We all enter our breastfeeding relationship with our first child with no experience. We've never done this before. Now, some of us have more information than others. The smart ones do their homework beforehand and read books (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a great one), check websites, and talk to friends and family (careful with this one, some of them might try to convince you that formula is best!). But, then the big day arrives and you're holding this precious little bundle and you think your heart might explode from love. How is it possible to love a tiny creature so much?
Some ladies (like me) panic immediately. My first day home from the hospital was spent running out to see a lactation consultant. I was breastfed as a baby, but my mom lives 2000 miles away and wasn't able to offer much help. And as for nearby friends? Everyone I know gave up on breastfeeding very early. I got the help I needed early on, and things have been going pretty well since then, though there are always going to be bumps in the road.
However, you can have a little one at home for weeks and suddenly hit a brick wall. I was speaking to a friend last night (you know who you are!) who is struggling with her 4 week old who has taken to screaming when he eats. And for a brand new mama whose hormones are still out of whack, this can be terrifying. You can feel like you're doing something wrong. I can remember feeling that way and the panic that settles into your gut. Sometimes it helps just to talk to another mama who's been there to find out that this happens to almost everyone at some point and it doesn't necessarily mean that anything is wrong.
Here are some signs that something is truly wrong and you should get to a doctor or lactation consultant:
-If your baby has a fever
-If you suspect your baby may have an ear infection (this can make nursing painful)
-If your baby isn't producing a lot of wet and poopy diapers
-If your baby is losing weight (aside from the initial weight loss right after birth)
-If breastfeeding is painful for you
Bottom line, even if your baby is fussing at the breast, if he is still eating, producing a lot of diapers for you, and is gaining weight, he's probably okay. Babies have VERY immature digestive systems and even the perfect food (breastmilk) can be difficult for them to process in the beginning. Infant gas drops can help a bit, and we definitely used those with the Eskimo. You can also try an elimination diet to see if your little one may have some food allergies. Remember, cutting out dairy for one day is not sufficient. It can take up to two full weeks before all the allergens work their way out of your system and your breastmilk. If you're going to go this route, do it right.
Qualifying statement: I am NOT a doctor. If you're worried, go see your pediatrician! That's what they're there for! And if you're having trouble with breastfeeding, find someone with experience to help you. It will put your mind at ease and may even make your life easier. :)