Little Sunday story time written by Natalie
I’ve always known I’ve wanted to breastfeed, so when I found out I was pregnant I began consuming every breastfeeding book, article, YouTube video and story I could find. I’ve got slightly tubular breasts so I was really concerned that I would struggle to establish an adequate supply, so I found a local lactation consultant who gave me some great advice so I could be as prepared as possible to maximise what supply I could manage.
As per advice I began hand expressing at 37 weeks and soon built up a really decent supply of colostrum syringes. It was quite therapeutic to get myself a drink and a snack and spend some time learning how to hand express and catch every precious drop in a syringe.
I was induced at 42 weeks and sadly I didn’t get the birth I wanted, after a dramatic series of events and an emergency Caesarean section I finally had my tiny baby in my (very numb) arms. Due to the amount of spinal block they’d pumped in I was somewhat numb from the shoulders down by the time I finally got to hold my baby as they wheeled me around to recovery. I remember seeing him rooting around on my chest and saying to my husband ‘oh please will you help him!?’
When we got back to delivery suite my very helpful midwife latched him for me, and he fed for around half an hour. Due to the nature of my delivery we both had to stay in hospital for 5 days for intravenous antibiotics and because of this the doctors had to take my baby from me an hour or so after we returned to delivery suite to fit his cannula and give him his first dose. Upon his return the doctors congratulated me on a job well done as they’d tested his bloody sugar whilst they were down there and he had some fabulous healthy readings.
Alex latched really well from the get go, but I did have to strip him naked nearly every time I fed him to keep him awake enough to feed. At day 3 he started clusterfeeding in earnest and I got a decent cracked nipple, but a very upsetting NICU nurse attempted to persuade me to give him formula and a dummy because ‘he’s so unsettled he can’t have fed enough’. I was so upset but I stuck to my guns after a more helpful midwife let me use a private room to get some sleep!
By day 3 he had lost around 6% of his birthweight which I was assured was totally acceptable, and by day 5 he had started to gain. On day 5 we were discharged home finally, and I got to settle in for some absolutely epic clusterfeeding sessions for the next 6 weeks or so. He regained his birthweight in 8 days, but sadly despite gaining weight steadily from here at 4 weeks he had dropped 2 centiles. For a baby that was only on the 9th centile to begin with this quite worried my health visitor, and despite the fact that he was meeting his milestones early, had a fantastic nappy output my health visitor advised formula top ups after every feed.
In all honesty at this point there was very little definition between the end and the beginning of feeds as he was feeding so frequently in the day time (thankfully far less frequently at night!) and I really did not want to resort to formula so early. This led me to see my lactation consultant again who reassured me that my latch was wonderful, he didn’t have a tongue tie, my supply seemed fine, he looked healthy and did not resemble an underfed baby. So I agreed to have him weighed frequently and review if he dropped any further or lost any weight. This was the most stressful period of my mothering journey, I was convinced I had low supply and I counted every nappy, stressed that his frequency of feeding meant I wasn’t producing enough and wondered continuously if I was doing the right thing by not giving him top ups. Gradually though it did get easier. He found his own line and stuck to it and gained steadily. It turns out, he’s just small but perfectly formed.
Luckily for me, the extreme feeding frequency did calm down and I could start to leave the house without worrying that he’d be attached to my boob for hours and leave me stranded in costa. We’re now 6 months in and I’m so glad I stuck to my guns, I feel like if I’d listened to that health visitor our breastfeeding journey would have been cut short. He feeds like a champion still, and despite some biting issues and an extremely distracted baby around 4 months, our breastfeeding journey has been fairly straightforward. I feel really lucky that I had the confidence to stand by my intuition that told me that my baby and my supply were totally fine. Thanks to plenty of reassurance from amazing breastfeeding experts like little peach and my lactation consultant I was empowered to listen to my baby and my body and know that we were doing just fine. I love our relationship and hope we’re still going strong for a long time yet!