I’m starting to think about my birth plan before my next midwife appointment, early next week. Last time round things didn’t go quite to plan as my waters broke over 24 hours before contractions started so my plans for a water birth at our local midwife-led birthing centre were scuppered. That said, the fundamentals remained intact, thanks to a great midwife team who ensured I was able to deliver completely naturally, despite a bit of a slow finish. It was this ‘slow finish’ coupled with the fact that my little bundle was born with the umbilical cord around her neck a couple of times which prevented us having any immediate quality skin-to-skin time. This may have been the main reason our feeding journey got off to a slow start.
There’s loads of evidence to suggest that skin contact in the immediate minutes after a baby is born is extremely beneficial, particularly in relation to establishing that first feed. I remember watching a video during ante-natal classes where a baby, just minutes old, was seen to crawl its way up the mother’s body to reach and latch on to the breast. An incredible example of human instinct and nature doing what it does best.
For us, though, a slightly interrupted period just after the birth meant my little one showed little or no interest in feeding for most of the first day. It became apparent fairly early on that this was going to have to be worked at and it wasn’t until I transferred from the hospital to our local birthing centre where one-to-one breastfeeding support was provided, that I really started to understand about establishing that all-important feeding routine. My tiredness and general ‘rabbit-in-headlights’ feeling at being a new mum both contributed to me thinking the midwife was potty when she told me I needed to set my alarm to wake and feed every couple of hours throughout the night. I think it’s the perception that breastfeeding is just supposed to happen that can lead many women to giving up at an early stage, worried that baby is too hungry to afford the time to fiddle around until the routine is established. It took us a couple of days, plenty of tears and frustration, and a lot of encouragement from midwives and daddy before I started to feel that this might actually all come together. My advice, and my plan for the second time around, is to accept that, during that first 24 hours at least, nothing else matters apart from me, my baby and the feeding process. I’m going to give it all my attention because, if nothing else, it’s an excellent excuse to cosy up and stare at your wonderful new little person.