Tessa’s Story

Breastfed – Birth – 18months

Right from even before I was ever pregnant I knew I wanted to breast feed my children, my Mum had done it very successfully for all of us and my sister was feeding my nephews beautifully. It wasn’t even a discussion between OH and I, we both knew that was what we wanted for our children, even though he was formula fed from birth.

I had an elective c-section, and have since found out this can affect milk production because none of the usual labour hormones are circulating in the body getting everything ready for the babies arrival.
After Tessa was born, we had lots of skin to skin and about an hour later I latched her on with my husbands assistance. We had been to NCT classes and had been shown the basics on how to achieve a correct latch. The first latch didn’t hurt at all just felt rather odd, but I was proud of how well she did.
What I naively was unaware was the frequency a baby needs to feed in those very early hours/days, I did not feed her every 1-2 hours to build a supply like I should have done, but again this is all hindsight.
Tessa rarely cried to be fed and is still the same now 18 months on. in those first 24 hours I possibly fed her 6-7 times max. It should have been more like 12-14 times!!!
But I was blissfully unaware and we were discharged home, that first night was horrendous, she wouldn’t settle and cried and cried. I ended up on the sofa with her, sitting up, naked from the waist up and Tessa in just a nappy, just trying to offer her the breast and she was so worked up she just couldn’t take it, so over night she barely ate any food.
By 6am I had had enough, I marched upstairs and gave the baby to my husband, who’d had a great nights sleep and said I was going for a shower! I came back to find them both asleep in bed, grrrrr!!! But I knew my baby needed food, I had been so stubborn in my insistence of breast feeding I had no bottle, formula or equipment, so two days after a c-section I popped the baby in her pram and walked into town in the search of milk, the poor women in Boots took pity on me and sat me down in the baby section and showed me a selection of products rather than looking for them myself!!
I brought a few boxes of pre made formula, a steraliser and a bottle. But by the time I got home I had decided to try the breast again, and she fed really well and I topped her up at the end with 2oz of formula and she looked way more content. By the time the midwife came she was sleeping but clearly jaundice and this can be a result of lack of food and the liver not coping brilliantly.
Over the next few days we struggled with feeding and I was very reluctant to use formula, even though I was feeling the pressure from the midwives to formula feed, in fact a lot of pressure was applied and more than a few tears shed, to the point I started to dread their visits. They kept me on the books for the full 28 days and even referred Tessa to the Nutritional Consultant, to which I didn’t attend. I knew the problem was my lack of milk production and nothing wrong with the baby, all they would have suggested was to formula feed her which I wasn’t happy to do.
Tessa’s latch was always brilliant, but I did still get sore, never unbearable but I must have been bleeding because twice Tessa vomited blood, but again my Mum had explained years before that this was normal for babies and wont hurt them so I wasn’t concerned. I never did use any creams, I had them but kept forgetting!
I was slightly concerned she had a tongue tie at the back of her tongue because she tended to feed with a ‘click’ which can indicate that condition, but she was thoroughly checked but nothing was detected.
I also enlisted a lot of help from my Mum and Sister who would sit with me and show me how to feed her and with their guidance we had some really good feeds.
Luckily I was also pointed in the direction of a local NCT run B.A.B.I.E.S  http://www.nct.org.uk/branches/basingstoke/babies which were absolutely brilliant, they spent so much time with the two of us, checking Tessa’s latch showing us multiple feeding positions, recommending different supplements I could take, Mothers milk biscuits, milk thistle tea, fenugreek capsules and domepidone tablets from the Doctors.
We persevered and I gave Tessa one bottle a day at night time of formula, and she gradually gained weight, by the time the Health Visitor saw us for the first time she had reached her birth weight after 4 long weeks. I stayed using my supplements for at least 4 months, I was frightened to stop them, and kept the domepridone going for at least a year.
Tessa had a very steady but slow weight gain and slowly climbed the lines, but always under the 50th centile. I never received any encouragement from the HV teams, only one commented and said she would no way Tessa would be gaining as well as she is on 6oz of formula a day, so she must be getting a lot of milk from me. That comment made me feel really good. We introduced solids at 6 months but maintained the breast feeding, even when I went back to work at 9 months we continued, although my boobs were giant at the end of a 10 hour shift and Tessa always really appreciated those mornings!!
We managed to breast feed for 18 months all together, just very slowly weaned down, until Tessa didn’t even notice when we stopped. I am proud of our breast feeding journey and although some people don’t appreciate my stubborn nature sometimes it comes in handy 🙂
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