Monday, August 10, 2009

A Day of Breastfeeding

Inspired by this post by Tarzan of HisBoysCanSwim, I decided to record when & how long I nursed for 24 hours. I thought it would just be interesting, I had no idea it would actually change my feelings about nursing while I was doing it. As lactivists, we often tell women to watch the baby not the clock. Turns out, that advice is even more important than I ever imagined.

I'm currently 5 months in to nursing my 3rd baby. I nursed my eldest for 34 months, albeit with a nipple shield for that entire time & with a 2 week nursing strike around 11 months. I nursed my middle son until I was about 16 weeks pregnant with my current baby. He was 40 months. In all that time, the only time I recorded how often I was nursing & for how long was when I was in the hospital after my first son was born. When I got home with him, I'd look at the clock sometimes to see how long he was eating for, but I grew out of that by about a month postpartum. Since then, I just nurse whenever my child seems like he wants to, for however long he wants to.

Yesterday, during my little recording experiment, I found myself worrying. I got anxious: "Maybe I'm nursing too often.", "Maybe I should wait longer." Thoughts I haven't had for years, since my oldest was a newborn. All these thoughts from me, the queen of going with the flow. I've had them a few times since I stopped recording, too. No wonder new parents are so anxious about how often, how long, how much.

If anyone is interested, here's what I recorded for my baby.

4:16pm - 4:40pm baby fell asleep

5:15pm - 5:20pm stirred, nursed, went back to sleep

5:49pm - 5:51pm

7:24pm - 7:28pm

7:39pm - 7:41pm

8:01pm - 8:16pm distracted/lots of breaks

9:13pm - 9:18pm i had to do some stuff quickly, so I cut things short

9:24pm - 9:31pm baby fell asleep

9:59pm - 10:03pm stirred, nursed, went back to sleep

10:57pm - 11:04pm

11:18pm - 11:28pm

11:54pm - 12am

12:50am - 1:10am baby fell asleep

1:40am-1:50am stirred, nursed, went back to sleep

2:35am - 2:58am took baby to bed for the night

5:59am - 6:16am

8:10am - 8:14am

another one very soon after didn't record times

10:37am - 10:42am

11:49am - 11:53am

12:13pm - 12:18pm baby up for the day

1:05pm - 1:25pm very distracted

2:15pm - 2:29pm baby fell asleep

2:54pm- 2:58pm stirred, nursed, went back to sleep for a little while

5:45pm - 6:06pm

After my little experiment, I'm even more of the belief that parents need to watch the baby, not the clock. Stop recording feedings (unless there's a genuine medical reason,of course), stop checking how long it's been or worrying about long enough or too long or too often. Some things just can't be measured and compartmentalized. Nursing is clearly one of them.