Leah’s Birth Story and One Week PostPartum Update!

From broken waters to one week postpartum – Leah shares her birth story

25th September!

I woke up and rushed to the loo thinking I’d pee’d myself (something I hadn’t done throughout the entire pregnancy)
There was a small trickle but it didn’t smell like urine our have the normal yellow tinge – it was clear and in all honesty smelt like a mix of bleach and semen. I put on a pad just in case it happened again and headed back to bed. 
Low and behold a slightly bigger gush in the exact same scent and colour so I changed the pad again and decided to wake Ben for advice – he said to put on a pad and call triage if I got any contractions (worse than the ones I’d been getting since the 9th) or got a bigger gush. Disclaimer; I didn’t call triage due to us having an appointment at 9am at the hospital anyway. 
[5, 630 and 730am]
Repeated the pad change with a little less fluid than at the 4am change. 
Left home for the growth scan with contractions slowly getting more intense, and with Ben starting to believe it might actually be happening. 
Arrived at the hospital with contractions getting considerably worse and leakage now happening on almost every step/movement. 
We got called into the growth scan, I explained my morning and leaked big style as I laid down on the table. The sonographer examined me and verified I had in fact been losing waters and had very little left but also that little Spawn was measuring small so induction was going to be booked. We was then sent to wait for a midwife to do a cervical exam to check if I was dilated and to get a second opinion on the leakage. 
Called into exam room and given a once over; not a comfortable experience by the way.
Midwife verified that it was my waters but that my cervix wasn’t dilated and told that he has 24 hours from when my waters initially broke to make his appearance otherwise he’d be getting a forced eviction (induction). Admitted on antenatal within a couple minutes and made comfy.
This then starts the most boring few hours of my life bar the medium pain contractions I continued to suffer through. 
Contractions started getting stronger and closer together – a painkiller stronger than paracetamol requested (but not given until 230am)

26th September!

Given oramorph finally and Ben arrived at hospital ready for me being moved to Labour ward for induction, but not allowed into antenatal; decided to go sleep in the car until allowed in. 
Still hadn’t been moved despite being promised to be moved by 4am. Ben still sleeping in car and contractions still very intense. 
Ben allowed up into antenatal due to them not sticking to the promise, despite the visiting time rules. 
Finally moved to Labour ward as contractions to the point of crying/struggling to breathe even though a super grumpy midwife was adamant I wasn’t in enough pain and wasn’t meant to go across for induction. Contractions actually floored me before and during walk to ward. Given gas and air.

Given pethidine due to contractions being so intense and barely felt needle due to being so high on g+a. Ben given strict instructions to not make jokes during Labour and also had to assist me walking to the toilet due to being so high – thought I needed to pee but was in fact waters leaking a lot. 
Officially in established Labour – 2cm dilated. 
Second stage of Labour started. Struggled to remember breathing techniques; kept breathing in deep but on outward breathe kept pushing into coccyx. Persistently moaned that I wanted a C-Section and did not let up. Felt very strong urge to push but told not to. Checked cervix shortly after and told I was 8cm dilated hence urge being so intense. Given °2 episiotomy.
(Crowning picture taken. Such a gross but beautiful photo!)
Little Sith Lord Spawn arrived and instantly pee’d on me.
My first words ever spoken to my son was “Aww he’s such a pretty potato”
Felt an overwhelming love seeing Ben holding Anthony; refused to hold him myself due to being too high and not wanting to drop him. 
Given pitocin to help deliver placenta – taken 6 minutes. Episiotomy stitched up whilst on gas and air and made Ben talk to me to distract me from the needle pain. Gas and air taken away – slowly came back to earth. Wanted to get up and dressed but told to relax for a little while so adrenaline can come back down. 
Given first feed via hand expressing and spoon. 
Moved to postnatal ward, given a couple sandwiches and made room homely with blanket and pillow. 
*36 hours Labour // 3 hours 4 mins active Labour*


 Day One 

Now 90% of day one is in my birth story so this one will be brief but there is a few small things to be mentioned.

First of all being how incredible my husband is with supporting me through the gas and air come down, and then through the fear of holding our newborn son; without Ben by my side I doubt I would’ve got through the first night admittedly purely because of how nerve wrecking everything was so thank you Ben for being my saviour and keeping me mentally straight.

Secondly, pooping! I was told this was going to be agony due to having stitches but actually it was the complete opposite and I had very minimal pain from my stitches, although I did have pain in the form of ring sting from the pre-labour clear out which lasted a good couple days.

Another symptom that doesn’t get spoken about regularly is cold sweats during both day and night – this can be quite a stressful experience and a little worrying but it’s completely normal and the easiest way to combat it is with a mass amount of hydration and thin blankets. 

 Day Two 

This day started off awful as little man wasn’t holding his temperature and had to be put in an incubator with minimal handling (only allowed to be held during feeds and changes) – this was extremely deflating and made me feel a little lacking a mother in the inability to grow my child properly.

I hand expressed 15mls which was amazing for only being on the second day but then I tried skin to skin to get him to latch but his mouth/suck was too small and he strug
gled so I ended up giving in and feeding him via spoon which took him almost an hour – very disheartening to not be able to breastfeed when it’s all I ever wanted to do through pregnancy as the feeding option.

The upside of this day however was that little man decided to open his eyes briefly and we got to see his very shiny fresh eyes which made the day that little bit more bearable. 

 Day Three 

Little man was moved from spoon feeding to teets as his feeds got increased – I managed to keep up with both hand expressing and pumping but still very flattened by the lack of breastfeeding.
Emotions started to dip so broke the rules of Ben not being allowed on the bed and had cuddles – I cried, a lot! and thanked him for giving me this life with all our babies. The hormone dip was awful and with me being so stubborn on crying I felt very out of control – cried multiple time and even had to hug two midwives due to getting emotional. THIS DOES NOT LAST; DO NOT FEEL WEAK FOR TEMPORARY HORMONES. 

 Day Four 

We had a minor achievement in the form of little man latching but only for about three seconds; made me feel incredibly happy to know it could be a possibility but again gave a dip as I felt unable to do what was ‘expected’ for a mother. That being said, not being able to breastfeed doesn’t make you less of a mother or a failure in anyway and as long as you are feeding your child then you are doing a perfectly fine job! Don’t give up because you may end up successful like I did on day six.

In the afternoon we were allowed home and it was honestly one of the most terrifying experience I’d had in a while as I knew I wouldn’t have the midwives or doctors to help if things went wrong but with the help of Ben I managed to just about hold it together to enjoy it for a few minutes.

In the hospital before we left I was told to follow the rule of feeding 30mls every three hours which in turn made the first night incredibly difficult along with us not playing music and having the light off. I was waking every three hours on the dot and trying to feed regardless of whether he wanted to or not which made me sleep deprived, stressed and very emotional (along with the baby blues starting to take effect very strongly). The rule should be; sleep when they sleep and feed them when they cry – don’t force yourself to follow any strict rules as you will just end up stressing yourself out more than you should, which will in turn stress out the baby (and potentially your partner too).
 Day Five 

This was hands down the hardest day of my mothering journey yet, and maybe my life due to the downward plummet my hormones took – it was incredibly steep and I felt broken in every possible way mentally. Thankfully a midwife popped over to drop off a electric breast pump for me to use as I was engorged to crying point and the pump we had wasn’t working; we talked through my emotions of the night/morning and was told it was completely normal having just had little one but to keep an eye incase it doesn’t ease (which can be a sign of PND – YOU ARE NOT WEAK OR LESS WORTHY OF BEING A MOTHER IF YOU HAVE THIS!)

After a few hours of calming down my wonderful neighbour, Jessica, came over to give me some human contact that wasn’t my husband or son and let me rant/rave at her about the struggles of becoming a mother… It helped more than anyone will ever realise. Don’t hold those feelings in and feel like your wrong for having them – talking always helps in one way or another. 

Oh and baby blues are incredibly fucking rough, or at least they are for me but as I said talking helps! Wishing you was back in hospital or that split second thought where you wish you hadn’t got caught pregnant does NOT make you a bad mother. It’s the hormones – you still love your child and don’t really think those things.

Baby blues does NOT last and crying does NOT make you weak. Walking away from your child for a moment and asking for help doesn’t make you weak either.

Basically nothing we did the night before would settle him – not food, cuddles with either of us or his dummy and I started wishing I was back in the hospital becaus
e atleast they knew what they was doing and could help, and due to the way I was feeling I got scared to be alone with him and was scared to go outside in case he did it again (incase someone judged or I broke in public).

The upside? He started to open his eyes alot more and kept them open which gave me strength in making me believe I knew what I was doing ever so slightly. 

 Day Six 

If you are not breastfeeding or using formula exclusively then pumping is essential to not getting mastitis, which might not sound like a painful thing but it can ruin your week! Thankfully I only got a few lumps and a couple red patches before running to the pump and feeling receive beyond belief. 
Seems stupid to mention but don’t use your dominant side constantly as you WILL get muscle pains that you didn’t realise you could get. 

The rule sleep when the baby sleeps is so essential as is so easy to get over tired which will make the hormone dip feel so much harder. Do not be afraid to ask for help from your partner, family or even friends – they will not turn down baby cuddles!

The best thing that happened this day? Something that helped pull me up out of my hormone dip – Our little man latched!! He took to the boob as if he knew exactly what he was doing and was extremely happy with himself. 

 Day Seven 

Breastfeeding, when done properly, feels so damn amazing! Your milk leaving your body feels something beautiful and knowing it’s going to growing your tiny human is so rewarding. Although that being said the hunger you get from breastfeeding/pumping is horrendous – eating a meal and then instantly making another becomes a little tedious. Starving is definitely a something that felt possible despite eating so much. Protein is your friend and vital in making you feel human again – Stock up!
I didn’t start getting postpartum contractions until I started breastfeeding exclusively but holy fuck! They were comparable to my Endometriosis pains and almost made me go back to bottle feeding. They, much like almost every other bad thing in pregnancy/postpartum, taper off and stop. They also help your body bounce back to prepregnancy function.

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My breastfeeding story

During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I wish I could say that breastfeeding worked for me but I can’t.
During my pregnancy breastfeeding was the only option I wanted for my baby, well for the first few months at least. My mum had bought me a steriliser, bottles, the teats, the bottle brush and although I was ever so grateful, in the back of my mind I thought “I want to breastfeed, so these won’t be useful… or at least not for a while.”

I watched the breastfeeding DVD to prepare myself and I attended a parent event where I spoke to two very lovely ladies who demonstrated with a woollen boob just how the baby would latch on. I found some different outfits to wear for breastfeeding and I even spoke to people to find out where I could breastfeed in town. I prepared myself for the odd person I was undoubtedly going to meet who would have a problem with my feeding  in public. How did other people deal with it? I read articles to find out. I knew it might be a bit difficult at first, but this was what I wanted and I was going to keep trying until it worked. I wanted to provide the milk for my baby and everyone I spoke to at that time had told me it was the best option for my baby.

My contractions started at a parent evening class on the Tuesday. I was too embarrassed to say anything because the lady running the group had joked that she’d “never had anyone go into labour at her pre-natal classes before”, and I was the silly sod who left it a week before my due date to attend the first class! I also attended the class on my own because for some reason, despite the fact it was called a ‘parent event’, it didn’t click in my head that my partner could come. I am going to blame the baby brain for that! I gave birth to my daughter on the Friday.
After giving birth to my daughter, despite feeling exhausted, (as I’m sure is the norm in that situation!), I had a new wave of energy and adrenaline.

This was it, I was going to do it. I was going to provide the food for my daughter.

The rest of that day we had a bit of trouble, but my daughter seemed to be latching on for short times. We were both just learning!

That first night though I must have had my finger permanently on the buzzer for the poor nurses. “I can’t do it.” It just didn’t seem to be working. The nurse would try to help me with the latch on each time. “You’ll get the hang of it.” “You’re tired.” In the end we were all getting a bit frustrated and the nurse thought she would try a premade bottle.

‘Hmmmm ok’, I thought, ‘just this once, just while I get the hang of it, but I don’t want her to get too used to the bottle.’I kept trying that day and as far as I was aware we were getting there.

That afternoon we were able to go home and me and my partner were full of excitement and adrenaline… we were mentally ready for this…
… but our daughter cried and cried and cried and cried.My partner sang to her, rocked her, we fed her, we played music, we even played womb sounds from YouTube.

Nothing was working.
By the early hours of the morning our confidence had been crushed in one foul swoop. The experience from that one night was enough to dampen our spirits for the next few months. We felt like absolute failures and we did the only last thing we could think to do at 2am in the morning and it was to phone for the cavalry. My partner’s mum came over, (I’m sure she was absolutely thrilled at that time of the day), and we were grateful that we weren’t alone because we thought clearly we can’t do this.
“She’s hungry,” she said.She can’t be, I thought. I’ve been feeding her constantly!

“We’re setting up the steriliser.” My partner and his mum proceeded to feed my daughter and I sat in the bedroom and sobbed, for what felt like hours. This isn’t what I wanted!

I’m pretty sure that what I was feeling that night was heart ache.
My partner then confirmed to me that she was feeding quite happily from the bottle. She was feeding from the bottle… but she couldn’t feed from me. This was obviously my fault. All I could think was that I was unable to do something that should have been the most natural thing in the world.
During those early weeks I was expressing milk slowly. I tried the nipple covers too but it just wasn’t happening. I had to accept it in the end that she would be bottle fed.
When my daughter was only a few weeks old we ventured out to some baby groups together. There were mums of course at the groups and they were breastfeeding. I felt embarrassed. I’d get the bottle out for my daughter and hide away somewhere to feed her. If someone saw me I felt I had to explain why I hadn’t been able to breastfeed… “My milk was slow in coming through.”
Looking back I think why on earth did I feel so embarrassed? It wasn’t a sign that I wasn’t looking after my child properly!
Over the next few weeks it came to light that as well as my milk being very slow, my daughter has a tongue tie which had been making it difficult for her to latch on.It wasn’t MY fault at all! It was no one’s fault.

In those early days you are just trying to do what is best for your baby. It’s all new and it’s all daunting, because you have this little person relying on you to understand what they need when they are crying and it can all feel a bit like trial and error.
I have the utmost respect for mums who breastfeed and I have the utmost respect for those who bottle feed. We are each going through our own parenting journey. We are the specialists in our own children’s needs.
Please go easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can and that’s all you can do.

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.

Debunking Breastfeeding Myths

I was left wondering so many things about breastfeeding after birth and I usually turned to Facebook groups or Google to help my through them. No matter how prepared we are to breastfeed, there will always be things we aren’t prepared for.

This week is world breastfeeding week!

As a mother who breastfed her child for the best part of a year, I know that breastfeeding can be hard enough without all the issues that come with it, such as mastitis, teething etc. I was left wondering so many things about breastfeeding after birth and I usually turned to Facebook groups or Google to help my through them. No matter how prepared we are to breastfeed, there will always be things we aren’t prepared for. So here are things I wish I knew during my breastfeeding journey.

Your baby only has a tiny tummy when they are born, so your colostrum will be enough! Your milk can take up to five days to come in, so don’t think because you are hardly leaking or cannot feel any milk in your boobs, that your baby isn’t getting enough!
Pumping means nothing!
If you’re only getting half an ounce of milk out when pumping, don’t think that your baby is only getting half an ounce. A baby’s sucking is SO much more effective than pumping! If your baby is content, don’t worry!
You may think because you are wearing the most expensive breast pad, you won’t leak through it. Oh how wrong you are. I will always remember being in a cafe, breastfeeding my daughter and leaking through 2 breast pads and a muslin cloth and soaking my top! So be sure to keep spare tops and nursing bras handy!
Your boobs will hurt a lot!
At the start, your boobs will hurt. They are getting used to a tiny human draining them but the pain does go. If the pain is unbearable/ more uncomfortable than usual, it may be worth mentioning to your GP or a Lactation Consultant.
You will get hungry when feeding! So try and keep snacks and a bottle of water in your feeding area. Thus is also handy for when baby is cluster feeding and not letting you move for food!
Crying over spilt milk!
Ignore the saying ‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk’, because there is. Imagine finishing up with pumping, turning to grab something and then knocking over the whole bottle of milk. Whether it is 1 Oz or 8ozs, it will always be super devastating.
Breast is best
No, no it’s not. I have friends who tried everything and anything to get their baby to feed and with no success, they turned to formula. Whether the reason be a tongue tie, traumatic birth etc., what truly matters is that baby is fed. If you are unsuccessful with breastfeeding, do not put yourself down. You are still an amazing mummy, no matter how baby is fed.