If you didn’t know already it’s breastfeeding awareness week. Feeding your baby is obviously extremely important, and I support all ways of feeding; breastfed, bottle fed, tube fed etc. I had always wanted to breast feed but unfortunately things don’t always go to plan. Inspired by Helen at The Hels Project I thought this week was a great time to share with you all my breast feeding story. It’s quite a short one but it’s still important nonetheless.
Oliver was born at around 9pm on a Thursday evening by emergency forceps. Because we were in the theatre room Oliver was soon whisked away by my husband, Nathan, as they had to sort a few things out for me – something I won’t go in to! We didn’t get much skin-to-skin contact and because of this Oliver didn’t get a chance to naturally latch on immediately. After I was ‘sorted out’ we were all taken back to the postnatal ward which, little did I know at the time, would be my home for the next week.
I tried to breastfeed as soon as we settled in the ward and I assumed it was going okay. There were no midwives checking to see how it was going and my husband was sent home pretty quickly so I thought he’d latched on and that was that. I continued to do what I thought was successful breastfeeding for 2 days. The second night on my own arrived and this is where it all went downhill. From around 8pm Oliver was beginning to become very upset and restless. I was breastfeeding and putting him down to then almost immediately having to breastfeed again. It seemed like I was constantly breastfeeding for hours. I couldn’t understand why! The midwives came in and tried to help Oliver latch on, but they soon left again thinking he was latched on, which he wasn’t.
Because of the labour Oliver was on 2 doses of antibiotics a day; one at 3am and another at 3pm. His morning antibiotics were due so I made my way down to see the paediatricians. He was still crying constantly and I was trying to breastfeed, and I’ll be honest, I couldn’t stop crying. I felt like I was a terrible mother and I couldn’t stop my own baby from crying. After a while of waiting a lovely paediatrician came in and comforted me immediately. She watched me try to breastfeed and she noticed he wasn’t latching on very well. He had a look into his mouth and noticed Oliver had tongue-tie. Because of this, Oliver wasn’t feeding properly, and probably hadn’t fed properly from the moment I first tried.
I kind of felt relieved that it wasn’t me being a terrible mother, but then I had a huge wave of worry come over me because my son hadn’t fed properly! The paediatrician asked whether I wanted to feed him some formula as he was clearly starving. Originally I had it in my head that I did not want to formula feed, but it was either I feed Oliver formula or he starves, so I of course I said yes. As soon as we put the bottle to Oliver’s lips he guzzled the whole thing down. Once he’d finished he fell straight to sleep. I was so relieved that Oliver had stopped crying and had a full tummy.
Through the night I had given Oliver a few more formula feeds. He was so settled and happy. The midwife on shift came in and asked whether I wanted help breast feeding again and I’ll be honest, I was too scared to try again! They suggested I expressed milk to keep the milk supply coming though, and to also give Oliver some of my breast milk mixed with the formula. I did this a couple of times but I wasn’t doing it very well.
During that day I had a nurse come in to talk to me about Olivers tongue-tie. I was told that because we were admitted in hospital, and the ward that fixes tongue-tie was in another town, we wouldn’t be able to fix his tongue whilst we were in hospital. I was pretty devastated to say the least! That meant whilst we were in hospital I’d struggle to get Oliver to breast feed until we were home and had his tongue-tie sorted. This is a tough situation to be in as a mother. We are always told breast is best, but what could I do? Oliver wouldn’t feed properly on the breast and after a week of formula feeding it would be difficult to change him to breastfed due to the size of his tummy.
After a lot of crying and worry on my behalf my husband and I decided it would be best to formula feed from this point onward. I was absolutely gutted but I knew it was for the best in our situation. We eventually left the hospital after a week of living there to a healthy and happy baby who is now just over a year old.
To this day I’m still gutted we couldn’t breast feed. It’s horrible knowing all that was needed was for someone in the hospital to cut the tongue-tie and we could have carried on. I don’t really understand why the ward was in another location. It would have made sense to be in the same ward as all the brand new babies, especially as some mothers cannot leave the hospital with there babies. I feel that this is something that needs improving. But at least I now know for next time. It hasn’t put me off trying again.
As I said earlier I believe that FED is best. The most important thing is that your baby is being fed. Breastfeeding has a lot of positives; immediate chance to bond, it contains antibodies from the mother and it even helps burn calories for the mother. It’s important to chose what’s right for you. At the time bottle fed was right for us. Hopefully I’ll be able to breast feed my next child.