Tuesday 3 May 2016

Birth, Breastfeeding and One Month In - Update

I am absolutely delighted to announce the arrival of the fourth member of our family, our son Elliot who was born on April Fool's Day!

Well what can I say... my last post - the third trimester was on my due date 31/03/2016 and in that post I was contemplating and hoping to avoid any intervention to bring on labour - stretch and sweep or being induced if I went overdue.

I was a little upset that I had reached my due date as my first son was born a day before his due date and there is some evidence that subsequent babies arrive earlier, not in my case.

In the run up to the due date I bounced on my gym/ birthing ball (helping get baby in the right position, not to mention it is a comfortable way to sit). I drank raspberry leaf tea (apparently helps make labour contractions more efficient.. )

I also listened to YouTube Hypnobirthing music and affirmations. I found a great talk that relaxed me and was full of positive suggestions that made me feel confident that going into labour wasn't something to fear and be anxious about. I was really calm the first time round and even though I did end up having an emergency c-section it was a calm and positive experience. I felt far more anxious this time round so went back to the Hypnobirthing as I found it really helped previously and it did really help this time round too to keep me calm, my mind clear and focused on giving birth.

That evening my husband made me a Thai green curry and to go with it he bought some Thai crackers - oh my god, they were so spicy they nearly blew my head off!! My eyes were streaming, I was choking and my throat was on fire!

Now I am not saying that it brought on labour (they say eating a hot curry can bring on labour) as we will never know but..... in the early hours of the morning my waters broke!!

Labour and Birth

In my previous birth I had had to have an emergency c- section due to my son becoming distressed at the pushing stage. This time round after much deliberating and a few meetings with a VBAC nurse and my Consultant I opted to try for a VBAC - Vaginal Birth After C-Section.

At 2.20am I woke up to the sensation of my waters breaking, this was a new experience for me as in my previous pregnancy my waters were broken in hospital. I pottered around and got the last few bits for my hospital bag. At 3am I woke up my husband with the exciting news, I then called the Labour Ward. As I was not having contractions I was told to go back to sleep and call back at 6am to be reassessed. Well very soon I started getting very uncomfortable with contractions starting and I couldn't sleep. I called back and was told to come in. At 6am I arrived at the hospital and shown to my room where I was taken to be monitored and assessed to see if I was indeed in labour.

I could see the baby's heartbeat and my vital stats too and I could see each time I was having a contraction, as well as obviously feeling them!

At 7am following an internal examination it was confirmed that I was indeed in labour at 4cm - the contractions were coming thick and fast at every 2 minutes...and I was transferred into my Labour room and greeted by the midwife who was going to be with me throughout my labour. The pain was intense and almost unrelenting, finally I was allowed to have Gas and Air!

Very soon (or so it felt) I was feeling the need to push, I was now 9cm gone. Amazing.

It wasn't easy, I am sure a few times I asked to be knocked out so they could just get the baby out...

And then baby got distressed and they had to get it out quickly. I was whisked to theatre for an attempted forceps delivery. I had two attempts to push the baby out or I was going to have to have another emergency c-section. I remember thinking 'Oh no not again!' but I just wanted my baby to be delivered safely so I just went with it all (well what else can you do really?)

I was given a spinal and all pain disappeared in an instant, the need to push was gone. One of my theatre team told me when to push (very strange when you literally cannot feel a thing!) and luckily the baby was delivered without the need for a c-section. I got my VBAC afterall!

At 10.20am the baby made an appearance.

It was a baby boy! We had wondered if we were expecting a girl this time round (we wanted a surprise so did not ask at the scan) but we were overwhelmed with love and relief for the safe birth of this gorgeous, tiny baby boy before us.

I was taken to the recovery room, enjoyed skin to skin and a first feed with our new son and then was given the utterly welcome tea and toast that you are promised as a mother who has just undergone labour! It tasted every bit as good as I imagined it would.

Despite being really well prepared this time round for labour with snacks and bottles of water, I didn't actually get to open any of it. Things happened so fast, there wasn't really an opportunity to eat although I did manage to have sips of water.

I stayed in hospital for 2 nights. I had to wait for the sensation to come back to my legs, go to the toilet with no problems and get assistance with trying to breastfeed. They also do newborn checks and ensure that there are no complications with the mother. So on Sunday we had this tiny, helpless newborn to take home and look after!

Breastfeeding and how we are doing one month in...

I found breastfeeding extremely hard last time round. My son was fairly small, I had had a c-section as well which meant trying to get comfortable was hard. I persevered mainly because I am stubborn and I remember that things did get easier as the weeks went on. I fed him for over 11 months.

I wanted to give it a go again this time round as I just felt a different baby could mean that things would be easier this time round. I also didn't have a c-section to contend with so was in a great frame of mind.

Well I can tell you it hasn't been a walk in the park. Elliot was born even smaller than my first son. We both struggled to get the hold and the perfect latch right. Despite getting help when in hospital and it all making sense, no soon as the helper had left we were back to square one. He was a hungry little baby and got so frustrated as did I.

It hurt like hell,  a horrendous searing pain that made me want to swear, he also had a super strong clamping mechanism. I was super sore all the time and upset that it was so hard once again. There were many tears and a huge struggle to keep going.

When I got home, I read all the leaflets given to me, I got advice from the Midwives, I got advice from the Health Visitor. I watched endless youtube videos and we stumbled along in the hope that it would all click into place when he gets bigger and his latch gets wider. Meanwhile I slapped on the Lansinoh cream (a must buy if you are breastfeeding) to soothe and protect after feeds.

However, we must have been doing something right as by 2 weeks old he had gained 9 1/2 ounces! A great gain for a breastfed baby that mummy had no idea whether he was doing well or not!!!

He is now four weeks old - I wouldn't say we have completely cracked breastfeeding but we are almost there which makes me feel good. E is getting bigger, his latch is getting wider. Feeds are (almost) everytime pain free and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. He is still feeding for 20-30 minutes every 2 to 3 hours but this can increase in the evening when he seems super hungry and cluster feeds for what feels like the entire evening. Oh and growth spurts - same again - super hungry baby who is constantly nursing, less sleep and general fussiness..

One last thing... I thought I was totally prepared for the lack of sleep because I barely slept at night in pregnancy. Well NOTHING prepares you for the lack of sleep with a newborn. At least when I wasn't sleeping in pregnancy I could just lie down and try and relax. When you have a newborn you have a little life that is completely dependent on you, it may need feeding, changing or just a cuddle and it cries...a lot. You cannot relax and you certainly cannot sleep no matter how tired you are...

Exhausted, delirious, happy, frustrated , utterly thrilling. I wouldn't change it for the world!

Bettina x


  1. So proud of you ! Amazing determination x

  2. Congratulations!!!!!

    Thank you for sharing your story. Well done for persevering with the breastfeeding. I was in yout shoes this time last year and i was a mess. I wanted to breastfeed so much but it was so painful I would cry each time we tried. I dound out about the Medela nipple shield and it reallt really helped. You probably dont need it but I highly recommend it. Congrats again!!!


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