I was fortunate to be very healthy, fit and active throughout my pregnancy. Despite being in my 39th year, I was a low risk pregnancy and planned on birthing in the Family Birth Centre with just my husband and my midwife present. This all changed at 34 weeks when an ultrasound showed that a uterine fibroid had grown to 15cms by 15cms and was making it impossible for the baby to move from the breech position. A vaginal birth was now considered too risky for me due to the likelihood of severe haemorrhaging caused by this excessively large fibroid. I was therefore booked in for an elective caesarean at 39 weeks and 4 days.
The procedure went incredibly smoothly and the fibroid did not impact on the beautiful birth of my darling daughter. She was able to have delayed cord clamping, skin to skin whilst in theatre and was placed on my breast for the whole time I was in recovery, held there by my midwife. As I did not go into labour, there was a delay in my milk coming in, even though I had been expressing small amounts of colostrum in the week leading up to the birth. I found breastfeeding in hospital incredibly painful and even with the support of the wonderful midwives; I was very blistered on leaving hospital. I was advised to feed from one side and pump the other, more blistered side, then syringe feed that to baby. I was lent a pump to go home with.
Myfanwy Seren lost 9% of her body weight by our discharge date and a little more in the following two days. When the midwife visited me at home, she showed me how to tube feed her as she was still damaging my nipples. I was also referred to the Breastfeeding Clinic attached to the hospital. The Lactation Consultant there was amazing! The encouragement and love I received was unbelievable. Our appointments for the first month of Myfanwy’s life were at 7.30am and the clinic was a half hour drive from home. Luckily I had help to get there as I was still recovering from surgery. The consultant detected that Myf had a posterior tongue tie and a high palate. I also have flat nipples. Anatomically we weren’t very compatible – so we introduced a nipple shield. This helped enormously. We were also given the details of a paediatrician who specialised in tongue ties. She would only perform a release if it would definitely make a difference to the child’s ability to feed. Better still, the appointment and treatment, were all covered by Medicare. We got a referral and the procedure was done by the time Myfanwy was 2 weeks old.
Whether it is due to my age or the C-section or just nature, my supply has always been low. I have never needed breast pads, never ‘leaked’, don’t ever ‘feel full’ or experience any let down sensations. Myfanwy works very hard to get milk from me and remains a petite 5kgs at 6 months. She is, however, a very happy, alert, active and beautiful little girl. We continue to use the nipple shield, feeding at least every 3 hours. I take tablets to help with my supply as well as trying other natural boosters – brewers yeast, linseed, fenugreek – and eating healthy, nutritious foods. As we approach 6 months of feeding, I feel we are finally in our stride and I hope to continue breast-feeding for as long as she wants.
I know that I couldn’t have got this far without the wonderful support from all the staff I encountered at King Edwards Memorial Hospital and my patient, loving husband, James. I feel blessed to be part of the Australian Breastfeeding Project – Feeding the Change, and to be able to document through words and pictures, Myfanwy Seren’s and my story so far.
4th April 2016