In the first of our regular Feeding Friday series, Becca generously shares her and Georgia’s feeding experience with us. It’s a real rollercoaster, as so many of our journeys are. It tells us-
-There is pressure to breastfeed
-There is pressure to give formula
-There is guilt everywhere we turn
-There is generally a pretty crappy understanding of tongue tie issues
Sharing these experiences is a way to support each other- realistic expectations, knowing that a grey area can be a happy place, having an awareness of potential issues and who might be able to help, etc.
Thanks to this Super Mama for telling us her tale…
15 days overdue, induced in hospital, continued monitoring and a ‘high risk’ label was by no means the worst birth but certainly not the home birth I dreamed of. However, I would not say this experience was any way more traumatic than my breastfeeding journey. In fact, due to Hypnobirthing and Keri, I look back at my daughter’s birth and think it was pretty awesome!
(Note from Keri- SHE WAS AWESOME)
Armed with a host of books, leaflets and support, I knew I would breastfeed my baby. ‘Lower IQ…. Higher risk of childhood illnesses’ etc etc, that’s what happened when you poisoned your child with formula -that’s what the NHS ‘supporting’ leaflet told me.
As soon as she was born her latch looked good and I thought ‘nailed it’, went home and enjoyed the first few days with my gorgeous girl.
However, when my milk came in on day 4, I was in agony – my breasts were engorged and my little girl was constantly screaming. With only 2 moderately damp nappies, one with crystals in, I knew there was something wrong. I rang Southend hospital who luckily had a midwife free who was able to visit me. She hand expressed my rock hard breasts (lovely) and fed my baby from a cup – because I’d read that you shouldn’t give a breastfed baby an expressed bottle until 6 weeks, I hadn’t bothered buying a pump.
The next morning I had my day 5 routine midwife visit. ” I’m so sorry but I’ve got to re-admit her to hospital. She’s lost 15% body weight”.
The tears started, and didn’t stop for the next 24 hours. By the time we made it to hospital, my baby had lost 17.5% birth weight. She was dehydrated and her sodium levels were high. It was my fault… Hormonal and exhausted I knew I’d starved my baby. No one could tell me why. Her latch was great – “It’s just one of those things, it’s so common, don’t blame yourself” they kept saying as they inserted a feeding tube into her tummy. “Now, which formula would you like us to give her?”.
I’d completely failed. I was a freak who couldn’t provide milk for my baby.
After 2 days in neonatal we returned home on a strict routine of breastfeed, bottle feed and pump – every 3 hours, all day and all night. This took around an hour or more. Pumping, if I was lucky, produced 10ml of milk.
I knew there was something not right so I contacted La Leche League breastfeeding support service. “Sounds just like tongue tie – you are not a freak and you need to get this sorted” the support worker said. Tongue tie?! I don’t think so!! She’d been seen by 3 paediatric doctors!
Begrudgingly we agreed for a specialist to visit us at home the next day. I cried all night (again).
“I would say it’s about a 95% severity of tongue tie. Her tongue is more or less routed to the base of her mouth.” Best £150 I’ve ever spent.
I combination fed for 3 months… My baby would come off me screaming for food, I was trapped in a cycle and she was a sleeper (yes, silver lining!!). There was no way I wouldn’t not give her a bottle having seen her in hospital once and hearing the ear splitting cry of a starving baby. After 3 months, she chose to ditch me for formula… Was I sad? Yes and no. I know I tried my best. I know she had some breast milk. I know she was a happy, loved little girl. And yes, I was a rested, happy mum.
My advice – ditch the crap leaflets that tell you your baby’s IQ will suffer as a result of not breast feeding. They are aimed at those who are aiming to bottle feed from birth. Seek support. Realise that Tongue tie is super common and super undiagnosed. Do what’s best for YOU (yes, it’s true, you are as important as your child) and of course your baby. Formula saved my little girl’s life. I don’t advocate it, but I don’t look at her bottle and think I’m poisoning her anymore. Here’s routing for a home birth next time – and as for feeding, a completely open mind.