My Breastfeeding Story: Learning to Breastfeed My Newborn after Giving Birth During a Global Pandemic…and Testing Positive for COVID-19!
Next in our series of real mums’ breastfeeding stories, we hear from Kiri, who not only had to learn to breastfeed her newborn during a global pandemic, but also tested positive for COVID-19 herself whilst in hospital.
I hadn’t really prepared for breastfeeding too much while I was pregnant. I had a lot of anxiety around the birth and the current global situation, so I was unable to think about what would happen when I had a newborn baby to feed! A family member bought me a Medela breast pump, and I had some formula on hand which were both reassuring to have as I waited for baby’s arrival.
And then, lockdown happened.
I was really scared of the impacts of COVID-19 on my birth plan, but what scared me more was that my baby’s movements slowed down, so I had to get over my fears and go into hospital to be monitored. The midwives discovered that my baby was measuring very big and they wanted to induce me before she got any bigger. I went in for my induction on 31st March, alone and very scared.
That night, as I was being induced my temperature soared, so as a precaution I was moved into a quarantined ward. My only symptom was a high temperature – I did also have shortness of breath but I put that down to being heavily pregnant! The next day they tested me for COVID-19. I hadn’t slept or eaten in over 24 hours due to the stress and pain of my induction, and now I had a COVID-19 test to think about too!
The test came back positive, and I was told my induction wasn’t working. My partner was allowed into the room to help me decide what to do next. We agreed on an elective caesarean section – mostly because of the size of our baby. I was one of the first women to have a c-section during the pandemic, and so I was filmed as I was taken down to theatre as they wanted to reassure and teach other women about how the procedure worked during COVID-19. Everyone was in heavy PPE and there was a one-way system to avoid spreading germs.
At 17:09 on 1st April my daughter Juniper was born, weighing 10lb 1oz. They couldn’t let me feed her until they had done an X-ray to check for blockages, which ended up taking 5 hours! The colostrum I had harvested just after she was born had to be binned as it had been out too long, but luckily I was still able to feed her and the midwives were very helpful. I was taught how to ensure a good latch and the right positioning.
We were discharged the next day. I was so happy to be home, so my baby could see me without a mask on for the first time, even though I was advised to wear one whilst feeding. Due to the c-section, my partner had to help me sit up each time she needed feeding, I felt so useless and vulnerable. COVID-19 had also left my lungs very ‘creaky’ and I remember crying in pain most nights and telling my partner I couldn’t do it – I just wanted one day pain free. Armed with nipple cream and sheer stubbornness, we battled on.
Juniper had a check-up at 7-days-old, and I was eager to make sure everything was okay. The midwife was worried about her breathing and because I had tested positive for COVID-19, she wanted her to go to the children’s hospital straight away. However, because I hadn’t yet recovered myself, I couldn’t go with her – that for me was the worst part. We were just getting used to breastfeeding and now we couldn’t do it anymore!
The hospital called me back before we could make arrangements and asked if a GP could check Juniper first. After a long time trying to find a doctor who wasn’t working from home, my daughter was checked over and said she was absolutely fine. My head was all over the place and we whisked her home, crying with relief.
Over the next few days, I bought storage bags and pumped constantly as I was terrified my baby would be taken to the hospital without me. I wanted to give her my milk so the antibodies in it would look after her, that was important to me. Luckily at her next check-up, she was fine and four months later she is a happy, healthy baby.
I am so happy and grateful that all the obstacles didn’t stop me from breastfeeding. During the times I felt so down and so weak and couldn’t do much else, I could still feed her whilst my partner took care of everything else. Although the birth didn’t go to plan and it was hard work – I’ll always look back on my breastfeeding journey and smile.
Thank you to Kiri, for sharing her breastfeeding experience. If you would like to share your breastfeeding story please email email@example.com