Breast is Best.... not always. And I'm here to say "That's OK"
So here's a controversial topic, I delivered my daughter by C-Section, it was the best decision for me and my baby, and given my anxiety throughout this pregnancy (due to the loss of Sebastien and Samuel) - I would have a Caesar again in a heartbeat. Because of this I was very set on Breastfeeding her, my reason for this was admittedly I didn't give her a natural delivery into life so the least I can do is give her Mummy's Milk and give her the best start in life.
Well... that grand plan was much harder to follow than I had ever imagined and we all know what they say... sometimes a plan just doesn't work out.
Here's my story on Breastfeeding...
Straight after she was born they allowed skin to skin and once I got to recovery shortly after, they put Addison on my chest and she wriggled up and latched on - the nurse was impressed and said she is doing very well. So, as a first time mum, I thought this is great, the one thing that I wanted to do for Addison was panning out well within the first 30 mins.
We get to my room, she was pretty much on my chest and suckling on my boobs and let's be honest I had NO idea what I am doing! But it felt so lovely to have my baby girl on my chest and I was elated with the arrival of her so at that stage nothing could have upset me!
Mum was there with me and helped me (as I obviously I couldn't move or do much at that time as the drugs were still wearing off and I couldn't quite use my legs) so she dressed Addison and got her off to sleep in the crib. Looking very peaceful she lay asleep and I couldn't stop staring and smiling, as most mums do - amazed at what we have created. At the changeover of shift the new midwives came in and asked questions and went on as they do, then one very stern one said to me, have you fed her? How much? When? I wasn't really sure, it was all new, she slept a lot of the time we were back in the room and I had NO idea how much milk she was getting or even if she was getting any, I didn't even know if I had milk, I was going through all of the things that friends had told me - really painful, burning, swelling etc... Well I had none of this.
Next thing the Midwife asks if she can see my nipples and she has a squeeze and informs me I have no milk, I had been saying this for about 5 hours, how I understood that when you have a C-Section, your milk can be delayed. and asking every time a midwife came in my room how I would know if I was feeding ok. Next thing the stern midwife says she needs to call the Paediatrician and she took some blood from Addison's foot to test her blood sugar level. Now I start to worry and then all of a sudden she comes blasting into the room, "This baby needs to be fed now, it is very urgent as she has extremely low blood sugar levels that can be life threatening to her. Why did you not have this earlier?" I was mortified and scared! How am I supposed to know, isn't it their job to guide me? And then she made a fuss about how I need to sign a form to allow them to give her Formula - as if you need to ask, if my baby was in that much desperate need then its a no brainer - give her formula and now please!
So after this dramatic episode and the fact that my daughter was exposed to formula within her early hours, I began to face a new challenge that I had never really considered - the path to breastfeeding difficulties.
Here we go... day 2 I keep trying but 30ml of formula top-ups need to be maintained for Addison. There was literally nothing coming out of me, I kept putting Addison onto the boob in the hope she would get something and stimulate my milk to come in, no that didn't work. And so began a great deal of midwives pinching and squeezing my nipples... still nothing. Day 3 another midwife starts her shift and asks why I am not expressing - I don't know, maybe because nobody told me! And I don't even know how to do that, in comes the machine and instructions on how I need to feed Addison, then top her up with formula, then Express and then hand express. This turned into a 3 hour session and left me with one more hour before I woke Addison to feed again and the routine started all over again. I went to the Lactation Session and there was nothing that I wasn't doing already, I am just one of those mums who's milk was not coming in. Day 4 - I am getting upset now and still nothing is coming. I continue on the routine 6 times in a 24 hour day - needless to say it is exhausting by the time you have breast fed, topped up with formula, tried to get Addison to sleep (which I am lucky with - she is a great sleeper) and then expressing on both boobs, followed by hand expressing, if I was lucky I would get 5-10ml of colostrum for her to syringe into her mouth for the next feed - and that was per day, not per express!
Let's just say I am no cow!
By the night of Day 4 I was thrilled that I managed to fill a syringe of Colostrum, still no milk but at least my baby got some goodness - the only real goodness since she was born.
Day 5 was time to go home, still no milk. By this stage I was getting distressed, I demanded for a lactation consultant to come to my room, and actually look at how I was feeding and see what was going on. I couldn't have gone home without somebody at least trying to help me out. By the end of that hour session, there was nothing I was doing wrong, its just that Addison has a small mouth and couldn't latch and suck properly so it would take a little while for her to be able to do this. I was shown how to properly hold her and get her to latch (this takes practice right?! - not as easy as it looks, well in my case anyhow) There was no tongue tie and my nipples were fine so there should be no reason why it was so difficult - just that my milk wasn't coming in.
I got home late that afternoon and I had timed it so that I could get home an hour before the next feed, to give me time to get everything prepared. I went through my routine - breastfeed on both boobs, formula top up, wind and get her to sleep. Express and hand express - well this is where I went into meltdown and cried for the first time since the first moments of seeing her! The Express machine didn't work!!! And as murphys law would go, my breasts engorged and there felt like there was some milk coming in. Shops shut at 5pm so my parents couldn't even go and exchange it. Which meant I had to go through the night, my boobs were red, hot and sore! Looking back I must have got mastitis as Addison couldn't get much out because of her latch and I couldn't express it out - painful is all i can say. So mum and dad, being the great parents they are, went to the shops that morning and got me a new pump. But still not much came out - how can that have been when it felt like there was so much in there!
What can push this milk along...
I got baking - lactation cookies. I followed Mama Naturals recipe and they're good.
By the beginning of Addison's second week I went to the GP and got the Motilium. I was trying everything I could to give my daughter the nutrition she needed and as each day went on the formula top ups just increased by the ml and by the time Addison was a month old I had to admit defeat! This doesn't come easily to me but it was exhausting and it was the only aspect that was making me unhappy and therefore the stress of that would have been rubbing off on Addison. So I had to make a decision... no more attempts at breastfeeding, my milk just wasn't coming in and my boobs had already begun to shrink back to their normal size.
As sad and deflating as that decision and moment was for me, the absolute fear of failing as a mother and the pressure and comments that came from many, particularly Health nurses and midwives but also friends and just general public... just keep trying, it is so much better for your baby, keep persisting. I had to come to the realisation that my daughter is going to be a formula fed baby... and you know what, that's ok, she is healthy and content and sleeps well - at the end of the day my baby's happiness and good health is all that matters.
There is a 24 hour helpline for Breastfeeding - Australian Breastfeeding Association
give them a call if you need the help. They are lovely and very supportive.
And remember life is a journey, not a destination, it's ok to change the path sometimes and learn along the way or make changes and travel the path less travelled.