Breastfeeding Second Time Round
My breastfeeding journey with Cassie was never an easy one. I had no expectations before she was born. In fact, being part of a big online mothers’ group and hearing that all of them were expressing colostrum pre-birth convinced me I may not be able to breastfeed – my boobs were empty. But sure enough, within half an hour of being born, Cassie wormed her way to my breast and enjoyed her first feed. It felt so natural and amazing to be able to offer her that, I couldn’t wait to see where our journey led us.
Turns out, my supply wasn’t great. Cassie latched well, fed well and was putting on enough weight, but come evening we were both crying in frustration. Cassie was so hungry, but my boobs weren’t providing and before long the bottle was introduced (just at night to start with), and it saved us both. Cassie’s feeds also never got quicker over time. I would watch other mums get theirs over with in 30 minutes or less and we were still slugging out the one hour feeds. I never thought much of it and just figured Cassie was a slow drinker.
By three months, Cassie started refusing the breast. She would scream and pull off when I tried to get her to latch and once again we were both in tears. My mum watched on and suggested it was time to switch to the bottle. Hearing those words and having someone suggest it to me made me feel better about the decision. I was feeling so much mum guilt over it, but hearing it from my mum was the push I needed to do what made both of us happy. I wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one for us, and things got much easier once we made the switch. I was proud of myself for lasting the three months and was happy we had persevered.
I didn’t really think about breastfeeding too much when I was pregnant with Vivi. I was determined to give it a go again, but wasn’t going to let it take over. If we both weren’t happy then the bottle would be just fine. The first week with Vivi was all smooth sailing. She was just like Cassie, taking about an hour to finish both sides and enjoying a good burp at the end. When it came time to leave hospital, I was starting to get grazing on my nipples, but it wasn’t painful enough to worry me. The midwife once again showed me the correct way to feed and I was on my way.
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The pain got worse. I was in tears each time Vivi latched onto the breast. It didn’t matter how many times I unlatched and relatched her, that bottom lip would always ride back up again. I speak to the health nurse who suggested I try expressing and bottle feeding and book myself in with a lactation consultant. Unfortunately, expressing wasn’t an option, as I never got much (even though I knew my supply was good this time around), so I rang the hospital and booked in a lactation appointment and soldiered on until then.
Turns out, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know how to get Vivi on the breast, I didn’t know how to hold her to make feeding comfortable for both of us, and I didn’t know the different options I had for getting her to latch. I was told I had long nipples which had contributed to our problem, but there were plenty of ways around it. In that one-hour appointment I had my first pain-free breastfeed and it only took 40 minutes – beating the record for both children.
It made me realise I also had no idea what I was doing first time around either, and that is likely why Cassie never got faster on the breast. She was simply sucking at my nipples rather than having a proper feed – no wonder she got frustrated by 3 months!
It amazed me that I had been so clueless first time around and never thought to seek help. Cassie was putting on weight and that seemed to satisfy everyone, so I never thought the fact she took an hour to feed was a problem. I feel so much more confident with Vivi now, even though we are still getting there. Some feeds are easier than others, and in the middle of the night I am not always great at getting her to latch properly, but we are well and truly getting there. I don’t know whether this means I will breastfeed for longer, or that our journey won’t still have hiccups along the way. It is just nice to know what I am doing and that I have the tools to make it work. And, of course, if I run into anymore problems I know where to go for help.
It’s so different parenting the second time around, as you think you have everything sorted and have so much more confidence. But every child truly is different and juggling two is a whole new ball game as well. I just need to learn that if something worked for Cassie, doesn’t mean it will for Vivi, and just because it’s my second child, doesn’t mean I should be afraid to seek help.
I honestly can’t thank that lactation consultant enough for not just taking the time to sit down and show me how to do things properly (a few lactation consultants had tried this briefly in hospital), but for getting to know me and my baby and looking at what was going on for us before offering a solution. The confidence she has given me is invaluable and Vivi and I are both much happier for it.