My Breastfeeding Experience…the Second Time Around
I wanted to get that last post out of the way before writing this one, because besides being worried about not bonding with my second child, the thought of breastfeeding again was like a ginormous elephant sitting in the room during my entire pregnancy.
Long story short (and you can read the longer version here), breastfeeding the first time was hard and I shed literal blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. Somehow, we persevered and I ended up breastfeeding Julia until she was 16 months old. I often wonder if we could’ve made it happen longer, but she weaned on her own (during my first trimester), and that was fine and dandy with me.
Since I struggled so much last time, I had a pretty solid game plan for this round. I heard that all babies were different and that a mom’s body is also different after each pregnancy, so even though I had everything lined up, I really had no idea what to expect.
Madilyn was born just after the sun rose from a medicine free delivery (read her birth story here). We did immediate skin-to-skin, and she stayed there for a good hour before they weighed her and all that jazz next to my bed. Towards the end of that hour she started to “crawl” towards my breast. I read about this beforehand, so I was pretty happy she was hungry and knew where to find her food source.
To my complete surprise, she latched on right away, but the even bigger shock was that it didn’t hurt…at all. I played it cool and didn’t want to get my hopes up since I remember the first time with her big sister didn’t hurt either; it was every time after that when the pain started settling in. Maddie’s latch, from my perspective, looked fantastic and I could actually feel her sucking.
While at the hospital (we were there for just a smidgen more than 24 hours) I mostly went by her feeding cues to tell me when she wanted to eat. I had the she-must-eat-every-three-hours regime from last time engrained in my mind, so if she went over that three-hour mark, I’d wake her up to eat.
Surprisingly, it never hurt for her to nurse. I took my nipple cream to the hospital, because I was certain I’d need it, but I haven’t once opened that jar. You know how lactation consultants say that it shouldn’t hurt to feed your baby, and when they say that you wish you could scream something like, “GIVE ME A BREAK, MY NIPPLES FEEL LIKE THEY’RE ON FIRE AND RAZORS ARE DIGGING INTO THEM!” Um, yeah, please don’t hate me, but it seriously has never hurt to nurse Madilyn. (But don’t hate me too much, because I totally know that feeling and still remember it from last time.) I kept waiting and waiting for it to hurt—last time I had to shield my boobs in the shower because the water hitting them felt like 10,000 swords stabbing me—but it never did.
Since day one (or day zero depending on how you see it), Madilyn has been a champion nurser. Her older sister was constantly at the bottom edge of the spectrum as far as weight goes and I’d literally hold my breath and practically make myself sick before we’d go to the doctor for a dreaded weight check. And then came along her sister who is gaining weight, moving up in sizes faster than I can keep up with, and has rolls of chub all over her.
I had a low supply with Julia, and took supplements and medicine to help produce more milk. This time I almost have an oversupply, causing Maddie to gulp and take in too much milk. Last time I would nurse and nurse and nurse Julia for what felt like forever, only to discover that she barely took in an ounce or two of milk. This time my baby empties my breasts within 10 minutes. I pumped all day and night with Julia, trying to increase my supply, and I would sometimes only get two ounces over the course of a few days. Now? Now I pump both sides at night for in five minutes each and come out with at least two ounces.
Basically, breastfeeding this time is the complete opposite from my first experience. It’s seriously night and day different, and I’m beyond thankful for this new perspective.
I knew there was a chance things could be different this time around, but I never imagined it would go this well. Even despite Maddie being in the hospital for that week, we persevered and kept nursing. Her pediatrician was shocked that her hospital stay didn’t mess things up since usually breastfeeding is one of the first things to go when a little one has RSV. We had a slightly rocky weekend a few weeks ago when one of my breasts got a clogged duct, but with lots of nursing, heat, and massage, it unclogged and things have been fine ever since.
Over the past three and a half months I’ve been saying how thankful I am that things are going so much smoother this time. It’s a huge weight off my shoulders. Breastfeeding isn’t a stressful ordeal, instead it’s—dare I say it—one of the most natural things I’ve ever done. It’s like my body was truly made for this, and I absolutely love it. I like that I at least know and feel confident that my body can actually do this.
My hope for writing this is that, if you struggled the first time, please know that there could be hope for the next time! After last time, I never ever would’ve thought breastfeeding could be this easy and enjoyable. I’m so thankful this baby gave me a new perspective!
Reading this makes me so happy. Nursing was such a struggle with Jacob in the beginning and it felt like obstacles were constantly being thrown in our path. Right after I delivered him we got to do skin to skin for a short period of time, but then I had complications and didn’t get to see him again for hours :/. I often wonder if that’s why he had a hard time catching on to the whole nursing thing. I’m so happy to hear that you’ve had a much easier time the second time around! I’m hoping things go smoother with the second baby! I stopped nursing Jacob during my first trimester too, and sometimes the thought of breastfeeding again for another year makes me stressed.
Oh, I’m crossing my fingers for you! The entire experience was SO different than it was in Italy. I”m not sure where you’re delivering, but I was at a “baby-friendly hospital” and they were all for breastfeeding, skin to skin, and letting the mom and dad bond with the baby for as long as possible (uninterrupted). I thought my experience in Italy was good, but that’s because I didn’t have anything to base it on.
So glad to hear this! With all 3 it hurt for the first week or two…. I just assumed everyone was full of it when they said it shouldn’t 😉
haha right? I heard “it shouldn’t hurt” SO much with my first that I wanted to punch the next person who told me that. …And then it didn’t hurt this time at all. Different strokes for different (baby) folks!
It’s a wonderful thing when something as integral as breastfeeding is EASIER than you expect!
YES! So much so!
I’ve said it to you before, but your story with Maddie give me SO much hope for number two, when we eventually get there. 🙂
I’m still seriously shocked at how different my experience (in almost every aspect) has been so far! It makes me nervous for a third if/when we have one, since it’ll clearly be a wild card!
I had a very rough breastfeeding time with my oldest Bennett, but like you my second baby Archer, was a natural nurser! He latched on that first day and it was easy! Maybe it’s the second time mom thing not as nervous so our bodies just ‘know’ what to do. I had an over supply the second time and actually was a milk done for a mom who couldn’t breastfeed, so I was actually feeding two babies for about 4 months! Crazy!
Ah, that is SO cool of you! I’m building a stash right now, and I may need to donate it, since the only thing these girls have in common so far is their dislike for the bottle.
I’m so glad it’s going better this time around!
I’ve had the same experience the second time around as well! I was expecting some pain of sore nipples and some other things as none of it happened! I’ve been so thankful:)
Thank you for sharing this! My first baby is 5 months old, and I have had (still have) many of the same struggles you had with your first. I am afraid to be hopeful that it could be different if I have another, but your story is so encouraging!
Oh, be encouraged!!! I was (still am) amazed at how different things are this time around for so many different things. Of course, I could be the exception to this, but I’d like to think that I’m not—hope is always a good thing!
It’s so great to hear you’re doing so well! I’m not too worried because Penny was amazing (with a little discomfort), but I’m trying to remember that not every baby is the same. Fingers crossed this guy doesn’t struggle too much.