Breastfeeding Blues

Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.

Looking at my happy, healthy, strong and beautiful little girl, it’s hard to remember why I worried so much. My daughter is 18 months old, she’s 95th centile for height and 91st centile for weight. We couldn’t have a more incredible bond. I’ve struggled with Postnatal Depression- but I’ve always adored her and I know that she loves me too.
It’s breastfeeding week this week, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t shed a few tears when reminded of the fact that I couldn’t breast feed my baby.
I was scrolling back through photos when a found this picture of Florence latching. I didn’t realise it had been taken, but seeing it soothes me and reminds me of how I tried my best. After a major artery was ruptured after a tear during labour I had a massive haemorrhage and lost around 66% of my total blood volume. I had to have a triple blood transfusion and a plasma transfusion but despite this, I was left very anaemic.
I was later diagnosed with sepsis due to complications of being strep b positive. When I wasn’t fighting for my life I was trying to feed my baby. My milk never really came in and due to my mother having to bottle feed my baby whilst I was in intensive care, my already almost non existent supply couldn’t match that of a whole formula feed.
Initially I tried for almost 48 hours straight to breastfeed and had to beg a midwife for formula as my baby was screaming as she was so hungry. I continued to try for weeks and weeks. Pumping didn’t work and neither did feeding. I never got a ‘let down’, I don’t know what if feels like to have one.
We started our journey trying so desperately to breastfeed, but this journey was cut painfully short due to circumstances out of my control. My heart still breaks about this, because after a difficult labour and pregnancy, it would have been lovely for something to work out!
A family friend who is a lactation expert came to see me a few months ago, we talked through it all and she tried to reassure me that I have no reason to feel so awful, I really did try my hardest and she truly believes that it would have been almost impossible for me to breast feed, given the circumstances such as fighting for my life, the medications I was on and other factors such as having an underactive thyroid and PCOS.
Some people don’t want to breastfeed and that is fine. Babies who are bottle fed still thrive… But I wanted this so much for my baby and it still hurts that I couldn’t even provide her with something as simple as my own milk.  Yes she is incredible and she is thriving, but every time I see someone else feeding their baby, I feel like a failure. I can’t help it, but that’s how I felt then and often how I often feel now. One day it might stop hurting, but for now it is still a very sore subject. My body physically couldn’t feed my baby. My body failed me and my baby. Without formula, my baby would have starved.
I’m sure that the colostrum and the action of poaching my daughter on my breast helped to lay the perfect foundation for our incredible bond, but formula, and my love, influenced our incredible girl to blossom so beautifully.
Don’t buy into the “Only 1% of women cannot breastfeed” … it is a load of crap. Think of the Mummies on medications, the Mummies who are mentally or physically unwell, or fighting for their lives through illness or after a traumatic labour. The babies born prematurely or with a tongue ties. This supposed statistic leaves far too many parents feeling inadequate or like failures and it isn’t okay!
Shout out to all mummies in the same boat who have ever felt inadequate because of feeding problems and complications. I completely feel your pain, this week and always.

Group B Strep – Aware.

30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time. Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it. Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.

Strep B.
Strep B was knowing Mummies who had needlessly lost their babies.
The stories lead to worry.
Worry became research.
Research became awareness.
Awareness became knowledge.
30-50% of women carry strep b at any given time.
Generally it’s harmless to the women who carry it.
Yet, it can be fatal for the babies that they carry.
Knowledge had to become taking action.
Strep B was asking my midwife if I could be tested.
Just to be told that it’s very rare and it’s highly unlikely.
Strep B was taking matters into my own hands.
I ordered my own testing kit through the list of GBSS approved ECM tests. 
I waited.
I waited until I was 35 weeks pregnant to do my test.
35 weeks came. I did the swabs.
Sealed, Labelled.
I wrote a cheque for £37.
£37 to potentially save my babies life.
£37 well spent, regardless of the result.
It was all put in an envelope and posted.
I knew that the results would take up to two weeks.
I waited.
Two weeks had passed but no results had arrived.
I sent them an email.
They replied straight away and were very apologetic.
This email had an attachment.
I opened the attachment.
The seconds that it took to open and load felt like years.
*POSITIVE* *POSITIVE* blared at me like red lights.
Is it my fault?
What had I done?
I cried and I cried.
My excitement to meet our baby turned to fear.
It was midday, but I fell asleep in tears.
I told my partner and I told my parents.
I reminded myself that it wasn’t my fault.
Strep B isn’t sexually transmitted. It is naturally incubated.
There was no way I could have known.
Fear had to turn into action.
Action…
Action, was raising awareness to my pregnant friends and acquaintances.
Action, was passing on the results of the test onto my midwife.
Action, was including my strep b positive diagnosis in my birthing plan.
The community midwife stuck a small “STREP B” sticker on my pregnancy notes.
This was to supposedly alert the team that were to help me through labour.
A sticker wasn’t certain enough, but my voice was.
I couldn’t count how many times, I had to get medical professionals to clarify that they would take this seriously.
Would they have enough of the antibiotics on the ward?
Would I get access to them?
Would I get at least 2 rounds of antibiotics?
Will I get the antibiotics at least 2 hours before she is born?
Would she get checks after she was born to insure that complications had been completely avoided?
What if I couldn’t get to hospital quickly enough after my waters broke?
The 31st of January came.
I was unwell.
I went to maternity day care and was diagnosed with preeclampsia.
I was to be induced.
Starting that night.
I was relived!
I would be in hospital until she was born.
I could be sure that everything will be ready for her arrival.
I had many conversations with midwives about strep b.
Where did you get tested?
I tested myself at home with testing kit.
How did you get tested?
I tested myself after I paid for a test.
How did you know about strep b?
I have had family friends affected by it.
How muc
h did you pay to get tested?
£37
A couple of days passed.
My waters broke.
Fear kicked in.
I was moved from an induction room to a labour room.
A drip was started to protect my baby from strep b.
But my black and blue hand wouldn’t take the drip.
I became very worried and begged them to swap to another cannulation site.
They did.
I was finally getting what I needed to protect my baby.
One round.
Two round.
Over 5 hours.
She made her entrance.
It started to go wrong for me, because of a tear.
Yet- She was okay.
I didn’t know it yet.
But my baby was safe.
My Mother made sure that she was getting her after birth strep b checks.
They were made every 4 hours.
She was fine.
My baby was going to be okay.
I came round.
Went from theatre, to recovery to being back on the labour ward.
She was having another lot of checks.
Temperature.
Stethoscope to the chest.
Movement.
Breathing.
Our baby was okay.
She was healthy.
But it all could have been so different.
I was feeling cold.
Then hot.
Then freezing.
My temperature was taken.
Then my pulse.
Blood was taken.
Blood was tested.
My tear had became infected by strep b.
I was diagnosed with sepsis.
I was left fighting for my life for the second time in 24 hours.
I was administered antibiotics.
Strep b had given me sepsis.
It took over a week to recover- Despite me being well equipped.
But if it was my baby who had become unwell.
It could have been so different.
I don’t want to think about it.
I can’t think about it.
I will not shut up about strep b until it is properly addressed.
Until every mummy to be, knows of the danger.
Of the risks.
I will not stop, until strep b is no longer an issue.
It doesn’t need to be an issue.
Every woman pregnant should be screened for strep b.