Since nursing Emma takes up a lot of my time these days, I thought I’d talk about how things are going, what has worked well and what hasn’t.
As I mentioned before, Emma wasn’t interested in nursing right away due to all the air and amniotic fluid that she had ingested during birth. After we got that out, she was a lot more interested in nursing, and started nursing for about 20-45 minutes per breast the second day, and 10-30 minutes per breast the third day. She was still pretty sleepy so I was waking her up to eat every 2-3 hours, which was sometimes a little challenging.
Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, my milk came in. I don’t think I experienced engorgement per se – I just noticed that my breasts were very full and hard, and I started leaking milk easily. Emma’s feedings started to last around 15 minutes per side (once she was able to get properly latched despite my fullness). Since Emma had low intermediate jaundice levels, I made sure to keep waking her about every 3 hours, even if she would’ve slept longer, because feeding and peeing/pooping helps clear jaundice up faster, and her weight loss had been mildly concerning (8.5% down).
At first, breastfeeding was very painful. Emma is a ‘barracuda baby’ with a very strong suck, and before she learned what to do, she wouldn’t open her mouth wide enough for me to get a proper latch. The lactation consultants didn’t work on Sunday, so I was flying blind all day Sunday and Sunday night. The next day, one of the nurses noticed that I had a couple of ‘hickies’ – places where Emma hadn’t latched correctly – which could turn into painful sores. I got a lot of help and advice on Monday in the hospital, which was great and very appreciated.
Emma latches like a pro now, and most breastfeeding sessions feel completely fine and not painful at all. But every once in a while, Emma latches on and it’s painful for the first 30 seconds or so, until my nipples get re-used to everything.
Emma hasn’t settled into a schedule yet – the time she goes between feedings and how long she feeds varies constantly. At first, I was setting an alarm clock so that I’d get up when I needed to feed Emma, but since I’ve been getting in at least 8 feedings per day, and Emma has plenty of wet and dirty diapers, I’ve started letting her determine when to feed during the night.
The night before last, she slept for 3 hours between feedings (4 hours from start to start), but then last night, she woke up every 2. Sometimes she nurses for 30 minutes on each side, other times just 10. The shorter she nurses during a session, the more frequently she wants to nurse. Today, I’ve been nursing her about every 2 hours (from start time to start time) because she’s only been nursing for about 10 minutes each side. But I’ve also noticed that the more she nurses during the day, the less frequent she nurses at night. So we’re still just figuring things out.
One of the most noticeable things about breastfeeding is how hungry it makes me. I swear, marathon training runger is nothing compared to this! My appetite is probably influenced by my being up at all hours of the day and night, but I am eating more now than I did during pregnancy, or during marathon training. I’m not complaining. 😉
Because nursing was so painful for the first few days, I was desperate for something to help. I tried the cold breast gel pads but they didn’t seem to help me much. My lifesaver has been Medela Tender Care Lanolin.
I try to remember to apply this after every feeding, and after I shower – I can definitely tell when I’ve forgotten. I think it helps keep my nipples hydrated, so that it doesn’t hurt as much for them to be pulled on. Just a note that the lanolin does seem to leave a residue on bras, so I recommend using it in conjunction with nursing pads.
Speaking of which, I’ve been using the Lansinoh nursing pads and they have been working well.
They have sticky pads on the back so that they stick to your bra, but if you didn’t want to use the sticky parts, you could just leave the paper on. Some nursing bras have little pockets built in to hold nursing pads, so the sticky parts aren’t as necessary.
Another thing that has been a huge help is the My Brest Friend pillow.
Since my breasts have been pretty full while waiting for my breast pump to come, I have been nursing Emma pretty much exclusively using the football hold. This pillow works well for that, since the clip keeps it in place around my waist and it supports Emma. It’s also pretty firm, so it’s a good burping surface and doubles as a good pillow to rest my arm on (when it’s not around my waist) as I rock Emma to sleep.
The breast pump I ended up getting is the Ameda Purely Yours Ultra Double Electric Breast Pump – my insurance didn’t cover the Medela one I had wanted. The lactation consultant told me that the Ameda pump is a good pump, it just doesn’t last as long or stand up to as much use as the Medela does.
The version I got didn’t come with a carry bag, but I found one that will work well for $11 at Walmart. It also only comes with 2 collection bottles, so I might look into getting a couple more, or I might just use regular bottles to store the expressed milk in.
I’ve used the pump twice so far, and been able to express 2 oz total – about 1 feeding for Emma at this point. We’ve also tried to introduce bottles, but so far have been pretty unsuccessful. Emma isn’t that sure about the rubber nipple, and any milk that she has ingested has promptly been spit back up in massive quantities. I think she’s swallowing too much air, so we might be on the hunt for a different bottle style (we have been using the Tommee Tippee bottles).
I bought a couple of nursing bras from The Nursing Nook shop at the hospital. One of the bras was pretty expensive ($60) and I’m not completely sold on it, so I think I’m going to return it and keep looking. But nursing bras are definitely the way to go – it’s so easy to just pull up your shirt, unhook the clasp and fold down the front! I’ll probably get some nursing tanks once I go back to work as well. Unfortunately, my breasts have grown yet another cup size, which means I’ll most likely have to buy bigger sports bras too. Bras are so expensive!
Last but not least, I’ve used my nursing cover a few times, but it is definitely tricky to do so without showing what I’m trying to keep covered. It’s also a little tricky to see what I’m doing – I think it’ll be easier with an older child who has better neck control and needs less assistance from mommy.
Anyway, that’s my breastfeeding experience so far. It’s exhausting, but going well. I know that a lot of women have challenging experiences with nursing, so I’m definitely very blessed.