The One Precious Gift

The lovely Catherine, a dear friend and who Tweets for Bryn’s Helping Hand, tells her story of expressing breastmilk for her daughter

Pumping for L


When my first baby was born, nothing went entirely to plan, certainly not my plan anyway. I’d planned and lined up my natural home birth, I’d done the lessons and I’d got the birthing pool inflated and then I waited…and I waited and nothing really happened. I finally surrendered to induction at at 42 + 3 days.


Then I had hyper stimulation as a result of induction and was taken for emergency cesarean, when L was born the pediatric doctor told us that she was being taken to the neonatal unit as she had shown some signs of infection but not to worry too much as it was probably nothing, they just couldn’t take any risks and that she’d be out in a few days. Well by the next morning the doctors on rounds had a different story to tell, they said she had, had trouble breathing but they were still investigating why and that there was definitely an infection they just hadn’t found it yet. Basically they said she still wasn’t out of the danger zone yet. I hadn’t even really grasped that she was in that zone to start with? I was dazed and confused, drugged with morphine and on a whole different floor to my baby and exhausted and trying to move after a cesarean.


I was so… Broken.


The only small “win” that I could see at this point? A nurse had helped me to (albeit rather painfully) express off the colostrum that night so at least that had been given to L. And from then on I grasped on to at least trying to give my beautiful daughter her mother’s milk.


Looking back it took a lot of effort just to get the information I needed on how to get my body working, my husband did a lot of the leg work asking about borrowing a pump on the ward etc. the pump on the neonatal unit was, I’m not even joking, Victorian style and painful to start with and extremely powerful. When I got the one on the ward it was more modern but I had a hard time figuring out when and where to do it – I remember reading somewhere that night time would be best and I stumbled across a feeding room on the ward – and half dragging myself there in the middle of the night and sitting on a chair which was awful after a c section but feeling so bloody powerful because I’d done it, under my own steam and for my baby!


I also remember having to move up from the smallest container they were giving to me and I was so proud, I loved taking it downstairs to the fridge and I loved knowing that even though everything else had pretty much gone from my control, there was this…this one gift left that I was going to give her if it was at all possible.


It was possible – my milk came in one night when I was reading “guess how much I love you” to her – I wept and then I pumped. The breastfeeding never took off brilliantly but I managed to continue providing what I could for 10 months.


I both hated and loved the pumps – but they provided me a means to give her at least this. This one precious gift.