There have been many times during the past several months when I've asked for advice from you all. No other topic has been more confusing or frustrating for me than breastfeeding.
I've had some practice by now. By my (admittedly rough) estimates, I've fed Ada over 1,600 times in her short life. Even more shocking, that's possibly over 6,000 ounces of milk (50 gallons) I've produced! I'm obviously not the first person ever to breastfeed . . . but those stats blow my mind.
Anyway, I feel like I've earned the status of authority on the issue of breastfeeding a distracted baby. I thought I'd share the things we've done that have helped the most. There were many times I thought of giving up.
Thankfully, I think we're pulling out of the worst of it, but it was a long, long road.
#1: Make sure your babe is actually hungry. As I mentioned in another post, I could have avoided a lot of our issues by taking a step back from the situation and considering that Ada might not actually be hungry.
It wasn't easy for me to figure out, but eventually I started to understand her cues. All babies are different, of course, so there's no easy "this means he/she is tired/cranky/etc." -- but if you have a sustained, difficult issue, it's worth assessing the situation as a whole.
#2: Slip into a dark room. Or take cover! For several months, including a couple times a day now, Ada would pull off and latch on, repeat . . . unless we were in our bedroom with the lights dimmed and noise low. Otherwise, she was way too distracted by the TV or cats or colors.
Something anything else.
In public, of course, was the most frustrating. So, when we were out and about, I tried my best to find a quiet corner to feed her in, using my nursing cover (I have two: Balboa Baby and Peanut Shell). It wasn't always possible, but you'd be surprised by the places I ended up feeding her (mall bathrooms, dressing rooms, etc.).
#3: Wear fun clothing and accessories. Especially fun shirt or bra straps. What do I mean by "fun" exactly? I try to wear shirts with fun textures near the neckline or patterns/colors that are bold and busy. Ada keeps herself occupied by gazing and playing with them.
Necklaces work, too. I have a couple Chewbeads necklaces (like I'm wearing in the photo above). She likes tugging on them and I can usually get her to play with the necklace long enough to get in a full feed. I don't always remember to wear the necklace, though.
#4: Use White Noise. There have been a few times when it was time for Ada to eat, I could tell she was hungry, but she was just too frenzied to eat. Mostly this happened in the late evening time when she was a bit younger -- that witching hour. Our hairdryer helped us most every time.
It sounds ridiculous, but our hairdryer -- on low -- has helped so many time for so many issues with Ada. Other white noise didn't work quite as well. You may have a specific kind that works with your little one. If you're in crisis-mode, try it out and see if it works for you, too.
#5: Have a bottle ready and waiting. This tip is only for when all else fails . . . and if your baby will take a bottle (Ada does half of the time, but that's getting better). There were definitely times when Ada was SO distracted that I just couldn't deal with it anymore. I needed a break from trying to focus/feed her, so I'd hand her off to Stephen.
I don't love giving bottles simply because it's so much more work for me with all the pumping, storing, heating, and cleaning. But sometimes it was worth it to get away from the situation. Honestly, there have been times during breastfeeding where I have felt major burnout.
What are your tips for breastfeeding the ever-distracted baby? I feel like a lot of my friends have been able to relate, so I imagine it's just a stage they all go through. Especially when the world opens up with their senses!
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