This is another ones of those I wrote months ago and never published…
This post is for any pregnant woman looking for odd tips on breastfeeding or anyone who is struggling with a newborn and feeding. If anyone else wants to read about my odd trials and tribulations, feel free!
When I was pregnant, I was certain I wanted to give the nursing thing a real shot. I knew it would be hard (thanks to friends and BabyCenter.com) and I think that really helped going into it. However, I thought it would be hard because everything was painful (and it was) but I didn’t realize that the hardest part would be that the baby wouldn’t know what she was doing. I thought at least one of us would have a clue on what was going on. Nope! Not the case. She was just as lost as I was.
My wonderful boyfriend came up with some clever ideas to convince the baby to latch and I want to share them with anyone else who might be struggling. First though, I feel that I should mention a few things:
- The baby was perfectly healthy without any issues (she wasn’t tongue-tied, she wasn’t preemie, etc.)
- I had no physical issues (i.e. my nipples were big enough and I didn’t need a shield or anything like that)
- We have a doula in the family and she HATED our technique. She would tell you not to listen to me. She feared our technique would lead to the dreaded “nipple confusion!” (Note, it never did… but maybe we were just lucky. Or maybe you’re like us and right now you’re so desperate you don’t care and you’re willing to try anything.)
- Also, I’m not a doctor or a lactation consultant, so this is just anecdotal advice from some an amateur. 🙂
The baby came home with us from the hospital on a Thursday. In the hospital, with the lactation consultants around, feeding her seemed possible. Being at home was another story. By Friday night, with no substantial luck in feeding her, the baby was losing her mind. She was frantic and inconsolable. She was sobbing from hunger and frustration and I was also crying from frustration. It all seemed so hard for something that is supposedly natural! Meanwhile, my wonderful boyfriend, T, was constantly by our sides, trying to remain patient and put us together like puzzle pieces.
Eventually he talked me into trying to pump (luckily my health insurance had covered a Medela breast pump and it had come home with us from the hospital as well). I pumped maybe an ounce (which now seems paltry but it felt like a gallon back then). We fed the baby with the bottle – problem solved! She was a happy baby!
On Saturday: I would pump and then we would feed her a little bit with the bottle until she was calm (really just a few sips). Once she was calm, we’d get her to nurse. (swapping the bottle out for me)
On Sunday: We’d offer her both the bottle and me, at the same time, side by side. She’d get the idea and we’d slip the bottle out of her mouth before she’d start eating.
On Monday (she was one week old): We would drop some of the pumped milk on my nipple, and she would take to nursing right away.
On Tuesday: We were no longer pumping and using that milk to convince her. We were just nursing and getting better at it day by day.
This makes it all sound so easy, but it still wasn’t perfect. I would say it took us until she was about 10 days old to really get into the swing of things and even then her latches weren’t perfect. But it really helped me to stick with it when I knew she was eating and wasn’t maniacal from hunger pains. Now she’s almost 8 months old and nursing is a breeze! (She’s over a year now and I’m trying to wean her! She won’t give it up! Funny how things have changed.)
If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer anything I can.