Monday, August 30, 2010

Chronicling Babywise - Weeks 6 & 7

Phew, time is flying! Trips to the consulate for passports (for Moses and our two oldest sons... I can't believe it's been 5 years since we started this overseas journey) and trying to be more diligent about cleaning the house and such have been stealing the few "extra" bits of time I get these days.

(This is #6 in a series chronicling our Babywise routine with our fifth child. CLICK HERE TO SEE: Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five.)

DURING WEEK SIX, things went really well. Moses continued increasing his sleeping hours at night until he was consistently going 6-7 hours between night feeds, which was super nice. One night he even went just half an hour shy of 8 hours. But then towards the end of the week, like I expected, we hit the 6- week growth spurt.

This last week has been more like 4 & 1/2 to 5 & 1/2 hours between night feeds, and he's still eating every 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours during the day. He's chunking up, smiling big (especially in the mornings), wiggling and interacting so much more, talking and cooing to every and any one who happens to be near, and visually tracking people walk across the room. It's fun to see him growing, and yet a bit bittersweet. It's just incredible how quickly they ditch that newborn stage.

A friend of mine with a newborn asked this last week whether or not we start our routine at the same time each day, and at this early stage, we do not. I'm more concerned about keeping up my milk supply and meeting their needs. Once we get to 3-4 months, everything levels out anyway, and we'll be on a basic daily routine just based on their own caloric needs (for example, they may vary by 15 or 30 minutes in either direction, but by that age, my babies tend to wake up at roughly the same time each morning anyhow. If it's normally around 7 that they wake up, let's say, then if they woke up at 6:45, I might go ahead and feed them then. If they sleep a bit longer, I'd wake them up by 7:20 or 7:30 to get the day rolling. That sort of thing.)

But right now, our days look something like this:
  • 6:30- feed, longer waketime, short nap
  • 9-ish- feed, short waketime, longer nap
  • 12 noon-ish- feed, short waketime, longer nap,
  • 2:30/3- feed, short waketime, longer nap,
  • 5:30- feed, longer waketime, short nap
  • 8:30- feed, short waketime, sleep
  • 11-ish- feed, right back to sleep.
But see how, when a baby goes through a growth spurt and cuts back a bit on the nighttime sleep (from 6-7 hours to more like 5 hours), that will lead to a (for us, right now) roughly 4/5am wake up? So then that might lead to a similar schedule the next day, starting around 6:30, or it might lead to something a bit earlier/later.

As you may have picked up on by now, we're more like that laid-back family Ezzo describes early on in Babywise. We aren't (by nature) a clock-driven family. We figure routines are there to serve our family's needs, not the other way around. So for me, in these middle-weeks when we're building up to that 8-hours-a-night sleep pattern, I don't focus on the particular hour that the feedings start. I focus on:
  • still getting regular, full feedings throughout the day
  • making sure wet/dirty diapers are regular and full (if you're concerned on this point, check out the week-appropriate charts @ the back of Babywise that give guidelines for what's healthy & normal)
  • in early weeks: getting at least 8 feedings in a 24-hour period (as you can tell from the times listed above, for me, once they start consistently sleeping through that early morning --4am-- feed, it cuts back to 7 feedings in a day. It is, however, possible to fit in 8 feeds per day even while going longer at night time if you stick to the every-2 & 1/2-hour feed times).
One thing I did face in the last two weeks was concern about my milk supply. About the time he started going 7 hours at night (thus, dropping a nighttime feed), I began feeling like my supply was in jeopardy. This may be the first time I've ever really noticed what I felt like was a drop in supply.

So, why now? Could be I'm older. Could be I've got five kids now and do a lot more than I used to do. Could be I was trying to exercise too much, too fast. Could be I tried to quit drinking sweet tea and forgot to drink enough water some days. Could be a couple days in there where I just got busy and wasn't eating as much as I probably should (reminder: breastfeeding requires about 500 additional calories per day, ladies!). Could be he hit a growth spurt and was really intaking whatever I could make as fast as I could make it.

Whatever the case, here was my response:
  • Be careful to get enough water! And yes, I jumped back into drinking sweet tea more. Interestingly, when I delivered Moses, the hospital cafeteria delivery people brought in a big pitcher of something and said it would be good for "helping me make milk". I'd obviously never used this stuff before so figured I'd be fine without trying some new hospital-created concoction. When my friend, the English-speaking pediatrician, came in to check out Moses, she explained that it is basically a sugar-infused fruit water. She learned I was drinking sweet tea, and said, "oh- that's the same thing. It gives you some extra calories while giving you plenty of fluids. Drink that." So maybe I'll continue on with the sweet tea. Doctors orders and all. :)
  • Nurse longer at each session-- supply keeps up with demand and so by helping him to nurse a few minutes longer on each side at each feeding (even though I felt "empty"), it snowballs over time and causes my body to produce more!
  • Feed him slightly more frequently-- for me, at this age, that means closer to the 2 & 1/2 hour mark -- definitely don't try to stretch feeds farther apart when your supply seems to be dropping!
  • Slow down. Rest more. Maybe it's because I've got more kiddos now, but jumping back into high-energy exercise may not be possible right now. More low-key yoga may be just the thing for this season. Letting my body work the way it's supposed to (by feeding my baby) is WAY more important than getting a size or two smaller. Even though I'd really enjoy being more trim and healthy, right now, top priority is the health and growth of my little man. So, I'm scaling back the exercise a bit.
I know some people also swear by certain herbs and teas to increase milk supply. For us, that would just be too cost-prohibitive (to ship abroad) since generally, my body makes plenty of milk. But if I was struggling more than just what it was, I would look into those things as well. So in my case, just a few tweaks to my norms have gotten things back to where they ought to be (I have noticed things return to a higher level of production since implementing these changes).

So this is roughly how the last two weeks (weeks six and seven with our new son) have gone. He's still working his way back up again, going five or five & a half hours between night time feeds, and is just a little sweet potato. I wish I could share pictures of his sweetness, but the crashing of my computer and busyness as of late have kept me from figuring out how to upload pictures to my husband's Mac. Hopefully I'll learn soon, cause you're missing out on one very precious baby.

[Here are links to this whole Babywise series: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Weeks 6 & 7, Weeks 8-14]


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