Well, I've been somewhat avoiding this post as things are not fantastic, but not awful, and they also change daily and I wanted a sense of where we're heading before I wrote about it. But since feeding and the faffing around feeding are what takes up about 14 hours or more of my day, it seems odd to be avoiding writing about it.
So. Breast feeding. Where to begin.
In a nutshell, since about the end of week 2, Junior has been solely on breastmilk, in contrast to my experience with Pob. He is gaining weight like a champion and was just under 6 kilos (13lbs) when I weighed him this weekend. Unfortunately around 320mls (approx 10oz) or so of this breastmilk comes in the form of supplement. Currently we are still using the SNS to do this, partly because I've got in the habit of it, partly because the one time I got really fed up and tried a bottle, about a week ago, he wouldn't take it. I tried to taper off the SNS using the instructions at Kellymom, but it didn't work, there are just some feeds where he really needs a supplement, particularly in the early evening.
There are several current challenges with our feeding process:
- He has started to notice the SNS and to spit it out if it offends him, even if he is hungry and the boobs are clearly not giving much, as at the 5pm feed.
- He isn't clear when he's sucking for comfort and when he is genuinely hungry. When he is sucking for comfort he doesn't like the extra flow of milk from the SNS and so he wriggles to spit it out again.
- He is a terrible sleeper, particularly during the day, finding it very hard to settle himself to sleep even when he's clearly knackered. One thing that usually works is sucking himself to sleep on the boob. Sadly a dummy is not a good substitute for the boob and he spits it out instantly. So I am tempted, particularly in the early evening, to leave him on the boob so that he will fall asleep. Then there is the issue of whether or not to add the SNS to get a bit more milk in in the hope he will sleep longer.
- Since I can't always tell which of the above situations is true, some feeds can feel a bit like fights with me trying to get the extra milk into him, and him spitting out the tube. If he stops fussing when it's out then I know he's just trying to suck himself to sleep and mostly I let it go. If he fusses when it's out I assume he is still hungry and keep persevering with the tube, although sometimes what this means is that he's got a huge burp coming. He's not easy to burp and it's often accompanied by vomiting, so this can get a bit messy.
- At the end of most feeds I pump, so that adds time onto the end and also makes me less relaxed about how long he feeds for as if I want to do anything between feeds, or want him to nap, I need to get on with it as he is still feeding every 3 hours or so during the day.
Most days this is ok, but I am starting to feel very housebound as the whole process is really too hard to do outside the house unless it's a matter of life and death. I also resent how much time it takes away from Pob. I rarely feed him in the same room as her since it's just too tempting for her to grab at the syringe, play with the bottle of milk I'm using, etc.. So it all feels a bit limiting.
Yet I find it impossible to stop.
There must be a halfway house where I pump less and therefore he gets probably some formula (although I have about 3 litres of breastmilk frozen right now so that wouldn't happen immediately). There is an option where I persevere with bottles to remove the faffing associated with the SNS. There is an option where I start skipping the breast feed completely at some feeds so as to be able to get out of the house more. None of them seem ideal, but at the same time I know if I get to the end of my maternity leave and haven't spent any quality time with Pob I will be very frustrated with myself. On the other hand, recent evidence says there are fewer problems with allergies if babies are breast fed through the introduction of solid food, which won't happen til 6 months.
He's 10 weeks old this Thursday. Currently I want to get him through the first two rounds of innoculations - one this week and one in four weeks time - and then start to tail off a bit. In the meantime I'm going to try to get him to take the occasional bottle so that I have a bit more flexibility. I wish this was easier for us. I wish my boobs worked properly. But they don't and so Junior and I will have to work out a compromise that works for both of us.
For Aurelia in particular, I'm fairly sure reflux is not the issue. I think he is a somewhat refluxy baby, but we treated it with Gaviscon for a few weeks and it didn't make any difference to his feeding pattern.