My Adventures in Boobing
I am very sorry for the long and rambling nature of this story and the chances are it will be a 3 part saga. I wrote this first part a really really long time ago when Dylan was really teeny tiny.
From the moment that I found out that I was up the duff with Dylan I wanted to breastfeed. Breast is best, everyone knows that! I was a good Mummy-to-be and went to a breastfeeding workshop that explained to me and Joe why it was good for mother and baby (if anything that was what the class should have been called because it took up about 75% of the class…) The class briefly touched on feeding positions, latching and finally about a minute on issues. I left the class feeling really good about breastfeeding. I was about 36 weeks pregnant when I went on the workshop and so it was all relatively fresh in my mind when I had Dylan less than 4 weeks later…
After he was born he latched well, it smarted a bit but that was to be expected so it didn’t bother me at all. He fed well in the hospital before we left the following day although he was a bit of a “bobber” (latching and pulling off, latching then pulling off etc) but I was told on the ward that this was fine. They told me to just reposition and he should feed well. I left the hospital with my tiny little newborn feeling confident and happy with breastfeeding.
We had had a few good feeds at home when the pain started. First it was in my left boob and then in both. It was a really sharp, really really bad pain. I have a high pain threshold but this pain was awful. I called the local lactation nurse to come out for a visit to see what we were doing wrong. Answer: Positioning. Dylan’s latch was too shallow. So she went through several different positions and he seemed to be feeding much better. The pain was very much still there though. We had another visit the following day and she went through the same advice. This was day 3 after the birth and as most Mummies will know Day 3 is Dolly-Parton-boob day (when you wake up with hugemongous boobies after your milk coming in). Not for me though. The lactation nurse said that my milk would definitely come in tomorrow. “What if it doesn’t?” asked me, it happens to everyone by day 4 she said and she assured me that there is no chance that it wouldn’t. Then Day 4 nothing happened either. Day 4 was a very bad day.
Dylan had had a very unsettled evening on day 3, screaming, screaming and more screaming. He got himself in such a state that I ordered Joe to go to Tesco and get formula. I couldn’t do this anymore. I was still in pain. Dylan wouldn’t stop crying. I kept crying. I felt so frustrated and upset. No one had ever mentioned how hard this was going to be. So off Joe went to the shop and came back with “stage 2” milk for hungry babies (his reasoning that Dylan was hungry…bless him !) I hit the roof, not my best moment and I have apologised a lot since. We then called the Maternity Ward to ask for advice. They told us to come in for a chat. It was 2am. Off we went.We were met by a lovely nurse who gave us tea, gave me a cuddle and told us how brilliantly we were doing. She talked us through different positions including feeding lying down.She was amazing. I went home feeling really good. Dylan slept and I stayed in bed and fed him until the midwife came for his check up and to weigh him. He had lost 11.7% of his birth weigh. My world crumbled. It was what I had been fearing, I was starving my poor baby. The midwife arranged for us to go back into hospital as Dylan was also quite jaundice. So off we went again.
In hospital, I cried. A lot. I felt like a total failure. We were asked if we’d like to supplement Dylan’s feeds with formula. Of course we would. We had more people coming to watch Dylan feed to make sure that he was latching on well, he was. We were told to give him 30ml of formula on top of him breastfeeding every 3 hours and then to express for 10 mins off each side. The hospital staff were lovely and really supportive despite me being a weeping, crazy mess! The consultant was particularly helpful. He said that his wife had the same problems and her milk supply was low. He gave us some practical advice on how to increase supply (fenugreek tablets, papaya and oats). We were only in for 1 day and Dylan had gained 5oz and his jaundice started to clear. At home, we continued to supplement and Dylan continued to gain weight. To be honest, I felt awful about having to give Dylan formula and I felt totally let down by my body. I have always liked my boobs and I felt as if they had some how betrayed me. My milk never did “come in”. My supply improved but not vastly.
Since leaving hospital we had continued to combination feed and we slowly increase his formula as he grew bigger. After a few weeks however I started to decrease the amount of formula he was having because I thought I was making more milk. The most formula Dylan was having was per feed was 120ml over 8 feeds a day as well as breastfeeding and we got him down to 60ml for 5 feeds and then 120ml for his before bed feed. To me, this was a huge step forward and I am so proud of myself for continuing with breastfeeding Dylan.
I would have loved to have exclusively breastfed but unfortunately this was not a option for me. I know people will say that I was probably doing it wrong and that my low supply was ultimately my fault but I would disagree. I worked so hard to feed Dylan myself. In those first few weeks after he was born I had so many people prodding and poking my boobies, I have taken anything that I have been told increases supply (I’ve taken fenugreek tablets, motilium, fennel tea, milk supply tea, papaya, oats, oat milk, flapjacks, oats, oats and more oats) and I have expressed until my boobs ached! Sometimes your body lets you down. I have beaten myself up about this everyday since Dylan was born and I honestly don’t think I would have done if the “breast is best brigade” weren’t so militant about the evils of formula. The first night that we gave Dylan formula I stayed awake all night watching him to make sure that something horrible didn’t happen to him as I was so aware that by giving him formula I had increased his chance of SIDS! I wish that during pregnancy and then afterwards women were given better advice and information about how hard breastfeeding is, how draining it can be, how painful it can be and how sometimes, for whatever reason, it might not work. If I had been given this information then maybe I would have been better prepared and wouldn’t have felt like such a total failure. At the end of the day, breastfeeding is a choice and it is a choice that only the mother can make.
Thanks for reading