Kai didn't latch on at first so for me breastfeeding was a dreaded thing. I would try and try to get him to latch and usually end up failing and having to pump. This was okay the days I had people staying with me to help as I would pump while they fed Destructo. But this wasn't quite the new mom bonding with her infant while she nurses him that I had expected. I was usually sitting on the couch by myself while trying to stay awake. Days when no one was there to help really sucked as I would have to feed him his bottle, get him back to sleep, and then pump. Well when your child eats every 2-3 hours, you don't want to lose those precious 30 minutes of sleep pumping.
There was lots of stress that I wasn't producing enough milk to keep up with Destructo's demand. He always took far more in a bottle since it was much easier to get the milk that way than nursing. I power pumped which is when you pump 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for an hour. It can stimulate milk supply as it simulates a cluster feeding. The stress was awful. I can't tell you how many times I would count the ounces in the fridge and worry that I wouldn't have enough. I can tell you this was a huge waste of time. Except for the two weeks after I had mastitis, I always had enough milk.
But even once things were going better in the latching department, it was still stressful. I didn't really realize that a breastfed baby would sometimes nurse for an hour and then be hungry 30 minutes later. I could have just truly fed on demand and not listened to as much fussing as I did. I always thought something was wrong and he had a belly ache for the first couple weeks when in reality it was most likely growth spurts. (See here for a good article about growth spurts from kellymom.) Luckily a few weeks in I really learned what feeding on demand is and it was much easier after that. I know next time that when baby acts hungry, feed them and then feed them again and again and again if need be. Cluster feedings are how the baby helps your body regulate your milk supply. Here is an article from kellymom about cluster feeding.
With that said, I also didn't realize that a newborn breastfed baby literally eats about every two hours and that is from the start of the feeding. They are also really slow nursers so you sometimes only an hour or less in between nursing sessions. My best advice for this is to DVR lots of TV shows you want to watch. I watched so much TV while I nursed Destructo on the couch. It is the perfect opportunity to catch up on all those shows you don't have time to watch anymore.
If breastfeeding is super painful, you want to call a lactation consultant ASAP. My LC was worth her weight in gold. She was able to do weighed feedings to make sure Kai was getting enough, evaluate his latch and give helpful advice to correct it, and help with supply issues. I met with her three times after I left the hospital and called her regularly. Some of her best advice to me was to make sure both his lips are out and not curled under. This was a big problem we had. I would just lightly pull his lip out and it was immediate relief when it was painful while he was nursing. She also showed me different positions to hold Destructo in to get better latches. I had a lot of luck with the football hold with Destructo under my arm with my hand supporting my head when he was little. Here is an article from Babycenter about the different breastfeeding holds you can use that is very informative.
Another thing that was helpful advice was the switch feeding advice. Destructo got used to bottles when I had to supplement with them due to his weight loss/ refusal to latch issues in the first two weeks of his life. He got used to a faster flow (even while using a slow flow nipple on the bottles.) Switch feeding is where you constantly switch breasts to let him continue to get a fast flow. This isn't necessarily something you need to do as sometimes this can cause slow weight gain as they don't get as much hind milk which is the fattier milk, but in Destructo's case it was the only way he wouldn't refuse the breast.
Learning to nurse while laying down is invaluable. I would lay on the couch or in the bed with Destructo and while I was never comfortable enough to fall asleep, I could at least rest. And rest is oh so important in those early days. In fact, I was so proud that I made my mom who was staying with me come see what I had figured out. Ahh memories.
In the early weeks, I was so hungry and so thirsty. It really helped if I tried to eat a small snack like a cheese stick or a handful of almonds each time the baby nursed. Momma needs good nutrition to be a milk cow and it is hard to find the time to sit down for those super nutritious meals with a newborn. I used to enlist my husband to get me water and snacks if I forgot to grab something before I sat down.
If you are worried that your child isn't getting enough milk, calm down. I was so worried that Kai wasn't getting enough that I eventually bought a scale. (See this post for info on my favorite things breastfeeding related.) But honestly, I shouldn't have been as concerned as I was. He always had plenty of wet and poopie diapers and was gaining weight even though he was never a good weight gainer (and still isn't.) This is a great article once again from kellymom about nursing in the first few weeks.
Finally let's talk about the pain. Breastfeeding hurts in the early days. Anyone who says it doesn't either was very lucky or doesn't remember. Even I sometimes forget since it is so super easy and pretty much painless (except when my period is due ouch.) Lanolin can help, but a tip from my LC was to use olive oil. This helped a lot as well.
But if the pain feels like your baby has little bitty razor teeth, it could be thrush. (Stay tuned for an post on this either this weekend or early next week.) I had thrush and it took weeks on diflucan to get rid of it, but when it finally went away so too did the pain. If you feel that it is more painful than just normal your nipples need to get used to a little Hoover nursing, seek advice from your OB or LC. I am so glad I did because it really made all the difference. I stopped dreading nursing the baby and started truly looking forward to the bonding time.
If you are reading this and are in those first six weeks of nursing, know that you are doing a great job. Each day that you get through is one day closer to breastfeeding being able to be done on auto pilot. You can content yourself knowing that you truly are doing what is best for you baby and one day you will look back on this time and laugh when you realize how far you have really come. And if you are an old pro reading this, good for you for sticking it out and hitting your goals for breastfeeding whatever they were. I will always look back fondly on my days of breastfeeding Captain Destructo. It is a nice feeling to know you are providing nourishment tailored exactly for your baby, comfort, and bonding all at one time.
|This face made it all worth it in the end!|
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