It was never my intention to end up exclusively pumping for my little boy, but four months in that is what we are doing. After what was a tiring birth, we didn’t get off to the best start with breastfeeding. When Seth began to show signs of dehydration we were re-admitted back to hospital and exclusive breastfeeding soon went out the window.
My son and I were worn out after the birth
My son Seth was born by ventouse after a very quick labour caused by a placenta abruption. He and I were absolutely worn out in the few days after birth.
Although he seemed to latch fine, he kept falling asleep within a couple of minutes feeding and he struggled to get enough milk. This meant that by day 3 he had lost 11% of his body weight and was showing signs of dehydration.
By day 3 he had lost 11% of his body weight and was showing signs of dehydration.
We were admitted back into hospital and after 24 hours and a chat with a feeding consultant, we made the move to combination feeding.
The plan of action was to offer a breastfeed, followed by expressed milk and then finally a formula top-up. Despite efforts to be exclusive breastfeeding, we have remained mainly at express feeding due to my anxiety around Seth not getting enough milk.
Feeding by bottle gave me the reassurance he was getting enough milk
In those early days I was just so scared because I didn’t know if Seth was getting enough. With a bottle I can clearly see that he has taken in some milk. I currently provide around 500ml of breastmilk a day, any remaining feeds are offered with formula but even 16 weeks in my supply is on the up.
Once Seth starts on solids I hope I can just drop the formula feeds and enjoy some time just express feeding my baby.
The first few days I remember celebrating 35ml after 30 minutes of pumping on each side. It seemed like a lot after the first 48 hours of pumping 8x a day to get just 20ml both sides. That 35ml was half a feed and really spurred me on. Maybe I’d get to a full feed soon enough!
The first few days I remember celebrating 35ml after 30 minutes of pumping on each side. It seemed like a lot after the first 48 hours of pumping 8x a day to get just 20ml both sides.
Sending back the formula prep machine was a good feeling
We’d bought a formula prep machine on Amazon whilst we’d been back in hospital and it was sat in our lounge in the delivery box still. We made the decision to send it back and pursue exclusively pumping as an alternative to giving up the breastfeeding journey… sending that back was a real victory.
Looking back, I wish I knew that it was ok to pump if needed. I was discharged from hospital with the words ‘I’m not worried about you because I know you can hand express’ but I barely got anything from doing that. I could have tried pumping as soon as my milk came in and topped up his feeds with my milk. He may have avoided re-admission. I also wish I knew that my nipples were flatter than average and some advice to draw them out before birth. If I had a more effective latch from day one that may have made all the difference.
Midwife support could have made all the difference
Midwife support is absolutely crucial. My baby was born on a super busy day and the aftercare we received was very limited for that reason. My midwife was due to visit on day 1 but she rang instead. As a first-time mum breastfeeding I cannot emphasise enough time importance of that visit. I had no confidence, a million questions and I needed someone to tell me I was doing a good job who knew what they were doing.
My midwife was due to visit on day 1 but she rang instead. As a first-time mum breastfeeding I cannot emphasise enough time importance of that visit.
The early days are absolutely vital and there shouldn’t be a compromise of care. Midwife’s need more support to support us.
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