My breastfeeding story Part 1: The first hour
I’ve been writing a lot about breastfeeding recently, so I think it’s about time I told my story about feeding Little Man. Breastfeeding was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It wasn’t easy – God knows, I considered quitting at least once a day for the first two months! I’ve tried to write this story before, but I’ve never quite known how to tackle it. It’s not a chapter of my life that can be retold in a few hundred words. After all, it took up seven months of my life!
So I think the best way to approach this story, is to start at the start and work from there. If you’re reading the title of this post and freaking out that I’m going to write an hour-by-hour recounting, don’t worry! I won’t! I’m just starting with the first hour because so many breastfeeding resources talk about how getting the baby to feed in the first hour can set you up for a good breastfeeding experience.
I didn’t do much to prepare for breastfeeding. I read a couple of chapters in my pregnancy books – but it all seemed pretty straightforward. And I read a few articles online. To be honest, I was expecting it to be easy. Whenever I thought about it, one of my Gentlebirth mantras popped into my head “My body knows just what to do.” And I thought that was that. It’s a natural process, and when the time came, my body and my baby would know what to do. I was hoping to have a drug-free birth, and everything I read said that this would result in the baby being more wakeful when it was born. I had images of my baby latching on within minutes of birth, and me sitting there all Madonna-and-child like, feeding the baby.
Well I had my drug-free birth. But Little Man was still extremely sleepy after the birth. The whole thing happened very fast – less than ten hours from the first cramp to him being born. I think he might have been in a little bit of shock at his new circumstances. Plus he was almost two weeks early, and although that’s technically full term, he was still under 7lbs in weight. I now know that babies under 7lbs may be sleepier, may have a harder time feeding, and will most likely need to feed more often in the early days.
As soon as Little Man was born, the midwife handed him up to me, and I cradled him on my stomach. He was so tiny! I was overwhelmed holding him. I remember his face was turned downwards, away from me, and I couldn’t see it. I really wanted to see what he looked like, but I couldn’t move him because I didn’t have a clue how to hold or handle a newborn. All thoughts of latching him on and feeding him went out of my head – I just stared at him, and at hubbie, and back at him again. He was about 15 minutes old before I eventually saw his face! By that stage, he was sound asleep, which is how he spent most of the first day.
None of the medical staff suggested attempting to feed him, and I didn’t try. As soon as I was stitched up, one of the midwives took Little Man to check him out, while another led me down to have a shower. After about an hour, we were taken up to the ward, where we would spend the next few days. Still no feeding…
Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll write about our hospital stay.