Life with a Baby: Weeks 3-5

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on October 28, 2014

We survived the first 5 weeks! I feel like so much has changed since my last update 3 weeks ago. I’ve lived a hundred lives…hahah. This post is probably going to be long winded because I’ve been jotting down random thoughts for the past 3 weeks. Bear with me.

Morning is officially my favourite time of the day. I know this sounds strange given that it follows a night of little sleep, but waking up in the morning means one thing: we made it through another night. I’m sure many of you moms can relate to this feeling of relief in the morning. Those overnight hours are zombie-like. But they are also sweet and innocent all at the same time. Even though I’m sleep deprived, sometimes I just cuddle and stare at Adriana while she sleeps at the end of a feed because I know one day I’ll wish I had these moments back. When she is a year old, I know I won’t regret those few extra hours of sleep that I missed out on. Watching her fall asleep in my arms with her head resting on my chest is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. When she’s in my arms I feel like time is frozen and nothing else matters. She sleeps in our room with us right now and I absolutely love having her close by. It’s going to be so hard when we have to transition her to her crib in future months. But I won’t worry about that just yet!

We’ve been feeding on demand since the beginning. Sometimes that means she wants to feed every hour (or less if she is needing her mama more or going through a growth spurt) and sometimes she’ll go a few hours at a time. Every day is different and I’m ok with that. I’m trying to trust my instincts more than anything and let her be my guide. Some days she naps great and other days she goes on a nap strike. There is no pattern to it. I’m just trying to roll with it. She tends to wake up 2-3 times per night to feed. I always feel rough at first, but then I wake up and it’s not so bad. I’m quickly learning that just as you get used to something it changes up again. So who knows what tonight, next week, or next month will bring! We have friends whose 6 week old started a growth spurt and cluster fed every half hour all night long (when he had been on a great schedule prior), so I’m sure we will encounter those changes in patterns too. Just knowing that nothing stays the same has helped me mentally prepare for these changes and go with the flow. We haven’t introduced a bottle yet due to our struggles with breastfeeding, but when we do introduce a bottle we’re going to try out this paced bottle feeding method. It seems like a good way to try to mimic the pace of breastfeeding and also prevent overfeeding. Have any of you tried this before? Our LC really recommended it. I’ll report back after we try it out, but it probably won’t be for a little while yet.

Speaking of breastfeeding, I feel like I could write 10 pages on this topic since the last post! I’m hanging in there, but I have to be honest with you that weeks 3-4 were hella rough (did I just write hella rough? let’s go with it). There were some tears and a lot of pain. The chomping and latching issues took their toll and I started to get vasospasms, blanching, and a ton of burning pain in my breasts on and off all day long. It was excruciating some days just putting on a t-shirt, forget about wearing an actual bra. Our lactation consultant recommended that we check Adriana for a tongue or lip tie (and many of you did too). This is something we talked about during the first week, but we opted to wait and see if we could work out the breastfeeding issues on our own. Well, unfortunately they did not improve even though we were working on it daily. I figured it was worth getting a consult just to rule it out and we did a lot of research on the topic before our appointment.

We were referred to the Newman Clinic in Toronto. The doctor found that Adriana had a tongue tie which did not come as a surprise. This explains, at least partly, why we were having so many feeding issues. We opted to have the tie released and we’ve been working with our LC to re-train her latch. It’s a common assumption that the release will automatically fix the latching/feeding issue, but as we learned you often have to work to re-train the baby how to use their “new” tongue. So the LC came over the next day and showed me an exercise to do with her before each feed. We also had to do stretches 6 times a day (for 10 days or so) on the release area to ensure that it doesn’t re-attach. Initially, I was disappointed because I didn’t notice an improvement with her latch issues after the release, but my LC assured me that it could take some time. Well, after 1.5 weeks I finally noticed an improvement! I am so grateful. I’m not pain free, but it’s definitely gotten much better. I’m hopeful things will continue to improve with time. All we can do is keep working at it and hope for the best. I’ve spoken with a lot of moms and heard from many of you who said the breastfeeding issues eventually worked themselves out and I’m really hoping that is the case with us. I really do enjoy breastfeeding her, despite the challenges we’ve faced.

Anyway, I just wanted to be honest about our experience because I know how alone I felt in the early weeks when we were struggling so much. I remember being at the hospital in our shared room and the woman next to us had a newborn that (seemingly) latched perfectly and fed like a champ. I felt so sad that we couldn’t get Adriana to latch and I wondered what I was doing wrong. Of course at the time, I really had no idea just how many women struggled with breastfeeding. All of the women I’ve talked to in my family have told me about their own struggles, all stories I never heard before opening up about my own experience. Even though I don’t wish breastfeeding issues on anyone, it was comforting to hear that so many women went through similar things. It was like, “Oh that happened to me too!” and “Oh my gosh that’s exactly how I felt for weeks!” Obviously, not everyone struggles with breastfeeding (I’ve heard many positive stories too), but I wish I knew both sides of the coin before I began because I would’ve been more mentally prepared. But that’s just me. And of course, everyone says if it doesn’t work out in the end (and there are tons of reasons why it might not work out) let go of the guilt and just do what you can. I totally agree. Being a mama is hard enough without all the guilt.

Another improvement a couple weeks ago: our lactation consultant showed us how to nurse in the seated up position. Small victories, folks. We tried it during the first week, but it didn’t work out for us and we opted for the side-lying position. Anyway, the seated up position is my new favourite way to feed her now. I was initially trying to sit up super straight (and ended up hunching over) with the Boppy pillow. What was happening was that gravity was pulling her down and we couldn’t get her high enough since she was so small. So the LC showed me how to semi-recline back in our glider chair (I lock it in place at first) and when I recline this gives Adriana a comfortable spot to rest on my body so gravity isn’t pulling her off the boob. I don’t even need the Boppy pillow in this position. I’m not sure if this explanation makes much sense, but it just feels a million times better! The other bonus is that she doesn’t swallow as much air in this position (compared to the side lying position) and her body is on a nice incline which is great for preventing reflux. Two thumbs up for making progress! We’re getting there slowly but surely…

This article gave me hope during week 3 when I was really struggling so I thought I’d pass it along: 24 tips from breastfeeding veterans. I think it goes to show how unique everyone’s situation is. Like anything, take the advice with a grain of salt and do what works for you.

I’m also reading about baby growth spurts (1 and 2) this week.

Speaking of growth, our little monkey has gained over 2 pounds since birth and she’s outgrown all of her newborn sized clothing. Our pediatrician says she is gaining weight like a champ. The squishy arms and legs are the best! I folded up some of her outgrown onesies the other week and my eyes got all watery. I felt embarrassed for myself…haha, but I can’t help it.

How am I feeling physically? I’m improving each week, but like I mentioned earlier, the recovery process has been a lot slower than I expected it to be. My doula referred me to a pelvic floor physiotherapist (she recommended going at 4 weeks if I could) so I went in last week. To be honest, I didn’t even know pelvic floor physiotherapists existed, but I am so glad they do. I have to admit, I was super nervous before the appointment since part of it involved an internal exam and I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of someone being up in my business so soon after delivery (hah), but it wasn’t as bad as I thought and I learned so much about pelvic floor health. She said everything is healing great. Now, I feel like I can finally start taking my recovery into my own hands. She also assessed my ab muscles for separation. I have some minor separation near my belly button, but she said it wasn’t bad and should heal up. I’m not to do crunches or planks (or strain the ab muscles when getting up out of a chair/bed, etc) for a couple more months to give it the best chance of healing. She also reminded me to stick with kegels – here is a great video she passed along for tips. The added bonus is that I find the exercise doubles as a relaxation technique due to all the deep breathing. Anyway, I am glad that I went. It definitely made me feel less anxious about it all.

Exercise: Well, formal exercise is not happening and I’m in no rush to start. I did take Adriana on some (slow) walks during the first couple weeks, but things were so up and down during weeks 3+4 I haven’t been able to get out more than a couple times. I have a walk date with a new mom friend I met in our neighbourhood this week though. That should be really nice!

I am giving some thought as to what kind of exercise I’d like to do over the winter months and I keep coming back to some kind of group exercise class. I always love classes and I think it’s good to get out of the house in the dead of winter. The energy and motivation is so inspiring and it’s a great way to meet people. I’m thinking of doing a combo of things…maybe weight training, spinning, yoga/Barre. I think my plan of attack will be changing it up a lot to keep my body guessing. I’ll keep you posted on what I end up doing. On the days when I can’t get out of the house, I’ll probably do some workout videos online (there are so many good ones out there for free, such as on the Fitsugar website). Feel free to let me know what you are enjoying lately. Any new classes or videos to recommend? Hopefully we can inspire each other to stay active during the long winter months! It’s usually when my motivation wanes the most.

Ok, that’s all for now. I’d love to hear from you in the comments – let me know how you are doing, vent, share a story or where you are at currently, anything!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

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Kat November 3, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Thank you for your posts! 12 week pregnant first time Mommy and super nervous. Do you have a book list? I don’t even know where to begin or what books to look for! Don’t know much about babies or pregnancy.

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Dalia November 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

When my son was about 10 weeks I started an outdoor stroller work out class. I loved it and did it for the entire year including all winter when it became a sled class. I’m in Quebec and it’s called cardio pousette but I think they offer it in other parts of Canada. It was a great way to excercise (they understand about pelvic floor health) and meet other moms in the neighbourhood. Really the most important thing is that you are both eating well! Also it took about 9 months after my delivery for me to feel more “normal” and 12 months to feel like myself again. All the best!

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Kim K November 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

Angela,

I live in Portland Oregon. The yoga studio I attend has specific classes for new mamas, and encourages those mamas to bring their babies. It’s called Mama/Baby yoga. Go figure. Maybe there is a yoga studio in your city that offers something similar. The mamas who come seem to get a lot out of it.

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Shea November 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Thank you for sharing your birthing story and experience with breastfeeding. I’m due to have our first child, also a girl, in less than two weeks. Having heard your experience helps me to feel more prepared for whatever may happen!

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leslie @ definitely not martha November 4, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I want to echo the commenter who suggested mommy and me fitness classes. Especially if you have trouble introducing the bottle, they are a great way to get out of the house in a ‘safe’ environment. The class I took actually had us working out *with* the babies, and I started at 6 weeks post partum. We did squats and lunges, etc. with the babies so the bigger/older the baby, the better the workout.

It was also a nice way to meet other moms.

As well, if you have an Ontario Early Years Centre nearby, there are also drop-in times there. http://www.oeyc.edu.gov.on.ca/ Your local library will also likely have a story time for wee ones.

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Jill November 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Hi Angela,

My own September baby was a high impact suckler that caused me a lot of pain, cracking and even bleeding. Don’t be alarmed because it did all come together. I broke my tailbone with a long and uphill delivery and so all positions of posture hurt and my most easy was lying on my stomach. Once when he was teething, the only way he would nurse was for me to bend over him on all fours like a COW. So, there are not perfect situations BUT the experiences are still beautiful (or amusing) and the sweetness and closeness you feel from nursing only get better as they get a bit older. My son was an acrobatic nurser later on and while walking around in the house with him, he would just drop sideways and pull out a boob.
We also had the very funny, but embarrassing, moment when he was one and at his baptism. He was standing on my lap at the front of the church in front of the priest and he plunged his hands down the front of my dress and yelled MUM-MUMS!!

You will all kinds of stories with parenting but the breastfeeding ones can be the best. It was a great experience, not to mention how fast you lose weight, all in all. Hang in there!

Jill

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Janine November 4, 2014 at 11:02 pm

When I had my children 35 years ago breastfeeding was a very positive experience for me. My daughter had a beautiful baby girl 1 year ago and had all sorts of struggles I never had. Her nipples were sore for about 3 months and she kept getting blocked ducts. It was a real eye opener for me just how difficult this whole process can be for some people. The baby is a year now and all those problems are long gone and my daughter is enjoying breastfeeding the way I did. All of this to say it gets not only easier but much more enjoyable. Nothing is harder and at the same time more amazing than the birth of your first child. It sounds like you are doing amazing and your baby is just beautiful. Congrats.

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Lindsey November 5, 2014 at 10:28 am

Oh my gosh, when I started talking to other moms about how much I couldn’t wait for my hubby to get home at night, only to have that happiness turn to dread (because that meant NIGHT was coming!) I was grateful to not be the only one to feel that way in the beginning. it’s hilarious now because my daughter is now 18 months and when 8 pm rolls around, it’s a party over here as we’re draining the remainder of her energy with a dance party and bath ;) then adult time, wahoo!

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amy November 5, 2014 at 11:08 am

Thank you so much sharing so honestly. My girl is due in a few weeks and I’m reading and preparing and informing as much as I can. Your blog has been a great source of advice, freezer recipes, and ease of mind for me. Thank you!!

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Carrie November 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I found in the beginning I really liked side-lying for one breast and the football (or seated-up) hold for the other.

I also had no problems breastfeeding, but even though things ran smoothly, it was still painful. I think it took eight weeks before I could stand anything grazing my nipples.

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Tess November 5, 2014 at 3:55 pm

I had a very similar breastfeeding experience, minus the tongue tie. It was terrible. But I kept at it because everybody promised it would get better. I told myself I would try to go until 12 weeks, and by the 8th week everything just started to feel better :) I started pumping though after 2 weeks and found that it was a huge relief on those days where my nipples (and emotions) just could not bear another feeding. It was nice to have a little 3-4 hour break, and even if it did nothing for me physically, it did wonders mentally lol. Plus, it meant I was able to get out of the house as DH could do the bottle feeding :)

Hang in there! And like you already said, just do what works for you two and don’t worry too much about it :)

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Stacy L November 6, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi Angela!

I just ordered this DVD for the days I’m stuck inside during winter and can’t get out to walk. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looked fun and was only $8. http://store.walkathome.com/product/ultimate-5-day-walk-plan?product_id=WA492995

Also, I have been doing Foundation Training for over a year for strength and stability. I cannot recommend it enough for long-term strength and proper movement patterns! It has helped me so much in getting through SI and pelvic/hip issues. My chiropractor and Physical Therapist recommended it – http://www.foundationtraining.com/

All the best to you and your recovery!

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Deborah November 6, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Thank you for your very honest post! Having a newborn isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, and I think it is important for new moms to not feel pressure to pretend that it is. That being said, I miss it terribly! (4 kids are enough though!) This time will pass so quickly, cherish every moment. Cliché, but so very true :)

As for exercise, I took the mom and baby Pilates classes offered through the town of Oakville starting at about six weeks postpartum. It was a great way to get back into it. Also, I highly recommend Lifetime fitness (403 & Winston Churchhill). They have every group fitness class you can imagine with fantastic instructors, but more importantly the daycare there is amazing.

All the best to your beautiful family!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

thank you for the tips! :)

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Vanessa Heron November 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I really appreciate your honestly about your breastfeeding struggles. I had my first baby (a little girl too) 10 months ago, and no one said how HARD breastfeeding could be! I naively thought that because it was touted as ‘natural’ that my body and my baby would mesh into breastfeeding in a utopian-like way and the rest would be history. The reality was that we really struggled and the pain was so unexpected I thought I was doing all the wrong things and felt so alone. Conversations about these struggles, and suggestions for how to get through them, are so important for us new mamas. So thank you.

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Sheila November 7, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for sharing! We also got referred to the Newman Clinic. They’re the best! My daughter also had her tongue tie released (at 7 weeks)It took a few weeks but the painful feeding eventually ended and my daughter went for the 3rd percentile in weight to the 30th (3 months) Hang in there! It is great you are working with a lactation consultant. Thanks for sharing the info. It can help other moms out there whose babies may have tongue ties undiagnosed.

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Stephanie Jones November 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm

Hi Angela,

We used the paced feeding method too. Just be careful about relatives feeding the baby. They tried to “help” us but no matter how many times we showed them, inevitably, they would forget and have the bottle shoved down our baby’s throat straight up and down. I just didn’t have the emotional strength to reprimand them again. Looking back I’m not sure I would do it again just because of that factor.

We had to go to the Newman clinic too. It was a very tough time. I feel your frustration.

Hang in there,
Stephanie

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

i was wondering how the paced method would work with relatives…heh. I guess you can only do so much! :)

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Tash November 12, 2014 at 3:43 am

You are doing such an amazing job!! I Love reading your updates. You should be so proud of yourself, everything is so new and there are so many challenges to overcome. I had the most trouble breastfeeding my third baby! I felt like it should be easy and painless like my second had been, but I suffered for weeks. You think you know how to do something, but I had to remember baby doesn’t know how to feed perfectly either, so it was s learning curve for both of us :)

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Carla Beals November 14, 2014 at 8:55 am

Hi Angela, we do the paced feeding and it’s worked out great. However, one word of advice is to make sure the pediatrician, and your day care (if you end up using one), is aware of paced feeding and breast feeding in general. My daughter won’t eat more than 3-4 ounces at a feeding. Which is fine for us and what we wanted (i.e., her not overfeeding and bottle feeding being similar to breast feeding) but she’s a small baby (read – not on growth chart or in 1-2 percentile). Our doctor wasn’t too familiar with p.f. or breastfeeding in general and was used to formula babies and had us cut out some feeding sessions based on how old she was- this was our first baby and I didn’t know to much about this so I went along with her. She wasn’t gaining weight and our doctor was on us to “fatten” her up by given her more ounces per feeding and supplementing with formula which wouldn’t work as she won’t eat extra ounces as she gets full after 3-4 ounces. In the end, I talked to the lactation consultant and realized that because she was breast fed she never should have had the feeding sessions reduced. She’s gaining weight now (slowly) but I feel like I’m constantly in a battle with the pediatrician in regards to her weight. I know I should probably get another pediatrician but, aside from the breastfeeding thing, she’s really great.

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Nina November 18, 2014 at 10:02 am

I have read your blog for years and just had my first baby a few weeks after you! It has been great reading your experience. Do you think you could write about how you are approaching eating while breastfeeding? I try to fill my diet with healthy whole foods and eat to appetite, but it seems I have a growth spurt of my own and have insatiable hunger every few days! I have no idea if this is normal or if I need to change up the composition of what I’m eating.

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Jean November 25, 2014 at 9:48 am

I know this is an older post now, but I just had to comment since this is the third time I’ve read through it! We are in week 3 of our first baby right now so it’s finally a timely read (I read thru some of these while impatiently waiting for this little one to arrive). Thanks for your candid writing, especially on the challenges of breastfeeding. Mine aren’t exactly the same as yours, but it’s helpful to know that struggles are common and I’m trying to stick with it as long as I can. Taking encouragement wherever I can find it! It sounds like you and Adriana are thriving, which is all we hope for, right? Looking forward to the rest of this journey of motherhood :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) November 25, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Congrats on your new baby Jean! Im glad you find the posts helpful and I wish you all the best with your new one. It does get SO much easier as the days go by…promise!

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Emily Donahue December 18, 2014 at 9:17 pm

She is one cute baby. I am coming at this from a place of perspective. My two are grown and you are so right, once these moments are gone, you can not get them back. Also, you are important in all of this. If the baby needs to transition to a bottle a little sooner, she will feel as loved and nurtured and well cared for as she is now and nothing is sweeter than Dads getting up at night and having that moment with the baby as well.

You will do what is right for you. Don’t worry about who you are letting down. Everyone is out to judge

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Nikki Bergen December 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Hi Angela! Congrats on your new baby girl! I am thrilled to hear you speak on the benefits of pelvic health physiotherapy. As a Pilates teacher and women’s health advocate I so wish more women in North America knew about rehabbing this part of the body after giving birth ( in France the government pays for each woman to have 6 sessions!). You asked about videos for post partum exercise and wanted to share our new digital DVD series, designed with the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Happy to send you the login info if you’d like to take a peek! http://thebellemethod.com/product/the-bump-method-4th-trimester/
(btw, I bought 5 copies of your cook book to give to clients here in Toronto – HUGE hit!)
Thanks!
Nikki

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Karuna December 27, 2014 at 9:37 am

Wow your grandma’s (or eric’s grandma’s) hair colour is really gorgeous!!!

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Stephanie February 20, 2015 at 3:41 pm

Hi Angela, I’m curious to know how well Adriana was sleeping at that age? Was she sleeping in the co-sleeper, and if yes for how long? I have a 5 week old and she just won’t sleep anywhere on her back… even in the co-sleeper or right beside me in bed. Even when asleep, she wakes up as soon as I put her down. So… she has been sleeping on my chest since day one. Wondering if I’ll ever be able to transition her to her own bed!

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Ally February 25, 2015 at 3:04 am

Being a mom is a wonderful feeling but equally tiring and trying.

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