Breastfeeding through emergency surgery in a pandemic was tough

breastfeeding through emergency surgery

From the minute my daughter Phoebe was born she fed like a dream. Her latch has always been amazing and she gained 1lb in the first week. Luckily, I never had any concerns about her ability to breastfeed. Seven months in and she was a typical ‘boobie monster’ and feeding every few hours. But then something unexpected happened to me which threw our whole journey into turmoil.

I started to experience intense abdominal pain

One night I started to experience abdominal pain, unlike anything I had experienced before. It was so bad I wasn’t able to sleep and trying to feed my wriggly seven month old was not an easy task. I managed to hang on until my doctors opened in the morning, by which point I was struggling to move. Thankfully I got an appointment for the afternoon. The doctor rang prior and I remember pleading with her not to send me to hospital as I couldn’t leave my baby. She reassured me and was really supportive which was a relief.

However, when I arrived at my doctor’s and after a temperature check of 38.1 and severe pain, the doctor had no choice but to admit me. She rang the hospital and after many discussions with different members of staff, it was agreed I would feed Phoebe straight away, go to the hospital and hopefully be out in time for her next feed. 

How could I be in hospital without my baby?

appendix surgery
Expressing milk in hospital for Phoebe

I arrived at the hospital and it quickly became clear that they wanted to keep me in and put me on antibiotics. At this point I became distressed. In seven months I had never left Phoebe for more than an hour. She hadn’t taken well to weaning at this point and was feeding from me constantly.

I spoke with a wonderful doctor who completely understood my concerns for my daughter. In the end, I signed a disclaimer to say I understood the risks involved in bringing Phoebe into the hospital and onto a ward where there were Covid cases.

I signed a disclaimer to say I understood the risks involved with bringing Phoebe into the hospital and onto a ward where there were Covid cases.

Really, I had no choice but to follow my instincts. I had only ever expressed in the early days when I was engorged. We had tried to give her milk out of a bottle and sippy cup before but she became too upset. Luckily her Dad is amazing at picking up her milk cues and was more than happy to drive back and forth. 

I needed to be taken to theatre straight away

Fast forward a few days and I was still in the hospital. Phoebe had adapted and shocked us all by only having two huge feeds. One in the morning and one at night. After many tests, I was told I needed to be taken to theatre within the next couple of hours to have my appendix removed.

At this point, I felt myself start to crumble, but I held it together and went about organising things. I rang my local breastfeeding support group and arranged for a pump to be delivered. Then I called my partner in so I could feed Phoebe before I went down and made sure that every staff member knew I was breastfeeding so as I wouldn’t be given anything that would mean I couldn’t feed after surgery.

I was told my surgery was hours away, but within half an hour I was on my way to surgery and unable to tell my partner that I wouldn’t be able to do that last feed afterall.

Surgery hadn’t went as expected

I woke up from surgery a little dazed shall we say. The operation hadn’t quite gone to plan and instead of keyhole it got turned to open surgery. The pain was worse prior to going to sleep.

A few hours later I was greeted by my partner, Phoebe, and a breast pump. Phoebe fed like a champ and I was able to express for the first time with an electric pump in case she needed any later (she didn’t).

The operation hadn’t quite gone to plan and instead of keyhole it got turned to open surgery.

breastfeeding after surgery during a pandemic
Feeding Phoebe in hospital

Babies really are so resilient

After a few days I was released from hospital. It had been nearly a week of me being in hospital and I was worried about the impact that would have on my supply. Phoebe made up for the time away from me and only on a couple of occasions did she become frustrated at the lack of speed of the milk. 

As always I am amazed at how resilient and adaptable littles one can be, and how amazing our bodies are as mothers. This week Phoebe and I reach our nine-month breastfeeding milestone and it will definitely be celebrated! We worked hard to get here.

share it
X (Twitter)

Leave a Reply

Sign up to our newsletter and stay up to date with

Related Articles

Become a contributor. Register today!

boobingit points:

Whats this?

Earn points for engaging with our breastfeeding community and resources!

boobingit level:

Next level:

Earn more points, create more content and engage with the community to gain your next level.

  • Please use lowercase letters only.
  • Password

Or use: