The First 3 Months – The Basics

I actually wrote almost this entire post a few weeks ago, but when I logged in the following day to finish it up, the whole thing was gone! Hopefully I’ll be able to get through writing it all again in time to post in a timely manner…

Baby Boy #2 turned 3 months old a few days ago. This means that the period commonly known as the fourth trimester, or alternatively as the 90 days of hell is now behind us. Given this milestone, I thought it was a good time to report how we are all doing.

First, a note about nomenclature – throughout this blog, I’ve referred to my older son as “Baby Boy”, however there is now a new Baby Boy in the house (in da house!), so to keep things simple from here on in, I’ll refer to my older son as “Gus”, and to my younger son as “Squeak”. Secondly, I won’t get into details of the birth story in this post, other than to say that Squeak arrived as expected, via a straightforward planned c section. If I find the time, I’ll write some more about that whole process, but for now I’d like to focus on what’s happened since.

Newborn babies do little other than eat and sleep (or at least it seems that way compared to our active 2 year old!), and the first two questions that everybody, from friends and family to the stranger in the grocery store asks a new parent are “How is baby sleeping?” and “How is baby eating?”. Unfortunately, simple as these two things seem to us adults, these are often loaded questions due to the myriad difficulties that new parents experience. So, below here is the skinny on Squeak…

Eat

I’m am thrilled to report that Squeak is a breastfeeding champ! He latched on in the recovery room post birth and has not looked back. I had all sorts of issues with breastfeeding Gus, but this time around things could not have gone smoother. While last time, we went through a period of cup feeding, syringe feeding, finger feeding, and nipple shields in order to get Gus to take breast milk, Squeak has so far only been fed either directly from the breast, or via a bottle of breastmilk. It is impossible for me to communicate just what a whole world of difference breastfeeding this time around has been.

We introduced the bottle to Squeak at around two weeks so that he would be used to if/when I needed/wanted someone else to feed him. On a typical day, he gets 1 or 2 bottles, which I give when we are out and about, and/or around dinner time. We often have family dropping in around dinner, and it’s a nice option to let one of them feed Squeak while I am getting dinner ready. It makes for a nice bonding experience and a better visit all around than being stuck watching me breastfeed.

To date, we have not had to supplement with formula, and I even have a formidable freezer stash as a backstop. With Gus I pumped several times a day for bottles to be used that day or next, and did not get any sort of freezer stash going until he was 7.5 months old (the month before he went to daycare). At that point, I made a concerted effort to devote one pump a day to building a freezer stash such that 1 of his 3 daycare bottles could be breastmilk.

This time around, I started out pumping 15 minutes once a day. My supply has been very good, so very quickly one pumping session would yield enough milk for 2-3 feeds. As I was only giving 1-2 bottles a day, in no time I was running out of space in my freezer (we do not have a stand alone freezer, so space is at a premium), and I have since taken breaks from pumping as I use up some of the stash.

We have also been successful with being more adventurous with breastfeeding this time around. I have breastfed Squeak out in public several times now, something that I never did with Gus (I was not able to ever figure out the proper positioning with him). I’ve also really enjoyed breastfeeding lying down with Squeak. We started this when he was about a week old, and got the hang of it the first try. Gus was six months old before I attempted this position with him, and it took us multiple tries over many days to get the positioning right before he would successfully feed lying down.

I have also been able to keep the mastitis mostly at bay. While with Gus I had two back to back infections (one of which was particularly nasty), this time around I had one mild case. I was actually really on the fence about whether to bother with the antibiotics, but after an evening spent massaging my breast in a hot bath, followed by hours of almost non stop sucking from Squeak did not help the pain, I decided it was better to be safe and nip the infection in the bud rather than risk it getting out of control.

I wrote several long breastfeeding posts about my experience with Gus, so rather than get into more comparisons, let’s just say that just about everything (everything?) is completely different (i.e. better!) this time around.

Sleep

While I am extremely lucky that both my boys seem to be naturally good sleepers, I think Squeak’s sleeping patterns are more typically babyish (i.e. worse) than Gus’ were.

Gus was sleeping eight hour stretches at night within a week or two of coming home from the hospital, and very quickly was able to do ten hour stretches. Ahh, those were the days! He was not a big napper during the day though, and would easily stay awake for four or more hours at a time. In addition to the napping pattern, another reason why I think he slept longer at night is that he was able to fill up quicker on fewer feeds. Almost right from the start, Gus ate only 5 times a day (every three hours during the day, and then the longer stretch at night), and was taking bigger bottles much quicker than Squeak is, which I think helped him sleep longer right away.

In contrast, Squeak has been eating 7-8 times a day steady, or every three hours pretty much around the clock. I do load him up on an extra feed in the evening to give him a longer stretch of sleep at night, and  by about 6 weeks, he was consistently doing a 5 hour stretch at night. Then there was a glorious period where this 5 hour stretch changed to 6 hours, to 7 hours, and then to two nights of 8 hours.

Sadly, after those two 8 hour nights, in the last week or so we’re back to the long stretch being 4 hours max. I have no idea what has changed, but am hoping it will change back again soon.

As I mentioned above, the boys’ day time sleep patterns are also quite different. While Gus was able to stay awake (and in good humour) for long periods of time even as a newborn, I don’t think Squeak has ever been awake for longer than two hours! The first week or two he slept pretty much all day long, to the point where I was waking him for feeds during the day, and doing everything I could to keep him awake even a few minutes so that he would sleep better at night (as his only real awake time fell between 9 and midnight, or exactly when we’d like to be putting him down).

Related to both eating and sleeping, another big difference is that Squeak has been a Gassy baby. Early on, the hardest part of his sleep at night was not the number of times that he woke up, but that he would not fall back asleep easily after his night time feeds. He would grunt, snort, fart, and get disturbing wet sounding hiccups (almost sounded like he was choking). We’re now giving him probiotic drops, which I think have helped calm his system down. He is still quite farty, but has made progress on everything else (though recently with the poorer sleep habits, I find that getting him back to sleep is again hit or miss).

So that’s the skinny on the basics! I’m hoping to write some more posts about how things have changed for us going from one to two kids 🙂

 

 

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Breastfeeding: The Final Chapter

This is the long overdue continuation of my last breastfeeding post….

It took me a long time to appreciate the advice that my friend gave me: that I didn’t have to be perfect at breastfeeding; I just had to do what worked best for me and Baby Boy.

At various (many!) times throughout my 10+ months of breastfeeding, I have felt inadequate and ashamed due to my breastfeeding failings, some of which are probably unavoidable, but many of which I suspect I could have fixed if only I’d worked hard enough. I have often worried that other moms were judging me when in a group setting, I was the only one who pulled out a bottle to feed my baby while everyone else pulled out their breast (even as I told myself that the fancy Medela bottle I was using should clearly signify that I was feeding my baby breastmilk which was just as good as what their babies were getting).

When comparing breastfeeding notes with the “true” breastfeeding moms [i.e. those women who can pop a breast out at a moments notice, insert baby and go; those who can feed their baby anywhere and in any position (I can feed him on a plane! I can feed him on a train! I can feed him on a boat! I can feed him with a goat!); mothers whose little ones have never tasted formula; those for whom bottle feeding is a foreign concept; etc. etc. etc.], I always made sure that I slipped in a casual comment about some common issue that I’ve experienced while breastfeeding (see, I can do it too!), while carefully guarding the extent to which I continued to rely on work arounds, even many months into the breastfeeding experience.

Even as I write this post, I feel like I am exposing myself to ridicule by some nameless, faceless woman who managed to perfect the art of breastfeeding. After breastfeeding for over ten months, my dirty secrets include the following:

1. I have never breastfed Baby Boy in public (unless you count my mother’s or my in laws’ couch). I have no issue with the idea of public breastfeeding; I was just never able to figure out a position that worked for us without the aid of a breastfeeding pillow.

2. Until Baby Boy was six months old (aside from some clumsy fumbling with lactation consultants as we struggled to find a comfortable breastfeeding position for us and a few early feeds using the football hold), I only ever breastfed using the trusty beginner friendly cross cradle hold position. At six months, I figured out how to breastfeed lying down, increasing my position repertoire to its current grand total of two.

3. For a period of about five months, I only breastfed Baby Boy from my right breast.

4. I pumped at least once a day every day of Baby Boy’s life until he was ten and a half months.

5. For the first eight months, I only fed Baby Boy from one breast per feed.

6. I introduced the bottle at two weeks.

7. I have never had a day (24 hour period) where every one of Baby Boy’s feeds was directly at the breast.

8. From about five months on, I have regularly supplemented with formula.

For a long time, I was worried that  I was some sort of breastfeeding fraud, because what I was doing was not “normal” for someone who continued to breastfeed as long as I did. However, as time went on, I slowly realized that while not perfect or ideal, my version of breastfeeding worked for me and Gus.

It used to bother me that Gus continued to require long feeds even as he got older. I kept hearing that as babies got to two months or so, they would suddenly be satisfied with feeds of ten or twenty minutes at a time. Gus eventually got down from his hour+ feeds at the breast to 40 minute feeds, however it wasn’t until he was seven months or so (and enjoying lots of solids) that his feeds stopped being 40 minutes each.

I wondered and worried why our feeds took so long, until I noticed that most women who breastfed fed their babies very frequently. I, on the other hand typically fed every three hours during the day, with an eight to ten hour stretch overnight. This pattern started when Gus was very young, and stayed very consistent until about seven months, remaining consistent regardless of whether he got bottle or boob, breastmilk or formula.

It finally dawned on me that since Gus was not constantly at the boob, when he was ready to eat, he would need to consume higher volumes at a time than a baby who was breastfeeding every hour or two during the day, or every three hours around the clock. When I did the math, it actually made perfect sense: when bottle fed, Gus took 250 ml (8 oz) at a time; this was the higher end of what I would typically pump from both breasts in 20 minutes. Therefore,  it should take about 40 minutes for Gus to consume 250 ml directly from the breast.

As this became apparent to me, I also realized that fewer, longer feeds were actually less disruptive than frequent short feeds, and I started to really look forward to the feeds that Gus and I did at home where I was able to spirit him up to his room for a 40 session at the breast. Given the choice, I realized that I actually preferred our pattern to the constant disruption of a frequent feeding schedule.

Once Gus started consuming more calories through solids and cut back on the frequency of his milk feeds, I came to really cherish the cuddle time and bonding that came so easily with the act of breastfeeding. I also started to use breastfeeding more as a strategic tool (for myself, when I was tired and knew that a breastfeeding session would take longer and be more relaxing for me than a bottle feed would, and also for Gus when I knew that he needed comfort and not necessarily just food). It was only in the last four months or so that I truly came to appreciate these tangential benefits of breastfeeding.

For the longest time, since I felt very tuned in to the various ways that women struggle with breastfeeding (both due to my own personal experience, and also due to the many stories I’d heard from my close friends), whenever I spoke to a new mom who was struggling, I made sure to communicate that breastfeeding was tough and that there were so many different ways that it could go wrong. I made sure she understood that if it was too much, stopping was a perfectly valid choice, despite the overwhelming message that bombards new moms that breast is best. I took pains to communicate that her experience was not necessarily the same as my experience and therefore it was reasonable for her to make different choices than I had.

However, recently when someone I know was struggling with the early days of breastfeeding, I was surprised to find myself encouraging her to keep at it. I was worried that if she stopped too early, she would miss out on the possibility of a truly rewarding, pleasurable experience that was probably waiting for her if she just fought through the initial obstacles. I tried to communicate how much I’ve benefited from the flexibility that a mix of bottle and breastfeeding have given me, and how I am glad that I did not have to sacrifice one for the other. In the end though, breastfeeding did not work for her and she stopped after a few weeks.

As for me, my milk is drying up. I stopped pumping two weeks ago, and have packed away my nursing bras and tops. Baby Boy is down to a few minutes at the breast in the morning, and even that is quickly slipping away. My final thoughts on my breastfeeding experience? Frustrating……challenging…….soul crushing…..but 100% worth it.

Breastfeeding: The (Almost) Final Chapter

It’s time for one last (okay, second last) breastfeeding post. I last wrote about my experience with breastfeeding  here and (because I had so much to say), here.

When I first set out to write about breastfeeding six months ago, it was to write a post that I (due to time constraints and competing priorities) never got a chance to write.  I wanted to start out by sharing my experiences, but the desired introductory paragraph morphed into two giant posts. The post that I set out to write remains in draft form and was going to focus on the pressures that women today feel to breastfeed at all costs, and how damaging that can be to a woman’s self esteem, her identity as a mother, and even her relationship to her baby.

My remaining breastfeeding days (at least with this baby) are numbered; Baby Boy is losing interest and my supply is drying up. It’s time to finish the post that I never got to write, however, over the last six months my experience with breastfeeding, and my thoughts on the topic have evolved. So bear with me as I dust off my draft, and once again write way more than I’d planned to.

Until I became pregnant, I had no idea that breastfeeding was such a hot button issue, and I also never gave it a second thought. I assumed I would do it, but I did not feel passionately about it, and the decision to breastfeed was not an ideological one. Rather, my decision (if you could even call it a conscious decision) was driven by the pragmatic view that I had breasts which would produce milk for my baby when the time was right, and therefore I would feed that milk to my baby. End of story.

Shortly after becoming pregnant, everywhere I turned, I started hearing about breastfeeding. My prenatal yoga class had a lactation consultant give a talk, and both she and the yoga instructor shared their own struggles with breastfeeding. At my labour preparation classes, almost one full class was devoted to breastfeeding, complete with videos and diagrams of the proper way to do it, and a discussion of the common issues that women face when trying to breastfeed. Apparently, there was more to breastfeeding than picking up your baby and putting them next to your breast.

All this discussion about breastfeeding could be boiled down into two overriding themes:

Theme #1: Breastmilk is a miraculous substance with immeasurable benefits, many of which cannot be replicated with formula.

Taken at face value, the logical extension is that as a mother who wants the best for her child, there is no question that breastfeeding is the way to go.

Theme #2: Breastfeeding is HARD, and has driven many a new mother to the edge.

Therefore, having difficulty breastfeeding should not come as a surprise, nor should the decision/need to use formula as a result.

And therein lies the problem. When considered separately, these two “facts” about breastfeeding can be easily reconciled with a new mother’s experience and expectations; however taken in combination, each is a force that results in pulling a mother in opposite directions, leading to unnecessary frustration, guilt, and shame.

Once Baby Boy was born and we experienced our own breastfeeding struggles, I was amazed at the stories I heard from other mothers. There were the friends who in hushed tones admitted to supplementing, or relying completely on formula, due to low supply. Then there were the stories of two separate acquaintances whose babies never latched. Despite this difficulty, both women went to extreme lengths to give their babies the breastfeeding experience, using elaborate tubing feeding mechanisms for six months. One of these women pumped eight times a day for 45 minutes at a time, for six months. Stop for a second and think about that. Do the math. Is it any wonder that looking back she regrets going to the lengths she did and regrets how much quality time she lost with her baby when he was young because her super human efforts to provide the best for him made her miserable?

Despite going into motherhood with a clear head on the topic of breastfeeding, once Baby Boy and the resulting breastfeeding struggles arrived, my pragmatic mindset and cool detachment went right out the window. At our prenatal classes, the instructors had warned us to expect breastfeeding to be difficult for up to six weeks. They stressed that most women will struggle for that long before things click into place. This was a very important message for me, because within a few days of Gus being born, I was counting down the days until six weeks would come to pass. It gave me huge comfort that whatever struggles we were having would have to sort themselves out within six weeks.

With every day that passed, bringing us that much closer to the magical six week finish line, my overriding mantra was that easier times were just around the corner. However, each passing day that breastfeeding continued to be a struggle also brought on sheer terror when I considered the possibility that maybe breastfeeding was not going to be possible for us.  Since latching was our immediate concern, hearing of women whose babies never latched, even after months and months of trying absolutely terrified me. In the moment, it felt like the absolutely worst thing in the world. I was incredibly jealous of women who were able to pop a baby up to their breast and have them suckle like it was nothing. To someone who has never tried to breastfeed, it is impossible to try to explain the depth of emotion I felt (panic, terror, insert your own extreme noun) when I considered that the six week finish line may mean an end to breastfeeding rather than an end to struggles.

The panic did not stop once Baby Boy was able to latch and we started to settle into a routine. At around the four week mark, the lactation consultant that we’d worked with most closely gave me a follow up call to see how things were going. I thought we were doing well, however when I reported that Baby Boy was typically feeding on the breast twice a day, and getting pumped bottles three times a day (for a total of five feeds), there was a pause on the other end of the line. ” You really should be further along by now.” Cue deep sinking feeling in stomach, sheer terror, panic, what have you. We were failing after all.

I shared some of my struggles around this time with a friend of mine  who has served as my primary sounding board for all of my motherhood concerns. She has three amazing kids and a wonderfully pragmatic approach to motherhood. I explained to her how I was trying to wean myself off the pump, to the point where all of Baby Boy’s feeds would be at the breast (by this point latching was not a problem anymore, but as I explained in my first breasteeding post, I found the logistics of going without pumping to be difficult). I stressed to my friend that  I HAD to learn how to breastfeed properly, to reach that magical place of breastfeeding Nirvana. “Or not” she said. “If what you’re doing is working for you,  why change?”.

And as always, she was right. To be continued…..

Breastyelling and Other Adventures – Part 2

This post is a continuation of my earlier post about the various trials and tribulations I’ve experienced while breastfeeding. Since I had so much to write, I thought it would be best to  write several posts instead of one giant one.

In Part 1, I talked about latching, long feeds, and painful feedings. Part 2 continues with further adventures….

Mastitis

Just when I felt like I was getting comfortable with breastfeeding, one afternoon when Baby Boy was about a month old, my left breast suddenly started to hurt a lot. This was accompanied by fever and chills and a general flu like feeling, as well as some redness on the side of my breast. I went to see my doctor the next day who confirmed that I had mastitis, and prescribed antibiotics for ten days. The antibiotics worked quickly, and the fever and pain subsided the next day, though I felt quite weak and tired for a few days.

Mastitis: the Sequel

About a week after I finished the antibiotics, I woke up one morning, and my left breast felt like it was on fire. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but the pain, and the entire bottom half of my breast was bright red as if I had a sunburn. Since it was a Saturday, I went to a walk-in clinic, and got prescribed another round of antibiotics. Once again, the antibiotics seemed to work quickly. On Sunday, I felt much better, however Monday night, my right breast got sore, and the fever was back.

While before, my fever had quickly subsided with tylenol, this time, even after taking 2 extra strength tylenols, my fever kept rising over the course of several hours from 38.5C (101.3F) all the way to 39.7C (103.5F). It finally broke, which was a huge relief. It came back briefly the next day, but never got as high, and responded well to the tylenol. While I really should have gone back to the doctor at this point, we were heading up to my inlaws’ cottage Wednesday morning, and I couldn’t get an appointment with my doctor before we left, so I decided that things looked to be under control, and carried on.

A few days later, my left breast was again quite sore one evening, but I didn’t have a fever, and after a few hours, the pain passed. Then, when I was almost done the ten day round of antibiotics, I started to feel feverish and searing pain returned to my breast. I went to see the urgent care doctor that evening. He was quite concerned that the fever and infection were back despite the antibiotics, and he prescribed a strong dose of another antibiotic, indicating that if this one did not work within a few days then the next step would be IV antibiotics at the hospital (yikes!).

Thankfully the antibiotic was effective and I started to feel better. The antibiotic itself was quite rough on my system though, and I had noticeable stomach irritation, as well as bad heartburn. After about 8 days, I developed a rash which started on my forearms, then quickly spread to my legs and the rest of my body. It started out as small red bumps, turning to big red blotches (especially where my skin rubbed against itself). It was a little itchy, but more than that it burned. I went back to my doctor who confirmed my suspicions that I was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic. After a few days of taking over the counter allergy medication and spreading calamine lotion all over myself, with little to no change in the rash, I moved to Plan B and took the steroid that my Dr. had prescribed, which finally got the rash to subside.

Hopefully that is the last I see of mastitis, not the least because I don’t know what my treatment options would be next time around.

Supply (and Demand)

Throughout the ups and downs, I have comforted myself with the thought that unlike many people I know I am lucky to have enough supply. However around the time of the mastitis saga, even my normally dependable supply let me down, resulting in a significant level of formula supplementation for the first time (upto that time, I had only done one formula feeding on the day after my milk first came in). After a few days,  my supply went back to normal and I went back to exclusively breastfeeding/pumping for Baby Boy’s dietary needs.

Baby Boy and I then enjoyed a golden month of breastfeeding. Things were not perfect: I was still feeding him primarily on the right side; and my few halfhearted attempts at figuring out how to position him for feeding in public were epic fails (I finally decided that until he’s at a point where he can be satisfied with shorter feeds, being able to feed in public is not a priority for me). Since my supply was back up, I did not have to worry about supplementing with formula, and I often had a bottle or two for future feeds ready to go in the fridge.

I should mention here that Baby Boy is a good eater. From about 1.5 to 2.5 months, Baby Boy would consume 150ml (5oz)  at a time during his bottle feeds. By this time, I had determined that 20 minutes was the optimal pumping time for me, resulting in a typical yield of 150ml to 220ml (7.4oz). At 2.5 months we noticed that often Baby Boy was still drinking pretty hard at the end of the bottle, and the odd time that we gave him a bit extra he took it no problem. So we increased his bottle feeds to 180ml (6oz) to 200ml (6.8oz) at a time. The increased demand put some pressure on me, but for the most part I was still able to pump enough for his bottle feeds.

Then, in the first week of October when Baby Boy was 3.5 months old, the pumping suddenly went to hell. After several days of record yields (3 days in a row where I had a pumping session that yielded over 300ml or 10.1oz), I was suddenly unable to get more than 100ml (3.4oz). On the day after I had a pump session that yielded 330ml (11.2oz) – a record for me – I had a pump that yielded only 40ml (1.4oz).  I then had a stretch of about five and half days where most sessions yielded between 70ml (2.4oz) and 90ml (3oz) and I barely got anything above 100ml.

I found this turn of events really distressing because I had no idea what caused it. I was pumping with the same frequency as before, and I could not identify anything that had changed in my routine. I started to wonder if maybe my pump had lost some of its suction, so I did all of the maintenance and cleaning that was recommended, with no discernible result. Since I could not pump enough at a time for even half a bottle, we ended up using a lot of formula to make up the difference. I continued to breastfeed, hoping that Baby Boy could get enough milk on his own, but worrying that this was not the case.

I finally decided to rent a pump from the hospital (which I had originally done when Baby Boy was first born) to see if I could get more milk than from my pump, but right before I was to call to rent the pump, I suddenly had a pump session that yielded 240ml (8oz). And just like that, I was back to yields of 150ml to 220ml.

I’m now back to good pumping yields and relatively hassle free feeding. I’m hoping that (once again!) the worst is behind me and that the breastfeeding experience will be overwhelmingly positive from here on in. I do have more to say on the topic of breastfeeding, and now that I have summarized what my experience has been to date, I will finally write the breastfeeding post that I originally intended to write. Stay tuned!

Breastyelling and Other Adventures – Part 1

Last week, my breasts went on strike. Or my breastpump broke. I’m still not sure what happened, and while it was happening, I couldn’t decide which was  worse. Things seem to be back to normal now, but even though  Baby Boy is almost 4 months old, I have yet to fully solve the mystery that is breastfeeding. In fact the purists would be appalled at what passes for breastfeeding in my house.

For me, the experience of breastfeeding has ranged from very challenging and frustrating to incredibly rewarding. I know that I am not alone in this, so I thought I would share some of what I have encountered along the way.

The Latch

Our troubles started just after Baby Boy was born. Initially, I thought we were doing okay, however a meeting with a lactation consultant at the hospital’s breastfeeding clinic indicated that Baby Boy was not latching properly and therefore not getting enough to eat, resulting in a worrisome weight loss.

We ended up visiting the breastfeeding clinic 4 times in the first week after being released from the hospital. Nipple shields, hand expressing techniques, and a breastpump, were all offered to facilitate getting the breastmilk out to compensate for Baby Boy’s “goofy suck”, and syringes and small cups were provided to deliver the milk to him when he was not able to get it directly from the breast.

In those early days, I would start by offering Baby Boy my breast, being careful to arrange myself into the proper position for him to get on. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, the  result was Baby Boy screaming as soon as he came anywhere near my naked breast, while punching it repeatedly with his little fists (aka “breastyelling”). This would go on for 5 to 10 minutes straight, at which point Baby Boy would be past the point of no return, and I’d move on to pumping, and then feeding Baby Boy using a small cup or syringe.

We would have a successful feed or two, and then the following day he would not latch at all. There were a few days where I actually gave up on even trying him on the breast, since it was so frustrating for both of us, not to mention demoralizing for me.

On days when I did try to get him on, I never knew if an attempt would work, and if so, for how long. Sometimes, I would get him on for a few minutes, but then he’d break the latch and it would be impossible to get him back on again.

By the end of the second week, things were finally starting to click. Baby Boy was latching more consistently, and staying on for longer. When he did slip off, I was able to get him latched on again fairly easily. The lactation consultant let us introduce the bottle for pumped milk, which was much easier to use than syringe feeding.

I had been feeding Baby Boy almost exclusively from my left breast, since I found it easier to get good positioning on that side, and didn’t want to add to our frustrations by fumbling around on the right side. Once we got over that initial hump though, I started to work on getting the same success on the right side.

The Time Commitment

Unfortunately, once we got the latching figured out, new frustrations cropped up. Ironically, once we figured out how to get Baby Boy on the breast, it was impossible to get him off. The lactation consultants at the breastfeeding clinic who saw me breastfeed had commented that he did not seem very efficient at feeding. Instead of feeding for 20 or 30 minutes, Baby Boy would typically stay on for over an hour. I had several feeds that approached an hour and half. Any time I sat down to breastfeed, I could expect to be at it for at least 45 minutes, though typically longer. After a while, I started to break the latch once we got past an hour, in the hopes that Baby Boy would get the hint to speed things up.

Meanwhile, I continued to pump and supplement with bottle feeding. Pumping for 15 to 20 minutes, and bottle feeding at a later time for 15 to 20 minutes was a lot more manageable than being out of commission for an hour at a time with breastfeeding (especially where night or early morning feedings were concerned).

The Pain

Around this time, breastfeeding started to be very painful. At the start of each session, I would suck in my breath and mentally prepare myself for the searing pain as Baby Boy chomped right down on my nipples as he got comfortable. Because of this, my nipples ended up mangled and sore. My left nipple was in especially rough shape (not the least because I kept picking loosened skin off, thinking it was dried milk – yuck!), so at this time I stopped feeding on the left breast in order to give it a chance to heal. As always, I continued to pump both breasts.

I knew that Baby Boy was probably latching on too shallowly, but I couldn’t seem to get him to take in more of my breast than he was doing.

And that was just my first month of breastfeeding! Stay tuned for Part 2.