"I will have a natural birth, with a private midwife, in a natural birth room!!" Everyone already knew, because I took the trouble to proudly tell everyone."
And I already knew, immediately after the birth, the midwife would place my chubby baby on me and I would immediately attach her to the breast.
Do you know the phrase: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans"? How true.
I wrote Omar's breastfeeding story when she was 5 months old. Today she is already seven years old. For those who have patience, I warn you that it's long J. In addition, I'm a bit of a brat because I'm a children's dietitian who made countless mistakes that I previously taught other parents not to make. But - about life and death:
First pregnancy, week 34 has arrived, I feel wonderful, some annoying swelling but no complaints, I just didn't have time to go to the milk drop nurse, so I asked a friend at my work in Tel Hashomer, the nurse at the institute, to measure my blood pressure, check for protein in the urine and weigh me to finish with my duties of the month.
From here until the birth, the story was short, preeclampsia, a little baby girl a week pregnant, an urgent caesarean section and three long long weeks in the Tel Hashomer nursery (with the wonderful staff).
And this is also where our complex breastfeeding story begins:
Even before I met my tiny baby (1.6 kilos), my sister explained to me how to squeeze the initial milk, the colostrum, from the breast (not easy, but surprising and happy to suddenly see the liquid coming out bit by bit).
I met Omar the day after my emergency caesarean section. My husband wheeled me into the correct incubator and - very pleasant, a tiny, hairy baby, full of threads claiming to be mine. I believed them.
And what now? may i touch lift? What do you feed? Is breastfeeding allowed? How do you breastfeed with a green probe wire coming out of her mouth?
So like this: in the first step, milk is usually pumped and fed from a bottle: then you have to buy/get the parts that connect to the hospital pumps, learn to pump, live next to the pump for a considerable part of the day and wash and disinfect all the dishes endlessly.
Later, when it is medically possible, those who want to breastfeed, no problem, the staff encourages and is interested in this and if possible will even remove the tube during the meal. At the time when Omar was born, it was customary to weigh before and after breastfeeding so that we would know that the little baby would breastfeed enough.
So within a few days I dared and asked to breastfeed our little Omar. A kind but very busy nurse tried to help me and at the end of a short and stressful experience suggested I use a silicone nipple. Amazingly, Omer cleaned and cleaned and surprised us all for weeks with her great appetite. The doctors say 20 ml with each meal, the little criminal is nursing 35, the doctors increase to 25 ml - and she is already at - 50 ml, and so on until the long-awaited day of release.
We were released home with a baby girl who weighs 1,950 kilos and with instructions to give Omar 4 bottles of breast milk fortified with a shockingly expensive additive per day and the rest of the meals to be breastfed.
In my heart I began to hate the silicone nipple, as far as I was concerned it was a buffer between me and Omar and prevented me from connecting with her and kept my dream of natural breastfeeding away from me. In addition, I was afraid that I would forget to take a pacifier when I left the house and would not be able to feed Omar. I saw my friends extract a breast easily and I kind of forgot the fact that my baby weighs only 2 kilos.
After about two weeks at home in which I behaved according to the doctors' instructions and Omar gained weight according to all the books, I started faking the feeding of the bottles and already hatched a plot to get rid of the silicone nipple - I wanted a "normal" baby (although secretly in my heart I was skeptical and could not imagine how it would work).
My sister offered to give me a gift for the birth: an appointment with a lactation consultant. I searched, I consulted, I searched, and that's how I came to Dalia Avni. We talked on the phone, I described our troubles to her and we arranged to meet the next day. The meeting lasted three hours in which Omar cooperated in a wonderful way. I learned how to attach her to the breast and breastfeed in comfortable positions in different situations and in different places at home.
Of course, as in many situations, when the doctor/mechanic/computer person/lactation consultant are present, everything works perfectly, and when left alone, not exactly.
Delia told me that the transition to breastfeeding without a nipple could take time but I was impatient and tried to speed things up. I thought I was managing to breastfeed without the nipple, even though in reality it was very uncomfortable for me and Omar slipped off the breast a lot, at the same time I didn't weigh her with the appropriate frequency and ignored the signs that she might be hungry (a lot of crying, not sleeping continuously, and maybe diapers that aren't "heavy" enough).
It so happened that when I weighed her after two weeks, I thought there was a mistake, but after another week I discovered to my dismay that Omar had not gained weight as desired, the truth is - she had barely gained any weight!
The next step was to go to a children's dietitian who heard the turn of events, weighed, checked, consulted and finally informed me in a way that is not implied in two faces that I must currently give Omer bottles instead of most of the feedings, it is also advisable to add a food substitute for babies since she thinks it is exhausting and unlikely to pump All meals.
I have already imagined how I lose the dream of breastfeeding.
I called Delia, told her what was going on and how afraid I was that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. Dalia told me about a bottle that should interfere less with breastfeeding and could help us if I want to return to breastfeeding more later (a new Medela bottle that does not flow into the baby's mouth but the baby must pump the milk from it, similar to breastfeeding). I immediately purchased two and we returned to pumping and washing and disinfecting the bottles and the pumping tools.
It took Omer several attempts to understand how she was supposed to get the milk from the bottle, a few frustrations and finally - success.
This time I did what I was told and in the following weeks to my great joy, Omar jumped in weight and at the same time - in her development: she cried less, started to smile, slept better.
At the same time, I continued to let Omar nurse without the silicone nipple after the bottles, and she - continued to nurse. Precisely when she was seven it was easier for her to cling to the breast. I also noticed that indeed the bottles help her understand how to breastfeed.
But I still wasn't ready to give up the dream of breastfeeding.
I called Dalia again and asked her about something she told me half-heartedly in the past: inserting one end of a tube into the baby's mouth after it is connected to the breast, and on the other end to the bottle, so that the baby actually sucks and at the same time drinks like through a straw, from the bottle. She sent me a video demonstrating this and brought me a tube.
After two very entertaining times (you need serious nursing skills: to attach Omar properly to the breast, to insert the end of the tube into the right place in the mouth without annoying her, to find a comfortable place to put the bottle with the other end of the tube so that it won't spill... and then not to move...) I realized that even though at the end Of course I succeeded, it's not for us.
Another step in our troubles was to return to a silicone nipple at the same time as 2-3 bottles a day.
I decided to try to go back to breastfeeding with a silicone nipple because that way at least I wouldn't have to stop breastfeeding, we were weighed before and after breastfeeding by the dietician and decided that we could continue breastfeeding like this.
Now Omar was already stronger, gained weight nicely, and was alert and in a good mood most of the time.
I was able to breastfeed with the nipple and I thought we would continue like this. Then my sister-in-law told me that she also used a silicone nipple but before each feeding, in the first stage, she breastfed without the nipple and only then attached it. I thought there was nothing to lose and I tried.
Within a few days I noticed that Omar is perfectly attached to the breast and I have no need to add the nipple. After a few more days I also noticed that instead of nursing for 45 minutes, the duration of breastfeeding is reduced and Omar becomes more efficient.
This time I was not complacent and did an experiment for several days while monitoring weight with the dietician and indeed the results were impressive.
At the age of 5 months, Omar cleaned wonderfully but I also continued to give 2-3 pumped bottles every day just to be safe while monitoring his weight with a dietician, later, under close supervision, we stopped with these bottles as well. Omar will nurse until the age of 1 year and 3 months (when I was fed up, I think that if it was up to her she would have continued until the age of 4).
My message is not that you can always breastfeed premature babies, absolutely not. Sometimes this is not possible, especially when there are other children at home and personal/medical challenges of each mother/premature baby or family.
I would not have been able to reach the full breastfeeding stage without the professional support with the support of the husband, the family, the friends who rallied to hold Omar when I was connected to the pump and a little/a lot of extreme character.... mine....
My path was full of bumps, I made mistakes along the way, many times I almost gave up and each time Omar showed me that if I am willing to continue trying the creative ways that are offered to us, she is willing to work with me together to get her white gold....
Yours, Yael Shemaya