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The Dad Diary:

6. Hospitalised

By Luke Edwards

With his wife rushed to hospital and family drafted in for babysitting, Luke Edwards is finding life as a new dad is anything but dull.​

This was a week packed with firsts. I called 999 for an ambulance. My wife was hospitalised. Baby Ivy laughed. A nice balance there, then.

There’s no denying that the female body is an amazingly adaptive and awesome force of nature when it comes to childbirth. But just when you’re relieved the summit of the climb that is pregnancy has been reached, birthing has been battled and won and breastfeeding is going great, it can all go wrong.

One in 10 women will suffer from mastitis, swollen or inflamed breast tissue, when breastfeeding. My wife has managed to thwart the odds and get it twice – once in each boob. But who said breastfeeding was meant to be easy, right?

The warning signs

The first time that redness reared its ugly head and flu-like symptoms began to take effect we got to the doctor fast and began antibiotics. The pain subsided after a day and the fever broke shortly after that. We were lucky to have already witnessed the effects in a friend who fought it first, minus antibiotics, before realising they are essential. Proud of defeating it, my wife was back to breastfeeding.

Last Saturday the red alarm light of a raw and painful breast was back, this time in the other boob. We called the out-of-hours doctor and impressively got an appointment right away – within the minute, in fact. After a trip to the doctor and then the chemist, my wife Jo was on her meds, happy to put mastitis round two behind her. Or so we thought.

The flu-like symptoms got worse, the breast pain became so bad she couldn’t even hold the baby and for about the third time since I’ve known her, Jo cried. I played it cool, offering solutions like hot water bottles, fluids and bed rest. Nothing helped and it got worse.

"One in 10 women will suffer from mastitis, swollen or inflamed breast tissue, when breastfeeding. My wife has managed to thwart the odds and get it twice – once in each boob."

Out of hours

I called 111. I answered what seemed like far too many questions as I tried to remain calm. Eventually we were told we could visit the out-of-hours doctor. We called my sister, waking her to ask if we could take her up on that babysitting offer. It was midnight, she’d probably meant the daytime when she'd offered. Whoops.

We waited another half hour for a call back about the out-of-hours appointment. The pain got worse, Jo’s heart rate was thundering and she was now numb in her hands, her feet, her lips. I called 999 for the first time in my life. The same questions were asked again and to cut a very long conversation short we were fobbed off and told to monitor the situation. In a rage I took action. I bundled Jo into the car, my sister now upstairs with baby Ivy, and we sped to the hospital.

The doctor took Jo’s vitals and rushed her to a ward. She was placed on a drip and pumped full of the drugs she should have been getting for the last three days. She was perilously close to potentially fatal blood poisoning.

After the night in hospital, I got her home to bed first thing in the morning. I then fell back on my mum so I could work through the day while Ivy was looked after. After 40 hours awake, that night was the best sleep of my life. It took Jo two types of antibiotics and three days of near constant sleep to recover.

She’s now back to breastfeeding. Will she continue if the mastitis demon rears it ugly red head again? I’m proud of her efforts, but really don’t mind if she stops. I just hope she understands that nobody will judge her if she does.

For more information on mastitis, check out the NHS website for advice on causes, symptoms and treatment.

For the seventh installment of Luke's journey, read The Dad Diary: Parent Support Network now to see how he's discovering a whole new friendship group, taking 'dad jokes' to the next level.

Luke Edwards

Luke Edwards is a writer who specialises in technology,
he’s looking forward to buying his new daughter lots of gadgets.

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