My Breastfeeding Story.
Well the picture stands out on the page doesn’t it? Sometimes when I look at it I can’t believe it is me, and other times I can look and it just makes me smile. The picture was entered into the world breastfeeding week photo competiton 2012, and it was one of the 10 winners from around the world. I am very proud of this, my image is representing breastfeeding. But there are good and bad messages in it.
So how did I get here?
My first son was born in 2003, he wasn’t planned he chose me as his mum. My partner and I were not going to have kids, we had our animals and I was breeding my dogs and all sorts of other animals. babies just weren’t going to happen, but Robbie had other ideas and in the January very unprepared I gave birth to Robbie via an emergency C-section.
I had always thought breastfeeding would be easy, after all I watched my dogs do it – and with up to six puppies!
Naively I thought baby arrives and you put it to the breast and it feeds……hahaha. Robbie was about four hours old before I got to hold him, the most contact we had was someone had held him close enough for us to rub noses…….something we still do today now he is 9.
I was horrified to find my sleepy little boy wasn’t interested in feeding , and the next few days were spent trying to get him to feed, lights for jaundice, and countless different midwives telling me different ways to get him to feed. What everyone had forgotten to tell me is that the drugs you are given during and after a c section delay your milk coming in, and that Robbie was so sleepy because he was being given paracetamol for the pain from bruising on his neck and the cuts on his head from the failed vontuse and forceps. He was in too much pain to nurse correctly to help my milk arrive. It also didn’t help that one night one of the nurses took him from me so I could sleep, and gave him a bottle of formula without my permission. I now know that feeding with all of this going on would always be more difficult. I just wish I had know it then.
After seven days of this and Robbie’s weight dropping by nearly a pound I had to go home, my natural instincts started kicking in and I trusted that when I got home we would be okay. I was given a very stern lecture by this young male consultant that I was putting my baby at risk and that if we had to come back he would go into the children’s ward in the main hospital and this would not be good for him etc etc. So with this ringing in my ears trying to drown out what every part of my instincts were telling me I went home. I will gloss over the fact that the housework was still being done as I walked through the door, a sure sign it hadn’t been done whilst I was in hospital. it was good to be home, introduce my puppy to the dogs, and settle down to being a mum.
But we still hadn’t got feeding sorted, it was painful and i was using a nipple shield. Robbie had been born on the Thursday, I came home on the following Thursday. I had seen the information about Bosom pals in Hythe. But that wasn’t till the Tuesday, we managed to keep going till them, when I was taken down and left at the door by my partner.
It was here I met Jayne Trefoil, she is a midwife with an obsession for helping women breastfeed, and she is amazing at it, so calm she can sort anything out with gentle reassuring mum’s that they can do it. It took one session for her to get rid of the nipple shields, and within a couple more sessions we were totally sorted. I had one wobbly moment after that when I was so tired I didn’t know how I was going to carry on, standing in tears in Waitrose I looked at the formula and thought it was the way to go, I didn’t know which one to buy or if any were better than another, I was on my way to bosom pals, so thought I would ask there…………….of course I was told the answer……..and given the support I needed to carry on feeding my little man myself. We carried on going to bosom pals, enjoying the company of other mum’s until Robbie self weaned at 15 months.
It was eight years later I found myself going to see Jayne again, bosom pals had move to a Wednesday at was now based at the sure start centre in Hythe. I hadn’t had time to track Jayne down before giving birth to my next son James, the look on her face when she realised it was me with another baby was priceless!
James again was born by c-section, but this time I had gestational diabetes so had lots more hospital checks and I had a lovely midwife, but due to shifts and other births she could not be with me at the birth. I had been well prepared having done some hypo birthing preparation which helped hugely and I was able to keep calm and had no fear about giving birth. I do believe that I could have given birth naturally if i hadn’t had so many interruptions (five people in suits walking in when my bum is in the air is not good for a relaxed head space!.)
I had also tried to express my milk before my induction , knowing that james would have a lower blood sugar than the hospital would want, I wanted to be able to give him my milk, and to get my milk going in case of a c section. For some reason I could not get any milk out, not that it would have been any good as there was no fridge in the hospital for mum’s to store breast milk in.
I was disappointed to have another c section but I did have the best experience possible. I was asked before they started if I would want skin to skin, I had been gearing myself up for an argument.
We were then asked if we would like to see james “being born”, another big yes. It was amazing, from the angle I was looking (flat on my back) he could have been coming out of anywhere!
The skin to skin was so special, I think possibly even more important for a woman who has had a c section, being able to look into my sons eyes as he focused for the first time was amazing. And James was so calm, my state of mind had helped him remain calm, no crying just gazing into my eyes and meeting me.
I think he would have fed but the drugs made me sick, but as his dad’s hand had been holding James on my chest for me, he just scoped him up and held him, the second best place in the world for a newborn!
I had hoped that feeding James would have been easier, but having had gestational diabetes the hospital insisted he had to have blood sugar tests every 6 hours, this involved a pick to the heel of his foot to take blood. he needed 3 readings above 3. He kept coming in at 2.9 – which meant more and more tests. This of course stressed me out, again I had loads of drugs slowing down my milk, and a lack of real support from the hospital.
This is why I am supporting the Mums for mums peer supporters programme to get help into the wards for new mum’s.
In the end I had no choice but to allow him to have a feed of formula, this brought his sugars up, and we were able to go home after four days. Better than seven! By this time though his feet were like pin cushions, and at his 5 day check up they had difficulty find space that wasn’t sore on his feet to take blood. I am sure if I had better support, access to pumps etc this could have been better managed and we would have been home quicker, and James would not of needed formula or had sore feet.
Once at home we had a few colicky days and those days where they do nothing but feed, but I was back in the shop after two weeks, although I had sat on the ward in hospital taking work calls the day after he was born! We won’t mention Dave had answered the phone whilst I was in labour and uttered the words – “it’s a bit difficult now we are having a baby”
james is now 15 months and still feeding, no sign of giving up like his brother, and I am looking forward to feeding him for as long as he wants to, and letting him self wean when he feels ready to give up the comfort and nourishment “mama ” gives him.