Kelly Maher Doresi is the founder of Successful Breastfeeding, a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC), Certified Lactation Educator (CLE), HUG trained, breastfeeding counselor, a mother of two beautiful breastfed boys, and advocate for families.
For those of you who are exclusively pumping, I absolutely applaud you. You deserve all the brownie points, and all the brownies. In my opinion, exclusive pumping (EP) is more challenging than nursing a baby at the breast. At least, emotionally, and sometimes physically too.
It's harder to establish and maintain a milk supply when you EP, challenging to pump and care for a baby, and often comes with a slew of emotions around not nursing baby at the breast. These are just to name a few.
That being said, there are countless women who are not afraid of that challenge and take on the EP journey with stride (and a whole lot of support!) And to those of you in it, I tip my LC hat to you (and my momma hat, and my friend hat, and my stranger hat) because I see the struggle EP mommas face in my practice, and want you to know I see how hard you're working, and no matter what anyone says to you or thinks you're just as much a breastfeeding mom as any other breastfeeding mom.
With that said, I also wanted to provide you, brave EP momma, with more than just recognition. In today's post, I have some gold for you (liquid gold if you will). We are going to cover the topic of Exclusive Pumping, as I chat with an EP expert and share all of her best tips, and a few of mine too.
Thanks for stopping by the Successful Breastfeeding Blog where we bring you the breastfeeding content you need no matter where you are on your journey. Before you go check out these other popular pumping posts, and grab our Pump More Milk Relaxation Audio Freebie.
Recently someone asked to join our Facebook community and actually asked me if she was "allowed" to be there because she wasn't breastfeeding. She went on to explain that she is just exclusive pumping, but wanted some support. My heart sank. It's not the first time I have heard this either. EP moms are breastfeeding moms. They are absolutely breastfeeding moms.
There's alot of misconceptions about EP, and alot of misinformation (even coming from lactation consultants, and doctors) that is absolutely not helpful to the unique challenges that EP moms face. Today we'd like to make an attempt to not only normalizing Exclusive Pumping as breastfeeding, but to also provide support, advice, and resources for any of you who are on this journey, or may end up EPing either by accident, choice, or necessity.
So, I sat down with Amanda Glenn, who is an expert on the topic of Exclusive Pumping. She exclusively pumped for her first baby, and her experience led her to be the voice for other EP moms. Amanda runs a popular EP facebook group with over 24000 members, operates Exclusive Pumping the blog, and uses her expertise as an EP momma to spread awareness and support the unique challenges EP moms face.
She was so generous and shared with me her best tips for being mastering an EP journey, tips for choosing the best pump for EPing, how to handle the emotional side of not being able to nurse, AND SO MUCH MORE. This podcast is filled with golden information that every pumping mom needs.
So please, take a listen, soak up her wisdom, and then check out the resources she had to share below!
Like this episode and want more? ClickHERE to head to the Successful Breastfeeding Podcast Stream on Messy to listen to our other episodes.
Here is Amanda, with her three beautiful kids. Henry, on the far left, is her oldest baby; the baby with which she exclusively pumped for 14 months.
What you don't know about your breast pump actually can hurt you..... literally.
It can hurt your nipples, and your milk supply. So knowing how to use your pump properly, and having a pump that fits is the difference between being successful with pumping and struggling to keep up supply, or worse (and we've seen it often) causing damage to your nipples.
When you're struggling with pumping and maintaining your milk supply with your pump, don't be hard on yourself, it's likely not you, momma. The first place you should be looking is the equipment you're using, and how you're using it. It's almost never something wrong with us, and instead improper pump usage or malfunction.
I am very passionate about helping moms with their breast pumps. Supporting moms going back to work, or exclusively pumping moms, who rely heavily on using their pumps to maintain their supply are at a higher risk of early weaning because breast pumps are just not as effective as baby. BUT when you have a pump that fits you well, and you know how to use it properly it makes all the difference, and is necessary to help you meet your personal goals.
I had the opportunity to connect with Joy Narang, a lactation educator and entrepreneur who is just as passionate as me about spreading the word about the importance of breast pump fit. She supports moms, both in person and over the phone, at her store Mom and Baby Shop to help them pick out the best pump for their situation (which can be complicated based on what you need) and she also helps them get their pumps through their health insurance from her store.
Joy had recently made a video about breast pump fit. After I saw the video, I immediately knew I needed to invite her onto the podcast and get more info about breast pump fit from her. Thankfully she accepted my invitation, and she joined me to talk all about not only breast pump fit, but also what you need to know about choosing the right pump for you.
Check out the episode below! and Click HERE to see our full podcast lineup, and subscribe so you never miss an episode.
So tell me in the comments, what you think of this episode? Did you learn something today? Do you think your pump may not be fitting you properly? We want to know.
Joy Narang is a lactation educator and owner of Mom and Baby Shop which is a breastfeeding and breast pump supply store, where you can get your breast pump through your insurance. No matter where you live, Joy will take the time to help you navigate your pump selection with your insurance company and find the best fit for your pumping journey.
How much time have you spent thinking about your birth? If you're like most first time moms, I bet it's alot! You want to know exactly what to expect, and that makes complete sense- you've never done this before. You've taken the birth class, you're preparing for labor and practicing your pain management techniques... All of this is good, really important stuff, BUT- you're missing one really important piece.
Don't beat yourself up too much. Everyone forgets this part of the equation. And I really understand why..... I did the same thing with my first baby too. I put A LOT of focus on the birth of my baby (ugh... which didn't even go how I hoped anyway), had a four page labor and birth plan, and I did not put as much thought into what ended up being so much more important..... I did not fully consider and prepare for what came after the baby.
It seems so obvious, right? But really.... I was really not that prepared. At all. I thought I was. I had taken a breastfeeding class (well... two actually) but the breastfeeding class I took basically just walked me through breastfeeding positions. It didn't really prepare me for anything. I had my baby shower and got All. The. Things. (Guess what.... I didn't use 3/4 of it!) I spent weeks fine tuning my baby registry, and it was mostly a waste of time. Second time moms know exactly what I mean. I decorated the nursery, organized my layettes, packed for the hospital, and stocked up on diapers.
But here's what I did NOT prepare for, and what most of the families I have supported over the last six years didn't prepare for either: I did not have a plan in place for those first couple of weeks postpartum, and I was not prepared with the support I needed to breastfeed my son.
Knowing what I know now, having been through it myself and seen countless families face the same thing, I now advocate for families to have a Postpartum Plan; an extension of their birth plans. Postpartum plans are MORE important than a birth plan. Seriously though, think about it..... No matter how your birth plays out (which I hope is exactly as you envision it) the result is still the same.... You will have a new baby you'll need to breastfeed, and there's a whole lot more to it than just putting baby to the breast. Having the right knowledge beforehand, and some postpartum planning will make a tremendous difference in your breastfeeding experience.
Whether you have an unmedicated birth or a c-section, you need to know what your plan is when you come home with baby. Who's going to feed you? Who's going to run errands? What are you going to tell everyone who wants to come over? What about breastfeeding? Do you really know how to tell if your baby is getting enough? What should you be tracking, if anything? Do you have the support you absolutely will need in your back pocket? There are a ton of questions that need answering, and having the answers will make your life 1000x easier when you come home with your baby.
Thankfully, I have been there, and have supported more moms than I can count during those early days at home with baby. Based on my experience and expertise, I've put together this complete, customizable plan of action for you to use during the first few weeks of your baby coming home! And, I want to share it with you- for FREE! Grab it right now in the form below.
This is part of our Online Prenatal Class Your Best Start to Breastfeeding. Our online prenatal class is only $17, but for now, I really just want you to have our Customizable Postpartum Plan to get you really thinking about preparing for success when you come home with your baby. So please, download it right now, and start doing the best thing you can do for you and your baby- fully prepare for those early days so you can focus more on enjoying this time with your baby.
Prepare for Successful Breastfeeding!
Get your FREE Customizable Postpartum Planning Kit now, and set yourself up for Your Best Start!
One of our new segments on the blog is the Successful Breastfeeding Story Series, and the journeys we are capturing are absolutely blowing me away! This one is no exception.
This episode of the Successful Breastfeeding Podcast I had the honor of chatting with Gopika. She is a single mom, which is no easy feat (I've been there too!) and she is raising a beautiful daughter with some unique challenges.
Gopika's daughter was not an "easy newborn". She had colic, reflux, horrible gas, rashes.... the list goes on..... and her providers brushed everything off as normal. Well, Gopika knew in her gut what she was dealing with was not normal. It's not normal for a baby to scream for hours on end. Eczema in a newborn didn't seem normal to her either. So.... she went on a mission to find answers, and find answers she did!
Take a listen to Gopika and Tessa's story in the podcast recording below. Her determination to breastfeed, and help heal her daughters food intolerances is inspiring, and so encouraging to any of you who may be facing the same fate.
Check out these pictures Gopika shared of her and 9 month old Tessa!!
In the episode Gopika mentions some great resources she used during her journey. Below are her favorite resources for moms considering an elimination diet.
Facebook Group: Infantreflux This is where she recieved tremendous support from other moms who are on similar journeys.
Exhausted?? Us too! So is our Successful Breastfeeding Community. When I shared the news that I was going to be tackling the topic of how to get a baby to sleep through the night our group jumped on board, and asked ALL THE QUESTIONS. (Join us here btw.)
So.... When we stumbled across Elizabeth Bine Sleep Consultant, I knew I had to record a podcast with her, and sneak away with a load of her golden nuggets of wisdom. And oh boy did I!!!
Elizabeth has solutions to help you get your breastfed baby to sleep through the night, and do so without loosing your sanity or letting your baby cry it out. This is probably one of the most valuable collaborations we have ever done!
In this episode we cover.... *How to get more sleep without weaning. *Tips for transitioning from cosleeping to independent sleep. *When can we expect a baby to sleep through the night. *How can we get baby to sleep without a Rock N' Sleeper after the recall? And a whole lot more!
Get ready to change your sleep, listen to our interview with Elizabeth Bine, Sleep Consultant below:
Are you curious about Elizabeth's Sleep Consultant Services? Book a FREE Call with her right now! AND After Signing Up for Your Free Call, check your email for an Exclusive Offer to use on your services with Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Bine is a Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultant. Her mission is to help families adapt personalized plans that align with their lifestyles to help their little ones sleep through the night. As a mother of two and military wife Elizabeth truly understands how important good sleep is, and is sharing her gifts with all of you today.
Struggling with breastfeeding? Painful Latch? We've got you momma. Schedule your support session with us right now! We're available 7 days a week. Just fill out our form below to automatically schedule a session!
There's No Reason To Keep Struggling with Breastfeeding.
We're available to support you 10am-8pm 7 days a week!
I HATE pumping. Hate it. I don't think I have ever met a soul who loves it. (If you're out there.... raise your hand!)
At 4 weeks postpartum, I started pumping once a day using my Advance Double Electric from Medela for “practice bottle” milk, bath/skincare milk, and I’d freeze anything I didn’t end up using. I only pump for 10 minutes (because I hate pumping) and always during my son’s morning nap, which was 1-2 hours after he nursed last.
When I heard about the new PersonalFit Flex Breast Shields by Medela I had to try them. According to their marketing campaigns these new shields to increase comfort and get more milk faster. (Sounds great Medeala! I would love to pump less often and more comfortably.) Their claim is you'll pump 11.8% more milk and have a faster milk ejection than the traditional shields that come with the pumps. The shields are also made to be compatible with any Medela breast pump.
But does it really work?? I am always skeptical when it comes to anything marketed to breastfeeding moms. So I got a set, and decided to try! In this post I go over differences I noticed between both models, things I liked and didn’t like, and how much milk I got using each.
Disclaimer: As a Lactation Consultant, I can’t have any conflict of interests, meaning I can’t be paid by a company to plug a specific product. I’m going to go over pros and cons and my personal experience with them.
Let's start with the specs from the Medela website so you can get an idea of why they are different.
PersonalFit (Originals) 90 degree angle Circle shape Hard plastic (Polypropylene) $15.49 (from Medela, frequently cheaper on Amazon) 21-36mmStandard with pump purchase (24mm included. All other sizes must be purchased separately)
PersonalFit Flex (New) 105 degree angle Oval Shape Hard plastic (Polypropylene) covered by soft silicone-feeling Thermoplastic elastomers $18.99 (from Medela, frequently cheaper on Amazon) 21-30mm At this time, must be purchased separately, but compatible with all Medela pumps
My Thoughts on the Originals: I always dread that initial contact with my skin because they’re hard and cold. Some moms warm them up first. I am lazy and don’t do that. Sometimes when using Hands on Pumping the hard edges can feel pinchy. Sometimes I find myself impatiently waiting for my milk to letdown, which doesn't help milk flow. With these shields I always have to keep massaging after a letdown or the milk slows down significantly.
Like almost all moms, I have a “slacker boob” and a “superstar boob”. On an average day, I get around 4oz from my superstar and 2oz from my slacker. 6oz total is still way too much for my baby, who eats 2-3oz per feeding, so I never worry about it. But it’s still kind of a game of mine while pumping, cheering on the slacker boob (Yes, I am a nerd. I embrace it.) This time after 10 minutes of pumping, my total output was 6 ½oz, 3 from the slacker and 3 ½ from the superstar.
My 6.5 oz output pumping with the original shields.
My Thoughts on the New Shields: With the new PersonalFit Flex, the initial contact with my skin was much more pleasant. The curve is more gentle and fit my breast shape and size better. Also, since they’re ovals, I noticed that if the milk flow slowed down, I could reposition them and the milk would start flowing again.
I had to be REALLY careful with positioning. If my nipples weren’t exactly centered, the fit was scrapey and painful. When it was positioned correctly, the suction was much stronger and I noticed that the shields fit much more snugly into the connectors. I had to dial back the suction! Overall the experience was much more tactile. To me, it felt closer to the feel of a baby suckling when I got a letdown. Speaking of letdown, it happened faster this time and I got a total of 3 letdowns in 10 minutes. The milk was definitely still flowing when I stopped pumping, but in the interest of time and measuring output, I stopped after 10.
My total output was 9oz, with 3.75 from the slacker and 5.25 from the superstar. While normally the slacker side slows WAY down after a letdown, the milk flow was much more consistent and my breasts felt equally empty on both sides after pumping.
Downside: By the end of 10 minutes, my nipples were obviously larger than when I first started, and I had to reposition the flanges multiple times if the sides started rubbing against my nipple. That was extremely painful, more so than any rubbing or incorrect positioning with the originals.
The tunnel is not as long either, so by the end, the left nipple (which is longer than my right) was almost touching the flat end of the barrel. If this had happened, I’d probably never use these again.
My 9oz output after pumping for 10 minutes with the PersonalFit Flex Breast Shields.
My Official Stance on These Breast Shields: So to recap, I personally got more milk in less time with the PersonalFit Flex Shields. They were more comfortable if positioned perfectly and I got more letdowns. If positioned incorrectly, they were much more painful than the originals. I could see this being a great product for the right mom in the right scenario, and absolutely awful for someone else.
After a full work day using the Flex (three 10 minute pumping sessions) I spent 2 days engorged and in pain and got a plugged duct on my slacker side I had to work out. I would never consider using these full time in my case. My plan is to use them when I’m away from my baby for extended periods of time, but stick with the regular ones for every day “dad bottle” use since I do have oversupply. If I just need to pump occasionally and want to do it quickly and efficiently, these would work well for that.
You can see the difference in shape and tube size from this side by side comparison. FYI: Two days later I'm still dealing with an amped up supply, engorgement, and lots of watery stool and spitting up in baby.
Who may benefit from this product: *Moms who struggle with pumping output but don’t struggle to nurse at the breast. *Moms with low supply. *Moms who don’t have much time to pump or have anxiety over pumping. *Moms of NICU babies, premies, multiples, or babies with other health conditions who need every drop.
Who may NOT benefit from this product: *Moms with nipples smaller or larger than the sizes available. *Moms with elastic nipples that might stretch to the end of the tunnel. *Moms who won’t pay attention to positioning, since this could lead to trauma and pain. *Moms with oversupply or overactive letdown. I would REALLY NOT recommend using these full time in those cases. They were just too efficient at emptying every milk duct, and stimulating multiple letdowns. Occasional use or stopping before being empty might work, but also might lead to baby getting only pumped foremilk, which can cause other issues.
Another REALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s probably not a good idea for anyone to use these without having them fitted by a lactation professional. The short tubes, and sensitive positioning can lead to a greater risk of nipple trauma if using a shield that does not fit, and MOST MOMS USE THE WRONG SIZE BREAST SHIELD.
A breast pump fitting and usage session is absolutely something we can help you do (Get Yours in the Form Below!), or see your local LC for a fitting, making sure she watches you use your pump for at least five minutes before she makes any determination about fit.
Have you ever had your breast pump expertly fitted?
Enter your name and email to schedule your breast pump fitting with our experts!
So there you have it. My honest personal experience with the PersonalFit Flex shields. My breastfeeding experience may be 100% different from yours and your results could be drastically different as well. I have no conflict of interest and didn’t receive any products or compensation for my review.
Have you tried these new Breast Shields? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
Allison Alexander LPN, IBCLC Allison is one of the Successful Breastfeeding Lactation Experts available to support you. Virtually. Anywhere.
Those first weeks of breastfeeding are the hardest. 100%. The first weeks of breastfeeding twins.... that's a whole other journey in itself. Thankfully I connected with Julie who shared with me her best advice, and resources for breastfeeding twins. You won't want to miss what she has to say!
Until recently, we did not have many resources for twin moms, and thanks to Julie Gordon (badass twin breastfeeding, tandem baby wearing, BREECH twin natural birthing, magical unicorn momma.... seriously you have to listen to the podcast below to hear her incredible story!)... We now have a whole lot of resources.... and an expanded love for twin breastfeeding moms.
Scroll below to not only hear her story, receive her advice, but also check out the resources she has to share!
Let me send you some of the most important info you need for your Successful Breastfeeding Journey straight to your inbox!
Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription.
There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again.
We use this field to detect spam bots. If you fill this in, you will be marked as a spammer.
Yes, Send it to Me!!! We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
This is Julie nursing her newborn twins!
Tandem nursing like a boss!
Listen Right Now! "Give Yourself Grace" Julie Gordon's Advice for New Breastfeeding Twin Moms only on the Successful Breastfeeding Podcast
Painful latch? Struggling to breastfeed? We've got you covered! (YES! Even with twins/multiples) We're available 7 days a week for support! Fill out the form and automatically schedule your support session with us!
Get Your Breastfeeding Support!
We're available to support you 10am-8pm 7 days a week!
Julie is also a Babywearing Expert, and this is the organization she volunteers to support moms who are interested in babywearing. Of course, she is also an expert in tandem wearing and can support moms who want to wear their babies! Metro Detroit Babywearers
At her first pediatrician appointment after the birth of her son the doctores were shocked that she looked so well rested when she had a three day old..... But wait??? Well rested with a newborn?? That's not a thing..... Is it?
Enjoy the sleep now while you can because when your baby comes you'll never sleep again! That's what you hear, right? Everyone likes to talk about how sleep deprived you're going to be with a newborn. And alternatively, those same people then turn around and want to know if your baby is sleeping through the night, then silently judge you if your answer is no.
Well.... guess what??? Babies are NOT supposed to sleep through the night BUT there are absolutely some things breastfeeding mommas can do to make night time a whole lot easier! "I asked my husband what the most surprising thing about having a baby has been for him, or the thing he didn't expect. He said sleep, hands down. Everyone said he'd be sleep deprived and miserable with a new baby and he's not." - Allison Alexander.
Click below to listen to the podcast episode all about how YOU can get MORE SLEEP!
Be part of our awesome, judgement free zone and get support and advice from me and hundreds of other mommas who've got your back!!!
(Oh, and it's FREE!)
Success! Now check your email to access your invitation to the group. Please add me to your contacts. I have valuable information to share with you and I don't want you to miss out. Adding me to your contacts will help make sure my emails to you don't end up in your Spam folders!
There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again.
Send My Invite!! We won't send you spam, only my best content relevant to you! Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Struggling with breastfeeding? Painful Latch? We've got you momma! Schedule your support session with us right now! We're available 7 days a week. Just fill out our form below to automatically schedule a session!
Get Your Breastfeeding Support!
We're available to support you 10am-8pm 7 days a week!
Today I had the opportunity to interview Celeste Kraft, an experienced breastfeeding momma of four, and now grandma who supports her own daughter-in-love, as she calls her. Celeste shares with me her own unexpected breastfeeding journey, how her journey has influenced the support she offers her daughter, and shares her best piece of advice she has for new breastfeeding moms. And WOW what she had to say was so powerful. Her words of wisdom gave me chills! Click below to take a listen to the interview, and hear what she has to say. Be sure to check out the pictures she shared with us as well!
“Say goodbye to sleep!” I can’t remember how many times I heard this while pregnant with my second baby after a 10 year gap between pregnancies. It was super annoying. I knew every baby was different, but I also knew a few tricks that had worked really well with my first baby, and I was looking forward to trying them again to see if they worked.
We’re 4 weeks into our breastfeeding journey, and my son is a VERY different human from my daughter. She was more laid back. He’s particular. I checked her diaper constantly because she couldn’t care less what went on in there. I hear from him if 5 minutes pass and he hasn’t been changed. Temperature didn’t bother her. If he’s even slightly chilly, the entire house knows about it.
But the sleep tricks that worked the first time still worked this time, so I wanted to share them with you! Everybody could use better quality sleep.
A common myth is that sleep is worse with a breastfed baby vs. a formula fed baby. Researches have looked closely at this. While it’s true that moms may get fewer hours of sleep since a partner isn’t splitting nighttime feedings, their quality of sleep tends to be better and they report feeling more rested than mothers who formula feed. Babies don’t sleep through the night for many months, sometimes years, no matter what you feed them. But there ARE things you can do to get everyone in the house more rest. I’m not going to tell you to nap when the baby naps, because as a mom myself, I know how realistic THAT is, unless you have a nanny for other kids, a private chef to cook for your family, a maid to clean your house, and a driver to run all your errands for you.
Before you use my hacks for a better night’s sleep, click here to read our blog post about safe sleeping arrangements if you haven’t already checked it out.
Did you know that babies aren’t born making melatonin? Melatonin is the sleepytime hormone. You make it naturally as part of your day/night, sleep/wake cycle. Guess what contains melatonin? Your milk! And night milk has more than day milk.
Food for thought: Even if your partner got up to give a bottle of YOUR pumped milk from earlier in the day, it’s possible that the different hormone levels could lead to a nighttime baby party, and you’d STILL have to pump to protect your supply. Sounds like a lose-lose.
There are some things I’ve found from experience (and research supports as well) that can ACTUALLY help you and your baby find the best routine possible. After my hacks, I'll share with you my exact routine that works like a charm, and allows me the most sleep possible!
My sleep hacks, and why they work for most babies.
Start a sleep/wake cycle immediately, and if possible, during pregnancy. Our bodies are extremely light sensitive, and that includes light from tvs and phones. Our hormones depend on light to tell our bodies when to power down for sleep. Babies get exposed to hormones through the placenta when we’re pregnant, so the best start is to get consistent with a bedtime routine for YOU while you’re pregnant, and follow it after you’ve had the baby. Even though their eyesight is poor, by keeping the lights in the house consistent, you’re setting the stage for a good sleep/wake cycle for yourself AND your baby when they start making their own sleep hormones.
Keep your baby close. It’s a huge misconception that you’ll sleep better the further your baby is from you. The exact opposite is true. The closer baby is, the more in sync the two of you will get with your sleep cycles. Your body will be able to tell when they’re shifting from deep to lighter sleep and wake you up before they have the chance to get frantically hungry, which is hugely important. Stress hormones are the OPPOSITE of what you want. One of my favorite quotes from one of my lactation courses is “A newborn’s habitat is its mother.” The further away from you your baby is, the more stressed out he’ll be. Stress keeps babies awake and crying until they literally give up on their needs being met and power down. No one wants their baby to feel like that.
Nurse on demand, 24/7. In the evenings, my baby is a hot mess. He’s squirmy, irritable, and just complaining nonstop. The only thing he wants to do is nurse, and I let him. Sometimes that means he’s at the breast for the better part of a couple of hours. Does it mean I’m not making enough milk? Nope. He’s cluster-feeding. Most babies will have a period of the day where they do, and you should let them. After his bedtime snack, he is OUT. You could poke this guy with a stick and he wouldn’t stir (I do not advise poking babies with sticks). He’s hoarding his calories for a good stretch of deep sleep, and since we’ve organized our night accordingly, this just so happens to be a good stretch of deep sleep for me too! After that stretch, he’s back to the frequent nursing you expect from a newborn, but I feel like a new woman after 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and I don’t have to worry about my supply. One 4 hour stretch in 24 hours won’t hurt things as long as you’re getting “8 or more in 24”. 8 or more feedings every 24 hours.
Mimic life on the inside. Where did your baby spend almost a year while you were growing them? In a warm, dark, soothing place being hugged on all sides and hearing your heartbeat. We bring them to the bright, cold, scary outside world, plop them alone in a crib, and wonder why they don’t sleep. Babies love to be shushed and swaddled because it makes them feel secure. A warm, fed, secure baby will sleep better.
Don’t. Sleep. Train. An. Infant. I can’t stress this one enough. For some reason, doctors, relatives, strangers, moms in the PTA with you will advise you to sleep train at some point. Babies cry because they have an unmet need. It might not be a reasonable need to you. A gas bubble or impending poop might be terrifying. They might be bored, lonely, or scared of a noise they heard. Leaving an infant to cry itself to sleep alone damages their growing trust in their caregivers. A baby who trusts that his needs will be met will be MORE likely, not less, to sleep independently. A baby’s first job after entering the world is to determine who he can trust to meet his needs. You want to be at the top of that list! Once he knows mom will always take care of him, he’ll trust that if he sleeps a little further away, you’ll still be right there if he gets hungry, cold, or scared. Meeting a baby’s needs (physical OR emotional) will NEVER spoil them. Adults don’t often sleep alone by choice. Why do we expect a newborn baby to master a skill that we haven’t? I toss and turn and lie awake when my husband is on a work trip. I can’t expect more from my brand new baby.
My particular routine: I start by I dimming the living room lights after dinner and nurse, fold laundry, spend time with my husband, and watch tv. At bedtime, we do a diaper change, swaddling sleep sack, and lights off other than a small night light. I turn on white noise and nurse in a side-lying position in bed, then he comes off the breast and closes his eyes, usually between 10:30 and 11. He sleeps on his back; no rocking, pacifier, or elaborate bedtime ritual. He wakes up between 2-3am to nurse. He does NOT cry to tell me he’s hungry, and 9 times out of 10, I wake up before he even opens his eyes. It’s breastfeeding magic I can’t explain. We nurse side lying, and he goes right back to sleep when he’s done. We repeat the same thing at 5:30ish, and finish when my husband’s alarm goes off. He changes the baby and hands him back to me, and we snooze until 7 when I turn the lights on, the white noise off, and unswaddle him. RARELY is he ready to be fully awake at that time and he naps while I shower. I get out and nurse a wide awake baby at 8 before taking my older daughter to school.
I hope these help you get better sleep, and build a better nursing relationship with your little one. If you’re struggling or have questions about making a nighttime routine work for you, reach out to one of our experts. A baby who cries non-stop for hours is never normal and needs help! Check in with us and your pediatrician to figure things out. Don’t just assume no sleep for anyone is a normal thing.
Allison Alexander, IBCLC, LPN Successful Breastfeeding Expert, Director of Support