Lucas is now just over a month old, and while the first weeks have been really tough, it’s true that it does get easier as the weeks go on. My little guy is sleeping 4 hours straight, and last night slept for 5 hours without making a peep.
The one thing I kept hearing when I was pregnant and now as a new mom is that you will not get much sleep, but that you soon learn to adapt and function regardless. What they don’t tell you is how difficult breastfeeding is, how much time it consumes and how hard it is to avoid feeling guilty when you’re not producing enough …at least that’s how it is for me.
At the hospital, I was in so much pain after the delivery that I had the nurse’s supplement with formula at night, this way I could get my rest and recuperate faster and be able to devote all my time and energy to my newborn. Lucas would often fall asleep while breastfeeding, and there was no way to wake him up or know exactly how much milk he was getting. He definitely wasn’t getting enough, since he was up every hour or so crying for some more. It was then that I realized I wasn’t producing enough milk for his enormous appetite, so it was inevitable that I would have to continue to supplement with formula to ensure he was getting enough to eat. He had difficulty latching on and I couldn’t breastfeed without a nipple shield, which made the process even trickier since he doesn’t stay still while he’s eating. That’s when I realized that I had to pump as often as possible throughout the day (yup, that includes in remote places such as public restrooms...like I did last weekend waiting for the Fire Island ferry and I had nowhere else to PUMP…your boobs feel like they’re about to explode and you’ve got no time to wait/waste) to ensure he was getting as much of my milk as possible and that I would continue producing as much as my little engine could.
Never mind the soar nipple syndrome – that’s a subject for another time, but when you feel you’re nipples are under a burning flame and cannot take the pain any longer, there are always a few solutions that could help...Medela nipple shield and another great invention my husband discovered, Medela soar nipple soft shells saved me.What surprised me the most is how much patience you realize you have when you become a mom, and that no matter how little sleep and time you have to yourself, it doesn’t bother you one bit. BUT when you realize you’re newborn is sleeping at least 2-3 hours straight and you’re only getting 45 minutes of sleep, something has to be wrong. This is when I started to recap what a typical night looked like for me…I’d wake up, change his diaper, warm the bottle, feed him, burp him, put him back to sleep, wash the bottles and the pump accessories, pump for 20 minutes and then store the pumped milk in the fridge before going back to sleep. This process took me about an hour to an hour and a half, and that’s if Lucas wouldn’t wake up again in the process. CRAZY…at this rate I was sure I’d go insane or give up breastfeeding before his first month. I didn’t want that, so I found a few solutions that made my life a bit easier…I put my multitasking skills to work. If you’re pumping, I definitely recommend the Medela pump wipes – they come in handy and save you a few extra washes (approximately 15 extra minutes of sleep). I’ve also mastered the bottle balancing act and can feed Lucas his bottle while pumping (approximately 20 extra minutes of sleep). If I was able to drive stick, drink a coffee and talk on the phone all at the same time, this was a piece of cake. Last but not least, no matter what they tell you NEVER wake up a sleeping baby (approximately 30-45 minutes of extra sleep). That meant that I was basically getting back over an hour of sleep, and it made quite the difference.
I would have never imagined breastfeeding to be such a time consuming, daunting and painful task, but it is what it is. I’m just grateful I produce at least some boob milk to feed my little man. I’m only hoping it gets a bit easier over time, whether I produce enough to store at least a day’s supply or my boobies start cooperating for a change.