Friday, 6 September 2013

Overcoming Breastfeeding Difficulties

Four weeks ago today, we were blessed by the arrival of my beautiful new daughter and you can read her birth story here

Sadly, because of my diabetes, I had trouble stabilising her blood sugars with just breast milk alone and as I couldn't get any breast milk to leak from my breasts, we were unsure as to whether I was producing any colostrum even though she had a good latch and was nursing quite happily. 

It got to the point where at one point she was taken to the Special Baby Care Unit (SCBU) and almost put on a glucose drip. However the paediatrician decided to try giving her formula top-ups to try and stabilise her sugars and by this point I was willing to try anything to keep her healthy and out of SCBU. 

One night I hit my lowest point when the paediatrician ordered her to be put on 2 hourly formula feeds and I just starting crying. I felt like such a failure because I couldn't feed my own daughter and I wondered how I was supposed to feed her myself if she was having formula every 2hrs.

Finally I was thrilled to find that milk was at last coming out of my breasts and I felt happy knowing I was producing some milk. I was so sure that things would be better and that her sugar levels would stabilise as she was actually getting some milk and we would be home before we knew it.

Sadly, my hopes were quickly shattered. 

After spending all morning feeding her little and often, the midwife took her away to test her blood sugars. She came back with the news that they were still too low and she needed some more formula. I had been so sure that now I was actually producing milk, everything would be ok, and to find out it wasn't was heart breaking and I made the difficult decision to give her bottles from then on. The midwives were sympathetic and told me not to feel bad as I had done my best and as she was now a bottle fed baby and her sugars had stabilised we were finally discharged.

I kept telling myself that for different reasons my eldest two were also bottle fed and that they had turned out ok. In fact I began to wonder whether I had suffered the same problem with my eldest daughter, my second born, as I had given up breastfeeding after spending 7hrs with her on the breast only for her to drink 2oz of formula! However I had breastfed my 3rd and 4th for almost three years and I had fully expected to be able to do so with my 5th.

It didn't help that I was so far from home and under pressure to go home as my other children were missing me and hubby was discovering what hard work 4 children were when he wasn't escaping to work!

Once hubby and the tribe arrived with the car seat we were finally discharged and after registering her birth we made our way to Tesco to buy bottles, formula and a steriliser as I had been so determined to breastfeed I hadn't bought any. 

Once we arrived home, I was still unhappy about bottle feeding her, especially as milk was leaking from my breasts and I decided that as long as she had some formula then surely it would be ok to breastfeed her as well. I felt so much happier once I'd made this decision and I thought I'd give her two bottles a day, one in the morning and one at bedtime, and breastfeed on demand in between. 

I spoke to the midwife the following day when she came to visit, and the midwife was happy with my decision as I was giving her the best of both worlds, the sugar of the formula and the health benefits of the breastmilk. She weighed the baby and her weight had dropped from 7lb 11oz at birth to 7lb 5oz but since she hadn't lost more than 10% of her birth weight she was happy with her.

A few days later we set off on holiday to Evesham near Stratford Upon Avon. We arrived at the caravan and discovered that the steriliser didn't fit into the microwave.  We went into Evesham to see what we could buy and found that Tesco were selling pre-made bottles with a teat, they were quite expensive but they were what I'd been using in hospital and it was the only way we could give her a bottle. 

A few days later, the baby decided to take things into her own hands and began refusing the bottle. I would spend almost an hour trying to coax her to drink it, but would be lucky to get her to drink more than 5-10mls and ended up throwing most of the expensive milk away, yet she would happily nurse whenever I offered her the breast.

After a couple of days I was worried about her sugars and decided to use my own blood glucose machine to test her blood. In hospital they had told me she wouldn't be discharged unless her sugars were over 2.6, so using that as a guide I pricked her foot and tested her sugars. Nervously I waited for the result... It was a FANTASTIC 5.0 on just breastmilk alone.

Now I happily breastfeed my youngest daughter, knowing that her sugars are ok and feel proud of myself for not giving up when the odds seemed against me!


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