Monday, August 20, 2012

Breastfeeding - A Timeline

I didn't read a damn thing about breastfeeding before baby came.  I bought a book and had every intention of at least glancing at it before I hit 40 weeks, but we all know how that turned out. So when Baby Jett arrived I had no idea exactly how breastfeeding was going to go down, but I knew it was happening whether I was ready or not.

I find this information would have been helpful to me over the first few days, so here you go, here's how the beginning of breastfeeding goes.  Of course everyone is a little different with how your milk comes in, but this timeline would have saved me from a bit of anxiety!

The first 24 hours baby doesn't eat AT ALL.  You put them to your boob like all the time, let them sit there for hours with their mouth at your nipple, smelling and rooting and licking...but baby doesn't eat anything.  My baby literally didn't leave my boob for the first 12 hours of life except for 15 minutes when he was escorted by his father down to the nursery for his newborn check and not once did he eat anything.  It's weird...but they don't, they don't need to eat in that first 24 hours. As long as you put boob and baby together a lot, so they can get used to eat's fine.

The second 24 hours baby is still very interested in eating but still doesn't really eat and you have to express colostrum and hope that's enough.  Baby would lick off the colostrum and go back to sleep, BUT everyone assured me he was getting enough and that he needs just a taste every two hours or so and that was enough.  I HATED expressing the colostrum, it feels totally gross to squeeze your own nipple the way you have to to get the colostrum out.  This is also the point when baby gets weighed and you find out that baby weighs less than they did at birth.  If you have a normal size baby this probably doesn't stress you out too much, but if your baby started out at 6 lbs and gets down to 5 lbs. 6 oz, this is when you're like EAT BABY, EAT!  But it's ok, baby will eat...I promise.

The third 24 hours baby finally starts to eat but it hurts like hell and you have to watch baby's latch carefully to make sure they are latched on's very confusing because it all hurts, even a correct latch.  A correct latch hurts DIFFERENTLY than a bad latch...but it all hurts.  Baby also seems to want to eat a ton here as there isn't much colostrum that he gets and this is like a test to see how committed you are to breastfeeding because your nipples hurt from the nearly constant sucking and the rest of your boobs hurt because they're getting ready to grow an insane amount and fill with milk.  This was a very painful day.

The fourth 24 hours your boobs hurt like crazy as the milk has finally come in and you're convinced that your boobs will always hurt and you just have to get used to it if you want to keep nursing.  They're also massively huge...and I was small chested when I started this, I imagine if you were already busty they would be INSANE!  But the pain in the nipples has at least subsided as they get used to nursing and baby gets more efficient at latching properly.  Somewhere in here you may also find out that your amazingly huge boobs that finally have milk in them have helped baby grow again and your amazed that you are doing this...sustaining him on the outside just like you did when he was on the inside.  Baby also feeds a bit less since he gets way more milk in eat feeding than he was getting when it was just colostrum.

The fifth 24 hours...relief.  The boobs don't hurt anymore...and breastfeeding finally works.  The latching barely hurts, the actual feeding doesn't hurt at all and the crazy engorgement only happens if baby has gone too long between feedings.  But rather than have to sit there with painful boobs, you just wake baby up, pop him on the boob and VOILA, instant relief from the huge boob.

And every day after that things just get easier and easier (when it comes to breastfeeding anyway!) The whole thing is absolutely amazing, the symbiotic relationship between baby and boob is NEATO.  I wake up easily when I know baby needs to eat and they start leaking if he cries in pain.  And the boobs are even down to a more comfortable and more reasonable size...they're still D's, just like when I was pregnant.  They were DD's for like 3 days right when my milk came in but didn't stay that huge.

At 17 days in we're exclusively on demand feeding.  If baby shows ANY signs of being hungry, onto the boob he goes.  He has never had a pacifier and I have never tried to pump.  We will continue this way for AT LEAST a full month before I give pumping a whirl just to appease my husband who wants to feed the baby.

Baby is still an "efficient" nurser and doesn't dawdle on the boob.  Feedings are 7-10 minutes with a rare 15 minute feed thrown in every once in awhile.  I definitely have a quick let down and he gulps and gulps to deal with the gush of milk, but he's getting better at it.  There's still a lot of pausing for spit ups and pooping, so nursing sessions are never less than half an hour, but the actual time on the boob is short.

Books say feeds of 15 minutes on each boob is ideal.  Which means...I still stress a bit that baby only nurses for short periods of time AND very rarely makes it to the 2nd boob.  If he's managed 10 minutes on one boob he's usually out for the count and not interested in the 2nd boob.

But as far as I know he's still growing and he always seems satisfied with his short sessions, usually lasting 2-3 hours between feeds, with a cluster of one hour sessions in the morning and evening.  And OMG he lasted a full 4 hours between feeds last night!  Baby is also peeing and pooping like nobody's business, so again everything appears to be working even with his less than "ideal" feeding schedule.

So, books be damned...stressing about baby NOT being attached to my boob 24/7 is the LAST thing I want to be worrying about on such a small amount of sleep.

Anyone else find their baby to be nursing well but very very differently than what is considered "ideal"?

My drooly spitup baby with his EYES OPEN.  

You can't beat waking up to that little face right in front of you.


  1. That about sums it up. Although it still hurts for me after 3 weeks. I go through different stages of pain, even with a good latch. I'm sure the pain will eventually subside for everyone, just at different times. We don't follow any specific schedule at this point either. We just feed when he shows the early hunger signs.

    Love that picture of you two - so cute :) And great job with the breast feeding. I love to see others who stick with it.

  2. This was so helpful! Thank you for sharing! I dont know what i was expecting, but it wasnt that, so it's nice ro hear how it worked out for you. Precious photo of you two!!

  3. He is precious. I love the picture of you sleeping. I'm so happy for you I cried a little when I read this and saw the pictures!!

  4. It's amazing how everyone's body is so different. I remember stressing about baby not getting enough but eventually learned that I had a super fast let-down and then my babies were fine with 5 minutes on one side at a time. I never nursed on both sides in one feeding which was nice because I could always figure out where I left off since one boob was heavier than the other! :) I'm so glad it's going so well, he's so adorable!!!

  5. Thanks for the great info and even more preparation of what's to come. It's great to have books, family, a midwife MIL and even more info as it makes it easier to know there are many different ways things can happen and that we'll just have to figure which of the ways we've heard about work for us, or even find a new path on our own.

    Love the pictures!

  6. That's pretty much how it went down for me too, though we had the bonus of baby girl not pooping for 48 hours after four poops in her first 24. Totally freaked the nurses out but varying advice is that sometimes breasted babies don't poop for awhile!
    She's eating and pooping well now! I wish the hospital staff had consistent info. We were a bit freaked out when we brought her home!

  7. I will keep this post in mind and check back for when I am pulling my hair out trying to nurse! Sounds like you guys are doing great!

  8. for me....the first baby was a nursing challenge...he totally latched on and sucked like mad in those first 24 hours...but he didn't get near enough and by 12 hours after birth he was basically starving and crying...on the 3rd day (had a c-section so was still in the hospital)...I begged for a lactation nipples were bleeding and baby was not pooping or peeing....we had to intervene. For 24 hours I would put him to the boob for 10 minutes every 3 hours...then hubby would give him 1 oz of formula from a breast feeding supportive wide based nipple. He started peeing and pooping again and then my milk came in and from that point on it was all perfect. He latched great, I had a great supply and he started getting fat again. Yay. For baby number two...I totally just skipped right to the same protocol...she was a much better latcher in the beginning...but still not a lot of colostrum from for 48 hours we did the boob/bottle combo right in the hospital (repeat csection) and then went back to exclusively boob for a few weeks. She never was hungry and never had any issues with poop or pee thank goodness cuz that was STRESSFUL. I ended up having to pump mostly for my son, because like let down was crazy fast and he had really bad by 7 weeks he was getting most feeds from a bottle....but exclusively Breast milk. by 4 months he was better and went back to the boob but we still kept a couple feeds a day from the bottle for daddy. he never had an issue with going back and forth. My lactation consultant told me that nipple confusion is a just have to use the right kind of nipple (wide based to promote the breast feeling latch)....both my kids went back and forth fine pretty much from birth.
    I think it is awesome breast feeding is so easy for you and you have a great many mothers would die for this experience because believe is not always this easy.

  9. awe... LOVE the pic of the two of you!

  10. Yeah, they are all different so you can't go in expecting your baby to do what anyone else's did. Mine did eat in the first 24 hours, no self-expressing and licking, so there you go. And everything was fine and normal, but I wasn't pain-free until at least day 13.

    Patience and perseverance.

  11. Thank you for sharing that great information! I have yet to read my Ina May "Guide to Breastfeeding" and appreciate this intro to what to expect. And I love the picture of you sleeping with your little one- so sweet.

  12. Sounds about right. Just wait until you are a month into the whole Bfing thing and you finally get a whiff of your bedsheets from the boobies leaking. Phew! I smelled spoiled milk on everything! But I miss it! I love that picture of the two of you. Miss those cuddles now that baby is getting bigger.

  13. Oh, my god - the last picture is sooooo beautiful! Thanks for posting this. I'm 33 weeks and the influx of info is overwhelming now. It's good to know I'll survive no matter what happens - even if it's not how it says in the books & classes!