Breast feeding

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I am too tired to think of a snappy title! !

Baby D is now 9 days old!

Feeding had been a huge issue and I want to talk about it because not enough people do publicly. I was lucky in as much as no one had led me to believe that it was going to be easy. I appreciated that we would have to work at it. What I hadn’t appreciated was how hard we would both find it and the effects mentally.

My sole aim for feeding was exclusively breast feeding with potential to express if I needed to. From the very first day in hospital it was clear that baby D didn’t quite share that aim. He struggled to latch on and found attempts to put him to the breast very distressing. Numerous midwives tried to assist with positions and ideas to get him engaged with the process but he either fell asleep or fought me. Eventually I had to hand express and then by day 2 in hospital we were recommended a formula top up. Although this was entirely against my ideals, we worked with the hospital staff to look at ways of using the expressed feeds and top up feeds to encourage him to feed further from the breast.

By the morning of day three we had got it and he fed really well from me. I was elated and we were discharged that evening. Our discharge was a bit of a shambles which ended up with me in tears and a very grumpy midwife demanding to know what she hadn’t told me (having never done this before it was rather hard to know! ). During our discharge it became clear the midwife wasn’t sure of our ability to feed and forced me to give him a big formula feed. 

When we arrived home we had no idea what we were doing and tried to wake him up for feeds as he didn’t seem to be doing so himself, despite apparently having got it when we were at the hospital.

During the first week the midwives visited frequently and baby D was starting to cause then a bit of concern. The feeding process was getting complex and long, we were tired and he wasn’t waking up to tell us he was hungry. He was put on a three hourly feeding schedule which we had to rouse him for.  Each feed included skin to skin time, then attempts to breast feed, then warming expressed breast milk for the majorities of his feed and then making up and cooling formula for the top up if needed.  Then I’d spend an hour or so keeping him awake long enough to get the feed into him which was an exhausting procedure. Once that was over there was about enough time to sterilise all the equipment, grab a snack, express milk for the next feed before starting the cycle again.

The midwives advised us to visit specialist breast feeding clinics which are run frequently where we live. They were brilliant and gave great advice and encouragement. However, despite being told we were doing everything right, baby D was getting increasingly jaundiced.  In a way, being told you’re doing everything right is frustrating as it leaves no ideas to try out and no room for improvement.

On day 5 the midwife took some extra blood from his heel prick test for some jaundice blood tests. To give you an idea of how sleepy he was, he only cried out at the third time his heel was pierced but didn’t really wake up until he urinated in his own face during a nappy change.

The boys results were rushed through for our peace of mind and came back clear.The other good news was that his weightloss was minimal-just 200g in the first 5 days which was just over 5% of this birth weight. At ten percent is where they start to worry so he was easily under that threshold.

Great news. But baby still not feeding well. So days 4 to 9 we were setting the alarm for every three hours to wake him up for feeding. Over time we were able to cut out the formula top up as I was able to express more, so that was one less complication. He had good and bad days. All in all tiring and frustrating.

Add into the mix a cracked nipple (probably due to the wrong size flange on the breast pump) which baby D likes to grab during a feed…. but apparently the way through the milk blisters and cracks is to keep using it for feeds-and using it first. Latching on hurts but once he is seeks it is fine.

On day 9 (now yesterday), the midwife weighed him again and we were all surprised and pleased to find that he had put on a huge 250g so was back up to above his birth weight! Very unexpected!

As of last night we started baby led feeding (ie normal) )so letting him cry and wake himself when hungry. We set a just-in-case alarm too for 4 hours after his feed. During the day he had some gaps without a feed but over night he has done really well and throughout the day too.

Everyone says it gets better and you do belive them….. is just so exhausting and intense at the time that the small improvements are hard to see.

I’ve tried to be rational throughout and even in tears with a sleepy jaundice baby that refuses to feed I have known that I’m ok and we are ok 🙂

He is amazing, even if it took him a while to work out the feeding thing!

I guess it can all change again in a second though. ….

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