I have been meaning to write about this for a while and have even been told by a few friends that my story could help other new mummies so here it goes…
Before O was born I knew I wanted to at least try and Breastfeed – it’s the best for him and how hard could it be? pop him on et volia!
How wrong was I?!
O was born and we had skin to skin straight away – he wasn’t really hungry but wanted hugs and to sleeeeeep (me too after labour!)
The midwives kept trying to encourage him to latch which he did once for a few seconds and then fell back to sleep (it’s tiring being born you know?!) This was written down as a successful first feed…looking back I am not so sure if it was?
A few hours went by there was concern that O had not fed properly and people kept trying to get him to latch and me into all sorts of strange positions… Sometimes O would latch for a little bit, sometimes he would just open his mouth a little and just comfort suck. Therefore the first night it was decided that we should stay in hospital so that I could get help and support with feeding – I felt like such a failure, how could I not do something that should be SO easy…feed my baby.
Because O hadn’t had what was seen as a ‘proper’ feed yet ( longer than 10 mins) I was told that he should be given a formula top up, I was so tired and worried that he was starving I agreed to the top up. I didn’t realise then how little a baby actually needs in the first few hours, if I had known then what I know now I would have been a lot more forceful in my descision to not give formula yet and to belive in my own body.
After J left that night I felt very alone in my little curtained off cubicle but a nice Midwife had told me that a breastfeeding Midwife was on call tonight and so she should be there to help me if I need it, this made me feel a lot better. O kept waking up crying and I just couldn’t latch him on correctly to feed. One midwife did come to see me and made me feel awful, she basicly shouted at me asking what I wanted to do? let the baby starve or feed him, yet again I thought I was starving my baby.
I explained that earlier that day the staff had given him formula and there was some left in the fridge with his name on – would he be able to have that? I was then told that this hadn’t happened the hospital does not provide formula I needed to contact my family as they needed to bring me some ( this is true in a lot of hospitals but they often give some out in emergencies). I was extremely tired, emotionally drained and a first time Mummy. That night I just sat and cried for almost an hour. J offered to come back up and sit with me but I really needed one of us at least to get some sleep! Later on that night a lovely midwife came to see me who was the ‘breastfeeding’ lady! With her support I managed to latch O on and he had his first proper feed. I set my alarm for every 3 hours and called my button to get support with feeding. At the time I felt like I was being a right pain doing this but looking back I was in hospital for breastfeeding support so really… I shouldn’t have felt like that!
During the Night O also screamed every time that he was taken away form me and wouldn’t settle in his little bed box. The midwife asked me what felt natural? What would I do if you were at home now? I said that I would have him in bed with me but I knew that was unsafe, The midwife said that she shouldn’t advise it BUT co-sleeping maybe the only choice for sleep and promised that she would check on me every hour to make sure everything was ok ( the next day I found out she had brought the whole team to watch me and O sleep!!).
The next morning J complained about the Midwife who had made me cry and we were told that there were a LOT of complaints about her so she should be receiving re-training. The day was filled with family visits and trying to get to latch (fun times!) One peer supporter came to see us and suggested using nipple shields which I did have in my hospital bag, we tried these and SUCCSESS! O latch on straight away and quite happily fed away for a good 20 to 30 mins! Finally! I thought we had cracked it through the day O fed every few hours for about 30 mins at a time quite happily with the shields, I was hoping that we would be able to go home that day but I was told I couldn’t be discharged while on shields so I had another night of calling the midwife every few hours for support.
The good thing about being in hospital was that we had our first hospital check and hearing tests all done before we left which meant that we wouldn’t have to trudge back up to the hospital again!
The next day I was still trying to get O to latch on without the shields and he was having none of it! He wanted his milk and he wanted it now!! I felt so stressed as I didn’t want to spend another night in hospital and wanted to be at home and start our lives as a little family. with support from J we managed to show 2 ‘successful’ mini feeds without the shields which meant we were allowed to go home! YEY!
The first week was full of midwife and health visitor visits with people pushing and pulling O trying to show how to latch properly… I felt like I had no dignity left everyone now seemed to want to ‘help’ It was then mentioned that I should try going to my local Breastfeeding support group. I never realised that these places existed! What a difference! I went there and had a 1:1 support session and was made to feel like a good Mummy and a real person again! I had a cup of tea and was told everything that was happening (feeding every half an hour for at least 45 mins) O not wanting to be put down always wanting to sleep on me. I thought I was the only one and my baby was a little piggy and my milk was not good enough for him. Click here to see how I dealt with cluster feeding.
The lovely peer supporter Chantelle helped me and mentioned that her son had been EXACTLY the same as O didn’t latch and didn’t seem to open his mouth wide enough, I was advised to go to see a lactation consultant to check for tongue / lip tie as this could affect feeding.
The next week O and I trotted off the see the lactation consultant who said that O did have a lip and tongue tie, she gave me some different latching techniques and said to come back in a week to see if we should be referred to get the tie cut. After telling J he researched for private practitioners and was able to get a lovely lady called Vicky to come and see us. Vicky checked O’s mouth…he didn’t have a tie…back to square one?! no, just a new direction to travel in!
Vicky sat with us for about 3 hours and helped us with different latching techniques and just talked to us about ‘The Breastfed Baby’ everything that Vicky and Chantelle had said started to click into place…this was normal! I had not given birth to a little clingy, milk obsessed child, my milk was enough he was just establishing my supply and growing!
We continued to regularly attend our local breastfeeding group and between 6 and 8 weeks we finally got rid of the shields altogether – his little mouth had grown and he could latch beautifully!
We are now at nearly 8 months and have had no problems…even two bottom teeth only caused a couple of days of discomfort! I am so proud of our journey but I would have ever been able to do it without the support of my family, the peer supporters and Vicky.
I hope reading this hasn’t put anyone off breastfeeding, I think it just shows how hard it can be. Yes it is natural but no it doesn’t always come naturally but it is the best thing I have ever done knowing that I have given O the best possible start to his little life. I think that it is also important that you research breastfeeding and look up different latches etc so you are prepared before the big day, stand up for yourself and your baby!