Little Sunday story time by Karla
So after a difficult pregnancy and generally feeling low throughout I couldn’t wait to have our baby and be a mummy. I focused so much on the birth and the fact that I wanted to breast feed so much that I approached it all like a work project doing research and attending workshops to help me prepare. I studied hypnobirthing, watched you tube clips on latching whilst reading constantly all kinds of books.
Oh how naive I was to think that’s how it worked and that it would mean everything would go smoothly. I’m not saying I regret that approach as for me the information has been helpful to look back on but what it never did was prepare me emotionally for the next part of our journey. Our beautiful baby boy was born at 37 weeks weighing in at a very little 4.12lbs and after a super fast birth was taken to NICU. From that moment I was worried that feeding just wouldn’t be allowed or even possible as I hadn’t had that “golden hour” that every book had told me was so important.
I headed down to nicu when Oliver was about 2 hours old and a lovely nurse asked if I want to express colostrum into a cup which they could give him through his feeding tube now and during the night. I’ve never got my boobs out quicker and was so glad that someone was showing me the way.
For the next 2 days I hand expressed into a cup and then continued to feed him through the tube in this way. On day 3 I was then able to have the skin to skin and lots of cuddles that we had so desperately craved, this helped my milk come in and we tried latching with every cuddle. He really struggled as his mouth was so small and he just wasn’t strong enough to suck. I asked the team if I would have to express forever as those days felt very long and scary. Luckily it was a Friday by then and the lactation specialist was working that morning, she came to see me after I asked for some more help. She recommended different types of holds and to just keep up the skin to skin along with power pumping with the hospital grade pump as much as I could take. I did just that, pumped every 2 hours, slept for an hour and cuddled little man the rest of the time. We did this for 3 (very long) days and nights. He still struggled with the latch as he just wasn’t strong enough. I was close to giving up, I’m not going to lie! Then a young midwife came in to say hi and found me crying in the corner of his room. She gave me a hug and dashed off saying she would come back with something for me...it was nipple shields. We popped them on and he immediately latched and slowly took little bits of milk here and there. I’ve never been so happy, finally I was feeding our little boy who with being so small desperately needed it. I’m pleased to say that we left hospital 3 days later with a baby who feed and who hadn’t lost any of his birth weight! Such a proud moment and we pretty much skipped off to the car. He continued to feed more and more as we got home and over the next few weeks and months we both enjoyed it more and more. We tried feeds without the shields all the time but he struggled so we carried on with what worked for him and me and embraced the fact the shields might be here to stay. I would love to be able to feed him without them but it wasn’t meant to be and so I’ve excepted it and just love that he is thriving on my milk. We had weeks of cluster feeding at times and he is still “under weight” for his age but he’s growing and developing at his own rate and I’m lucky that the team that looked after him both in nicu and post birth have seen that he is just doing it his own way on my milk and that’s best for us. We are just coming up to 5 months old now and weaning Is our next “project” but this time I’m open minded, excited and prepared to let him take the lead!
One happy mummy and baby,
Karla and Oliver xx