I started back to work this week and it has been crazy. It has been a good crazy. My little guy is 7 weeks old and I am back in the working routine. Well, attempting to get back in the swing of things. My wonderful mother is watching the baby at our house this week so that is easing the transition. Being a working mom and organizing the life of two children, one dog and a husband is quite the undertaking. When I head out in the morning I have so many bags … my work bag, my lunch bag, my pumping bag, William’s bag, William’s lunch bag and then starting next week Samuel’s food/bottle bag. I swear I move in and out of the house each morning and evening.
I thought it would be great to touch on breast feeding again. It has been a little while since I talked about breast feeding. I have decided to breast feed my second child. I breast feed my first through 18 months. It was at that point that I ended up being pregnant again and then my milk supply decreased and he wasn’t that interested in breast feeding any more. It was a smooth transition to stopping breast feeding and it was nice to not juggle breast feeding and being pregnant. I made the choice to breast feed my second child, because I feel like that is the best thing that I can do for my baby and I wanted to do that again. If you haven’t already, you should take a moment and read this first breast feeding blog post I did when I started breast feeding William - CLICK HERE.
With my first child, he was born at 40 weeks and 1 day and he immediately did great breast feeding. In fact he sucked so hard that I had to wonder if that super suck was even normal. I put him to breast every 2-3 hours and then when working I was pumping every 3 hours. I ended up with tons of breast milk and was able to donate a bunch of it - CLICK HERE for that story. So with my second child, I assumed it would be a similar experience. Well Samuel was born at 37 weeks exactly (that is 3 weeks and one day earlier than William). 37 weeks is technically term, but that makes a huge difference in terms of size of the baby and then the develop of the suck, swallow breath skill. Babies are able to start coordinating that skill of sucking, swallowing and breathing starting around 34 weeks gestation. I was able to put Samuel to breast within that first hour of life and he nursed and did a good job. Over the next few days we continued to work on breast feeding and he did well, but the force that he sucked was far less than with William. So I started pumping while in the hospital to help ensure that milk supply would become well established since Samuel’s suck was more immature compared with William’s. I immediately had lots of breast milk and I have continued to pump 1-2 times a day throughout my maternity leave. Again, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of breast milk to be able to feed him as he got stronger and was able to take more volume.
As many of your know, I work in a NICU and work with Moms who are exclusively pumping or starting to breast feed their preterm baby. I know have a much better understanding how important and challenging it is to balance pumping and then working on breast feeding. It takes time and patience, because obviously you want your baby to latch on and be able to feed perfectly, but lots of time it takes a lot of effort on the part of the mother to help get baby in the right position and then monitoring your let down to make sure that baby doesn’t cough/choke. That was another challenge with Samuel was he struggled for several weeks to learn how to mange my let down. It was forceful and being able to watch for that, unlatch him and then re-latch him after the let down dwindled down. It is hard enough to learn how to breast feed your newborn baby, but when you add on top of it being earlier than anticipated that is whole another layer of complicated.
So to all those mothers out there working on breast feeding, keep up the hard work. It is tough, but is an amazing gift that you are able to give your baby and worth the effort! Even if you have had one baby, that doesn’t mean that the next time around it will be the same. I feel like each time you have a baby you can use skills you learned with previous kids, but still end up learning new things.