As you all know from my previous posts, I am currently breastfeeding Maddison and I LOVE it! It's probably one of my favourite connections with my baby girl, knowing I am still feeding and providing her with everything she needs to grow healthy and strong, even now she's out of my tummy!! I have also become so much more confident with feeding in public, as mentioned in my 6 week update post (CLICK HERE TO READ.) But what I haven't mentioned yet, partly because I thought it was all in my head at first, is that I have really been struggling with my milk supply and as a result have been using the odd formula for the past 10 days.
Roughly 2 weeks ago, about 4 days before I found out about my retained placenta, I was feeling really low and upset about feeding Maddison. She wasn't enjoying being on my breast, kept wiggling and pushing me away. She wouldn't feed for more than 10 minutes, so she probably was only getting foremilk and not the proper hindmilk, and she always seemed unsatified? What the bloody hell was going on?! Why was she pushing away if she was still hungry? Had we lost our latch? So, I would try pumping so I could at least bottle feed her my breast milk and I knew she was getting something, as it just felt impossible to know whether she was actually feeding properly! So I'd sit down with my pump, and get diddly squit!! I think I managed to pump about 20mls (and that was from BOTH boobs) when before I'd be able to pump at least 50ml from each boob - making her a perfect 100ml feed! WTF?!?! My boobs even felt like they had NOTHING in them... they just felt (and looked) like two half deflated, saggy balloons. I'd lost any feeling of being engorged, so gone were the need for nipple pads, as I had no let down reflex or nipple tingle at all!
I just sat there and cried. I was so frustrated and cross with myself! Why couldn't I satisfy my baby?! Was I going crazy? We'd always kept some emergency bottles of formula in the house, for whatever reason that we may need them.. so as Maddison was crying, seemed hungry but was refusing to take me, and I literally had nothing to pump, I poured half into a bottle to see if she really was hungry... She GUZZLED 100ml down like you'd never seen then happily burped and went to sleep!! I felt so mixed with emotions.. Pleased that she had had a good feed and finally seemed settled, but I was so upset that the bottle she had just downed wasn't from me! Now I honestly have absolutely nothing against formula feeding, as I have said previously in my first post about breastfeeding (CLICK HERE TO READ), but for someone who wanted and had been so easily breastfeeding, it was hard! She was clearly hungry but didn't want me? (Cue the typical dramatic thoughts of "am I a bad mother?!")
I called my mum (because I go to her for everything!) and we both hopped onto the web in search of some answers.. and everything that came back basically told me I was imagining things. That of course my boobs wouldn't feel as "full" because my milk had settled. That let down has nothing to do with the amount of milk you supply as some women never have the sensation at all. That some babies do just become fussy but it will pass. That babies will willingly down a bottle of expressed or formula milk even after feeding.. All the answers I got were telling me nothing was wrong! That it was all in my head and I basically was doing the typical "first time mum" thing of panicking at anything and everything. The only sign I found to go by whether baby is getting enough, is through the amount of wet/dry nappies (which in all honesty she was still doing fine). But it just didn't settle or reassure me at all!! I simply couldn't shake the thought that it was me and I wasn't producing enough! I think from being pregnant and growing a human being, us ladies just know our own bodies so well, and you just KNOW and get that gut feeling when something doesn't seem right! Agree??
The next day, Maddison and I had our 6 week check up with the doctor. So till then, I'd just been trying my best with breastfeeding her, made sure I was drinking lots of water, trying to pump anything I could, and done maybe 1 formula feed a day. In all honesty, the check up wasn't what I expected, as it literally felt like the GP was just ticking boxes and she wasn't listening to anything I had to say. (I didn't see my normal doctor as she was on holiday, which was frustrating as I know she would've listened!) So when I told this doctor about my milk, she just gave me the same answers as I had got from google.. oh brilliant.. NOT. But she did send me up to hospital as I was still bleeding 6 weeks postpartum, and I later discovered I had retained placenta (more detail in my 6 week update post). Speaking to a different doctor at hospital, she suggested that my feeling of reduced milk supply could be to do with my retained placenta because of the hormones! Here's why...
"Your placenta makes lots of progesterone during pregnancy and this hormone suppresses the action of prolactin, a key milk making hormone. Once the placenta is delivered, your progesterone level drops, allowing prolactin to go to work. But when that separation is incomplete (leaving fragments of the placenta intact in the uterus), progesterone levels remain too high and prolactin remains suppressed." - MOTHERLOVE.COM
Brilliant! That could've been why I was having trouble!
However, 3 days after my surgery, after 2 days of an amazing milk supply and feeling on top of the breastfeeding world again.. same thing started happening. (But not quite as bad as it was before I'll add).
So back on the Web I hopped, hoping to try and discover anything else that could maybe help! While researching, I was trying to think of anything and everything I did, that could've helped boost my milk supply those past 2 days. The only things that stood out were 1) I had TONS of fluid in hospital after being under anaesthetic, as I had a drip and guzzled a load of water as I was so thirsty, (but I knew I always drink enough water daily anyway,) and 2) I had eaten SOOO much once I'd woken up! Which I knew would happen as I'd been under anaesthetic before and for some reason I always have a crazy appetite after I wake up?! I'd eaten (and this is an embarrassing amount of food..) 2 M&S BLT gluten free sandwiches, a gluten free M&S chicken wrap, a whole packed of crisps and a whole packet of gummy sweets!! Shocking. I know... BUT my mum pointed out that I had a LOT of carbohydrates that day, which got us researching into that. And I've found so many forums of mums saying as soon as they went low-carb to try and loose the baby weight they noticed a drop in their milk supply! Apparently when breastfeeding you lose sugar via the milk, possibly around 30 grams per day, sometimes more. So a good source of carbohydrates helps replace that! (So obviously I'm not saying go eat pizza everyday haha! I'm talking oats, brown rice, whole grains etc. the good sort of carbs!) anyway I thought I'd give it a go...
NOTE: I just want to point out I wasn't purposely eating low-carb as weight loss isn't my number one priority right now, I know that'll take time! But I was just unknowingly not eating enough carbs day-to-day for someone who is breastfeeding!
It's now day 5 of eating a more carbs to try and help my milk supply, and I'm a very happy lady as so far so good!! My boobs feel plump again, I have the let down nipple tingly feeling back and I can pump a decent bottle full of breast milk again! Maddison happily latches straight onto my boob like she used to and stays for a decent length feed - perfect!! We do still have formula in the house as a back up! I will always try breast first, as that personally is my preferred way to feed her, but I do still give the odd formula feed if I have a day when I'm struggling with my milk. So I guess I'm kind of combination feeding now? but like 90% breast and 10% formula!!
I just knew something wasn't working quite right in my body.. Was it the hormones from my retained placenta? Was it lack of carbs? Could it have been a combination of both? Who knows!! I'm not a pro, I don't really know the exact science (and I'm not about to go off doing experiments!) but something has changed/helped!! I'm just a first-time mummy trying my best and learning as I go along! But I do feel so much better now I've made these changes and like I've got my breastfeeding mojo back!! If any other mummy is struggling, maybe more carbs could help you too? Has anyone else been through this? What tricks/changes did you find helped? I'd love to know!!
Feel free to comment below or message me via the social page! Love x
So I have now been a mummy for 6 weeks.. I think it is safe to say these have been the most tiring, enchanting, confusing, heartwarming, BEST and most fulfilling 6 weeks of my life! I have truly learnt and discovered so much as a new mummy in this time and mine and Josh's relationship feels stronger than ever.. All thanks to our little bundle of joy! I've previously shared and talked about my experience breastfeeding in detail (CLICK HERE TO READ) and also about the frustration and evening challenge that is colic! (CLICK HERE TO READ) So I wanted to update you on those topics and share other parts of our journey so far!! (I'm sorry this is a long blog post, but there is just so much to tell!)
First off is our sleeping arrangements.. I've been lucky that my amazing mum saved my old baby crib I had 24 years ago and it is still in perfect condition! So I've been able to pass that down to Maddison. It feels so special being able to look down at my beautiful sleeping girl, knowing that she is snoozing exactly where I did as a baby! So she is currently sleeping in the crib next to our bed. I can't imagine not having her by my side at night, I think I would be so paranoid not being able to hear her little sighs and dreamy noises right next to me. (God help me when it comes to moving her into the big cot in her own bedroom - we'll cross that bridge when we get there haha!) I think that is to do with separation anxiety which I have talked about before and struggle with. So during the night she sleeps in our room and during the day she normally sleeps in the baby bouncer, which was also mine when I was a baby and my mum kept because, and I quote "any and every baby that goes in this bouncer, sleeps amazingly!" and oh my... It is a baby MIRACLE worker!
I do let her sleep on my chest a lot if she falls asleep on me post feed, she just loves to settle on me and sometimes refuses to settle anywhere else!! And I'm definitely not complaining, I LOVE the cuddles and she's not going to be this small forever, so I'm making the most of it!! Does this mean she could become a bit clingy to me? Possibly.. but at the moment I honestly couldn't care if she becomes a mummy's girl - I just love her so much I could burst!! I have also on occasion had her snooze in our bed with me in the mornings once Josh goes off to work. I haven't done co-sleeping much, and I would only ever do it with me in the bed and for a nap, not for the whole night. Once Josh leaves, we can spread out and I can create a safe "pillow fort" around her and she sleeps on-top of the duvet with a blanket wrapped around her, so there's no risk of her slipping under the covers. Then I can have my side of the bed and I feel confident and safe that I wouldn't have the risk of rolling over on her. Having said that though, in all honesty, I think a mothers subconscious would never allow you to fall asleep deep enough for that to happen anyway! We are on constant baby alert!
We really struggled the first few nights with keeping her wrapped up and warm! Maddison has the strongest most wiggly arms and legs already and just loves to kick around and sleep like a starfish sprawled out! (She must get that from her Daddy as he likes to take up all the bed and spread out too haha!) So when we tried swaddling her, she would just go red, cry and you could just see the struggle and desperation to break free, she looked like a little baby bomb that was going to explode!!! Anyone else's baby hate being swaddled?! She's the only baby I know that will NOT settle being swaddled what so ever!! So it was a case of finding a technique to keep a blanket on her all night.. we've found tucking it right under the crib mattress helps to hold her legs down.. but her arms will still find a way to be up by her head!
We feel VERY lucky that Maddison is a sleepy, chilled, happy baby and she has a very good temperament 99% of the time. We do still get the odd evening when she will be colicky, but nothing like we were experiencing!! It really seems to have passed since around week 4 which is a BIG relief as colic is just so draining and soul destroying! And after every attempt and suggestion, there really was nothing that would help her, so it was just a case of sticking it out for those few horrendous hours in the evening.. (PHEW!!!!). So now colicky Maddison seems to have been tamed, (and now Love Island is over.. sorry not sorry!), our evening routine usually goes like this.. We will bath her around 9/9:30pm, have the last feed around 10:30pm and then she will usually sleep till about 2:30am. She will then wake for a feed/nappy change which usually lasts about an hour, then go back to sleep till about 6/7am!! And that has more or less been our routine since week 1! I mean that's a rough guide... its not perfect every night!! We've had the odd night of barely any sleep but we've also had the odd night when she's slept a good 5 hours straight!! So it's hit and miss, but usually Maddison sticks to the pattern described above! We only started bathing Maddison at 4 weeks and had just been 'topping and tailing' her to keep her clean! I LOVE bathing with her, it's just another opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact and bonding time with my little one! Despite her even pooing in the bath on me one time (gross I know haha! but at least I could wash it straight off - that's mum life!!), I still love it!
She's becoming so much more alert and aware now, she's properly started smiling (NOT wind), making lots of little chatty babble noises and can hold her head up for aaggeeessss now! More than most babies at her age apparently! We now have daily playtime on the playmat, which is one of the best things I think I've bought - I'd definitely say invest in one!! We got ours from Mothercare and she loves just lying there hitting and kicking out at the toys hanging down. It also came with a colourful light up, musical flower feature and she loves to stare at that! I know it sounds crazy, but I do feel like she kicks her legs to the sound of the music! She also loves the typical 'black & white' toys, books and pictures are really stimulating for babies! She'll just sit and stare at them for nearly hours at a time taking it all in!! It makes me feel so proud, you can see from her facial expressions and eyes that she is learning and taking the world in - I'd love to know what she's thinking inside that little mind of hers!!
An update about ME now and well, I've been feeling a bit rotten to be honest... I have still been experiencing some bleeding and a few blood clots "down below", which at 6 weeks postpartum really shouldn't be happening. My midwife said that typically a women should have properly stopped bleeding by 3-4 weeks (2 weeks if you're lucky!). I've been getting really frustrated and upset having to still be wearing pads, they are just so awkward and uncomfortable and I feel like I'm the bloody baby wearing a nappy 24/7!!! So at our 6 week check up at the doctors yesterday, I explained what was happening and I was sent up to the hospital's Maternity Assessment Unit for an ultrasound scan and internal examination, just to check what was going on! They were looking out for anything that had been "left behind" from labour which would explain why I was still bleeding.. and lo and behold, I have a little bit of retained placenta!!! Joy!! So on Monday (tomorrow), I'm having to go back to hospital, be knocked out on anaesthetic, and they're going to surgically remove it for me! (Sounds quite dramatic but they basically hoover it out of you haha!) I've also been given strong antibiotics to start taking now to prevent any risk of infection which can happen if you're still bleeding! I'm a little nervous about going through this procedure, just because my body and "lady area" has already gone through so much!! It is disheartening adding another thing to the list of problems, and everything not being 100% straight forward! But I am pleased that it will finally get sorted! I was starting to feel like I just was going through one never ending period haha! So fingers crossed everything goes smoothly on Monday for me...!!
Although bleeding is not the most elegant of topics.. (sorry!), I feel happy and comfortable sharing this information with you all, as I think it's SO important for anyone reading this to learn from my experience and tell your doctor if you are still bleeding a lot after birth and it doesn't seem to be stopping!! Because if you just leave it you can get infections and become really poorly, so it's just not worth the risk! Especially while we are trying to look after a newborn baby! Being sick just makes it even more draining, challenging and exhausting!! We all learn by reading and sharing our various journeys, so if I can help another mama by putting myself out there.. then great!!
You'll be pleased to hear that I am no longer nervous about breastfeeding in public, which does make life a lot easier - wahoo! I'll admit I'm still not very elegant doing it, I'm sure I end up flashing some poor person my stretch marked "tiger" boob and I always get the muslin in a twiddle!! BUT.. I'm out there doing it! I'm not sure how or what came across me, but something just clicked and I thought sod it, if my baby wants feeding, I'm just going to do it! It really did help the more I got out the house and the confidence just grew with that! The first few times I went out I was a faffing mess! Did I have enough nappies? Did I have enough spare clothes? Should I take cotton wool balls or just wipes, what would be easier? Had I forgotten anything?! Was I wearing a breastfeeding friendly "easy access" outfit?!... the list just went on and on!! But I'm sure every first time mummy can relate to me there!! The thought of being caught out in public and feeling lost and helpless was something I was petrified of!! So the one thing I'd say is just get out there, the more you go out the better you get at it! I reckon it would have been even harder if I had put off venturing out with a baby for too long - although you can't beat those mummy and baby sofa cuddles at home in your pjs!!
Speaking of boobies.. did you know babies can be born with some breast tissue?! When Maddison was 3 weeks old I had a massive freak out as I felt a lump under her right boob while I was changing her, and of course I jumped to the worst possible scenario!! But you do that as a mummy!! So I rushed to the doctors that day and because I was in such a fluster I didn't realise that she actually had a lump on the other side as well (although it was a lot smaller, so easy to miss the GP said!) But yes it was breast tissue!! Apparently it's due to the exposure of all our maternal hormones we have in the womb. The hormones which make our breasts grow and milk glands to be stimulated, can then cause the same thing to happen to our babies breasts too! I couldn't believe it! And apparently newborn girls can also experience a period due to all these hormones they are exposed too! (But obviously check with your doctor anyway if you find any lumps, bumps or blood just to be safe!!) But I think that it is just so clever and fascinating that our bodies can pass down those hormones to our baby like that!
ANYWAY.. I think that is it!!! I blabbed on for long enough!! I think that's pretty much everything that has been going on so far!! I know this blog was a long one (sorry!) but I just had SO much I wanted to share and update you on! If I haven't mentioned something you particularly wanted to know about, or want me to expand more on anything, do feel free to comment below with any questions or you can message me via the Social page! Also if anyone has any experiences, similar or different, that they'd like to share feel free to!! Love x
This section will all be focused on being pregnant, discovering motherhood and baby bits!