Updated: Jul 20
I S A A C
Everything about Isaac's birth was different. This time it was a planned caesarean section, which all went swimmingly smooth and I very blissfully started my breastfeeding journey completely unprepared for what was around the corner.
I very naively thought that because I had ‘cracked’ breastfeeding with Lucas then the second time around it would be a lot easier!! WRONG!
We had skin to skin whilst in theatre and had uninterrupted skin to skin for a couple of hours. Isaac showed interest in feeding and latched on and fed - winning! But he fed and fed and fed and fed some more. Yet he would come off screaming so I fed him some more. I never sore any colostrum around his mouth, but again this can be normal so didn't think much of it.
Due to me having gestational diabetes Isaac had to have regular blood sugar tests. He had his first and it came back borderline - WHAT? So he fed again and the cycle continued. Next test and his sugar levels were too low - now what? I hand expressed oodles of colostrum pretty easily and fed it to him. I remember voicing my concerns to the midwives that although he appeared to be in a good position and latch, somehow his suck just felt different. Everything felt different. The midwife would check his position and latch - yes Steph everything looks fine - carry on doing what you are doing, you are doing great.
This cycle continued ‘feeding’ from the breast, low sugar levels, express colostrum and give it to him. After 24 hours of doing this, I was beyond exhausted and in a lot of pain. I was crying as I knew he wasn't feeding properly. Isaac was also screaming because he was frustrated and probably hungry. I very clearly remember my husband walking into the room seeing the state of both of us and he asked: “what can I do”? My reply - please can you get me a bottle of formula. I was tired, I was broken, I didn’t know what to do. I remember very clearly that the midwife who was looking after us that day walked into the room, saw the bottle of formula and tutted - well that isn’t going to help with your breastfeeding problems!!! Deep down I knew this, obviously, I did, but this was not what I needed to hear right now, I was beyond upset.
So I put Isaac to the breast first and then offered him some formula whilst we were in the hospital. His blood sugar levels stabilised, we had wet and dirty nappies. I thought everything would be ok when we got home.
But it wasn't. For days we struggled, for days midwives came to help me, who were as puzzled as I was. The position and attachment were perfect and how one midwife put it - I had the right tackle!! But he just wasn't drawing the milk and by day 4 when my milk came in - this was very apparent. I got so engorged I somehow had milk in my armpits?!
Day 5 weighing - he had lost 9% of his weight. Today was a different midwife and she had a student with her. The student asked if Isaac had been checked for tongue tie? As a midwife, it is probably something I should have thought of but I will be honest I was in such a newborn fog, it hadn’t. Sure enough, Isaac was tongue and lip tied, not an anterior but a posterior tongue tie. I was told that there was at least a 4-week wait to be seen!!!
So we decided that I would breastpump and feed it via a bottle. But funnily enough I did not have the same feelings and relationship with a breastpump. It was uncomfortable, arduous and I got a teeny tiny amount every time. As a result, we found that we supplemented with formula more and more. I was well supported by everyone around me. But I still felt like a failure. Why couldn't I feed my baby? Why couldn't I provide for him the same way I had for his elder brother?
I will be honest I spun into a dark place, I was bottle feeding Isaac and then trying to pump. But I was exhausted, in a whole world of pain, plus we had an incredibly active toddler to run around after.
It took for a very good friend of mine to visit. We went out for lunch, she sat and watched me struggle to feed Isaac and once home she took my hand, looked me in the eye and said “what are you doing? Look at you? Isaac is thriving but you are not! Why don’t you just feed him with formula milk, it isn’t going to cause any harm”!
The relief I felt was unreal, yes my amazing husband had mentioned several times that maybe we should switch to formula. But it took this beautiful lady, who was also a fellow midwifery colleague of mine to say this. As if it were suddenly allowed and nothing to be ashamed of!
SO that was it. We switched and never looked back - and you know what he is a happy, thriving, 4-year-old, running around the house causing chaos and about to start primary school. You wouldn’t know that he wasn't exclusively breastfed. If anyone asks if I breastfed my answer is hell, yeah we did, for a short time, but we did.
Lets just say that when I found out we were blessed with a third baby, I kept a VERY OPEN MIND!!
Every breastfeeding journey is different, each with their own twists and turns. But the bottom line is that fed is best and I can hand on heart tell you that a happy mummy has a happy baby.