My lovely friend (and amazing jewelry artist) Nancy made these matching bracelets for Thea and I. She suggested that I could wear my bracelet to help me with breastfeeding - the bracelet could be moved from wrist to wrist to remind me which breast to start nursing on during Thea's next feeding. This thoughtful and beautiful gift has been especially helpful. Feeding Thea - or some aspect of breastfeeding - has been just about all I've been able to manage this week.
Monday, we met with Thea's pediatrician for her first appointment. She gave us the green light to stop supplementing with formula and to try exclusively breastfeeding. So we did. Tuesday afternoon, we met with a lactation consultant. She promptly informed me that the bright red areas and soreness on my breasts were NOT normal and that I was on the verge of mastitis, a breast infection. She walked us through the basics of positions, latch, and a feeding routine. I had been having difficulty getting Thea to latch on to my nipple while Thea was in the progressive care nursery, and the hospital's lactation consultant got us started using a nipple shield. The LC we met with on Tuesday suggested that we continue using the shield until Thea is a bit stronger and able to latch on and suck a little better - probably another two weeks. We'll then go back for a follow-up to work on the transition to bare breast.
Because I'm using the shield, and because of my crazy milk production and the inflammation, she advised me to pump after each feeding session. Halfway through pumping, I am to apply a warm compress and massage to help empty my breasts. We finished our consultation with a lesson on pumping. I had been doing it all wrong (using the wrong settings on the pump) AND the folks at the hospital had gotten me started using the wrong size attachments, which were not allowing me to completely empty my breasts, leading to the clogged ducts and inflammation. After Thea's feeding session (where she drank two ounces), I pumped another 5 ounces. And at one point I was worried about producing enough milk!
So, now we're following Thea's feeding cues, which means she generally wants to eat every 2-3 hours. With the nursing, pumping, and settling down of little Thea afterwards, I'm getting very little sleep. It seems like all I'm doing is feeding her or pumping, and it's starting to get a little old (the pumping, not the feeding). I keep telling myself that it's only for a couple more weeks, but it's exhausting. Last night, John got up with me at 3 am and gave her a bottle while I pumped. Then he stayed up with her while she settled down, and I got to go back to bed. It was heavenly. I'm trying not to feel guilty about giving her the bottle, and I keep reminding myself that a bottle a day is not going to ruin her learning to breastfeed, and that a healthy and rested mama is good for baby.
And, at our follow up appointment and weight check with the pediatrician today, Thea had gained 4 ounces since Monday - so we must be doing something right.