As it is national breastfeeding week it seemed sensible to share with you how things have gone during my first month of feeding JJ. Anyone who followed me when Piglet was a baby will know that my reasons for wanting to breastfeed are not what you would expect, and really rather selfish in many ways. But as with Piglet, I was determined to make it work with JJ.
As this is my second baby I am now what I would consider to be a “comfortable” breast feeder. I know what to do, I know what it feels like what they feed and I pretty much knew what I could expect out of it all. I had high hopes for feeding to be a smoother ride than it was when I was establishing feeding with Piglet. But alas – as usual things didn’t go to plan!
For starters, I didn’t expect to have a baby born even earlier than Piglet was. JJ joined us at just over 35 weeks and at that age they are only just working on their suck reflex. Toss in jaundice (which makes babies sleepy and therefore harder to feed) and I was off to a fairly rocky start. We spent a week in hospital with JJ under phototherapy lights and losing weight so for me fed is best, so he was given a mixture of my expressed milk and then formula top ups to help him fight the jaundice and get the strength to go home.
By the time I left the hospital I was producing enough milk with a breast pump to feed him, so we were able to drop the formula top ups and just use expressed milk which felt like a real achievement. The breastfeed, bottle feed, express cycle was “easy” in hospital as I had no other responsibilities, but once we were home it became harder to maintain.
I didn’t want to be tied to the house (no one wants to be trapped at home with a hyper toddler!) so I would take my Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump in my changing bag so I could express on the go if I needed to. Having that element of freedom meant we could try and return to “normal” a little quicker.
As the days went on I had my doubts that JJ would ever latch properly. Having been in this situation with Piglet previously, I was bracing myself to go the long haul. With him I was less successful with expressing and eventually couldn’t keep up with Piglet’s demands, so this time I allowed myself to create a milk oversupply. I stored the excess milk in the freezer in Lansinoh milk storage bags. That way, when the time came that JJ’s needs exceeded what I could produce I would have a back up stash to supplement with for a bit longer.
I continued to offer the breast to JJ before every feed for 10 minutes. Long enough to get his interest, but not so long that it would tire him out before he’s actually had a chance to have any milk. And one day it suddenly all clicked. He latched fully and took a feed from me, eventually falling asleep in my arms full and happy. He was two weeks old.
I was excited to be able to drop the expressing, but since I had such a big over supply I had to do it slowly to stop myself getting mastitis. I reduced the amount of time I expressed for, and that meant coping with sore and engorged breasts for a few days. I used Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pads to sooth them, and was surprised by the relief they were able to give. I credit the fact that I didn’t get any blocked ducts fully down to them! I also used Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads to help with any leaking while things levelled out.
I won’t lie and say it wasn’t an uncomfortable few days, and at times I was willing JJ to wake up and feed to give me some relief. It was worth it though, as I now have the right amount of milk to feed him. I’ve still got my stash of milk in the freezer though, and with over 120oz frozen I will have no need to express if I ever want to leave him with JHogg and a bottle.
After the initial issues I really thought I was going to have to battle to get JJ to breastfeed, so the fact that he managed it from 2 weeks is amazing. He is a really efficient feeder these days. You can hear him gulping milk down at a fair pace, and each feed only lasts up to 10 minutes which is great for his age.
Putting in the work I did to establish breastfeeding is not easy, and I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t want to do it – it can be draining both physically and mentally. The rewards though are oh so worth it.
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