Tag Archives: breastfeeding

To Wean or Not to Wean

28 Jan

I honestly thought that I’d have no problem weaning Emma once she got close to a year old. I mean, think of the freedom! No longer would I have to be the one getting up at 5:30 am to feed Emma. Or staying up until she goes to bed. Or missing out on time with friends because I have to go nurse her in a different room (the nursing cover was given up on a LONG time ago). Or interrupting my work day to go pump in a room with as many as 6 other women (yes.).

I could start wearing regular bras again.

I wouldn’t have to tailor my wardrobe to what’s easiest to nurse in.

Oh and did I mention not having to pump anymore?

I’ve been thinking fairly seriously about weaning because I don’t really produce that much milk anymore. I pump twice a day at work and get 2-3 ounces each time. I’m guessing that Emma gets maybe 3-4 ounces when she nurses. I hate the thought of nursing and giving a bottle for each feeding, so I’ve just been nursing her on a 3-hour schedule still, plus 3 meals of solid foods a day. Before bedtime, I give Emma a 4-5 ounce bottle of formula, and then nurse her.

Emma seems content and is growing well, so I guess what we’re doing works. But then I think it would be so much easier and simpler to just be done with nursing. My goal was only to make it to a year anyway, because then Emma can have cow’s milk and not need expensive formula.

Faced with the actual reality of not nursing anymore, though, I realized that I’m not ready to give it up. I can’t put my finger on why but I just can’t get myself to pull the trigger. Part of it is that bottles are a lot more work – to make, clean, store, warm. Nursing is convenient. Emma has also stopped pulling off as much to look around and inspect things, so it’s less frustrating.

But I think most of it is that nursing is my bonding time with Emma. She’s never been a cuddler – these days, she barely wants to be held at all. She’s on the move! So nursing is a special thing.

Side note: The other night, Emma woke up and had a bad cough. She didn’t want to lay in my arms like usual, so I held her upright against me and she leaned her head on my chest – she hasn’t done that since she learned to hold her head up! It was 2 a.m. but I was in HEAVEN.

A day will come, though, when Emma no longer needs – or wants – to nurse. Then it will be on to the next stage in our relationship.

But that day is not today.

 

Emma is a whole new baby.

6 Jun

Greetings from Minnesota! Emma and I are spending the week at my parents’ house in Rochester – without daddy (Travis)! It’s been going well but we miss him like crazy.

Almost 2 weeks have gone by since I posted Emma’s 7 Week update and things have changed a lot in that time – for the better!

Right before we left for Minnesota 2 weeks ago, I took Emma back to the lactation consultant. A friend had pointed out the clicking she does while eating – I knew she clicked a lot, but she had done it since birth, even when latched correctly, so I had dismissed it. But since I have been trying everything and anything to help Emma be more comfortable, I figured re-visiting the lactation consultant to ask about it couldn’t hurt.

I was able to make an appointment for the same day I called and Emma cooperated by clicking while I nursed her at the lactation consultant’s office. The lady said that Emma was latched correctly, her palate was fine, she wasn’t tongue-tied, and that the clicking sounded like her way of compensating for too fast of a milk flow. She suggested nursing her in a different hold than the football hold so that the milk wouldn’t go straight down her throat. The position she suggested had me recline quite a bit and lay Emma on her stomach diagonally across my torso (like the cross-cradle hold, only more reclined). She said I could also use the scissor hold to slow down the flow of milk, break the suction to relatch Emma if she just kept clicking and to keep burping her frequently.

It took several sessions for me to get used to nursing Emma a different way, and I was tempted to not change how I was nursing her as a result, but I reminded myself that if I was willing to give up all the foods I loved (including my beloved coffee) to help Emma, why wouldn’t I be willing to change how I nurse her? So I stuck with it.

And I am so glad I did because that was the answer! After just a few feedings, Emma stopped crying after eating. Instead, she was alert and happy. She also started burping a lot more regularly. She still cries before falling asleep almost every time (because she’ll go from happy and smiling to crying in about 30 seconds) but it’s a very manageable amount of crying, and she’s alert and happy for at least 30-45 minutes before needing a nap. Several of Travis’ relatives commented that Emma didn’t seem to cry any more than a normal baby, which made me happy.

We’ve stopped giving her the acid reflux medication (we kept forgetting and I noticed that Emma was still fine) and I’ve slowly been introducing dairy back into my diet – starting with the most necessary morning cup of joe! Emma’s improvements have stayed consistent – praise the Lord!

I do have to be very mindful of how I nurse Emma now, which means no more reading or blogging during that time (I’ve tried and always ended up regretting it). And it takes her 45-60 minutes to nurse now instead of 20-30 like before. But those sacrifices are worth it to have a happy baby! And I’m sure those things will get better in time.

I’m still pumping about 2-3 oz (1-1.5 per side) before feeding Emma following her longest stretch of sleep at night, so that she’s not completely inundated – and it works out well because then I have a bottle stash built up. I also burp her 3-4 times per feeding, so that the air she swallows doesn’t get trapped under a bunch of milk.

Nighttime sleep is still a little hit or miss – some nights, she sleeps well for 5-6 hours straight but other nights, she only goes 4 hours. And after that first nighttime feeding around 3 am, she usually grunts a lot and only sleeps for another 2 hours. We try to burp and fart her but it doesn’t always seem to help.

Regardless, Emma is doing a million times better now than before. I feel like we’ve really turned a corner. I am so thankful that it was a relatively easy fix – and that we’ve finally figured it out! Thanks to all those who prayed for us.

See you tomorrow for Emma’s 2-Month update!

Emma: 3 Weeks

29 Apr

Emma was quite a bit fussier during her third week than she has been up to this point. I think part of the problem is that I have an oversupply of milk, or it lets down really fast, so she has to gulp the milk down to keep up. Sometimes she ends up choking and coughing, which leads to her spitting quite a bit of it up. And she frequently acts frustrated and angry when nursing – something I read in The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding can be caused by an oversupply/fast letdown. On a slightly related note, she also hates a dirty diaper at the end of a feeding. She cries like her world is ending.

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Besides Emma being hard to console at times, and peeing on the changing table when her diaper’s off more times than I can count, perhaps the most challenging thing this week has been all the grunting Emma does at night. After she’s eaten, I get her to sleep and put her in her swing (where she sleeps for the time being). She sleeps peacefully for anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and then starts grunting/moaning. She’s not actually awake though. She’ll make a little noise, then be quiet for 5 minutes. A little more noise, then quiet.

I have been just letting her stay in her swing while she does it, because usually I have only gone to bed about 30-45 minutes beforehand. But it disrupts my sleep because every time she makes noise, I hold my breath, waiting for it to turn into crying. It seems like she starts making the noise when she’s ready to eat again, but not quite alert. Even though I do get up and feed her before she starts crying (which ends up being about 2-3 hours between feedings), I think it might just be best if I got up and fed her right when she started grunting, instead of waiting the 15-45 minutes that I do (but that’s easier said than done at 4 am).

IMG_4539 (Large)In other big news, Emma drank 3 ounces from a bottle this week and kept it down! Based on your guys’ advice, we bought a Dr. Brown’s bottle and that worked like a charm. She’s also started taking a pacifier, though that is something I definitely want to use more for emergencies (like when she wants to nurse when we’re out running errands), rather than on a regular basis. I had been worried about overfeeding Emma but reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and doing a little online research has convinced me that overfeeding an breastfed infant would be pretty hard to do. (I also asked our pediatrician about it and she said the same thing.)

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Travis’ family has been out here visiting since last Friday, so we’ve been able to get a little bit of break which has been really nice. Emma’s big outing this week was a short hike at Lair O’ the Bear on Saturday. The trail was a little bumpy but Emma slept through the whole thing. She woke up while we were eating lunch though, so I had to go nurse her in the car.

IMG_4537 (Large) IMG_4528 (Large) IMG_4530 (Large) IMG_4531 (Large) IMG_4532 (Large)All things considered, I feel like I’m getting into more of a groove with the whole motherhood and breastfeeding thing. I can recognize better when Emma is sending cues that she wants to eat soon, and getting up in the middle of the night has been slightly easier.

Oh and the weather here has been BEAUTIFUL lately so we’ve been spending more time outside and that definitely helps my mood.

Well, we’re off to Colorado Springs for the day! Happy Monday!

Breastfeeding So Far

18 Apr

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. 😉

Gear

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Emma’s First Week

15 Apr

I had good intentions of posting this update yesterday but all the days and nights of minimal sleep caught up with me. And Emma decided that she wanted to eat every hour between 5 and 9 pm – but then she slept for 5 hours straight, and then another 4 after I fed her. (I was ok with letting her sleep longer because I had fed her 11 times throughout the day.)

Emma spent her first week sleeping, going to the doctor, nursing and getting out and about. 🙂

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Sleep

Emma sleeps best in late afternoon. I almost always have to wake her up to feed during that time. Otherwise, she starts moving around, grunting and smacking her lips about 3 hours from the start of her last feeding. If I wait too long to feed her after she does that, she has a meltdown (the only time she really cries) so I try to not let it go that far. And if we try to change her diaper before feeding her, she is not happy.

The first couple of nights we were home, Emma slept a few hours in her cradle in our room, which made me hopeful that it wouldn’t be a battle for her to sleep there. But the past couple of nights, Emma has wanted nothing to do with the cradle, so Travis and I have had to hold her or put her in her swing and sleep in the living room. I love holding her, but it makes for a long night. Luckily, our glider is awesome and it’s fairly easy to hold her and sleep at the same time.

Emma loves being swaddled, so we’ve been using our Halo sleep sack and SwaddleMe wraps a lot, even when she’s awake but mostly when we put her down to sleep. She also loves her 2-in-1 swing/vibrating chair.

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Going to the Doctor

We came home from the hospital on Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday, we made the 5-minute trek over to the pediatrician for checks on weight and jaundice levels. Her bilirubin came back around the same intermediate level on both days, so they felt that as long as she was eating and peeing/pooping ok, she would be fine. She had lost 8.5% of her birth weight on Wednesday, but by her appointment on Thursday, she was up 3 oz! So she’s doing well with feeding and gaining weight too.

Nursing

My milk came in by Wednesday morning and Emma started being really fussy about nursing. She’d latch on, suck a few times, and then pull off. I could tell she was hungry because she’d get upset and open her mouth again, only to latch on and pull off after just a few seconds. This would go on for 10-15 minutes before I could get her latched on for a good feeding.

On Friday, we went back to the hospital to meet with the lactation consultant. She weighed her before I fed her, after one breast, and then again after both. Based on Emma’s weight, she needs about 19 oz of milk a day, which breaks down to about 2 oz a feeding. Emma ate almost exactly 2 oz during our feeding. Apparently, her fussy behavior was due to my breasts being overfull and her having a difficult time latching on. I don’t have my breast pump yet, since I had to wait until Emma was born to order through insurance (but it should arrive tomorrow) so there wasn’t a ton I could do about expressing milk, but I did learn that pinching my areola into a ‘sandwich’ helped her get latched better, sooner.

I’ll do a separate post about breastfeeding, but for now I’ll just say that it’s going well and I feel very blessed to be able to bond with Emma that way, even if it does mean little sleep and sore nipples.

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Getting Out and About

Emma’s first shopping trip was to Target and she slept through the whole thing. It’s so fun taking her places!

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On Saturday, we also took her on a trip to Best Buy, a Craigslist meetup, and Babies R Us. We didn’t time that one very well, though, because we got stuck in traffic and she ended up being hungry even before our first stop. I stayed in the car at Best Buy to feed her, then we all sat in the car after meeting the Craigslist person (we found a nightstand for the nursery!) so I could finish feeding her enough to tide her over. She was content until we got into Babies R Us, then she started to crack. So we bought our stuff and left.

By the time we got out to the car, she was losing it. I let her suck on my finger on the way home, and that made her happy. I know they say that pacifiers shouldn’t be introduced until breastfeeding is well-established (and it’s only been a week) but I think a pacifier in emergency situations would be fine if it helps her avoid a meltdown. Not sure she’ll like pacifiers though – we tried two different kinds yesterday in church and she wasn’t interested in either. So we’ll see.

Speaking of church yesterday… I fed her right before we left the house, hoping she’d sleep through the whole church service. Not so. She made it through worship and the break before the sermon, but about 5 minutes into the sermon, she started waking up. I took her out of her carseat and gave her to Travis, we tried the pacifiers, but I ended up just taking her to the nursing moms’ room and nursing her the rest of the service. A few of my friends were in there too, so it was fun to catch up with them. It’s probably something I’ll have to get used to, unless I start bringing a bottle for her, but they post the sermons online so I can listen to them later. Although, even if I did bring a bottle for her, I’d still probably leave the sanctuary because Emma is an incredibly loud eater! She likes to moan and coo the whole time. It’s very cute, but it’d also be very distracting to everyone else.

We also took Emma on several walks in her BabyTrend jogging stroller. We just snap her Graco carseat in and go. The stroller is awesome so far – it pushes really easily, rides smoothly and I think we’ll be very satisfied with it. Since this post is getting pretty long, I’ll save the specifics of walking and the possibilities of jogging for another post. 🙂

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Dogs

Just a quick note that the dogs have adapted really well to having Emma home. They like to sniff her a lot. And Katy is very protective of her – Charlie acts pretty much the same as before. More details to come…

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At one week, Emma LOVES:

  • Being swaddled
  • Being held
  • Nursing and sucking
  • The vibrating chair and swing
  • Hearing our voices (reading her a book knocks her out)

Emma DOESN’T LIKE:

  • Baths
  • Having her diaper or clothes changed
  • Not being able to latch on to nurse
  • Being on her back when not being held
  • When the dogs shake with their collars on

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All in all, Emma is amazing and we are so in love with her. Whenever I have a hard time getting up at night to feed her (which is often), one look at her face reminds me that it’s so worth it. I’m trying to consciously soak up this time with a heart of thanksgiving because I know it will go too fast.

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Emma’s Birth Story, Part 3

13 Apr

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 1

Emma’s Birth Story, Part 2

The first day of recovery in the hospital was incredibly overwhelming. I was exhausted, with a new baby that didn’t want to breastfeed, and there was a steady parade of hospital staff, doctors and nurses through our room at all hours. We didn’t even get to “bed” until 4 am Sunday morning, and even then, Emma was not a fan of being in her bassinet alone so I ended up holding her quite a bit while sleeping very lightly sitting up in bed.

Emma wasn’t interested in breastfeeding right away – she was gagging and coughing up bubbles a lot. Later on Sunday, one of the nurses suggested that we put a tube down her throat into her stomach to get some of the gunk out that she likely swallowed during birth. We agreed, though it broke my heart to think about her enduring that, but I’m glad we did it, because she had about 10 ccs of air and a bunch of amniotic fluid mixed with saliva in there. The procedure didn’t clear things up completely right away but we noticed she was much more content and willing to feed.

My parents came to visit for a few hours a couple times each day, which was nice. They got to see and hold Emma, and Travis and I got a little bit of a break. We were told numerous times to sleep when Emma was sleeping, but that was nearly impossible with how many people came into our room what seemed like every hour – our pediatrician, my doctor and nurses, volunteers with cookies, housekeeping, specialists doing infant tests, etc. We wished that we had a “Do Not Disturb” sign.

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IMG_4390 (Large) IMG_4387 (Large) IMG_4388 (Large)Emma getting her hearing test done – she passed on both ears!

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Because my water had been broken for over 18 hours before Emma was born, she was required to stay in the hospital the full 48 hours. The doctors weren’t really that worried about her since I had been given 4 doses of penicillin over the course of labor, but they wanted to make sure. That meant we weren’t allowed to go home until Tuesday around noon. It was a little frustrating, but I knew it was in our best interest. Emma also had low intermediate jaundice levels so we were supposed to see our pediatrician on Wednesday or Thursday.

That first day, I was panicking a little inside. Everything was so new and overwhelming, breastfeeding seemed daunting, I was exhausted and wondering how in the world I ever thought it was a good idea to have a baby.

Sunday and Monday nights, Emma went through the very common cluster feeding stage, which meant that I was up pretty much all night. Travis did give me a couple of 2-hour stretches when he was able to keep Emma content, which helped a ton. It’s amazing what a little sleep can do to your outlook on life! That, coupled with nursing/latching help from some great nurses and the lactation consultant, encouraged me that this whole baby thing was doable – I just needed to be patient and get through the first few weeks.

Finally, Tuesday came and we were able to go home. We packed up all of our stuff, put Emma in her car seat and got wheeled downstairs. And what odds that we went home in the 2nd worst snowstorm Denver has seen this year. Emma likes her snowstorms I guess.

It felt so great to be home! We put Emma in her swing almost immediately and were delighted to find that she really enjoys it.

IMG_4393 (Large)She does not, however, like her diaper being changed when she’s hungry.

IMG_4395 (Large)She’s a really good baby overall though. Her eyes melt my heart.

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I’ll give more specifics later, but it’s been great to be able to be home. I love nursing Emma in our glider and it’s great sleeping in my own bed for the few naps I get each day (over 24 hours, usually about 3-4 naps for 2 hours each). I’m not getting a ton of sleep, but I’ve been able to adapt for the most part.

The best part about being home is having Emma with us. It still feels a bit unreal but we are now the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl!