Being readmitted to hospital with a newborn

3rd June 2015

I didn’t go into too much detail about this at the time but when Imogen was 5 days old she was re-admitted to hospital as she wasn’t progressing as well as she should be. She had lost too much weight (sometimes called “failure to thrive”) and had picked up an infection too. I wondered if writing it down would be helpful for others (I know a handful of mums in my circle that have been through it too so it’s not unusual) plus its quite cathartic for me to write it down. I couldn’t watch the Chelsea Garden Show this year without having flashbacks to watching it in hospital last year and shuddering.

Imogen had been super sleepy since birth (despite a drug-free and not traumatic birth). She wasn’t great at feeding and would latch on for just a few minutes during the day before falling asleep. At night times she was very upset and wouldn’t settle, I guess she was hungry. When she was 3 days old we were becoming more worried about this and began to give her bits of formula too using a syringe. At the 5 day old midwife visit we found out she had lost too much weight (defined as losing over 10% of her birth weight). The midwife put her on her a Feeding Plan which involved feeding her every 3 hours (day and night), trying to breastfeed then topping up with 50ml of formula milk.

But by that evening, she had already missed 2 feeds when we weren’t able to keep her awake long enough and it was becoming harder to wake her full stop. So we arranged for Seren to go to her grandparents’ for the night and took Imogen over to A&E.

At the check-in desk, the receptionist called for a children’s nurse to come and see us straight away. The nurse took one look at Imogen and picked her up and ran with her back to a consulting room, telling one of us (me) to come with her and for Andy to finish checking us in at reception. The nurse had to chuck out another patient (apparently he was nearly ready to go anyway) from a room to get Imogen on to an oxygen monitor. The nurse had been worried that she was a bit blue around her mouth, but fortunately her oxygen levels were fine. Imogen had a series of other tests for the next 4 hours, blood tests, heart rate tests, a chest x-ray. There was no indication of anything serious but her infection markers were raised and the paediatrician agreed that there was something “not quite right”. They wanted to do a lumbar puncture to check for meningitis but the blood test indicated that her blood wasn’t clotting well enough yet (normal in newborn babies, that is why they are given Vitamin K injections straight after birth) to carry out this procedure. She was to have a 48 hour course of IV antibiotics and a canula was inserted into her hand for this. She (and I) would need to stay in hospital for this and Imogen would be monitored and at some point given the lumbar puncture too. I was absolutely distraught by this point and the whole experience was very surreal.

We continued to try to feed her when we were in A&E, a nurse bought us formula to use. At about 11pm I asked if I could express milk and I was shown up to the ward where a breast pump, steriliser and bottles were available. As Imogen had been out of hospital since birth, she was re-admitted on to the Children’s Ward not the maternity unit. Fortunately we were able to have a private room as Imogen was at risk of infecting the other children! I was really grateful for the privacy what with expressing milk and trying to establish breastfeeding too. As Imogen had a newborn crib, I was able to have the bed in the room (Andy went home for the nights) though sleep didn’t really happen as I had to feed Imogen every 3 hours and express milk before that plus Imogen’s oxygen monitor bleeped constantly as it kept falling off.

She still wasn’t really feeding though and by morning a decision was made to insert a feeding tube, which though hard to see her with, I was grateful for, as it meant she would absolutely be getting the nutrition she needed. I was still to try to feed her (64 ml of expressed milk and / or formula every 3 hours) but anything she didn’t take voluntarily was put down her feeding tube. My day was taken up with expressing milk, sterilising bottles and trying to feed her. The paediatricians continued to test her blood for clotting every 12 hours with a view to doing the lumbar puncture. It was pretty difficult to get blood from her, finding a vein in a newborn baby is tough (and I couldn’t watch them do it). She was still on the IV antibiotics and had the continually bleeping oxygen monitor round her ankle. Andy had come back in the morning with some toiletries and spare clothes for me and the hospital were feeding me on the basis that I was breastfeeding the patient! On that note, it’s quite odd being re-admitted having just been in hospital to give birth and the patient is the baby, not you. None of the staff asked or knew my name in the 3 days we were there, I was just “mummy”.

That night, one of the nurses was able to do the 1am feed which meant I slept from 10.30pm to around 3.30am which was wonderful! By the next morning, I was feeling better and more positive as I have to say I’d been an absolute wreck for the previous couple of days – post-birth hormones, feeling guilty and worried about Imogen being in hospital, feeling guilty about being apart from Seren and just wanting us all to be at home together. Imogen was feeling better too – she was much more alert, her infection markers had come down and she was putting on weight (we even had to save all her dirty nappies for them to be weighed too!). The consultants decided to forego the lumbar puncture (her blood still wasn’t clotting well enough anyway) and she was feeding much better too so we could take out the feeding tube. We were able to take off the beeping oxygen monitor too.

The paediatrician and nurses didn’t care whether I was formula or breastfeeding Imogen as long as she was feeding and putting on weight. I was quite determined to continue trying to breastfeed and they called a midwife over from the maternity unit to help me. The paediatrician actually said that she thought I needed to relax, to go home and have a glass of wine and then try to feed her!

After 48 hours, her canula was removed too and the next morning she was discharged! It was so lovely to get home though I have to say, I felt pretty shell shocked for the next week or so. Once at home, we were back under the care of the community midwives and then the health visitors. Imogen had another blood test when she was 6 weeks old and her blood was by then clotting as it should be. She didn’t breastfeed properly until she was about 8 weeks old and we continued to mix feed until she was 9 months old. She continued to put on weight though did slip down the centiles until she was around 3 months old (this is normal) and became established on the 50th centile where she still is.

A happy ending (and well done if you’ve got this far, this is my longest post ever!).

Imogen’s birth story + Imogen at 1 month


  • Reply Mama, My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows 4th June 2015 at 3:04 am

    Oh my, I can’t even imagine what a wreck you must have been. We had the same problem with sleepiness and not feeding properly and only escaped a version of your story because he became jaundiced and we started bottle feeding him expressed milk. Dreadful having to deal with these issues when you’re shattered and hormonal. Glad your little cutie is doing well now!

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    • Reply Sian 4th June 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Ah thank you. Sorry to hear about your baby’s struggles, hope he is doing well now too.

  • Reply Kaye 4th June 2015 at 4:10 am

    Thanks for sharing, she is beautiful, I love your pictures of her. I can’t imagine how scary that must’ve been, I’ve been terrified rushing my 1 year old into A&E but can’t imagine it with such a teeny newborn. So glad she’s doing better now and putting on weight! #brillblogposts
    Kaye recently posted…6 Ways Your Life Will Change After ChildrenMy Profile

    • Reply Sian 4th June 2015 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks Kaye, it was scary. Sorry to hear about your hospital trip too – hope all is OK now?

  • Reply Luisa @ Looking for mama me 4th June 2015 at 7:22 am

    oh you poor thing, and poor bub! That must have been really traumatic! My baby was in hospital for a few apnoea episodes at 3 months and it was horrible seeing her hooked up to so many monitors and the screaming when they tried to take blood 🙁 It must have been even worse with such a fragile little newborn! I hope she is thriving and happy now!
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    • Reply Sian 4th June 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Ah thank you, that sounds really rough for you too. She is really healthy now, I hope your little one is too!

  • Reply Sophie Lovett 4th June 2015 at 9:47 am

    Not a nice thing to have to go through at all… I’m glad it had a happy ending! I had a similar experience with my son – I had a home birth, but after three days of struggling to breastfeed he’d lost 14% of his body weight. We had to take him in to hospital, but fortunately once they’d established that my supply was good & taught me how to express and cup feed they let us go home. His weight crept up over the next week or so but feeding was still a nightmare – it turned out he had a tongue tie. I’ve written about it in full on my blog if you’re interested: All good now – having dropped from the 50th centile to the 7th in those early days he’s now happily trundling along the 95th as a 2 1/2 year old! So scary when they’re tiny though… X
    Sophie Lovett recently posted…Arthur’s bluenana muffinsMy Profile

    • Reply Sian 4th June 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Sorry you struggled as well – that is quite a drop through the centiles. Surprised it took so long to diagnose tongue tie – that’s disappointing. Heading over to read more now … glad he is a healthy boy now!

  • Reply Ann Winters 4th June 2015 at 9:52 am

    I can´t imagine what you went through. I am happy to learn that all is well now!x
    Ann Winters recently posted…My Monday making: Preparing for Father’s Day! part 1My Profile

    • Reply Sian 4th June 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Ah thank you. Was tough though not a patch on others.

  • Reply Helen Gandy 5th June 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Ahh hmy goodness how scary, I would have been beside myself. What alot to go through at some a young age, bless her. I’m so glad she’s ok now!

    Helen – #brilliantblogposts
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    • Reply Sian 10th June 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Ah thanks Helen, she is absolutely A OK.

  • Reply A Cornish Mum 6th June 2015 at 7:31 pm

    I can not even imagine how all of this felt with such a small baby! My eldest was diagnosed as being a Type 1 Diabetic at aged 5 and seeing them put a cannula in his hand for the first time was heartbreaking, there’s nothing worse that them being in pain and you not being able to do anything! We’ve had several hospital stays so it’s all second nature now, and luckily (touch wood, avoid walking under ladders, hiss black cat) we’ve not had any over night stays in a couple years now 🙂
    So glad she was okay,

    Stevie x #BrilliantBlogPosts
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    • Reply Sian 10th June 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you Stevie! Sorry to hear about your boy – must be super tricky managing his diabetes, glad he hasn’t had any recent hospital stays X

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