So, feeding is going…

So, feeding is going better, 'cause we've figured out some stuff that seems to help. Here's where we are now -- I hope this will be helpful to those of you having babies in the future:

  • PROBLEM: People talk about 'nipple confusion' -- they seem to be worried that if baby gets too used to rubber nipples, they'll resist real ones. I'm not sure I buy into that as a concept -- a couple of folks have told me that they mixed pumping and formula and breastfeeding, and their babies had no trouble. But I can believe that some babies do have trouble with it. SOLUTION: I try to breastfeed a little every feeding, even if Kavi's getting most of her nutrition from bottles. So far, she seems perfectly happy with both kinds of nipples, so I'm optimistic that this solution will keep working.

  • PROBLEM: Sometimes I'm too tired to coax her onto the breast for ten minutes, or my incision hurts too much, and I just can't cope. SOLUTION: I decide to let it go, and that it won't be the end of the world if she just goes straight to a bottle this time.

  • PROBLEM: My breasts are huge. No, really, they're huge. They were DD before, and who knows what they are now. Plus, they're going through this period called 'engorgement' when they get even bigger. And very hard. Which I think is why Kavi's been even more reluctant to nurse the last few days. SOLUTION: We figured out that if I pump first, my breasts get much smaller and softer, and she can latch on *much* more easily. There isn't necessarily a lot of milk in there after pumping, but she gets practice breastfeeding, and afterwards, I can give her pumped milk until she's full.

  • PROBLEM: My hands are small. Really small. People compare them to a kid's hands. That means that when the lactation consultants kept telling me to make a sandwich of my nipple and areola with one hand, I couldn't get my hand around the right part of the breast. This was insanely frustrating over the weekend -- they kept saying 'make a sandwich' and 'she needs to get the whole areola in' and I just couldn't do it. SOLUTION: If I pump first, I can squish my breast down as much as needed, and again, it's much easier for Kavi to latch on.

  • PROBLEM: People who give me advice, which I then try to implement and can't, and then they repeat the advice. Over and over and over again. And other people repeat it too. So that by the end of the day, I've heard approximately twenty times that 'she needs to get the whole areola in' and I am ready to either hang myself or strangle someone else. And Kevin is the closest someone else. SOLUTION: I need to stop listening to these people. Or they need to stop giving the same unhelpful advice over and over. I have to say, the lactation consultants were particularly frustrating in this regard, even if they were helpful in other, practical ways. They were like broken records.

  • PROBLEM: I'm not sure I'm making enough milk. This is based on nothing but anxiety, pretty much, although there was one time when I was pumping that the milk just seemed to stop coming. SOLUTION: A little web research led me to this milk calculator, which seems to indicate that for a one-week-old, she should only need 2 oz. or so at a feeding, and I'm actually usually pumping close to 3. So we should be okay. Also, I'm trying to drink a lot more fluids than normal -- usually, I'm terrible about fluid intake, but I have a good reason to pay attention now, so I'm being better. I'm getting sick of water, though -- we need to go buy some juice.

  • PROBLEM: I need sleep. At least three solid hours/night, but six is better. SOLUTION: Kevin uses a bottle to give her a night-time feeding. He's gotten back on a skewed schedule from me, where I go to bed around 10 and get up around 4, and he goes to bed around 3 and gets up around 10. Limits our cuddling in bed time, but well worth it for the help with the feedings and the extra sleep. We're lucky that he's now off for the summer, but for those of you whose partner isn't a teacher, I do strongly recommend trying to get some time off work for your partner too (or whomever else you can coax into coming and helping with nighttime feedings -- grandparents, sisters, whomever). At least for the first few weeks. It makes a world of difference. (NOTE: Kevin just told me that the internet told him last night that there's some risk that if you don't pump or breastfeed every few hours, that your breasts will stop producing milk. Hmph. I will ask my doctor what she thinks.)

  • PROBLEM: Sometimes, I'm too tired to pump -- the thought of it just makes me cry, even though when I'm feeling okay, I can read or watch tv or even type while pumping. SOLUTION: We give her formula, and try not to stress about it. So far, that's about 1-2 feedings/day (out of 8-10). So I think she's still getting lots of breastmilk antibody goodness. Also, Kevin did some research, and while it's true that breastmilk has some health benefits for baby, they're mostly along the lines of 'she won't be quite as susceptible to colds.' If she gets a few extra colds in her life because we gave her some formula, it's not the end of the world. I have been assured of this by a variety of folks, including many mothers, of both this generation and the previous one. I'm starting to believe it.

7 thoughts on “So, feeding is going…”

  1. I love your problem/solution approach. I can’t imagine how overwhelmed you must be feeling, but I am so impressed with how you’re handling everything. Hang in there!

  2. Roshani Anandappa

    You are doing things exactly right. You are not mostly breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed, you ARE breastfeeding, and more importantly you AND Kevin are feeding and NURTURING your child. This is all that counts. (Sorry for the all-caps and the preachiness, but I need to send you three really loud, positive e-vibes!) Lots of love -R

  3. Problem: I have the biggest nipples ever. When both kids were newborns the whole areola never fit in. My mother has the same issue. Special K never latched on like in the books but she was on like a vacuum. Little T’s big arm prevented him from assuming the “proper latch” like in the books.

    Solution: My mom said the way the baby latches on not is the problem.
    Finding a comfortable latch for you and baby is the problem. She said if it feels uncomfortable it’s a problem. For most moms you do need to have the baby’s lips on the areola and not the nipple because babies chomp down. Owie even with no teeth. Not nice on sensitive nipples. But then some moms have insensitive nipples. I know a mom whose baby sucked on her nipples for months. Owie for me. Fine for her.

    Problem: Lots of pressure to breastfeed in the NICU. Little T hates breastfeeding in the NICU. Too loud and distracting. Lactation consultants make me feel like if he doesn’t learn now he will never learn. Lots of crying from both of us. Pumping sucks literally and figuratively.

    Solution: Try to breastfeed in the football hold once a day and fail most days. Some days he gets it. When we get home experiment with various pillows and positions and various latches. At first we can only do one side and inconsistently at that. We get consistent with that. Of course it’s the lesser producing breast so I still have to pump the other breast. Finally we get a wonderful lactation consultant when Little T is 4 months old who shows us a latch and position for the other breast. It takes us a few days to consistently find that latch. Then aah breastfeeding. Beautiful.

  4. I love that someday Kavya may read this and see how hard you thought about her and struggled for her. See what fighters your parents are, O Queen of Poetry!

    It does get easier, not just feeding (one way or another), but the whole thing. The beginning is the crash course in being profoundly and desperately needed. Say the first six weeks? The next twenty years is a course in gradually being needed less.

  5. Jessie Stickgold-Sarah

    It’s so neat to read your thoughts going through this–I have to say, the part that especially resonates with me is “problem: sometimes it’s too hard, solution: let it go.” I find that to be really hard! I’ve needed other people to tell me that several times and it’s impressive that you can figure it out for yourself.

  6. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Jessie, I’m very glad you’re liking the entries! I’m a little worried that all the folks who came to my journal to hear me talk about writing (which there’s been precious little of for quite some time now), will be entirely bored by all the obsessive baby stuff in it now…

    As for the ‘let it go’, it’s not as if other people haven’t been telling me this. Kevin, mostly. 🙂 I’m just trying to tell myself it too, because I am so very very bad at actually doing it.

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