My adventures into Motherhood
Sofia came along a whole month early, and I was so relieved that she was perfectly formed and healthy, and that she didn’t have to go to the neonatal ward. And as soon as she was put to the breast, the clever little monkey knew just what to do and she sucked away like a pro. I assumed I was doing everything right, the midwives never said anything otherwise and her glucose levels were fine everyday. Little did I know that when you have a prem baby, it takes longer for your milk to come in – which is a problem when, like me, you are desperate to be able to breastfeed.
Everyday the midwives would come in and squeeze my nipple really hard and nothing would come out, but I thought the first few days were just about colostrum so I wasn’t worried….yet. It was after the first three days had passed and there was still no milk and the word ‘formula’ became a harsh reality that I really started to lose the plot. I was afraid that my useless small boobies had failed me, and I was afraid that giving her a bottle to suck from would interfere with any breastfeeding attempts I did make because she’d get used to formula from a bottle instead of the breast. But at the same time, my baby needed food cause she was losing too much weight, so I had no choice. I pumped every two hours for 20 minutes each side to get 10mls, and topped her up with 20mls of formula.
What I didn’t know then was that premature babies can’t really handle formula, breastmilk is a lot easier on their tummy and guts than formula is, which is why it’s so important that premature and sick babies in the neonatal wards get breastmilk. I only found this out when I watched a breastfeeding documentary on TV and found out about milkbanks. Now that my milk is established and I’m lucky to find it easy to breastfeed, I feel that I should give something back to help the babies in neonatal units, because that could just as easily have been Sofia. And if I’d had that heartbreaking start to motherhood, the one thing I would have wanted would have been breastmilk to give my little baby. Hopefully, I can help provide some essential nutrition to some other little prem babies at a critical time in their lives.
So I’ve applied to become a milk donor. Pending a blood test and my application being accepted I will soon be siphoning off some of my extra milk and freezing it for the milkbank collection. Which I think is a much more worthwhile exercise than making ice cream out of it……..