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Thread: Does it get easier?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Maryland
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    71

    Question Does it get easier?

    Growing up, I saw many women breastfeeding, so it's something I've always wanted to do. When I got pregnant, I pictured what breastfeeding sessions would be like with my little one: putting the baby to my breast, him/her eating happily for a designated amount of time, burping him/her, and then offering the other side to him/her so he/she could eat until their little heart was content. It didn't occur to me that it wouldn't go so smoothly. (Are you all laughing at how naive I was?!) Imagine my surprise, then, when I gave birth to what people have deemed a "sleepy eater"! (If you want to skip the rest of what will probably be a long post, the point of this is to ask if it will always be this hard to breastfeed!)

    As background, my son is 14 weeks. He was born 2.5 week early, and it's always been a battle to get him to eat. (He was born at 6 lbs 4 oz, dropped to 5 lbs 10 oz, and didn't regain his birth weight until about 3 weeks.) For the first six week of life, all he wanted to do was sleep. I think he would have slept 22 hours a day in those really early weeks. For those first six weeks, I had to set my alarm for every 3 hours because he never woke on his own to eat. Once I put him to my breast, he'd suck 3 or 4 times usually and then start to doze off. I tried everything I could find to wake him. Everything! Someone even suggested using ice to wake him. That occasionally got a few minutes of eating out of him, but it didn't "work like a charm" by any means. Even using a medicine dropper and eventually a bottle didn't keep him awake too well, but it did help me know that he was at least getting something in him. I felt horrible about the whole experience, but I always thought I'd breastfeed my baby, so I refused to give him formula unless he showed signs of dehydrating or his diaper output dropped below acceptable. (Fortunately, neither of these things ever happened, so he's always been EBF. Woohoo!) I would jokingly tell people that I "lovingly tortured" my baby into eating, but it was no joke. I felt positively awful about it. At 14 weeks, he now weighs just over 11 pounds. He's always had the minimum number of wet and stool diapers, but never too many more than the minimum. He spends more time awake than a lot of 3 month olds I think, but he still struggles to stay awake while eating. There are days when he eats for 3 minutes and falls asleep. As soon as I put him down, he wakes up, sometimes wanting to eat immediately, sometimes not for an hour.

    So, for those who skipped the back story (I don't blame you at all - time is so important these days!) and for those who read my entire post (bless you!), my question is: Will this get easier? I'd love a response from anyone, but if there are mothers out there who had a sleepy eater or a baby who struggled with eating for any other reason, I'd particularly like some reassurance from you. Will my guy always struggle with staying awake to eat? Will I ever relax and accept that (like my mom says) he's "doing his own thing and growing just fine"?

    Finally, I have been reading posts on this site for a week or so now, and I wanted to add that everyone on this site is amazing! There are so many generous people who take the time to answer other people's questions. I wish I'd found this site a few months ago, but I am so thankful that I have it as a resource now. Oh, and I apologize for the long post!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    4,894

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    I'm not sure about the sleepy part but my daughter was a lazy nurser. Once the fast flow stopped she lost interest. So she would pop in for a sip. I don't know if it got easier or I stopped worrying. You're doing a wonderful job. The gift of breastmilk is a valuable one. Now trust your body and your instincts.
    If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. - Katharine Hepburn

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    199

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    11 pounds at 14 weeks when he initially weighed only 6 lb 4 oz seems good to me. My little guy is a little over 6 months old and is about 17 pounds and was 7 pounds when born. My son seems to fall asleep when I feed him too. He is better now that he is older, but the first couple months were really difficult, it took an hour or longer every feed because he slept so much and I had to keep waking him so he would eat. Suddenly one day he stayed awake the entire time and ate in 5-10 minutes on each side. I thought something was wrong with him and that he surely wasn't getting enough food. Sometimes now he eats in 5 minutes for both sides - just guzzles it down. But he still goes to nursing when he wants to fall asleep, sometimes he cries and cries until I feed him and I realize he didn't want to nurse, he wanted to fall asleep and needed his favorite pacifier. I think it is good he is so relaxed when he is eating, although annoying for you I am sure. I think that there are always some things that can frustrate you about nursing if you let it, for instance my DS for the past month has not wanted to eat in the "regular" hold on his previously favorite side. He wants the football hold, or more correctly, the lying on his back with me leaning over him while his legs are wrapped around my back hold. Bugged the heck out of me, but now I just do it. He falls asleep faster in that hold at night.
    Anyway, my point is that things will get easier, and then hard again. Try not to stress so much and just enjoy the process (I struggle with that sometimes, but nursing is so much more enjoyable if I find something endearing or funny about his most recent quirky and frustrating behaviors). He will get faster and not sleep so much, and then something else with change. But ultimately he is getting the nourishment and comfort he needs from you. Keep up the good work.
    Please excuse my typos, I am always NAK.

    DS since 1/30/11

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Maryland
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    536

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    My DS was also a sleepy eater in the beginning, which resulted in him losing weight at first. And me pumping all the time to bottle feed him. After 2 months of both of us torturing each other, he finally decided that he loved food and stopped falling asleep all the time! (And now at 5 months, he never sleeps, lol.) I definitely thinks it gets easier. It has to, right? :-)

    BTW, I also thought BFing would come naturally and be totally easy. Boy was that a rude awakening!
    Last edited by @llli*mek; August 10th, 2011 at 05:19 AM.
    ~ Megan

    Mommy to Alex (born 2/27/11) and Katie (born 3/31/14)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    23,891

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    It will get easier. It always does.

    Did you ever try switch nursing? As soon as the baby seems to be dozing, you take him off the breast, burp him, change his diaper- basically wake him the heck up- and then put him on the other breast. You keep doing this every time he starts to snooze. In theory, it teaches the baby that being "lazy" and falling asleep at the breast just isn't worth it, because mommy isn't going to just let that happen, she's going to annoy the baby every time it starts.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Sidney, NE
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    37

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    Don't worry about being naive. I was completely clueless with my first. My mom BF all 4 of us, we were all born completely natural, and she had 2 of us at home. So I was delusional enough to think I'd have it sooooo easy. HA! I was so wrong. It does get easier as they get older (you are both still learning after all!) But there is always something that will come up. Breastfeeding is alot more work than one would think.

    DD was a sleepy eater at first. And we had to "lovingly torture" her awake too. I wouldn't worry overmuch about him only eating for 3 minutes at a time as long as you've got weight gain and wets/poops. They get more efficient as they get older. Mine usually nurses in less than 5 minutes and she started that back at like 8 or 9 weeks. But if you are worried, it's always worth trying to get in extra minutes or an extra feeding for your own piece of mind. As mommal suggested, switch nursing worked really well for us, if only so I knew she was getting plenty.

    It's really easy to second guess yourself, especially with the first. And everyone always tells you to relax which most the time is next to impossible. You're doing a great job.
    Heather

    Mother of 2
    Aidan - 5 years -- breastfed for 4 months
    Avery - 5 months -- still breastfeeding -- 2nd time's the charm!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    91

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    I felt the same way before my baby arrived. I thought once the milk came in breastfeeding would be a breeze! Ha ha! My LO taught me differently! She was also a sleepy one...had a bit of newborn jaundice. So I also had to set my alarm to make sure she was eating every 2-3 hours. She would always fall asleep at the breast. I'd have to try to wake her too. I noticed that when I HAD to wake her, she never fed as well. But when she would wake on her own she eat much better. But she was gaining weight and having the minimum number of wets too (sometimes this bothers me...but minimum is acceptable!). It's very easy for people to say not to worry because she's gaining weight and doing well. So I know how you are feeling. My LO now also feeds in about 4 min one side only which always makes me worry if she's getting enough or not. But she seems content and is gaining weight and peeing and pooping. So I guess you have to go with the "flow"!

    Sounds like you and your LO are doing well since he's practically doubled his birth weight by 3 months! So in time it will get better and you will get used to how he eats...my LO is 17 weeks and I think I've got the hang of her eating but every once in awhile I worry about her getting enough because of the way she eats....but that's normal for a mama to worry. Actually now that my LO is older and much more distractable I find she eats better when she's asleep (dream feeds)! Keep up the good work. You guys will be fine!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    10,452

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mommal View Post
    It will get easier. It always does.

    Did you ever try switch nursing? As soon as the baby seems to be dozing, you take him off the breast, burp him, change his diaper- basically wake him the heck up- and then put him on the other breast. You keep doing this every time he starts to snooze. In theory, it teaches the baby that being "lazy" and falling asleep at the breast just isn't worth it, because mommy isn't going to just let that happen, she's going to annoy the baby every time it starts.


    It does get easier. And then you will wish for a baby who sleeps!
    Susan
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    It does get easier. Hang in there!
    ~Tiffany~

    Truly blessed by God
    Wife to Will
    First Time Mom to C 2/18/11
    Made it 6 Mos. EBF Now enjoying BLS
    My baby is a year old now!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Does it get easier?

    I'm just reading your post and finding that it is almost word for word my experience, except that I had a BB almost 5 months ago and that he wouldn't latch on until he was 6 wks old (I pumped and bottle fed while continually trying to get him to BF). He was 2-3 wks early, same weight at birth, same weight at 14 wks, and is now over 13 lbs at almost 5 months. I often wonder the same things but find myself a little reassured that someone else experienced the same and wonders the same things.

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