The second week of Little M’s life has continued to be something of a rollercoaster, although now, writing at the end of it, it feels as though things have settled down and we are on something more of an even keel. However, that could just be because we haven’t seen a medical professional since Thursday! I feel like the whole week has revolved around breastfeeding and Little M’s weight.
I wrote last week about Little M’s weight loss and how breastfeeding didn’t start well for me. Well, I’ve stuck with the expressing and I’m so proud that so far I’ve got to Little M’s due date with her being exclusively breast fed, which was my original goal when I decided that breastfeeding wasn’t for me.
At this point, I actually feel quite comfortable about continuing to express, but I’ve felt quite up and down about it all, not least because of the worry of whether Little M was going to put on weight and how long I was spending hooked up to the pump like a Holstein-Friesian.
Anyway, the rollercoaster of the past week. It turned out when the midwife came to weigh Little M on Monday that the one who’d come on Saturday (and pleasingly told us M had gained weight) actually had a set of faulty scales, so it was unlikely that M had gained weight at all. Sure enough, when they popped her on the scales, she’d only maintained her 8% weight loss from the previous week.
Cue me having a bit of a meltdown as we’d been feeling really positive about how Little M had been feeding since following the three-hour feeding plan. But apparently she wasn’t taking enough and we had to feed her more. The midwife at this stage suggested that we feed her every 2.5 hours and, if she didn’t appear to want any more milk, to leave the bottle in her mouth as it would drain down into her throat and she’d have no choice but to swallow it.
You want me to force feed her?
Well, predictably, that went well and we ended up at the GP the following day as by that point M was completely refusing to feed and wasn’t even waking when I stripped her off and changed her nappy. All very worrying.
Of course, by the time we were in the doctor’s office Little M was alert and even took a good feed in front of her. Relief. The doctor listened to what we had to say and told us that her advice (at risk of pissing off the midwife; yes she used those exact words, yes I loved her in that moment) was to go back to what was working and she was sure that M’s feeding would pick up at some point.
So off we went home and back to feeding Little M every three hours. On Wednesday the Health Visitor turned up and was absolutely lovely. She was hugely supportive and gave evidence-based advice (my favourite kind) about how to go about formula feeding when the time comes. At this point I was feeling quite low about expressing but still couldn’t bear the thought of trying to get M to latch. I was spending 30 minutes every three hours hooked up to the pump, producing just enough to keep just ahead of Little M’s feeding needs. It was tiring and demoralising.
The Health Visitor suggested I come along to a local breastfeeding café – she insisted that I am breastfeeding even though M hasn’t latched to my boob since day four. It made me feel much less guilty about the fact that I am expressing. This was helped further by the midwife’s visit on Thursday – Little M had gained weight! Hurrah! She still wasn’t at birth weight, but they don’t expect that until day 14 anyway, so we’re heading in the right direction.
I’m really worried about formula feeding – Will I mix it right? Will it make her ill? Can we afford it? It’s made me think more about breastfeeding and whether I should give it another go. I’m planning to go to the breastfeeding café on Monday and will see what the Health Visitors there say. I’ve been told that it’s probably too late to try to get Little M to latch now as she’s used to sucking from the bottle. This makes me feel guilty for not trying harder. Added to that the father-in-law asked me today when I’m going to start ‘feeding the baby properly’. I noticed he waited until hubby had gone to make a cup of tea and won’t share my response.
After the Health Visitor left, I resolved to try harder to make my breast milk last for as long as possible. I’ve looked more into expressing and @pumpingmummy on Twitter was hugely helpful and pointed me in the direction of this video. Using this technique I’ve managed to reduce my pumping time to 10 minutes every three hours instead of thirty, and increased my yield to boot! We’re now at the point where we’re running out of room in the fridge and I’ve ordered some breast milk storage bags so that we can freeze some breast milk too.
My only reservation now is how I can possibly express when out and about as I’m still tied to the pump every few hours. I suppose this is the next hurdle to navigate and I’ll have to do some more research as I know there are others who have managed to exclusively breast feed their baby via expressing. If you have any answers or know where I can find them, please leave me a comment!