Advent calendar: 5. Poorly baby and breastfeeding on demand

With a poorly baby taking up all my energy yesterday, nothing felt adventy enough to share.

Polly had a cold for almost two weeks, then just as it was easing managed to catch something like bronchiolitis a little over a week ago. Yesterday, still purring and wheezing, she managed to get some nasty poopy vomiting bug too.

She usually takes discomfort in her stride and carries on playing and learning and having fun and being engagingly adorable no matter what. Yesterday she just lay dejectedly on me for hours on end. Poor lamb.

Plus, I found a new tooth and some other nearly new teeth. She had a lot going on, poor thing!

An interesting thing about this extended period of sickness has been the alteration in milk supply. When you’re breastfeeding on demand, it’s easy to forget about (or even forget to care about) how much or how little your baby is getting, because she’s getting exactly what she wants and needs. These last few weeks have really highlighted to me how clever your body is at meeting the demands no matter what they are.

Once upon a time, when Polly was say three to four months old and having both a giant growth spurt and nothing but breast milk, I could tell if she’d gone even four hours without a feed because I would start to feel heavy. Any longer than four hours and it would start to get really uncomfortable. If for some reason she’d hit, say, six hours, I’d feel like I had rocks strapped to my chest. This didn’t really happen very often, except perhaps on some nights.

As she’d started eating more and more solids (baby led weaning in case you were wondering), she reduced her milk feeds. Before she got ill, she was literally just having two feeds in the day time. I went to a conference all day, leaving Polly at my parents, for around ten hours. I didn’t pump, and by the end of the day, I just felt vaguely full. Not uncomfortable, not rock hard, nothing like I’d have had a few months earlier.

When Polly started to get ill she upped her milk feeds. I’m not sure if it’s because she didn’t fancy solids or if she just wanted the comfort, but I wasn’t going to deny her it. Yesterday, when she got actually sick, she didn’t even want the milk. In five hours, I was uncomfortable and almost considering force feeding her!

I was amazed at how the change in demand over a relatively short period had changed the build up and production so significantly. Boobs are clever.

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