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"Never wake a sleeping baby" vs. Breast Feeding

“Never wake a sleeping baby”

Isn’t that what they say? I know I used to until I gave birth to a late preterm baby.

That’s my son up there. He was born almost 4 weeks early after my water broke unexpectedly on St. Patrick’s Day. I was excited, of course, but part of me was very concerned.

My first born was induced post-term. He was a big, healthy baby. He latched with no problem and ate like a champ from the get-go. That has been my only experience with nursing a newborn. My new guy is SO TINY. He was only 5 and 1/2 pounds and did not have a natural rooting instinct when he was born. I needed to be very diligent in the hospital to get him to latch and when he did he’d almost always immediately fall asleep.

Sleepy and hard to latch is not a good combination for a baby who needs to gain and a mom who is hell bent on breast feeding.

Of course all babies need to gain but I’m feeling the pressure as a nursing mom even more with a preterm baby.

When asked by medical professionals about his eating habits I can sense their disappointment that I’m not bottle feeding. I can’t tell them he is having “so many ounces” every “so many hours”. All I could do is share his nursing schedule and how many wet diapers he has. You’d think that would be enough but instead of getting a supportive pat on the back, I almost feel scolded by them.

“You better be waking him up every 2 hours to nurse.” They say with stern concern. As if I don’t have his best interest in mind.

So I’m ALWAYS waking a sleeping baby and let me tell you, it sucks. I routinely have to shock him out of a peaceful sleep with my cold hands and soft massage. Then stimulate his natural sucking instinct just to get him to open his mouth for an attempted latch.

After 2 weeks it’s getting easier and easier and since he has gained, surpassing his birth weight, I can start to trust not only his instincts but mine as well.

Soon I’ll be able to let him sleep.

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