I have been wanting to write a post about how breastfeeding has been going for us for quite some time. Of course, Isaac has been my first priority and blogging falls further and further down the list of things to get done. Anyhoo, here we go.
We have been successfully breastfeeding for 2 months now. I have not been to a lactation consultant or support group yet, but I have some numbers on hand. Isaac took to nursing like a fish to water. He had an awesome latch in the hospital, and the nurse didn't really have to help us that much except with positioning. I had taken our boppy to the hospital, so that really helped us get used to positioning. My milk came in the day after we got home, so we only had to formula supplement for 4 feedings. This was good because Isaac hated the formula. I mean, he HATED it.
In the beginning, nursing didn't hurt so much. It was a wierd sensation, but I was determined to stick with it, so any discomfort I tried to push aside. Night feedings were, and still are, the most difficult because Isaac likes to fall asleep before he can be burped or sufficiently filled. He was also falling asleep with nursing during the day, so he was really fussy at times and wanted to eat all the time because he was not having successful feedings. In the first weeks this was really hard because all I wanted to do was sleep while he was sleeping, and there would be days when I wouldn't eat until 3 pm,which made nursing harder because what he was getting was basically water. I started laying out snacks that I could grab with one hand throughout the day the night before. This REALLY helped me get better nutrition and more energy. I put out 4 snacks, including a fruit, a dairy, a veggie, and a protein or grain. I think this improved the quality of my milk immensely because before I was just grabbing easy stuff like a cookie or candy or chips or something. I also made sure my meals were easily accessible and didn't need alot of prep time.
I started pumping around the 3 week mark. Mostly because I wanted to start making bottles and I wanted to see how much milk I was actually making. Breastfeeding was taking so much out of me, literally, and my husband and I thought that if we inroduced one bottle a day, at night, that would alleviate some stress from me. And it did. When I first started pumping, I would get about 2 ounces from one side. When Isaac was done nursing, I would pump the rest out to help establish my milk supply. I think I was holding about 2 ounces each side per 2-3 hours. By the evening I usually had about a 2 ounce bottle just from residual milk after feedings. My husband gave this to Isaac before bed and he started sleeping a bit better because he was a little more full faster.
Because we introduced this bottle, my milk would build up between feedings. I started nursing solidly from oneside during night feedings. Isaac still wasn't draining a whole breast for the feedings at night so it worked well. Each time I woke up to feed him I took note of the non-nursing side. When it was rock hard and starting to leak a bit, I got up to pump it, no matter what time it was...anywhere from 3 am to 7 am. At this point I was still pumping into bottles, and not freezing and I was getting about 2.5-3 ounces per breast.
I got a tip from a friend to start feeding Isaac in his onesie or just diaper for as many feedings as possible. This would make him less warm and snuggly until he really established good feeding habits and started draining the boob completely, This worked GREAT for us and soon he was taking both sides and draining them both in one feeding in about 20-30 minutes. And because he did this, he would sleep more soundly and longer during his naps, about 3-4 hours sometimes. When he did do this, I could get a head and pump one side. When he woke up, I would give him the non pumped side first and then the pumped side, and he usually took both. By doing this, I noticed my supply was going gradually increasing. I was up to a solid 4 ounces for morning pumpings and 2.5 to 3 ounces in daytime pumpings.
We have now managed to establish a hearty freezer stash that contains about 2 full days of feedings, with a couple extra. We take a bottle with us when we are going to be out for a while, or I will be somewhere where I don't feel totally comfortable nursing. He still gets one bottle a day and when he takes the bottle, he is taking 4-4.5 ounces per feeding. When he does this, I can usually pump about 3.5-4 ounces to replenish what he took from the freezer supply. With that, I am pumping twice a day and getting 4 ounces from one side in the morning and about the same when I pump after the bottle feeding total from both sides.
I am not going to lie. Pumping in the morning was hard at first. I was tired, tired, TIRED. But now that Isaac's sleep schedule is more established, I am usually pumping at 6-7 am and it takes about 10 minutes to drain the breast. This all really started to work for me. Some days, I don't pump at all in the morning because Isaac was really hungry. Other things that helped me were to make sure that Isaac was completely satiated before I pumped and was happy and content. This way I wasn't worrying about him while I was pumping and I knew I wasn't robbing him of food he needed or wanted. Also, I pump only into bottles and then pour into freezer bags. That way I don't spill from the bag while pumping and if I have to stop, I can just set down the bottle. I can also add to the bottle throughout the day until I have the amount in one bottle that I want to freeze. I never freeze bottles, just the freezer bags.
All this has gotten us through 2 full months of only breastfeeding/breastmilk. I am planning to keep breastfeeding for a year, skipping formua entirely if we can. I love that I can do this for Isaac and it is worth the sacrifice of certain foods and sleep on my part.
I will try to post his two month update asap. :)