I like both of these questions because we have been blessed with a baby that eats well and enjoys sleeping. He has slept through the night from the beginning, except for quiet wake-times to nurse. When he was a newborn, I was instructed to nurse every 2-3 hours when he was awake and 3-4 hours when he was asleep. Because newborns sleep so much, this often meant waking the baby to eat. While we were in the hospital, it was difficult to wake the baby because he was so young and tired from the general medical treatment he was receiving, including the circumcision and some routine shots. It was tiring for me to wake him because I was so exhausted and newborns can be hard to wake and neither of us really knew how to breast feed. I knew it was important to make sure he was eating because for the first few days after delivery, I was producing colostrum, which is basically super-milk for newborns. Thankfully, the hospital has lactation-consultants (and knowledgeable nurses) that were there to help me figure out how to feed the little man. My Mum was able to help me with the first feedings, but it was so valuable to have someone there whenever I needed help. When he wouldn't latch on, they showed me how to use sugar-water to interest him in nursing. When he hadn't eaten and wouldn't latch on, they provided me with a nipple-shield to feed the baby. Fortunately, this was only needed once to help Kaden eat, but also gave me peace of mind to know I had met his needs.
By the time we got home, Kaden was able to nurse and I was letting him sleep a little bit longer at night because I put him to bed with a full tummy and he looked so peaceful sleeping. I was experiencing some pain while nursing because of an early incident that left me basically bruised and because the new sensations can be intense. I enjoyed the nursing sessions, especially feeling my little baby so close to me while knowing that I was nourishing his little tiny body. However, I also enjoyed a daily hot shower to numb my body and refresh my spirit.
When we first took him to the pediatrician, he was 4-days old and I was pretty sure that the colostrum had been replaced by actual breast milk, but I was concerned Kaden wasn't eating enough because he would fall asleep while nursing. When we got to the doctor, he assured us that my milk had come in and the baby was eating, a lot!! He was born on Tuesday at 6 lbs. 13 oz., left the hospital on Thursday at 6 lbs. 5 oz. (they lose weight the first few days) - and weighed 6 lbs. 10 oz. on Friday. The doctor said babies usually take a week or two to get back to their birth weight but our little man was practically there the next day! The doctor told me I didn't need to wake him at night to nurse, but my body still wakes me up ready to nurse when he quietly wakes up and starts to stir, so we still usually wake up for one night-time feeding.
I love this night-time feeding- I'm all full of milk and he's so sleepy. I change his diaper, sit in my amish-made-glider, play quiet music on my iPod and feed the sleeping little bundle of sugar. He looks so very peaceful with his eyes closed and a faint smile on his face. He will sometimes pull away to swallow and smack his little lips, then he will sigh with joy and re-latch. It warms my heart every time and makes me so grateful for the opportunities I am having to raise our little one. Not only am I so fortunate to be able to stay home, like I've always wanted, I know that I will always be well-fed and should always be able to provide nourishing milk for my baby, or have access to formula to meet those needs. As I sit there and hold a content, well-fed baby, my heart aches for the mothers that are lacking resources including food or access to formula, and are unable to feed their babies. I am greatly saddened as I picture the little faces in anguish and can almost hear their tired screams. My heart goes out to their mothers, as I imagine the pain it must be causing them to be unable to provide for their babies; my heart goes out to the tiny baby or child that must face each day with an empty tummy. This has always been my soft-spot- wondering how society can be so wasteful with money and resources, while spending so much on frivolous things when there are BABIES dying of hunger, while the Earth provides ample food to meet their needs. That breaks my heart. Kyle and I were unable to participate in the "Walk for Hunger" because I was so close to my due date , but we are planning to participate next time and I hope I can find a way to help in the meantime.
In the meantime, I'm off to make a healthy breakfast for my sleeping boys. =)