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Time to Fill–What Do You Do While Feeding Your Baby?

Categories: breastfeeding, maternity leave


So, my breastfed baby still won’t take the bottle*, which means that for now at least I still spend a hearty portion of every day (and night) at the mercy of an infant’s tummy grumbles. The whole I’m-going-back-to-work-soon-and-he-must-take-a-bottle freakout aside, I can’t really complain, though; when he feeds with me, he feeds easily and well, and aside from a brief encounter with a plugged duct (yeowch), I’ve really enjoyed that special time we spend together. So, although I’m not “complaining,” per se, there is one issue I wish I could resolve, and I’m hoping you can help…

Confession: Sometimes, while I’m nursing, I get…bored. I hate admitting that because I feel like I, as a new mother, should be so enamored with my child’s angelic visage that I simply cannot bear the thought of missing one precious moment of his fleeting infancy and therefore must BE with him and STUDY him and STARE at him constantly, but, um, really? Sometimes even the most devoted mama needs a change of scenery, am I right?  

Before the baby got here, I’d heard legend of women multitasking while breastfeeding–eating, typing–but in my goofy fantasyland, I imagined that on the rare occasion I’d want to do something other than stalk my kid while he ate, I’d listen to French language tapes or brush up on my Latin or learn to tie sailors knots with one hand. You know, expand my mind. Learn something. Now that I’ve been breastfeeding X** hours a day every day for nine weeks, though, I can report to you that I was a damn fool to expect I’d do anything besides watch TV. Endless TV. Bad TV. I’ve always been a fan, so I’m not surprised it went that way, but what has really caught me off guard is that I’ve finally reached my limit. I’m tired of it. Tired and embarrassed. Tired of TV being my go-to distraction during the baby’s breakfast(s) and lunch(es) and dinner(s) and snacks(s) and elevensies(es). I don’t want to come out the other side of mat leave with nothing to show for it besides a butt-groove in the couch cushion and an encyclopedic knowledge of design dilemma solutions, so I’m looking (and looking to you) for other ideas of things to do. Things to do in ten- or fifteen-minute intervals, a dozen times a day, and with one hand and half a brain.

What do (or did) you do while breastfeeding or (bottle-feeding)–when not gazing at your child’s angelic visage, that is? Are you proactive and productive, or do you just veg out and enjoy the peace and quiet of these mandatory rest periods? Do you, like me, feel guilty “just sitting around feeding the baby” or are you able to treat that time as the important, necessary, and special part of your day that it is? I know that getting my baby fed and fattened should be accomplishment enough in the grand scheme of things, but I still can’t help thinking I should do more and I bet I’m not alone.  

*The issue with the bottle isn’t that he’s rejecting it outright but that he just can’t seem to get the hang of sucking that imposter nipple; it’s not an attitude problem but a mechanical one. Halp!

**I once tried to keep a log of how many hours I spent feeding the kid each day, but I gave up before noon because I couldn’t snag two seconds between the back-to-back feedings/burpings/changings/playings to be accurate. Irony!

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17 comments so far...

  • I balanced my lap top on my baby’s tummy or the arm of the couch and surfed. i could type a mean blog entry one handed.

    minnie  |  February 18th, 2009 at 11:29 am

  • Um, I’m currently nursing. So there’s my answer. =)

    beck  |  February 18th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

  • I used to read magazines — The Economist was a great pick because most of the articles are short enough to read during a feeding session. It kept me up to date on world news. Plus DVR is a lifesaver. Just record good shows and use the Pause button frequently.

    When my son was somewhere betwen 6-12 months old, I added up all the time for just the mechanical aspects of childcare — feeding, diapering, bathing, bedtime, etc. It was about 8 hours a day. An infant would be more.

    SoftwareMom  |  February 18th, 2009 at 3:41 pm

  • I read, blogged, wrote, and knitted. Made some awesome sweaters, since I was convinced one of my kids would only nap while blissfully nursing at the same time. Spent a lot of time watching Bravo, HGTV and the Food Network. I am also capable of sleeping while sitting up and nursing.

    Like Softwaremom, I once added up the time spent devoted solely to kids. I have since blacked out the memory. That first year is always a blur.

    Okay, with the bottle? You may need to try different nipples. The mechanics of bottle feeding (from the baby’s perspective) are very different from breastfeeding. Is there a lactation consultant you could contact?

    Karen Murphy  |  February 18th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

  • I veg out and enjoy the peace and quiet. Sometimes I read a magazine or watch a show on TV I recorded. I also enjoy just sitting there and daydreaming. I don’t find staring into space boring at all, probably because I don’t have a chance to do that very often during the day. Breastfeeding makes it okay to just sit there and do nothing.

    Linda  |  February 19th, 2009 at 12:27 am

  • Okay, I found the newborn-infant stage totally boring. Bored out of my mind. I read so many books before I went back to work, it was incredible. Especially since half the time she would only sleep while being held. Yeah, I had to sit in a chair for 4-6 hours at a time trying not to move so as not to wake the sleeping angel. So I read. I read everything I could get my hands on. Hope that helps!

    Robyn  |  February 19th, 2009 at 8:21 am

  • When I was home on leave, I did watch my fair share of TV - though not being a big TV person I stockpiled my favorite shows on DVR so I had good stuff to watch. I also surfed and read magazines. And sometimes I felt guilty for not staring lovingly at my baby for the 8? hrs a day I spent nursing her, but she doesn’t seem any worse for the wear.

    Now that I am working though, I have one in-bed-still-half-asleep session before getting up for work, and one in the evening before she goes to bed. I definitely treasure that evening session, so if anything I just listen to NPR… and stare lovingly at my daughter wishing I had more than 2 1/2 hrs with her each day. My advice? Enjoy the time you have now, esp if you are going back to work… you might actually miss all that nursing time :)

    Shannon  |  February 19th, 2009 at 8:29 am

  • I read a magazine, watched endless bad daytime TV, and actually did stare at her face sometimes too.

    Meg  |  February 19th, 2009 at 9:56 am

  • I used to read while she was nursing but now she grabs the book from me, so I watch tv. I also play the alphabet game with myself (pick a topic, like zoo animals, then name one that starts with each letter from A to Z). And I sing to her.I do try to keep it at least half and half with NCIS/Gilmore Girls and NatGeo or Discovery, though. Mostly I just try to relax since that’s the only time I CAN sit down and do nothing.

    Lisa  |  February 19th, 2009 at 3:27 pm

  • Silly as this sounds, I just LOVED to look at my son while he breastfed. I was fascinated by this little guy and felt so connected to him when he was , well, connected to me. I never did anything than look at him while he fed.

    KC  |  February 19th, 2009 at 7:04 pm

  • I learned how to nurse while lying down, and I’d sneak in a little nap while my first born nursed (my first born was actually my fourth child, so I needed all the nap time I could get).

    My second born was not so big on the nursing. I never had time to be bored nursing him, because I was always trying to keep him awake long enough to actually feed properly.

    Once my maternity leaves ended and I was back at work, I found myself longing for the “boring” time of nursing… it was much nicer than sitting in a windowless room during the workday, listening to the breast pump drone on and one.

    Lylah  |  February 19th, 2009 at 8:00 pm

  • Sleep. Sleepsleepsleep. Sleepsleep. If you haven’t already done so, learn to nurse lying down. Those nursing naps were the BEST.

    I also read magazines — Real Simple was one of my favorites, and still is. And one book: Girlfriend’s Guide to the First Year; loved it. It’ll give you some good tips, but it’s light and funny so you don’t feel like you’re back in school.

    I got a little headset thing that attached to the phone so I could talk to my sisters or friends while I nursed. (If you do this, be sure you’re calling someone who would understand if you needed to change sides or burp or hang up abruptly.)

    Take care of yourself, kid. You’re doing a great job.

    Just me  |  February 20th, 2009 at 10:01 am

  • I surf the net. Blogs, message board and read email.

    Rachel  |  February 21st, 2009 at 6:37 pm

  • For the first months I used to read books on my Palm Pilot. That was the best, because I could scroll down instead of turning pages and the screen was lighting up to read when it was dark. I read constantly during my 3 days in hospital right after birth while my son was mostly asleep - those were the best days. Didn’t have to worry about dinner, cleaning, just occupy myself.
    I also managed to sleep while breast feeding, while lying down on my side - so there was no getting up at night, but during the day naps didn’t work for me.
    I also surfed net, I used a sturdy pillow and even breastfeeding “doughnut” pillow to hold baby on my lap. That was quite a savior for about a month or two when my son seemed to breastfeed all the time.

    Maria  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 10:37 am

  • I tried to read while my daughter was breastfeeding, but she was too much of a wiggle worm, so I watched a lot of bad TV also. Then my husband and I started doing crossword puzzles together, he would read the clues and number of letters and we would come up with the answers together. This only helps if you have a spouse or roommate who is willing to spend time with you this way, but it did help.

    Kris Z  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 2:48 pm

  • When my son was a newborn and mostly slept during feedings, I would nap, watch TV (movies on demand!) or sometimes read. When he’s awake, I read and sing to him.

    Amy  |  April 11th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

  • I am fed up of having a war with my 8 month old baby boy every time I have to feed him his solid meal..he starts screaming the minute I put him down in his chair..he wants to be carried and fed..I have tried delaying his meal to half an house he is more hungry but it doesn’t work.. Please suggest what I should do!

    Shweta  |  July 21st, 2009 at 11:26 am