Saturday, February 24, 2007

Early Breastfeeding Observations

I didn't do anything special to prepare other than study and read about proper latch techniques -- lips flared outward, nipple pointed up towards the back/roof of the baby's mouth, bring the baby to the boob not the boob to the baby, proper posture, etc.

I had a c/s delivery two weeks ago and was still able to get the baby to latch on all right -- first with the help of the post-partum nurse and then for the first tries with my partner managing both baby and nipple.

I did have colustrum and he seemed to be doing great at getting it out of there but dang all that suction was really intense those first few days. His bowels started moving pretty quickly (he was passing meconium for several days) but by the fourth morning my baby's lips were looking a little dry and his skin was starting to lose some of its hydration. I think it's par for the course the first few days which is why term infants have some extra body fat to help get them through. My milk came in hours later though, and not a moment too soon.

Within the first hours of nursing him I did notice tiny blisters on my nipples. I don't think you can really avoid this or prepare your nipples for it. It's way more than just friction. The blisters did scab over a little bit after a couple of days and I used Lansinoh to help them heal which thankfully only took a couple of days -- its really important to stay on top of this irritation early on.

The first or second night after my milk came in baby had a massive suck fest, feeding ever 1-1.5 hours for hours on end. I believe his body was trying to catch up on the calories he lost in the first few days. You might notice something similar with your baby. Typically now he eats between 1.5-3.5 hours and not usually that closely together overnight.

Your baby very well may consume more milk than he can handle so make sure to have some bibs, washcloths, etc. at hand as he might spit back up half of what he ate. If you are sensitive and pay attention you can actually help moderate how long he nurses to help make sure he doesn't over fill himself.

My baby typically still only takes one breast at a feeding and that seems to work out fine for us. A lactation consultant from the hospital called to check up on us a few days post-partum and she said to burp him and then try him on the other side but I've not had any supply issues -- rather he takes in too much or even ends up choking sometimes as the letdown can bring on too much.

One of my friends emailed me a couple weeks before baby arrived and said to me that no matter what I know my baby best so I've used that as a rule of thumb. (he had gained 10 oz by 12 days postpartum so I know it is working for us).

Use wet and soiled diapers, plus baby's swallows and satisfaction as your guide that he's taking enough nourishment.

Also, something I haven't really seen described anywhere is that not only do your baby's lips need to be flanged outwards but inside his mouth a large part of him working the nipple involves your baby chewing down on the areola with his gums. The lips can look perfectly positioned and still your baby might end up with his gums chewing on the nipple. This kills so you need to pry his mouth off by inserting your finger in the side of his mouth until he breaks the latch and try again.

I feel fortunate in that it was only about 5 days of pain/discomfort and my baby is a real trooper about working with me on relatching him as many times as it takes.

One more thing, your baby will start rooting around and making little noises indicating he is ready to eat prior to crying. If you respond to his early signals then he's going to be more patient with you, if you wait until he is upset and crying then both of you are going to be agitated and frustrated.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are doing well with breastfeeding. Good job Mom.

Caprice said...

You sound very in tune with Jonah - this is wonderful! I hope you're taking good care of mama too! Jonah has something on the way - so keep your eye out. Well, it's coming in several parts.