Updated: May 1
I shared about my first month of breastfeeding previously in two separate posts, and now it’s been another month that has gone by! How things have changed since then.
This month was a bit of an experiment. After the confinement nanny left, I started to do more latching throughout the day (and night), and it gave me a chance to learn to read baby’s cues better. While we didn’t get it right every time, but together with tracking the timing of her feeds over a few days, we kinda realised that she got hungry every 1.5hrs and over time got better at preempting her feeds before her cries escalated exponentially (she’s a hangry one!). This baby tends to feed for a reallyyyyy longgggg time though. And I can’t blame her, apparently I was like that too, according to my mummy. Oops. Her pattern is drinking for 10-15min, then pausing – these days she doesn’t usually fall asleep, but she just bobs off the boob, looks around, and refuses to latch back on. It could be a good 30min later before she starts fussing for her next course. You can imagine that with burping and all, it’s not long before one feed ends that it seems like the next feed starts again!!! And to her, sleep is for the weak. She can skip naps throughout the day, choosing to snooze for 10min on me in between latching, but follows her feeding time with military precision. Honestly, it’s not ideal. I’ve been told that I need to get her to latch more efficiently – but the question is how?? Also, I’ve been told to make sure that she’s actually drinking and not just comfort latching, but I find it so difficult to tell! Suggestions/solutions are welcome ^^
Other than trying to get a hang of baby’s feeding patterns, we’ve also been experimenting with different latching positions. In my first month, I was really focused on just trying to get the latch right (tbh, I don’t even know whether it really is a good latch, but it doesn’t hurt so I guess it’s fine? haha) and the easiest position to do so was seated. I’d mostly use the cradle hold, but really, as baby has started to get heavier, my arms are getting real tired! Also, it’s just really tiring to feed her sitting up in the middle of the night when all I want to do is be in a horizontal position. I’ve actually fallen half-asleep many times while feeding her, or close my eyes and lean my head back against the wall – all the while trying to make sure that I still hold her tight so she doesn’t slide off the chair that I’m sitting on haha. I’d tried side latching a couple of times in the 1st month but quickly gave up on it because I found it so hard to get a good latch and I was positioning myself in a really awkward position that I couldn’t last more than a couple of minutes in. But I decided to try it out again this month since we’d got a bit better at latching! After watching several videos and asking around for tips, we managed to get it! It definitely takes awhile to get the set up right, and to get into position (is it just me?? I feel like I need to have a lot of props around for this & the laid-back positions) but it’s soooo much more comfortable when we get it right! Feeding in this position at night allows me to take a little snooze. Even though again I’m only half asleep and sometimes still in a slightly awkward position to make sure I don’t flop onto baby. Hubs is very concerned :p actually it’s true…there is definitely risk if I fall asleep. But this position was recommended to me by many people esp in the first few weeks when the perineal wound is hurting and you find it hard to sit.
One challenge that we face with this position is because my baby tends to spit up a lot. So I think the sidelying position sometimes exacerbates that. After asking around once again, I was introduced to laid-back breastfeeding as it keeps baby in a more upright position that hopefully helps to keep the milk down. It looked so comfortable! And natural. Again though, we somehow find it a struggle to get into position xD I kinda thought that by positioning the nipple near to baby’s nose/mouth, she would be able to find her way there on her own. But nope! Sometimes I feel like I’m manhandling her just to get her to latch on. If it works, great! It’s indeed comfortable. But we’ve also failed several times and we end up in a sweaty mess with her roaring with frustration and I have to quickly manoeuvre us into a seated position to feed so that she will be placated.
Not trying to scare you all with my sharing!! Everyone has different experiences, and I’m sure there’s a better way to do it! Still a work in progress, and hopefully we get better at it.
Also, I experienced engorgement/clogged ducts 4-5 times during the month! 😮 The causes of the first two times were totally unexpected – the first incident happened when I was latching baby. I think I was cradling her in a slightly awkward manner, and after I was done, I noticed a huge lump on my boob on the side where I was carrying her. The second time was when I was pumping, and because my hands-free bra was in the wash, I was holding onto the flanges with one hand and I think I pressed the flange into my boob too hard, and the base of my boob got engorged! A really odd position to get engorgement and I hadn’t even realised there was milk stored there too. On both occasions, the lump was really hard and tender to touch. The first time, I initially tried to latch baby to clear it as I’d heard that was one of the most effective methods, but it didn’t seem to work 😦 I tried all sorts of other things then, so I’m not entirely sure which really worked cos I literally did all these one after another until the clog cleared. 1) Hot compress – this is a controversial one because some people say that it causes engorgement rather than relieves it. But previously my confinement nanny had taught me to fill a milk bottle with hot water and roll it from the clog towards the areola to clear the clog, and so that’s what I did. I think it does help with the flow somewhat. 2) Cold compress – I’d kept a few wet towels in the freezer so they were really cold and I just applied this directly on the clog, which is supposed to relieve the swelling. 3) Haakaa with epsom salts – google this! I thought that was pretty cool, and I’m not sure whether it’s because it was the last thing that I tried before I pumped, but I felt that it was the most effective in clearing the clog! Thankfully after doing all that and pumping while hand massaging from the clog to the areola, it managed to clear both times!!! I’ve heard of cases where the clog simply doesn’t dissipate and I was so worried that it’ll become mastitis >< Even after the clog had cleared, that area was still really sore though! But at least the lump was gone, so that was how I knew that it’d gone.
The other two times were because I’d missed my pump schedule. And boy, they were awful. Especially the latest one that I had – which I’m guessing was a combination of me taking oats for breakfast (which might have boosted my supply?) and going out for lunch, hence 4hrs without pumping/latching. My left boob was hard as a rock after that, and I took the entire evening to clear it >< thank God that after 3 sessions of intensive latching with baby, she managed to help me clear the clog. It definitely made me more aware of the need to pump/latch regularly, and erm, perhaps make wiser food choices. I actually never really noticed much difference in my supply even though I’ve been trying to consume more milk-boosting food like salmon and flaxseed meal etc. Perhaps because I latch more now, but I’ve actually felt that my pump volume decreased quite a bit – possibly because my supply has regulated and bb doesn’t drink that much. So I’m not sure whether the oats really helped, but I think I’ll try it again soon! I do miss it! Engorgement/clogged ducts is SO NOT FUN THO D:
We’ve also been trying to stretch baby’s feeds to 2 hourly instead of 1.5hours. I hope it works!! My boobs need a break haha. It’s been a month of lots of trial & error for sure! But I do think we’re making progress. And when baby latches and sometimes just looks up and smiles at me, I know that it’s all worth it :’)