Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Weight issues

I really wanted to say a big and heartfelt thank you to all my readers that offered support and advice when I was going through those difficult breastfeeding/weight issues. I thought I'd let you all know in this post how the story turned out. As we left off, the dreaded midwife was to to descend again the following day.

I read all your advice. I put out a plea for advice in the BMB forum, and a friend did the same on the babyled weaning forum. I was already in contact with local breastfeeding helpers, as suggested, I arranged my third home visit with them in two days time. A long time, as those who ever struggled with breastfeeding will understand. I could feed dozens and dozens of times between now and then. I called the NCT b/f helpline, another suggestion, the helpful and sympathetic volunteer reiterated much of what I'd already heard, but it gave me confidence nonetheless. She did let me know that by law, I was only obliged to have my child weighed three times in her 1st year. Quota filled then. So I was well within my rights to refuse to have her weighed. So I planned to call and put off the midwife for a day.

But the more I thought about it, the more stressed I became about not only baby's weight, I'd been here before, but the confrontation too. I tearfully convinced HID to call the unit on my behalf, first thing in the morning. A little pressure off. But as we all know, all problems and ailments seem/get worse during the night when you feel all alone, and that's just what happened. Missis miraculously "forgot" how to latch on. Plus, breastfeeding had suddenly become painful again. This was my last chance to feed her up, and she wouldn't feed! She cried and fussed. I stressed and cried. Great for the old let-down reflex eh? So Missis got more upset, as when she did manage to latch and suck, milk was not forthcoming. Becoming hysterical, I fed her all the expressed milk I had. (I'd been expressing due to a cracked nipple for those of you who asked, it was too painful to feed but I wanted to keep up supply). Missis still was not satiated. We had been torturing each other for hours, sobbing, in pain. It was not good. My relationship with my precious daughter would suffer if I carried on in this ridiculous fashion. I knew what I had to do. It didn't make the decision any easier. I couldn't say the word. The "F" word. HID was sent downstairs to make up what I could only describe as "a bottle of....milk". He heard me over the baby monitor sobbing "I'm so sorry baby, I'm so sorry", over and over as I knelt on the bed rocking my tiny daughter, who I'd failed so early on in her little life.

There did not seem much point in canceling the midwife visit, as she had gotten her way. But before she arrived, I did some soul-searching. My son had survived on formula after the first few months. But as a result of torturing myself (and him), I didn't feel I loved him, or even that he was mine, for about four months. He was nice enough, just something I had to feed. I couldn't do that again. Breast is best. But not at any cost, not at the cost of the relationship between me and Missis. So I made a quiet decision. I would attempt to get her to latch on for ten minutes. If it wasn't happening, I'd feed her a bottle of formula. But I'd always try. Since I made that decision, over a week ago, I can count on one hand the amount of bottles she has had. The decision made me relax about feeding, there was an alternative and I didn't need to feel guilty, I was doing the best I could, the pressure was off, and breastfeeding suddenly seemed a doddle.

When the midwife arrived, we found that Missis had only put on a marginal amount of weight. Not surprising really, considering how often she was being weighed. The midwife now insisted we take our perfectly healthy baby to the doctors. At this point, I was quite fed up of biting my tongue, being polite and avoiding confrontation. I demanded she check over the baby thoroughly for any signs of dehydration or otherwise ill health. None was found. I then told her how very upset and uncomfortable I'd felt bing instructed to give formula. She asked us if we'd lied about giving the formula. HID ushered her out of our home, we agreed to see the GP to be rid of her.

The GP was sadly in the midwife's camp. She also couldn't find a damn thing wrong with the child, and said we really should give formula. I was shocked, and stood up for myself this time, stating it would compromise the integrity of my milk supply to give formula milk. She was visibly surprised that a young mum like me had any real knowledge of breastfeeding. She backed down slightly, saying it was her medical opinion, and we should feel free to ignore it (which we did) for a whole week, at which point, the big guns were out. This was Thursday. The midwife was due again on Sunday. She was sure to insist on another weigh-in before Thursday. I hoped the breastfeeding volunteer, due on Friday, had some ideas for weight gain in b/f babies.

When the volunteer arrived, she listened. To our concerns after a previous slow-to-gain baby, what a bully the midwife was, how feeing was going, she let us get it all out, which was wonderful. Incidentally, it turns out the midwife we were seeing, the volunteer told us, was one of the most pro-b/f in the area, she was who I'd have been referred to, should the "big guns" be needed next Thursday. Great. I'd hate to meet a pro-formula midwife then....

The volunteer tweaked my positioning and attachment. The better these are, the more efficiently baby can drink. We discussed feeding even more often (sometimes, she would go 3hrs during the day), breast compression and lastly, requesting a milk supply boosting drug from the doctor. She explained the midwife and GP had suggested formula because it's a viable, easy, available-in-tescos alternative in our culture. Parents feelings and wishes are often not taken into account, but there are lots of things to try before we give formula again, if that's what we wanted. Which we did.

That night I found what I thought was an infected stitch, and the midwives I called advised me to speak to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics over the phone. (it was 5pm on a Friday, I don't blame him.). On the Saturday, a lovely, supportive, understanding friend came round to chat about the whole fiasco. I was just starting to feel good about it all again, when there came a knock at the door. The midwife. To check on my stitch. My friend quickly excused herself to the garden, lest she say something regrettable to the midwife. But when HID showed her inside, it was a different midwife, a lovely midwife, a ray of hope midwife. It turned out the stitch wasn't infected, and she asked after baby's health. I begged her not to weigh, and my voice wobbled as the whole sorry story came out. She looked at baby and was happy. She convinced me to relax. Do my best. If it didn't work, there were alternatives. She didn't use the "F" word. I practically kissed her feet in relief and gratitude.

On Sunday, the original midwife arrived to weigh again. I tolerated her presence in my home, but not much else. She weighed, and was finally satisfied. I didn't take much notice of the actual figure, just that she was on the up. She insisted she had to weigh once more before discharge, on the deadline Thursday, the same day the health visitor was due. I happily forgot all about weight, and started to really enjoy feeding my baby.

Thursday: the HV arrived and I confidently explained everything, finishing with, "so it was just me, stressing myself out really." She replied,"No, actually, it was that awful midwife." I instantly warmed to her :-) She offered to source the new b/f baby weight charts for Missis as a matter of urgency. She didn't weigh baby, and wouldn't be doing so for another two weeks.

Later, the midwife arrived, but it was water off a duck's back. I let her think that the HV was weighing in seven days, and satisfied with today's weigh-in, she discharged us. Thank God.



At 9:24 pm , Blogger Kat said...

I hope you're al still thriving and have put this behind you. Sounds like your HV has a smart head on her shoulders :)

At 10:31 pm , Blogger cartside said...

wow, what a saga. I'm so glad it had such a good ending! I still can't believe that formula gets pushed like this when there are no obvious medical reasons. Well done for getting advice from other sources and following your instincts!

At 8:01 pm , Blogger Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

So glad it turned out well in the end. And so sorry you had to go through that. Thank goodness for the HV and the other midwife. And well done for sticking to your guns. It's so difficult to listen to all that and not have it affect your 'performance'.

I hope that you're able to have a more successful and happier feeding experience with your little girl from now on. Good luck!

At 11:04 am , Blogger Maternal Tales said...

Oh honey - your post really moved me. I'm so sorry you've been having such a horrible time. I had a similar experience with my second - not the whole awful midwife thing thankfully, but the crying whilst feeding, feeling that I was letting down my child. So I know what you're going through. It's truly horrible. I had fed my first one really easily for 10 months and thought I would do the same with the second but found the whole experience totally different. Much less milk, a much hungrier baby, a house move when she was 2 weeks olds, a toddler running around, etc made breastfeeding so much more difficult. I cried and cried one night and so did my baby. Horrible. I persevered for 4 months with the feeding, but I did give formula in the end...and yes, felt guilty about it. Well done you for sticking to your guns. It's awful that it should be such a struggle (with the midwifes especially), but hopefully things will continue to improve for you. Lots of love x

At 4:59 pm , Blogger Cave Mother said...

What a horrible midwife. It sounds like you were very unlucky. I'm so glad it's going well now, and you will make a great bfing supporter.

At 4:06 am , Blogger allgrownup said...

thank you all for your comments, things are going better now.
Emily: i had the same issues with my son, it wasn't spotted til much later though & he lost so much weight, there are photos i've had to throw away, i just can't bear to look at them. It is so different with every child, luckily, i have more milk this time, it's why i've persevered. I only hope that the SPD clears up a bit, so i don't have to give up breastfeeding.
Cave mother: thanks :-) that means a lot! i'm loving the course, and learning so much. i thought i knew loads!


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