My Breastfeeding Journey
by Margaret Money
Breastfeeding my daughter for the first time
When I became pregnant with my first child in 2007, it came as a shock, when I found out I was already 11 weeks and had no symptoms, so it took some getting used to. I was unsure how myself and my partner were going to cope both financially and mentally as I was quite young and although we had been together for five years we didn't live together, and so we had a lot of things to sort out. One thing I was sure of however was that I would breastfeed, I knew the benefits, and it was something I felt strongly about.
When my son arrived in August after a 52-hour labor and an emergency c section under general anesthetic I was in no fit state to breastfeed as I had complications and lost 4 liters of blood and ended up spending a day on ICU having blood transfusions. In the meantime, the midwife fed my son formula and when I met him, a few hours after the birth I tried feeding him but I was only allowed limited time with him in ICU, so he was taken away after only a few minutes of trying to feed him.
We were reunited that evening, but I had further complications and was taken for another transfusion and expressing was never mentioned, I wish I had asked, but I was too sleepy to even think about it. In the following days when we were together again, I tried to breastfeed my baby but he did nothing but scream, he had been quite happy with the formula and wanted nothing to do with my breast, I was devastated but carried on trying him anyway.
Once we got home, I had to mix formula along with attempting to breastfeed as he wasnt very interested and when the midwife came she told me that I was confusing him and would make him constipated by mixing feeds. As I was suffering from PND mainly due to the traumatic birth, I decided to give in and stopped offering the breast, a decision which I have regretted since.
Once my son turned two, we decided we were ready to try for another baby and became pregnant straight away. I focused my attention on doing everything to assure this would be a natural birth (VBAC) and did every bit of research I could. I felt that my PND came about because of my birth experience and I wanted to make sure it didn't happen again.
When my daughter arrived in May, the labor was very similar. The doctor came in to tell me that I had to have another c section as my waters had been broken for too long. There was a risk of uterine rupture, and it would need to be performed under general anesthetic; this meant that my husband nor I would witness our child being born for the second time. I was devastated and wondered how I would come to terms with it again after having such a terrible time with the PND last time.
The only thing I managed to get accross to my husband before I was whisked away was not to worry, and I loved him, but also please dont let them feed the baby until I came back unless it was essential but that I would express if possible.
When I woke up in the theatre, the doctor informed me that there had been similar complications and that I would meet my baby in a couple of hours. The first thing I asked was if I could breastfeed and although the doctor said it wouldnt typically be allowed, he let me go to my baby daughter to breastfeed.
My husband was with her, and the first thing he said was, ''I told them not to feed her and that we had to wait''. My daughter had waited almost 3 hours, and so when she was passed to me she latched on immediately, and it was the best feeling I have ever experienced. In the few moments, which it took for her very first feed, I felt my mental wounds of the birth experienced immediately heal. I no longer felt sadness about either of the births, and it then came to me that my grief had been caused by the fact that I couldn't breastfeed my son, and not by the traumatic birth at all. The delivery was something I couldn't control, and I knew that I had done everything I could to prevent a c section this time so I immediately felt at peace.
Eight weeks in and my daughter is still exclusively breastfed, and I plan to breastfeed her on demand for as long as possible, she is gaining weight and is a very happy little girl! And I am a very happy mummy!!!