Within twenty minutes of birth Emilia was latching on and feeding like a champ. Over the course of the next 12 hours it became apparent that her latch was more like a death clamp and my parts suffered a bit of bruising and trauma. The hospital staff were great and helped me get a better position etc, which really helped overall.
But at 3am on the first night I needed to top up with formula. I was exhausted and had fed her on me straight for two hours and she still wanted more. She only drank 10ml, which is to be expected, but it upset me that I needed to supplement when I know she was just trying to build up my supply by cluster feeding.
When we came home I kept trying, and at Emilia’s first weigh-in she had only lost 3% of her body weight. (Babies are allowed to lose up to 10%, but need to be back up to original birth weight by 10 days old).
I was immensely proud of the 3% and so spent the next few days almost exclusively breastfeeding. I was feeding for around three hours a day, and obviously only have the one side. It was painful at times, but I bought a nipple shield and that really helped the cracked and bleeding bits to heal in between feeds.
On Friday we had Emilia weighed again and she hadn’t gained any weight.
I was devastated.
Here I was, waking every two hours to feed and it didn’t amount to anything.
This news was after I spent most of Thursday in bed, as I couldn’t stop crying. Every time I fed Emilia I felt like I wasn’t a good mum, because I didn’t have my other side. With hindsight (and mostly sleep!) I was feeling terrible because I have never liked formula. I desperately wanted my baby to have the same experience that Evie had, being exclusively breastfeed for eight months, and felt that I wasn’t able to give Emilia that, and I felt guilty. It was a terrible spiral, but Elliott really was amazing, and helped me get out of that mindset.
With the news on Friday I felt defeated. But I had done everything I could, was exhausted, and I couldn’t have tried any harder. In fact it turned out I had developed mastitis as a result of my efforts.
The midwives directed to start supplementing, so we did, and I’m feeling so much better now. We’ve been alternating, and because formula is so much heavier in their tummies, Emilia has been sleeping 3-4 hours at time. I’m rested, healing faster and Ell did a feed by himself last night so I could sleep!
I’ve started pumping to help keep up my supply but I’m glad I listened to Elliott and the midwives. All that matters is that Emilia is still getting the immunity support from breastfeeding and that her Mummy is now getting sleep!!
A couple months ago my oncologist warned me that I might not be able to feed so I’m feeling proud of myself that I’m able to in the first place! Xoxo