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Breast feeding

First visit at nine days old

I arrived at Daniel's home at four pm as planned and was met at the door by his mother holding a sleeping Daniel against her shoulder. I could see his upturned little nose and tightly screwed up eyes. His head was nestled into her neck and his body stuck to her shoulder and upper chest with his arms dangling by his side. His body was slightly wavy and hunched, crumpled even. His mother held him against her with her large hand and arm across his back and bottom. We went into the living room. His mother said that it was quite something for them adjusting to his arrival. She spoke about her breast feeding which she felt she must be doing OK because he had gone past his birth weight faster than predicted. She kept looking at her baby closely and smiling in a wondering way and wanting to tell me things. I sat quietly and smiled and occasionally nodded. His mother said that she was planning to feed every three hours but he seemed to want food more often in the day. The nights were more three hourly with an awake time for an hour in the middle of the night. She paused before speaking again.

His mother said that she thought her milk wasn't coming fast enough for him in hospital because he cried a lot. The nurse suggested that he stay with her in bed for comfort but his mother really didn't want that. When she did follow the suggestion it did calm him. I wondered to myself why she didn't want him in bed with her. After a pause his mother told me that she did not want to get into any bad habits.

Dad came in from another room and I rose and congratulated him. He smiled broadly and looked down at his sleeping son on the floor. He told me that Daniel was awesome and that it had been quite a steep learning curve for them. Daniel started to grunt and shift around on the floor and his dad bent down and sat holding his hand and encircling his son between his legs.

Daniel settled again. Dad asked Daniel's mother whether she wanted a drink and returned with some water. He sat next to his wife on the sofa. We all sat watching Daniel.

During this first observation I had a sense of Daniel still being cocooned as if in the womb, in a space which was very warm, comfortable and contained by both parents, that the family was off to a good start evidenced by the positive weight gain his mother talked of, and that the parents could both share the wonders of the new arrival. At the same time, his mother voices her uncertainty around feeding and her need for a routine and not wanting to get into bad habits. I get the feeling that his mother needs space around herself, and that it is significant that the C-section is not mentioned. I wonder whether there is an unconscious wish to banish her baby from her hospital bed after her body had been invaded by this intrusive and unexpected operation.

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