Friday, December 28, 2012

Breastfeeding, take 2

Sporadic posting, I know. That really is What I've Learned So Far ... no time for things like this!

I did want to take some time to note my experience with breastfeeding this time around because it was one of the things I was nervous about with baby girl #2. I nursed Ellen for 10 months and I'm pretty sure we had the typical course ... major learning curve at the beginning, figured it out by about 1 month, and then coasted pretty smoothly (with an over-abundant milk supply) to 10 months when I weaned her before a vacation and she was majorly distractable / disinterested.

Despite all that, it was seriously a distant memory and I could hardly fathom doing it again. I dug out my pump (the Medela Freestyle - still convinced it's the best thing around) and found that all my old pump parts were pretty grody. I was planning to order replacements, but that sealed the deal. I guess the old style of breast shields (the Soft Fit) didn't hold up over time, so they aren't available now. I ordered replacements and they come in sizes - I started with the 24mm (standard) and moved up to the 27mm after my milk came in. I have 2 full sets of parts and will have 3 when I go back to work to avoid so much sanitizing and drying during the work day. I also got replacement tubing, just because, I guess. I had everything sanitized and ready at home before I left for the hospital.

The day before I delivered I was looking up breastfeeding videos on YouTube (lame), but I didn't really even remember the terminology and such and needed a little refresher. Lansinoh had a decent video that was protected under like 3 warnings about being age 18 or older - really?

I don't remember much about the hospital days of breastfeeding with Ellen, other than the fact that she was SO SO sleepy that we spent most of her feeds trying to wake her up. I think she was latching well, though, and hadn't lost too much weight when we went home.

This time was different - Georgia didn't latch well at all and kept her tongue at the roof of her mouth. She wasn't tongue tied or anything, just more of a general disinterest in eating. I felt much more comfortable with the nurses and lactation consultants trying to help me, and I felt more confidant in what I was doing (it really is like riding a bike ...) and they all acknowledged that I was doing everything correctly, but that she was just difficult. It was super frustrating, even with my knowledge base, and I'm glad she was #2 instead of #1. I ended up using the hospital pump and pumping after trying to nurse, then giving her colostrum through a syringe on my finger or in her mouth while she was nursing. It was super annoying and very difficult to do by myself and I couldn't see how this would translate to us going home.

Over our 3 days in the hospital she showed VERY SLOW progress, to the point where we all felt comfortable going home and following up with a weight check the next day. Her best feeding was right before we left the hospital and then her weight check the next day was promising. She continued to nurse better with each feeding and by about day 5 she was totally fine - no more tube feedings or any assistance. One of the lactation consultants commented that when she had her babies (25+ years ago), no one expected breastfed babies to eat very well for the first 3 days. Now we get in a panic about it, when I think it just takes time for some babies to wake up and show interest. That certainly seemed to be the case for Georgia (fortunately).

From that point her weight gain was great and I even thought she was a better / more relaxed / possibly more efficient feeder than Ellen. She was eating 7 times in 24 hours and I was able to read or check email on my phone while she nursed, which I could never do with Ellen (needed all hands on deck). Then fast forward about 3 weeks and I had searing, toe-curling pain when she latched on. I was afraid it might be a yeast infection or something, but when I assessed the situation I realized it was just a lazy latch. She was getting milk, but wasn't latching well and I was paying the price. I did quite a bit of reading and even watched some videos (Jack Newman's site is good) of a good latch to really get a picture of what I was aiming for. I worked hard for a few days to improve her latch, which was successful, and it has been smooth sailing since then. So, in the end, it really was about 1 month until everything seemed easy for both of us.

Some tips I have learned this time around:
- Use lanolin (or a comparable product) EVERY TIME you nurse or pump. I started in the hospital and have been diligent and I haven't had any cracks or bleeding.
- Have some smallish ice packs on hand and frozen for when you come home from the hospital. When your milk comes in you will be happy you have them (cold is better than hot - that just adds to the inflammation). I would wear my nursing tank, then a zip up jacket on top to hold the ice bags in place.
- I pumped much more this time when my milk came in, which I think helped matters. With Ellen I think I was afraid to pump too much for fear it would just produce more milk. This time I bet I pumped 4 or 5 times the first day, and 2 or 3 times the second day, in addition to feeds until my breasts felt soft(er). By the 3rd day I think I was pretty much back to just the regular feeding schedule.
- While you are doing all that pumping, just save your pump parts in the fridge in a ziploc bag so you aren't constantly sterilizing and drying parts and use them as needed.  It should be fine for 12-24 hours.
- We are still using the little Medela regular neck bottles that fit on the pump for Georgia's bottles. She takes them just fine (gave her first bottle around 3-4 weeks, no issue). I sterilized all the bottles and caps and rings before we left for the hospital and bought new slow flow nipples. Nipples for regular neck bottles are almost impossible to find anymore, just FYI. I don't even think Medela makes them - I used the Green To Grow ones.
- I still pump at least once a day (usually last feeding of the day when she gets a bottle from Dad) and sometimes twice (early morning after first feed now that she is mostly sleeping through the night).
- I am on the hunt for a good hands-free pumping situation that might allow for me to get ready for work in the mornings while pumping. I have read good things about the Rumina tank and may splurge.

No comments: