Categories
Motherhood Oh Me, Oh Mãe

Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding, Whatever Feeding (26th June 2020)

Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding, Whatever Feeding (26th June 2020)
 
#ItHasBeenOver2WeeksSinceIGaveBirthToBAt37WeeksAnd5Days
#ILearnedHowToExpressAndBottleFeedInTheHospital
#ThoughInHospitalIUsedAMachineThatINicknamedTheBeast
#ItWasMassiveAndYouCouldExpressColostrumWithIt
#AnywaysILikeExpressingAsItMakesMeFeelLessStressed
#WithBreastfeedingSometimesItJustGoesOnAndOnAndMyNipplesGetSuperSore
#ThoughIAmTryingToBreastfeedHerABitMoreAsSometimesIForgetThatIDoNotHaveToRunToTheFridge
#OrWeCanStartThatWayWhilstTiagoRunsToTheFridge
#OrICanBreastfeedUntilIGetFedUpOrWantToSleepThenTiagoCanContinueWithTheBottle
#ThisMorningSheWokeUpAt6SoIDecidedToBreastfeedHerInTheOtherRoomToLetTiagoSleep
#WeAlsoHaveAChangingStationSetUpInTheBedroomAndOneInTheLivingRoomToSaveHassle
#AnywaysIHaveABreastPumpThatAFriendGaveMe
#IWasNotSureIfIWouldExpressButAfterUsingOneInHospitalIWasGladToComeHomeToIt
#IfIHadNotBeenInHospitalForSoLongThenIWouldNotHaveBeenConfidentWithBottlefeeding
#WeHaveTeatsThatAreForBreastfeedingBabies
#SoInsteadOfTheMilkJustGushingFromTheBottleTheyHaveToWorkForItLikeTheyDoFromTheBoob
#IAmNotSureWhetherToSayBoobOrBreastButBoobSoundsMoreCasualAndILikeCasual
#ThenOnTheOtherBoobIHaveASiliconeManualBreastPump
#ItSuctionsOnAndOnceMilkStartsFlowingFromTheOneBoobItWillAlsoStartFromTheOther
#IAlsoUseItWhenBreastfeedingAsItDoesTheSameJob
#ItIsJustABitDifficultToPutItOnIfSheIsLyingAcrossMeSoIUsuallyRugbyBallHoldHer
#BreastfeedingCanBeALotMessierIfIDoNotUseItAsOftenSheWillBeSoakedFromALeakyBoobEvenIfIHavePadsIn
#ThePumpAttachesToClothesSoItIsGreatForAttachingToMyPantsAsItIsSoHotAtTheMoment
#OfCourseTheBatteryRanOutForTheFirstTimeInTheMiddleOfTheShootSoIHadToPlugItIn
#PeopleCallingToCheckOnUsAreALittleJudgementalAboutHowIWantToFeedHer
#AfterMyHospitalExperienceICanSeeWhyPeopleGiveUpWithBreastfeedingOrNeverStart
#IAmLuckyAsICameHomeConfidentWithBreastfeedingExpressingAndBottleFeedingButSomePeopleDoNotGetAllThatHelp
#AndWithThePandemicThereIsLessFaceToFaceHelp
#AlsoWhenYourMilkIsFlowingYouCanBleedSoIBoughtSomeReusablePadsWhichWillComeInHandyWhenIHaveToFaceMyPeriodAgain
#AWeirdSideEffectOfBreastfeedingAndHavingABabyIsThatIAmMoreAmbidextrousNowAsMyLeftHandAndArmAreGettingStronger

In my previous post there is a photo of my crying whilst pumping/expressing. I think I already had this post’s picture in mind before taking that one, but they are quite different looking pictures so I don’t think it matters that they are next to each other chronologically. This one is almost like a mugshot and has little emotion, though I feel more exposed in it.

Well I guess I am showing more of my body so it makes sense. I’ve just seen an Instagram message from a guy asking if he can send me a picture of his semen, so posting pictures like this does worry me. Yes, I’m showing parts of my boobs and talking about them a lot, but it’s not in a sexual way. I know that people don’t need an excuse to send gross messages, but seriously the most recent posts in my feed are me crying, me feeling shit, me singing to my baby, my husband with my baby, me dancing with my baby and my post-partum belly. Which part of that screams ‘please ask me if I want to see photos of your semen’?

(He’s since deleted the messages, but I screenshotted them. For anyone who might be unsure – before you press send, would you send it to your Grandma? If not then don’t send it to me. Thanks.)

Anyways, everyday we seem to have a different feeding journey. At the time of this photo B was 2 weeks old, and now writing this she is 8 weeks. I really need to write shorter posts so I can catch up and actually post things in real time…

This is a post about our feeding journey so far – starting with the hospital and then how it’s been at home. I hope that it will be helpful for someone who plans to breastfeed or is interested in comparing experiences. I’m sure I’ve missed out loads of things too, but feel free to get in touch with me about anything.

Also feel like I should state that I’m not an expert and I just wanted to share my/our feeding story. A list of helplines and websites for breastfeeding support is available on the NHS website.

This post unintentionally coincided with National Breastfeeding Week – Happy NBW!

(It feels weird saying Happy NBW as you’ll soon see that my journey hasn’t been happy at times…)


Hospital/Early Days

I was only planning on breastfeeding, but B had problems latching after she was born and we were originally kept in the hospital longer because of that. Due to Covid apparently they are slower to discharge people who are having problems breastfeeding as there is less face to face support available. This makes sense as I had so many different women touching my boobs (one at a time, don’t get too excited). A video call isn’t the same as someone physically trying to help.

I was in hospital for four nights and after my milk came in on day three I started to express using the hospital pump. No one told me you could pump colostrum (first milk) with them, which I later flagged up as that could have saved me some stress. I didn’t think you could as I’d read that as you produce so little colostrum, a lot of it just gets stuck in the parts rather than making it into the bottle. I guess this is only with certain pumps and now I know that this isn’t the case with hospital grade pumps (or so I believe).

With colostrum you can get syringes (I think I called the hospital or Liverpool BAMBIS – babies and mums breastfeeding information and support – for them) to start trying to collect it from 37 weeks. Some people have more success than others. I tried, but didn’t feel very confident, and then I ended up having a baby when I was 37 weeks and 5 days… I did try again to collect some when I was sat in the first maternity ward waiting for my surges to get stronger as a friend said she did that, but my mind was elsewhere.

(After birth) In hospital I found the syringes fiddly, but someone would help me collect the colostrum. I say someone as I’m not sure what people’s job titles were, though I guess most were midwives and there were a lot of student midwives. I was also visited by women who work/volunteer for BAMBIS. Everyone was so helpful that I thought about training as a breastfeeding specialist to help other women.

I found that one boob was more productive than the other, though she favoured the one that was less so. The productive one would collect a syringe full (1ml) in no time at all, whereas the other one would get 0.3ml with some struggle. You then empty the syringe close to the inside (obviously) of the cheek if I remember correctly.

After a day (at least) I remembered that a friend mentioned expressing into cups (special cups, not kitchen cups) so I asked for one of those. This was so much easier and again I flagged this up, and they said it should have been mentioned at the first check-in. Only the midwife was allowed to give B the colostrum with the cup (I would have been too scared to do it anyways). At first I didn’t realise that she could be fed with the cup, so I was sucking up the colostrum with the syringes.

Then once my milk came in I used ‘The Beast’.

The Beast
(I gave it this nickname, so expect blank looks if you ask for one)

I was still trying to breastfeed, but it was difficult as B’s latch wasn’t great, so I found it easier just to express and bottle feed her. I think by this point my confidence had also gone, but I knew other new mums had been having issues with breast feeding and it wasn’t just me.

Photo evidence that I was trying to breastfeed in hospital.
I couldn’t remember but it makes sense as I posted a picture of that dress with all its milk and colostrum stains…
I also knew the benefits of skin to skin contact with her, so I did try this with breastfeeding but also while just relaxing with her in general on the bed.

I guess I just expected for it to be easy as it’s such a natural thing.

I was a bit scared to bottle feed and wind her in the beginning, so I made them show me a few times before I did. They seemed so rough with the bottle teat as I thought it was solid, but actually it was quite soft and flexible. Soon I got confident though and I had a good routine going on.

I was told to feed her every 3 hours, so I’d get a bottle of my milk out of the fridge half an hour-ish before to let it warm up to room temperature, wake her up (if she hadn’t woke up by herself), feed her and then pump and put the new milk in the fridge. At first I thought I wasn’t allowed in the room with the fridge, but once I knew I was then it was nice that my world was extended beyond the ward I was in. I took great delight (loser) in going there to get all my supplies – new bottles, teats – and to wash the pump parts, and to fill up my water bottle.

(I wasn’t allowed visitors due to Covid restrictions so being able to walk into a room opposite the one I was in seemed quite exciting. Later on I learned I was allowed to go outside to see people, but I wouldn’t have been able to take B so it would have been stressful. Ward visitors would have been useful for holding B and letting me sleep a little…)


Home

Like I said earlier I had only planned to breastfeed. A friend had given us an electric pump (thanks Rebecca) and we’d bought some bottles and a teat just in case, but I didn’t think I would use it all anytime soon. However as I’d pumped and bottle fed in the hospital I felt confident doing that (and the pump was super easy to figure out).

I did keep trying to breastfeed (and now I’m not trying, I’m succeeding), but I’d lost my confidence and when I did try I got sore nipples quickly because of her latch, so I was mainly expressing and we were bottle feeding.

The teats at the hospital were just ‘normal’, but the one we bought (and similar ones by other brands) is meant for babies that are being breastfed too.

Milk will easily come out of the ‘normal one’ milk, but with the breastfeeding mimicking ones the baby has to make a vacuum with their mouth in order to get some.

It took us a couple of days to get confident with the new teat, but once we figured it out we were fine.

In the hospital they’d mentioned the ‘paced feeding’ approach with the regular teats to mimic breast-feeding. I’m not an expert on all of this, but to me the paced feeding way can be likened to eating with chopsticks – eating slower so you give your stomach time to realise that you’re getting full. You’re basically letting them drink for a bit (with the bottle held flat rather than tilted up), then stopping the flow of milk by taking the bottle away completely or tilting the bottle down to with the teat still in their mouth.

(B hadn’t really been sick from feeding until one day last week, when I had been breastfeeding her a lot as I was a bit anxious about going out and her maybe getting hungry.)

Anyways, like in the picture I usually express by pumping on one side then using a manual suction pump on the other side. I read a breastfeeding support group comment the other day that said you shouldn’t use the suction element of the manual pump until 6 weeks, but I’ve been doing it from the beginning? And then I swap and pump on the other side. A double pump is probably easier/quicker (and I read that it can produce more milk), but the way I do it also works.

When you pump or feed with one boob the other one will leak (like in the picture below), so the manual suction pump will collect the excess. It’s also a good way to transition from breastfeeding on one feed to bottle feeding with the next, or a future feed if you don’t collect enough from one feed and collect some from multiple feeds.

I have quite a few pix of B breastfeeding with her hand under her chin. Excuse the leaky nipple, not sure why I wasn’t wearing breast pads (I have some bamboo reusable ones).
Love how I was always wearing an eye mask, but hardly slept in those early weeks as I felt unable to.
In hospital they’d tell me to get as comfortable as possible with pillows, but I always found myself unable to get it right. Once I got home I quickly gave up with that and just used my arm to support her and would feed her standing up sometimes. This is probably a big reason why I’ve become more ambidextrous, but I think texting/typing with my non-dominant hand also has a big part to play in it too.

I would say that I got kind of stuck with expressing rather than breastfeeding. Since she doesn’t do much at this age, feeding her is a good way to spend time with her and bond. Tiago’s been very supportive and I think perhaps his keenness to feed her also made me want to pump more (I’m not blaming him). When he feeds her it means I know I have a little time to do something, like on the 5th when we got home from dinner, and she needed feeding so T fed her whilst I did a photo shoot and then pumped after.

I was giving myself so much extra work by having to sterilise everything each time though, and in the night Tiago would be feeding her while I was pumping. In hindsight all being awake at 3am isn’t great, especially when Tiago has work in the morning. I’d also then have to sterilise stuff and often I’d wait for the machine to be done. I’d take the lid off, then wait until it had cooled down enough for me to take things out (I burn myself easily), so I wouldn’t get back to sleep for a long time.

I thought I should try to breastfeed everyday at least once, though sometimes it just didn’t happen and I would go 2 days without trying. It has gotten easier now that she is older and her mouth is a bit bigger. I don’t always have to guide her to the nipple and help her get a good latch; she can do it herself now.

So eventually I started to breastfeed during the night. Sometimes my nipples would be sore, especially as I wasn’t use to breastfeeding so much so I’ve started to use my nipple shields lately when it feels necessary.

I’ve now moved to mainly breastfeeding during the day/early night as well, but T will often offer to feed her after work/in the early evenings, especially if he feels like he hasn’t seen her much.

A friend also told us (and the NHS backs it up) that breast milk fed babies need to take a vitamin D supplement. There are many different brands out there and we have one that seems easier to put in a bottle of milk, though you can put it on your nipple. So this is another reason why we usually give her at least one bottle of expressed milk a day. Maybe when it runs out I’ll try a different one…

Everyday is a different feeding day though. Today (7th) it’s so hot that we’ve just bottle fed her. I breastfed her at midnight and 4am, then she woke up at 7 and since Tiago was awake I asked him to feed her with milk that was in the fridge. I didn’t sleep much as I was aware that I needed to pump, which I eventually did at 9am. Then because it was such a hot day it seemed better to just keep bottle feeding her. I stop and start so much with these posts that now it’s 9pm and I’m pumping and I feel really sweaty.

It’s now 10pm and it’s super hot, but I think I’ll try to breastfeed her in the night just to make my life easier by not having to sterilise a lot. She also hasn’t slept much today, so I’m hoping she’ll sleep for a long time tonight but we’ll see. (8am update- She went to sleep after midnight in the end, but slept until 6am when I breastfed her. I changed her nappy, fed her a little more and she’s asleep again.)

I used to pump every 3 hours during the day, but now I know that my milk production is good and there is quite a bit in the fridge I have been doing it every 4. After she slept for 7 hours in a row last week I also know that I can not pump or feed for that long and it’s also fine. Around 3 hours though I will start to feel a little pain for about 30 seconds if I’m awake which is quite odd.

After coming home from hospital I’d get calls from the breastfeeding support service and they told me that I should try to breastfeed first before expressing. I know on the calls that they were trying to help, but I felt like I had to justify myself to them a lot. Generally the advice you get can be quite different depending on who you talk to, and sometimes you learn things after you’ve already done them – someone said that babies shouldn’t have dummies before 6 weeks until breastfeeding is established but a midwife gave B a dummy in the hospital (with my permission) when she was having photo therapy as she just wouldn’t settle in the machine. By the time I heard about the 6 week thing I’d already been giving her a dummy for at least 2 weeks I think.

In the early days I was warned a lot about over producing – pumping can make this happen apparently. My boobs would get quite engorged and I’d feel lumps, but massaging them in the shower would really help. Just be careful when you get out as you might find that you’re leaking… (If you can’t shower then dunking them in water is meant to be good.)

I’ve said before that if we feel guilty about things (that are legal and reasonable), it’s only because people are judgemental about something that has nothing to do with them. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, breast milk feed or a mix of feed, people will have things to say about it. As long as your baby is getting fed in some form and is putting on weight then that’s great.

You just do what’s best for you and your family.


Thanks for reading! If you’re enjoying reading my blog (and/or the work I make) please consider supporting me by ‘buying me a coffee’ on Ko-fi – thanks!

Categories
Motherhood

Hospital Times

Sorry I couldn’t be bothered to come up with a more fun title. Monster Hospital by Metric came into my head, but the hospital was great (well from what I remembered when I wasn’t sleep deprived). I Miss Your Bones by Hospitality also came to mind…

Well, because the diary with notes (in between [ ]s) format seemed to work alright for my birth story I thought I’d do the same for my hospital stay, though I was a bit tired so it’s very patchy and short. Since then I have stopped writing in my diary as I can’t be bothered, but I did buy a 5 year line a day diary. It’s actually 5ish lines, but once I get writing it’s not enough.

It’s weird how quickly the memories start to fade, but also because I was in hospital for 4 nights not doing much and not really sleeping, it felt like one long day to me.

My days did basically consist of trying to breastfeed, expressing, feeding B, trying to sleep, changing nappies, crying, talking to my husband, washing my stitches, replying to messages in the middle of the night as that was when I felt in the mood and yeah not much else. My daily highlight was ordering what I was going to eat for lunch and dinner (and eating), which was mainly butternut squash curry. Highly recommended if you ever find yourself at Liverpool Women’s Hospital!

On with the story…


Diary entry 2 days after the birth at 11:11am called ‘First full day’.

B and Me (painted her face blue as I don’t want to show her face).

Didn’t sleep much. Can’t really recall the night. Just a lot of trying to breastfeed.

[I was initially kept in hospital as B was struggling to latch on for breastfeeding. I think because of Covid they are hesitant to discharge women who are struggling to feed as there is less 1 to 1 help available.]

Being told to set an alarm for 2 to 3 hours to breastfeed. Slept for an hour and a bit at most.

Thought she would need more feeding so didn’t want to sleep but she just kept sleeping.

Been getting the hang of hand expressing at least.

Cannula that was put in exactly 2 hours before I gave birth. They didn’t rush to take it out, so I kept knocking it all the time. I might have a scar for a while, but I kind of like it.

Toast and jam for breakfast.

Breastfeeding.

Lunch.

Before I didn’t let my curry loyalty waver beyond the butternut squash one.

Waited for the [breastfeeding support] lady for hours. Was waiting for her to try feeding so didn’t sleep. She was good when she came though.

Breastfeeding, though how much feeding was going on I am not sure. I was probably listening to Devendra Banhart as I seemed to get really into him whilst I was in hospital.

Then B slept a bit. I had a 10 min nap. I thought it had been an hour…

Video called Nan and [younger sister] briefly.

Planned to nap but had a shower then dinner came.

Shift changed. They said they will monitor the feeding hourly. I need to sleep. She has been asleep for an hour now. I’m sat on my stitches. They changed the room around and have got me to sit on a chair instead.

Changed 2 pooey nappies today by myself. So proud. [I was super nervous about changing a nappy for the first time. I asked people to show me at least a few times before I did it myself…]

Yeah my day is just sitting around and trying to breastfeed. [And taking pictures of B and selfies].

Called Tiago a few times. He has been tidying the flat, food shopping and cooking.

Can’t be bothered to reply to so many messages. Will do tomorrow.

I got super into tracking things with the Huckleberry app, though I mainly just use it to see when I last pumped/breastfed now.

[Well, that was gripping wasn’t it?]


Diary entry 3 days after birth at 4.37pm called ‘Yesterday and today’.

Didn’t write yesterday. I probably won’t be able to remember everything.

The infamous butternut squash curry (and the apple and raspberry crumble I think).

Plans changed. Tried to get into a good routine of trying to breastfeed, hand express, sleep and repeat.

Then she got tested for jaundice and she had to start photo therapy. She hated the machine. Crying so loud etc. Had to take all her clothes off which she hates. Then I couldn’t comfort her etc.

B in her cool eye mask – I was forever moving it to sit properly.

I cried in front of someone who was sent to do checks on her.

The Beast

My milk came in so I started to use the big express machine.

[I called it The Beast. I could have used it for expressing colostrum, but I only found out once a saw another woman who had been in the hospital for a day. (You don’t produce much colostrum so with at home machines most of it will just get stuck in the parts rather than make it into the bottle).]

B in the machine. She was only allowed out to be fed or have her nappy changed.
Me trying to comfort B.

Breastfeeding still wasn’t happening. Got so tired. Students fed her from the bottle whilst I slept. [The breastfeeding support service] suggested giving her a bit of expressed milk first, then breastfeeding then expressing. I don’t know.

Video Call With Pai (Day 2)

I cried in front of someone else. B had a jaundice test at 10pm. It came back as below therapy level. It was repeated at 6am. She was taken out of the machine.

Proudly capturing an image my expressed milk. Looking at these photos I almost believe the light was blue, but it was bright white.

It needs to be repeated later.

I feel a bit abandoned.

I see people come and go. I hear people being checked on. No one has checked on me today. [I am guessing they assumed I was fine as I had been there for ‘so long’ and a lot of new women were coming onto the ward, so they needed to be sorted out which is fair enough.]

I don’t feel confident. I need a new plan of action [for feeding]. I feel awkward calling someone. A woman is say 2m from me and she can’t hear me crying. I just want her to turn around and check on me. Need to eat. Need to prep to feed.

It’s okay, you don’t need to tell me how beautiful I am when I cry.

Stitches hurt. No one asks me if I want pain relief.

[I thought about pressing my call button a few times, but I just felt awkward/uncomfortable pressing it. Occasionally I did press it, but then cancelled my request. I did also have times where I just didn’t care and pressed it a lot though.]


Diary entry on same day at 8.17pm called ‘Today part 2’.

Had an hour-ish nap. Cried again. Ate dinner whilst crying on the phone to Tiago. [So awkward, was trying to be quiet about it but I needed to talk to someone and get all the previous entry’s stuff off my chest.]

A woman called Cheryl came to weigh B. She said she had come when I was asleep so came back later. I said she should have woken me.

When she came back [after going to get her equipment] I said I wasn’t trying to be rude.

[I think I came across as quite aggressive as I had felt so abandoned and I spent a lot of time waiting for people to come to see me about things. Typically the one time I slept was the one time I missed someone.]

We talked about everything whilst I expressed. She said she would help me with breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

Use What Your Mama Gave You – A Milk Warming Rack.

B’s weight loss was 4 percent. 10 percent is bad so it’s great.

Expressed alright. Breastfed her well for 10 mins. Put her on the bottle for 20ml.

Feeling so much happier. Expressed my right boob for 20ml more as it started to leak and I love expressing ha. [I got really obsessed with how many millilitres I was producing and expressing made me feel like one day I would be alright with breastfeeding.]

Should nap now. I have an hour-ish before I have to think about it all again.

Yesterday I discovered the nursery across the corridor. I love washing the top of the pump and getting supplies.

[I didn’t wander away from the ward except for going into this room which had a fridge, a sink and breastfeeding supplies. It was was my little escape where I washed the pump parts, got more bottles, and cotton wool. It gave me something to do and I got really into it. I also had my set-up for nappy changing – tub for cotton wool, tub of water and tub for dirty/used stuff. When I got home I was stressed out until I set up something similar.]

B’s eyes got swabbed. [She had gunky eyes which is common with newborns. The gunk was sent off for testing. She still has gunk and the GP recommended doing tear duct massages where you rub the side of the nose.]

Feeling more confident with handling her now. [I really was scared to pick her up for a while, and worried about how well I was supporting her neck/head.’

Still can’t believe I have a baby. Can’t wait to see Tiago with her.

Love him so much. Can’t believe we’ve been apart for so long. I feel like my world is this room. [We had been together for the whole of lockdown and this was the longest we’d been apart, I also felt bad that he was missing out on B’s early days.]

Need to sleep. Want to chat to people but need to rest.

I didn’t sleep as much as the impression of wearing an eye mask most of the time gave off.

Diary entry on 4 days after giving birth called ‘Home Day’, but I did not write anything.

[I’m guessing I planned to but just didn’t get round to it. Will fill in the gap by reading messages that I sent Tiago. (This section ended up being the longest – I should probably go through and add in more information for the other sections, but this post is long enough and I’ve spent enough time writing it).

An early morning hospital bathroom selfie.

So at 3am I said ‘Jaundice score only went up a few points in 12 hours. And since then she has been feeding more. Midwife is just plotting it on a chart to see if we can go home today.’

Then 20 minutes later I added ‘So B needs to have a test. Will be sent with a courier at 6 and should get results by 9. Either way we are going home today. If the test results are ‘bad’ then we get sent home with folic acid that we need to give B.’ I love that I was getting told this info at 3am, but I guess they only told me as I was awake. In the end B didn’t need folic acid.

Not sure what the point of this was, I remember there being some point. My eyelids look a bit swollen so maybe it was that?

At 4.30am I could hear a man outside yelling Karen or something. No idea… Sadly he wasn’t outside our window as that would have been far too interesting/entertaining.

A lot of our conversations evolved around ordering stuff that we thought we needed. A room thermometer, a body thermometer, nipple compresses, anything and everything.

At 10am a woman came round who gave the usual discharge spiel – do 10 sets of kegels 10 times a day (I texted Tiago to remind me, though I just do them when I remember about them), use contraception as you are super fertile (hearing a woman opposite saying she had a 10 month old was enough for me to listen) etc.

I told Tiago not to rush to get out the door as I knew discharge would be slow and I was finally talking to some women on my ward. One wouldn’t order any lunch, so I told the staff on duty whilst she was in the bathroom and they arranged some food for her. [I wasn’t trying to snitch on her, she wanted to eat but wasn’t sure about hospital food and I knew another day of her just eating crisps wouldn’t help her heal.]

It was weird how I went from feeling super scared about being around strangers after 3 months at home due to lockdown, to kind of forgetting about the pandemic and just wanting to talk to everyone. Everyday different women were helping me with breastfeeding, so I was being very close to people (they were touching my boobs in order to help me). I had forgotten how social I could be and I think motherhood was already changing me for the better, though obviously I had had some wobbly moments which was mainly down to lack of sleep.

Last hospital supper – butternut squash curry and the jam sponge pudding. The pudding was recommended by an NCT friend, but for some reason I couldn’t see it on the menu until that morning. It was worth the wait.

At 1.15pm I said discharge was happening soon. I was going through my routine (expressing, feeding, changing nappy etc) in order to not ‘f up my progress’ and asked Tiago to bring my sunglasses as I hadn’t been outside in a while (my eyes are quite sensitive as it is).

I wanted a photo of where I’d spent the last 4 nights, though I’d already started to pack up. B, The Beast, Me, and my stuff.
Ready to leave. I never even used the tv…

Tiago arrived at 2.30pm. I rang my call button and a woman arrived to take us down to reception. There was more security than when we first came to the hospital on the first day and Tiago had to wait outside the building. I walked through to get him and said to the security guard ‘that’s my husband’ whilst pointing to Tiago and he was allowed in with the car seat with his mask on. We put her in the car seat and went to leave, then I remembered we had to sort out the parking so I ran to do that and then we left. I thought we might have to sign out or something so we went to the desk where Tiago had had to use hand sanitiser. They asked us where we were going. I said ‘home’ and they laughed as they thought we were just arriving at the hospital.

T & B catching up while I sorted out parking.

It was surreal to see Tiago again. I had been living in some weird universe where I was a Mum, in a hospital, surrounded by strangers and without the one constant person in my life. I hadn’t felt lonely though as I had B to focus on.

On my way out of the hospital I saw the Princess Diana bust that I had walked past when I first arrived. When I was younger I was told that I looked like her a lot (I had short hair for a bit which was when the comments were at their peak) and seeing that she had opened the hospital gave me some kind of comfort. It made me smile and I took a picture to remember it.

Princess Diana opened the hospital in 1995.

It was weird to be in the car during daylight – since lockdown I had only been in the car once, which was on the way to hospital at 2.30 in the morning.

We got home and after feeling in hospital that I couldn’t remember what the flat looked like, I quickly adjusted to being back it was the first time we had had a baby in there.

Carrot cake with message (and an affirmation card) from Tiago, at home.

Though I never planned to be in hospital initially (I wanted a homebirth) and my visit was nothing like I thought a trip might be, I think it was the best thing that happened to me. I had no recent experience with a newborn and was nervous about everything. Being there for 4 nights with no visitors I just learned as much as I could and came home confident with handling, nappy changing, expressing, bottle feeding and breastfeeding. I was then able to teach what I had learned to Tiago. I think if I had had a homebirth and been able to stay at home, early parenthood would have been a lot more stressful. My hospital stay was up and down, but I wouldn’t have changed anything.

Thanks again to everyone at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and Bambis (babies and mums breastfeeding information and support) for their care and help during our stay.]

(Turns out that I like to use the word whilst and that it is ‘largely outdated’ – never realised I that I use it so much.)


If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or via a social media message.

At some point I plan to write more about feeding as it is still a cause of stress (for me anyways). I feel like everyday brings a new combination of breastfeeding and bottle feeding (expressed milk). I guess it is just doing what works for us each day.

Thanks for reading, and please share it with anyone who might find it helpful 🙂

Categories
Motherhood

Turn Baby Turn

Also known as B’s Birth Story – I was going to call it Breech Baby Breech, but after listening to Burn Baby Burn by Ash* for the fifth time, Turn Baby Turn felt more fitting.

*Yes, all songs mentioned on my blog will be linked to a video of me dancing to them, if I have danced to them already.

Me dancing to Broadcaster by Squid 5 days before giving birth.

After trying to write this numerous times, I remembered that I wrote in my diary at different points during the day and in my hospital bed the next day. I have decided to copy and paste my entries, whilst adding notes where I think are necessary.

(Notes are within [ ]s.)

Apologies in advance, it’s longer than I thought, but I’ve probably missed things out. I’m sure I’ll be making minor revisions for the next century.

Buckle up kids, here we go.


Diary entry called ‘Water Breaking’ that I started to write at 2.30am in the car.

Woke up at 1am. Felt pain and went to get up to go to the toilet and water started to come out of me. The more I tried to get up, the more water came out. Woke Tiago up and asked him to get me a towel.

I sat on the toilet wondering if I had wet myself or if it was my water breaking. There looked to be some blood. Sat searching [online on my phone] for what to do. I’m only 37+5 [37 weeks and 5 days, due date is 40 weeks, a pregnancy is usually no more than 42 weeks] and they said it’s urgent if you’re below 37.

Called the number [in the front of my hospital notes] for urgent advice. Felt bad calling them at this time, but didn’t want to sleep on it. Would rather go to the hospital with less traffic.

I kept saying to Tiago that we should revisit my hospital bags, but we hadn’t. The woman on the phone said to bring my stuff just incase I had to stay in.

[We spent a while running around getting things. I had been visited by the homebirth team since the start of my pregnancy as I wanted a homebirth, but I wanted to be prepared in case I needed to go to hospital.]

Wish I had slept more. Didn’t sleep well the night before last and now I’ve only had 2 hours of sleep. Fail.

My body is racing with adrenaline. I feel nervous, yet excited.

It’s the first time I’ve been in the car since before lockdown.

Trying to get to the hospital. The roads are closed.

[Writing in hospital] Eventually got here. Went to reception. Asked the guy what department I needed and if Tiago could come in. He said no. Tiago was stood outside by the doors, so he went back to the car.

Had to do a urine sample. Couldn’t even see where I was pissing [as my bump was so big].

Came out the bathroom and just stood at reception for 10 minutes. She [woman on reception] then appeared and said to take a seat.

Me in the hospital department waiting room with my mask on.

Feel like I can feel surges [the hypnobirthing term for contractions] but they’re fairly gentle.

I’m so thirsty but don’t want to drink with my mask. Just trying to do my breathing.

[I did not know if I had to wear a mask or not but I was nervous to be around people.]

I haven’t been in another building in so long [since before lockdown – 23rd March], but it doesn’t feel that weird. It’s just so quiet.

Empty waiting room with socially distanced chairs.

A woman just came in on a bed so might have to wait a bit longer. Tiago said he saw the ambulance arrive.

The first of many hospital mirror selfies that I took during my visit.

They said they’ll be with me as soon as possible but they need to sort out the emergency. I went to the toilet and could just hear her screaming.

Reading a hypnobirthing book that I have on my phone as I don’t feel as prepared as I should be right now. Though I haven’t been reading much as I felt prepared. I think my waters have definitely broken, so I will be giving birth in the next 24 to 48 hours. Just feel like I need to wee constantly.

I think I am getting light surges but not sure.

A friend from my NCT group had her waters break in the morning and she had to go in for checks and stuff. So it was good to read that in our WhatsApp group and know what to expect.

I don’t think I will be working today. Glad I took my Máscara like pictures yesterday.

[A project where I put makeup on lens filters – I had asked my Mum to send my makeup and it came the day before, so I did a shoot ‘just incase’ instead of napping.]

I think I am in shock. I feel tired and thirsty. Drinking some water as no one else is in the waiting room. [I felt awkward removing my mask.]

I just want to get some rest.

Wish Tiago was here so I could chat to him. Instead I am just texting him. We usually WhatsApp but I’m trying to save battery.

Wish I had a snack with me. It’s 3.25am. I think they usually monitor you for half an hour.

[Tiago was in the car with a ridiculous amount of snack bars that we’d bought for my birth. I went to the vending machine and they called me through before I could choose something.]

Just feel like I’m wetting myself. Got a big maternity pad in. Had a small pad in but realised how useless it was. Tiago is watching birthing videos in the car. I told him to try to get some rest.

Sat on the bed now being monitored. I have to press a button whenever I feel movements. Reading leaflets about induction. Think I will wait 24 hours. I’m so sleepy. She took my temperature.

She said she was about to call me in when the emergency came.

At the moment I feel like [the baby] will be a boy.

[Wrong! We didn’t know what we were having – Tiago wanted to know so I didn’t want to be the bad guy, but she wouldn’t ‘present’ at the 20 week scan or when I had to go back at 23 weeks for them to finish the checks. My extra growth scans got cancelled due to Covid-19.]

Had to change my pad and give it to them to look at. Feel like I’m on my period or something. Just want to go home and sleep. Think I will be having a relaxing day as long as I can. It’s now been nearly 3 hours.

Monitoring was fine. She isn’t sure what position the baby is in though so someone is coming to do a scan.

Think I am having light surges.

Have turned down being induced. They said I can come back in the afternoon if I change my mind.

Tiago is talking to a magpie in the car park.

[A magpie was sat by his car in the car park. He asked it if it was the bearer of good news. It replied two times then flew off. Tiago doesn’t normally talk to birds, but he said it made him feel good.]

[My own version of this was walking into the hospital, going the opposite way to appointments and noticing a bust of Princess Diana, who opened the hospital in 1995. When I was younger people used to stop me in the street/wherever to tell me I looked like her, so seeing ‘her’ gave me some comfort.]

If I don’t go into established labour in 24 hours then I can’t have a home birth.

[Update] The baby is breech so a home birth is currently out of the window. I also can’t have a gentle c-section because the baby is breech. So they might see if someone can turn it, but it’s a bit late now especially with the fluid having gone. So will just have to wait and see. [They also said I couldn’t have a water birth, though I had seen some videos of babies being born breech in birthing pools.]

Otherwise it’s either a vaginal breech delivery or a c-section. Both have risks. Going to try for a vaginal breech.

[Vaginal is more risky for the baby, whereas a c-section is more risky for the mother.]

Just had a Covid swab. Back of my throat and up my nose. Charming. Waiting for a bed on the ward. Been awake for nearly 5 hours now.

Tiago has gone home. Want him to get some rest. No point him waiting in the car.

[I went down to get my stuff from the car and sorted out his parking payment.]

Getting surges I think or big movements at least.

There is another woman here in the room now and she is being sick. Grand.

Just heard them refer to my situation as a strong breach presentation.

It’s 6am. I haven’t slept which doesn’t help my chances of a vaginal birth. Being moved now.


New diary entry called ‘Ward’ that I started at 7.06am.

Happiest kid on the ward. By this point I had ditched my mask.

In the ward now. Two women are here. They seem nice. They’re here for the long term though.

[They’d been in for a week due to problems with their placentas I think. It was surreal to be in a room with strangers but it was nice to chat. My plan was to stay as positive as possible as I knew that adrenaline can stop surges.]

Think I’m having surges here and there.

Feeling tired but the ward is awake now. Had some snacks. Basically just waiting now.

My only complaint with the hospital was the lack of brown toast (think this was the one time I got it) and them putting it in a packet – it was usually grossly soggy (and I love soggy food) or hard.

9am. Had breakfast. Toast with butter and blackcurrant jam.

Already ordered lunch. Butternut squash curry and raspberry and apple crumble. Dinner – veg and bean chili. Cheese cake.

[During my stay the most exciting part of my day was what I was going to eat – I ended up having the curry at least once a day. 10/10 would recommend to all.]

Don’t know what to do with myself.

9.25am. Hooked up to a machine now. Monitoring surges. I want a nap. Glad I’m not in a room by myself. I feel pretty relaxed.

More monitoring.

10am. Had people monitoring me. 3 people stood looking at me whilst I breathed through surges. There is no fluid left around the baby so they can’t try to turn it. Surges have died off a bit though. If I haven’t given birth by 6pm vaginally then I will have to be examined and have a c-section. It’s alright. Vaginally is a bit more risky for baby.

[I was guessing they wouldn’t be able to turn her as it’s not always successful, and with less fluid my chances were lower.]

[In my birth plan/preferences I thought I had covered every situation, but I had not thought about what I wanted if the baby was breech. She had been head down for the last two appointments, including one the week before. 2 days before I felt hiccups ‘down there’. I’m adamant she turned round the day before – I commented to Tiago about how active the baby was that day. I really did not fancy the 6 week recovery time of a c-section. I saw the 6pm countdown as a challenge…]

12.39pm. Just been having contractions. Any food passes straight through me.
Felt like crying as this isn’t what I planned at all. Tiago is on the way. Need to have an examination.
Feeling a little fed up. Wish Tiago was here.

Not sure if I was trying to video myself dancing or something else – the sound would disappear when I pressed record though. Nipple warning.

[When my surges were calmer I was just dancing through them. I kept listening to In Your Arms by Purple Disco Machine on repeat, then I switched to Jorge Drexler’s version of Fora Da Ordem, and then Blue Denim by Stevie Nicks.]


New diary entry called ‘Birth (yesterday) that I started the next day at 11.01am.

Well I went for that examination. They said I was 3cm dilated and that they would move me to a delivery suite. Tiago would be allowed to join me there.

The surges were getting super strong and I cried before going for my examination. Everything I wanted was out the window and it was a lot to take in.

The delivery suite was alright. A student midwife from the ward I was on, Hazel, moved to the suite with me and I was happy about that as she seemed nice. She said she had never seen a vaginal breech birth before.

The surges were getting stronger. I just wanted to sit on the toilet the whole time. Thought I had bad diarrhea and was having intense pushes. The midwife was worried I’d give birth on the toilet as she said it was to do with being in labour. I really thought it was to do with my poo. Ha.

[I had been having these intense pushing feelings whilst on the ward, but I thought it was to do with my bowels…]

The bed was apparently new and had a toilet like bit built into it which made me feel better. Just took off my pants as they were more of a hindrance and I stopped caring about how I looked to everyone else early on. When my surges got stronger I turned and gripped onto the back of the bed. Breathed through them. Tiago and Hazel had put the TENS machine on my back. It was good in the beginning but then it started to piss me off. After a bit Tiago was just reduced to a paper waver – to act as a fan. It was a wet day and it wasn’t very hot yet the room was boiling and they didn’t have any fans available.

[The TENS machine arrived the day before as I ordered it a few days previously. We nearly didn’t get it as the post lady put a slip through the door. Luckily she heard Tiago open the door and came back.]

They kept telling me not to push though I couldn’t help it. They wanted me to save my energy for when it really counted. Drank water and Lucozade sport in-between surges.

After a while they examined me and it was fine for me to start pushing.

So I started to push and a midwife was proper coaching me. I told her to keep doing it. Tiago was great but him saying how proud he was wasn’t as useful as the woman telling me to keep pushing, breathe, then push again etc.

She waited until my surges came though. I’d get leg cramps first and then the surge would come on. I didn’t think I would have to push so much.

[Because of hypnobirthing I thought I just had to push my breath down, but no the midwife really wanted me to push until I couldn’t anymore. I didn’t even see her face as I was so focused.]

After a while they asked me to turn round and put my legs in stirrups. There were quite a few people in the room, including someone with a resuscitation machine. They were worried the head would get stuck etc.

They cut me in the end to make it easier. Still better than a c-section I thought – less recovery.

[Tiago says a foot was poking out, but there wasn’t much progress after a few surges so they cut me and the consultant pulled her other foot out, which then helped the rest of her follow.]

I would get in the zone but also tell myself I’m never doing it again ha. I didn’t have a moment where I wanted to give up though. I just wanted to get it over and done with. Everytime I had to push I hoped it would be the last time.

Anyways eventually the baby came out. They showed it to me so I could see the sex. I thought it was a boy because of the placenta then realised it was a girl!

Me and baby B.

It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe that a baby came out of me. They gave me an injection to help deliver the placenta because of blood loss. I wasn’t going to fight stuff.

[I wanted to deliver it naturally, though I only lost 300ml of blood in the end because of the injection. Average blood loss is 500ml.]

Felt like the stitches took ages. They were more painful than birth.

[I just focused on B and winced a lot. With pushing, I generally did 3 long pushes before the surges passed, so I had time inbetween for more water/energy drink. Whereas the stitches were just a constant pain for the time they took to be done.]

Family portrait.

[We did delayed cord clamping so that all her blood could be returned to her, before Tiago cut the cord. I also asked him to get a photo of the placenta. I wanted to keep it and plant it next to a tree or something, but we don’t have a garden and I didn’t know when I’d be able to visit family who have a garden.]

‘Tiago get a picture of the placenta!’

[I felt quite out of it, even though I had only used a TENS machine for part of it. I really focused on my breathing for the whole of labour – I learned it from this digital hypnobirthing course.]

Had skin to skin for ages. Hazel tried to help me breastfeed for 2 hours. She was trying but wasn’t super successful.

[B couldn’t latch on very well/I had no clue what I was doing.]

Then we were left alone. She started to cry and I was like ‘argh what do we do?’ Tiago went to get someone. [I was freaked out by her crying.] She tried to help us breastfeed. She was a bit more successful.

First cuddles with Pai.
(Dad in Portuguese – pronounced like pie)

Then Tiago did skin to skin for 2 hours-ish. [Tiago says it was more like an hour.] I had a [super long] shower. It was great. I washed my hair as I wasn’t sure when I would be able to again. Well my hair was a mess and I thought it was easier to do it whilst we were somewhere with more care. They left us in there for ages.

After my shower with my post-birth bump.

Just looked at the cannula in my hand. They put it in exactly 2 hours before she was born. Just in case I decided I wanted any pain relief or needed something different. [Maybe if I needed an emergency c-section?]

Then after a while they came to say they were moving us to the ward.

Midwife clothed her and wheeled us through. Had to say bye to Tiago.

Then it was just weird. Trying to breastfeed and not being able to. Forgetting that I had to change her nappy. It was bad. Feeling bad for calling for help. So happy I got to stay overnight. I think going home with a newborn would have been overwhelming.

Getting the hang of hand expression but breastfeeding is not going so great. She really is trying though! Managed to get a bit of sleep last night though they said I should be waking her every 2 hours for a feed. Need to keep track of that. It’s nearly time for lunch so I hope for lunch to come and then I’ll sort her out. I need to stay hydrated and well fed etc.

I probably should have rested more today… We can go home later if I feel confident enough with feeding etc.

[Overall though I didn’t have the birth that I wanted – a homebirth or a water birth – I feel like I had a very positive birth experience. I am happy that I went with my instinct of having a vaginal birth, as I did not like the idea of a c-section recovery (a gentle one would have not been so bad, but I was not allowed one). Thanks to everyone at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital who took care of us during this weird time.]


If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below or via a social media message. If there are enough questions (more than 1?) then I can write a follow-up post answering them.

Thanks for reading and please share it with anyone who might find it of interest 🙂

My next post will be about my hospital stay (I was in for 4 nights), though inbetween I might start posting my pregnancy project, Waiting For Things In A Time When You Rarely Wait For Things, with outtakes and how I feel about the image/hashtags now. You can also see the project on my Instagram.