Breastfed & Combifed
I was always one of those women who said I’d never breast feed because I didn’t want to ruin my breasts. Well, that certainly changed when I got pregnant.
I researched the benefits of breast feeding and decided I wanted to do it almost straight after my first midwife appointment at 8 weeks pregnant.
So when I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, Eva Samantha Nicole Bourne, on 21st June 2012 I made sure I had direct skin to skin contact straight from the womb. Eva latched on a treat and fed like a pro.
And it hurt! It hurt so bad! I was kept in the hospital for 2 nights due to some severe blood loss from me after giving birth. I wish I could say that I had a lot of help and support but I can’t. The hospital staff were great and encouraged breast feeding but I didn’t get the help and support I needed whilst in the hospital. But I managed still.
When I got home, my milk finally came in. My midwife came to visit and do the usual checks and she sat with me to check on Eva’s latch and positioning and she said it was fantastic. Once my milk came in, the pain died down and eventually stopped and I loved nursing, the bond, the feeling, everything that came with breast feeding! I loved every single part of it.
My midwife signed me off a week or so later and I was handed over to a health visitor. He was fabulous! A great help, very encouraging, very supportive and he knew so much about breast feeding. Surprising seeing as he is male and couldn’t possibly know exactly what it is like but he did have lots of training and he was brilliant.
Eva was a small baby, 6lb 3oz born at 41 weeks. I myself, am very petite so it’s no surprise that Eva is small.
My wonder health visitor, Julian, went on holiday for a week so I had a replacement come to do Eva’s checks when she was 5 months old.
This lady was very old fashioned and told me she was concerned about Eva’s weight. Looking back now, I know that there was nothing wrong with her weight, she was following her centile (between the 0.4th and 2nd) perfectly fine and she was having plenty of wet and dirty nappies. But this old fashioned health visitor told me to give formula top ups after each feed.
And that is where my troubles began. And I will be 100% honest and say that I have never forgiven this health visitor for this.
I didn’t know any better back then so I gave Eva formula top ups after each feed, eventually, and soul crushingly for me, she started to reject my breast. Preferring the bottle for the ease of it, it meant she didn’t have to work for the milk and it came out easier for her.
I cried, a lot. I was heart broken! My supply went further down and I eventually could only squeeze a few ml of milk out of my breasts.
3 weeks later, I went onto a forum for mums and wrote a thread about my battles of trying to get Eva back on the breast and my milk supply dropping. I got LOTS of fantastic advise and one mum in particular mentioned using a supplemental nursing system (SNS).
I purchased an SNS, this is a feeding aid, it is a bottle that has feeding tubes attached to it which you place above your nipple, baby latches on to nipple and tubes go into baby’s mouth and baby gets milk from you and a top up of milk from the SNS.
I also took fenugreek, ate lots of oats, had lots of skin to skin with Eva, I went to my doctor who prescribed me domperidone. I hired a hospital grade breast pump and I pumped for 10-15 minutes on each breast very 2 hours. Even through the night!
My supply started to build up, but not enough to go back to exclusively breast feeding. So I kept on breast feeding Eva, using the SNS.
And that’s not all I did. Instead of using formula in the bottle part, I went through a process and met a fabulous mummy who was able to pump off her excess milk and donate it to me.
So I used donated breast milk and Eva got my own milk from me. I was even asked to go on the radio and talk about using donated breast milk, which I did!
I carried on feeding Eva this way right up till just before her 1st birthday when she self weaned.
Eva is still a very small child, she is 14 months old and weighs approximately 17lb. But, she still follows her centile perfectly.
To this day, Eva still has 1 bottle of donated breast milk in her night time bottle.
I really have never forgiven myself for listening to that health visitor who told me to use top ups, but I didn’t know any better.
Now I do.
I have also completed a breast feeding peer supporter course with my best friend, Abby and we are qualified as a breast feeding peer supporters.
I want to help as many women as I can.
Many mums will know this already, but the Health visitor isn’t always right. They can be fantastic, Julian was, he helped me in many ways and was so supportive, through my re lactation and SNS feeding, he was so encouraging!
I must also give a huge shout out to my other half, Ben and my best friend Abby, without their love, support and encouragement, I don’t think I’d have made it that far. I love you dearly.
I exclusively breast fed, I combi fed, I re lactated, I breast fed again, I combi fed again. All in a year.
I am proud of my story and I hope to help and inspire other women who may want help too.