First time mom - How do you manage BF questions? — The Bump
Breastfeeding

First time mom - How do you manage BF questions?

I had my first child, a daughter, on Wednesday. I went natural and have had no latching problems. My milk came in on Saturday and that has definately helped with the feeding. However, I am having a few issues that I was hoping some of you ladies could provide some advice on. First, she gets very impatient waiting for my milk to let-down. She gets angry and starts shaking her head and crying and I can't get her to calm down enough to realize there is milk there. I've read that you can express prior to feeding to let your milk down before having LO latch on, but that just seems like a lot of work and not really a solution to the problem. Second, how do you keep LO awake while feeding? She feeds for like 5-10 minutes and then falls asleep for 5-10 minutes before realizing she is hungry and waking up mad. And finally, how do you do it timewise? I am completely exhausted and feel like all I'm doing is breastfeeding. It takes her 30-50 minutes to eat to the point where she is full and she is feeding every 2-2.5 hours which means by the time we do diaper change, feeding, and burping I have less than an hour between feeds. I feel like I barely get any sleep and of course since I am EBF no one else can really help out. I am just at a breaking point and feel like giving her a bottle at night so she sleeps  a little longer may actual be worth it. Like I said, I am at a breaking point, so any advice you have would be appreciated! TIA.
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Re: First time mom - How do you manage BF questions?

  • Expressing before feeding doesn't have to be with a pump or anything like that.  Just massage your breast a little beforehand until you leak a little so that she doesn't have to wait as long.  I supplement, so I always have a bottle of bm on hand anyhow and I just squirt a little of that on my breast to encourage my little one to suckle. 

    You can tickle them, wipe them down with a cool washcloth, take off everything but diaper, talk to them, etc. to keep them awake.  My two month old still sleeps through half his feedings, so if you master this, let me know!  Most babies outgrow it really quickly though; my guy is an exception and has caused me breastfeeding woes. Smile Something that works for me is to touch his lip and he starts sucking again - it seems to work every time.

    Yep, you are feeding all day long.  It gets better.  All you can do about that is hang in there.  At about 6 weeks my guy started to go three hours between feedings and now we are at about 3.5 hours for half of the day.  You'll get the hang of it and everything will fall into place soon.  I thought I would go completely crazy just from lack of sleep!

     

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  • First, you should know that all the things you describe are totally normal - so you aren't doing anything "wrong" ;-)

    For the impatient part...the biggest thing is to try to feed her before she gets to full out hungry.  You'll start to pick up more and more on her early hunger cues.  If she is frustrated, I'd try the hand expressing trick - don't pump but just use your hands to squeeze out a bit of milk.  You won't always have to do this; it's just to help her learn what to do once she gets to the breast.

    The falling asleep part is one of the toughest things about newborn nursing - they just don't like to stay awake!  Try stripping her down to her diaper and tickling her feet.  Blowing on kiddo's cheek used to work too.  You may need to burp her more frequently or even do a diaper change mid-feed to keep her awake.  If she's only nursed 5 or 10 minutes, it's pretty safe to say that she's not done so keep working to wake her back up.  This too will get much easier in the next week or so!

    The time thing will also get better soon - I know I keep saying that but it's true!  You are describing a very typical newborn schedule.  What helped me was to at least rest when kiddo did during the day.  It also helped me tremendously to have DH help with night feedings - true he can't nurse, but he can change baby, burp her, get her back to sleep and most importantly provide you moral support to stay awake and keep going.  It also helps to remember that a bottle is likely not to help - they just have tiny tummies at this point so there's a limit to how much they can ingest at a time.   Basically, all I did for night feedings the first couple of weeks was nurse - DH did all the changing, burping, and getting kiddo back down (if he didn't fall asleep nursing).

    Hang in there!

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  • Honestly, you are going to feel like all you do at first is bf. But remember, right now that is your biggest job.

    I had problems getting DS to latch long enough for a let down in the beginning too, but part of mine was that my milk had not completely come in. So I was unable to express any to start the flow, but if your milk is in then that is probably your best option. As she gets older your DD will learn to do it herself.

    My DS also liked to sleep while he nursed and it would take him forever in the beginning. Nothing we did could keep him awake but that worked for him. You might try skin to skin contact while you nurse, take her clothes off and don't swaddle her, try a cool wash cloth on her back, tickling her feet and under her chin.

    One of the best things I figured out that I wish I had tried sooner was nursing while laying down. Once I figured that out I was able to get a lot more sleep.

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  • I can promise you that it gets easier!! For now, her feeding is to ramp up your supply. In a few days, she will have her first growth spurt and will really be attached to you. But that will only last a day or two. As the pp stated, get naps in when she naps. To keep her awake, try having skin to skin contact. Tickle her toes, lightly blow on her, or tickle her cheek. Babies tend to nurse a long time at first, but they get more efficient as time goes by. Let her nurse on demand. Introducing a bottle might lead to nipple confusion.
  • I'm just lurking, but I wanted to say keep it up mamma. My LO never really had a problem staying awake, so no advice there. My LO is 7 weeks now and I've been EBFing the whole time. It is exhausting, but in the early days and weeks, you really have to do what everyone says and "nap when baby naps". I know it's hard and I told myself I would always do it, but that pile of dishes in the sink kept getting to me. When you BF, find a really comfortable spot and maybe you'll fall asleep while she is eating? I did it a lot during those marathon feedings. 

    I'm not going to preach that you shouldn't give her a bottle because breast feeding is better. You need to do what you need to do. Just remember, a happy mom = a happy baby. But try to stick with it. It does get better! My Lo has slept for 7 hours the last 2 nights! I thought we would never get here, but we did and it's wonderful. 

    Good luck! :) 

  • I would recommend like the pp that you gently massage your breasts before you put little one on.  Additionally, gently massage as she feeds and that should help keep the milk flowing.  Helena still fusses at the breast if it doesn't come fast enough.  Get the hang of breastfeeding in general first, but I suggest you look up "breast compression" techniques as well.  It helps stimulate your subsequent let-downs faster and helped me as well.  Helena had a lot of trouble staying awake and on task with eating too.  Our lactation consultant suggested stripping her down to her diaper.  That helped a LOT.  She also suggested rubbing her head gently when she nodded off, blowing on her gently, tickling her feet, pausing for a burp and position change, and rubbing her hands in my hands.  It was hard but that's just what we had to do.  Part of the problem too is that your baby is just so darn little right now!  Give her the benefit of the doubt and when I started just accepting the fact that I'd be nursing pretty much nonstop the first several weeks, it got better for me.  Lastly, what you describe about the timing of feeding and the lack of time between meals is EXACTLY what a newborn does!  This drove me to tears every day.  Please know you are completely normal and so is your baby!!!!!  That's just the way they are right now and the more you try to streamline and make efficient your baby and the nursing process, the more frustrated you'll be.  I know that's not helpful, but I went through it too and holy balls was it horrible at first.  My baby never slept either; she would either eat or cry.  She'd eat for 45 minutes, take 15 to burp, take another 35 minutes to calm down and fall asleep, then sleep for maybe 15-30 minute stretches and she'd be up again by then to eat.  I NEVER slept the first weeks and hated when people told us "sleep when they sleep" because she never did.  I was a zombie and hysterically crying all the time.  We finally had to enlist family to come in shifts.  I would only feed, then lock myself in the basement and try to sleep.  It was horrible but things are better now and I am so glad that I kept with it.  Don't give in to the bottle/formula either unless you feel hopeless......there's nothing wrong with your baby or your breasts!!!!!  Hang in there and please know that you are not alone.  We are ALL going through this!!!!
  • Congratulations on your LO!

    My first month or so with DS was the exact same way- everything that you are experiencing is normal, albeit frustrating. Eventually he got better at staying awake (tried everything), he learned to be patient, and I got lots of books, snacks, and water and camped out on the couch, knowing that I would be feeding DS all.the.time. The first few weeks are tough- but I am about to celebrate a whole year of BFing DS. Good Luck!

    Also, we started LO on bottles of breastmilk right away and had no issues with latch or confusion. So, if you want to pump and give her a bottle occasionally so you can have a break, that is an option.

  • Just popping in to echo what others have said -- BFing is hard work, especially at first, and it is totally normal to feel like ALL you do is feed the baby. It does get easier; hang in there!
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  • Re: Speeding up let-down - I went to an LC and she taught me how to "center" LO.  You get undressed from the waist up & hold the baby with only a diaper on upright in between your breasts.  You support LO with your forearm under their bum only.  Don't support their upper body.  This will allow LO to sort of "fall" to one of your breasts and start feeding.  This sounds so silly, but it really helps your milk let down fast for LO.  And, LO is not dressed which will help them stay awake for the feeding. 
    It gets better everyday and more sleep will help everything!  Congrats on your LO and keep up your hard work!

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  • Thanks ladies! Its nice to be reassured sometimes that it is normal and will get better. Hopefully some of your wonderful tips will help get us through the night! Thanks again!
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  • Did anyone mention a warm cloth?  I wonder if putting a warm towel on your breast prior to feeding will help your let down.

    Keep up the good (yet hard) work.  You're doing a great job!

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  • DS took over an hour to eat, even if I managed to keep him awake most of the time.  Between that and my own post-partum care (I had a bad tear), I had no time for anything else, including sleep.  I learned to sleep while nursing.  Side-lying nursing was tricky at first, so I propped myself in a comfy chair with tons of pillows and fell asleep after latching DS.  I would wake up and he'd be sprawled on the Boppy, sound asleep.  I'd latch him on the other side and pass out again.  If I was awake, I'd eat one-handed while nursing.  Multi-tasking is key!

    Before feeding, I'd pop the Gerber gel pads in the microwave for a few seconds.  The warmth softened my boobs and got my milk going, so DS had an easier time latching.  Hang in there, mama!

    DS born 8/8/09 and DD born 6/12/12.
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