Now without getting into a breast is best debate. (A fellow blogger and mum friend from The Unit at Arrowe park has looked at this debate see Here) I’d said all along that I’d like to give breast feeding a go and I’ll stick by that. It’s not everyone’s preference and I fully understand that.
When Oliver was born he wouldn’t latch. Most babies with PWS aren’t able to latch and we very quickly learnt that he wouldn’t be able to, so I started expressing. For ten weeks I’ve continued to express. I’ve gone through days of mass milk production and days where I’ve had barely anything and cried through them. When they talk to you in the hospital they don’t tell you about the mental strain that your milk supply dropping can cause, they also don’t tell you about how tiring expressing for a baby with an NG tube can be.
Babies who are formula fed have their bottles cleaned and filled with sterilised water ready for a feed, pop the powder in shake and go! Some even easier, they buy ready made formula and pour into their sterilised bottles and are good to go.
Breastfed babies are a little different but mum has their supply with her and can fed on que.
Mums who choose to solely express – generally become the insane member of the crowd. We still have all the sterilising issues of formula fed parents but we also have to sterilise our pumps that are being used 6/8/12 times a day.
Mums who express and NG feed have the same as above but we also have two different syringes to keep clean and carry with us and litmus paper to test the tube before feeds.
My original routine when in hospital was express when my boobs filled up and I had the opportunity to. Being in the hospital for a good chunk of the day meant that I could use their machines which are better than most of the brands that spring to mind when you think of baby bottles and accessories. I produced so much in the first instance that I filled a shelf in the unit freezer. This changed when I came home. It dropped off significantly and I had to put a few formula feeds in to keep us going. Then after being giving domperidone by the doctors my supply boosted back up, not quite to what it was but enough for me to be able to put a bottle in the freezer here and there. We came home and Oliver was on around 76mls a feed and is now on 116mls a feed. There’s a huge difference there in quantity over 6 feeds a day. I’ve started to get to a point where I can’t do the overnight expressing because I’m so tired. It’s also incredibly draining and lots of people don’t understand, especially those who haven’t breast fed. A feed now takes over an hour. By the time we try a bottle feed, get his expressed milk through the tube and then express enough for the next feed that’s at least an hour. So six hours (minimum) out of twenty four I’m feeding or preparing a feed, if you add on the eight hours sleep you’re supposed to get as well there’s fourteen of my twenty four hours gone. Ten hours left to do everything else. People seem to be frustrated with me not visiting or getting time with me. I now have a time slot of around three hours where I can do things comfortably. I can do things for longer but the discomfort that I have isn’t really worth it.
I’d started having doubts and thought about slowly reducing my breast milk feeds down to try and make other people happy. An odd thought to have to some people but until you’ve been doing what I’ve been doing and having restrictions you cannot really judge my thought process. With Mike back at work in January I know I can’t carry on at the rate I’ve been going. I’ll never be able to leave the house between feeds, expressing, appointments, SALT visits, dietician and neonatal nurse visits and doing household chores – I should probably remind people that it’s my choice and until I decide to stop then you have to fit in with Oliver’s and my routine.
This week oliver has finally passed the 1st centile line.
Both I and the dietician cheered when this showed up on her graph. Olivers weight has been so low since birth that he didn’t even follow the very bottom line, he was creating his own line. The neonatal consultant had even mentioned that he may need to go on a higher calorific feed once a day if his weight didn’t pick up.
I’ve no idea if formula would have had the same/better/worse effect. I just know that all of my efforts are working and that’s good enough reason for me to hang in there. I know that my milk will start to drop off and probably eventually disappear to nothing over the coming months but until then I’m going to stick with it.
I think that it’s odd that he’s going to go from one extreme to another, struggling to feed to not wanting to do anything but feed. He’s doing really well feed wise now, we’re building him up and he now takes around 30-35 every feed by bottle and we’re going to start trying to add another feed in to build his stamina up. He’s finally started letting us know when he’s hungry as well which is a huge step forward for us.
We’ve managed to cross off another goal and now we’re on our way up to between the 2nd and 9th centile to fit in with his length. Hopefully this won’t take long!