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Nursing, the First Five Days...

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well, if there's one thing that having another baby has done, it's give me quite a bit to write about on the Lactivist blog. ;) Since I'm on maternity leave from my "real job" I figure I should have a good chance to add some good posts on my experiences to this one. With that in mind, the first five days have already been pretty eventful...and VERY different from our attempts to nurse the first go round.

Day One

The first twenty-four hours after birth actually went pretty similar this time to the last time. I was able to start nursing Emmitt within about 30 minutes of his birth and he latched on instantly and without any problems. In fact, in the first twenty-four hours, he nursed about 16 or 17 times. Usually it would be along the lines of "nurse for 45 minutes, take a 20 minute break, nurse for 30 minutes take a 10 minute break, nurse for 45 minutes..." you get the picture. Basically...this kid can EAT!

Greg, Emmitt and I spent that first night on the back porch where I could sit in the recliner and sleep while he was nursing. I think I actually managed to get two or three hours of sleep. Thus, I woke up on Day Two feeling pretty optimistic.

Day Two

But then of course...the next day came about. Emmitt was still eating around the clock, but I noticed that it was starting to hurt...badly...whenever he latched on. That told me that I likely wasn't getting him latched deep enough and I really tried to work on getting that nice wide open mouth before latching him. Unfortunately, I was still putting breast to baby instead of pulling baby into breast. The bad latch meant that by halfway through the day I was pretty much in agony whenever he nursed. Then it got worse...

Greg, Emmitt and I tried to sleep in the bedroom that night, but I found that the moment I set Emmitt down in his bassinet, he'd start screaming. (We'd notice that he'd fuss anytime we set him down pretty much from the moment of birth...but this was the first time we'd really tried to SLEEP...) I'm not really the co-sleeping type (terrified of smothering baby) so about an hour in, I gathered him up and we headed back to the porch. That's when he decided that he'd had enough of this nursing thing.

Bam...flashback! This is exactly what happened with Elnora.

I spent the next two-three hours trying desperately to get him calmed down and latched but his growing frustration and the fact that exhaustion was finally catching up with me were creating a lethal combination. However, just as I was about to burst into tears, Greg came out to check on us. He came in pretty much just in time to see me rocking back and forth chanting "I will not get the pump, I will not get the pump, I will not get the pump." Mostly because I KNEW, that the second we gave him a bottle of expressed milk that this whole thing was over and I was DETERMINED to nurse this go round.

So Greg encouraged me to climb back into the recliner and he spent the next hour working with me to get Emmitt latched. In fact, he pretty much got Emmitt latched on while I passed out in the chair. With a great latch, Emmitt nursed for an hour straight while I slept. Emmitt then dozed in my arms for about 30 minutes before I woke up and switched him to the other side where he nursed for another 30 minutes. After that, Greg took him and let me sleep for almost two hours.

God bless that man.

Day Three

Not wanting to experience another night like that, I called the lactation consultant hotline first thing in the morning. We'd seen an LC on a Saturday when we had Elnora, so I thought we'd be able to get in. Unfortunately, they told me that they only do out-patient services on Monday - Friday. So...that left me with a phone consult. She asked some questions, made some suggestions and I was left hoping that we'd survive until Monday morning. Thankfully, one of the suggestions she made was to "feed" baby into the breast chin first rather than nose first. That alone really helped and I noticed a difference in pain levels almost immediately.

Also had a visit from a friend and his wife that day... His wife is currently nursing their third child and she offered up some help until I could get to see the LC. While latching was going much better, I mentioned that my nipples were definitely reaching the chapped and painful stage. It also looked like I was developing a cracked nipple on my right side. She asked if I had any Lansinoh which created my first "duh" moment of nursing. So, I went hunting and dug out a tube I had leftover from my pumping days. She suggested that I make sure I use the Lansinoh every time I nursed and that I try to let the nipples air dry as much as possible.

That night, we tried the bedroom again and found that we had the exact same problem with sleeping. Any time we put Emmitt in his bassinet, he'd cry almost instantly. This was getting confusing as by day two, he'd started being content to sleep on the couch lying next to someone and by day three, we were able to put him in his pack n play on the porch and he'd happily sleep for an hour or so at a time.

Exhausted, I decided to try nursing him while side lying. Sure enough, we both fell asleep within minutes. So...Emmitt spent the entire night in bed with Greg and I. Gotta say, I get the co-sleeping now. (LOL...funny how different kids and different temperaments suddenly make you appreciate different parenting styles...) I have no interest in co-sleeping long term, but figured if this is what it takes for a few weeks to get the kinks worked out, then that's doable.

So, for the first time since Emmitt was born, I found myself waking up feeling rested. I probably got a whole four hours or more of sleep that night. Plus, it was pretty darn nice to snuggle up to Emmitt. ;)

Day Four

Sunday dawned bright and clear and with me feeling pretty darn awake. In fact, apart from the ouch factor of nursing with some pretty bad chapping and cracking damage to both nipples, the day went pretty smoothly. Emmitt seemed to be settling into a pattern of nursing for 20 minutes, sleeping for two hours and then nursing for 20 minutes again. The day was pretty uneventful though I could tell that my milk was starting to come in in pretty full force. (yay...engorgement...) That said, I was still concerned about how Emmitt was latching, so we agreed that come Monday morning, we'd try to get in to see an LC after our appointment with the pediatrician in the morning.

Sunday night saw a repeat of Saturday night. Anytime we put Emmitt in the bassinet, he cried. (Which was starting to make me wonder if there was something weird about the bassinet.) So, he again spent the night with us in bed nursing on and off throughout the night, but generally allowing me to get several hours of sleep.

Day Five

Since we had an appointment with our ped at 9am (and the office was 30 minutes away) we got up early and got the car seat installed for Emmitt's first car ride. He nursed good and strong for about 40 minutes before we left and fell asleep in the car as soon as we hit the road. (yay! the bassinet thing had me worried that he wouldn't like the car either and was just some strange kid...lol)

Our appointment at the ped's went well. Emmitt had lost about 12 ounces, but since he started off at such a high weight, that still meant he hadn't yet lost 10%. The ped asked how nursing was going and I filled him in, including our plans to visit an LC that afternoon. He said Emmitt looked fantastic and healthy. I asked about him having a bit of jaundice and the ped said that he did, but that it was very minor and obviously very common for breastfed babies. Basically...no worries. I then asked about the bassinet thing and him sleeping with us and he reminded me that babies are used to being close to people by default, so it makes sense that some of them have to "learn" to be by themselves. He assured me that we weren't locking ourselves into co-sleeping this early in the game and that if we want to have him NOT sleep with us, we easily had a month or two to work on that before we could in any way get him "used" to being with us every night.

Basically, he said all the right things to reassure us on what we were doing. Have I mentioned how much I love my ped?

From there, we swung by the chiropractor's since my back was starting to hurt from the relaxin that was still coursing through my system. He gave me my adjustment and then checked Emmitt over. He gave him the tiniest little adjustment in his neck and commented on what great shape he was in. He said that most babies need a pretty significant adjustment from the twisting that goes in when their head is delivered. (Meaning from how doctors "guide/pull" them out.) I reminded him that I had a midwife and he laughed and said "ahh yes...and she did a GREAT job being hands off if his neck is in this great a shape."

From there, it was off to stop by Greg's office for a few minutes and then down to the LC at the hospital. We spent about 45 minutes with her working on different hold positions and our latch. Turns out, we were latching pretty good by this point but she said that there was significant damage from the first few days. In fact, she said that the crack that had formed on my right nipple was "pretty severe" and that we really needed to vary the position that I nursed in on that side to give things a chance to heal. If healing doesn't start to make progress by Wednesday, I'll need to exclusively pump that side for a day or two and nurse on the left side until things heal. Then, I can add in an extra nursing session a day on the right side until we're back to nursing both sides regularly.

She also pointed out that the crack put me at risk for a yeast infection in the nipple and suggested that I work on making sure that they get plenty of air, plenty of Lansinoh and that I change my nursing pads at least every other feeding so that nothing can get a hold and start growing. She also suggested that I cut back on sugar and dairy products, add in some yogurt and take acidophilus to help combat the potential for yeast. (Any other suggestions readers?)

She also banned us from the bed for at least three nights. She said that while she could appreciate the desire to nurse and sleep, that it's just too hard to secure and maintain a really good latch with a new baby in that environment. Add in the damage that I already have and I was really risking making things worse if I kept it up before things healed. So...Emmitt and I needed to move back to the porch (with the futon and recliner) until things are completely healed up. At that point, she said she'd be happy to work with us on proper side-lying positions if I wanted to keep co-sleeping. For now though, it was "feet on the floor" positions for us.

That left me feeling pretty worried because I still hadn't had much sleep and I was pretty exhausted. I knew it meant that I'd have to start sleeping more during the day since he'd often go two hours between feddings and I'd have two weeks of help with Nora since my MIL and then my mom were each spending a week with us. Add in the fact that come 6pm, Emmitt decided that he wanted to nurse every hour on the hour and I was getting even more concerned. He'd been doing a lot of cluster feeding at night and it was pretty much just the co-sleeping that was getting me ANY sleep at all. Come midnight, when we'd wrapped up our sixth session in six hours, Greg headed to bed making me promise to come get him if we ran into problems.

I put Emmitt into his pack n play, settled into the recliner and said a quick prayer that God would help him (and me) get some sleep tonight.

Then I woke up. At 3 am.

Praise God! 3 full hours of sleep! Three...count em...one...two....yep...three! The most sleep I'd had in a single setting in nearly three months.

I woke up, snagged Emmitt, he nursed for about 30 minutes and fell right back to sleep.

As did I.

For another hour and a half.

It was amazing. I actually felt human again. I nursed Emmitt for another 20 minutes or so, then he settled down on the couch next to me while I ate a banana and pulled out the laptop to write this post. It's coming up on 6:45am and he's still sleeping. That likely means that we're far enough through the night that we'll hit the 2 hours/20 minutes sleep/nurse pattern again. That also means I'll be taking several naps today during those 2 hour stints. ;)

So...please cross your fingers and say a prayer for us. If we can avoid thrust and I can get this crack healed up, I think we're going to be ok. I know there are still plenty of problems ahead (I remember mastitis...and NOT fondly...) but I really felt like once I made it past that second night and fought past the problems that tanked my nursing with Nora...that it was all going to work out.

We WILL do this. It may mean lots of visits to the LC and it may mean less sleep and more pain for a bit...but we WILL do this.



  1. Anonymous Damien McKenna | 6:52 AM |  

    I think its wonderful that you inadvertantly discovered the joys of co-sleeping - it may be a little unusual for the couple at first but my wife and I definitely believe its the best thing for everyone. Continued best wishes to you all!

  2. Anonymous the SmockLady | 8:11 AM |  

    I have coslept with our babies and it was wonderful. I didn't cosleep with my first one because she was such a noisy sleeper (lots of grunts and groans) that we both slept better at a distance from each other. I was constantly checking on her every noise and therefore disturbing her sleep. So off to her own room she went and had a wonderful natural pattern we both fell into easily.

    The rest of them stayed in our room for quite a few months. All of them have co-slept next to me for the first 5 to 8 weeks (each child was different) then transitioned to their own bed (I love the Amby Bed) and eventually to their cribs by around 6 or 7 months. I've never been able to get one to sleep in a bassinet (thin matress, hard bottom, not cozy at all).

    Just remember every baby/child is different and every situation is different. Do what you must to heal (I've been there before, I know what you are experiencing) and keep going. . . one nursing session at a time, one day at a time, one night at a time.

  3. Anonymous Alena | 8:18 AM |  

    Congratulations on sticking with nursing. It reminds me of my experience with my son. My nipples were cracking, and it extremely hurt to nurse. Lansinoh didn't really help, but APNO (All purpose nipple ointment) cream did. You get it by prescription, and it prevents infections as well as heals the nipples. I also ended up using a nipple shield for about 3 months - it helped with the pain a lot. Then I gradually stopped using the shield, and we have now been successfully nursing for 2 years! So I have every faith that you can do it too :) Good luck!

  4. Blogger cooler*doula | 10:20 AM |  

    Hooray you.

    As someone who struggled with nursing the first time round, and desperately wants to do better next time, if there is a next time, I am pulling for you with everything I have.

    I bet your LC has mentioned this. I know mine did. But I ignored her... Probably shouldn't have...

    Football hold. It's uncomfortable. But it can really give a damagaed nipple a break.

    Have your lovely hubby check when he's latched on that he's lying in a straight line - chin, shoulder in line and that you're holding him high - in line with your nipple.

    Wishing you sleep, and success.

    Joy - you have that already.

  5. Blogger cooler*doula | 10:21 AM |  

    Hooray you.

    As someone who struggled with nursing the first time round, and desperately wants to do better next time, if there is a next time, I am pulling for you with everything I have.

    I bet your LC has mentioned this. I know mine did. But I ignored her... Probably shouldn't have...

    Football hold. It's a bit uncomfortable. But it can really give a damagaed nipple a break.

    Have your lovely hubby check when he's latched on that he's lying in a straight line - chin, shoulder in line and that you're holding him high - in line with your nipple.

    Wishing you sleep, and success.

    Joy - you have that already.

  6. Blogger Jennifer | 10:26 AM |  

    Funny that you mention it joy, but football hold is EXACTLY what she told me to do. She said everyone starts off with cradle hold and some variation of side-lying and that's what often causes the problem. Apparently it's really important to vary things in the early stages and to settle into a "typical" nursing posture down the road when things are smooth.

    The football hold is tough when traveling though. I had to nurse him twice while we were out and about yesterday, once at the ped's office (though we were in the room for his check) and once in the car before going to the grocery store. For the car, I had to actually take his seat out of the back and climb back there so that I could turn the diaper back on it's side and use that to help position him.

    LOL...oh the things we do.

  7. Anonymous Jax | 12:39 PM |  

    football hold was the only thing that worked for Small for the first few weeks, and yes, I found it tough. What I had was one of those orthopeadic angle pillows, and I used to put that around me and rest him on it.

    I preferred kamillosan to lansinoh, but I don't know whether you can get it over there.

    and as for the co-sleeping - I was terrified with Big, so Tim ended up turfed out of bed more often than not so that I could build her her own nest next to me, handy for feeding. I always sat up to feed though. With Small, I went for a bedside cot, so I could drag him over to me and then push him back into his own space when he'd done. Sleep is important :)

  8. Blogger cooler*doula | 1:05 PM |  

    It is a HARD position, I found. And what makes it worse, is that you DON'T see people doing it much, AND, as you say - it's hard to do without a mountain of pillows in the privacy of your home.
    Yup. The cradle and side lying are 'advanced' positions...

    So roll up a towel to support that wrist, sister, and try the football!! The cross-cradle will also give you better control...

    Here's a page that might help - it's a lactation course DONA recommends - and it has some tips, plus a visual for the positions...


  9. Blogger Amanda | 5:31 PM |  

    Soothies. expensive, yes, but worth EVERY penny. I kept them in the fridge. LOVE LOVE LOVE co-sleeping. it the only way either of my last two would let me get any sleep. happy babymoon.

  10. Blogger Jennifer | 7:32 PM |  

    Soothies? What's a soothie? I thought that a soothie was a pacifier...

  11. Blogger mamamilkers | 10:11 PM |  

    You are doing so awesome, mama! I love reading your day-by-day assessment of the first five days. I am looking forward to hearing how your relationship (nursing or otherwise!) progresses!

  12. Blogger elderberry jam | 10:14 PM |  

    If you don't mind yogurt, try strawberry keefer. Lots of acidophilus.

    My 4 m/o daughter spent 12 days in a neonatal intensive care unit in June, and I pumped until she was discharged. With the help of a great LC, I was also nursing successfully by the time we went home - just couldn't do it exclusively until we got out of jail. I've nursed 3 others and never had so much trouble getting started. At 4 months, she's never had formula, and is nursing great; and we are still co-sleeping happily. She spends more and more time in her bassinette at night. Pumping is not the end of the road. It will get easier! I love your blog, btw.

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