I have three beautiful boys who I failed to carry to term – but I did get better at doing that with each! They were 32, 34 and 36 weeks.
My first was emergency C section with me ending up in ICU while he was shuttled off to NICU. I didn’t see him for three days and breastfeeding was not discussed or promoted despite me asking what I should do. When I did get to see my baby he had tubes everywhere and looked too sick to pick up. The shift changed and I had a great nurse come on who brought my little man to me in my bed as I was too weak to get up to him, she put him against my breast and explained the benefits of kangaroo care for the baby and the mum and how it’s the best thing to get breast feeding started. He nuzzled and I “blissed out” having my baby in my arms finally.
We tube fed him my expressed breast milk and he finally had all breathing support removed. We then tried putting him on the breast but he couldn’t coordinate breathing and feeding and desaturated (oxygen levels dropped dramatically, and he would go blue). I continued to express every 2-3 hours and gave the little milk I had to my precious baby. The nursing staff recommended I bottle feed to see if it assisted in stopping the desaturation, which I did. It did help but I continued to pump and give him expressed breast milk.
During our time in NICU my Mum went home and I received a call from her saying she had gone home to see specialist and she had Breast Cancer! My world was once again rocked. After 6 weeks we left hospital and the next week we flew down to Mum (little man had his first plane trip 2 weeks before he should have been born) so we could be there when she had her mastectomy.
My Mum made me promise to go and see an old Karitane nurse as she was worried about me pumping every 2-3 hours 24 hours a day. While very supportive the old nurse suggested gently that I had given baby a great start and that it was very important that I was mentally and physically strong for my mum and my baby. I decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up and went and brought formula. I sat down to enjoy my last attempt at breast feeding feeling quite sad and something obviously clicked with him and he started feeding – and didn’t stop for 20 months!
We were under specialist care for some time, as he couldn’t coordinate drinking/swallowing and breathing for sometime. He was prone to chest and ear infections and bouts of pneumonia and I have no doubt being breastfed kept him out of hospital on many occasions as we kept him hydrated breastfeeding.
Second little guy was 36 weeks and keen as mustard to breastfeed. He took to it after a few hours while in NICU. Despite me visiting to breastfeed him every three hours and expressing in between he was labeled a “fail to thrive” baby. I was made to feel I wasn’t doing a good job with specialists and lactation consultants looking at me to see what I was doing wrong.
Against medical advice I took my little guy home after a week and the midwife picked up undiagnosed tongue-tie on her first visit. We had it snipped 4 days later and never looked back. He self weaned just before his first birthday.
My last little guy was 36 weeks and was diagnosed with RDS at birth. He was in NICU on a ventilator. I insisted he was allowed to be taken out for kangaroo care and I let him have a smell and a nuzzle. He was definitely interested. The next day I begged the nurse to let me try feeding him and she reluctantly agreed (she thought he was too weak). He had a good try and we tubed him while he was having little licks and a cuddle.
The next day he had a proper feed. Two minutes with breathing assistance and feeding tubes in tact. We came home after 11 days and he’s now a strapping 21 month old who still has expressed breast milk and loves boobies!
I know breastfeeding can be tough but long term, providing you are supported and it’s the right thing for you, it really does make life easier!
Big ups to all the Mums who tried and all those who are feeding.