I have just sent this to be included at Goochima.. I hope they decide to use it..
Molly was born on December 29th 2006 after a traumatic induced labour. I had epidural anaesthesia and Molly was very sleepy due to the sedative effect that an epidural can have on babies (this is something I only discovered afterwards). This sleepiness led to difficulties with Molly attaching. She would be asleep very quickly after latching on and would just stop sucking. I didn't receive much advice in the hospital apart from information on how much she should be drinking and that I should be trying to feed her every three hours, then express the little that I had left and try to give that to her. This was so challenging as she was asleep and would not take the extra.
She lost weight very quickly and the advice I was given was to try formula top-ups after breastfeeding her. Let me just say straight out that this was bad advice. It shook my confidence in myself and in my ability to nourish my baby. It was so much mucking around to just give my baby the food it needed. At no stage did any professional suggest that we go to bed, block out the world and spend time skin to skin offering the boob regularly. I had to work this out for myself.
We had a turning point after a visit from the maternal and child health nurse. She spotted the tin of formula in the cupboard and asked me if I was planning to exclusively breastfeed. I said that I was desperate to make it work and outlined the different advice we had been given. She offered right there and then to take the formula with her. She told me that she felt we had been given poor advice and that she felt that if I just concentrated on feeding Molly from my breast regularly and stopped trying to "top her up". I continued to express after each feed (to increase my supply) and put the leftovers in the freezer rather than get frustrated trying to give it to her when she was asleep.
Like magic, my supply increased, Molly started sucking more vigorously. She was receiving more nutrition and started waking up more. All of a sudden we had a "normal" breastfeeding routine! She asked for it, I provided it and we both enjoyed it so much.
Molly weaned herself after a wonderful 19 month breastfeeding relationship. I really wanted to make it to 2 years as the World Health Organisation recommends but Molly decided she was done.
I am now what some would call a "lactivist".. I really love helping other Mamas to breastfeed their babies. I am anti (unnecessary) formula feeding. I understand there are many women who formula feed for a good reason however I am of the belief that human milk is superior. it is a perfect food for human babies and so I do what I can to make sure babies get the milk they deserve.
The key bits of advice I would have are as follows;
1. Try not to have unnecessary interventions during your labour and birth. Any intervention that messes with the natural release of oxytocin and other birth hormones can impact your milk production & bonding. Epidural anaesthesia (although they will tell you it doesn't affect the baby) can cause your baby to be sleepy in the first days of life. I know, it happened to us!
2. Don't try and do too much or have too many visitors in the early days. You need to spend time alone with your baby. Take your baby to bed, be skin to skin and just feel the love.. Love hormones get the milk flowing. Stress and adrenaline have the opposite effect.. so RELAX!
3. Don't stick to a strict schedule and do NOT avoid feeding through the night. Your baby has a tiny stomach and needs nourishment every 3 or so hours. Books/friends/"experts" that say otherwise are just plain wrong. Feed on demand and if your baby is sleepy, feed as regularly as you can. If you need to use a syringe (if your baby just wont wake for long enough) this is better than a bottle as it will not cause nipple confusion.
4. Seek the advice of an independent lactation consultant if you are really struggling- google the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association). Don't try and do it alone. Join your local ABA group and surround yourself with other breastfeeding mothers. Some women find that they are the only person in their circle who breastfeeds and this can be isolating. Get where the boobs are at!!!
I hope this is helpful...
Happy boobing friends!