast Best: Cherry Healey Investigates.

Thank you for all your questions, comments and views about breastfeeding for Cherry Healey and Dr Trisha MacNair.

All comments are pre-moderated which may delay publication. Not all comments will be published when the volume of comments is very high, or if they contain material that may offend other users.

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  • Comment number 1.

    i was 22 when i had my first child james i wanted to breastfeed him, from the start it was not an issue, i never even thought of bottle feeding him. But it only lasted 4 weeks, it really hurt and my breasts were saw and to be honest i was young and felt that breastfeeding tied me down more. Having to do it all myself and feeling like i could not go anywhere as i had nowhere to feed him when i was out, i was to embarresed to do it in public so i stopped. I never let my first experiance scare me into not trying again with my second though and i knew when i fell pregnant with Evie i was going to give it another go and it went great from day 1 and im still breastfeeding her now 6 months later. I was still hard this time tackling the issue of feeding in public but one day i was in asda cafe and i started feeding evie and i felt like everyone was watching me and a group of teens went passed and made a coment about it and my boyfriend said ignore them im really proud of you feeding her your doing really well, that gave me the boost i needed and it doesnt bother me now i just hold my head high and think if they think this is wrong then they are wrong!! I do think places need to cater more for breastfeeding thou i mean would we like to sit and eat our dinner in a toilet????? Great show :)

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a pity this programme is not available on i player as I would like to have advised other professionals (health visitors and midwives) to watch. Gaining further insight into teenagers prceptions around breastfeeding was particularly useful. Perhaps the BBC could have a storyline on one of its soaps where breastfeeding is successful to encourage some young mums to at least have a go. Health benefits would show in the next generation - a lasting legacy.

  • Comment number 3.

    Enjoyed the show although felt it was more on the negative than positive side to breastfeeding I also would have liked for it to be stated that breastfeeding is only painful if the latch/positioning is wrong

  • Comment number 4.

    I felt the show could have covered some more of the issues around breast-feeding in greater detail. A lot of time was spent explaining who she was on the way to visit and why, and then explaining who she was going back to see and why, which was not necessary, didn't need to see all the shots of her arriving at people's houses etc. and talking to a room full of footballers about it, not that helpful.

    I would have found it interesting to examine some of the attitudes to feeding babies this way, and how it has been affected by our culture and society over the years.

    I think one point I'd make, currently breastfeeding my baby, is that there seems to be an all or nothing attitude to it by breastfeeding groups. I have asked for advice from breastfeeding support groups several times and they take a very hardline attitude about it, expect you to let your baby suckle on you all the time, a lot of them have suggested I sleep with the baby in my bed, and I've been criticised for using a bottle, even when I explain the bottle has expressed breast milk in it...this full-on attitude started making me resent breastfeeding, as I felt there wasn't a middle way, where you could combine bottle and breast, or breastfeed but still want a bit of routine and not have baby suckling all the time in bed with you.

    It's one thing to encourage breastfeeding as much as possible, but some of the advice I've received has almost had the opposite effect, pushed me away from it even more and made me want to give up.

  • Comment number 5.

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU. I had the most difficult time trying to breastfeed, my son was tongue tied which was only discovered after 2 weeks and I got mastitis 3 times. I gave up at 3 weeks and it was the hardest decision I ever had to make, I still feel guilty about it but the pain was unbearable and I was a complete emotional wreck. I couldn't look at my baby without crying and started to feel resentment towards him so making the decision to switch to the bottle was quite honestly a relief. Although I still feel guilty about not being stoic enough to battle through the pain like so many other women seem able to do, I feel that my baby was better off having a more emotionally stable and happier mum - THANK YOU for showing the other side of breastfeeding, its so good to hear that I'm not alone.

  • Comment number 6.

    I had wanted to watch this show as I had been feeling terrible issues of guilt just as Cherry had about not breast feeding.
    I had fully intended to breast feed but when my son was born I tried and tried to get him to latch on with the help of lots of midwives in hospital but he just completely refused to. It didnt matter what position I tried him in it was as if he just couldnt do it. He seemed to be working extra hard to breathe so the paediatrician examined him and found that he had tiny nasal passages and so found it hard to learn to latch on as he couldnt breathe. He told me that he wouldnt say this in front of the midwives but it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to get baby to breast feed but I could keep trying if I wanted to.
    I decided to syringe feed him colostrum and keep trying. However, on my second night in hospital he sounded like he was choking and struggling to breathe so the midwives took him for the night and bottle fed him as I was hysterical with worry. Looking back I wish I hadn't as after that I was sure that just the colostrum I had been cup feeding him wouldnt be enough and I supplemented with formula til I was allowed home 3 days later after I managed to feed him him with a nipple shield for a minute or two.
    When I got home I couldn't feed him with the nipple shield and just gave up. I gave him formula and expresed breast milk for two weeks then went straight onto formula.
    At first I felt relieved but then the guilt set in. I do wish that I had asked for more help when I got home but at the time I felt as if I was fighting a losing battle and I felt my partner didnt want me to keep trying as it made the baby distressed and now it is too late and I will just have to live with my decision but the programme has helped me not to feel so bad about it as at least I tried.

  • Comment number 7.

    We really need to work on normalising nursing in public. I love to just feed baby and people dont even notice! I often scare little old ladies off when i am feeding them and they come up to say hi to baby not realising they are nursing! haha, on the other hand i really really love when a woman comes up and does notice i am nursing but it doesnt bother them. it shows me there is hope out there. We have the law to support us in public and if someone is giving you some lip, let them know you arent breaking the law but their sexual harrasment is.

    My own breastfeeding adventure didnt start off easy. I felt alone and I was 4,000 miles away from my family. I just have to say you NEED support to breastfeed, think back to how women used to share the care of the kids and work together now we are independent and families have broken down or like me have become international. It takes a village to raise a child.. really. I used to be afraid of nursing in public and id cover up. now i know covering up only makes it more obvious. like the footballer said he was next to his friends partner and didnt even know for 10 minutes. I love the reaction now people have never seen it, think about that the most natural thing in the world and people havent seen it!!! we need to get out in public and be ready for stupid people to make remarks but we can get out and show other women its not dangerous its not scary really its not gross its beautiful and only 60 years ago women were doing the same thing in the same towns walking around uncovered breastfeeding. I dont think people realise how important the bonding with children is through breastfeeding. Some people might say its just the child but i notice a huge difference between my two sons one who was breastfed for 6 months and put in his own cot at the same time vs my second who is still co sleeping and breastfeeding at 13 months (not stopping until he weans himself at 2,3 or maybe 4) there is a HUGE difference in independence and my first isnt touchy feely no matter how much i beg for a hug he would rather run around while my second would rather sit on my lap and nurse.

    Just remember we are women, we are meant to do this. If it hurts get help, dont doubt yourself. Co sleep! it makes a world of a difference but do it with safety first. Look into SIDS and cribs vs co-sleeping. They dont have a word for SIDS in countries where co sleeping is the norm. It helps breastfeeding more than you will ever know%

  • Comment number 8.

    I have 2 Sons, one who's 6 in July and a 9 week old. I breastfed my first and am breastfeeding my second. I personally feel that not enough is done to promote breastfeeding as I discovered a lot of information through Google. Not enough is done by Midwives to encourage it. They simply try and push you into it and don't tell you all the benefits and/or help you when you start off. It was only when I had my first that I realised that you don't get periods. I thought it was strange when I didn't get a period researched it and discovered that Breastfeeding suppresses the hormone that makes you ovulate and that's why they say you "can't" get pregnant whilst Breastfeeding. It does reduce you chances but doesn't stop it. Now I'm feeding my second I've discovered more about the benefits, I wouldn't change it for the world. It's up to each and every Woman what they choose to do, but hopefully after watching this programme it will encourage more Women to do it. I do feel slightly conscious in public, but after watching the programme I'm no longer going to be. I haven't exactly got my breasts on show and it's something to embrace.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thank you to everyone who took part in the live chat. Almost 13, 500 of you joined us and we could only answer a small fraction of your questions and comments. Feel free to add them here though.

    @JM The programme is now available on iplayer - you can watch it at the Is Breast Best? Cherry Healey Investigates website.

  • Comment number 10.

    Dr Trisha McNair would like to add some information to her answer at 9.53 to a question from Josh 'is cows milk really that bad as an alternative?'

    Cow's milk doesn't have the balance of nutrients, minerals and salts that a young baby needs. In particular there are worries that it may be too low in iron. There are also many other nutritional differences - it doesn't contain the antibodies or hormones influencing growth that are found in breastmilk, for example. So using plain cow's milk is likely to leave the baby undernourished and at increased risk of problems such as infections, anaemia and diabetes in later life. Formula milk is made from cow's milk but has been specially prepared to make it easier to digest, and to add important nutrients.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would like to say a big thank you to Cherry for highlighting just how difficult breastfeeding can be for some mums. Like Cherry, I suffered from mastitis twice and nipple thrush during my 6 weeks of (incredibly painful and miserable) exclusive breastfeeding. After weeks of tearful discussions with my very supportive health visitor, we decided that the best solution for my baby's wellbeing and my sanity (!) was to bottle-feed expressed milk. This is a real faff and is gradually becoming combined more and more with formula milk but I think it's important to highlight it as an alternative to feeding your baby directly on the breast. My health visitor assures me that my baby is still a breast-fed baby as he is still getting the goodness of my breastmilk, albeit through a bottle. It is working well for us and, although I still feel the judgmental glares of others as I pull the bottle out of my changing bag, I am confident in myself that we have made the right choice for us and am therefore saved from a lot of the guilt I know I would have felt had we turned to formula straight away.

  • Comment number 12.

    I enjoyed watching this programme but was extremely disapointed that it mainly portrayed breastfeeding in a negative way.
    Programmes such as this are very influentual. I understand that breastfeeding may not be for everyone and that we all have a choice whether to BF or not to. I felt that this programme was aimed at making Cherry feel less guilty about her decision to stop rather than show bf in a positive light.
    I myself BF both of my children and had dificulities with both, very sore, dry cracked nipples and mastitis and refusal to latch. I actively seeked support and continued to successfully BF.
    After my problems with my first child I completed a LaLeche League Peer Supporter course and now actively support local mums and promote breastfeeding.
    Come on BBC 3, I expected better

  • Comment number 13.

    I have 2 kiddies, both were born 7 weeks premature, I breastfed both of them until my first for 4months, my second until 7months.
    i also expressed and donated my surplus milk to a milk bank who now use it for other sick and premature babies.
    at about 6 months though my youngest developed a milk allergy, so we had to put him onto formula - so he now an a medicated formula otherwise I would still be breastfeeding - he is now 9months.
    So I do think breast is best, but sometimes you are forced to give it up.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think it should have been pointed out that some of us can not breast feed due to bad labour- I lost sooo much blood that I had no iron to even produce milk - therefore the choice was not there!
    This programme did not cover this and it makes me quite angry that there is guilt attached to not doing it.
    I bottle fed my daughter and she even at 2 is a mummy's girl and we have the best bond ever. I generally think the stigma attached stating you have a better relationship/bond if you breast feed is nonsense- it's like anything you get out what you put in.

    I'm just sad this programme did not highlight the reason why some people don't.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have breastfed all three of my children and am currently breastfeeding my third child who is 4 months old. I have never had any issues with breastfeeding in public as it can be done in a very discrete way and it is rare anyone notices. I felt disappointed that the programme seemed to make such a big deal about this- it doesn't need to be. I probably would find a quieter spot than a busy shopping centre walk through to feed my baby. How the programme portrayed breastfeeding in public could deter people from giving it a go even more.

  • Comment number 16.

    I found the programme v interesting for a number of reasons, as a mum of a prem baby I was delighted to see the issue of donor milk raised. I found it virtually impossible to make enough milk when she arrived and gladly used donor until my daughter was at the corrected age of 36 weeks. Thanks to all those women who donate it is really appreciated!
    I was given so much support from the hospital, health visitors and a feeding support worker. Now I am expressing small amounts and use formula as a top up. My daughter struggled to latch on, so using a bottle was for me the best option. I don't feel guilty in any way as I know I am doing the right thing for her.
    One thing in the programme did raise my hackles slightly, the more full on mums who were v against bottle and the implied belief that mums who BF have a closer bond. Really?? I think women need to be more supportive of each other and accept that for some mums it is just not possible and not sit in judgement.

  • Comment number 17.

    Thought this programme was really good, however was very difficult to watch and I cried about half way through it.

    I breastfed my baby but really wasn't getting on with it (the community midwives came to my house to help my try different positions, etc) but as soon as I was on my own I felt like I was back to square one. I started to hate feeding my baby, and I used to dread it when I knew he needed fed. It wasn't good for either of us, as he got frustrated and upset and that made me feel worse, almost sending me into a depressive state.

    My husband and I decided it would be better to express my milk, and combination feed our baby, this worked for a little while, but unfortunately I developed a bad case of mastitis, which, like Cherry ended in me being rushed to hospital, but I had the other type of mastitis that was mentioned last night, with a huge abscess on each breast (I had gone to the doctor prior to being sent to the hospital, but they gave my very weak antibiotics which did nothing).

    I was in hospital for 3 days, put on a drip and eventually had to get my breasts drained with needles (which is about as pleasant as it sounds).

    I am sick and tired of some people suggesting that the mum isn't trying hard enough if they don't stick with breastfeeding - I gave it my best shot, really gave myself a hard time when we decided to express and combination feed. It was not an easy decision to make.

    Mastitis is a very nasty infection that can give you flu like symptons and sometimes it's a massive struggle just to get out of bed in the morning. You get pains when you feed/express (not the usual breastfeeding pains, but shooting pains that feel like they come from your back and under your arms, going straight to you breasts) and if the infection gets as advanced as mine was, you will end up in hospital, away from your baby for days (which was actually the worst part for me).

    I have also been left with big scars the size of golf balls (that was the size of each abscess to begin with) and only time will tell if they will disappear.

    I am petrified when I think about having my next baby, because although we have decided that I am not breastfeeding, I know that my breasts will still fill up with milk and I am really terrified that any ducts get blocked again, and this happens all over again. It's actually turning into a bit of a phobia.

    I really wish the negative aspects of breastfeeding were portrayed more, as I never knew things could get as bad as they did for me, prior to breastfeeding.

    I have got an amazing bond with my baby, he is very advanced for his age (and these are health visitors and doctors that tell us this, it's not me being biased!) and he's so chilled out and happy (as opposed to being frustrated when the breastfeeding wasn't working out), so I have no problem with the formula milk these days, it's more the holier than thou comments some people make, and I just pray they never have to go through what I went through.

  • Comment number 18.

    I had my first born 10 weeks ago now and it never struck me to breast feed even though my son was born 3 weeks prematurely and he would defiantly benefit i still was not going to do it. So from that first feed it was formula i feel no guilt and i know that the bond between me and my child is incredibly strong, not only that but my partner was also able to form a strong bond at feeding time with his new son which i think is an overlooked benefit of sharing the feeding responsibility.
    I no many girls that were scare-mungered into breast feeding by medical professionals and feel that it should be something that has got to feel natural and comfortable to you. New mums need to go with there feelings and this cultural of telling others how to parent is often confusing and not fair and we should stop telling people whats the 'best' and just offer advice on what ever decisions women then make.

  • Comment number 19.

    There hasn't been any mention about people having to give up breastfeeding because of the severe weightloss of their babies and milk supply not matching up to demand. Yet again this is another example of breast or formula and never a mention of combination feeding, cupfeeding, syringe feeding... This all or nothing attitude is rife in the nhs and this programme hasn't helped poor struggling mothers who might just need a bit of combination feeding to tide them through a tricky patch.
    Also mumoffour, breast feeding can hurt if baby is latched on properly. You're very lucky it didn't hurt you.
    Many mums are faced with a stark choice when their baby has lost severe amount of weight you can either breastfeed and let your baby to starve, obviously ridiculous, or youu make the choice that is best for your baby's health and give them some formula. It's a shame this wasn't addressed in the programme because it certainly isn't addressed in the nhs.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hi Cherry. Though this was a great programme which gave some honest views on breastfeeding. I absolutely wanted to breastfeed my baby for the first six months. I found however that the antenatal guidance was so pro-breastfeeding that they did not give me enough information to recognise problems as so much focus was put on getting the right latch. I do think a good latch can avoid many problems but no-one had mentioned how to identify tongue-tie, mastitis or thrush which if left unidentified/ treated can result in many women giving up. My little boy had tongue tie which was not identified until 4 weeks despite initial support by midwives, weekly visits to the health visitor and to breast feeding support groups. This resulted in complications for me but also meant my baby gained weight more slowly. The turning point was a visit by a lactation consultant who we paid privately who diagnosed that my baby had tongue-tie and we both had thrush. Practical support is so needed in breastfeeding from someone getting you a drink whilst you nurse, to helping you getting the latch right to identifying when something other than the latch is the problem. Baby weight gain and the pressure to establish feeding before leaving hospital is another reason why mums stop earlier than they might have wanted and it would be good if this is recognised by health professionals and more support provided at home after the birth.
    I managed to breastfeed for 3 months as even with professional support I had persistant bouts of mastitis and had to take several courses of antibiotics. There are times when I think I maybe I could have gone on longer and other times when I think I may have perservered too hard and lost some of those special early days as I was trying so desperately to breastfeed. I know that for our next baby, I will be having my baby checked for tongue-tie in the first few days so that we can give ourselves the best start to breast feeding.

  • Comment number 21.

    Just wanted to comment about the element of the programme which dealt with bonding and the breastfeeding vs bottle debate.
    I can imagine there are a lot of mums out there who "failed" to breastfeed and feel "guilt" at the bond which they believe they have lost.
    I believe that breastfeeding is the natural way to both feed and nurture a baby. And those two elements can be seperated if the need arises. The mother's milk is perfectly suited for her child at every step of the baby's development. I wish it would be the first choice for all mothers, and I wish we lived in a society which valued breastmilk and believed this too. It's so sad that we've somehow lost our way and believe otherwise. However, I also know that because of our modern way of living and advances in safer birthing the breastfeeding relationship is not always successful, no matter how relentlessly hard a mother tries to feed. But even if the breastfeeding relationship is no longer it is still possible to behave like it is still ongoing. For I don't think it's the actual physical milk which elicits the bonding, it's the act of breastfeeding (moreso for the baby I have to concede, with the mother its true that the hormonal balance when producing breastmilk will enhance attachement). The warmth of the mother holding her baby close, the familiar smell of her each and every time the baby cries for attention. The very way she holds the baby will become familiar and comforting. A breastfeeding mum has no other choice (in the early weeks) than to be with her baby 24/7. She must always be on call to feed on demand (maybe only an hour after the last feed), as no-one else can feed that baby. I truly believe that THIS is what solidifies the special mother/baby bond. Although modern living would have us believe dad should take a share in the feeding "burden", grandma and even next door's little girl can "have a go" when there's a bottle on the scene. With breastfeeding, mum and ONLY mum is there to soothe and feed, the constant which remains true in the baby's small world. So if you cannot breastfeed but fear you will loose the bond, please don't, just continue to mother as if you were breastfeeding. Babies are meant to be with their mothers in the early weeks and months. Fathers are resoundingly important too, of course, but more for looking after the mother and for kisses and cuddles with baby when mum takes a rest. I know many bottlefeeders who are back having nights out after a few weeks, baby packed off saf

  • Comment number 22.

    I've just watched the show on sky + and it was great however it was a little negative towards people who chose to bottle feed after having a bad experience with breast feeding.

    I would have liked it if the show displayed different view on breast feeding other than people thinking "you're a slag" or you "don't get that speacial bond".

    I can relate to Kathryn blundell who said "psychologically I could not get in that space" as I have had a traumatic experience. That subject should have been spoken about a bit more rather than touched upon.

  • Comment number 23.

    I have just finished watching your programme and feel that you missed a very important issue that many women have to consider when choosing to breastfeed or not, and that is one of medication needed for the mother passing through into breastmilk.

    For some women the decision has to be made prior to conception auto the whether they can conceive on their medication and others once they find out they are pregnant.

    For me, after the birth of my first son, I developed postpartum psychosis, a serious life threatening mental illness that can happen to any new mum and effects 1 in 500 women who give birth. I became ill very quickly and was in hospital seriously ill when my son was 5 days old. I was there for 3 weeks. It took me 16 months to be "me" again but incredible my husband and I had the courage to have a second child. However, to prevent another episode of postpartum psychosis with odds as high as 70%, I had to make the difficult decision to take preventative medication at 33 weeks pregnant. As for breastfeeding nobody could give me a definitive answer as to whether it was safe for my baby. In the womb the placenta filtered it to the extent that it was considered very low risk with greater risk to the baby if I became unwell. But the medication comes out in breastmilk in small quantities and nobody could tell me what those small quantities would do to my baby's developing brain. I felt that as I'd already exposed my child to it in the womb I did not want to expose him to even more of it during every feed. And also I was under strict orders to get as much sleep as possible to prevent PP returning so it was imperative that night feeds could be handed over to my husband. So I had to give up breastfeeding before I even began. I let my newborn suckle at birth and that was a precious moment. I do not feel guilty that I chose not to breastfeed but I do feel sad that I didn't get to experience it. However, I did not get PP second time round and have wonderful bonds with both my sons, despite severe mental illness with my first.

    1 in 10 women who give birth go onto develop a postpartum mental illness, and for them the pressure to choose breastfeeding over taking care of their mental state can be overwhelming and add to the pain they already feel about failing at motherhood.

    Breastmilk is the best nutrition available to a baby and has health benefits for the mum, but having been a mum who's been seriously ill then I believe that what is best for baby, is what is best for Mum and baby equally. If a mum breastfeeds at the expense of her own mental and emotional wellbeing then the baby will suffer too despite being fed the best milk possible. We are blessed to live in a country with safe water so that formula feeding is possible and therefore there are good safe options for Mums who are unable to breastfeed.

    It also would have been nice to see the programme cover Mums who have problems producing milk, as I have a friend who could only ever produce collustrum and so was unable to feed beyond a certain time despite trying all sorts to encourage full lactation.

  • Comment number 24.

    I did watch the programme, I must say that I was quite shocked about some comments that some girls have made. For God's sake, breasts are not for sex!!!
    I am Brazilian and in Brazil they consider very important to breastfeed your child, the government has made huge campaigns to persuade the women to breastfeed, not telling that it is illegal to advertise formula for babies in no circumstance, in any kind of media. Many of the famous Brazilian stars did participate on these campaigns and appeared on tv breast feeding. This is what is missing in the UK. The government to get more involved, this is a health matter, and it shoud be taken more seriously.
    About having excruciating pains on your nipples, I have a simple solution, ( it works), the SUN. I understand that we don't have much of it in England, but as little as ten minutes throughout the pregnancy, get sunbathing if you have chance to, it will help considerably towards the reduction of the pain on your nipples.
    Many women cannot or for whatever reason does not want to breastfeed, but it should not be explore more than breastfeed itself.
    Thank you.

  • Comment number 25.

    I've just watched the programme and I found it really interesting.

    I had an emergency section when my son was born and was told I would struggle to bf, I was very determined that I would breastfeed. I had help from the midwives in the hospital and there were peer support workers on the ward each morning. On discharge I had a phone call from a breast feeding advisor, who then came out to visit me at home a few days later to help - she was brilliant. This was followed up with 2 more phone calls within the first 10 days, when the service unfortunately stops. Like Cherry I developed mastitis very badly at 3 weeks, it developed very quickly (because I was producing too much milk). And was admitted to hospital - the pain was so severe the on-call doctor had to give me morphine so I could get to hospital. My boob was 1.5 times the size of the other, hard and red, and my temperature was 40.4C and I had an abcess which had to be drained when I got to hospital - they could not give me a local anaesthetic as it was too swollen. I was still detemined to bf! My son came into hospital with me and we were there for 2 days on IV antibiotics. I continued to breastfeed, even through the pain! 4 Months down the line I can happily say I LOVE breastfeeding, I get pleasure out of watching my son - but I can completely understand why people would give up experiencing that kind of pain. My health visitor put me in touch with a breastfeeding support worker, who was fabulous, she helped me with new positions - that I had never seen before (lying on my back with baby face down to my breast) this is now a favourite bedtime feeding position for my son!

    I now want to train as a peer support worker, as I feel I have a lot of experience good and bad! I also co-sleep which has been a huge advantage with night-time feeds.

    I also feed in public - I think it is natural so why should people have an issue seing me doing it? I can understand that people may be worried about it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Just watched Breast is Best on catch up. Brilliant to see a programme exploring breast feeding, found it very emotional! I too had a hard time feeding, 1st and 2nd time latching, mastitis, Thrush you name it! It can be so hard, but with a bit more support it is possible. I was lucky to have a great family, doctors and the best breastfeeding support groups, plus my gut determination not to give in. I ended up feeding both my girls over the age of one. Its the medical profession that should feel guilty for letting down women who wanted to continue feeding. I am now a breastfeeding peer supporter in my area, we are trained to help support breastfeeding mums and point them in the right direction if they need medical help.
    Lets see more programmes from the BBC about breastfeeding and it part of everyday life in soaps/dramas! Thanks Cherry, brill programme, hope you have managed to let go of guilt and will know where to get support if you have other children.

  • Comment number 27.

    I have a 9 month baby and managed to breastfeed for 6 and a half months. I really proud that I managed to breastfeed for as long as I did however the first few days and weeks were difficult.

    I always said that I would breastfeed my baby throughout my pregnancy and I thought that with milk on tap that it would be easier than it was. My baby was 6lbs at birth and from the very first feed had difficulty latching correctly and would only latch on the end of the nipple. This meant that my nipples blistered immediately and each feed was incredibly painful and I dreaded each feed knowing that it would 40 mins of agony. My nipples started to bleed and I resorted to nipple shields, on the advice of the midwives, in order to ease the pain. My son would feed every hour and half which was exhausting.

    I live in Colchester and there is a support network of breastfeeding support workers which visit the hospital to advise new mums on breastfeeding after they have had their babys. I had my son at home which meant that I did not get the advice straight away but my local support worker visited me at home when my son was a few days old and watched me feed. She identified that my son had a tongue-tie which could be the reason for the frequent feeds and pain and explained that there was a procedure that could be carried out to release the tongue tie. After some discussion with my husband and because I wanted to continue to breastfeed we decided to go ahead with the procedure to release the tongue tie. The difference was immediate and my son was able to latch correctly and feed properly and efficiently.

    Breastfeeding can be difficult and anybody that manages to breastfeed even if it is just for a short time should be proud. I also understand that breastfeeding is not for everyone and those that decide to bottle feed should not feel guilty in any way.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wanted to comment about this programme as have just watched it on iplayer & it's an issue close to my heart.... Firstly I'd like to thank Cherry for making an honest programme about this important issue & for trying to show different viewpoints. For me breastfeeding was incredibly painful emotionally (not that I realised at the time...) After a very long traumatic birth I was exhausted but never having "failed" at anything before I certainly wasn't going to fail at breastfeeding. The first couple of days should have shown me that my baby wasn't going to latch on. We were both exhausted from birth yet numerous midwives pushed her head on my boobs trying to get the right "latch" or hooked me up to the industrial breast pump (without my newborn) without showing me how to use it properly. On day 4 my milk came in & my boobs were huge, lumpy & painful. No chance of getting my baby latched on yet still more midwives came thinking that they could succeed in achieving a latch were others had failed or worse one telling me to stop being silly in trying to bf & get some formula in. The day I arrived home from hospital my breast pump broke. I was reprimanded by the midwife & given check sheets to fill out of how many oz I'd given my baby & how often. Then began a whole month of expressing hell, breastfeeding counsellors, advice from EVERYONE, my family watching me express with painful, bloated cracked nipples, milk leaking, tears streaming down my face. I'd try and stay really calm so my baby didn't sense I was anxious otherwise I'd be told - it's because your anxious! I'd ask my husband to stroke my hair when I was expressing so I could "let down" and he wouldn't... All this time my body kept producing milk & I got more and more exhausted. But I didn't give up - I was determined that I'd get my baby to feed. They even told me in the hospital support group that they had known of a baby that had started feeding properly at 10 weeks. Utterly sleep deprived and frustrated my health visitor told me to stop trying & to bottle feed. At last someone in authority had given me permission to stop. 3 months later i was hospitalised with severe depression & anxiety. I am still unwell 2 1/2 years later & too scared to have another baby partly because of the breastfeeding issue. Do I think there is a link between my depression (loss of my dream of being a perfect mother) & my depression? Most definately. I can't tell you how many mums I have spoken to that have struggled with breastfeeding (not enough milk, too much, mastitis etc ) and the failure they feel because they cant provide their baby with the best start in life & they are concerned that they won't bond with their babies. I can tell you what stops you bonding with your baby & what's best for them. They need a mentally healthy mum that feeds them, either with their boobs or a bottle, that cuddles & loves them. Mothers do not need the pressure from experts who have no idea about the impact their statements have on the welfare of mothers.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    I found the program to portray breastfeeding in a pretty negative light.
    My 2 friends and I (we're 30) found it to contain a poor represantation of ordinary young women like us who have no huge problems with breastfeeding, nor doing so subtley in public, who aren't 'lactavists' nor have husbands who put our milk on their cereal!

    Someone should have told the young lady on the programme who said that "boobs are for sex" that "sex is for making babies". Would the simple fact that breastfeeding dramaticallty reduces the risk of SIDS not have registered with them?

  • Comment number 31.

    (continued) There is a 'smugness' associated with breastfeeding mothers. In my opinion it's only smugness if someone feels threatened by it. Breastfeeding, in the same way as the natural birth I was lucky enough to have, made me feel PROUD. I was and I AM very pleased and happy and feel very blessed that I'm able to do what I do, a natural process. I don't judge others or go around making a song and dance about it. But these feelings I have are good and healthy and I share them because I wish all mothers could feel them. I genuinely think that we'd be a more positive nation, if we put more resources into encouraging and supporting women to breastfeed.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi Cherry I watched the programme on Tuesday and really enjoyed it. I am a proud mum of two children. Two bottle-fed children! With my first child who is now 4, when she was born I started to breastfeed her as I fully agree with the benefits for both mother and child and absolutely loved it! But had great difficulty with it and ended up with severely cracked nipples. The pain I was experiencing was awful and I was dreading every feed with my daughter. The last straw came when the top part of my nipples were coming off and my daughter was being sick my blood. I decided to put my child on the bottle. I was so upset that I had to do this and agonised over it for weeks after like you Cherry. So when I had my 2nd child 14 weeks ago I decided I would try and breastfeed again knowing the mistakes I made the first time round. Everything was going well, and for the first 4 days my son was fully satisfied with my milk and I was having no problems. I asked every midwife who came if I was attaching him correctly. They all said I was doing it perfect, but towards the back end of the week the pain started again and yet again the top part of my nipples were hanging off and my son was not only taking my milk but also my blood. I wanted to know why this was happening again due to the fact that no less than 5 midwifes and breastfeeding experts had told me I was doing it correctly. I researched a little on the internet and discovered that if you are prone to dry skin around you nipple area you will have difficultly feeding as it doesn’t matter how well you attach the child you will always get the cracked nipples due to the dryness. Not to be beaten again I used the creams and nipple shields but the pain again was unbearable. So I decided to put my child on the bottle and felt the usual guilt for weeks later. So when a comment is made on the show about the fact that they thought it was bad to give your child milk from another mammal, this really upset me, because what do them mothers do when they stop breastfeeding. They will probably give their child cow’s milk. I understand some people do breastfeed for 3 years plus but they will come a point when they will give their child cow’s milk and the majority of that persons life they will drink cow’s milk. I also wanted to say that I love to see people breastfeed and think it is a wonderful thing to do for your child. Even though I couldn’t breastfeed my children I fully support the

  • Comment number 33.

    i've just watched the program and it is true. but breast feeding is so rewarding! i was 19 when i had my first child and i found it a real bonding expeiance for my son and me. please don't let the pain frighten you because its only for the first couple of weeks. feeding in public is embarrassing at first but soon you get used to it because the need to feed your baby is stronger. the key is to keep trying and don't give up. and don't feel like a bad mother if you need help :) x

  • Comment number 34.

    I only have one problem with this programme, and that is tht she went to an ESSEX FOOTBALL CLUB to get an opinion of men towards breast feeding. No offence, but we're not all sports & sex obsessed burley sacks that wander around punching each other. It is the same as wanting to get an opinion of the average U.S. Citizen and walking into a Line Dancing club.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi I am 26 years old mum of 3 months old boy. Due to lack of support in hospital I have gone off breastfeeding and ended up with bleeding nipples so have started to express milk. After about a month of expressing my pump got broken and within few hours at night my milk has leaked out and there was nothing left although i have tried to pump it out but no luck. So I have gone for formula feeding. But last night my breasts started to leak and there is a bit of milk starting to create ( today more then yesterday). Has something like this happened to anyone else? I am kind lost.

  • Comment number 36.

    What a shame....I feel this will put off any women who were considering whether to breast feed or not. It was rather negative and seemed to reflected the presenters own experience on how difficult it was. I experienced the pain any new mums do with painful nipples ect but that soon settled and was much easier than preparing bottles.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a single mother of three children i can see both sides of view. I had my first child at 17 and breast fed for 7 weeks, i felt uncomfortable and not confident about feeding esp in public. It was a relief to stop in the end but the feelings of guilt lasted a long time after. My second child was in special care for a month and couldn't physically feed so i expressed. I managed to express for 10 weeks and didn't actually breast feed. I felt i had no professional support and ended up feeling very isolated. With my third child i had changed a lot. I felt more confident and i had access to support groups and a more sympathetic midwife. It took 6 - 8 weeks to feel confident but i breast fed for 15 months. I believe esp in my area that for a lot of women its the lack of support and the fear of being frowned upon which effects them asking for support. I also feel that there is so much pressure attached to breast feeding that if there are problems it can be very difficult to admit that. I'm hoping that the government will make breast feeding support groups more common as they really are need but also to introduce actual specialists that want to help into each area. Maybe then the rates of breast feeding will rise. I would like to think that the same support would be available for all women wanting to stop breast feeding or to not breast feed. At the end of the day we've just had babies are choices are ours alone and we need clear consice information without the fear of being judged to do the best for our children. Breast feeding is fantastic for children, but is it really benifiting a child whose mum is stressed tired tearfull and emotional, who is dreading the next feed so much that even before its started the baby is stressed too?

  • Comment number 38.

    I was determined to breastfeed my son but was unprepared for how difficult it was at first - I seemed to have every bad experience in the book! Sore, cracked nipples followed shortly by mastitis and then bleeding nipples (a particularly horrific experience was one night at 2 weeks old when my son vomited blood after a feed and after rushing him to hosptial being told that the blood was from me and he had been ingesting blood and not milk). Each feed was a toe-curlingly painful nightmare and I began to dread it - In those first few weeks I was often in tears thinking how can something so natural be so hard?

    What got me through it was my husband constantly reassuring me and telling me not to give up and a very helpful health visitor who gave me some great tips and advice. Without this I would have given up, but now 4 months later I am happily (and comfortably!) feeding my son :). As said so frequently on this site, good support can never ever be underestimated.

    However, despite a good latch I do still experience sore nipples from time to time and I do believe there is a little bit of truth in the theory that fair skinned or people with sensitive skin can find it particularly difficult - but my advice is try to persevere and determination really does pay off!!


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