The fourth trimester, where to being mumma's...
Away from my family in New Zealand and alongside all the other hurdles COVID-19 and Level 4 lockdown in Melbourne bought - our baby decided to surprise us at 37 weeks! We had a beautiful natural 14 hour labour and it was an experience I will cherish forever, until the end. My beautiful boy was born not breathing with his cord around his neck and was taken straight to special care for the first 24 hours. My partner couldn’t stay longer than two hours post birth due to COVID and I was put in a room alone after going through the most life changing experience you will ever go through. I sat there, by myself and cried, my baby needed me and I couldn’t be there. This was not how it was “supposed” to be.
I truly believe that this led into our feeding issues that followed. I had researched and I knew breastfeeding would be a challenge, but I was not prepared to spend the next 12 weeks working my butt off to get there - shouldn't this come naturally I thought? Am I doing something wrong? Why won’t my body do this for me? I wasn’t given much of an opportunity to breastfeed my baby until he was out of the nursery, I wasn’t told I should pump and being a first time mum I just didn’t know any better, on top of my baby being a wee 5 pounds, he struggled to latch with his tiny mouth and was so sleepy from his wild journey to earth. I asked countless midwives to help me and while they all tried, I really didn’t feel supported and was pushed towards formula feeding. I persisted and mix fed until his two week check up where he hadn’t gained weight, I was made to feel so guilty for persisting. I had this tiny baby who wasn’t thriving, and I had no idea what to do.
I decided it was important to me so I stuck to my guns and found my angel lactation consultant. We worked together for the next 12 weeks to increase my supply through foods (hello oats, Milo and lactation cookies for breakfast lunch and dinner) using nipple shields to support his latch and pumping and feeding around the clock. This worked for a while, until it didn’t and his weight plateaued again. The mum guilt was so real, I doubted myself and my body and everything I was doing for my baby. I was already feeling so isolated in lockdown and being a new mum.
As a last resort I went on the medication Domperidone for a short time to help my supply and I thought if this doesn’t work that’s ok I know I did everything I could. Here we are at 5 months old with an exclusively breastfed, healthy, chubby baby. I learnt so much through this - that one, fed is best whatever way we go we should never be made to feel guilt. Support is everything. Reaching out is everything. Trusting our bodies but also doing what is right for us during this time, if it’s too much that’s ok. Seek help if you need too. Research. Trust your baby.
The fourth trimester we truly feel it all - the lack of sleep, isolation, the endless swaying, gratitude, long chats, blurry days, coffee dates, relationship changes, endless smiles, midnight snuggles, and a love that continues to grow. To all the new mummas I am right there with you, it is only the beginning.
We are Chelsey and Rowdy Ray, my sweet five month old boy who made me a mum. Originally from New Zealand I followed love and moved to Melbourne 6 years ago and we now live in the beautiful Yarra Valley as a family of 3. You can follow along with us at @chelseyxchapman on Instagram!