Breastfeeding Oliver.

When it came to feeding Oliver I kept a very open mind!

Due to pregnancy complications, we knew that Oliver would be born slightly early and via elective caesarean section. I discussed with the consultant leading my care about harvesting colostrum prior to his birth and we agreed I could do this in the week prior to his birth ( I collected a good amount).

The actual caesarean section went very smoothly and this time we had “gentle caesarean section” it was wonderful watching him wriggle his own way earthside and my mind connected the birth and the baby together (I struggled with this after Isaac’s birth). However, it soon became very apparent that Oliver was struggling to breathe and required support. It was difficult being stuck on the operating table watching doctors and midwives surround my baby but the wonderful anaesthetist talked me through what was happening. Eventually, Oliver stabilised and was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

I didn’t hold or have any skin to skin contact with Oliver for the first 24 hours but I knew he was in the best possible place and receiving great care. As I had managed to collect a good amount of colostrum whilst pregnant I could rest knowing that this was readily available for him.

The next day Oliver was strong enough for us to have our first cuddles and skin to skin. It was difficult juggling the lines and breathing tubes he had but I felt like time stood still for us, that first cuddle was so very precious. Later that day Oliver came off the ventilator and started to nuzzle at the breast. I remember asking the neonatal nurse if it would be ok to try him at the breast and she looked over, smiled and said well it looks like he knows what he wants.

And that was that we literally never looked back. Oliver took to breastfeeding really well. We had a few setbacks, he lost 8% of his birth weight and was readmitted for light therapy due to his jaundice levels but he thrived and I thrived. I learnt to breastfeed Oliver literally everywhere and anywhere. Due to having 2 older boys to run around after this became a necessity.

What did I do differently this time around?

As a family, we had amazing support. My wonderful mother in law moved in with us for the first 2 weeks. This allowed me to fully rest in my bed or in the nursing chair, I fed Oliver on-demand and 100% trusted my motherly instincts. We connected, we bonded, I healed and took things very steadily.

I was definitely a lot more relaxed this time around knowing that if we needed to supplement with formula milk I 100% would have.

Rory my husband was so supportive (he always has been) he knew he couldn’t feed Oliver but instead he ensured that I remained well-fed, hydrated and rested.

Oliver was exclusively breastfed for 10 months when our feeding journey came to an abrupt end. He started biting with his shiny bright new teeth. I tried many things to stop him from biting but they didn’t work and I found that I began to dread every feed. Rory and I sat down one evening and talked through the pros and cons and made the decision to switch to formula milk.

So there you have it, 3 very different breastfeeding journeys. I learnt a lot, there were many highs and lows, lots of tears and spilt breast milk. All 3 of my boys are happy, healthy and thriving and so am I.

Read, research, build a support team around you. Ask for help and accept any help that is offered. You are never alone, I promise.

Steph x

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