I did the ultimate sin and gave up breastfeeding.
My little boy was born in the hot summer of 2015, the hottest day of the year typically. He was a healthy 7lb1 and fed instantly from me, I was lucky.
We managed a good couple of days feeding alone before my newborn was readmitted to hospital with jaundice.
During his short stay at the local hospital, they recognised the signs immediately that he was dehydrated and instantly started to question me. How much milk is your son taking? Of course I had no idea. How is any brand new mother meant to answer that? Any mother for that matter.
I was unable to respond with a satisfying answer and so I was encouraged to give him formula. It absolutely crushed me.
Breastfeeding was a decision I had made a long time before he was born and now I was being told by medical professionals that it was in my sons best interest to stop. The worst part, my motherly instinct was telling me I was doing a fantastic job.
I went against the advice given to me, insistent I wasn’t ready to bottle feed formula. My choice wasn’t the favoured decision but the hospital eventually provided me with an electric pump.
That evening I was asked to fill 3 bottles, it was agonising! It hurt physically and emotionally. I felt embarrassed and incompetent that I was needing to prove my milk supply.
During our first few day’s my little baby was tube fed, this was so we could closely monitor his intake. On day four my little fighter ripped his tube out. The nurse refused to allow him to be fed in this way anymore and instead fetched me a bottle of my milk, warm and ready for him to take.
My little boy did amazing and gained enough weight to discharged following his double light therapy. From the moment I left the hospital I went straight back to breastfeeding.
Due to the complications I was having daily visits from the health visitor. My baby still wasn’t gaining the required weight and had now dipped 2.5 centiles in roughly 5 weeks. He was a huge concern apparently, one which I was blind to see. Yes he was small, but he was feeding and producing both wet and dirty nappies. No I didn’t know his intake, but I was satisfied it was enough.
At 6 weeks my baby slept through the night. I was accused of STARVING him. Accused by what is supposed to be a supportive network of midwives and health visitors. I was told that due to knowing my baby was underweight, I was meant to wake him from his settled night sleep, to feed. I was even given advice on how to dream feed and again it was suggested that he would be better fed with a bottle.
In the end, I felt forced and with no other options. My health visitors weekly visits consisted of me having to providing evidence of formula. I was given measurements of how much his intake should be and told to force feed, which led to a huge amount of reflux.
Again I went against the advice given and breastfed anyway, offering a bottle after as a way of topup.
In the weeks following, my now 7 week old baby was still declining in weight and referred to a paediatrician. Within mere moments of being within the Doctors room, it was identified that my weak baby had a grade 3 tongue tie. Why hadn’t this been recognised before? Why was the blame for his weight loss being put on me? I was angry and very upset.
Following the long diagnoses, I then had to attend weekly breastfeeding and lactation clinics to obtain a referral for his cut. In order to have tongue tie surgery you are required to exclusively breastfeed. I didn’t and so I lied.
Our first referral was lost and it took a further 3 weeks to have a date for his procedure. At 11 weeks his tongue was cut with no problems at St Thomas’, London. After the small procedure my little boy was passed straight across to feed. This is pretty standard, it calms and comforts them but also stems any bleeding.
I’ve never felt like a failure as a parent than that one day, in nearly 3 years. I left St Thomas’ distraught. I clung to my tiny baby crying my eyes out. It was confirmed by the specialists that my milk had completely dried up. My baby was unable to feed from me again.
I had 4 nurses around me that day, all trying to stimulate my breasts. They was trying just for one drop of milk which never came.
As a way of stimulating my breasts I was asked to feed my baby from my boobs even though I had no milk. I was given a feeding tube which I was shown how to attach to my nipple to imitate the feed.
It was time now to give up. My baby was exclusively bottle fed.
I hid in toilets to feed him as I felt so ashamed in public. I’d hide in the corner of feeding rooms. I would even hide in the back of my car. I hated the thought of being judged for feeding my baby a bottle.
Despite the traumatic few weeks, my baby was now the healthiest he’d been. Sleeping magically through the night, putting on stacks of weight and now visibly stronger in every single way.
This is my story about our breastfeeding journey. Sadly my breastfeeding came to a quick end. To this date I don’t believe I received the support I needed. This journey was the one which inspired me to complete this charity month. To highlight there IS help and that we shouldn’t feel alone or ashamed to need extra support, I wish I had it!
For more information on where you can receive help or if you have a question, please email me right away. I have various guest speaker throughout the month who will highlight the support available to you. Each will be more than happy to answer any questions! X