Combination Fed (sort-of!) – Birth to 8 weeks
I’ve had a very bumpy road with breast feeding. None of my family have been able to breast feed, in fact most are quite negative and have either told me to give up or laughed at me. Before Emily was born I was quite chilled out about the whole thing, if I could do it wonderful, if not then nothing was lost. To be honest, most of the advice from the midwives has not worked for us. At first, I didn’t have any supply at all but the midwives at the hospital would not believe me.
After the birth I was not very well, I was very confused from lack of sleep and too many painkillers during an emergency c-section with an epidural that didn’t work properly. Looking back, I think I was actually in shock afterwards. I was advised not to feed Emily formula and to keep trying to breastfeed her. In my very dazed state, I didn’t know what to do, so I didn’t give her formula and because I had no milk she was effectively being starved. I cannot even believe that the midwives let this happen. When my husband returned the following day, he was very angry and we got her started on formula, although she was not feeding well because of the traumatic birth. Once I had recovered a bit, we went to a breast feeding clinic and the midwife there finally agreed I had a very low supply. I managed to express 0.3ml after half an hour (with help!!).
The midwife advised us to formula feed Emily whilst I tried to ramp up my supply via hand expressing. The guilt of the birth combined with the negativity from my family really spurred me on; I worked hard on hand expressing and increased my supply up to about 10ml in the first week. It sounds so small but for me it was a big achievement. The latch was a problem too, made more difficult by the fact Emily was reluctant to feed after the birth. In the hospital the midwives advised quite a strong approach, forcing her on me whilst she was crying. I disagreed quite strongly with this method, personally for Emily, I felt that this would create negative association. Indeed during the first few days at home she would not come anywhere near my boobs without crying! Eventually whilst working on the latch when she was calm, she started to feed happily.
The health visitor was very helpful at about two weeks after the birth, she suggested nursing before each feed or giving Emily an ounce of formula to curb her hunger before nursing her. So for the first 7 weeks I would pump and/or nurse Emily before her feeds. Even though most midwives would strongly disagree with me, the theory that the more you breastfeed, the more supply you have, is simply not true. No matter how much I nursed or pumped, I have never got more than 30ml a day from multiple expressing sessions. No matter how long Emily nursed for, she has always followed up with a full formula feed.
My milk never ‘came in’, I have never leaked, my boobs have never responded to Emily’s cries. Around the 7 weeks mark, Emily had a growth spurt, she was so hungry that she wouldn’t nurse for more than 10-20 seconds at a time. I think this was simply because she was starving and I had a low supply. Therefore the little milk I had, began to dry up.
We are now at the 8 week mark and I am very torn between giving up and persevering. All my logic says that 30ml of breast milk a day, when she drinks 700-800ml of formula, is just pointless. Plus I have to pump for hours to get that 30ml. Then my heart says that surely a little is better than nothing? My grim determination also says, I will not let this beat me! Whatever I choose to do, I am very glad that I have come this far.
I really hope that it has done Emily some good physically, but I am certain that it has done me good emotionally. I felt so disassociated with the birth, I struggled to bond with Emily at the beginning and breast-feeding her really helped me with that.