Of course I said thank you to my midwife for all her help when I had my daughter, but I don’t think I ever had the opportunity to really let her know how much she helped me through those crucial first days of being a Mum for the first time.
Medela Australia surveyed 7,800 Mums, to get a better understanding of how midwives have supported them through their journey of motherhood. It wasn’t surprising to me that midwives were listed as #3 when asked who was a valuable source of support within those first 6 weeks of giving birth. Results from the Medela survey.
When I gave birth to my daughter 3 years ago, I thought I was prepared as I could be. I went to prenatal classes, I read books and I logged on to parenting forums to understand and know what to expect. I think like every Mum, the reality is so different to what you think you know after reading all the books and forums you could read. Once your baby is in your arms and you realise that you are solely responsible for keeping your baby alive, then it’s a whole different ball game. The first night I spent alone together with my daughter was a completely overwhelming feeling. I never felt so vulnerable and scared in my life. I had this hours old baby relying on me for everything,
The kindness of one particular midwife instilled confidence in me that I didn’t have within those first few days of having my daughter. I couldn’t for the life of me wrap up my daughter, even though I had practiced plenty of times on those baby dolls in the prenatal classes. Karen (midwife) patiently did it for me, until I finally was able to do it myself. She never made me feel hopeless (like I did feel for not being able to do something that seemed so easy to do), she kept on saying to me “every Mum struggles the first times” in a very matter of fact way. The same went for putting on a nappy the first couple of times! I had never practiced doing that before I had my daughter and as easy as I thought it was, I struggled to figure out if it was on too tight and if I was doing it right.
My biggest struggle from a physical and emotional perspective was breastfeeding. The first couple of days my daughter was feeding just fine, but come day 3, she started screaming and crying after a feed and was really unsettled. I didn’t know what to do or what was wrong. It really stressed me out and I was really upset because I thought I was doing everything right.
Karen helped me breastfeed and my daughter had no problem latching on, but she said to me “You may not be producing enough milk for her. Let’s see how she goes with a bit of formula”. It didn’t even occur to me that you can introduce formula to a baby so young! All the books I read were about breastfeeding, nothing about formula. Karen came back with a bit of formula and I fed it to my daughter and the screaming and crying stopped. She fell asleep. Just like the textbooks say once a baby has had a feed. I felt like such a failure for not being able to feed my daughter, but Karen just said to me “As long as your baby is fed, it doesn’t matter how they get it” in a matter of fact way.
Karen booked a lactation specialist to see me the next day, and we worked on a game plan to help increase my breast milk. Slowly but surely, I was able to increase my breastmilk supply that my daughter didn’t have to be topped up with formula anymore.
When I look back, I couldn’t thank Karen enough for helping me through those first couple of days. I heavily relied on her experience and expertise when I was feeling so vulnerable and highly emotional about the whole situation.
Medela celebrates midwives by sharing real stories from other Mums about their experience with their own midwives https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7RQ5U_z3f8
How did your midwife help you through those first few days of motherhood?