Holding my newborn baby after such an amazing birth was an experience I cannot put into words. The love I felt for this tiny little boy was nothing I had ever felt before. Jack was finally here!
Once we were out of the birthing pool, the midwives asked me if I wanted to try and latch Jack for milk. This is the part I had read so much about and felt so excited for. I had watched videos of minute old babies shuffling to their mum's breasts for milk and suckling away however it just didn't happen the way it was "supposed" to for us. My baby boy wouldn't latch! The midwives were practically on top of me trying to force him on my breasts but he just didn't want to feed. I felt okay about it all as I had expressed colostrum into syringes in the later stages of my pregnancy, so gave him these. I then spent my first night in a local hospital with support to try and get him to latch, which he did a few times.
I felt on top of the world leaving the hospital with my little family and felt overwhelmingly proud. Once we were home, Jack wanted to feed constantly which meant I couldn't do a single thing for myself and didn't understand why this was happening. Why did he need food every minute of the day? Was I doing something wrong?! On our 3 day check-up, Jack had lost a little more than his 10% of weight. I felt devastated and my eyes started to stream. I felt like I had been letting my son down, the one thing I "should" have been able to do, the one thing that is supposed to be instinct and natural and I felt like I was failing! The health visitor told me to keep going and I knew I wanted to at least try. I knew formula feeding was ok and still has lots of benefits but I always strongly felt breastfeeding was what I wanted to do.
I fed on demand which meant having Jack on me from 7am-11am, then every couple of hours and then again for hours in the evening. I felt exhausted, deflated and I didn't understand why he wanted feeding so much and I questioned everything. I felt so sad and frustrated, one evening I asked my husband to take Jack and put him in the garden.... I was serious! I had friends and family tell me I should top him up with formula but I wanted to persevere. In the first few weeks I used to panic about going out as I knew we would have to stop every 10 minutes to feed. After this, I spent HOURS on Google typing in constant breastfeeding and came across cluster feeding! That was it! He was cluster feeding! He was just increasing my supply by putting in his order by demand. Why was this not something I was told? I felt very alone and decided to phone the national breastfeeding helpline, I even have their number saved in my phonebook! Then, after speaking to other mums, I realised it was very common. I nearly gave up so many times and we had many dark nights where I would tell my husband to go out and get formula because I felt so tired and like I couldn't give Jack what he needed.
After a bit of time it did get easier, much easier and eventually Jack started to feed every two hours. Now, 10 months on, I am still breastfeeding my precious little boy and am enjoying and cherishing every second. Looking back, I wish I had known these things to help make me feel "normal" instead of having people tell me to stop and give up because I wasn't giving my baby what he needed when in fact he put on lots of weight very quickly and is a healthy and happy baby!
It is easy to feel let down for not being made aware of these things but having gone through this has meant I can share my experiences with other mums through blogging and my YouTube channel 'Gemma Jade' and hope it helps them like it could have helped me.