Breastfeeding Journey – Part One

I want to start of by saying that this topic and my story are, of course, very personal.  I have struggled, not only physically but mentally with breastfeeding.  Please be respectful of the decisions I and my husband made.

As part of World Breastfeeding Week 2018 I’d like to share with you our breastfeeding story so far.  I can see there being three parts to this story, hopefully the first two will be this week and the final one will come in a few weeks.  The second part will cover breastfeeding and mental heath as I have experienced it. This post will be our journey up to today.

Today Aidan is 6 weeks and 2 days old.  We have an appointment at the tongue tie clinic to, hopefully, have a tongue tie division.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Within an hour after Aidan’s wonderful and beautiful birth I asked the midwife if I should try and feed him.  First we tried a cross cradle hold as this felt the most natural.  My midwife was very supportive and gave me a few tips but Aidan didn’t seem interested. Vicki (the midwife that had taken over after his birth) suggested we try lying down.  I managed to get him latched for only a few little sucks.  He was considered a ‘reluctant feeder’.  He was born at 0640, this first little feed was probably around 0715.  He didn’t eat again until much much later that day.

For various reasons that I’ll talk about in a different post, we were separated around an hour and a half after his birth, and between me being away from him and him being away from me we couldn’t have any more skin to skin until after lunch time.

At no point was I prompted or encouraged to try and feed him again.  Of course I’m aware that he’s my baby and I need to feed him but in retrospect I felt unsupported in the early hours with breastfeeding.  He was known to be reluctant to feed and we had had trouble with latching, I’m very surprised no one came to see us try again.  It wasn’t until we were on the ward that I tried again to get him latched.  It became apparent at the point that it was going to take some time to get him feeding from the breast and so I was encouraged to express into a syringe* in order for him to get the colostrum.

Very late on his first night he was taken to NICU where he spent around 24hrs.  In the morning I didn’t get to him until 11am, I was given some support by the NICU staff to try and get him feeding but again in the end I expressed into a clean syringe for him.  The staff suggested trying to use a machine to express so that we could get a little more into him.  We still used the syringe to give it to him, but this way he was getting close to 5ml a feed rather than 1ml here and there.  Andrew and I were so proud when I started getting serious amounts of colostrum.

Once Aidan was taking around 10ml they suggested we use a cup to feed him instead. Feeding more than 10ml with a syringe isn’t very practical. The cup is just one of those small plastic cups they dispense medication in (a clean one every time).  Its a little bit squishy and your baby kind of laps the milk up like a cat would. It’s a bit scary to do as there is a risk they could breath it in and asphyxiate.  I think I only managed to cup feed him once and not very successfully. Not all the staff were happy for me to syringe or cup feed him unattended and some didn’t want me to cup feed him at all and so they would do it.  The number of different people who had fed him in his first few days was somewhere in the region of ten.  We were told in our parenting classes that the number of feeders should be kept as small as possible. Ideally, in a non breastfeeding situation, it would be no more than mum and dad.

This, along with a very hungry baby, led us to the decision to formula feed him on day 4.  We were warned of nipple confusion and told he might not ever latch if we started with a bottle, but we had seen no progress with breastfeeding and they wouldn’t discharge a baby that was only cup feeding.  I continued to express and we topped up with formula, he very rarely had more formula than expressed breast milk.

This decision was so hard and so easy to make.  Breastfeeding him was so important to me but he needed to eat and we needed to go home.  After a quick trip for Andrew to pick up everything we’d need for expressing and bottle feeding at home we were discharged after 5 days in hospital.

Expressing is hard work, I felt like I was doing it constantly, and it was really tiring.  Expressing took about as long as feeding him would take so it could take me an hour to express but then he’d drink it all in seconds. If people visited I would take myself off to express, sitting alone for an hour every 2 or 3 hours while we had visitors was pretty grim.

After talking to a few friends and getting some advice from other mums on Instagram, we contacted a lactation consultant and asked her to come out to our home to give us some advice.  I just needed to know if I was ever going to breastfeed him, I was still trying and by this point it was just upsetting me and Aidan.  I needed to know if it was worth pushing through or whether it was going to be better for both of us if I just accepted it wasn’t going to happen.

The day before we saw the consultant I spoke with my midwife. I asked her if she had any more suggestions for me. She said that at that point it might be worth giving nipple shields a go. There’s still a risk of nipple confusion but he was already using a bottle so he was likely already confused if he was going to be.

On the 28th of June I sat down with him to try the nipple shields, I was fully expecting it wouldn’t work, at least not first time.   He latch immediately with no problems and had his first proper breastfeed at just over 2 weeks old.  I cried, I was so happy to be feeding my baby boy the way I’d dreamed of.  That night he fed mostly on the breast with the help of the shields and only had a bottle on one occasion.

The following day our lactation consultant came round and she was fantastic, she was so supportive of our decision and felt fairly positive there was still a chance he could feed without the shields in the future.  She referred us to the tongue tie clinic because of a mild tongue tie (which, I might add, we’d been told by a midwife he didn’t have).  The LC recommended waiting until his tie had been cut before trying without the shields, she thought he might find it easier and it would be less painful for me.  When she left she said to try and not give him a bottle unless we really needed too.  I think he had 2 bottles over the few days that followed and since then we have packed them all away.  I did try him on my breast a few times and on occasions he was feeling co-operative we were able to get a good latch and even have a few sucks.

There are definitely times when I find the shields frustrating and want to pack them in and go back to bottles, but all in all they have improved our day to day life.  I feel able to go out for the day, not needing to worry about finding somewhere to express and storing milk.  The shields still needed to be sterilised so sometimes things can get a bit frantic if I’ve been a bit disorganised but we’re getting into a pretty good routine.

I plan on doing a follow up post once we’ve had time to see if there’s been an improvement after his division.

*I was doing this by hand, sucking up any little drops from my nipples with the syringe.

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A Positive Birth Story

I’ve been amazed at how many people have said ‘oh it’s so nice to hear that it doesn’t have to be horrible’, or something similar, after hearing my birth story. Some people seem to think I’m mad for enjoying my labour and birth! So here it is, my positive birth story.

I’m going to be really honest, the four weeks or so before Aidan was born were tough, I’d been in and out of early labour since around 37 weeks, I didn’t find it at all painful and I was able to get sleep, but it did make those last few weeks drag on a little. My last midwifes appointment was at 40 +3, I accepted a membrane sweep and my midwife was very surprised to find I was already 3cm dilated. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t see me again. At 40 +5 we went up to the hospital to get checked out, I’d felt as if things had begun picking up. The midwife checked me and said I was 3-4cms but baby’s head was at a bit of a funny angle which might be preventing things from moving on quickly. After a bit of gymnastics including what was pretty much a handstand off the side of the bed and a second membrane sweep I was sent home to bounce on my birth ball.

At around 1am on the 18th June (41 +1) I woke up with my first real contraction. Everything before this had really only caused my tummy to tighten and given me a bit of a crampy feeling. This was much more like an intense period cramp, not painful, just very achey. I had 3 of these before I woke up my husband at 1.30am. I’d wanted to let him sleep for as long as I could and even though they hadn’t really gotten any more intense I felt I needed him and asked him to rub my back. I think we lay in bed for about another 5 or 10 minutes before I felt I wasn’t comfortable lying down. I wanted to try getting in the bath. Between half 1 and 2 my contractions had started to really intensify and I was needing to stop and crouch down to help ease the discomfort. I was only in the bath long enough to have one contraction as I found it too restrictive. Andrew helped me apply my TENS machine and started gathering any last minute bits we might need at the hospital. Personally I found the TENS machine distracted me and I’d lose my flow, I used it for about an hour but didn’t really get on with it.

At 2.54am Andrew called the hospital. My contractions were about 4 minutes apart lasting 45 seconds to a minute, the midwife wanted to speak to me, I had a contraction just as the phone was handed over. She advised me that I was welcome to come up and get checked but that I might be sent home. I had another contraction (3 minutes after the last) and she asked if I’d like them to start running water into the pool… I said yes. We didn’t rush into the car but we were on our way by about 3.10. I remember telling Andrew I didn’t want to wear my seatbelt and being very grumpy about it when he told me I had to. I definitely found it much more comfortable being on all fours so the car journey was tough as sitting was quite uncomfortable, I’m not sure there’s much that could have been done about that, I was still wearing the TENS machine at this point. I wish I knew if I’d have found it more comfortable without. We were at the hospital by roughly 3.30 and walking to the birthing unit seemed to take forever. I’d been a few times before but this time it seemed to be further away. I had to stop a few times to have a contraction. During my pregnancy I’d been worried about contracting in the halls of the hospital, what if someone saw me or heard me?! I was so in the zone I didn’t care.

Into the unit we went and I was so glad to get into a dimly lit room and the birthing pool looked so inviting. The midwife needed to check me before we could make ourselves comfortable, just in case I wasn’t progressing enough. We handed over my notes and after a quick examination she said there was no way I was going home as I was 7cm dilated! I couldn’t have been happier, I think I told her that if she’d said I had to go home I might have killed her. I was ready to have this baby. I spent the rest of my labour in the pool, Andrew holding my hand and stroking my back. I had gas and air which helped me focus on my breathing. Between contractions I was able to chat with Andrew and the midwife, but we all knew contraction time was encouragement or silence only.

We had been to a hypnobirthing class and I really cannot recommend it highly enough. It helped me understand what was happening within my body and it allowed me to feel respect for my body that I’d never felt before. At no point was I in pain, it was intense but never painful. If you have the opportunity to do hypnobirthing do it! I’ll leave some useful links below.

At some point, around 530, the midwife told me that at some point I’d start feeling the urge to push and that we should let her know when that happened. At about 545 I told Andrew that I wanted to push and he called her back. She gathered a few bit that she needed and after an external examination with the help of a mirror that looked like a fish slice, she told me I was definitely fully dilated. Sonia (the midwife) was fantastic, she was really hands off which is what we wanted and she encouraged me through every contraction and gave me the space to let my body do what it needed to do. There was a point I realised I was trying to hold back on the pushes. At some point during the pushing my water broke, which was a very odd sensation, like a sudden gush of very high pressure water. There was some definite discomfort during the crowning, a burning sensation and I think that was causing me not to push as much as I could have done. His head come out at about 6.35 and after another push he was born into the water at 6.40am. I was the first person to touch him and was able to lift him out of the water myself.

We stayed in the water for a little while before getting out to deliver the placenta and cut the cord. I was concerned about the amount of blood I was losing but the midwife was very reassuring and in the end it was only about 300ml (which sound like a lot but is fairly normal I believe). Sonia cleared up and left us to bond as a new family of three!

I ended up having a 3rd degree tear, which I think was a bit of a surprise. It’s possibly down to how quickly he arrived. Leaving my baby and hubby to go down to theatre was hard but the hypnobirthing and all the oxytocin helped keep me positive and upbeat, I knew I’d be back with them soon.

I’m going to do a few more posts about the rest of my experience, I’m very keen to keep the birth separate from the rest of our 5 day stay in hospital. Everything seems worse when you’re tired and full of hormones. Everything and everyone was fine and healthy which is, in the end, the most important thing. But those extra days were hard and I don’t want them to interfere with my birth experience.

My birth was everything I could have wanted and the 6 hours it took to get our son here were so empowering and amazing.

Aidan Mundy. 18th June 2018, 0640. 9lbs (4.101kg).

The Positive Birth Company

Spinning Babies

What is hypnobirthing?

What’s in Mummy’s Hospital Bag

A few weeks ago I showed you what I’d packed for baby, today I’m showing you the inside of my hospital bag and I’ll tell you now, it’s much less cute…

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First up, the bag it’s self.  It’s my Cath Kidston gym bag, its made from quite a thin waterproof material and folds up into a little pouch.  I thought this would be good because the top opens nice and wide so useful for digging around in. On top is a really cheap black Primark Towel for me to sit on in the car in case of any water breakage.  I’ve got another black towel, also from Primark to use after my first shower post birth.  I bought cheap ones because we don’t really have old towels and I wanted something I could just throw away if needs be.

I bought two long t-shirt night dresses (Primark) in dark colours, I think I saw Fleur bought some of these and I thought it was a good idea!  Again, cheap, dark colour and they button in the front to just under the bust so good for breastfeeding, I got them in large.   On top of those is a pair of hand knit socks that I love to wear in bed, they don’t go too high up my leg, and they are a little on the loose side so should be super comfy. I’ve heard people say your feet can get cold after you’ve had a baby (?) so thought I’d throw those in.

Then some miscellaneous bits, plastic bag for any wet or dirty stuff, a notebook and pen, phone charger (we always have a lead in the car) and a brand new water bottle.  These are actually my favourite water bottles, I think they are around £2 from Primark, I have a black one at the moment that’s getting a bit worse for wear so I wanted to make sure I had one for the hospital.  They have a built in straw and are easy to hold so seemed perfect.

A pair of flip flops (75p from Primark I think), for showering in. And then all my toiletries, I’ve got various things for holding my hair back, a few lip care options, toothpaste and mouth wash, body wash, shampoo, conditioner and a couple of face care bits.  Everything I might need during labour or after birth to help me feel fresh.  I’ve also got some nipple cream… Not much more to say about that.

Finally a big ol’ pack of maternity pads and THE BIGGEST granny pants I could find. For my going home outfit I just want to be comfortable, so I’ve packed a nursing bra, some super soft black jogging bottom things and a baggy t-shirt.  It’s not a fashion show, I want maximum comfort (<— see what I did there, heh heh).

Have I forgotten anything!?  My maternity notes are always near the door so we can grab those on our way out, I just know if I move them now I’ll loose them….

A Few Days in Zurich

Switzerland had never really been on my radar for travel.  Not for any particular reason, it just wasn’t up there for me.  When hubby was told he’d be travelling there for work and we realised it fell nicely into the spot people say is perfect for a ‘Babymoon’  we took the opportunity to make a little holiday of it.

Zurich is absolutely beautiful, with cobbled streets and brightly coloured buildings around every corner.

 

 

We spent the weekend exploring the streets and enjoying each others company and it was the perfect place to do that.  We didn’t feel like we were missing out on all the exciting tourist things because to be honest, we didn’t really see anything that screamed ‘if you don’t do this you didn’t do Zurich’.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots to do, museums, a funicular railway and I want to go back when I feel more like shoppin’ until I’m droppin’.

One thing we did do that I’m really happy we did, was visit the highest point in Zurich.  Uetliberg is a mountain which has an elevation of 870m (2,850ft) which is more than twice the elevation of Zurich itself, and you can get just shy of the top by train*, the final 68m is gained by a walk, which we did. I’d like to tell you the view was amazing but as you’ll see from the below picture on the day we were there there was nothing to see.  It’s not even mist it was an actual cloud.  We visited the hotel at the top and had a hot chocolate before turning round and heading back!  Next time we go (because there will be a next time) we are going to do the Path of the Planets.  We saw The Sun and Earth but it was cold and did I mention we were in a cloud?!

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*because I’m married to a train nerd I thought I’d add that ‘…the railway line has a maximum gradient of 7.9% and is the steepest standard gauge adhesion railway in Europe’ [1]  You’re welcome.

The weather was wet and we didn’t get to see any snow to speak of but I was mostly ok with that.  As nice as snow would have been to look at, at 28 weeks pregnant walking around in it wouldn’t have been that fun. (Which is funny because 10 days after we got home we had more snow in Norwich than I think I’ve ever seen in my life anywhere).

I’m a bit of a coffee shop crawler and I was a little disappointed at the seeming lack of coffee shops, sure there was a Starbucks here and there but most of the “coffee shops” we found were actually bars that served coffee and we were normally underdressed for such places.  We found two good coffee shops on the final day Boréal and Cake Friends.

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For evening meals we tried an excellent Italian restaurant near our apartment Restaurant Limmattberg.

On the second night we had possibly the most expensive and the worst Indian takeaway ever: both meals were incredibly salty, the rice looked like instant microwave stuff. It was dreadful.  If we’d sat in to eat it we would have asked for a refund and gone elsewhere but neither of us could be bothered to walk back and complain.

On the last night we went to Burgermeister (Hubbs tells me this is witty, something to do with Burgomasters, I don’t know… You’ll have to google it ) this was quite possibly the best burger I have ever had.  There was only one veggie/vegan option but from what Andrew tells me there didn’t need to be any more because that would mean you might pick a different one and miss out on this one…  The menu is uncomplicated and I only wish we’d been there for a week so I could have tried all of the options.  If you’re in Zurich this would be my highest recommendation.

Have you been to Zurich?  Let me know what we missed so that we don’t miss it next time!

 

What’s in Baby’s Hospital Bag.

I’ve had little one’s hospital bag mostly packed for a few weeks now.  I think it’s fairly safe to say that packing the bag for baby is one of the more exciting parts of prepping for your new arrival.  You get to go through their clothes and select the items that feel special enough to be their firsts. First socks, first hat, first vest.  For me it was the time when I really started to think about what our little man would look like.

As most first time mums do, I’m sure I’ve over packed but having all my bases covered has helped me feel calm about those first few hours with baby.

The bag we’re using will be our everyday nappy bag,  I got it from Amazon.  It’s got pockets everywhere which makes it a fantastic hospital bag.  I’ve got things tucked away so I can tell my husband exactly where to find the scratch mitts, rather than him having to root around the whole bag looking for anything.

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On top there’s a blanket for coming home.  This one was made by little one’s Granny.

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In the outside pockets I’ve put muslins and water wipes.  Will 2 muslins be enough?!  I have also packed a pack of cotton wool incase the hospital would prefer we use that.

Inside I’ve put six newborn size nappies and a changing pad, the changing pad is only there because I wanted to make sure it was in the changing bag and didn’t get lost.

There’s a swaddling muslin and hat in case it’s a little chilly.

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In the inside back pocket are a few small bits that could easily get lost in the main pocket.  These are also items we are less likely to need but that I wanted to pack just incase.

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We are still in discussions about the use of a dummy but I’m packing it just in case.  Look at those tiny socks!

Clothes next,  first I’ve got a selection of “emergency” vests in case we’re in for a little longer and he needs a change of clothes.  Two are 0-3 months and one is newborn.  We packed a very sweet long-sleeved vest that will most likely not fit him as it’s ‘Small Baby’ size, but if it’s ever going to fit him it’ll be on his first day and would make for some quite nice newborn pictures.

Then I’ve packed six outfits, three newborn size and three 0-3 size.  That’s two babygrows for chilling out in the hospital (one in each size), a baby grow for if we come home at night (again one in each size) and an outfit for coming home in the day (yep, one in each size).  I’ve also packed a cardigan that should fit him no matter how big or small he is…

…unless he’s huge.  I hope he’s not huge…

A scarf would bring this together…

I kicked myself when I got into the city and realised I’d forgotten to wear my new favourite scarf. I think the outfit works without it but the scarf added something… I’m not sure what… oh wait. I know. Warmth!! I was so freaking cold taking these pictures!

This is my first real “put together” maternity outfit. I’ve been unconvinced by maternity wear, not sure if it’s a waste of money. I bought myself this shirt from H&M and I’m so glad I did. Putting on a well fitting item of clothing can really help you feel good. I’ve not wanted to post outfit pics because I’ve not really been happy with what I’m wearing, but on this day I felt like myself again and loved it. I’m not going over the top with maternity wear because I still think it can be a bit of a waste of money (except the jeans, they are so comfortable I just want to live in them forever). But having a few nice items in my wardrobe is going to be important for me I think.

Jeans – Jojo Maman Bebe | Boots (similar)- Clarks | Shirt – H&M | Coat (similar) – H&M | Hat -Accessorise