On Isobel’s due date my hubbie said to me if she came now I would be ready, and I replied I don’t think you can ever be ready.
Just like my labour the first few days were a whirlwind of confusion, excitement, and do we really have a baby???
I was released from hospital at night (I don’t know why! WTF) just 22 hours after labour. What I was actually told was you had a normal birth and baby is feeding so all good to go home. I think they put me in an extremely hard mattress bed just so I would agree. On leaving the midwife asked how Isobel had been, and I said “great she slept a lot” and the reply I got was “oh she will be awake all night so”. Just what you want to hear when been kicked out of hospital.
We got home around 11pm, and the screaming started and it didn’t stop until about 3am, when I finally got her to sleep on top of my chest. We attempted putting her in a cot and just left her down for a minute and thought no she is way too small for this big cot!
She wouldn’t take my breast at all after leaving the hospital and I wasn’t sure what was wrong. She was awake again by 5am and this time fed and I was relieved. I was on such a high that I couldn’t stop looking at her.
We had our first community midwife visit that day at 2.30pm and I was really looking forward to it, as Isobel had not fed since 5am and I was starting to get worried. Of course I had been on Google and read newborn’s should be feeding every 2 hours or thereabout. I explained to her my worry and she watched me trying to feed, again Isobel just screamed at my breast. The midwife was not concerned and told me this was normal.
So continued another second night of Isobel crying for hours on end and not taking a feed. I stayed up with her on the couch and finally got her to sleep in my arms at some point during the night. I was staying awake just to ensure she was getting some sleep. I knew I couldn’t keep this up. Finally in the morning I got her to feed, but I was still really anxious. In my gut I thought this cannot be right and started looking up breastfeeding support groups in my area. There was one the following day so I planned to attend.
By the time I got to the support group I was full of tears (baby blues are the worst, I cried most of this day) and I was so worried about her feeding, as she was roughly only taking a feed every 8 hours or so. I explained what was happening to the consultant and she put me in a different feeding position. She also said my milk still had not come in and the baby was still just feeding colostrum.
Isobel fed immediately and for about 30 minutes before falling asleep, and I thought YES I have cracked it. I could have done cartwheels out of the place.
3 hours later, she was back to not feeding again, and by the time my husband got home from work that evening I was an emotional mess! He suggested getting some bottles in the morning and a breast pump so we could see if she would take milk any other way. So another unsettled night and only one feed during the night left me pacing the floor until we could get some bottles and a pump.
I manually pumped the next morning and was only managing to get 1-2oz of milk but Isobel was taking it and began to get a lot more settled and was sleeping better. I was due another community midwife that day so I couldn’t wait to get some better advice.
When the midwife arrived she weighed her and was extremely concerned as she had dropped 13% weight since leaving hospital. I explained what was happening with the breastfeeding and what the first community midwife had told me. She explained I needed to get some nipple shields as the baby could not latch properly.
I just did not understand how we went from feeding perfectly in hospital to not really feeding at all at home. I felt like such a failure and that I was hurting my baby. It didn’t help that the midwife forced my husband to go out and buy formula and then she fed her it as she told me I was not pumping enough for what she needed. She then agreed that instead of sending us back to hospital (after a lot of tears from me) she would arrange another midwife visit on Sunday to check on weight gain.
I had got nipple shields by the next day and Isobel was feeding perfectly and with the supplemented formula she gained weight by Sunday. Once this visit was over, I went back to exclusively breastfeeding.
I wished I had planned buying some bottles, a steriliser and a manual breast pump in my pregnancy. My husband got really ill when we had Isobel’s second midwife visit and just about managed to get to the shop for formula and back before collapsing in bed for a few days.
My one regret over those first few days is that I should have trusted my gut instinct more when I initially knew there was a problem. If I had pushed the first midwife into a solution things might have been different. Unfortunately I am at a stage now where I am still using nipple shields as I could not wean her off them. It might have been different had the issue been resolved on the first day at home. You are in such a state of elation you don’t think anything will be a problem, but it is important to sort out breastfeeding issues as soon as possible.
There is amazing support available online;