First week as a new mum
We are delighted to announce the safe arrival of our first P.S… I’m Pregnant baby – Roxanne ‘Roxie’ who arrived on Sunday 30th December at 1.33pm and according to her proud mummy and daddy ‘really is just perfect!’. Nathalie has promised to share her birth experience with us – but in the meantime, she describes her first week as a mum:
After leaving hospital on Sunday afternoon – the three of us came home – alone – our very own family! My mum and best friend were desperate to pop over and the adrenaline was still high giving me energy despite the lack of sleep from the night and two days behind me, so I allowed a short visit. Having finally left us to it, we decided to hit the sack around 8pm (neither my husband or I had slept since Friday night, so we were pretty exhausted).
Our first night was amazing. We had about seven hours sleep broken up into 2-3 hour bursts and woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go. I am the most impatient person there is and was desperate to start life as a mum.
We went to the local retail park as Roxie was so much smaller than I had shopped for and didn’t have much to wear at all. We needed sleep suits so we hit the shops on New Year’s Eve – it was manic! ‘Aww – look at the little baby, how old is she?’ asked a lady in M&S. Needless to say, she and the whole queue were astonished to hear my reply ‘not even 24 hours yet!’
I enjoyed my first trip to the baby room to nurse my daughter in privacy too. The second night wasn’t as much fun and it became much harder for me to feed Roxie as we both became tired after hours of being awake. It was so upsetting to see my baby so stressed out and clearly hungry as we couldn’t find the right position / latch to feed her. We eventually got sleep at around 7am and we were up again at 10am. A nap in the afternoon helped a little and we vouched to nap when baby did going forward to help.
Baby had her full check up at the hospital and had the midwife offer me some breastfeeding tips. The next night was just as bad as the last and I broke down in tears as I heard my baby shriek louder and louder with each breath. I was feeling very sore by this point from trying to nurse her so much, but I kept reading that persistence was key and so I carried on. The next day, I attended a breastfeeding ‘café’ which was ultimately a room in a community centre where a breastfeeding expert was on hand to help. I went because I felt I could do with some more help. After her feed, Roxie burped up blood and I became very concerned before realising the blood was from me. I knew I was in pain but hadn’t realised the extent of the damage caused by her small latch. The breastfeeding lady assured me that there was no harm to my daughter and I continued despite being upset at what I was seeing each time.
Come the next day and I was down to only being able to feed from one breast as the cuts were too deep to carry on normally. As evening came, my non-feeding breast was engorged and I started to worry how I was going to get my daughter – who had been trying to feed off me all day (and the previous four days) - settled and then again through the night with just one working breast with a limited supply?
I felt I had no choice and did what I felt was the right and responsible thing to do as a mother and asked my husband to pick up a box of formula milk.
At first, I was so upset and felt like a failure but as soon as I saw her drink from the bottle, I realised I’d made the right decision for us. Roxie calmed down instantly and became a completely different baby than what I had seen (actually on the day after her birth we did acknowledge how lucky we were to have such a chilled out baby. Over the following days we were confused as she was no longer that same relaxed person). After just one bottle she became the calm, collected baby again and I realised that she probably wasn’t getting enough milk from me.
There is so much about how great breastfeeding is, and while I agree that it is most peoples’ preference, it isn’t always easy and I feel that there isn’t much to promote the benefits of formula milk. I am not a bad person for feeding my child formula milk, so why does it feel like this for so many women?
The next day, my breasts were the size of melons (sounds great – but the pain that came with it really wasn’t fun!) A friend of mine very kindly offered to let me try her electric pump, so that I could try before I buy one myself. This was incredible for me and meant I could still feed my baby by breast but in comfort and I could monitor how much she was getting too. My supply isn’t anywhere near to her demand though, so we are continuing on a combi feed basis. Formula at night (with the perfect prep machine by Tommy Tippee) means we can feed quickly and a bottle or two of breastmilk a day means that baby gets the antibody benefits too.
I am currently expressing milk twice a day, but this might change going forward if needs be. The first week of parenthood has come to an end, but I have learnt so much on the job already. My baby wouldn’t settle and was co-sleeping with us until we switched to formula. Now she doesn’t mind being in her own bed.
I have also found that swaddling her in a blanket is a big help to getting her relaxed and enables her to sleep much better, so I will continue with that too.
I hope my post helps even on person who is also struggling and my message to you is this: ‘do what is best for you and your family’ – and I mean exactly that. Don’t feel any pressure not to follow your heart.
Note of encouragement from Little Chick London: Breastfeeding is generally an unknown entity for both new mum and new baby. It is a little like learning to ride a bike – some people can jump on and peddle away easily and for others it takes a few attempts, a few tumbles, and a bit of trial and error before you both perfect the skill. However, generally, once mastered and mum's milk has regulated to baby’s demand (and this can take quite a few days), sore nipples have healed and baby begins to thrive – just like freewheeling down-hill on a bicycle – breastfeeding can be a wonderfully rewarding experience with rich, nutritious milk literally available ‘on tap’. for as long as it is needed.
Breastfeeding help and support is available – check online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/breastfeeding-help-support/