I’ve been thinking about breastfeeding this week. First, LauraC reposted her thoughts about her decision to stop breastfeeding. And then, a mom posted a question in the comments about how to get regular naps when her babies fall asleep when nursing and take an hour to eat. This got me thinking some more about the whole breastfeeding experience—what helped, what didn’t, what worked and what was awful. I’ve written about this before, here and here, as have others here and here, but I think it’s such an important topic for new moms it’s worth revisiting. I exclusively breastfed my twins for the first year, and I can look back and see the choices we made which made it work, and potential roadblocks that would have derailed breastfeeding for good. I’m glad we did it, but it certainly was challenging at times.
One comment I hear from new moms of twins a lot (and probably from new moms of singletons too, if all the babies in my life didn’t come in pairs) is that their babies take forever to eat. As in an hour. Or more. And I’m not talking about babies who are a week or two old. I’m talking about babies who are two, three or four months old and still latching on and chowing down for a significant amount of time. With a newborn, you already feel like you spend all of your time nursing—how in the world are you ever going to do anything else? And I’m not talking big projects, like dissertations (shudder–mine is still not complete) or other ambitious projects—I’m talking shower and empty the dishwasher and maybe eat lunch. By 2 months or so, my kids were eating for maybe 15 minutes a meal. By 4-5 months, it was down to 5 minutes.
So, when people ask me how to get their babies to eat faster, I tend to just pass on the advice I got from the fantastic lactation consultant who ran the breastfeeding group I attended. Obviously, this isn’t a problem for everyone. If you’re content with your kids eating for 45 minutes to an hour, then read no more. It’s not an issue! However, if it’s driving you crazy or making you contemplate stopping breastfeeding, then read on. And, readers, if you have good suggestions that worked for you, please put them in the comments section!
1. The breast is not a place to hang out and get comfy. As soon as you stop hearing swallowing or the baby starts falling asleep, you can pull them off. Babies will tell you (loudly) if they are still hungry.
2. Be comfortable having baby go back for round two. If you cut baby off after 15 minutes and now she won’t go to sleep, it may be that she’s still hungry. Feed again. No problem.
3. You may find your babies need to eat every 2 hours for a long time. Mine certainly did, at least during the day. However, this is much less of an issue if the feedings are pretty quick.
4. Offer a pacifier after feeding if they are still fussy, but not eating much. It may be that they are looking for the comfort of sucking, not the food. However, the benefit of the paci is that Daddy or Grandma can do that, it doesn’t have to be you. Thus, time for you to eat lunch!
These are just my thoughts on this and what worked for me. Obviously, all babies are different and I am certainly not an expert in breastfeeding. However, I found this lactation consultant so instrumental in giving me the tools and information to be able to keep breastfeeding my kids. I’d recommend a lactation consultant to anyone. Other ideas? Please chime in.