Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breastfeeding a Newborn

I'm back in the "breastfeeding a newborn" phase of life. Actually, the new baby has been amazingly good to me. I've written about how my second son was a snacker, eating every hour. This new guy, he eats very enthusiastically, sometimes only for 10 minutes, other times for 20, but he cluster feeds for a bit, then takes a nice long nap, sometimes close to two hours. (Not that I can make any definite statements about his habits at 17 days old, but this is sorta how it's been so far.) It's kind of amazing. I was prepared for another every-hour eater, so this is pleasant.

Before my milk came in, his latch was horrible, it was hot as heck here (no A/C), and he would not let go of my nipple without screaming. I dreaded latching him on, I cried, thinking I couldn't possibly handle a baby like this, I despaired. And then my milk came in, and he became the most content, easy-going guy. I'm very lucky.

I read a very good article yesterday - which I wish I'd read two weeks ago! - about how positioning is more important than how the latch looks, and how the latch feels is more important than it looking like they describe in the books, and suddenly he's latching better, with just a few simple tips. Hold the baby tummy-to-tummy with you, so his ears, shoulders, AND HIPS are in one line. Bring the baby to your breast, with the nipple in line with his NOSE, and let your breast brush his CHIN. This will stimulate him to open his mouth, and then you can drop the nipple in. If it doesn't hurt, you're fine. Also, it helps keep him latched comfortably if you recline a bit. This is called biological nurturing, or laid-back nursing, and it helps keep the baby from flinging his head backward and coming off the nipple in a rather painful way.

I would like to brag a little at this point. Baby was born 8lbs., 3.5oz. By day three he had lost about 6 ounces, and was down to 7lbs., 12oz. The very next day, day four, he was up to 7lbs., 15.5oz. (yes, he gained 3.5 ounces in one day, once my milk came in). Today, he had his two-week appointment, and at 17 days old, he's 9lbs., 14oz. Yes, folks, he gained over two pounds in two weeks. He's a good eater, that one!

Anyway, I have mastitis. I've preached up and down, here and in my book, about getting rid of plugged ducts and avoiding mastitis, and here I wake up yesterday morning with a horribly engorged right breast, chills, achy joints, and a hard, sore spot on the outside of said right breast. Damn. I tried my usual tricks, massaging the spot while nursing, nursing a lot on that side, letting the hot water from the shower help open up the duct, massaging some more. I thought I'd taken care of it, until my 600mg dose of ibuprofen wore off and the chills came back last night. I spent the night alternately having chills and sweats, so I called the doctor this morning and asked for antibiotics. If you can't clear the infection with home remedies within 24 hours, it's not worth taking any chances. Mastitis can be serious stuff. I was hoping to avoid antibiotics, because that can lead to thrush, which is its own ball of trouble. Ah well. I got some probiotics to take along with the antibiotics, so hopefully this will be the end of it.

And, finally, I've decided to start pumping and storing breastmilk again, like I did with my second son, in order to donate it. I have someone in mind to give it to, if she wants it. A friend of my housekeeper's had a baby who was in the hospital for a few weeks after birth. She desperately wanted to breastfeed him, but she didn't have good support, and she didn't have a full supply established. I tried to pass along some tips, but I think it was too late. At three months old, now, her milk is dried up, and her son has had four ear infections already. She's terribly upset. I asked my housekeeper if she thought her friend might take donated milk, and said I'd be very happy to start pumping for her. I won't be able to give her enough to get him off formula, but even one bottle a day may help. Poor baby.

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