By: Penina Sipzner
With my first two children, exclusive breastfeeding went smoothly. They tended to wake up on their own every 2-3 hours and I rarely needed to wake them up for feeds. They both latched well and although I had a few plugged ducts, thankfully none ever turned into infections. Overall, I had no complaints; only positive feelings connected to special bonds with my daughter and son.
As soon as I saw my third baby, I fell in love and knew I would give her the best nutrition by nursing her for at least 1 year as I did my other babies. However, with this baby, it was different. Firstly, she was tired during the daytime and was more awake at night. I knew to feed her on cue, at least 8-12 times a day, but if I didn’t wake her, she would have been happy to sleep through feeds and would not have received enough nutrition. Once she was awake, she would fall asleep after a few minutes of nursing. To keep her awake, I would have her undressed in skin to skin, rub her back, talk and sing loudly to her, massage my breast down to give her a mouthful of milk, and push her chin upward to keep her nursing. I made sure she was urinating 6-8 times a day and was stooling yellow stool. She went for weight checks weekly and was gaining each time. My Lactation Consultant instructed me that prolactin (milk-making hormone) levels are highest from 2AM-2PM, and I should try to pump once in the morning to boost my milk supply. This was also great because I was returning to work at 6 weeks and was able to stock pile milk in the freezer.
After the first 3 months, my daughter started waking up on her own and staying awake for full feeds almost every 3 hours. Trying to constantly wake her up when she was a newborn was hard work, but well worth the effort. She became great at breastfeeding, exclusively breastfed for six months, and continued to breastfeed until she was 15 months (never receiving any formula).
Usually the greatest things in life do not come easy. Determination, hard work, and patience are key in achieving them. I can proudly say that this breastfeeding experience (as well as my previous, easier ones) was a tremendous accomplishment for me. I feel very good about that.
Penina is a registered dietitian at Cohen Children’s Medical Center WIC Program.
By: LoriAnn Mezzanotte
My first 40 days of breastfeeding were intense. The first time my baby went to breast, I fell in love and knew I would do whatever it took to nurse him. I was told in my pre-natal breastfeeding class and in the hospital that my baby needed to be fed 8-12 times a day and that I should feed on cue. They explained that my breasts never run out of milk and that the baby puts in his order for milk by removing milk. They told me my breasts are like the ice machine in my kitchen — just as I can keep going back for more ice, my baby could keep coming back to my breast for more milk.
I am a very scheduled person and expected my baby to eat every 2-3 hours, but my baby nursed more in clusters. Sometimes he nursed every hour, other times every 2, and then 1.5 hours in a row (marathon nursing). He was all over the place and it was difficult, but that only lasted the first month. I learned these cluster feeds were normal. I slept when my baby slept; some days sleeping from 8AM-12 noon. I was sure my baby was getting enough food because he was gaining weight when I went to the Pediatrician for weight checks, urinating and stooling, and I would hear him swallow as he nursed. I could also feel my breasts become less full after each feed as he came off the breast looking content.
After the first month, my baby became more scheduled and nursed every 3 hours. I felt wonderful knowing that my son was getting many benefits from my breast milk, which encouraged me to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months despite returning to work at 6 weeks. Between pumping and nursing, I breastfed my baby until he was 18 months old (never receiving any formula).
LoriAnn is a registered dietitian and senior nutritionist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center WIC Program.