The best laid plans...
Leading up to the birth of our new baby (IT"S A BOY!!) we had a very tough week which included the unexpected death of my mother in law and her funeral. My new baby boy has impeccable timing, and instead of waiting for his scheduled caesarean section, managed to arrive at exactly the same time as his grandmother’s funeral, making it a bitter sweet day for all of us.
If you have been reading my previous posts, you will know that I have been determined to breastfeed this child. After a week in hospital after the birth, baby had lost quite a lot of weight, and we were kept in hospital an extra day, with instructions to express and top up his feeds to get the weight back on.
I used the hospital's breast pump it was a huge industrial looking thing (impossible to use discreetly while hosting visitors, so all my friends have now seen everything!) but boy did it work! It's the same one I ended up hiring when I had my daughter.
Needless to say, when I left the hospital, I had enough to feed my son, and probably about three other newborns!
An undiagnosed tongue and lip tie, eight days and a weight loss of 100g later, and my supply had severely diminished. I have my own Medela Swing Maxi double electric breast pump but had put off working out how to use it. Every time I opened the cupboard and looked at it, the thought of trying to work out how to set it up sent me into a new mum panic.
After some pretty traumatic (for me) surgery on his mouth, baby started feeding properly. The difference was unbelievable and immediate. Everyone had told me that it shouldn't hurt. I was thinking that pain was relative and maybe those who are "in the know" had a much higher pain tolerance level than I did. Nope, baby and I had been doing it wrong.
The problem was that we had now had two weeks of not feeding properly, so baby wasn't getting enough due to a poor supply. After another clinic visit, the poor darling had lost weight again.
I felt like a failure, and like a terrible mum. And I felt really angry that the tongue tie hadn't been picked up in the hospital, where they had been concerned about his weight loss. The specialist suggested that it was as bad as it could be, 100% tied. How did that get missed? I was dwelling on it, and feeling angry and frustrated, and very upset.
After a consultation with a clinic nurse, and discussing some options, including formula feeding, she suggested that I should try and get my supply up again as well as topping him up during the day. She didn't say "get over it", she was much more diplomatic and kind than that, but she did say, you just have to move on. It's done, and you can't go back.
What a hard thing to take. But it's true. I got out the breast pump and it turns out its SUPER easy to use. While pumping, I found that if I focussed on how upset and angry I was on the situation of having to express, nothing would come, but if I focussed on my beautiful little boy and helping him to gain weight, the letdown would occur and I could get enough to compliment his feeds with expressed breast milk, instead of formula.
I have leaned three important things from this experience so far....
1. If something is not quite right with your new little person, ask for help, and do it straight away. Don't leave things until they become a big problem.
2. It's important to acknowledge things that upset you or don't go to plan, but then to let them go. They affect you more than you may realise.
3. Work out how to use your breast pump before you have your baby! It's one less thing you have to worry about after they arrive.
I am feeling exhausted, like any new mum, but I also feel a little bit proud of myself for sticking with it. With my milk supply getting better I am confident of getting our breastfeeding back on track and making sure my son gets what’s best for him.