I tried to put Annalise up to my breast in the first hour after her birth (before she was weighed, even), but she never quite understood what I was hoping for, and she didn't latch on. That evening, I was transferred up to the post-partum ward and our nurse tried to help out. Here, Annalise would seem to latch on with a big, open mouth, but wouldn't agree to suck, even a little bit. The nurse even tried putting a few drops of sugar-water on my nipple, but this didn't tempt her, either.
The next morning (Tuesday), a lactation consultant came in and tried to help, but we found the same latch-on-but-no-sucking routine occurring most of the time. At this point I was producing just a few droplets of thick, golden-yellow or white colostrum. By later that evening, she was finally agreeing to latch on and suck a little bit. Frequently, however, her latch was "off" and I was left with a whitish ridge across my nipple, intense pain, and even a droplet or two of blood under the surface of the nipple. We tried basically all of the positions including cradle, cross-cradle, and football. By Wednesday morning, she seemed to be getting the hang of it, but her weight had dropped from 7 lbs 15 oz at birth, to 7 lbs 6 oz only a bit over 24 hours later. We were told that we would need to go to the pediatrician for a weight check on Thursday morning. Also, before we left, our very nice nurse told us about giving a bit of formula by tube (either alongside the nipple or a finger), "just in case it is 2AM and you get desperate). She gave us two tiny bottles of ready-mixed formula along with a syringe and tiny tube for a feeding.
We went home on Wednesday afternoon. Feedings immediately seemed a bit harder as my left upper arm developed an intense pain, which I attributed to my weak muscles and lifting the baby. The pain made it much more difficult to get into certain nursing positions without S's help. A few hours later I realized that it was actually painful because of a tetanus/pertussis vaccine that I had received before hospital discharge. (Apparently this vaccine is recommended for people who have frequent contact with infants under age 12 months. S needs to get one, too). Poor Annalise seemed increasingly fussy, which I attributed to her suddenly getting hungry, but I just didn't have enough colostrum to satisfy her appetite. S was great in that he got up with me throughout the night, providing moral support and other assistance. Sometime around 4 AM, we figured out that maybe she was hungry and gave her some of the formula by tube-feeding. She couldn't seem to latch with the tube fastened to my breast, but she latched onto our fingers and eagerly drank it from there. That night, we actually only gave her 20 mL, which I believe is 2/3 oz. However, this seemed to help a lot and she was finally able to sleep.
Thursday morning, she went to the pediatrician and was weighed. She was down to 7 lbs 3.2 oz at this point, so we were told to return again in 4-5 days. Meanwhile, I think it was this day that I finally noticed some increase in milk production. However, Annalise's frantic suckling had meanwhile left me with scabs on both breasts. Between my left arm, my grade 2 tear, (TMI) hemorrhoids, this intense nipple pain with feeding, AND the general breast pain as they filled with milk, I was (physically) pretty miserable!
By Friday morning, I woke up feeling like I had gotten enormous breast implants. They were as hard as rocks, stuck straight out, and well...I have watched a lot of Dr. 90210 in my life, and I definitely looked like an "after" picture. (This was a novelty to me as I am usually a 34/36 A or B. Within the next several days, my milk seemed to be in oversupply. Annalise would latch on and be surprised by a flood of milk filling her little mouth before she even started sucking. My breasts were extremely uncomfortable after just a few hours and I would need to express some milk even before she latched to allow the nipple to protrude a bit. There were occasions when a "jet" of milk would spray milk up to 12 inches into the air... sort of entertaining, but messy! I quickly developed a new vocabulary, talking to Annalise about breastfeeding, too. My nipple is sometimes called my "nursie," the flannel blankets that we use to clean up the spraying/dripping milk are the "milky towels," and a nursie that is gives out a lot of milk without any real effort on Annalise's part is termed "juicy."
One week after Annalise's birth, we had a home visit from a nurse. A state-funded program sends a nurse to the home of all first-time moms in our county. It was sort of helpful, but definitely aimed more at moms who hadn't read every parenting/newborn care book out there. I was pretty familiar with most of the things that she reviewed with me ("back to sleep" and the like). Anyway, the nurse did weigh Annalise and we found that she had started gaining again and was 7 lbs 12 oz on that date. Thus, I cancelled the followup at the Pediatrician's office. Apparently our next visit there is now at two months! I have weighed her once (at a hospital-based nursing store, where I went in search of a sling/wrap). At that point (last Wednesday, age 2 weeks, 2 days), she was 8 lbs 12 oz, diapered and fully clothed. I think she is growing well and seems very healthy.
By the middle of last week, my milk supply was decreasing to better match her demands, and Annalise started to get frustrated when confronted by "nursies" which were not dripping with milk when presented to her. Her almost inconsolable crying caused a lot of stress on my part that I'll get to in another post. On several occasions, Annalise would be frantically searching for milk, wailing and crying, even as I was literally putting the nipple into her mouth and aiming it right to her palate. Just yesterday, S reminded me that the lactation consultant had suggested priming the nipple by squeezing and getting milk onto the tip before giving it to her. I had been focused on aiming the nipple toward her palate, but I had forgotten about that other suggestion! I started doing it last night and already things have improved... a lot!
I purchased my Medela PISA (Pump in Style Advanced) in the backpack version about a week and a half ago, but I haven't even opened the box yet. Somehow I am intimidated by the thought of breastfeeding AND pumping. However, apparently 3 weeks is the optimal age to introduce bottles (unlikely to reject either breast or bottle at this point), so I need to get started ASAP. I am very surprised about how expensive the breastmilk storage bags are...something like $10 for 20 of the Medela ones...that's 50 cents each! Sheesh! I will post on Ovusoft to find out whether there are other options.
We've abandoned the football hold altogether (she is too tall) and we usually do some sort of cradle hold with the help of the Boppy or another pillow. Side-lying is a new favorite. I just have a feeling that she is working toward being a co-sleeping baby, though. More on that later, too, I think.
I know that breastfeeding is supposed to be this magical bonding time, and sometimes it is. I murmur loving words and admire her, sing silly songs, or sometimes (especially at night) we both just fall asleep. At other times, I lean back in my chair with Annalise content on the Boppy, and I read... I've read many magazines, skimmed a bunch of childbirth and parenting books, and now I'm finishing up my second novel. It feels good to have books back into my life. I haven't read anything at all about breast cancer (my profession), and at this point it feels good to escape that.