Breastfeeding – the first two weeks



breastfeeding

Arlo has just turned two weeks old so I thought now would be a good time to write about our experience of breastfeeding from his birth to now, as part of my role as a Medela Mum [You can read my other posts on breastfeeding here]

In the hospital he rooted for the breast and latched on (albeit clumsily and not that successfully) whilst we were still in the operating theatre (you can read my natural caesarean birth story here) which helped to let me body know to start producing colostrum. It was probably fairly painful but the delirium of having a new baby blocked it out! Once we were in recovery I put him to the other breast too. We fed on and off overnight and by the next morning my nipples were sore and the purelan 100 cream from the Medela essentials kit was being applied liberally after each feed! I remembered from the first time around to line the nipple up with the nose, so that baby has more of the areola beneath the nipple in their mouth than above, although remembering this tip didn’t make it any easier, and nor did the fact that I only stopped feeding Athena 6 months before Arlo arrived!

I was also having difficulty with getting him to latch onto my right boob, and spent time googling tips and tricks to help. Sam also reminded me of the ‘rugby ball’ hold which is when baby is under your arm rather than across your body, which means the approach the nipple from a different angle which can help. Arlo seems to have a much smaller mouth than I remember Athena having, but then she was 15 months when I last fed her and a much bigger baby so it’s hard to remember the newborn days with her! One of the midwives came to offer some support too, reminding me to ‘plant’ him firmly for each feed, though this method just seems to agitate him so I’ve stopped doing it.

On day three my milk came in and my boobs were like boulders, rock hard, really sensitive and three times their size! Thankfully the little one managed to empty them fairly quickly and they regulated in size, although I still had nipples that felt like he was digging tiny daggers into them as he fed for a good few days yet! I also got little scabs which took about 4 days to disappear.

Around day 10 I suddenly realised we had started to feed without me wincing in pain as he latched on, but I’m still applying the Purelan cream liberally after feeds and being topless as much as possible, so sleeping in an open night shirt and keeping my bra cups folded down when we’re at home without visitors. On Day 13 I had my first ‘leaky boob’ situation, which happened overnight thankfully and not out in public! I am making sure I have spare breast pads with me at all times in case it does happen again though!

However much it hurts though I am so glad that I’ve persevered as it really is such a special feeling to know that your body is creating everything your little one needs to grow and develop!

My tips to make it easier:
– play around with different positions, and make sure you have a lot of cushions and pillows about to prop your elbow/baby/arm up with. On the sofa I have a pillow from the bed to lay him on on my lap, and in bed I have my moon shaped pillow and a couple of sturdier feather cushions so that I can prop whichever elbow up overnight when I am too tired to sit upright properly
– Try (much easier in the day than overnight) to keep good posture when feeding, and sit supported as even though newborns are light sitting or standing in one position for too long takes it’s toll. During a day 10/11 growth spurt I did a fair amount of walking and feeding and really felt the ache later on! Serves me right for not stopping and sitting down, but when a baby needs a feed he needs a feed!
– Get your boobs in the air as much as possible, it’ll help your sore nips to heal, and use plenty of lanolin cream.
– Drink lots of water!
– If baby has latched on and it is really painful past the first few sucks then un-latch and try again, yes he’ll be frustrated but it’s always better to try and get a good latch otherwise your nipples will really suffer!
– If you get the chance and have the time, try and get baby to the boob before he gets really irate (not always possible for me as I have Athena to look after too) but it’s definitely easier to get a good latch when he’s not shouting about it first!

 

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If you’re reading this and suffering, or have any questions then the Siobhan at Medela is always on hand on Tuesdays via their facebook page for help and advice, last week I asked a question about how to help get a good latch with full boobs as Arlo gets really fussy as my let down kicks in and then un-latches and Siobhan advised me to try hand expressing the release a little of the fullness so he could latch on properly, which definitely helps!

In a couple of weeks I’ll start expressing so that Sam can share feeds and I can spend some time one to one with Athena out of the house too, so I will keep you posted on how we get on with that!

 

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Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

A Natural Caesarean section birth story

Arlo’s Birth story – A natural Caesarean section. You can read why I chose to have a 2nd C section here

After having our original C-section date postponed by four days (the longest days of my life, seemingly) we arrived at hospital at 7am only to be sat waiting until half past eight to be taken onto the ward to be prepared! The midwife double checked that I had taken the anti sickness tablets, the antacids and had been nil by mouth since the night before. I was then fitted with a lovely pair of green compression stockings (which I didn’t get in my first C section!) and then it was just a case of waiting… and waiting. The doctor popped in around 11am to check that I was okay to use the same consent form from a few days ago, and got me to re sign it. We were then told we were first out of the two scheduled operations, hurrah! A little bit later we heard the other couple get told the same thing by someone else! I quietly seethed, had a little nap and then woke up to a lovely midwife asking if we were ready to be taken to the operating theatre, as we were first!

Sam took our bags into the recovery room, and dug out the first vest/sleepsuit/hat and a nappy, and got into some scrubs, whilst I was taken through into the theatre to be introduced to the anaesthetist and the other people present (six in all, a lot less than the 12 or so at Athenas birth!)

A cannula was popped into my left hand and attached to a drip, along with some anti sickness medication as I was quite sick after my last C section. Because of this they monitored my blood pressure throughout the operation and topped this up a couple of times. Having the spinal block was fairly painless, I was asked to curl forward hugging a pillow and felt a small scratch which was the local anaesthetic, and then the main injection happened but obviously I didn’t feel that at all. After that had been done I had ECG sticky things attached to my upper chest but quite far to the sides, and on my back too. My gown was loosened and I was helped to lay back onto the bed with a pillow under my head. The table was then tilted to the left, and I remembered to ask why this time! It’s to take the pressure off your main something or others… to help blood flow, much like it is recommended to sleep on your left when you’re pregnant! A catheter was popped in too at this point, again I didn’t feel this and they had put a screen up too.

Sam was brought into the room sat at my head so he couldn’t see too much of what was going on. Once the anaesthetist was certain I was numb enough by using the cold spray up and down my body to check I was numb from the boobs down the lights were lowered, the overhead surgeons light turned on and off they went! It really didn’t take long for him to appear, probably around 15 minutes. The surgeon made the incision just along my previous scar and then we were told shortly after that we were about to hear the waters break as they cut through. Very soon after that a tiny little human was held up and passed up from the gory end and under my gown for immediate skin to skin. This was something that was really important to me as with Athena she had her cord cut and was taken and wrapped up in a towel first before being given to me for a cuddle.

Arlo had an Apgar score of 9 at 1 minute and 10 at 5 minutes. The two songs that were playing as he arrived were ‘Buffalo Soldier’ one of my favourite Bob Marley songs ever, and that blimming John Legend song that’s in the charts (All of me I think it’s called) but at least when I hear it I’ll have good memories! I wasn’t fussed about having my own music so it was just the radio that played. We were all chatting throughout the procedure anyway so it was more background music than anything I was relying on to keep me calm.

I was so lucky to get a midwife who knew what a ‘natural’ caesarean was, and also was happy to delay the cord cutting and to use a cord tie rather than the annoying plastic ‘sandwich bag’ type clip. I had actually met her a couple of times at my local Attachment Parenting group, and she understood how important it was for me to get skin to skin and for my baby to root for his first feed whilst still in the theatre.

You can see the cord tie in the photo below, you can buy them ready made but I made them myself from embroidery thread. It was tied round the cord once cut, and made skin to skin and nappy changes a lot easier, and then fell off after 5 days with no oozing or anything either.

Once Arlo had latched on for his feed the time went so fast, I honestly can’t tell you how long it was from being given him to being wheeled out of the theatre, but probably around the 30 minute mark I’d estimate. Once I was stitched up and had a pessary popped where the sun doesn’t shine for more pain relief Arlo was given to Sam to take through into recovery to geta nappy and some clothes on, and I was transferred onto a bed and wheeled through too.

In recovery I had obs taken hourly (blood pressure/temp etc and still had the ECG whatsits attached) and was also sick once, but as I expected this to happen as it had last time I was more prepared and had a little sick bowl to hand! After a couple of hours I was able to scoff some toast and yoghurt and had a cup of tea. Now normally I would have been taken back to the ward after four hours but the hospital was actually having some sort of major baby-explosion and there were no beds! We were told that some labouring mums were being sent to other hospitals too!

At around 10pm I was taken to the maternity ward, given some oral painkillers and had my drip removed. Sam had gone home to relieve my mum from Athena duty at around 9pm so Arlo and I settled down for a night of feeding (him) listening to podcasts, eating mini eggs and being paranoid that I was leaking onto the bedsheets (those last two were me!) as contrary to popular belief you still have the same blood loss from a C section than you do with a vaginal delivery.

There was a very chatty couple in the bed next to me with a very waily baby who didn’t want to feed, and though I felt for them I really wanted to get some sleep! Arlo slept fairly well though, and I managed about three hours on and off. At 7am the next morning I asked to have my catheter removed so I could get up and about, and being able to stand up and move about freely was bliss! I stood up as straight as possible and really didn’t feel that bad around the incision, the worst pain I felt was at the back of my right shoulder were I had a constant sharp pain, but the midwife and the physiotherapist that came round that day to discuss the post op movement I could do explained that often a spinal block will leave you achey around the shoulders and it had gone by the next morning anyway! I was advised to keep the support stockings on for a week although I’ll be honest and say after a shower on day five I just couldn’t face trying to get the buggers back on again so they stayed off! Once I was allowed home I took paracetamol and Ibruprofen together to keep the pain under control for five days and since then have felt okay!

He looks like a chunk in the photo above but he actually has the skinniest little legs and loves to stretch them out and tense them so you can’t get them into the legs of sleepsuits! He’s still not filling out newborn sized outfits yet, but had only lost about 5% of his birth weight (&lbs 13oz, so an ounce less than his sister!) at his 5 day check.

If you have any other questions at all about the procedure (sounds so clinical!) then do please ask, I’m happy to help if I can!

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Stuff on a Sunday #26

On Sunday we were meant to have a midwife visit but I had a call early in the morning asking if we could come into the hospital for the 5 day check as they were really busy and struggling to get round to everyone. This was fine by me as it meant we didn’t have to just hang around all day waiting! So off we went to hospital with Athena in tow, where Arlo managed to piss all over me, Sam, the bed the nurse and the floor as well as his cord dropping off as we got him undressed! Good work laddo! He hadn’t lost much weight and his jaundice had faded to a lovely pink. We headed home and in the afternoon Sam took Athena for a walk on the Downs with friends so Arlo and I could have a long nap. Monday was much the same, Sam took Athena out again for a long walk and the littlest one and I snoozed some more! Sam made good use of the Manduca carrier too, which I’ll be reviewing soon! Athena turned 22 months old too!

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A family hospital lift snap & Athena in her new ears!

On Tuesday we popped to a friends for tea and cake and to introduce her and her daughters to Arlo, and we also went to get Arlo registered and he’s now all official and real! We walked to pick Athena up from nursery in the lovely early evening sunshine and loved showing her ‘Ruvver’ to her little nursery chums! Arlo became a whole week old!

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Long boarding & pebble throwing!
 

Wednesday was lovely and warm so we headed to Littlehampton beach for a nice walk and so Sam could play around on his new Longboard on a nice straight promenade! Athena is somewhat of a pro at doing ‘wide legs’ on the board and letting Sam drag her along, her balance is impressive and now she gets upset when Sam wants to board himself!

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On Thursday Sam went out for a bit on his longboard again and I finally got started on answering some emails that had been stacking up since Arlo arrived!  Skye popped over to see us in the afternoon which was lovely, and Athena was completely zonked after her day at Nursery so was a bit cranky.

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Friday was my first day alone with both babies as Sam was back at work. Amazingly they both fell asleep on me around 11am, something Athena rarely does these days! We were all in our PJs till Sam got home around 4pm and then we all took a quick trip into town for lightbulbs (my bedside bulb went and I need it to see to do nappy changes etc overnight!) and to the park for Athena to hurtle about on the way home!

Sams Mum and Sister arrived to visit and meet Arlo on Saturday, arriving just after the midwife left (having cancelled her visit the day before, gah!) but Arlo is back at his birth weight and we’ve been discharged from midwife care now! After lunch we walked into town where Sams mum treated us to a whole set of matching towels, would you believe at my age I have never owned more than 2 towels that match each other at the same time? I feel like a proper grown up now with my fluffy mauve towels! We strolled along the seafront so Sam could guess what…. yep longboard again! Arlo got pretty hungry so I had a couple of stints of walking along breastfeeding him which does my back no favours and I need to work out how to adjust the stretchy wrap to allow for easy feeding without having to hold him properly… it’ll come in time I’m sure!

I’m now sat typing this up (on Saturday night) with a hot chocolate. Athena is in bed and Arlo is swaddled up snoozing too and Sam has gone out for dinner with his family. I was planning on attempting to write up a few blog posts for next week but I am feeling pretty zonked myself after so much walking and fresh air so I think I’ll head to bed to get on with my book actually!

For a couple of days I felt bad that I’ve not really blogged much since Arlo arrived but you never get these first few weeks back of feeding and snuggling and cuddling so the blogging can wait a few more days, although I have got a birth story post coming up tomorrow! I am however being a lot more wordy over on Instagram so if you want to join me over there please do!

Linking up to #TWTWC with lovely Hannah!