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At first, breastfeeding was a bit of a battle

Friday, March 14, 2008 | 4:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:36 p.m. CDT, Sunday, September 7, 2008

Editor’s note: Jake Sherlock and his wife, Jenny, celebrated the birth of their first child, Audrianna, on March 4. They’ve chosen to share the challenges and experiences of being first-time parents in this column. Look for it periodically in the Weekend Missourian and here at ColumbiaMissourian.com.

When it comes to eating, Audrianna really takes after her old man ­­— she doesn’t miss a meal.

After weighing in at 8 pounds, 12 ounces when she was born, Audrianna lost nearly a pound within the first five days of her life. But she’s since rebounded, tipping the scales on Wednesday at 8 pounds, 3 ounces.

Jenny, meanwhile, has experienced some weight loss herself thanks to breast-feeding. “I hope I can figure out a way to keep the milk going after she’s finished breast-feeding,” she quipped.

Overall, breast-feeding has gone well for the three of us. But it didn’t start off so smooth.

It took Audrianna a few days to get the hang of it. Her biggest problem was staying awake during a meal — the warm milk tends to make her little eyelids very heavy. To keep her awake, we had to strip her down to her diaper.

She’s also a little fussy about how her dinners are served. She prefers it when Jenny wears a nipple shield — we call it “the sombrero,” after the way it is shaped ­— and during her first couple of days home she just didn’t like to eat without it.

During our first night at home, Jenny got up at around 3 a.m. to feed Audrianna, who was steadily crying. But she was being picky about having the sombrero, and Jenny couldn’t find it where she had laid it down. She quickly theorized that our cat, Milo, must have batted it off the table.

I pulled myself out of bed and started looking all over for it, including under the furniture where Milo surely would have batted it had he been playing with it. I found it a few minutes later in the baby’s crib, and that’s when we realized Milo was just trying to be helpful. Jenny had noticed him jump out of the crib a few minutes earlier, and our best explanation was that Milo heard her crying and wanted to help, so he brought Audrianna her sombrero.

Speaking of helpful, our friend Joy has been an amazing help. Audrianna kept us up most of that night, and she was only eating enough to get by. By this point, Jenny’s milk had really come in, and she was feeling quite “full.” Joy rushed over with her breast pump that morning on her way to teach class (She is the Missourian’s design editor), and Jenny was able to get some relief.

The breast pump has been a valuable tool for letting me take my turn at feeding the baby, and I’m sure glad to have it for that reason. But we’re finding Audrianna does better with the breast than the bottle — because the milk comes faster from the bottle, and the baby has less control over how much she’s taking in. The bottle makes more of a mess, and there’s always the fear she’ll take too much at once and choke.

Another reason why we prefer the breast over the bottle: It’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. With breast milk from the bottle, you either have to thaw it (we keep a frozen stash in the freezer at all times, and it’s good for several months frozen), keep tabs on how long it’s been in the refrigerator, or how long it’s been standing at room temperature.

Of course, the downside to the breast is that only Jenny can feed her. But at 3 a.m., I have to admit, that’s not so bad for me.

Got a breast-feeding story to share? Leave a comment below or e-mail me your story at SherlockJ@missouri.edu.

Jake Sherlock is a news editor at the Missourian.


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