Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Diaries: "I didn’t know if I wanted to do it, so I decided to just go with the flow"

We join first-time mom Melissa Offner at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver as she shares her first 48 hours feeding baby Buffy.

 

Tuesday May 19, 2020

4:37 a.m.: Buffy Ocean is born weighing seven pounds, four ounces and measuring 55 centimetres. After 15 hours of labour, all I can do is burst into tears, overwhelmed by so many emotions and not knowing what to do. I can’t believe she’s finally here. She’s placed on my chest and spends the first 30 minutes squirming around before finding my left breast. With a little help, she latches. It’s so surreal and kind of strange, but she seems to know what to do.

10:00 a.m.: My second-ever feeding experience. Buffy latches quite quickly on both sides, but keeps falling asleep. She feeds on each breast for about 15 minutes. The nurses here at BC Women’s Hospital have been really helpful, giving me tons of tips on how to hold the baby, how long the feeding should last, how to help the baby latch, how it should feel—this is helping me feel more confident.

1:00 p.m.: Our third feeding. She’s fussy and keeps falling asleep, so I take one of the nurse’s tips to lightly blow on her face and stroke her arm and back to keep her engaged and awake. This seems to help and she nurses for 15 minutes on each side.

2:00 p.m.: We try swaddling her to get her to sleep, but all she wants to do is eat, so I offer her one side. It doesn’t work, so I try the other side and she nurses for a good 15 minutes.

5:30 p.m.: I feed her again for 10 to 15 minutes on each side and try to put her in her bassinet, but she’s still fussing. Maybe she’s still hungry? I try feeding her again, but she just falls asleep on me. I like how nursing her gives me time to watch her closely, to hear her little breaths, look at her cute hair and tiny ears. In just a few short hours, she has completely melted my heart.

8:30 p.m.: We get a tiny wet diaper! It’s been hard to know if she’s actually “eating” when I’ve been feeding her, so we’re told that this is a great sign. There’s so much to learn about nursing and understanding a baby’s digestion and eating habits.

11:00 p.m.: Some more fussy eating, and once again, I don’t really know if she’s actually getting much colostrum from my breasts. There are so many questions going through my head.

Buffy takes mini naps between nursing and then we swaddle her and put her back into the bassinet. Where did the time go today? We’ve been trying to record all of her feedings into a baby tracker app so we know how much she’s eating, but it’s hard to stay on top of. Tomorrow she gets weighed to make sure she hasn’t lost too much weight, which is something I worry about, but we’re told that it’s totally normal for babies to lose up to 10 percent of their weight in the first week.

Wednesday May 20, 2020

2:00 a.m.: Once again, I’m doubting if I’m feeding Buffy correctly, so I plan to ask my midwife in the morning. Not knowing whether or not she’s getting enough worries me—especially since my milk hasn’t come in. But I’m sure every new mom feels this way, right?

5:00 a.m.: It’s getting harder for me to nurse Buffy as I can no longer feel my nipples because of the pain. She doesn’t feed for very long this time, but I’m able to get her back to sleep after.

7:30 a.m.: We had to wake Buffy up early this morning to get tested for jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and eyes common in newborns. My nipples are officially raw and on fire. She feeds for 30 minutes total, falls asleep on me, but then wakes up the minute I try to put her back in the bassinet and won’t go back to sleep. I’m so tired.

8:00 a.m.: She nurses again on one side but won’t fall asleep, so 20 minutes later, I try again and get her eating for another 10 minutes. The nurse reassures me that she is really good at sucking and swallowing. She also explains how to recognize the sound she makes when she swallows—something I found super useful.

9:45 a.m.: Buffy is being really finicky, crying a little and not latching. I am told by the nurses that cluster feeding might be starting, which may explain her behaviour. I feed her for nine minutes on my left breast and she finally falls asleep. For most feedings she’s either been wrapped in blankets or just in a diaper for some skin-on-skin. She seems to fall asleep more easily when nursing and while being swaddled. Hopefully that’s a good thing?

11:00, 11:15, 11:30 a.m.: Back-to-back cluster feeding before our midwife comes for a visit. Thankfully, she gives me some tips on how to reduce the pain I’ve been feeling in my breasts. She says Buffy is latching great and super hungry, which is good to hear.

This morning, we get back some test results and learn that Buffy’s at risk for jaundice. The medical staff recommend we top her up with formula to see if we can increase her bowel movements. We’re going to stay an extra night at the hospital and Buffy will be tested again to make certain everything is OK.

1:45 p.m.: We give her a tiny bit of formula in the hopes that it will help her liver. I didn’t know how I would feel about giving her formula, and I still have some conflicting feelings about it, but mostly I hope it helps. On the plus side, the little extra break did give my breasts some relief… until the next time she wakes up.

4:00 p.m.: Baby wakes up after a pretty good nap, but then wants to cluster feed. She has three short nursing sessions, but keeps falling asleep. I’ve heard of cluster feeding before, and it’s definitely something that seems hard to navigate. I’m so thankful to have my husband here with me to help soothe Buffy after feedings, so I can rest a bit.

7:30 p.m.: Buffy takes mini naps between nursing and then we swaddle her and put her back into the bassinet. Where did the time go today? We’ve been trying to record all of her feedings into a baby tracker app so we know how much she’s eating, but it’s hard to stay on top of. Tomorrow she gets weighed to make sure she hasn’t lost too much weight, which is something I worry about, but we’re told that it’s totally normal for babies to lose up to 10 percent of their weight in the first week.

10:30 p.m.: A quick 10- to 12-minute feed on one side before she passes out.

Thursday May 21, 2020

12:00 a.m.: Buffy can’t wait to eat and is being very squirmy, but we need to hold off until she’s weighed again to make certain she hasn’t lost too much weight since birth. We’re told she’s lost only four percent of her birth weight—a small victory! My husband helps me give her a 15-millilitre formula top-up to hopefully help flush out the jaundice and get her to sleep.

1:30 a.m.: Buffy is still hungry so I feed her for another 10 minutes on one side.

2:30 a.m.: Baby is up again and won’t sleep, so I feed her again for another 10 minutes on the other breast. We realize that she has a huge dirty diaper, which is excellent news. Our midwife told us that dirty diapers are a good sign that the body is slowly eliminating the jaundice.

3:00 to 6:00 a.m.: She actually sleeps for a bit, and every time she wakes up, my husband consoles her and I finally get some shut-eye.

6:00 a.m.: I’m feeling a little more rested. Buffy nurses on one side while my husband sleeps. I can’t believe she’s already been with us for two days and how different life has become. Looking at her, I have so many emotions and am so happy she feels safe in my arms.

7:30 a.m.: A nurse takes another blood sample to see if the jaundice is better. We will know in a few hours. If it is, we can take her home. Yay!

10:00 a.m.: I feed her on both breasts for 10 minutes each before she take a short nap. Good news comes from her blood work: Her jaundice levels have declined, so we’re getting sent home today! What a crazy few days it’s been at the hospital. From the midwives to my doula and my incredibly supportive husband, I feel like I had the best birth team. Going into this, I didn’t know if I wanted to breastfeed or if breastfeeding would even be possible, so I decided to just go with the flow. And while my breasts are so tender and in so much pain, I’ve loved bonding with Buffy during this time. As cliché as it sounds, becoming a mom has already changed me in so many ways. I couldn’t be more in love with the little family my husband and I have created.