After Julius was born, we just relaxed for a while – a half hour? an hour? – without worrying about trying to feed him. I waited for cues that he was interested in eating, and when I saw that I put him to the breast. To my amazement, he had a perfect latch right off the bat and nursed for a good while. I swear he spent some time in utero reading up on how to eat.
I’ve written about the struggles I had to breastfeed Miles. Ironically, although I felt surprisingly satisfied and empowered by my induced birth experience, my breastfeeding experience in the hospital was very interventionist. Right from the start, a nurse latched him on for me without waiting for us to try on our own. After that I seemed to have a nurse or lactation consultant in my room every 15 minutes trying to get him to latch. It was hard to say what the problem was since they were constantly fussing and hardly giving us a chance to try on our own. Before I knew it they had pumped his stomach of fluid, fed him formula via the stomach tube (so as not to cause nipple confusion… but didn’t help him want to nurse!), given me the wrong size nipple shield, had me sign a consent form acknowledging that the shield would hurt my supply, and had me pumping colostrum. And my baby was, what? A day old. It was a disaster. We worked through it, but it was physically and emotionally very trying, and it all kind of pulled the rug out from under me after feeling so awesome about giving birth.
This time it couldn’t have been more different, which is weird, because it was the same hospital, and it was Baby-Friendly then as it is now. But they left me alone. I never had to see one of their awful lactation consultants, though I was offered that service if I chose. Two nurses checked my latch but mostly let us be. They also let me sleep with Julius in my bed, which I was not allowed to do with baby Miles, and I was so grateful for that as Julius did a lot of cluster feeding through the night.
Breastfeeding continues to go really well, and I feel so lucky that it’s been so easy this time. I have had plenty of “soreness” (seems like too mild a word, really) and some lip-biting moments when I waited too long to take my next Motrin, but it’s manageable. I have been using a mixture of lanolin + neosporin + hydrocortisone 1% once or twice a day to make sure things don’t get too bad and start cracking, and so far so good. Having an array of comfy nursing bras is helpful. I am not terribly fond of nursing tanks but I have a few of those too. I am in love with my Momzelle t-shirt because it has the tummy coverage of a tank but cuter and more comfortable.
Julius is a sleepy eater, which I know is a super common newborn thing, so it tends to take 30-45 minutes to get through one feeding as I go through the whole routine of trying to keep him awake, failing, burping, changing diaper, nursing again, burping again, nursing again, etc. This can sometimes go on for quite a while if he keeps wanting to nurse again to settle himself after every burp and diaper change – one night I did a 90 minute stint and shortly after finally falling asleep he audibly pooped. I just had to let him sleep after that.
I’ve been trying to explain the whole “Julius is hungry, he wants more milk!” thing to Miles. I doubt he remembers nursing since he weaned almost a year ago, and all of his buddies are toddlers so he hasn’t seen other babies breastfeeding in recent memory. Sometimes when I am nursing Julius he urges me to put him in the “crib, crib” or “change diaper, change poop” instead, but mostly he is very patient about these long feedings. I think it helped that my sister-in-law was visiting last week and Miles saw her nursing her baby too – he walked up and checked them out – so he was able to see that this is something babies do with their mommies, and not just something this baby does with his mommy.
My only dilemma right now is when to offer a pacifier to Julius, which I fully intend to do at some point. He likes to comfort suck, which is fine except that sometimes I need to put him down and tend to my other child. And he has already been caught sucking his thumb a few times – I would prefer he take a binky over the thumb. The hospital advised waiting a month, but I have plenty of anecdotes of breastfeeding babies taking pacifiers earlier with no issues, including Miles at 6 days old. But I’m nervous to ruin the good thing we’ve got going so I am still holding off.