Initial Thoughts on Attachment

When I was pregnant, I read a good deal of books on both pregnancy and babies. Some of what I read related to attachment parenting, and although I liked the idea, I was not sure to what extent it would work for us. Now that I actually have my baby and have been with her for a few months, I can comment on how it has been working so far. I am no Mayim Bialik, but I am definitely doing many things AP-style.

Co-sleeping

Before she was born, we got an Arm’s Reach co-sleeper crib. When we were in the hospital after Audrey’s birth, she slept with me in my hospital bed because I was in pretty bad shape so I wasn’t going to be up and down getting her out of the bassinet whenever she needed to nurse. Once we got home, it was pretty much the same situation – it was at least a week until I could move around semi-comfortably. It was just easier to have her in bed with me. After that, we just couldn’t get her out of the habit… she would sleep in the bassinet or in a crib for naps, but at night she just sleeps much better, deeper, and longer in the bed with us. And when she sleeps better, I sleep better. Her co-sleeper is now used as an expensive shelf holding baby wipes, washcloth for night feeding messes, her toilet, and some other random baby items.

Elimination Communication

We started EC a few weeks after Audrey was born, once I felt physically well enough to work on it with her. Audrey caught on right away and would pee the minute I set her on her little Baby Bjorn potty, and it got to the point that I was catching all of her poo’s! Once we started getting out more and then starting work and day care, it got harder. Audrey started going poo more in her diaper, and now I am trying to get back in the habit of pottying her at predictable times. I think the most important thing with our new schedule is to make sure I potty her before we leave and whenever we get home, and whenever she wakes up in the morning or after naps. I am hoping that if I am consistent, then part-time EC will be successful and I can have her potty-trained very early!

Baby-wearing

I thought that I would do this a lot, but now in practice I really don’t wear Audrey too often! She does not want to be worn all the time, and when I try to wear her while doing household activities, she kicks around and whines until I take her out. She does, however, like being worn in the Moby Wrap sometimes while I am grocery shopping or the like. She is far too strong and active to deal with it for long though, so I can only really wear her as long as she will nap! And now her naps are 45 minutes max…

Breastfeeding

…Check! 3.5 months and counting. Audrey refuses pacifiers and bottles, so I think it’s safe to say there is no nipple confusion. In fact, I think I may actually shun the wisdom next time around that says you should hold off giving your baby any nipple substitutes, because if I am going to work, it will be much better if my baby will actually drink out of a bottle! Luke actually just discovered that he can get her to drink from a cup… If he pours the milk in her mouth she’ll drink it down. She just doesn’t want to suck on silicone! I don’t know how this one is going to end up- I don’t have a plan for weaning. I am probably just going to let Audrey nurse as long as she wants it, and wean at her own pace. I intend to breastfeed exclusively as recommended for at least six months, and start feeding her solids sometime between 6-8 months when she seems interested. I know Luke is pretty eager to start giving her food, but it’s important to be patient, wait long enough before we start, put some thought into the foods we start her off with, and take our time with weaning!

There are a lot of things I do that are not really attachment parenting… I watch TV, and Audrey will to. I know it’s good to limit or even ban screen time for babies and toddlers, but I figure if she is playing and interacting all day then a little screen time won’t hurt. I just know that in the future, we are definitely going to have to set limits on TV and computer time so it doesn’t get out of control!

Daycare

Also, I am a working mom. I did not give up my career for a variety of reasons, so Audrey is spending a few days a week at a great little day care near home and work, she’s hanging out with Luke on Wednesdays, and I am working from home on Fridays. Before I went back to work I took her everywhere with me- shopping, social events, etc. so she became comfortable with a lot of situations and people early. She is getting used to going to day care now, and what I have realized is that despite our lack of a strict parenting style, Audrey is a perfectly attached baby. She knows who we are and loves us, and she knows we’ll be there for her so she does not freak out when we part. She is comfortable with the ladies at day care and only whines if she is hungry or tired, and when I get there she seems content and is happy to see me. Since she is starting at such a young age, I foresee no reason why she would ever get separation anxiety going to day care or school.

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Cuteness & Pumping

My last post was a little depressing, so I wanted to add a little cuteness!

Audrey loves the little bear she got from her cousins in Minnesota:

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Audrey’s “Uncle” Dan picked this up at a sale in his office, I hope she lives up to the name!:

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She might be a couch potato… Audrey loves TV! Here she is watching Ancient Aliens (in the second image, she’s on her potty!):

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Luke snapped this photo of her and I sleeping in the morning:

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In an adorable Dr. Seuss outfit we got at her shower:

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Audrey is such a happy baby that she smiles in her sleep:

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ON PUMPING

I’ve written on breastfeeding and pumping, but I have learned more since. I started work a couple weeks ago and have been pumping in the wonderful lactation room at my office. I soon realized that I would need to be pumping more than Audrey could eat… Since she doesn’t actually suck on the bottle, her care providers have to squeeze the milk into her mouth and hope she drinks it. She never finishes a bottle, only drinking half an ounce or one ounce max. I’ve started bagging my milk in 1-1.5oz portions so there is less waste, but it’s much better if there is too much milk than not enough!

I was concerned when I first started back at work, because it seemed like I barely had anything, and only pumped a couple ounces total during the day. I read up on how to increase supply while pumping, and it actually ended up being an easy fix! The more you pump, the more your body produces.

So here’s my basic schedule for the day:

8am – Wake up Audrey and nurse if she is hungry
8:45 – Drop Audrey off at daycare and nurse
9:15 – Once I settle in at work, pump
10:30 – Pump
12:30 – Visit Audrey at daycare and nurse
1:30 – Back at work, pump remaining milk
3:30 – Pump
5:30 – Pick Audrey up and nurse

Supposedly you make more milk in the morning, so it can really boost your supply to pump regularly (even if you just nursed), and even dry pumping can get the milk factory going. I use the Ameda Purely Yours breast pump and it’s great- it literally takes me less than 5 minutes to completely empty myself out. And with this strategy, I have majorly increased my supply!

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Adjusting to a New Routine

If last week I was sticking my toes in the water of going back to work, this week I am doing a cannonball.

On Sunday Audrey got a runny nose, and was coughing a little bit because of the post-nasal drip. Being a light sleeper is a blessing and a curse… I had to keep her at a little bit of an angle while she slept, and her sniffles and my own awkward positioning basically meant I got no sleep. On Monday I felt so exhausted I wanted to cry! No more sleeping in until all hours snuggling with my little girl!

Then on Monday I was working on a project that HAD TO BE DONE BY 3PM TODAY, while simultaneously running around shooting photos of an event taking place at our office all morning. I, of course, dipped out for an hour to feed Audrey, and then she has to be picked up before 6pm. When I got there to pick her up, her caretaker told me that she had refused to eat all afternoon, and she was really hungry. I fed her before packing her up and bringing her with me to the office to get a little more of the videos done so I could feel confident in hitting my deadline (Yes, I made it!).

I fed her as much as she wanted all evening, and we were both pretty exhausted. Unfortunately when we tried to get to bed around 9:30, Audrey got herself in a bad mood. Since her first couple weeks, she hasn’t normally been a big crier and she is perfectly happy in the evenings until she conks out. Last night was different though. I am thinking it was the stress of going to day care again and not eating much (I think she was a little dehydrated, her pee was a lot darker than usual) and just being really tired, but she just screamed. The only thing able to calm her down was Luke’s big arms, but as soon as he tried to lay down she would start crying again!

After quite a bit of frustration (which we didn’t want Audrey to see, lest she get even more upset) we finally got her to sleep at about 11:30, and this morning it all started again (the routine, not the screaming, thank God!). I am feeding her as much as she will eat when I drop Audrey off at day care in the morning, and again at lunch… hopefully she’ll start accepting the bottle one of these days!

I know it’s only her third day at day care today, and her caretakers said it usually takes babies a couple weeks to get fully acclimated. When it comes to eating and sleeping, she is just a very attached baby! She likes to eat from the boob and sleep in someone’s arms. At the same time, she is very social, loves being around lots of people, and has a smile ready for everyone!

Back to Work

I was not good about updating this blog as long as I was on maternity leave. As it turns out, when you have a little baby your time is divided between taking care of her, feeding yourself, and attempting to keep house! But now I am back at work, baby-free and planted in front of a computer! Now excuse me while I go pump…

Luckily I am coming back to a great environment. I just used the lactation room- I was the first woman to ever use it for its intended purpose! It had been used for some storage, but has everything I need. Chair, outlet, mini fridge, sink, a tv on the wall, and privacy. Susan, the office admin, said she would get a table (I put my pump on a box for now) and a lamp (ambiance is everything, right?), then I’ll probably get a small rack for drying the pump pieces. It’s kind of like my own private room for the next few months! I have one coworker who is pregnant and due in about a month, and she plans to breastfeed so then we’ll share the room if I am still pumping then (I plan to be).

I think the hardest part about coming back is actually the feeding. Audrey is not a fan of bottles or even pacifiers, so I don’t know for sure that she will eat enough when it isn’t coming straight from me. She’ll get used to it I’m sure, but for the first couple weeks I’ll probably drop by her day care during lunch to make sure she gets at least one good feeding for the day. Today Luke dropped by with Audrey so I could breastfeed her in the backseat of the truck! Knowing I’d see her soon helped me get through the morning, I think, because I didn’t have a super long day ahead of me before I would see her again.

Audrey - 3 months

Speaking of seeing her, Audrey is 3 months old today! Somehow time has dragged and flown by at the same time. It seems like it has been forever since I gave birth to her, but I feel like I have been a mommy to this little baby as long as I can remember!

Adventures in Breastfeeding

After I had been home for about a week after giving birth to my baby girl, I commented to my mom who was staying with us to help out for a couple weeks, “Everything that I read made breastfeeding sound like it’s so difficult!!” She responded that when things are going well, what’s there to say? I just want to put my experience so far out there – not to brag, but to show that while there may be problems or difficulties, breastfeeding is very simple and natural. You might have to push through some pain or overcome certain obstacles, but breasts were made to nourish babies!

After a very difficult birth, baby Audrey was placed on my chest covered in blood and goo, and she immediately shit meconium all over me. I was flat on my back with my feet up in stirrups while the doctor stitched me up so I couldn’t even really see the baby on my chest, but Luke assured me that she was beautiful, awake, and aware! After a short rest, my midwife Judy moved the little baby on to my breast and helped her latch for the very first time! My memory is pretty fuzzy after all the intensity of childbirth so fast-forward to my recovery room.

We stayed in the recovery room at Morristown Memorial (lucky #39!) for two days, and Audrey spent much of her time with me in bed. We slept together, and she nursed heartily on colostrum for about a half hour at a time, every couple hours. Nurses came in and made sure everything was going well, and one told me that what I was doing was a perfect example of “laid-back breastfeeding.” Nursing this way uses gravity in your favor to minimize strain and keep both mother and baby comfortable. I think I started nursing this way just because I could barely move in the bed! Later a lactation consultant came by to give me her wisdom. Audrey had no trouble latching and eating, but I did learn that with the position she was in, she was actually pulling on my nipple causing some discomfort. I just moved her up a bit and the problem was solved!

There was also the problem of nipple pain. When Audrey latched, she latched HARD…  The nurses called her “Barracuda Baby!” My nipples were also dry and had little scabs, so I was rubbing them with lanolin and breast milk between feedings. They hurt and stuck to my clothes for at least the first week, and whenever Audrey latched I had to take deep calming breaths for a good ten seconds before the initial pain eased up.

My milk came in after a couple days, around the time that we came home from the hospital. When we got back I remembered the LilyPadz I had purchased, which are silicone nursing pads. Unlike a bra or cloth nursing pads, they didn’t stick to my nipples and actually held moisture in! I really recommend these for the early days when your nipples are getting in shape!

When my milk came in, Audrey started nursing for much shorter periods of time but more often, presumably because of the size of her tiny tummy. I guess she got plenty to eat though, because she is gaining a good amount of weight and inches! She is now pretty efficient at eating and gets a lot from her short feeding sessions. The funny thing is she could practically feed without even sucking once the milk drops…

If I hear her milk cry, or sometimes even out of the blue, my boobs will just start tingling and if I don’t have nursing pads in, I know I’m getting wet and soon enough have milk running down my shirt. It just comes out! Then when I am nursing on one side, milk also shoots out the other boob. And if Audrey detaches for a minute, milk will literally spray her all over the face! And if she sleeps for a long time and I don’t pump, my breasts get really full and hard. At night I keep a washcloth by the bed to both catch the milk leaking from my “extra” boob, and to wipe up all the overflow from Audrey’s side that ends up dripping all over me and the bed!

Now that I am mostly recovered from the birth, we’ve been out of the house and I have successfully nursed Audrey in public! I have this Boppy nursing cover that I absolutely love – it’s big enough to cover up everything, and it has a little wire around the neck line that props it out a little bit so you can glance down and check on your baby, or easily see while you adjust her. I am so lucky that everyone in my life has been so supportive of breastfeeding… I’ve heard of people who got judged for it, but so far, I have not received any judgment. If anything, there has been more curiosity and family/friends watching her nurse (which can be a little awkward when she breaks her latch, but whatever haha…) and people ignoring it all together which is fine with me!

It just took a couple weeks for breastfeeding to become painless and the beautiful bonding experience you see in photos. When Audrey latches to my breast, I feel momentarily overcome by emotions and hormones, and I just want to squeeze her and love her and protect her. It is really incredible! In the last couple weeks she has really started making eye contact, so on top of all that, as she is suckling on me she will be looking at my face and in my eye, and I really feel like my little baby is telling me that she loves me. It is such an amazing feeling!!!

There are so many tangents I could take from here but I’ll leave them for another post, including a Link Love dedicated to breastfeeding articles!

Finally an update!

I realize that I have been slacking here, but what can I say? I have a baby who likes to be held constantly, and I have no patience to type with one hand! 😉 For once I have an evening where she is asleep right now with Luke, and I am not quite ready to go to bed, so I can give an update! I want to go over a bunch of things quickly, and hopefully later I can do some more in-depth posts.

MY RECOVERY

This has actually been a long process for me. I know I didn’t get a c-section or anything, but I feel like I might as well have! Because of the physical trauma from the difficult birth, I had trouble walking at all for at least a week and couldn’t sit normally for a couple weeks. There was all the initial bleeding and healing that I was expecting, but there was also throbbing and itching that has gone on and on!! I finally felt good enough to go on a walk for the first time a few days ago and have been trying to do some physical activity every day. I think the exercise is helping, my only problem now is some itching. I don’t know the reason for that, but I have an appointment with Judy this week and with the OB-GYN who attended the birth in a few weeks so hopefully I will be 100% and maybe have answers on these residual symptoms soon!

BABY’S GROWTH

I can’t believe how much Audrey has grown… she will be 6 weeks old on Wednesday and she is now topping 10 pounds. She is getting too long for her newborn clothes, but I figure it’s a good workout for her legs when she pushes against the fabric, right? I am packing away the newborn clothes slowly and have two 0-3 month outfits (what’s the difference?) someone gave us from Gymboree that fit her perfectly, and soon enough she’ll be in her 3-month clothes! At her one-month check-up she was 21.5 inches (75th percentile) and up to the 50th percentile for weight. All that breast milk is doing her good!

BREASTFEEDING

Speaking of breast milk, breastfeeding has been amazing. I was fully prepared for it to take some learning and be tough at first… I read lots of articles about the benefits and challenges so I would be fully prepared. I didn’t realize how natural and simple it could actually be. She was very alert when she was born, and after a short recovery period, my midwife Judy helped her latch on (I was still flat on my back getting stitched up). From then on, it was pretty non-stop!

Audrey was very clear about when she was hungry, and I just had to place her on my breast and she would start suckling. At first she would nurse on the colostrum for about a half hour at a time every couple hours. My milk came in after 2 days- right about the time we came home from the hospital. She started nursing for much shorter periods – five to ten minutes at a time – but much more regularly. She would go on eating binges when she was awake, nursing for five minutes at a time every 15 minutes to a half hour. I am thinking this was due to the size of her belly, that she just couldn’t hold that much!Now I think she has gotten quite efficient with her nursing. She will eat for 5-10 minutes and it will last her a lot longer. She nurses more often when she is awake, every hour or so (she is awake for longer periods now) and sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time.

The thing that surprised me the most was the hormone rush that came with breastfeeding. When she latches on, I actually feel the oxytocin pulsing through my veins. I feel so happy and like I want to cry all at the same time… so full of love and joy. I know that some women can’t breastfeed and some women just don’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind that I actually feel bad for these women that they never get to feel the emotions and bonding that come with it.

Later I intend to post about it all in a little more detail- about nursing in public, dealing with the initial pain, etc.

MY BODY

I was really surprised at my body… I’ve learned that it’s true- the days after birth, a woman’s body changes the fastest that it ever will. With birth you immediately shed a bunch of pounds from the front in the form of an infant and a whole bunch of fluids. My belly was palpated several times to feel that my uterus was firming up and retreating to its original size and shape. I had a lot of fluids coming out of me for a few days, and I had to keep pads in for a few weeks to deal with the residual bleeding. I thought it was interesting that my belly went back to flat. I barely gained any fat in my abdomen, so it actually looked pretty good, but the funny thing was that my abs were (are) completely destroyed. I always had a small layer of fat on my belly, but it was super firm underneath. Now I attempt to flex and it’s all just mush! One day I’ll be firm again, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be starting from scratch creating these muscles again.

BABY POTTY TRAINING

I had originally intended to begin EC (Elimination Communication, or infant potty training) much sooner, but it took me much longer to sit on my butt, straddle the toilet seat, or really just move than I had anticipated. We started a couple weeks ago when she was a month old, switching from disposable diapers to cloth and a BabyBjorn potty! It is actually going shockingly well. Audrey hates going potty in her pants, and will hold her poo until she feels the cold seat of the toilet against her behind! She hasn’t gained bladder control yet, but she goes pee in the potty regularly as well. I’ll definitely do more in-depth posts on this!

Well, Audrey woke up and I am back to one-handed typing so it’s time to call it a night!

Joining the World of Motherhood

Audrey in blanket from Meg

I don’t even know where to start talking about the last week and half since my baby girl Audrey was born. I guess I’ll just go stream of consciousness with this post!

I had tried to anticipate what motherhood might be like, but I never realized that it would feel as natural as it does. Obviously I try to live naturally as much as I can, but I thought this transition would be much more difficult. Audrey latched on right away and fed on colostrum for long stretches until my milk came in after just a couple days. My mom arrived from Minnesota the day after she was born and is here for a couple weeks to help out. We came home from the hospital when Audrey was two days old and settled into something of a routine.

Audrey in a sling!

Audrey is an eating, pooping, sleeping machine, so a lot of my time is spent simply bonding with her and tending to her needs. Also, after a physically (not emotionally!) traumatic birth, I am forced to lay low and recover. I am moving around much better than I did at first, but I am now in the phase of recovery where if I stand up for a little longer than I should my nether regions just start throbbing. Hopefully by next week sometime I’ll be ready to sit in a chair, and maybe even take a short walk!

I would like to confirm the advice to new mothers to limit visitors in the first few weeks. Everyone might want to come see the baby, and maybe that’s totally okay with you, but just make sure there are only a couple people at a time and that their visits are brief. With all the hormones gushing through your body and your limited mobility (whether you have a c-section or a vaginal birth, you are going to need some time to recover!), having the added pressure to entertain or having other people holding your baby for hours on end can be very difficult!

When Audrey was four days old just about Luke’s whole family came over. I was concerned that Audrey would get overwhelmed, but luckily she was asleep the whole time… it ended up being me who was overwhelmed. After a few hours of noisiness and activity, I started freaking out a bit. I went in the bedroom and cried so nobody would see me upset, then came back out when I had calmed myself. They had started playing board games and Audrey’s cousins and Godfather were fighting over who would hold her next and I couldn’t hold it in… My sister-in-law saw me crying and it slipped out, “I just want to hold my baby!” She immediately grabbed Audrey away and brought her to me, and while I brought her into the bedroom to nurse she made everyone leave. I felt really bad about the whole thing and didn’t need everyone to leave, I just needed a little time with my baby girl!

So lesson learned: short visits with just a few people (ideally people from whom you are comfortable baby-snatching when you want your kid back!) until your hormones are regulated!

Audrey & Grandma Celia on the ball

A huge blessing this past week has been my mom… having her here has helped me enormously. In the first few days we were back home it hurt just to get up and down so she was bringing me food and drinks and mothering me as I was trying to figure out how to be a mother myself. She’s been taking care of all the stuff I would normally do like laundry, dishes, cleaning, and cooking, plus some stuff that who knows when I would ever get to! Plus, we discovered something interesting… I spent a lot of time sitting on my exercise ball towards the end of my pregnancy because my tailbone hurt and I was trying to keep my pelvic floor and thighs strong. Apparently Audrey remembers this, so when she is fussy, her grandma will hold her and bounce and it calms her right down!

Audrey & Daddy Luke

Luke has been a wonderful father and husband despite having to go back to work almost immediately. He is just as obsessed with Audrey as I am and is happy to change her and do whatever he can to help. When we were in the hospital he changed all the diapers because it would have taken me just as long to get out of the bed as it would for him to change the diaper! He was also changing the night diapers and I would feed her, but now that I am feeling better I am doing more night diapers since he has to go to work in the morning and needs the sleep. He loves holding Audrey and recognizes all her noises… he’ll bring her to me as soon as she starts asking for booby!

I started pumping to get my milk supply up for when I go back to work, and about once a day Luke offers the bottle to Audrey. She knows what to do with it and will suck on it a little, but definitely not if I am around! We just want to make sure that when she starts daycare she’ll accept a bottle. I am also considering giving her a pacifier. I was going to wait a while longer, but it seems like a lot of the time she just wants “comfort booby” where she’ll just suck for a few minutes to put herself to sleep- she’s not really hungry. One of the big reasons for not introducing a pacifier too soon is to eliminate confusion and establish breastfeeding, but our breastfeeding relationship seems pretty well established and she definitely knows the difference between my breast and the bottle.

Finally, a little about Audrey herself! She is such a sweet, good baby and only fusses if she needs something or is gassy. She gets the hiccups a couple times per day, but breastfeeding gets rid of them right away! I wonder if sucking on a pacifier would have the same effect? When she’s on her tummy, Audrey can push up and hold her head up for a good 5-10 seconds. Also, she can sleep through anything: The Expendables, vacuuming around her, shrieking voices… so glad we don’d have to tiptoe around her!

Link Love

“You know what the great thing about babies is? They are like little bundles of hope. Like the future in a basket.”
― Lish McBride, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Link Love

“A mother does not become pregnant in order to provide employment to medical people. Giving birth is an ecstatic jubilant adventure not available to males. It is a woman’s crowning creative experience of a lifetime.”
― John Stevenson

Link Love

  1. Parenting and technology… Crying babies are given pacifiers, at home kids are sat in front of a TV to distract them, and in public, many parents give their kids phones or iPads to play with. What ever happened to old-fashioned connection to soothe whiny kids?
  2. We all know that food can do many things to your body, but now a new study shows that fast food lowers children’s IQs!
  3. Interested in the primal/paleo way of eating, but reading a lot of conflicting philosophies? Robb Wolf lays out the “7 Shades of Paleo” here- the many different approaches people take to the diet/lifestyle! I am a combination between Primal and 80/20 – I do dairy very well and feel better with than without, so I include high-quality dairy as a part of my regular diet and that puts me more in the Primal camp. I also eat things here and there which are not even close to Paleo, but I figure it’s okay as long as I am eating well the majority of the time! This keeps the whole diet much less stressful.
  4. 8 Ways to determine your baby’s position in the womb! I’ve been curious about this for a while… I’ve been pretty sure that the baby is head-down for a while now by what my midwife said and the way it wedges itself into my pelvis sometimes while still kicking elsewhere. I just had what was very clearly a foot sticking out right under my rib (a common spot for this baby to kick) so I believe that the baby is in the anterior position. I also think this because my belly is nice and round sticking out. I think the baby turns side-to-side regularly, but never really turns around fully or flips upside-down anymore.
  5. This is pretty amazing and super informative… comprehensive timeline of the breastfed baby!