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From breast to bottle Part 1 - Early days

By 18:48:00 , , , , , , , , , ,

I've been meaning to post this for a while but having a little one limits my time and I know this is going to be a long post (so long I've actually separated this into 2 parts). Whilst Baby J is happily bouncing away in his bouncer I think I have just enough time to write this first part up.

Talking about baby feeding methods is very controversial and I'm not seeking to jump on a soap box to declare which is best. I just want to tell my story and also put this out there so that anyone going through the same thing knows they are not alone. I had a lot of expectations and ended up feeling completely out of my depth when everything went wrong. I don't want to scare anyone but what happened to me is more common than I realised at the time and I wish I had known what would happen as I would have been better prepared. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

My story begins lunchtime Monday 17th November, I was being wheeled down for our emergency C-Section and I was telling my partner and my midwives what my preferences were. They were as follows:
1. Skin to Skin contact after birth (if baby ok)
2. The opportunity to breast feed as soon as possible after the birth
3. If any problems with baby - dad should go with him and stay with him.

Unfortunately the operating theatre was too cold so I did not get skin to skin until an hour later in recovery when I also breast fed for the first time. I thought it went ok but was not sure if Baby J actually took anything in - I could feel pulling and he seemed latched fine so I assumed all was well. We went to the post natal ward and I continued to breast feed him every couple of hours or so.

When my family turned up for a first visit that night, Baby J was crying and he cried more and more during their visit. He'd been quiet and sleeping on and off all day and I fed him just before my family arrived but he got very upset being passed around them all. I just assumed he was tired and overstimulated from being passed around. My mum suggested he was hungry - but as he'd just eaten I just disregarded her comment and said it was from overstimulation from being held by people he didn't know..

My partner and family left at 8pm and I was alone with my baby with feeling only just having completely come back following my spinal block. That first night, he cried on and off all night before going off to sleep at about 5ish when I finally got the opportunity to sleep myself having not slept the rest of that day/night or the previous night when I was in labour. During the night I did several feeds and rang the call button several times to ask the midwives to check my latch and they all confirmed it was fine. At 7.30am I woke with a start realising that I'd slept for about 2 and a half hours without him waking up. Worried I pulled him in his plastic box towards me and touched his face which felt cool. I put my hand on his chest to check his breathing at which point he woke up. Relieved, I fed him and tried to go back to sleep but by this time the ward was fully awake and too noisy - I am a light sleeper and struggle to get to sleep unless it is totally dark and quiet.

I carried on throughout the day, caring and feeding baby J, and again during the day all seemed fine - he was feeding 3 hourly for 15-20mins but kept falling off the breast and falling asleep. That night was much worse - I was operating on next to no sleep for 2 nights by this point and I was trying to stay awake to feed Baby J, worried that if I fell asleep whilst holding him, I would drop him and there would be nothing to stop him falling off the bed severely injuring himself. He would not go to sleep and every time I put him in the plastic box he cried. I rang the midwives to check my latch and this was fine - I was also really struggling with after-pains when I fed him which did not help. I was also so tired and really worried he was keeping the other babies and mums awake on the ward and setting the other babies off. I broke down not knowing what to do - I did not realise at this point it was a feeding issue, the midwives told me it was cluster feeding. They promised to take him for a while so I could get some sleep but less than half an hour later he was returned to me (fat chance of any sleep then!) he cried and was so frustrated banging his little fists on me, and chomping hard on my breasts - but despite feeding until he fell off every time nothing helped and as soon as I put him down he would cry again.

I cried and cried - trying not to let the other mums hear me. About 6am one of the midwives passed through the ward and checked on me. I was in pieces and she took Baby J from me but he was returned less than an hour later and then the ward lights came on as the ward 'came alive' and my opportunity for sleep was over.

The hospital I was in has a policy of keeping C-section mums in for 3 days and by now this was the third day and I wanted to get out of their asap. I just thought if I could get a few hours sleep it would be enough to pull myself together and then I would be able to cope. When my partner arrived that morning I broke down in his arms about how tired he was. I spoke to one of the midwives about being released and they said that this should be ok. Unfortunately we had to wait for baby bloods, my bloods and my prescription for blood thinning injections before we could be released and in the end it was after 6pm before they finally discharged us. Rather than go straight home we popped to Morrisons Supermarket for a few things, popped into see my partner's dad who did not visit us in hospital and then went round his families house to pick up our dog who had been staying there before heading home. It was between 8-9pm when we got back - I fed baby J, put him in his moses basket and went to sleep - the plan was my partner would change his nappies and I would do the feeds - How naïve we were!!!

He woke every 45mins to 1hr 30mins - so my sleep was very broken and every time he woke it was for a feed - he was so frustrated as well and would scream - then we would put him down again for him to wake up. My partner kept waking me apologetically - my mental capacity meant that I kept waking and physically did not know what he wanted or what baby wanted - I'd been hallucinating from lack of sleep on the way home seeing things that I knew weren't there and I was rambling in a half asleep daze about things that made no sense. (I am told I rambled on about Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street - despite not really being interested in this). I was in a lot of pain - my nipples felt bruised and I had a sample of lanolin cream which fortunately got me through the night - I was also still recovering from the C-section and felt a lot of soreness and tightness by my incision area. This was not helped by sitting up in bed every hour or so throughout the night. It was obvious Baby J was hungry - my partner suggested getting a bottle of formula the next day and I argued - crying saying I wanted to feed the baby I didn't want him having formula - I wanted to feed him myself. I felt that if I gave him a bottle I was failing him somehow and letting myself down as I'd been so determined to feed him myself. I also thought I would regret it later.

I don't know how we coped that night but we did and after a morning feed I popped baby J (who'd finally stopped crying) into bed with us where he fell asleep. I watched him so peacefully and was concerned that he'd turned a very strange yellowy orange colour - Jaundice. He'd been slightly Jaundiced in hospital the previous day but had passed the newborn tests based on bloodwork but this was worse now. Fortunately, our community midwives unexpectedly turned up at the door to do a home check and I ran downstairs with him - they were concerned by the jaundice and weighed him. They found he had lost just over 10% of his birth weight. Following telephone consultation with the hospital paediatrician, we were advised  to come in and that afternoon Baby J was readmitted to hospital onto the children's unit.

You can read part 2 by clicking here

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