Desperate for some breastfeeding advice

June 25, 2010

Some time after my son had been born and I had been saved by the crash team I put the baby to the breast – and oh miracle –  he latched on and seemed to be drinking fine. So I fed him on and off on the breast that day.

On day 2 he simply didn’t latch on anymore. It was a hot weekend, he was clearly very hungry so in panic we organized a bottle and formula milk  from somewhere on the post-natal ward. For the next five days in hospital my son was either fed by bottle or through a tube in his nose while I was expressing my milk day and night….

I hated having to stay in hospital but I kept thinking that the whole thing had one advantage: At least I could access breastfeeding support easily and I was convinced that by day 5 everything would be sorted…how wrong was I ?

On day 3 I managed to organize a midwife on the ward, who I think specialized in breastfeeding. She came to see me twice that day and both times my son was fast asleep and impossible to wake up.  So I couldn’t demonstrate the difficulties he had latching on.

He was most awake during the night so I asked my favourite midwife of the night shift if I could get some support with breastfeeding at night. She said they were quite stretched that night but I should come out and see if there was a midwife in the reception area who could help when I needed them. Guess what ? I was too tired at night to go midwife-hunting on the ward so I just continued to struggle on my own  – unsuccessfully – that night.

On day 4 we had a lovely volunteer from La Leche League coming to see us just after my son had his feed. She gave me useful tips about expressing milk and recommended skin-to-skin contact. So I had lots of skin-to-skin with my son this morning and when she came back a few hours later he was fast asleep and impossible to wake up. No chance of trying to get him to latch on.

I was completely and utterly exhausted. That afternoon I asked my husband to phone the NCT breastfeeding helpline but there was only a voicemail asking to leave a message. He left one but when they phoned back I missed their call and couldn’t face to leave another message just to miss their next call again because I didn’t have much time answering the phone in the hospital. So I left it at that.

On day 5 I send my partner out to get a midwife 30 minutes before my son was due his feed to ask if she could come to help me. Unfortunately she was busy with other mums and despite repeated requests if she couldn’t come now while he was awake and struggling at the breast she only managed to come when I had given up the breast wrestling and my son had his bottle.

We were off home that afternoon and when my community midwife came round the next day I finally had a midwife observing the difficulty my son had latching on. She told me that my posture was fine and at this stage I really needed the specialist support of the Haringey Breastfeeding Co-ordinator or the midwife specialising in breastfeeding. She said that due to my difficult birth I would clearly benefit from a home visit but resources were overstretched. She would try and see if one of the two could come and see me at home but she couldn’t promise anything.

So I struggled on  for a few days on my own. On her last visit to my house my midwife said she wasn’t sure if a home visit would work out and the best thing I could do would be to get myself to one of the Breastfeeding Support Group …and no …there wasn’t any in the Wood Green area, where I live. And yes it’s a disgrace and many new mothers in Wood Green had difficulty in accessing breastfeeding support.

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