Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Just call me Clover

Baby Badger was born 24 days early and was more interested in sleeping than feeding. Who can blame her - she was robbed of three lovely weeks' slumber in the womb. She was a good weight for her age - 5lb 14oz - but lost 12oz in the first four days. That was 12% of her initial body weight, which is more than the expected 5-10% that breastfed babies often lose.

The community midwife gave me two options: either try to get her to feed more and monitor it myself; or take her to the special baby unit at the hospital and get her checked over, with the expectation that we would have to stay the night. I was reluctant to go back into hospital, but didn't feel confident that I knew what I was doing in terms of feeding, so the midwife made the hospital appointment and in we went. A pediatrician took some bloods and checked her over, and we were admitted for the night with a written feeding plan: feed three hourly and top up with a bottle, then express, the top up being the expressed milk from the previous feed.

Once up on the ward I was introduced to Clover. Clover is a hospital-grade double breast pump, looking like something left over from world war two (at this point I was very glad I was in my own room). The nurse showed me how to assemble the pump and how to sterilise the pieces and left me to it. What followed was three days and nights of almost constant feeding, pumping and boredom, interspersed with visits from family, but I would do it all over again: Baby Badger put on a couple of ounces and, just a importantly, latching on improved, I learnt how to pump and I came away much more confident that I was providing for my daughter.

Baby Badger is now seven weeks old and 8lb 1oz, so it was all worth the effort! I no longer have to pump to top up, but at least know that it's an option if I want an evening off.

I'll leave you with some top tips from my experience:
  • If you want to exclusively breastfeed and the staff suggest topping up with formula, tell them you'd rather top up with breastmilk and ask for a pump.
  • If you're struggling to get much milk when you express try a different pump. The first one I was given in the hospital seemed to be all about ferocious sucking, but I was swapped to one that had a two stage action to mimic baby's sucking and my milk yield improved.
  • Once home I used a Medela Swing Electric Breastpump
    electric breast pump. It's not the cheapest option (manual pumps are far cheaper, and your local midwifery or Sure Start centre may be able to lend you one), but it was worth the money.
  • Milk yield is much better in the morning when you're less tired.

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1 comment:

  1. Hello. My first daughter breastfed almost constantly for the first few days and I remember that first night in hospital and no one had told me what to do or how to do it. When I asked the nurse she told me to top up with formula since clearly the baby wasn't getting enough from me. It's so insane to suggest that when babies need colostrum and I was producing plenty. Anyway glad you got your way and topped up with expressed milk. I hope motherhood is suiting you well and you are settling into it. it can be tough at times but it's wonderful too. x


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