The Newborn Diaries: A Trip To The Health Visitor

28/03/2011 09:25 | Updated 22 May 2015

I've been dreading going to the health visitor. The last time I went (admittedly weeks ago), it was dispiriting, with Diana not having gained as much weight as they would have liked and both mum and baby leaving close to tears.

Also, it feels like I'm in the doctor's surgery for some reason or other every week: mastitis, post-natal and baby checks, jabs, BCG vaccine, hearing test, etc. and I find it deeply irritating that even though I know they have baby scales there, they refuse to weigh her and force me to go elsewhere.

The doctor's appointments are hardly smooth sailing. Vaccinations are a nightmare - the betrayed look of shock Diana gave me while getting her first jabs is still ingrained in my psyche as an absolutely horrific memory - and you lose a quarter of the day between waiting in the office and the inevitable post-visit feeding that ensues.

I had to go to the surgery again this week to seek treatment for a particularly resistant case of nappy rash that had lasted weeks, immune to the effects of Sudocrem, air drying and organic cotton nappies. Good thing I went - turns out this super strain is actually a fungal infection masquerading as nappy rash and D needed an antibiotic cream. Still couldn't get her weighed, though.

The reason I ultimately dragged myself to the health visitor is because I've exhausted every other option in my quest to find out about the mysterious green poo, which remains a constant in my life.

It's gone on for weeks now and has been through myriad shades of green, from a dark sludgy colour to bright neon to a kind of pale green curd. It doesn't really smell but it's still pretty disgusting. According to my midwife, doctor and Penelope Leach, it's considered perfectly normal for breastfed babies.

But of course I couldn't help trying to self-diagnose online, which has only led to paranoia that Diana has a food allergy or that this is the result of a foremilk/hindmilk imbalance (aka Diana is getting too much of the sugary appetizer and not enough of the full fat main course, which would be a disaster because the remedy is to keep feeding the baby on one breast for several hours and through several feeds. Ouch.) The point is, even with people telling me not to worry, my infant's poo is a creepy green shade and I am confronted with this fact all the time, because she poos about 10 times a day. How can I not be slightly traumatised?

Probably not a great sign that even after my long absence, the health visitor, who is absolutely lovely, remembers me as 'the one eating all those muffins' when we met (in my defense, it was a post-pregnancy basket from friends, which I may or may not have devoured entirely in front of her). The good news: Diana is gaining weight well. When I mentioned the green stools that now haunt my nightmares, the health visitor asked me what I'd been eating. Mainly mini Mars bars (I'd purchased two family-sized bags for Halloween trick-or-treaters and devoured them myself), which I couldn't admit, so I mumbled something about cutting down on my sugar intake and then remembered I'd also eaten an enormous salad yesterday. Phew.

Apparently (and shockingly), the salad didn't score many points. I was told I'm not eating the right foods and instructed to maximise my carb intake, including pasta, rice, potatoes and bread with every meal. Yes, please.

As it turns out, not only are carbs essential for producing optimal breastmilk, but increasing my carb intake is likely to change the colour of Diana's poos.

Best news ever? Quite possibly. Also, I'm pretty sure I've solved the mystery of why people breastfeed for abnormally long periods of time - and it has nothing to do with bonding.

Have I mentioned the health visitor is my new favourite person?

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