Monday, May 17, 2010 ;
11:46 AM
For those who think it is interesting, you may read on...

However, only nursing moms would fully understand and know what I am talking about... may laugh or cry when they recall their own experience too.. :-)

A checklist for nursing moms: when to unlatch??

As I lie on the bed or sit on the rocking chair nursing dd, these are the most standard typical things that would happen.

When you first latch on, she will
1. start nursing happily, eyes wide open, hands and feet moving.

- sometimes she will even vocalise her feelings:
if I had been busy and was slow to feed her, dragging her through the housework or tending to the boys, prolonging her fidgeting and cries, before finally feeding her, she would be drinking noisily with a "humph, humph, ehhh" sound while kicking pretty vigorously with her legs.
She seemed to say "how dare you, mom, i was so hungry yet you waited so long to feed me, i am soooo angry!"

if i had been prompt and maybe even talking to her before that or lovingly patting her then nursed her, she'd be drinking happily and making cooing and gurgling sounds while nursing. something like "mmm, mmmm, mmmmmmmm". And her eyes would gaze adoringly up at mine, and her hands will be patting my chest gently and gratefully.

Seriously. babies transmit a lot of their feelings through body language and the diff sounds they make. ds2 was the same last time. ds1 also, just that his was much more of the angry crying (that time was very stressful, and i shall not dwell on it further now)

2. so after the let down, the continuous suckling will slow down. Baby is probably more satisfied now, not that thirsty, full, contented.

- her leg movements, hand movements, and vocalisations all gradually slow down and cease. now her suckling will be "suck suck suck x4-8 times" then stop for a while, then "suck suck suck x4-8 times" then stop...

- for dd, she likes to use her free hand to keep clutching her hair on the head when she drinks her milk. so this clutching of hair will stop. and her hand will slowly drop from a high position, lower and lower till it hits the bed.

3. Then the next step would be: her hand will slowly, from the clenched fist position, unclench.
This is usually when I start to observe her intently.

-before that, when she is drinking, i would usually be very busy checking my cell phone for smses or missed calls, and replying if needed. then i may make calls on my landline phone. (yes, dd is very used to me talking on the phone while she is nursing, no choice, that's my only down time)

if i were sitting on the rocking chair, then i have one free hand to check emails, read blogs or look at FB, but since I have only one free hand, I seldom type any replys or do anything else other than read the screen at this time. if i do type, it's cos someone popped out on the chat, and i cannot resist replying. then, you will know if you are that party, cos my replies are full of type errors and truncations.

Why do I observe her intently? This point is the important point from which I may have the chance of successfully unlatching her while having her still contentedly asleep and continuing to sleep. Those who don't nurse, or who don't have any other work to do except nursing (eg tai tais or those celeb moms who say they nurse their kids but have so many helpers to do their housework, cook their food and personal trainers to help them get fit and slim down...) don't have to worry about this point, of course.

- the unclenching also has a sequence, since I have spent so many hours studying this phenomenon since ds1's birth.
First the palm area will relax, but the 5 fingers are still in a curled position.
Next, the thumb moves away from the other 4 fingers first.
After that, the other 4 fingers slowly relax and uncurl.
When her hand is totally relaxed and lying limp on the bed, this is when I do the sniff test.

I take her limp hand up and sniff it. Ok, you need not sniff it actually. You just have to try moving the hand. I sniff it cos I like to. It's very very smelly cos she sucks her fingers all the time and there is drool all over it. So it's the dried saliva I am smelling. Though it's stinko, I still like to sniff at it and then wrinkle up my face and say for the umpteenth time, "oh man, so smelly".

Ok, this test is to confirm if she is really truly sleeping.

So, there are many times she will stir in her sleep and then suddenly suckle more intensely and more times, not having that pause interval in between the sucking pattern. Then I will know it is a failed attempt, and we have to move back to step 2 and start over.

But if she doesn't stir, move on to step 4.

4. Record mentally, her sucking pattern and the length of the pause interval.
I am thankful for the many years of science lessons in school for enabling me to be so scientific in my approach. Indeed, instinct of a mom is important, but being systematic and scientific is a bonus. It helps you be more consistent. Just like in cooking, but that would be another post, in case I digress too much already.

- The "suck suck suck x4-8 times" will shorten slowly till just "suck suck" then pause.
- The pause period will lengthen gradually too.
- The intensity (too bad I cannot measure the intensity in absolute units, otherwise it will be more accurate, or precise?) will also weaken. From strong sucks, to weaker and weaker sucks.
It will degenerate till a very lame (yes lame is now my son's fav word to use after Primary school) tongue movement.

5. I have noted that my greatest number of successes occur when the sucks slow till 3 or below. The pause period should be 5 seconds or above. And the intensity should be rather weak such that it is easy to insert my finger into the side of her mouth and unlatch.

Thereafter, I must not leave her side at once. I have to freeze in the same position till her next suck. I.e. After the next pause period, she will suck again right? Sometimes when she sucks, she is not deeply in slumber and at once realises that I have unlatched, then she will stir and cry.

So you still have to wait. If she sucks and continues sleeping, you are free to slowly move your arm, then your body, away from her.

All this while, I will be on alert and ready to start patting her if she stirs.

If she doesn't, hooray! I am free and off to do my stuff.

Nowadays, my freedom time is getting longer, so it's been easier to get something to eat, and care for the boys.

If she is sick, or the boys are playing noisily, or a plane flies past, she'll wake easily, sometimes every 5 min, and I will so fed up. I have required the services of the boys before, to fetch me some water to drink, or something to eat, cos I would have no chance to eat lunch from early morning till 3pm.

Hence once again, this above checklist is very important. :-)


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