Little Sunday story time by Adele
I always knew I wanted to try breastfeeding when I had children but I had no idea just what this choice would require of me. My daughter was born in July, but as she was a month early, everything came as a surprise to me and I felt very underprepared and overwhelmed. My birth preferences went out the window as I was recommended to deliver on a labour ward instead of at the local midwifery unit. Due to her early arrival, she was a little smaller than the ‘average’ baby at 5lb 10oz/2.55kg, with a little mouth and jaundice which made her sleepy. All of this led to a baby who wouldn’t latch. And not just the first time. This went on for days. Then when she did latch it was extremely painful. I began trying to get her to feedregularly and pumping/hand expressing in between times. When the doctors realised she was jaundice they suggested a small top-up of formula, 10-20mls, after I had tried to feed her myself. I had many people try to help me at the hospital but I felt they just didn’t have the time to properly sit with me to give the breastfeeding support I needed.
When my daughter was 5 days old I asked to be transferred back to the midwifery unit in my own town as I knew they would be able to provide me with more concentrated, 1-1 breastfeeding support. Once we arrived there the midwife sat next to me and finally my daughter managed to latch and suck for maybe 20 seconds! It was a lovely moment but I was in so much pain, even using a nipple shield. Despite this, the midwife and I decided not to give my baby any more top-ups, boosting my motivation to continue breastfeeding.
We went home a couple of days later, and although baby was not yet gaining weight, I was feeling a bit more confident. Our health visitor was keeping a close eye on us but, despite my best efforts, my daughter began to lose weight. One particularday my wee girl had reached her lowest weight of 5lb and so the health visitor kindly yet strongly recommended we begin giving her top-ups of formula as she was not feeding effectively enough. I also had to express in between again so my body would continue to make milk. This was reiterated as a temporary measure until her weight increased but I was heartbroken. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t do the one thing I was supposed to do – feed my baby. I hadn’t bonded with my daughter due to the nursing difficulties and each time she fell asleep I was terrified for the moment she would wake because I didn’t think I could be the mum she needed me to be. That week my mood hit rock bottom with my husband worrying about me, so much so I ended up at my GP and was prescribed antidepressants. Soon after this, it was discovered my daughter and I both had thrush which may have been causing the pain when feeding so we were given medication.
From then, things have slowly become easier. My daughter only had formula top-ups for a few days then we gave her my expressed milk for a week or so. She now feeds heartily from me without a nipple shield, gaining weight steadily and, despite being born early, is meeting all her developmental milestones. At my lowest, I discovered Little Peach on Instagram and Maria has been a great source of inspiration to me. To anyone struggling with breastfeeding, please persevere! Surround yourself with breastfeeding supporters be it lactation consultants, family or other breastfeeding mums in your local area. Feeding can be so rewarding and has been a key factor in helping me bond with my lovely little girl. Boob on mummas!