Monday, May 19, 2014

Breastfeeding: a Refresher Course

Even when it comes relatively easily, I don't know if breastfeeding is ever totally straightforward. Every baby is so different and it's hard to remember the nitty gritty details of nursing Eloise in the early days. I do know that establishing a good latch was hard, but I think this was mostly due to the sheer size difference between her tiny head and my huge breasts. To solve this my midwife suggested using a nipple shield which worked like a charm for the first month and led to a great breastfeeding experience until Eloise was 19 months old.

This time around I was convinced my full-size baby would simply just nurse. Spencer caught on instantly at first, happily taking both breasts, but as my milk came in things become more complicated. Generous milk production has led to engorgement which means that Spencer tends to choke as he feeds and needs to be burped constantly. Milk gets all over both of us unless I have a careful placement of burp cloths and trying to establish a good latch makes him frustrated which makes me frustrated and we both end up covered in milk. One breast is easier to feed on than the other and it's gotten to the point where Spencer will not willingly take my right side unless he has already fed on the left. Then there is the leakage. Even with an extra breast pad tucked into my bra the oft-neglected right breast proceeded to leak a giant circle down one side of my shirt yesterday. This just so happened to coincide with the first day we had ventured out of the house and can you guess who forgot to pack herself a change of clothes? 

To help make feeding easier my midwife recommended nursing lying on my back to reduce the fast flow of my milk and encourage Spencer to suck. This works until he unlatches and I have to reposition, maneuvering myself back up to a sitting position without using my abs which will impact my c-section recovery. It is not a very comfortable process. The other option is nursing on my side but this results in a pool of milk below us both as Spencer continuously moves around, not entirely sure of what he is supposed to be doing. He also likes to have his hands up by his face and for some reason he holds them here in a death grip the hungrier he gets and I have to pry them open to get full breast contact.

A breastfeeding blog suggested pumping a few minutes on each side before nursing to reduce the flow of engorged breasts, so I have been doing this and it seems to work. I am also using a nipple shield again and it looks like this may be what Spencer needed to nurse for longer without choking. Nights are still an adventure as a sleepy baby and dozy mom lead to lots of spilled milk but I suppose it is all part of the process. Even with the success of breastfeeding Eloise it looks like I needed a refresher course in breastfeeding after all.

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