Thank you for all your kind responses to last week’s post from Lisa about dealing with criticism as a parent. This week Jennie is raising another topic that’s really important to me personally, the challenge of breastfeeding…
Before I had Layla-Rose I read all the books on breast feeding and told anyone who wanted to hear (and some who didn’t) that I was breast feeding. I bought my nursing bras and made sure throughout pregnancy I wore a non-wired bra.
The time came and I had Layla 3 weeks early having to be induced. As soon as she was born we were placed skin to skin and I placed her to feed. She wasn’t interested though and I was told this was probably due to the diamorphine and that it could take a while to wear off. We were taken to our ward and again I placed her on my breast and again nothing. She just lay there nipple in my mouth not sucking. I called for someone and instead of showing me how to get her to latch they played around with my boob and she sucked! For about 30 seconds and then nothing. I was told again this was normal by the midwife because of the diamorphone. I tried several times in the night but she just wouldn’t latch.
By morning I was conscious that she had gone almost 12 hours with no food. Throughout the day several midwives came by to help me try and breastfeed but nobody would actually show me how to do it they would just play with my boob and nipple to try and get her to latch on. In between this I was growing more anxious and upset. Why would she not feed?! What was I doing wrong?! That night I cried myself to sleep. I had read all the books and yet she would not feed what was so complicated about breast feeding surely you just stick them on your boob and they do the work?! It wasn’t like I didn’t have any milk I had plenty the midwives kept telling me when they squirted it out in an attempt to tempt Layla-Rose to feed. By day two in the hospital I wanted out but they wouldn’t let me out until Layla had fed.
Through tears I begged the midwife to let go home and she said unless I made a decision breast or bottle I couldn’t go home so out of shear desperation to leave I asked for a bottle and through tears I attempted to give it to her. Why was I such a failure at being a mother when she was only a day old? Just as I was about to feed her a lady came in to see if I was ok (she must have heard me crying) I explained through tears and she told me about cup feeding. If I fed Layla through a cup then I could go home and continue on trying to establish breast feeding so that’s what we did. After some internet research and a conversation with my doctor cousin, when they came to check on us I asked if Layla could be checked for tongue tie as I found out that in some babies it causes problems feeding and low and behold she had it, bad but they were unable to snip it there and then (to read more about Layla-Rose’s tongue tie please look here). After cup feeding we were able to go home.
I felt instantly more relaxed and positive as soon as I got home and again I began trying to get her to latch on and breast feed. The midwife appeared the following day and I still hadn’t established a feed. It was now day 3 and my poor little one had only had a cup of milk so far. The midwife suggested we combination feed I would start her on the breast, then bottle feed, then express so with the next feed I could try her with my expressed milk as well as the breast and so the cycle began. I would try her for 15 minutes on the breast, then bottle feed her, which took 45 minutes to an hour and then express which took a further 15 minutes where I would be lucky to get 5ml.
This whole cycle took around an hour and a half and she wanted to feed every 2 hours this was a never ending, thankless hopeless cycle. I managed this for about a week until my partner sat me down and told me he couldn’t see me go through this never ending cycle for 3 more weeks until her tongue tie was fixed. He said he would support me whatever my decision but I needed to do what was going to keep me sane. It was with a heavy heart I agreed with him and we decided to stop trying to breast feed. I grieved about this and feel I am still grieving that I wasn’t able to breast feed my baby, wasn’t able to give her what was deemed ‘best’ but the truth is like I have come to understand motherhood in general, babies have their own plan their own way and as long as your baby is happy then that’s all that matters.
There won’t be a My Mountain post next Friday as I’ll be enjoying a sunny break but we’ll back back on 24th June with another mum sharing another challenge. If you’d like to contribute to the series please email 500-1000 words regarding your biggest parenting challenge to firstname.lastname@example.org, or see this post for more info.