No really tells you this ahead of time.. but breastfeeding is actually really hard work, well at least it has been for me. I've never really been one of those super healthy, organic type-folks. When it came to feeding my baby, breastfeeding vs. formula feeding... I didn't really feel strongly either way. When I got to really think about it... breastfeeding felt look the right option for Alec. Number one, it's free. Number two, it's great for my little guy and will help build his immune system. Number three, it is said to help me to lose my baby weight. Why wouldn't I at least try it out, right? So I went for it.
Because of Alec's condition, it wasn't until day three of life that he latched onto my breast. I was encouraged to pump right from the get-go, and I did, every two to three hours no exception. By about day five, my milk had officially come in and I began making about one and half to two ounces of breast milk every two or so hours. Thanks to the help of a lactation consultant at CHOP, things went fairly well with feeds during our hospital stay. Just prior to discharge, I was only supplementing with formula about twice a day.
When we got home, I would breastfeed about ten out of twelve feeds a day and I would continue to supplement about twice a day. About day seven or eight, Alec started struggling to latch. He would begin crying when he was hungry, get himself all worked up, and then swat at my breast and swing his head back and forth around my nipple for up to 5 minutes. It was not only stressful for him, but also for me. I couldn't stand to watch my little boy cry hysterically and struggle so hard just to get a meal in! Not to mention, I would be waking up my husband every time I would begin a feeding. Not only was latching difficult, but in the evenings, Alec began to 'clusterfeed'. He would become fussy about an hour after each feed, and begin rooting... I was breastfeeding about every hour from 6pm to midnight. It was exhausting. He just never seemed satisfied. So rather than struggle with each feeding, I began pumping more often. Because of my frequent pumping, I was able to have a two ounce bottle of breast milk handy for night feeds. This allowed us to avoid hungry freak-outs and because I knew just how much he was getting, I became comfortable with him sleeping for longer periods of time at night. Those three hour gaps between feeds, made all the difference in how well-rested Kiel and I felt each morning.
About day fifteen, I began exclusively pumping, with an exception of about once or twice a day... usually just before bed time to help soothe him, and also sometimes during the day if I fell behind with my pumping. Pumping is tough work. You have to pump every two hours, wash your supplies, feed your baby... repeat. It pretty much feels like it's all you do. For those new moms, who are exclusively pumping like myself.. Kiel found me these 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Pumping. Reading through this info on BabyCenter was super helpful. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person who struggles to make breastfeeding work for them and their baby. For anyone who has breastfed their baby and came across any of these same issues.. please offer up any suggestions or tips you may have! We could use all the help we can get!
Alec at 16 days old. Such a serious little man, with so many interesting expressions.