Friday, 15 March 2013

When is breast not best?

I'm a firm believer in breastmilk being perfect for babies.  Honestly.

I'm also a firm believer that, in some cases, exclusive breastfeeding just isn't a viable option.

That's Sonny up there.  Just over 48 hours old, with yellow-tinged skin and a gunky eye.

Sonny liked to feed, constantly.  Born at 8lbs 13oz, he was a hungry boy, and his feeds produced a lot of milk, so there was never an issue.

With Jasmine, however, it was a different story.

She was a healthy 7lbs 2oz at birth, and fed immediately, but then didn't, for hours.  Ten hours after her first feed, the midwife came to me, to wake her, saying she must feed now. 

Jasmine wasn't interested.

She fed later that night, briefly.

She never seemed to feed for long - she would fall asleep before any great length of time, then wake again 20 minutes later, screaming as though I was starving her.

I think I was.

I wanted to breastfeed.

I wanted to do for my baby the one thing that I thought I should be able to do.

I thought there were no excuses.

Jasmine dropped to 6lbs 5oz shortly after her birth.

Not a big deal, we were told.

The problem was, she didn't put it back on.

For two weeks, I fed her all by myself, and she didn't put on the tiniest bit of weight.

I was given a pump to express milk.

After two hours, I barely had an ounce.

I was heartbroken.

And tired, stressed, upset.

James thought we should give her formula; to him, it was obvious.

I resisted; said I wanted to keep trying, a little longer.

We took Jasmine to be weighed and she was no heavier than before. 

The midwives looked at me and said I was absolutely doing the right thing.

That's when I had doubts.

I looked at my baby, my tiny, skinny baby.

I looked at her and no longer thought breast is best - not for her.  Not for us.

They sent us to the hospital for tests.

I remember watching James hold our tiny daughter in a mixing bowl, waiting to catch a urine sample.

That evening, she had her first top-up feed and slept for four hours straight - longer than she had since the day she was born.

The tests came back clear.

From then on, she thrived.

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