Even after having breastfed two babies, Brooke Shepherd-Wright found her third breastfeeding journey didn't go exactly to plan. Here is the final instalment of her story.
In a not so smooth fashion, our second boy arrived and after being thoroughly checked over by several doctors, we were given the all clear to head to the birth centre to rest and recover.
Having breastfed two other babies, I was needing a surprising amount of help with latching from the midwives at the birth centre, but we were sent home with a happy baby who loved to sleep. In fact, he was sleeping so much that he needed to be woken for every feed.
After his first weigh-in at 5 days old, his weight was down 7% from his birth weight and after a few questions from my midwife, alarm bells started ringing. We began 3-hourly feeds and as I had been able to express a fair amount of milk after most feeds, we added top-ups after every breastfeed too. Another visit 2 days later revealed more weight loss (9.8% with 10% being the maximum before you are referred to the newborn unit), and 24 hours later more weight loss meant that we were sent up to the hospital to get to the bottom of it.
To this day they still do not know why he lost so much weight, and why he continued to lose weight even after the top-ups were introduced. They did every test under the sun trying to put it down to something, but everything came back normal.
He gained the weight back well via the nasogastric intubation and as we were still struggling with the latching and breastfeeding, I made the call to bottle feed him with the hopes of getting home for Christmas.
I hired a hospital grade double breast pump for at home to keep up my supply, which worked wonders (and I still have a freezer full of milk to show for it. Initially I was getting very frustrated when trying to latch him so decided to give it a rest for a while until he had developed and grown a bit. It was mainly from a convenience point of view that I wanted to persevere with the breastfeeding, but I was OK with the prospect of him being a bottle-fed baby because of how well he was gaining weight.
It really was hard work bottle feeding and expressing when I was at home all day with the three kids, and it took its toll during the night feeds too. Somehow, we even managed a family holiday involving expressing at airports and a wedding!
Then, at 6 weeks old, it suddenly clicked and he switched to being mostly breastfed, and only taking the bottle when I was not in sight. He continues to gain weight well and has a healthy chubbiness to his cheeks. Looking at him now, it is hard to believe what we went through, but it was just a small bump in the road in the grand scheme of things. I am not going to put a time on how long I will breastfeed him for – like the others, I will assess how well he is eating solids and how interested he is.
I feel lucky that I have been able to breastfeed all my babies and for as long as I did too. The benefits of breastfeeding are well known hence why I didn’t give up and formula feed early on when difficulties arose. However, I do look forward to the next stage of solids being introduced to ease the pressure and watch him develop and grow further.
When breastfeeding is all done and dusted, I don’t think I’m going to be one of those people that will miss it, if I’m being totally honest. I’m looking forward to wearing “normal” sports bras again!
Brooke is based in Hamilton, New Zealand and runs pre- and post-natal specific sessions. To find out more about her and get in touch, click here.
You can also find her on Instagram.