Combifed (Expressing & Formula)
My feeding story begins in the confines of the NICU unit of a hospital he was transferred to when he was 6 hours old an hour and a half away from where we live. Noah had a feeding tube for the first 2 days of his life and the nurses asked me how I intended to feed him – I said that I had intended to breastfeed but understood if they needed to give him formula or donor milk i’d understand.
He had tiny formula milk feeds for the first 24hours of life as I wasn’t in the hospital with him (I was kept at my local hospital on IV antibiotics) and I kept begging to be discharged because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to establish feeding. Finally, when I was discharged and driven to the hospital to be with him – I was hand expressing colostrum for him.
Hand expressing colostrum has to be the most stressful thing I have ever done. It’s difficult, you get barely anything out, and they wanted it in these teeny tiny syringes. I remember it took me half an hour to get a mere 10mls and then I knocked it over and spilt half of it and it broke my heart. My son was in NICU and the one thing I wanted to be able to do is give him the best milk.
The nurses in this hospital were FANTASTIC, they were really helping me and when Noah finally was able to feed off me when he was 2 days old, he did so so well. He was due to be transferred back to our local hospital on the 3rd day and he had a good 40min feed before he was put in the neonatal ambulance.
However, when I got back to my local hospital, they were less than helpful. A horrible nurse bumbled into the room and said to me – “He’s starving, how has he been feeding?!” So I nervously answered that we had been trying to breastfeed but if they felt formula was necessary then he’s been having cow and gate. She didn’t even offer me help to breastfeed, she just went and got formula.
That’s when I gave up. I wanted to get his feeding established well so we could take him home. So I began expressing for him. I used to express every 3 hours and would get a good 5oz a time, so ended up with quite a good store of milk – I was always 4 or 5 feeds ahead of myself. We fed him this out of a bottle at the hospital.
When we got home after a week, I always intended on trying to re-establish breastfeeding but for some reason, I just carried on expressing.
Exclusively expressing is HARD work. I managed it for 5 weeks. I would express every time he had just had a feed, including staying up for an hour after he was back to sleep during the night just to keep my milk supply up and to keep a store of milk in the fridge.
When he was 5 weeks old, I went to Ikea with my mum & my sister and I stupidly forgot Noah’s milk. He was hysterical on the drive home as he was so hungry, so when we got home my mum & sister encouraged me to try and breastfeed him again – what did I have to lose! He latched really well & we had a good 40min feed. He then only took 2oz from a bottle so I felt proud that he had fed a lot from me.
But then, I just felt useless and I gave up. I put him on formula.
I sort of regret not trying harder to breastfeed him at 5 weeks old as I think he would have been brilliant at it and I produced a decent amount of milk! He was never hungry! However, I don’t think he missed out by being put on formula. He has an AMAZING immune system and has only ever had 2 minor colds in his whole 16 months of life.