500 feet away and one glimpse at mommy, known to a newborn only as “milk bottle,” sends baby into the dance of the mouth; the tilting towards one side, with a half lift of the corresponding side of the lip. If there isn’t an immediate redirection by mommy towards the child, the grunting begins. From there, things just escalate and if you don’t want your pride and joy screaming like the entire world has deserted them, the only solution is to pull out that “nursey” and shove it into his gyrating mouth. Oh the joys of breastfeeding! Let’s explore the many nuances of babies enjoying their meal.
If your “nurseys” and baby have been communicating beforehand, you can eliminate that desperate sucking while your milk lets down and give instant gratification nursing. Eyes closed, gulp, moan, gulp, moan… Everyone is happy. The baby is in his own little version of heaven, and you’re feeling pretty proud of your ability to satisfy your offspring so completely.
Then you have your bored nursing. There’s nothing for the baby on N.P.R, no one is using high-pitched babble to entertain. The kid thinks “I might as well nurse, there’s nothing else to do.” Eyes are roaming. Suck, release, suck, release, taste with the tongue for a couple of licks, and repeat. There is a war going on inside of you. Yes, it’s pretty darn cute, but can he stop already? You might even try to disengage at this point, but more often then not, unsatisfied grunting will ensue.
Thus far, breastfeeding seems pleasant. However, the slight stomach discomfort feeding has not yet been introduced. This can last for hours – more often than not, sleeping hours - and is not for the weak in heart. Go ahead and try rocking the baby to sleep. Readjust the cherub into different positions. Walk up and down the halls when you would rather be laying down dreaming of mommy time. On the pain scale, breastfeeding wins out, even if it seems miserable at the time. Your baby’s eyebrows are furrowed into a frown. Hands and arms flail about, accompanied by deep, guttural grunts. More latching on and releasing, but this time, the tongue is pushing the “nursey” away and the mouth is yanking it back. Keep fingernails cut short or you will likely find reminders of this particular feeding on yourself or your baby.
The colicky nursing is just miserable for everyone. This is where the love/hate relationship comes in. “Give me the milk – I love the milk;” “yuck, is that milk? I hate the milk.” Please see previous paragraph for alternative suggestions to feeding.
Finally there’s the half-asleep nursing. It’s the middle of the night and the baby’s diaper needs changing – again. The little one is out of it at this point – eyes are squinting and he’s wondering why the lights are so bright. Of course, as soon as he casts his sights on you, he instantly demands another round of mommy milk. As soon as the mouth attaches to the “nursey,” the eyes close and almost instantly he is pitched back into the depths of a dreamless sleep. He will remain there for some time unless you happen to detach yourself from his lips. It might work, or grunting may ensue.
Real milk: More complex than you’d think. Maybe not always as pleasant as you had hoped, but maybe there are times when it’s even more enjoyable than you had imagined it would be.