Is my 7 week nursing enough?
I have a 7 week old and I feel like she may not be nursing enough. Her older sister who is nearly 3 nurses SO much until she weaned at 25 months, from the second she was born. That's pretty much all we would do all day with my first, is nurse for hours at a time. If I offered, she would NEVER refuse. She would nurse until she was throwing up! I used to laugh at the term 'nursing session' because we just nursed all day, I could never even think of them as separate sessions! My first also didn't start sleeping through the night until after she weaned, and had never fallen asleep any other way but nursing to sleep up until that point. So I guess that's what I am used to.
My new baby nurses more efficiently I guess? Each session is really it's own separate event! She'll nurse usually only from one side at a time and takes about 10 min. to drain the breast. I offer the other side and she usually refuses. Usually about ever 2 hours during the day, sometimes more sometimes less. If I feel like it's been awhile since she nursed and offer before she's showing hunger cues (like just to bond!) she usually is not interested. She also will not nurse to sleep--she falls asleep by rocking and being swaddled. Additionally, she has been sleeping overnight for 4 hours stretches since birth which have just gotten longer as she's gotten older. We usually get her to sleep between 9 and 10pm, then sometimes she'll wake up around 1am to nurse but not every night, then if she did wake up at 1am she won't wake again till 5am--if she didn't wake up at 1am then she'll wake up at 3am--and then usually back to sleep till 7am or so. Last night she went to sleep at 9:30pm and didn't wake up to nurse until 5am! then went back to sleep till 7:30am!
*added in: I also wanted to add that with my first (I think I had an over supply) my breasts would always be engorged and if she went even an hour longer at night that she normally would my breasts would be rock hard and leaking. This new baby, I am never ever engorged (I was for only 1 day when my milk first came in) and rarely do my breasts even feel heavy or full. This morning when she woke up at 5am after not nursing for nearly 8 hours, I was not engorged, just barely fuller than I normally feel.
She was born 5/31 at 7lb 14oz, dropped to 7lb 8oz at 4 days old, and was up to 8lb 8 oz at 8 days old! then was 9lb 8oz on 6/16 and that's the last time she's been weighed, but we have a doc appt next Wednesday the 30th. She has at least 8-10 pee diapers per day and usually 2 big poopy and 2 smaller poopy diapers a day. She seems like a happy and healthy baby but sometimes at bedtime she'll fuss and cry for about an hour before going to bed for the night and I wonder if she's hungry--she'll usually bee too upset to nurse at this time when I try.
It's like nursing really is just about food for her. I'm really not complaining about how much amazing sleep we're getting, and she is so much less high needs than my older daughter was (and still is...) but I guess I'm a little sad because nursing doesn't really seem to comfort her as much as I would think...it's just like the food source. Does this make sense...am I crazy?!
*added in: I also am returning to work full time in 3 weeks and will be pumping..I haven't started pumping or building a little freezer stash or anything but I know I need to soon and practice her on a bottle. But I'm worried I won't be able to pump much because I never feel like I have much milk in there....
Re: Is my 7 week nursing enough?
Based on her wet and dirty diapers and her weight gain, it sounds like she's getting enough! Is her pediatrician happy with her weight gain? Usually they will follow a curve (albeit a little differently than formula-fed babies) and should have at least 6 wet diapers daily and at least 3 stools daily. Around 6 weeks or so, bowel movement frequency will start to slow down. Some breastfed babies will continue to have several BMs daily, whereas others may only go a couple times a week. It sounds like she's sleeping well and seems healthy and happy while she's awake, which are also good indicators of getting enough milk. With subsequent deliveries, our milk supply many times will improve or "come in" sooner than the first time around. Also, babies nurse differently... some snack and cuddle around the clock, and some are more down to business. Your baby is still pretty young, though, and I would imagine that as she gets more alert and interactive, you will have plenty of more opportunity for cuddling and comfort nursing more than just nutrition.
As far as sleeping for long stretches, is she being swaddled or dressed too warmly? Sometimes those can cause babies to sleep a little longer than needed. When you do nurse her, does she seem satisfied/come off the breast on her own and then refuse to nurse more? You should look for signs of satiety rather than watching the clock (relaxing her posture, coming off breast on her own, relaxed hands, etc). If you'd like a little more cuddling time, perhaps you could use an Ergo carrier or another baby carrier to keep her close and happy while you're still able to get some things done. One thing that helps me to maintain my supply and have re-connection time with my baby is co-sleeping since I work full-time. She nurses more frequently this way but, interestingly enough, we both get more sleep this way too =D
Regarding the pumping, I would recommend getting a double electric pump (hospital grade if possible, but new commercial-grade should work well enough with having an established supply). Remember, pumps aren't as effective as babies at removing milk. You'll want to make sure that all parts are in good condition, periodically checking the flanges for pin-size holes that may decrease suction and making sure to get correctly-fitting breast shields. You don't need much of a freezer stash but you should have several practice runs as it usually takes several sessions to get used to pumping and having adequate output. Remember, it's normal to only get 2-3 ounces at a time when pumping. Some fortunate mothers are able to pump more. Don't be alarmed if, when you first start pumping, you hardly get anything. This should improve with more sessions. You may want to start out with a pumping session in the morning after nursing, since that's when supplies are usually higher. Especially after the first couple of weeks, our breasts compensate and rarely will be engorged or feel full (especially for women who have large storage capacities) but we always have milk in them. It sounds like you're doing a great job!