Sunday, 13 January 2013

Breasts and the milk that comes from it.....

It had never ever dawned on me that breastfeeding would NOT be a possibility. Wait, I take that back. It could have been but am I a bad mother for giving up? NO.

Ok, so let me go back a bit. In my last (and first) post I wrote about how I felt in the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy. From there, allot followed but I really wanted to speak about my breastfeeding experience, the slight joy followed by disappointment, a stressed mummy so in turn a stressed baby.

I was set to go and equipped with all I needed:

Breast pads - Id definetly need them, my breasts would be bountiful of yummy mummy breast milk.
Breast Pump - That magical device - Looking back I don't know why I even got it - I'm a first time mum. I was told to get it so I did. Why would I need to express I thought. I'd always have him breast feeding - I wanted that bond and that was the only way I was going to get it right?
Feeding Pillow - Because when I breastfed It would make things just that little bit more comfortable.

I need to stress, naive as it sounds, I was oblivious to the fact it wouldn't happen. I just thought it was natural. He would be born, latch and presto, I was on my way to milking glory.

Jonathan was born and I knew what needed to happen. He would come out, be placed on my naked chest which would activate the first milk or Colostrum. For any first time mothers that do not know, the Colostrum contains antibodies that help to protect your newborn baby. For me, this was, above all, the most important. Forty minutes later in came the midwife, "has he had your milk yet?", "no" I said feeling my first bouts of failure. So the 'Milking' as I like to call it, was commenced by the midwife. I don't need to describe it. Think of what happens when something is milked and it being done by the midwife.

It hurt, it really hurt, not childbirth hurt but really hurt. The first magical drops began to surface. They were sucked up with a plastic syringe and given to JJ. I closed my eyes and got through it. It was the best thing for my boy - I didn't care. For that first milk I endured the worst to give the best. It'll be ok I thought. My milk would come in soon - I'd never have to go through that again.

To be honest I cant even remember how long it was after that until he needed to feed again, I think it was later that evening. I was tired, so so so tired. I could barely keep my eyes open. Looking back now it seems like a dream.

What? he isn't latching? what does that mean? why isn't he latching? Arn't they supposed to latch? Will he starve? How come milk isn't coming out? A thousand questions ran through my head. I was totally disappointed. I felt like I couldn't give my boy what he needed most.

"Milking" number 2 commenced. Same pain, same result. It was worth it, it needed to be done and JJ would have the best. I think about 2mls came out in total which was followed by a formula 'top up'.

The next shift commenced and with it a new midwife.

'NO, he isn't latching and I don't know what I'm doing wrong'.

With each new shift came the new midwife - the new positions, the different techniques, the different opinions and the escalation to my confusion, frustration and stress.

"I think we will get the Lactation Nurse to see you" said the midwife. What the hell is a lactation nurse?  "Of course" I said politely so I wouldn't look like a complete fool.

Enters the lactation nurse.... "I think you should use a nipple shield" whats a nipple shield?  "No, the other midwives have checked, his tongue isn't tied". Another opinion, more confusion. All I could think was...... I'm so tired please just go and let me sleep. Let him have the formula now.

Ha! im so great I can milk myself. At least then i'd know my own pain. I managed to get 10Mls. I was so excited I even buzzed for the midwife to show her. Surely the milk was starting to flow, he would latch wouldn't he?........ No.

Around day 4 another lactation nurse came to see me. "oh this nipple shield is the wrong size, who gave you this?"....... "the other lactation nurse" I answered with a frustrated tone. Yep you guessed it, another technique. "I'm holding a breastfeeding class at 11am so I'll see you there". Sure I said. She left the room and I burst into tears. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to sit there with all the other breastfeeding mothers whose babies had latched and feel like more of a failure. I ended up going to the class, I sat there and didn't say a word.

After the class, hubby and I took JJ for a bath. The lactation nurse passed and asked if I had expressed. "No"I answered, "I will do it after his bath". In a somewhat angry tone she answers "well if you want to breastfeed you will need to make that your priority"...... I felt so humiliated in front of the other mothers bathing their babies.

Day 5 arrived and I was going home. In enters a nurse I hadn't seen yet.

"How is the breastfeeding going?'

"It's not, Im trying to latch with each feed, then feeding the previously expressed milk and topping up with formula" I had my little routine down packed.

The midwife asked to have a look as I tried to breast feed him. Here we go, another bloody nurse, yes i've tried that position, please go away, I want to go home with my baby (obviously I never said that out loud but I thought it). As if by miracle she tried and guess what? he latched. Yes, HE LATCHED. I cried with joy. I wasn't a failure.

"Do you want to stay another day to make sure he gets it down packed?" said the midwife, "no, I want to take my baby home, he will continue, i'm sure"

He didn't. He never did. I tried and tried. I went to the breastfeeding clinics. No luck. So I continued to express and top up with formula.

I'd probably still be doing that if he didn't develop reflux and need to be on a special formula. I had been fighting a losing battle.

Looks like the breast pump came in handy after all, as for the breast pads..... I threw them away and the feeding pillow still sits unused in the cupboard.

I mention how I felt like such a failure in this post a few times purely because I did. I couldn't give my son the best. There is such a major emphasise placed on breastfeeding by the doctors and midwifes, everyone actually. I know why but what I don't understand is the look of disappointment when I say I wasn't or don't. My son simply was not latching. He did maybe four times and even then it only lasted about 2 minutes and my milk was just not coming down. Sometimes that just happens.

Am I a failure of a mother because I didn't try harder? NO.
Would I have less of a bond because I wasn't breastfeeding? Maybe, but I know my baby knows me. I know he knows I'm his mummy and I now know he knew that from the moment he was born.

I guess what i'm trying to get across on this post that if is doesn't happen it just doesn't happen. Don't beat yourself up over it and feel miserable like I did. By all means, try try try your hardest. It is the best, Im not here to dispute that but don't feel like a failure if you don't. Value those first weeks with your baby because it passes like a flash.

Funny how now he does try to breastfeed when we have tummy time. "we tried that one remember" I say to him and sometimes I get a smile like as if he understands what i'm saying - my little trouble maker. I Love him. xxx

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