My entry in to this world of motherhood wasn’t as straight forward as I had hoped, neither was breastfeeding. As you may have seen from early blog posts I ended up having an emergency c-section after 40 hours of labour. It wasn’t hugely pretty but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Then came the real fun.
Sleepy, Stubborn Baby
Heath was here and he was absolutely beautiful. My heart was bursting every time I looked at him. I couldn’t believe this little bundle of love was all ours. However, as stubborn as he was with his arrival, he continued to be when it came to feeding.
I had always wanted to breastfeed and had never really thought twice about not being able to. There I was ready, eager with my boobs at the ready and Heath was having none of it. He just wanted to sleep. ALL THE TIME!
Now this is not something to complain about as a newborn mum but actually it’s definitely not what’s best for baby. I’m pretty sure Heath could have slept in to oblivion at that stage. He didn’t wake up hungry and screaming which could be considered a dream for some. However being in the hospital it was clear that this was not the way it needed to be. He needed feeding in order to have the energy to be awake and his consistent sleeping could be a potential warning sign.
Feed Baby Feed!
So we set to work! I offered the opportunity for him to dine regularly. Almost every two hours initially as he just want interested.
He turned away.
I managed to get some of my boob in his mouth. He just sat there.
In all honesty it became quite disheartening. Having heard stories of babies being born and wiggling there way straight to the boob my little boy was doing none of this.
It came to a point where the midwives told me to start expressing colostrum in to syringes.
Nowhere in any of the leaflets does it show a smiling couple with their newborn where the mum is squeezing her breast as the dad merrily scoops the colostrum in to a syringe for the baby to have squirted in to their mouth! It would make quite the picture!
This went on for a while and I eventually graduated to the Madela breast pumps! Go me! While I was racing ahead in the breastfeeding ability stakes, Heath was still not latching. We had tried syringes and were now on to cup feeding. Unfortunately, Heath was still just a sleepy, sleepy bub.
One of the midwives put it to us that, as Heath had come out of the sunroof rather than the car door, he was still full of mucus and this meant he felt full. This analogy was great and gave us some much needed respite from the stress of your baby not eating.
So far my feeding difficulties had lasted about two and a half days. To those of you who face the day to day worries of feeding I absolutely take my hat off to you as it is hugely unpleasant and not something that I feel is discussed openly enough.
At the height of our feeding frenzy, or lack thereof, I had a midwife and two healthcare assistants trying to shove Heath’s mouth on to my nipple whilst one was deforming my boob to fit it in. I honestly thought he needed almost half my boob in there to activate his sucking reflex!
Just before Heath was three days old we decided to give him a bottle of premade formula.
I took a deep breath and it felt so easy.
My baby was feeding. He was hungry. Had I been starving him. Am I a bad mother for trying to hard to breastfeed when he’s been starving…all of these thoughts raced through my mind in a matter of moments.
Of course not, you’re still in hospital they’d have intervened if they thought anything detrimental was occurring.
He ate so much, my poor little man.
We decided that, at that moment, we would offer him the breast but if he wasn’t interested we would bottle feed him half the bottle. This would make sure that he was feeding at this important stage.
I was still determined to breastfeed but it wasn’t going to be at the detriment of my child.
Nipple Shield Epiphanies
When we brought Heath home he had lost 10lbs. Well that’s what I kept telling everyone! Of course I meant ounces; my child had not become a black hole! Though it is normal for babies to lose weight initially I felt huge pressure for him to gain some back before his 5 day weigh in.
Whilst in the hospital one of the midwives had mentioned that we should perhaps try nipple shields. Michael popped off to the shop and bought shields and some bottles of premade formula. Breastfeeding was still the aim but I wanted to make sure we had some formula to support us in case Heath was still uninterested.
The nipple shields didn’t come with great instructions and I won’t lie I was trying to force my nipple in to the top of this Mexican shaped hat. I didn’t realise at the time you didn’t need to deform your boob for your baby to feed. Eventually I had to Goggle instructions. I blame baby brain.
Once I’d simply placed them over my nipple and brought Heath to feed he was away! I couldn’t believe it. My sleepy, little, uninterested babe was feeding. It felt like an absolute epiphany. Nipple shields were my new best friends.
One thing I had not realised was that all my pumping in the hospital had led to me being fairly comfortable in the chest department. As soon as that stopped, probably combined with the fact that my milk was seriously coming in, meant that all of a sudden I felt like I was carrying some water melons around with me!
Milk coming in hurts! It will happen whether you do or whether you don’t breastfeed. Not cool.
I looked like a glamour model, which for a normally flat chested girl felt amazing. Not so amazing though was that even putting on clothes hurt! I just wanted to sit around with nothing touching me.
The downside to the above was that my breast started to react spontaneously. I will leave the rest to your imagination!
After speaking to my mum she turned up with a hand pump and steriliser. My goodness it was a godsend! I pumped whenever I felt full and the relief was unparalleled.
After about 10 days of nipple shield fuelled feeding I braved straight to nipple feeding. To my surprise Heath didn’t even notice.
Since then we’ve been a little dynamic duo of feeding and my gorgeous guy is now way over 12 lbs.
I don’t know how long I’ll do this for but I feel proud that I stuck it out and achieved it. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, mum and a couple of key friends who kept encouraging me and giving me hints and tips of how to get there. Needless to say Mike wasn’t so hot on the hints and tips but was fab for support.
My Breastfeeding Essentials
As well as the aforementioned support, breastfeeding would not have been possible for me without the following:
- Medela Contact Nipple Shield
- Nuby Natural Touch Manual Breast Pump
- Nuby Natural Touch Travel Steriliser
- Lansinoh Cream
I’m linking up with Mrs Mummy Harris for #TriumphantTales