An Ordinary Mother’s breastfeeding journey
Updated: Aug 19, 2018
My son was born on the 2nd centile at 6lb11, smaller than we expected (as Dad was huge!) but perfect. Skin to skin with me was slightly delayed because of my csection. The theatre staff were more than happy to help me have S2S but I just didn’t feel up to it in that moment so Dad had cuddles instead.
That delay didn’t affect breastfeeding at all. As soon as we tried to latch him on in recovery he accepted it and fed for 40 minutes. It was the best feeling of my life, knowing that I was able to feed my child and cuddling him as he lay across me, skin to skin.
I got tons of support in the hospital and we perfected our latch and the cradle hold. When I left I felt pretty confident that I could give it a good go, and I knew I’d have the midwives checking on me after my csection.
Day 2 is tough. We had got home from the hospital and we were shattered. At 10pm it felt like the world was going to end. It was my bed time and I wanted to sleep. The fact that he clearly wanted to feed felt like such a burden. I genuinely questioned all my life choices. However, as soon as he latched on, there was that bond and instantly my anger and tears left.
Thank the Lord I read up about cluster feeds beforehand because day 3.... wow.
I still maintain day 2 was worse just because I was exhausted but night 3... well, I had a 2 hour break when he slept 10-12, and an hour later on that night. Other than that, he was on my boob the entire night. And yet strangely, I was fine with it! I knew why he was doing it (check out our page on cluster feeding); he wasn’t upset after he came off the boob so I knew he was somewhat satisfied. And somehow you just survive on such a small amount of sleep if you need to. Of course, my milk came in and we had a much more normal feeding schedule from then!
By day 5 he had only lost 4% of his weight which was pretty low for a breastfed csection baby so I was thrilled (the cluster feeds were worth it!) Every midwife checked my latch and gave me tips but it was the weigh in that gave me the confidence.
However, at my Midwife visit at day 10, they were concerned that he hadn’t quite regained all his birth weight (2lbs shy) so the Midwife checked for a tongue tie. He did have a slight tie which she was the first to notice. She said she would be referring us to have it examined and it could possibly be snipped.
I suddenly felt crushed. He WAS gaining weight, and 2 days later he HAD reached his birth weight, but it wasn’t quite in time for them to sign us off. I was so pleased with how he has been feeding, with reassurance from every Midwife who looked at the latch, and I had been so lucky to only really have one day of mild discomfort. All the reading I’d done suggested he was doing well.
Suddenly I doubted myself and whether I was doing the right thing for my son despite having so much positivity before then; we are so easily shaken when it comes to our children’s well-being.
Luckily, our tongue tie appointment came through so quickly as I know some whose breastfeeding journey has been completely derailed by a bad tie. If there is an issue with a tongue or lip tie you really do want it sorted quickly. At such a young age it’s really not a huge procedure to have it snipped and you breastfeed immediately after to comfort the baby and supposedly the latch isn’t affected. For many, it could save a nursing relationship in those early days; hopefully the NHS continue to prioritise breastfeeding mums for these appointments and that midwives do continue to be on the lookout for them.
Now, I did lots of reading before the appointment and I came to the conclusion with my husband that we didn’t feel his tie needed intervention. I am a big believer that we should listen to the medical professionals, but I’m also a huge advocate for doing your own research and using your voice as you will certainly know more about your circumstances (like me being on fluids after the csection which makes a difference) and then you can make informed choices together. Before I met the consultant, I spoke to a Midwife who worked alongside him and discussed my thoughts from what I’d researched:
his latch caused me NO pain and I was loathe for him to possibly have to re-learn to feed and it be to the detriment of our nursing relationship;
he was a csection baby and I also had fluids afterwards and both these things can affect baby’s weight in the early days.
He had such a small loss by day 5 (only 4%) and he did regain his weight within 2 weeks which one Midwife told me was fine even though it wasn’t right up by day 10.
His tongue tie was not severe. It was not far forward at all. As soon as my son was born he was sticking out his tongue! I didn’t see any reason why it would affect his feeding or indeed his speech in later life. Of course, some ties can affect speech but equally many people with speech impediments do not have any form of tie. The hypothetical scenario surrounding speech didn’t seem reason enough for me to have it done.
The Midwife was clearly quite surprised that I came prepared and said that I was well-informed on the points raised. I actually felt really proud that I was able to discuss things confidently with the professionals to allow a real conversation to take place.
As soon as the consultant walked in he said, ‘oh look at that elevation. That’s fine. He can stick it out too’. Exactly what I thought. He listened to what I had to say and agreed that there was no need to intervene at this stage. The Midwife just checked my latch again, making her about the 9th professional to do so in the few short weeks since I’d begun - I really cannot fault the help I had.
After that, I continued to breastfeed, even when everyone else I knew stopped. I fed in public even though I was nervous. And I just took comfort in every weigh-in and enjoyed all the cuddles I had feeding him as the housework fell to my wonderful husband. My son went from the 2nd to the 9th centile pretty quickly, and by 6 months he was on the 50th centile! I was so proud of his little chubby legs and cheeks and I am proud and so pleased that I have gone beyond 6 months nursing him, and I am incredibly lucky to have had no pain, no mastitis and not a single clogged duct in sight (despite going back to work and struggling to find time to express!). I know we have been incredibly lucky to have been able to bond over breastfeeding.
We are now combi-feeding as I couldn’t express enough to leave for him whilst I worked, so I’ve had to supplement. I am glad that I’m still nursing at night as it’s helped with teething and I cannot be bothered to prep bottles at 2am!
It hasn’t been the perfect journey but it’s been OUR journey and any trials and tribulations have just added to the rewards when I get him weighed now and truly see the value of that liquid gold.
Our Ordinary Mother has shared the information she found helpful on our breastfeeding page. Let us know about your experiences in the comments or why not send us a whole blog?