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Mother of four (born 1970s), from South-East England

First birth in hospital, induced because late, took forever, had a birth plan which included epidural but no-one gave it to me, ended up being given pethidine which I had expressly asked not to as I thought it might affect the baby, I fell out of bed under the influence of the pethidine (why can't they give a smaller dose to small people?) while my husband was watching the football on the hospital tv. Eventually they picked me up and realised I was fully dilated so I was taken to the delivery room where a junior doctor, watched by two experienced but hostile midwives, strung up my legs and did an incision which he then stitched up. He then took my husband off to a hospital bar where he had a tab, and they had a couple of beers. Meanwhile I was taken back to the labour ward which was a windowless cell, and the baby was taken to a nursery. I woke up next morning (he had been born a t 10 past midnight) bleeding profusely, anxious about the baby, all alone. I dripped my way across the room to the loo and was later told off for it!

They kept you in for a week in those days, or at least till they were happy with the baby, but of course he was affected by the pethidine as I had expected and was too sleepy to suck. So they gave him bottles without even consulting me, and when I tried to feed him they weighed him before and after and if he had not gained, more bottle. They said it was because he had jaundice. Anyway, in the end we were 'released' and as soon as I got home I rang my wonderful NCT counsellor who said throw away the bottles (I did not have empty ones but had been sent home with a supply of cow and gate ready mixed bottles to warm up) and feed on demand. This I did and never looked back - when the health visitor came to check up she sat on my bed and said what al lovely baby.

As a result of that experience - and the stitches afterwards! - I did two things. First I became a breastfeeding counsellor myself, partly to find out exactly what is going on physiologically, and second I booked a home birth for my next child. Not sure which was the most important! Home delivery was wonderful, even though I tore and had to have stitches but they caused no problems. Breastfeeding worked from the start, husband was with me all the time (no tv!) but in any case it was all so much quicker, the midwife did not have time to get out her gas and air.

Needless to say I am a firm believer in home births especially if you want to breastfeed, although I fully understand why this is not always possible, and ditto with breastfeeding.