We are nearing the 3 month birthday (can you believe it? I certainly cannot) and so I thought I would talk about my experiences so far with breastfeeding. In the beginning, Greta had a mind of her own and would only latch on and suck if first some formula or milk was squirted into her mouth. Apparently she was lazy. Once my milk was in, she dropped that pretty fast. Other than the case of mastitis that sent me to the hospital things have gone swimmingly. Honestly my case of mastitis must have been weak or else I was on antibiotics early enough to not really even notice. I never had any pain associated with it, just a little redness, which I didn’t really even notice. Greta occasionally will latch on strange and there will be pain, but nothing that is unbearable or uncorrectable with a simple relatch.
Several people told me that breastfeeding was the hardest thing they had ever done. For me, that has not been the case. Sure the first few days neither of us really knew what we were doing, but once we met with the lactation consultant twice things were fine. I haven’t really experienced much pain, definitely not near the level of pain I had during childbirth. The only real pain I get these days is when Greta decides to sleep for longer than my boobs expect. I either pray she wakes up soon or pump a little milk out to relieve the pressure. This doesn’t usually happen since she eats pretty regularly around the clock.
Greta still eats every 2 to 4 hours around the clock. She has gone longer between feedings on a few rare occasions. Greta’s sign that she is hungry has pretty much always been hands in the mouth. She is growing in leaps and bounds, so I know she is eating plenty. Thankfully she doesn’t really seem affected by anything that I eat. Every once in a while I think something I eat gives her a little gas, but nothing that has convinced me that I should stop eating anything in particular. Also, apparently babies can overeat. I had always heard that babies are good at self-regulating their food intake. Apparently, Greta did not hear this. The culprit of her many massive spit-ups are usually overeating. I have gotten pretty good at pulling her off when I think she is done, although I do feel a little guilty. But usually if she is still hungry she will let me know. I’m not really sure how scheduled feeding actually works because it seems to make the most sense to feed the baby when they are hungry, which is what on-demand feeding is all about. If you are on a strict schedule, do you just not feed the baby when it is hungry? Greta eats when she wants, that’s for sure. Sometimes that is every hour, other times every three hours.
My main advice for anyone who wants to breastfeed is to make sure you have access to a lactation consultant (LC) very shortly after birth. Here in San Antonio the two main hospital systems both have lactation centers. The hospital that Greta was born at has an in-hospital one. The LCs are there 6 days a week. We were only able to meet with one once before we were discharged since Greta was born in the evening on Friday and we left on Sunday. We then went back on Monday to meet with another one of the LC. It is free to go to the lactation center at that hospital as long as you delivered your baby there, which is great. All you have to do is make an appointment (same day is usually available). The other hospital system here has a central lactation center. Again it is free and anyone can go there, regardless of where you delivered your baby. I have not been to that one, but I hear it is great. Both of the lactation centers will allow you to come in and weigh your baby anytime. You can also weigh your baby before and after a feeding to see how much milk the baby is getting. If you don’t have these kind of resources in your area I encourage you to find a private lactation consultant to have on-call. I think that most everyone can have a successful breastfeeding experience if they get help early and often.
I also thought I would tell you about my favorite breastfeeding attire. Most days I wear a nursing tank top. I have these from Target. When I am around the house I just wear that (along with some bottoms of course :)). When I go out I just throw on any shirt that fits. I usually opt for looser fitting shirts that can be pulled up easily. The tank top offers extra belly coverage so that my belly is not showing when I lift up my shirt. I also have one of these nursing covers which I put on to cover the baby and the boob. I like this nursing cover because it has a structured piece that allows for you to be able to peek in and watch baby. Greta has recently learned how to grab onto things and has tried to pull the nursing cover off, so now I have to hold it down or stick it under her bottom. One thing that was very useful for the first few weeks was a breastfeeding pillow. I had the one called My Brest Friend. I definitely recommend every first time breastfeeder get one. It straps on, so it stays in the right position, which also allows you to get up and move for a second if need be, although I’m sure it isn’t recommended, just make sure you are holding onto the baby.
If you made it to the end of this, it will be a miracle. I had more to say than I thought. I do have one question. Why is breastfeeding often called nursing?