Thursday, September 02, 2010

Doing it Again

Breastfeeding is easier the second time around. It is.

I had read a few breastfeeding-the-second-child horror stories where new problems came up with a second child that weren't problems with the first. Would a newborn would be a whole new mess of craziness? On some levels it is, but there are things that are much easier.

What was hard last time, but not this time

Evenings. Margaret was fussy and gassy in the evenings and we didn't know what to do. I nursed her and we bicycled her legs for the gassiness, but it was still frustrating. I've found that Isaac really likes to nurse in the breastcrawl position and that helps him calm down when he's too fussy to latch in the cradle hold. This has made our evenings much easier. I wish I had known about breastcrawl with Margaret.

Sleep. It took me 2 weeks to figure out how to nurse lying down without my breast getting in the way of Margaret's nose. Isaac took to it by night #2. I was surprised at how quickly he latched on and how we didn't have any airway blockage. He has McKay's nose while Margaret has mine, so maybe it's simple genetics. I've also found that his cranky evenings can be quieted by getting sleep. I need to calm him down before lying down with him, though, or else he just keeps screaming.

Engorgement. Maybe it's because I have Margaret to nurse. Or my body got smarter about regulating my supply. All I know is that I was hurting and leaking and all that jazz when Margaret was 6 weeks old (and older!), but I'm not hurting this time and only leaking a little. It's weird to not be engorged, though. I find myself second-guessing my supply when I know that it's normal to feel less full after a few weeks while still having enough supply. It just doesn't fit with my experience from the first time around.

Nursing in Public. I was new to it with Margaret. And a bit awkward and bumbling. I juggled layers of clothing until Margaret started refusing to eat with cloth by her face at 18 months. This time around, I have much more confidence and I'm not juggling layers. Nursing is easier when I have less to fiddle with.

What was new to me this time

Thrush. Never had it with Margaret.

Tandem nursing. This is a big one. What do I do when Margaret is jealous that it's Isaac's turn? How do I get to Isaac quickly when there's a 30+ pound toddler in my lap? And how do I nurse both of them at the same time? Nursing acrobatics like you've never seen! Every afternoon when I nurse Margaret to sleep it's in a different position. I wish I could take pictures for you all to see. Sometimes we do a double cradle hold, sometimes a double football hold. And sometimes one is cradled and the other footballed- and which one is which changes. The other day I nursed the two of them lying down and Isaac was nursing on the "top" breast and Margaret was on the one closest to the bed. I have no idea how that worked and I can't even picture it in my head anymore. All I know is that it was a miracle.

What I haven't had problems with

Mastitis or plugged ducts. There's always the possibility of running into this later, but so far we've been free of this problem. Margaret can drain my breasts pretty well which is why I haven't had plugged ducts. One of the most exciting surprises is that I've started exercising and I haven't gotten mastitis! My body gives me mastitis when I over do it as a reminder to slow down. I've gone walking/hiking every day this week and a couple of days last week and we're happily mastitis-free.

I wish I could tell pregnant me not to stress about the newborn stage. I would guess that for most women, barring major differences in children and lifestyle, it's easier the second time.

What was harder/easier the second time around for you all?


  1. I also was not as engorged since my older child was still nursing. And we had no latch issues like the first time around. It was wonderful, no cracked and bleeding nipples! Ironically, the first time I had no la leche league connections and I did the second time around in case we had any problems :)

  2. For me it's been a little harder this time! Weird cause my son nursed right away and my daughter only just recently stopped nursing. He has a bit of a lazier latch and I still have to help him sometimes, especially while lying down. In the meantime, he gets a face full of milk and I get soaked! One thing that has been easier is I feel more confident. I know any problems will work themselves out and I feel confident that I know what I'm doing and that I'm doing it right. I actually am a little more nervous about NIP this time. With my daughter, I really never knew that anyone would have a problem with BF so I nursed everywhere in front of everyone. I didn't think twice about nursing next to someone on a plane or park bench. It wasn't until I was pregnant with my son that I would overhear comments made my others about NIP or read stories about it. I wish I was still naive! I don't care enough to stop NIP, but it does make me a tad more self conscious.

  3. Nursing was much easier for me the 2nd time around. This 3rd child has totally thrown me though. Each child is different that's for sure.

  4. Defiantly easier the 2nd time around for me as well. I too am nursing a toddler and babe (who is 9 months already). I didn't remember my 1st being difficult but after nursing my 2nd I realized how much easier it was. With my first it took 3 or 4 weeks before I could nurse lying down. With my 2nd I figured it out right from birth. The most significant thing that was easier was positioning. I think this is in part due to my 1st being a C-section but I always had to use pillows and sit up and adjust again and again to get in a good position. With my 2nd I never had to use pillows and could nurse easily in different positions. Juggling nursing 2 at the same time is an interesting challenge.

  5. This is encouraging because I have been looking forward to my next breastfeeding relationship. I mention to my hubby fairly frequently little things I know I will be better at with breastfeeding or things I am glad I learned this time around. It's funny you mentioned your supply because Crystal made the same comment with her second baby because she wasn't leaking at all whereas before she couldn't NOT wear a breast pad for at least 6 months. I AM looking forward to a more regulated and secure supply since I had a lot of foremilk and oversupply in the beginning with Shaely.
    It has been eye opening at LLL to hear about how each child brings their own breastfeeding challenges, so I am nervous for that part. But overall I think I will be more confident and prepared along the way.

  6. Our experience has been quite similar to yours Heather... second time was a lot easier! Of course I didn't have CS recovery to deal with, and I also had a toddler to help me with engorgement too...

    I'm wondering how this 3rd one is going to be. And praying that the thrush will be gone by then and make no reappearance!!

  7. Sleep was SO MUCH easier the second time around. There were a couple factors 1) my son didn't poop nearly as often as my daughter, which meant fewer middle of the night diaper changes. But the biggest thing was that I nursed laying down from the beginning (literally his first nursing was laying down) and he stayed in bed with us. That meant that as soon as he started fussing/squirming, I popped him on the boob and we both went back to sleep. With my daughter, I'd wait until she was definitely awake, go get her from her crib in the other room, go out to the couch, nurse her, change her (constantly poopy) diaper, nurse her again and then hopefully she'd be asleep and I could put her back to bed. It would take a good hour to an hour and a half to do all that, and I'd be fully awake at the end, which took me longer to get back to sleep.

    As for strictly-breastfeeding, nursing in public was easier the second time. I knew what I was doing and what I wanted to do. I planned my layers better and only used a blanket/cover when I wanted to. I didn't try to keep a big flannel blanket over my shoulder. And when my baby fought the cover, I did away with it.

    What has been harder is biting. Jason has way more teeth than Jilly did, plus he's now 3 months older than she was when I weaned her. Nursing a toddler is definitely different than a baby and I'm new at this part.

  8. It has definitely been easier for me the second time around. My tailbone was severely damaged (broken?) when Jefferson was born, so I was in intense pain no matter what position I was in and every movement I made. (That was months and months of absolute misery!!! It's still not 100% and he's almost 3!) So breastfeeding was pretty hard that way - just finding a way to sit/lay/whatever. The one position that didn't hurt my tailbone *as much* was awkward for breastfeeding and messed with the nerves in my arm, so I could only force myself to do that for a week or so. :-p I never could get him to latch on properly side-lying, which would have relieved a bit of the tailbone pain and would have allowed me better sleep. I almost always feed Caleb side-lying now which we LOVE.

    I never got as engorged this time around either. Jefferson also had thrush. I remember describing that to Chris as feeling like a thousand knives stabbing me on an already super-sensitive place...

    It also took a while to get the right latch and just figuring out the logistics of holding him up to me correctly, etc. This time, Caleb latched on perfectly the first time. Not quite as well for the next 24 hours or so, but he picked it up pretty quickly. I remember asking a lactation consultant in the hospital for help with Caleb's latch because it hurt a bit and I remembered that it's not supposed to hurt. She said the latch looked perfect (as it looked to me too - I couldn't figure out what was wrong). She said it was probably just that I hadn't nursed in about a year so my breasts had to get used to it again. (good to know!)

    I think a boppy would have been a blessing with Jefferson because my arm would always be DEAD and sometimes my hand would go numb just by the way I was holding him because his head was so heavy.

    Another difference was that Jefferson had a stronger need to be constantly sucking. In his early weeks, he would usually "eat" for 1 hour on each side...then every time I'd try to unlatch him, he'd wake up and I'd have to re-latch him and wait a long time, try to un-latch again and we'd go through the same thing until it was time for him to Really eat again... I remember being awake with him in the middle of the night, sucking away for like 2 hours straight...then taking a catnap myself, waking up and crying when I realized he was still sucking after 3 hours (and was just starting to actually EAT again) and I just wanted to turn out the light and really SLEEP! :-p


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