Eating disorders start here…

Post-childbirth midwife care continues. On the first day our midwife and her shadow come round and check all is ok. (It is.) The shadow asks how to pronounce E’s name. I didn’t think this would be a question she’d get – she’s going to have people spell it wrong her whole life but not how to pronounce it. Or so I thought.

Readers of the previous blog may remember my frustration with the advice doled out to mums and how confusing it could be. It turns out that the NHS is not immune to this either. In the information pack I was given in hospital it tells you what to look for when breastfeeding, a green list for good things if you’re doing it right and a red list of bad things if there’s something wrong. One of the things on the red list is if the baby falls asleep while feeding.

E does indeed nod off on the breast so we make a note to ask the community support midwife who phones us on day three. “The baby is feeling and warm when she’s feeding,” she says, “so of course, with the milk filling her tummy too, she’ll be sleepy. Just detach her, wind her, change her and try again in case she wants some more milk.” This makes perfect sense when you think about it so why is the advice different?

The community support midwife comes round on day four to check on my technique. She makes a couple of suggestions but in general we’re doing fine. She asks about the baby’s bowel movements (I mentioned the NHS are obsessed with this.) What colour are her poos? I describe them by now as “dayglo barbecue sauce.” She stares at me, uncomprehending. “Brown,” I correct myself, kicking myself again for joking with someone who has no sense of humour (I do this a lot.) The following day our usual midwife visits and asks the same question but tells us that many people describe this stage as looking like korma. This is spot on.

E is weighed for the first time since birth. It’s usual, especially for breastfed babies, to lose weight after birth but E bucks the trend and has put on a teensy bit. I am delighted – it all goes towards her fulfilling my ambition for her to captain the England women’s rugby team in 25 years’ time. The midwife smiles and tells us all’s well and that we shouldn’t do what some people do and worry that we’re feeding her too much.

It’s only after she’s gone that I think about what she said. Do people actually worry about this? It wouldn’t occur to me that you could overfeed a five day old – their tummies are so tiny. Surely this kind of attitude is where eating disorders come from?

Perhaps I’m over analysing. But if your immediate thought when told your tiny baby has put on weight and is doing really well is anything other than pleased, what’s wrong with you? There’s so much to worry about already that it’s great to find that you are doing something right. The last thing I want is for her to have any hangups over food as she grows up – I remember mealtimes as a child being something of a battlefield and definitely don’t want to recreate this. As a nation we have a dreadful relationship with food and eating so I really want to make sure this isn’t passed on to E. So far, as much as you can tell in one so small and young, her appetite is pretty robust. It should be something to celebrate.

 

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2 Responses to Eating disorders start here…

  1. You both sound like you are doing amazing. You cant overfeed a breastfed baby. From my experience take everything health professionals say with a pinch of salt. You are her parents, go with your instincts. X

  2. Polly Butterworth says:

    I’m sorry you remember mealtimes as a battlefield. I love your colour descriptions but I used to like Korma!

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