I wasn’t going to write about this plainly ‘coz I thought I’d bore the socks off everyone – but after receiving lots of emails about the topic and urges from new mothers to share, I thought I’d put it down in writing.
Here is my story about Milk.
After I had birthed, I ruminated about getting back in shape and got a couple of comments from existing mothers about focusing on my milk supply etc. It was a touchy topic and I might have come off as quite sensitive and defensive about the issue.
The truth is I was having major issues at the time and hadn’t quite gotten to grips with everything. I was suffering from major guilt that I couldn’t let go of and I suppose I was afraid of what others might think.
(It’s weird what silly emotions you deal with when you’re a first time mum.)
The honest fact is that breastfeeding hadn’t worked out for me as I had planned.
I had completely prepared myself for birth: I had Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. I went in with the mentality that I would go with the flow and go with whichever plan that would get baby out safely. I had flexibility in this.
But this wasn’t the same with my attitude to breastfeeding. My Plan A was all I had and this was to feed for six months to a year of Naomi’s life. I did not stock any formula in the house and I had bought one of the most expensive Medela pumps on the market, in anticipation of how I would manage when I went back to work.
I envisioned myself pumping in the office during my lunch hour and filling the pantry’s fridge with bottles of milk, like most mums that I know.
But this wasn’t to be.
Everything had gone smoothly from Day One. Baby was born weighing okay, no jaundice, latched on alright after skin-to-skin contact etc. For a week, I breastfed fine. She ate and slept fine and I thanked God for my healthy bundle of joy.
But on Day Six, I started to bleed quite excessively. Obviously worried, I called my OB for an emergency appointment and she saw me first thing on a Sunday morning. She scanned me and said I looked alright, but told me to monitor my bleeding. She told me to head to the A&E if the bleeding got too much for me to handle.
That day, the bleeding seemed to subside and by night, I felt fine. I went to bed a happy mummy. But in the middle of the night, I woke up feeling like I had wet myself. Dazed and confused, I realized I had actually bled myself awake.
To cut the long and gory story short, I bled so much that I fainted on the husband. Twice. Thankfully, he held me right before I blacked out both times and realizing the situation had become serious, he called for an ambulance and I got admitted to the hospital for four days.
As soon as I got in, I was put on an anti-biotic drip to prevent infection. I wasn’t able to feed Naomi for the entire length of my stay and I was put on oral anti-biotic after being discharged, so I couldn’t feed her for a further six days after. She had to go on formula.
That really sucked. I felt horrible the entire time and like I was a failure. Every time I pumped out the milk and dumped it, I felt like it was such a waste and I hoped she would latch back okay once the whole ordeal was over. I also went for outpatient surgery to get some leftover placenta out of my uterus (which may have caused the bleeding) so the whole affair was very upsetting and I was very emotional.
I kept wondering if I had done something to have caused the bleeding, i.e. strained myself etc. As such, the entire time I was in hospital I wouldn’t take any visitors. I didn’t tell anyone I was there until I got out.
I kept blaming myself for the whole thing.
Thankfully, once I was able to feed again Naomi immediately suckled and took to the breast. I was so happy to feed her again! I kept her on pure breast milk for about 12 days after that… However, each day was a struggle. She would scream and cry despite being on the breast almost 24/7.
My mother and mother-in-law suggested that perhaps my milk supply wasn’t kicking in and that I should supplement with formula. But I was insistent! I had soups four times a day, I drank milk about three times a day, I was eating as much as I could to make sure my body could be as cow-like as possible. I didn’t exercise either. I just did what everyone told me I should do. I took Fenugreek and I had longan and red date tea coming out of my ears.
But she kept screaming.
Was it colic? I was so desperate one evening that I took her to the pediatrician and this was when I discovered that she was actually underweight. The paed gave me some tablets to help with my supply too… Ginny the Doula came over and taught me how to hand express to stimulate the breasts, which I did heaps after but still…..
I was distraught. Everytime Naomi cried I felt like I was hurting her. So to save my sanity, I gave her a tiny bit of formula and….
She stopped crying. She looked around the room curiously like someone had given her a new face. ‘Oh my goodness,’ I thought. ‘Have I been starving her?’
From then on, I supplemented with formula. Each time she needed to feed, I’d suckle her first and let her have whatever I could produce. When she sounded frustrated, I knew I was empty and then I would give her formula on top of what she had already had.
The next time I took her to the paed, I was told her weight gain was now normal. Thank goodness!
Obviously it wasn’t long before I completely dried up naturally. I didn’t even have to try to wean.
It was after I completely dried up that I decided to start my exercise regime. And I am a whole lot happier now and sooo over the guilt of not breastfeeding anymore.
At first I still felt really crappy about how it all went, but you know what?
Once I let go of all the guilt, I realized that I am a much better mother now. Naomi cried a lot more when I was stressing over feeding her but now she smiles and giggles more because her mummy smiles and laughs a lot more around her.
And I’ve come to the realization that, well……
That’s all that matters.