It’s the final day of world breastfeeding week, what a better time I to share/document my short lived experience of breastfeeding. Although it was almost 17 months ago now when my breast feeding journey officially begun, all through my pregnancy I knew I wanted to breastfeed despite being discouraged by people around me in the beginning, the problem being the lack of information and beneficial factors from it.
Nearing closer to my due date everyone supported the thought of breastfeeding although I was a 100% clued up on how it was going to be, maybe I was slightly naive and thought it would be as plain sailing as putting my milk producers into my babies mouth and it would be that simple. I mean I had attended a couple of birthing workshops that briefly went over the breastfeeding topic. So I was ready and waiting for the day for the day to arrive.
After delivery was an hour of skin to skin with my new precious bundle of love, feeding time then came next.. I was helped by a healthcare assistant (I think) who was lovely and showed me what to do but he just wasn’t suckling when placed, we kept trying, trying different positions however I found it difficult to hold and position him during to still having a cannula attached to my hand. Once the midwife returned she was very much more direct and did it for me but still nothing he would now and then put his mouth around but that was it and off I was told I need to get out of bed for a bath and get ready to leave the labour ward. “Boys are lazy, he will get the hang of it” was what we were told so off we went to the maternity ward of which my baby boy cried and cried I kept putting him on my boob but it just didn’t feel like he was sucking but I didn’t know what breastfeeding felt like I had heard it hurt but I didn’t feel that.. I just felt his mouth there, I didn’t think it was right but just assumed that must be what it feels like at first. Another midwife came to help, told me to try skin to skin and we tried feeding him again and she was helping place him, trying different positions but no luck and I was left once he had put his mouth around he was getting something from me but not sucking properly. Most of the night he was attached to me wanting to be fed and this is normal for a newborn baby, right?
The next day rolled around and the it was the same attached to me for feeding apart from the odd nap and Doctor checkup, finally later that night we were allowed home after my heart rate was high and I had to stay for observation.
Once at home when my brother held him he kept trying to sucking his finger and rooting so I would try feeding. My mum suggested a dummy but I wasn’t on board as you probably know dummies are not suppose to be introduced until breastfeeding is fully established but nothing would settle him until i finally gave him a dummy which he on rather dramatically.. He must thought it was food. At the time I didn’t know this as I thought he was getting enough milk now I look back and feel terrible but I had told multiple midwives I don’t feel like he is sucking properly but was told again and again he’s a lazy boy, he will start doing it properly soon. The first night at home was spent the same as our first night together, I hardly slept because I was in so much admiration for this little human I created.
The next day was our routine home midwife check up of which I said about I don’t feel as though he’s feeding properly and we tried to feed him while she was there as he was unsettled, we tried for ages and I felt ashamed that I couldn’t feel my baby properly I was being told to try so may different way, why couldn’t I just get it right? And feed him in the right position so he could latch properly? I asked the midwife if I should try formula as he was clearly hungry and wasn’t getting much from me she told me no. He’s a boy and will son know how to do it but I wasn’t convinced. Finally he attached but I still felt like no proper sucking so it was left at that and the midwife went.. later that evening it felt like he had a proper feed and he was sucking.. finally. I was so happy but it was painful. Really painful and it went on for for over an hour. This happened a couple of times. I had even texted my dad at the time saying I felt like he’s finally feeding properly.
The third day postpartum a midwife comes to weigh a breastfed baby to check they are gaining (we had another different midwife as the one i had through pregnancy was on annual leave) as soon as she arrived he was unsettled and didn’t want to be weighed and i expressed my feeding concerns to her so as she held him and looked into his mouth she said “he had a tongue tie, has nobody told you” we were oblivious and didn’t have an idea of what a tongue time was. She explained he’s not latching on because he can’t stretch his tongue out to suckle on to the breast and if he does finally latch on it won’t be correct and will be very sore. This explained it all. She sat with me for ages trying to get him to latch on trying so many different things that we had not been aware of before, he finally latched on and had a little feed. She then proceeded to weigh him and he was just over the percentage of not gaining enough weight which meant she had to ring the hospital to book us in to be checked, she explained the reason is because he can’t latch on and get enough food. I felt awful, like a failure. A couple hours later we arrived to the children’s ward but he cried and cried when we arrived so we tried to feed with a nurse trying to take measurements, and tests while he was so unsettled and upset, we asked for a feeding cup and I managed to express a little milk by hand to feed him but it wasn’t much and thats when i broke down, i couldnt hold it in, the hormones had set in and i cried i felt awfuk my newborn baby was starcing and i couldnt give him enough food as he couldnt latch for it. We were there hours he had blood tests and we had to wait for the results in the waiting room. The staff we so lovely and helpful, bringing me food, giving me words of encouragement he had checks by different doctors. We seen the doctor the checked him while we were still on the maternity ward who had given him the all clear and didn’t pick up the tongue tie and was still saying he didn’t have or there may be a light one but the midwife and nurses picked up still trailhead away and it was quite clear the end of his tongue made a heart shaped because it was so attached. While we were waiting we were given formula discussed and advised by a doctor and nurse due to how unsettled and hungry he was. We were given the newborn prepare 70ml bottles and he downed three quarters of it, finally he was getting a substantial amount of milk. The results came back and he was slightly jaundice showing up in his liver but they weren’t worried, they knew the reason for this his tongue tie of which they sent off to be checked by a specialist. We were told to come back the next day with a plan of action of which was to feed off the breast which clearly wasn’t working but to try and if fails to express and feed him the expressed milk and and then to top up on formula. We carried on like this all through the night and next morning. Although I wasn’t able to express much about 1-2oz each feed my nappies were extremely sore and blistered by this point from the extreme sucking, lack of latching and the constant pumping. Once at the hospital more tests were taken and we waited hours again but everything was nearly back to normal.
Back home we carried on with our plan of action for a few days but I was exhausted and so sore, recovering from labour, my extremely sore nipples and lack of sleep. When I next saw the midwife I expressed how I felt and she suggested that I do what’s best for me and my baby. Honestly at the time I just wanted my baby to be fed and satisfied not starving after every breastfed try. I then came to the decision to exclusively bottle feed from then on and I felt absolutely awful, like had failed but I knew it was the best thing to do for the health of my child he needed food which he couldn’t currently get from me. Thank you to the midwife who noticed and supported me. Although we still have not seen that specialist but have been told they wouldn’t do it now as it didn’t affect his feeding anymore it will only happen in the future if it affects his speech which I hope it doesn’t. I also now know i didn’t fail as a mother, I tried my best at the time but unfortunately breastfeeding didn’t work out for us, Louie has always been a healthy, happy, content little boy from that day on, he slept through the night from 13 weeks was just a very contented baby that rarely cried, I feel so blessed. He is my absolute world and the best thing to happen to me.
How was your breastfeeding journey? I would love to know..