Surrender Your Breasts- Breastfeeding A Newborn
This week is national breastfeeding awareness week here in the U.K. and despite the government pulling all funding two years later it is still going strong.
Susanne of Ghostwritter Mummy is guest posting for Breast Mates, sharing her story of breastfeeding a newborn.Like all my guest post for Breast Mates Susanne found writing ‘Surrender Your Breasts- Breastfeeding A Newborn’ hard to write but she felt she had to get out what she went through.If you would like to guest post for Breast Mates please contact me at alyhodge[@]gmail[.]com without the brackets.
I can’t quite believe that Isobel and I are now 16 weeks into our breastfeeding journey. It’s literally been a case of ‘fasten your girdles, we’re off!’ and we haven’t looked back. At times it is arduous, especially during the seemingly never ending evening shifts. But mostly, it is the single most precious experience she and I will ever have. For that reason, I surrender my breasts.
She was born two weeks early by c-section and with no obvious appetite. Unlike her sister, who had been an emergency section, she was not given to me as soon as I was stitched and I was not instructed to feed her immediately. Unlike her brother, who had also been an emergency section (only this time under general anaesthetic), she had not been thrust into numb arms and forced to latch on with cold hands. This time was different. She was given to me whilst they were stitching me and she was held for the longest, most perfect, moment. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t do skin to skin because of a low temperature; it was more than enough to just hold her and to look at her.
Isobel was around two hours old when I decided to feed her. I’d been putting it off a little because I suddenly felt so new at this, despite having breastfed my other two. Their journeys had been so different though and my son’s rocky road weighed heavy on my mind. I felt- and still do- that I had failed him when I was instructed to switch to bottles at four months. I wanted this to work.
I put her to the breast and she didn’t really know what to do. The midwife appeared as though she had booby radar implanted into her brain and she immediately began to man-handle me. I hadn’t latched her on properly and I was only going to get sore like that. She manipulated us until she was satisfied and left us to it, but the position and sensation felt no different to me.
She slept and slept and slept. She had her last feed around midnight and I spent the next seven hours listening to other babies cry, other mums cry and my own baby’s chest rise and fall with sleep. By 7.30 am the next day, I was told that I couldn’t go home until she’d had a ‘proper feed’. I agreed to express some milk by hand and we gave her it by syringe. Such a tiny amount but it was like liquid gold.
At home, we settled into a two hourly feeding pattern but I was still concerned that I wasn’t doing it right, since the latch still looked the same as the first time I had done it in the hospital. When the midwife arrived at the house the next day, I asked her to check. Within minutes Isobel was latched on and feeding and we had been given a gold star for excellence! That was the point at which I relaxed.
She was tiny at birth- just 5lb 15- and if you placed her next to a baby doll, there was no comparison. Perhaps that was why she fed so often? I don’t remember the others feeding so frequently or efficiently. My eldest would go hours between feeds and was actually sleeping through the night at five weeks. She was slow to gain weight and we had to have her checked weekly until she started solids at six months. My son had reflux and would take up to an hour to feed, vomit most of it back, and then comfort feed for another hour or so. He also failed to gain weight well and was quickly referred to the hospital. Isobel was different again.
She fed well and gained weight well. After bringing her home, she lost only 2oz but soon piled it back on to weigh in at 6lb8 the next time we checked. What a boost for my confidence! Other things were different too. Our bedside sleeper cot meant that she was able to feed whenever she liked and with minimal fuss. After the c-section this was fantastic and now, almost four months on, we’re still co-sleeping and feeding well. We’re also getting a lot more sleep.
Being out and about with Isobel is different too. Before, I’d dreaded being away from the house for longer than an hour in the early days because it would inevitably mean I would need to feed. With my son, I took to expressing and taking bottles out with me because the mess of vomit and length of feeds seemed so daunting away from the house. But Isobel and I have been happily feeding wherever and whenever without any problems at all.
If this all sounds too good to be true, then fear not. The title of this post may give a few clues as to the sheer effort involved in all of this. I have surrendered my breasts. I am at her beck and call every two hours (still) and it can be totally exhausting. Her last feed still takes up to an hour and a half and I miss doing the bedtime stories with the others. But I know only too well that this time shall soon pass. Holding my baby close to me and keeping her alive all by myself is my greatest achievement and something I know will end too soon. For now, I surrender my breasts and I give myself to her.
Thank you Susanne for writing what life is like breastfeeding a newborn.