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Shouldn’t Breastfeeding be Easier?










QUESTION:

I'm a very well educated person, as a matter of fact, I'm a physician. We just had our first son, he is only 5-days-old. My wife is REALLY trying breastfeeding him, but it is (to me) more and more frustrating each feeding. I have never been a very patient man but I'm usually in a good mood and overall happy kind of guy. I was thrilled and very happy during our pregnancy and even during delivery (that went sour and ended in a c- section).

Now we're finally home and this last few nights my frustration level with all this breastfeeding stuff has been escalating significantly, to the point that I dread the moment my wife will feed our child and when the feeds take over an hour at 11pm and we have to wake up again in about 1.5 to 2 hours my frustration becomes more like rage against both the baby and my wife. How can something that is supposed to be instinctive require so much orchestration, positioning, repositioning etc. How can a new born not be able to breastfeed/latch?

I understand he is only 5 days old, but latching shouldn't be an issue anymore should it? After these long periods of listening to him scream in desperation, looking at my wife's painful grimaces and knowing he will not be satisfied and we will need to feed him again in 2 hours puts me on the edge and from this point on, every little cry, grunt or noise he makes, enrages me.

I really worry that I will lose my temper and do something stupid. I love my family but need some advice on to how to handle all this frustration.

So far I've talked to my wife and will stay away for the feeding times. It's worth noticing that I have no issues changing his diapers, washing him, burping him, wrapping him, etc. It’s his cries that feel like he is complaining on how we are not delivering the food easily enough that get to me.

Any advice or ideas on how to handle all this?




ANSWER:

Five days is when the sleep deprivation kicks in, so you are just getting into the tough part. Your frustration/rage is a side effect from all the stress you are experiencing.

To deal with it, you need a proactive strategy on breastfeeding, and perhaps new sleeping/night baby care arrangements. Breastfeeding comes naturally to some new moms, but it is a major challenge for many, so we know what dads can do.

Breastfeeding’s importance is somewhat overblown, but regardless your wife will feel like a failure as a mom if she quits “too soon.” A few options: Make sure she has the support of the lactation folks at the hospital; if she does quit, she will need to know she did her best to make it work, and if it works, it is great for her and your baby, so help her give it her best shot. When you are relatively calm, when she breastfeeds next rub her shoulders to help her relax, which helps her milk flow easier (and shows her you understand how tough it must be on her). Start tag teaming the night duty with the goal of you both getting 4 hours at a stretch: should be twice nightly feeds soon (down from 3 now) in addition to the bedtime and wake-up feeds. You take one and she takes the other.

Until 3 weeks when she can pump and you can use a bottle and let her sleep through, you get baby, change him, place him next to her to wake up to and feed, and then you put him back to bed. On her times you sleep through, in another room if you need to. Use it when you feel the frustration building as well, and continue to take the rage potential seriously (when you feel it coming, tap out and tell her she is on; there will be times you do it for her).

Breastfeeding will likely get easier for her as the baby figures out how to latch on, her nipples toughen up, etc.; if it doesn’t, she will not be able to keep going, and then it is up to you to make her feel better as a mom.

Hang it there.

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