-Emotional & Engorged-
As I mentioned in my previous post, fifteen minutes after being stitched up I had my newborn baby attached to my nipple. All I really remember is the midwives saying “he’s got a great latch” and “he’s a natural”…. All I was thinking was….What about me? Am I supposed to hold him like this? He looks like he’s suffocating? Should his nose be covered by my boob like that? Is anything even coming out? This feels weird….
Just a little disclaimer before I get started on my breastfeeding journey… I do honestly believe that a fed baby is a happy, healthy baby. If you choose to breastfeed or if you choose to formula feed there is no judgement here in the mum circle. However, I do believe that women who decide to breastfeed do deserve a little praise for even attempting it. Because, new mummies? I’ve got news for you, its not always easy, it doesn’t always “come naturally” and sometimes you have to throw in the towel and bottle feed (not that there is anything wrong with that).
I, however, had no idea that it would be as hard as it was. I had no idea the pressure you feel when you breastfeed. I always said when I was asked during pregnancy “if it happens and we can breastfeed then we will, if not then that’s cool too”. Little did I know that I would put so much pressure on myself to not throw in the towel, I became the most competitive I’ve ever been in my life during breastfeeding. With MYSELF!
I didn’t take any formula with me to hospital when George was born, that’s how confident I was that it would be easy and that it would just happen naturally. I gave birth to George at 3:12am in the morning and had to breastfeed him, I believe every 2 hours there-after. Not knowing if I’m doing it right, no one to help me put him on my boob, no one to help me sit up to even pick him out of the cot. Very exhausting and pretty painful considering I’d just had a major op! I had to fill out a form with times I had fed him and for how long each time…. I mean?!?!?! I was exhausted, yet fuelled at the same time. Fuelled with responsibility, with the utmost love and protection. I didn’t really want to sleep, I was too busy watching him sleep. I had my own room after the op (which is only fair considering that crap they put me through).
I’m not entirely sure on the protocol with formula fed babies and monitoring weight gain, but when you’re breastfeeding the midwives are pretty ‘forceful’ with their approach to weight gain. I spent 2 days in hospital after George was born. The day after I went home and for a week following, I had to get into the car and venture out to midwife appointments to strip him down and weigh him.
The first weigh in he had lost a little weight which is fairly normal, especially c-section born babies. Due to the fact they are still holding a lot of abiotic fluid in their system because they weren’t “squeezed” out… Ew.
They told me to up his feeds. I asked “what if he’s sleeping and wont wake up to feed?” as we all know newborns sleep A LOT. I was told if he was sleepy, to take a cold wet wipe, strip him down and wipe it over his back and tummy to wake him up…. I NEVER did this. I think that’s just plain cruel. I did my absolute best to feed him every two hours/hour an a half but George was still losing weight. I was told it wasn’t exactly a worrying amount he had lost but now its been five days since he had been born they really want to see the numbers going up. I got this real rage inside me, this fire. You know like Elle Woods does in legally blonde where she says “I’ll show you how valuable Elle Woods can be” and buys herself that pink laptop? I felt like that. I got home, took my top half off and acted like a milking machine ready for tomorrows weigh in. The sleep deprivation was seriously kicking in now and I was knackered, emotionally and physically. I lost my appetite and was just sat producing the stuff like a cow. I squirted poor George in the eye on multiple occasions! I started to express at the same time as feeding him. BIG MISTAKE!! My body thought I had given birth to twins, so my boobs were so painful and engorged! I mean, they went square at one point…. Yes, SQUARE!!
Appointment day came flying round. I was in the waiting room trying to get as much milk in him as possible before the weigh in, He hadn’t pooped for about 2 hours and he was looking full. I was confident. I knew my hard work would of paid off. I ended up feeding him every hour so you can imagine the exhaustion by this point…. Stripped him down, popped him on the scales and she said “Kelly, he is still losing weight. I think you’re going to need referring for help”…..
She may as well of slapped me across the face and told me I am the shittest mother she’s ever come across. That’s how much that hurt. I just broke down, I didn’t understand? I’d been doing everything. I’d sacrificed sleep, meals, seeing family and friends just to feed this baby up to make YOU lot tick a box?? I wasn’t able to give birth to my baby naturally and now you’re telling me I cant feed him naturally either??
Now, my normal, less hormonal brain probably would of thought. “Kel, they are just trying to help you” but my post pregnancy crazy head was saying “YOU AREN’T A GOOD MUM, the midwives know it and that’s why they are intruding on your life”….
I broke down, I was crying AGAIN, I was disappointed in myself. Before I knew it, I was holding the midwives mobile talking to the referral person barely able to communicate with her over my crying…and just like that, I was booked in, in a weeks time for “help” feeding my own baby.
The next day midwives came to my house… two, familiar faces. Midwives that had taken me through my whole pregnancy they came to check on me because of my mental breakdown in the appointment the previous day. One midwife went into her bag and pulled out a crochet knitted boob with nipple and began to explain the “flipple” technique. Where you basically rolled your nipple into babies open mouth. I was in my home comforts, I was less stressed and ready to listen to people I had built a relationship with and trusted.
IT WORKED!!! The referral was cancelled, and he had gained weight!!! The happy dance that came from me after seeing the numbers was, well, interesting.
From then on, the whole breastfeeding experience was just wonderful. Looking down on him feeding from me, sometimes I would even catch him smiling or looking up at me. MAGICAL! No one else being able to feed him but me, late night feeds and soothing baby with simply, THE BOOB. No bottles or steralising, having a cracking pair of boobs especially when youre not exactly blessed in that department. The list is endless for how amazing the experience is. I will 100% be doing it again!
What I’m trying to say is… If you’re thinking about breastfeeding. Know that its hard, know that you may want to give up, but when you pull through. When you get to grips with it, that is such an amazing feeling. You feel like a super woman!
I ended up feeding George for 5 months. My supply had dropped after two days away from him while we moved to a new house. He was on those readymade Apitmal bottles with my mum and I fed him through the night. Because of this my supply really suffered. When I got back into it, I was sat, sofa bound for 50 minutes per feed. I was a recluse, couldn’t leave my house because he was so hungry and I wasn’t giving him enough. I could feel myself slipping into a dark place, a lonely place. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. So, I changed to formula and the 50-minute feeds went to just 15 minutes, I had two hours until I needed to feed him again not 20 minutes. I had time to enjoy him, to go out with him. Pop to the shops, I had TIME again. He was happier and I was happier.
I’m a bit of a researcher when it comes to just about anything. I like to know it all. I did so much research on breastfeeding. Did you know your milk changes depending on the temperature outside? If its hot out your milk will become more hydrating for baby.
Did you know your milk changes if your baby is poorly or has a cold?
Did you know that breastmilk can be used for gunky eyes and nappy rashes? ITS AMAZING WHAT WE CAN PRODUCE LADIES!! A-MA-ZING!!
I know it may not sound like it, but I really do recommend it. But do not beat yourself up if you can’t or don’t want to. Do what makes YOU happy!!
Did you breastfeed? How did you find it?
See you in the next one…
All our love,
Kelly & George. x