The Carnival Of Breastfeeding, having apparently skipped a month (unless I missed one) is back, with the topic 'The Second Time Around'. Or any number greater than that, if you so wish. What's it like breastfeeding your second child?
On this note, a useful bit of research I came across some while back: A group of women had their milk production measured following the birth of their first child and then following the birth of their second child and the two compared, and, on average, milk production the second time around had increased by about a third as much again when compared to the first time. It seems breasts, like the rest of us, get more skilled with experience. So, if you struggled to produce enough milk the first time around and are wondering whether it's even worth trying with a second child, then I can happily reassure you that the science is on your side – barring major problems with the milk production system, you're likely to produce substantially more second time round.
On to my personal experience of the topic, which is also a positive story to report. Longstanding readers may recall that my first breastfeeding experience was blighted by the one little piece of skin anchoring my son's tongue just that crucial bit too much. Matters spiralled downwards into a nightmare of painful nipples, inadequate milk supply despite non-stop nursing, and trying desperately to pump and get his weight up, all of which could have been so easily avoided if only his tongue tie had been cut at the start. It was an experience that left its mark on me; I was so anxious to avoid a milk supply problem this time around that I was offering Katie the breast almost constantly. It's supposed to be impossible to overfeed a breastfed baby, but, looking back, I do have my doubts about that – Katie would take the breast for a few sucks whenever I offered it, and then spit up. At the time I worried she might have reflux; now I think the poor little mite was probably just being given far too much.
But, despite this… the whole experience of breastfeeding my second child was so easy, so straightforward, so much what I'd dreamed of during that first-time-around nightmare. After an initial twenty minutes of ferocious screaming on first exiting my womb, Katie's latching-on reflex kicked in and from then on it was plain sailing. I think there was some nipple discomfort in the early days, but I honestly don't remember clearly – it was nothing like the pain I'd had with Jamie. I kept an eagle eye on her weight, anxious to pick any problems up as early as possible, but at every visit the little X's on the chart marched steadily up the 50th centile line. The only problem we ever had was her refusal to take a bottle before I went back to work (she resigned herself to it when I did go back and she realised it was her only option if she wanted to get fed during the day). Even pumping at work went far better with the benefit of the experience I'd picked up first time around – I consistently produced enough and a little to spare (looking back, I wish I'd started donating milk earlier).
One big difference between the two experiences, of course, was that Katie didn't have a tongue tie. (And it wouldn't have mattered nearly as much if she had – ironically, between my two births we'd moved to an area of the country where frenulotomy was provided, so I'd have had somewhere reasonably close at hand to go.) Another was that she didn't comfort-suck in the way that Jamie had, so the suckling marathons that had kept me practically housebound just didn't arise.
But my experience also made a difference; and one of the biggest differences it made was that I was a lot more relaxed. With Jamie, I'd read all those screeds about the importance of nursing your baby quickly when he's hungry and not making him wait, and taken them far more literally than any of the authors probably ever intended, to the point where I was scared to leave the house in case one of his feeds was briefly delayed while I was getting my coat and shoes on or, heaven forfend, while he was strapped into a car seat being driven somewhere other than the tiny village where we lived, thus leading to OH MY GOD MY MILK SUPPLY DROPPING ALL MY FAULT AAARRRRGGGGHHHH.
With Katie, I was far more rational. If I was in the middle of doing something when Katie started fussing, I was quite happy to take a few minutes to finish up without rushing. If I was about to head out somewhere and she looked hungry and I knew it wasn't that long since her last feed (which it never was; see obsessive anxiety about supply, above), I would go right ahead with heading off, figuring I could feed her when I got there and she wasn't likely to starve meanwhile. And, lo and behold, she never did. (She'd usually fall asleep on the way.) I never did reach the stage of being totally laid back about the whole thing, but I was vastly less angst-ridden about it than I'd been the previous time, and that was such a huge relief.
I have no particular punchline to wind all this up, so I shall close by sharing with you this cartoon that I stumbled across a while ago, illustrating the difference between first-time and second-time parenting (it's about introduction of solids, as it happens, but you get the idea). Not that I want to imply that I gave Katie pretzels at three months, you understand; but I do think it makes the point rather nicely.
Check out the other posts in the Carnival (this list to be updated throughout Monday as new posts appear):
CaramelChica at Ambular Logic – Breastfeeding the Second Time Around
Tanya at Motherwear – Seven Reasons Why Breastfeeding Is Usually Easier The Second Time Around
Elita at Blacktating – Second Time's the Charm
Takisha at Reporter2Mother – Lessons Learned
Anne at Dou-la-la – Once More With Feeling: Contemplating BBAC