When Your Let Down Is A Let Down

3rd time’s a charm, right!? During my pregnancy with Evan I gave a lot of thought to how I was going to tackle breastfeeding this time round. Would I try the herbal supplements again? Would I harvest colostrum? After he was born, would I presume the issues would be the same and top up from the start? Etc. I decided against supplements, I harvested colostrum (about 45ml…) but I decided that I would exclusively boob for the first 3 days to give my boobs the maximum stimulation. I asked my midwife to do a “cheeky, unofficial” weigh on day 3 to see where were at weight wise and then make decisions.

After Evan was born I huggled him until Lucy suggested that I give him a feed. I sat on the seat/step in the birth pool and got him latched on. He fed, relatched on the other side. I sat in bed feeding him and supping on my placenta ‘n’ juice (wid my mind on ma boobies and ma boobies on ma mind, haha) and as Lucy left she said “he will feed constantly for a few hours and then go to sleep for about 6 hours”. He went from left boob to right boob, left boob to right boob and repeated this for hours (in between screaming the house down). We gave him some of the harvested colostrum in the wee small hours of the morning to settle him but it didn’t work. During this first night I think both me and Joe thought that maybe this baby was a bit broken, he seemed to hate everything we tried. He hated having a nappy on, he hated being clothed, he hated being rocked, he hated being gently bounced, he HATED his moses basket and he seemed to hate both his parents. By the morning he must have been utterly exhausted and he finally relented for a bit of sleep. Result!

I fed on demand and he seemed to want feeding every 3 hours. You could pretty much set your watch by him in the daytime. 180 minutes would pass and he would want feeding. Evan was an excellent feeder but he would occasionally getting very grumpy so we would give him a ml or so of harvested milk.

On day 3 I had Evan weighed by our lovely “Mama” Julie. He had lost 7oz but he was getting increasingly grumpy for more food. Julie was amazing, she was so lovely and positive. We decided to start offering top ups after each feed. I felt so much better about doing this time round. I really really wanted breastfeeding to be a nice experience.  I wanted to just enjoy the time with my baby and not feel guilty if top ups were needed. Evan was a lot happier after top ups too. Lucy had checked him for a tongue tie and thought that he might have a posterior one and so I asked Julie to check too. She thought that he might have one too but she wasn’t 100% sure. She refered him to the tongue tie clinic for it to be corrected.

20170925_215420.jpgThe following day Evan had his newborn paeds check up. This was done at our house as part of our awesome care from One to One Midwives. Now, I’d be the first to admit that I am a bit sensitive when it comes to combo-feeding. I know I shouldn’t be but as it is my boobs that are broken and can’t make a full milk supply I feel a bit shitty that I cannot just give my baby all of what he needs. So when the lady doing Evan’s paeds check said to be that I was not to feed Evan in bed under any circumstances explaining that by me giving him formula I wasn’t as “bonded or in tune” with him as someone who exclusively breastfeeds. It really upset me. It felt like an actual smack in the face. At the time, I let it pass but it really weighed on my mind. Have I really not bonded with my babies as much as someone who exclusively feeds their baby?! The more I thought about it the more enraged I have become. I understand that she needs to give mother’s the best advice but what the actual fuck, to say that I wasn’t in tune with Evan was simply rude. It would have been nicer and kinder to just say that she advises not to feed in bed without the added guilt of because you give your baby formula. Like I said, I know that I am senstive but still her saying that has made me feel like I am missing out on some other level of bonding with Evan (and Dylan and Eilys) because my body let me down which is utterly wrong. Grr.

The paeds check lady also diagnosed a posterior tongue tie. Around this time I was getting a lot of pain when I was breastfeeding. Breastfeeding really does take a little getting use to (and by little, I mean an absolute fuckload of getting used to). I pumped for a few feeds and slathered my nips in Calendula nipple cream and they seemed to be good to go again. I had a few days of cracked nips and a couple of days of quite painful feeds but then it all cleared and it has been comfortable ever since (well, as comfortable as it can be)

Lucy, our awesome midwife, came on day 5 to weigh Evan and to see how we were all getting on. He was now only 30g under his birth weight and she was so pleased, as was I! It was such a good feeling that feeding was going our way and that Evan was thriving.

20171008_224157.jpgThis time round I was so much more chilled out, I wasn’t pressuring myself and I can honestly say I am really enjoying breastfeeding. During feeds Evan was really gulping and I can hear the milk in his mouth, something that has never happened before. He has a ridiculously strong suck and sometimes it is really hard to unlatch him! My breasts do feel fuller and some days I can manage to get to 4pm without giving him any formula which feels utterly amazing. I know to most that will sound a bit pathetic but for me it is a huge leap forward! Some days he needs more formula which is also fine, we are fairly chilled about it all and play it by ear. I think the real proof that feeding him is going well is that he is gaining weight perfectly and he is an absolute dream baby at night mostly waking up once in the night (admittedly he is awake for at least an hour but still…) The past few nights he’s been sleeping from 10:30pm until 6:30am which for a 7 week old is pretty incredible (but I am fully expect it not continue once teething etc starts).

Evan is really really dribbly with his bottle feeds. Initially we had wide neck bottles, tommee tippee ones I think, and he just couldn’t latch onto them at all. We then bought some MAM bottles as we used them with both Dylan and Eilys and they were the best ones we found. Evan took to them like a champ, phew! He still dribbled milk out of the corner of his mouth and would end most top up feeds with a milk pool under his chin. I put this down to his tongue tie. Evan was referred for his tongue tie correction appointment on day 3 and we had to wait just over 6 weeks for the appointment. We could have gone privately and we did look into it this time but breastfeeding wasn’t being effected by his tongue tie so we just waited it out. It annoys me no end that we are really force-fed the “breast is best” mantra throughout pregnancy and yet one thing that is proven to cause breastfeeding issues takes 4 to 6 weeks to be sorted on the NHS. Personally, I think tongue tie correction should be taught to all midwives and then people wouldn’t have to wait so long. I’m sure there is a reason why they aren’t and let’s face it midwives already do so much but they are the best place people to sort it out. Back in the day mudwives would keep their little finger nail long on their dominant hand and use that to sever tongue ties, or so I’m told! With Eilys (who had the most severe type of anterior tongue tie), breastfeeding was excruciatingly painful and I had to pump for 2 weeks for all her feeds as I couldn’t handle the pain of breastfeeding. In that few weeks I thought about throwing in the towel so many times but wanted it to work so badly. I can totally understand why someone would just give formula and sack off the breastfeeding all together.

Anyway, our appointment finally arrived. Me, Joe and Evan hopped into the car and drove the hour to the appointment, we were the first appointment of the day and sat in the waiting room to be called. The Midwife who did the procedure was quite abrupt with a dash of bonkers. We spoke for a bit and when I mentioned that I had Insufficient Glandular Tissue she scoffed (a word I have never understood before but she did, she actually scoffed at me) and said “and why on earth do you think you have that?”. And so I explained that I had been diagnosed by the lactation consultant at my local hospital after a full examination and a 2 hour appointment. Her response was “could you let me see your breasts please?”… Now, at the point what I should have said was “No. We are here to have Evan’s tongue tie looked at and possibly corrected. We aren’t here to discuss my breast that I have already had diagnosed by a professional. Please can we get on with the appointment and look in Evan’s mouth. Thank you”. What I actually said was nothing and I got out my boobs (exhibitionist). The previous night I had fed Evan at 3am and then he woke at 6am for a feed but Joe just gave him a bottle as I was having a shower and he fell back to sleep and slept all the way to the appointment. I was reluctant to feed him in the waiting room as I knew they would want him to feed as soon as the snip was done. It was now 10am so my breastickles had had 6hrs to refil. She sort of waved her hands about and said “obviously I’m not going to touch you but I would say there is nothing wrong with you”. First off, why obviously?! Surely to diagnose a lack of breast tissue touching is required and secondly, if you are going to do this on sight alone then a comparison before and after feeds would be needed. Needless to say, I think she was talking utter shite and if nothing else I enjoyed whacking my chebs out in another medical office, thanks. She then went back to Evan. Yes, he had a posterior tongue tie. Yes, she would snip it. She swaddled him, called for an assistant to hold his head and then cut the tie. Then he screamed. And screamed. She unswaddled and then gave him to me for a feed. The snip did help with Evan’s bottle feeding as it isn’t leaking out as much as before but he is still messy. Breastfeeding is the same.

This time round breastfeeding in public hasn’t been an issue at all. I will feed Evan whenever wherever. I have fed Evan at home when we have visitors (I would always go upstairs to our bedroom with Dylan and Eilys). I am really comfortable with it. However, weirdly it is the bottle feeding that I am more nervous about. I really hate finishing off a breastfeed and then grabbing his top up, I feel suddenly exposed. It is so weird. An older lady made a comment when I was doing Eilys’s top up once and said “she doesn’t need a bottle as well a breastfeeding” in a really patronising way, she knew best way (and I think she called me honey). I really don’t know why I get all the busy-bodies making comments at me, maybe I have one of those faces! Anyway, I think I am worried that I am going to need to defend my top up feeds and that makes me nervous, which is odd because I really don’t mind explaining my issues to anyone.

I am really hoping that I able to keep up my combo feeding regime for as long as I can. I managed to breastfeed Dylan until he was about 9 months old when it came to a natural conclusion and I would like to continue for that long, if not longer. I am really enjoying breastfeeding Evan. He stares at me, pulls funny faces and most of the time (since he was a couple of days old) he smiles when he finishes on each boob. It’s so lovely. Such a special, precious thing and I love it.

Thank you for reading

xx

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