Sunday, 22 November 2009

Breastfeeding, bruised boobs and Biological Nurturing

Warning: Only read this blog if you want seriously detailed discussion on Breast feeding problems! There are some photos in with the text, though!

So, Isla is 11 days old. Today was her due date and already we have several days' head start on life.

I had always assumed I would breast feed my child. Even when I was a non-maternal non-married and obviously non-pregnant adult, I had still in my naivete assumed that I would breast feed as that seemed the natural and better way to do things. I had, therefore, also assumed that it would be a natural process. However, breastfeeding is clearly not as natural and as trouble free as I thought! With Angus, breastfeeding was difficult from the start. I was given little support or advice on what to do and, despite reading around the issue, ended up in an ever decreasing cycle of feeding, pumping, supplementing, sterilising and re-feeding as he vomitted up most of what he ate and had a poor suck. Eventually we had to give up and just bottle feed. I was determined that this wouldn't happen this time around.

Isla, as I have mentioned previously, has a somewhat strong suck. First issue dealt with. In fact, her suck is so strong that it hurts! This is quite normal as one usually adjusts. However, Isla's suck wasn't normal! After five days of intense pain during feeding and discomfort in between times, I started to dread feeding times. Isla was also taking a very long time to feed and wasn't getting much milk anyway. She was feeding too infrequently, sleeping too much and losing weight. After eight days she was still on the decline and I was frantically trying to find a solution or intending to bottle feed. Was Isla was doing, we think, was sucking with her tongue behind her bottom jaw and therefore "sucking" with my breast between her jaws and not between her tongue and the roof of her mouth! No wonder it hurt. When the feeds finished I had red, swollen alveola.

Jo the midwife was baffled. We checked her latching on, checked her sucking on a finger, checked everything we could think of. I phoned Sister-in-law in America as she has breast fed her four sons and has plenty of experience! As she is also a paediatric dentist who understands small mouths (!) I though she could help. Jo, being a person who likes a challenge, phoned around and came back with the conclusion that it was a tongue placement issue but sadly has no easy solution. Jo the Midwife took this information and emailed her militant breastfeeding friends! Their solution: Biological Nurturing (BN). This is an approach to breastfeeding that takes a baby's natural instincts and doesn't constrain them to the "received wisdom" of horizontal feeding with hands out of the way. Isla's hands were nearly always around her mouth, scrabbling at the breast, and generally preventing her from latching. The only way to get her to latch on was to swaddle her which either stressed her out or sent her to sleep! BN says that these reflexes are normal, shouldn't be surpressed and are a part of helping the letdown reflex. Their solution: breastfeed as topless as acceptable (!) and lay the baby between your breasts. Allow the baby to crawl to a breast and latch herself on. All the Mum has to do is make sure the baby doesn't fall off.

We tried this out. Isla took a while to realise that I wasn't going to place her on a milk source and then she was off. She had clearly read the rule book and duly crawled her way to a breast, pummeled with her hands, got milk flowing everywhere, and then "hen pecked" her way on to her nipple of choice and forgot to bite me in the process. She then nuzzled her way into my breast, sucked to her heart's content and promptly fell asleep. What has interested me, though, is that the more she has fed, the more she wants to feed. Whereas Isla was waking for only one feed in the night, she is now waking for two and is feeding every three to four hours rather than being woken after five sometimes and on one notable occasion, sleeping for seven hours one night! Nice in one way, but seriously not good for her nutrition.

Isla is now a happy and relaxed breast feeder. She feeds vertically with her legs on my lap and latches on in a matter of minutes. Feeds take less time and she is awake more inbetween. I am a happy breast feeding Mum, for now at least, and I am not nearly as tender as I was although there is still some healing that needs to be done.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

She's Here!

Yes, the baby was pink, not blue. Grandparents are delighted as she is the first pink grandchild for all of them.

The details:

Isla Morag Thompson was born AT HOME (shock, horror to all my American readers!) and arrived at 3.16am Tuesday morning weighing 7lb 6oz. She is healthy, robust, is feeding well (actually she has a shark like sucking reflex. Ken has offered the use of his tyre leavers to get her off!), and has masses of dark hair.

Angus slept through the whole thing. He was amazed and delighted in the morning when he came into our room and was told to look around as something special had happened during the night. He saw Isla and declared, "Our baby has arrived!" I loved that he said, "our baby". He is totally smitten with her and wants her in his bed, wants to climb into our bed with her in the morning for a cuddle, watches in awe as she is feeding, wants to help bath her, even to change her nappy, and asks loads of questions about her. He keeps pointing out her "tiny fingers and tiny toes" to all the visitors. He is not unimpressed with the presents he has received either!

Angus helping Spare Jo the Midwife (she is "Spare Jo" as "Real Jo" is his American Aunt) wash Isla's hair.

I had a most wonderful birth, with Isla coming out in FIVE pushes! She was born in a water pool in the newly built warm, dry, heated conservatory - I just knew that was a good idea! Then we sat in front of the wood stove in the lounge (another great idea!) with her feeding, the midwife doing all the checks, taking blood tests and then sorting the official paperwork. Isla and I were then settled into bed by the midwife while Ken sorted the birthing pool. He then came to bed just after 6.00 am and were awoken by Angus at 8.00. Breakfast in bed for all of us and a relaxed family bonding time. It was so relaxed and so completely unlike giving birth in a hospital.

So there you are. Main photo taken by Angus.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Just In Case You Thought I was Exagerating...

On Sunday this is what my husband and son were caught doing...

And this morning Angus shouted for me to come up stairs. He had raided my supply of hair things (from when I actually needed them!) and told me that he had made mine and Daddy's bed all beautiful for when we go to sleep tonight. Cute... and creative! He had decorated both the nobs on the end and the entire end with clips and things and was very proud of himself.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Final Bit of Nesting...

Ken loved our log burning stove in Germany and hated (spot the past tense!) our fire place in Macclesfield. It was too dark and overpowering for our lounge and a suggestion was made that as the plastering of the dark bricks in the conservatory was so succesful, why not plaster over the bricks in the lounge too? Okay, but as the fire place is too big, why not take off the bricks? Then again, if we are taking off the bricks, why not take out the old gas fire and put in a log burner here too? But then we will have to do some painting as the chimney will need to be plastered.

So went Ken's train of thought.

Okay, I said. But as I am meant to be taking things easy, I will organise and get in the workmen but I AM NOT DOING ANY MORE D**M PAINTING!

So, I didn't. Actually, I did do a bit, but only an undercoat on the chimney to speed things up for the painter the following day and Ken did most of it.

End result - from this

via this.

to this.

Much better and Ken is very happy sawing wood and generally being Scouty. The only issue is that I now need to train him not to bring the huge felling axe into the lounge (seriously!) to chop kindling on the new stonework and encourage him not to leave wood mess all over the carpet.

That could be a long job.

Monday, 2 November 2009

We Made It!!!

Yes, despite all the annoying and somewhat uncomfortable issues surrounding this pregnancy, we have made it to the deadline - 36 weeks. That was the goal set by the Midwife and now, frankly, she doesn't care if I go into labour. As far as we are concerned, Baby is cooked and can come out whenever it so chooses (providing it's not too late!!!)

Personally I will be glad when it does arrive. I am looking forward to:
Being able to visit the toilet less frequently.
Sleep more comfortably (although I appreciate it won't be through the night for some time to come!)
Sit without having to change position every five minutes
Put on my socks easily
Being able to walk more than 200m on a good day
Getting out of the house and into the hills again
Divorcing myself from Rennie and her little friends
And many other things, most of which are too embarrassing to Blog about.

I am also looking forward more than I ever was with Pregnancy No1 to meeting this Baby. I never had that sense of anticipation when pregnant with Angus. I have said it before that when Angus was born I had in many ways only just accepted that I was actually pregnant and hadn't really grasped that I was going to be a Mum. This time I am totally aware that this is a baby, a person, and I am excited about meeting him/her.

So is Angus! He has already announced that he wants the baby to sleep in with him and when shopping a couple of weeks ago told us that he wanted to buy a present for the baby. He chose a Taggie - because he likes Brown Dog's labels and thought the baby would like labels too! Very thoughtful. He is really excited and loves it when the Midwife comes. He helps her make all the checks and take all the measurements. He talks about what he and the baby will do when the baby comes out and has asked how it will come out (!) and when. He does know, or at least says, that the baby will be too small to play at first, but will be happy when it can play, just not with his trains! He has started talking to the baby as well. I just hope and pray that when the baby arrives, he is just as excited and adjusts well.

Here's hoping and praying...