C.W. asks from Phoenix, AZ on February 16, 2011
Hi all! I am trying to find balance with my son's feeding, working and sanity in general.
My son is one month old today and I just completed my second day back at work. We are exclusively breastfeeding but this is translating to me being attached to either him or the pump whenever I am not at work and forget sleep. I am forecasting an abrupt end to breastfeeding unless I am missing something?
At a month old he is not on a schedule for anything. He eats either nearly constantly in small amounts or about every 2-3 hours in quickly increasing quantities that I am keeping up with when I feed him but with the pumping, not so much. Also, it takes him AGES to feed these days. An hour to an hour and a half per breastfeeding so I am only getting 30-90 minutes per cycle to do everything else, eat, sleep change him, etc. He is not a lackadazical eater. He means business and latches well for about 85% of those feeding minutes with the other 15% being my own repositioning and burping mainly. When I set out to breastfeed him I never imagined he'd be eating for so long per cycle, it is driving me nuts! Sometimes I think he is eating for so long to satisfy his sucking urge but he will not take any of the pacis I have tried, he sucks on his hand but like the paci, sucks for a minute and then has a crying fit when no milk comes out in a minute or so.
Is there anything I can do to improve this situation? I am burning through my pumped reserves waaaay too fast.
T.T. answers from Chicago on February 16, 2011
hes still young it will get markedly better in the next 2 to 3 weeks....its too bad we dont have longer maternity leave, good luck! you work out of the home pumping moms deserve a medal!!!!! you wont regret sticking with it so please get some rest when you can, go to bed early, sleep all weeekend...its a short period of time where its hell! I have a 2 week old and though i dont work out of the home i have an older child so i cant just sleep whenever and i am DYING! but i know it too shall pass ( hopefully SOON!)
A.C. answers from Houston on February 16, 2011
Formula isn't poison, but I'd hate for you to give up breastfeeding because of what may just be a rough patch or a growth spurt.
A four week old infant can't be expected to be on any sort of schedule. At least not one that isn't going to change with the wind!
Make sure you are getting enough healthy calories. A lot of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables. Plenty of non-caffeinated fluids. Oatmeal can boost your supply, as can a myriad of herbal supplements.
From what I remember, 2-6 weeks was the hardest...and I hadn't even gone back to work yet!
However, I can tell you that it can work! I am a single, working mother without any family close by and my daughter was on 100% breastmilk for nearly 10 months before she started solids. I pumped at work for the first year and she nursed until 18 months. I even had to travel several days at a time for work.
It isn't easy, but it isn't impossible either.
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K.M. answers from Miami on February 16, 2011
I have to respectfully disagree with Grandma T. I in no way think formula is poison. But, if a mom starts substituting formula this early in the game, her milk supply is going to tank and it won't be long before the baby is on all formula. Which is fine if mom wants to stop breastfeeding, but it sounds like she was looking for ways to continue nursing for the time being. A month old is normally not on any schedule. They eat and sleep when they feel like it. His nursing behavior is very typical for a newborn, especially for a 4 week old going through a growth spurt. Things will calm down. I do think it's really hard to go back to work so early after giving birth and try to establish breastfeeding. I put some links about growth spurts and normal newborn behavior.
The kellymom website is a very respected wonderful resource for breastfeeding moms. Check out the forums with include a pumping forum with many knowledable ladies in the same boat.
Some things you could try come to mind...
-Make sure you're using slow flow nipples
-Learn how to pump handsfree so you can do things like eat and type on mamapedia while you pump. They sell handsfree pumping bras, but this is what I did: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/pumping/hands-free-pumping.html
-Nurse on one side and pump the other at the same time.
-Consider cosleeping or at least how to nurse side lying: http://www.babyzone.com/baby/feeding_nutrition/breastfeed...
-Maybe consider talking to the lactation consultant who helped you in the hospital? Usually they are a free resource if you've given birth there. They could also reevaluate your latch just to double check that he's nursing efficiently.
-Know that every time he nurses, he is stimulating you to increase your supply and make more milk. I remember very well how exhausting the constant nursing is since my first didn't take pacifiers OR bottles. It may seem overwhelming, but it takes about 3-4 months to get your supply established, so if breastfeeding is very important to you, remember that all the crazy nursing is there for a reason and it DOES get better. As far as using you as a pacifier, it's exhausting, but it's normal. It's why man-made pacifiers are nipple shaped. You're fulfilling your child's needs not spoiling him.
I think you're AMAZING for breastfeeding, pumping and working! It is not easy to do that and you have to be really dedicated. Working and nursing can be incredibly challenging although not impossible. I know a few people who ended up exclusively pumping and working and they made it work. Good luck!! (And congrats on your new baby.)
4 moms found this helpful
P.M. answers from Tampa on February 16, 2011
co-sleep!!! pump one side while nursing the other side!!
I was a single Mother - with extremely unsupportive family and friends and working full time, but was still able to exclusively breastfeed while at home and pump as much as I could. I did this with little sleep deprivation because I slept with my baby and allowed her complete access during sleeping.
Your son will get more proficient and efficient at suckling and won't take so long by about the 4th month - after his first huge growth spurt. You;'ll know it's the growth spurt because he'll be needing to feed constantly and will seem unsatisfied - but truthfully he is creating a stimulis to your body to produce more milk.
While at work, try to pump at least every 2 hours - and fight for your rights as a nursing/pumping Mother in the workforce. Obama just passed a federal law about employers making time for pumping Moms to pump. Also, Arizona probably has it's own laws to help breastfeeding Mothers too.
3 moms found this helpful
A.V. answers from Washington DC on February 16, 2011
Honey, I have been there.
Kellymom.com and Nursing Mother, Working Mother are good resources.
I also agree to try cosleeping or at least figure out how you can nurse him and go back to bed. It's amazing what you can do half-asleep!
Bear in mind that he's only 4 weeks old and still learning. And breastmilk is digested faster so those 2 ounces or so (my DD started daycare at 12 weeks with about 2-2.5 ounces per bottle, several times a day) will go faster. It's normal. And with every week you'll see changes, probably til he hits 6 mo. or so and then it should even out with the addition of solid foods (but milk before solids).
Hang in there. I know it's rough at first. You'll get a schedule, he'll learn to sleep longer, etc. These first few weeks/months are just a blur for everybody. It's not just you.
How/when are you pumping? Try nursing one side and pumping the other, pumping in the car when you are driving (HANDS FREE, of course), etc. I only pumped 3x a day at work. I'd nurse at 6AM, pump at 9, 12 and 3, and nurse her again when we got home around 6:30 (with them giving her a bottle before pickup b/c we had a long ride). Remember, just a few ounces at this age is a meal.
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D.W. answers from Gainesville on February 16, 2011
If you can try to hang on you will find a balance. The first 6 weeks of nursing, babies can be all over the place. He's working to get your supply where it needs to be. My second would sometimes nursing like crazy then the next feed not so much.
Stress will make it tougher for you to pump and get the milk to flow. You aren't really going to get a ton right now anyway. A breastfed baby isn't going to take in the same amounts that a formula fed baby would be.
When you do give him a bottle try the Playtex nurser with the latex (brown) *slow* flow nipple. That is the most like breastfeeding that I found when trying to get my preemie from hospital bottles to me so he could nurse exclusively.
Neither of my ebf babies would take a paci. Maddening I know! But get a mayawrap or mei tai for when you are home. That way baby can nurse, suckle, be close and your hands are free. My mayawrap was a life-saver with my high needs preemie who needed to be help all. the. time.
Remember, baby is still in the "4th trimester". He is learning to navigate the world outside the womb so he wants,needs, craves the comforts he had in the womb. He's barely a month old. He's staying on the breast to stay close to you and get comfort. Google 4th trimester and this will help you understand better why he is doing what he is doing.
If you are comfortable co-sleeping that can help you get some rest at night. breastfed babies are good at lying down and nursing. Again, life-saver with my preemie.
3 moms found this helpful
J.S. answers from Boston on February 16, 2011
I agree with everything Kristine W says. Your situation is EXACTLY why we need some kind of paid maternity leave program in this country. That you have to go back to work so early is really hard on you and the baby because he is so young. There will be a huge difference from him at the end of 3 months and this will be easier, I promise you. I co-slept with all of my babies and it's really the only thing that made working and nursing possible. See if that helps get you over this hump and as he gets a little older, he'll figure himself out and will nurse more efficiently, his sucking need will decrease (or he'll take a paci or some other kind of soothing), and he'll go a little longer between feedings. You're doing a great job - do the best you can and it will get better in a few weeks!
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K.N. answers from Cleveland on February 16, 2011
my little guy is 2.5 months old and all I can say is it does get better. I'm a SAHM but because he used to nurse so much I pump and dad gives him a bottle at night, has since 3 weeks old, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten more than 20 minutes of sleep for the first 6 weeks. There are days I can get an 8 ounce bottle off one side when I pump and days when I can pump both sides and be lucky to get 3 onces, it varies greatly, even being home I have topped off a bottle with an ounce of formula, call me lazy or whatever but I'm a much better mom if I can at least get a 3-4 hour nap at night. My little guy doesn't take a paci either, half the time if I try he gags, although we are having more luck now that he is older. We still use the soothie brand the hospital gave us, while we have bought advent, mam and nuk, the soothie is the only one we have ever had even 5 minutes of luck with. You can do formula while you work, or add formula to breast milk to make it last a little longer, and your supply will regulate so you can nurse when you are home, but if you can make it another few weeks you are likely to start to see a schedule emerging with him and it won't be so stressful. I'm not saying it will be easy, I still wonder every day how much longer I can keep this up, this is the only 1 of my 4 that I have breastfed, but it gets a little easier every week. And actually the past few days he has slept from 12:30-6 and only taken the one bottle from dad about halfway through.
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C.C. answers from Flagstaff on February 17, 2011
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that around 3-4 weeks, babies usually go through a growth spurt, and will therefore eat more/longer for a week or so before settling on an amount. This happens again at 6-8 weeks too. Also, at night your breastmilk is different...less foremilk and more hindmilk, which contains hormones that will make him tired, and eventually help him to sleep better. Even though sometimes it seems he nurses forever and is getting nothing, trust that your body knows what is going on and is giving him what he needs.
With my first, my college semester started when my daughter was only 3 weeks old. It seemed like life was a blur. I ended up going to formula during the day and only nursing in the evening/night after 4 months of breastfeeding. It's better for him the longer you nurse him, but you have to weigh what's "worth it" for you. Good luck!
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