The last 2 weeks have been a roller coaster. I have done a lot of soul searching and am still not 100% happy with my conclusion but I guess even your third child is as much of a learning curve as your first child was.
In order to fully understand I will start with the oldest first.
At 19, I had Boyo. I was young, naive, had no idea what having a baby entailed but instinctively knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. It was the reason I have breasts of course. So, when Boyo arrived, slightly jaundice and uninterested in feeding, I didn’t worry. It would all happen by itself wouldn’t it? I was left alone all day on the ward with no advice, support or anything… I fed once in 9 hours.
Skip forward 2 weeks and no weight gain, so our breastfeeding journey ended, I hadn’t put pressure on myself so I didn’t feel any sense of failure.
Skip forward to December 09 and the arrival of Princess Pants. Within minutes she had rooted for the breast herself, latched on and all was good. Then I noticed she had a tongue tie. I had no idea the problems that would cause at the time but by day 3 when my milk came in (in abundance) I had a nipple with a fair sized hole from which blood was pouring frequently. Every time my baby girl cried, my shoulders touched my ears and I cried. The support I was given by a midwife was… “keep on going”. By day 5, my usual midwife (not the one who told me to carry on) gently suggested that I switch to formula as I was in so much pain and completely distraught. I cried that day… sobbed my way around Tesco buying the formula and bottles I needed. I continued to express while my milk dried out but ended up with severe mastitis and in agony with it all over Christmas.
This second experience of breastfeeding took a lot longer to get over. I relaxed immediately after giving PP her first bottle of formula but the sense of failure remained… and still does today.
Fast forward to Comma’s arrival… it wasn’t the best start with a stressful induction and quick birth but breastfeeding got off to an ok start. He was sleepy but I knew this time that I had to keep waking him and encouraging him to feed. Breastfeeding went well and like clockwork I felt my milk come in on Day 3. Comma weighed in at 7lb 13.5oz that day and on day 5 weighed 2oz more. After this it went arse over tit. On day 14 he hadn’t gained any weight, nor did he gain anything on any of the following days.
Day 21, and I was devastated. Comma had lost weight. He wasn’t thriving but neither the health visitor or midwife offered any support, advice or even bothered to find out why he wasn’t thriving. I even heard the phrase “I’m won’t be happy leaving unless you agree to top up feeds”. I felt like such a failure, I cried, I couldn’t speak to her, I didn’t have the energy to fight. I sobbed in Asda this time… refused to be part of buying formula… insisted I was the failure, told everyone he’d be better off without me. It might seem like an over reaction to everyone else but I was completely exhausted from feeding around the clock and wasn’t offered any support from those whose job it is to care for both Mum and Baby. I decided on the spur of the moment that our breastfeeding journey was over it was all or nothing but Comma had other ideas. Finishing his bottle, he then decided that he wanted breast too. So I backtracked and decided to take it as it came. And it came together well.
2 days later we were diagnosed with thrush (and I can tell you, thrush in your nipple isn’t fun). It explained everything… static weight, fussiness when feeding, gassiness, my pink and white nipples, the shooting pains in my breast that I put down to milk production and perhaps the one thing I really didn’t know about, the decrease in my milk supply.
2 weeks on and we’re still breastfeeding on demand. I feel like Daisy the cow because no sooner have I finish feeding I’m expressing. We’re currently topping up with 120ml of formula and 50ml of expressed milk a day just to up his weight.
Despite what anyone says, little or no weight gain or loss of weight doesn’t mean the end of breastfeeding, just that in the interim help and support (and a few top ups) will be necessary. It has taken 2 weeks for me to realise that this isn’t my fault and we can still breastfeed. .
Comma weighed 8lb 13oz when he was weighed on Wednesday. In 2 weeks he has gained 1lb and that I am happy with.
However; if midwives/health visitors/health professionals keep preaching that breast is best… why are they not doing more to support the new Mums who want to do it? Not one of them picked up on Comma’s thrush; not one of them bothered to find out if there was any cause for Comma’s static weight. We were, in my eyes, failed.