Good Eats: Breastfeeding Baby - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Good Eats: Breastfeeding Baby

A picture of Victor and I "having it out" about feeding early on... A picture of Victor and I "having it out" about feeding early on...

Today, our little Victor is 3 months old.  It doesn't seem like it's been that long, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago that we brought him home.  I can't remember life without him.  I can, however, vaguely remember what it's like to have a full night's sleep, but the memory is hazy...very hazy.

I am amazed at the things I've learned in the past 3 months.  The tiny experiences and the monumental changes that have formed who I've become are all treasures, and I'm excited to have the opportunity now to share them with friends and family (and blog-readers).  A dear friend of mine, after spending years trying to get pregnant is now expecting a little girl.  We spoke yesterday.  I didn't want to overwhelm her with advice and stories of my experiences, but really, I couldn't help myself. 

She expressed some fears about breastfeeding and I told her about my initial fears and troubles with breastfeeding, and about what helped me to become successful.  Like many women, I was afraid I wouldn't produce enough milk for my baby.  Ultimately, just plowing through the worries seemed to be the best thing.  I bought a hand-pump initially and began to use it the day my milk officially "came in" (it isn't recommended to try pumping before then).   That, paired with a lot of  "you can do it!" from Billy, seemed to do the trick.  But, if you've never nursed before, even if you read all of the books and online resources about breastfeeding, the experience is really quite daunting and at times, frustrating. 

When Victor was just a few minutes old, one of the nurses helped show me how to feed him.  He didn't latch on right away and after a few little sucks, he conked out.   This seemed to happen every time I tried to nurse him.  He'd fight against me and I feared that he'd starve.  I couldn't tell if he was latching properly, because all of the books and diagrams have pictures of much older babies nursing on boobs that looked different from mine.   It took Victor almost 3 days before he had his first real poop that wasn't the stuff that was left over from the womb.   He was a little jaundiced, too, so I was really nervous about my abilities to feed him.  (Eating and pooping is what gets rid of the jaundice...I couldn't figure out if I was doing the feeding right because he wasn't eating and pooping regularly.)  The nurse I spoke to on the phone gave me some great advice...

"Sometimes, you just gotta be mean."

I didn't want to wake him if he was sleeping...but it turns out that newborns will sleep right through when they're supposed to eat - great for Mom & Dad's recovery, but baby has to eat!  So, as per the nurse's advice, we had to wake him up every 2 hours and feed him.   Blowing on his face, wiping his brow with a cool washcloth, holding him upright (the "baby-doll" trick...remember those dolls whose eyes would open when you sat them upright?  It works just like that)...there are lots of little tricks to wake a sleeping baby.  The hard part is that 9 times out of 10, waking a sleeping newborn makes them cry...HARD.  Then, it would just get more difficult when he'd refuse to eat or we'd struggle against each other to get him to latch.  Sometimes I couldn't get him to hold his head still or position it right.  The nurse told me to just hold his head firmly with my head and put it where it needs to be...then HOLD IT THERE.   I felt so mean!   I'd get frustrated and cry, and he'd be screaming in my arms.   This was when Daddy really helps with the nursing.   Husbands, if your wife is going through this, walk over to her and take the baby from her arms.  Tell her, "take a break" and hold the baby for a few minutes.  Leave Mom alone for a couple of minutes and let her cry; let Mom take a few deep breaths and RELAX.  Then, bring baby back.   Even if baby is still crying, Mom's calmness will help the process progress.  You may have to do this a few times just to get one feeding in...but it's WORTH IT, and it doesn't last forever. 

Breastfeeding REALLY hurt at first, too.  People constantly told me, "if it hurts, you're doing it wrong."  Baloney!  I was doing it right, and all that advice did was scare me into thinking that I did it wrong!  Things just had to "get used to" the process.  One of the books I got (The Mommy's Rescue Guide to Breastfeeding) said that in the beginning, nipples can get raw and even bleed...but usually not enough to make a difference to baby.    I recommend Lansinoh Pure Lanolin - it made such a difference in the healing process.  Before too long, Vic and I had a rapport with each other about feeding.  We were in a rhythm - one that we're still in now.  I really enjoy the time I spend feeding him now. 

When I'm not around him, I'm still pumping.  Granted, he eats just about every 3 hours now, but I'm pumping every 2 - that really helps with the "are we going to have enough?" problems.  He eats 4 oz every 3 hours.  I can get 3-4 oz every 2 hours (except for in the morning, when I can get 8-12oz...the first "feeding" of the morning with the pump ("feeding the robot", Billy calls it) is always the biggest.  I've even heard that you should pump BEFORE you feed the baby in the morning so you'll stimulate even more to be made, and you'll bank more).  There's some math in there explaining how much I'm outperforming his appetite...but I'm not very good at math. 

Telling my breastfeeding story to my friend, hopefully, eased some of her fears about it.  I do wish that I had asked any of my friends who were successful breastfeeders to help me when I was struggling, but then again...I really feel like I accomplished something having done this on my own. 

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