Monthly Archives: June 2011

Carnival Of Breastfeeding: The Second Time Around

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

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Evensong

The children's bedtime has been a mad chaotic scramble of mishaps; a list of chores still stretches out in front of me; and tomorrow it'll all start again.  But, for now, the children are finally in bed and, even with everything I still have to do before I can head the same way myself, I can feel myself calming.  The knots are unwinding, as they always do, in the end.

Barry comes into the kitchen as I stuff Jamie's filthy sleeping bag into the washing machine, and we exchange the little back-and-forths and jokes and anecdotes that mean little to anyone else, the thousand tiny bindings of a marriage.

"You were right about this sleeping bag needing washing.  Good job you noticed it!"

"Did you try smelling it, then?"

"Not deliberately.  The smell just sort of wafted up to me."

"I took the big one in for Jamie to use.  He said 'It's very big!'  But he seemed pleased with it."

"I could hear you laughing up there with Katie." 

"Yes, she was trying to stand up in her sleeping bag.  Then she told me, 'I'm NOT tiruhhhhhhhh….'"  Barry imitates dissolving into a yawn mid-word.

"Hey, do you know what she said when she was at my mother's?  She was playing on those rocking toys, the horse and the reindeer, and she asked me which one I thought she should ride on next, and I said the horse looked good but maybe she'd better ride on the reindeer as well so that it didn't get lonely.  And she said 'No, Mummy.  Horses and reindeers can get lonely if there's no-one else there, bu t pretend ones are OK.'"

We share chuckles and 'awwwww's.

"Good grief!  I can still smell that sleeping bag."

"Well, I've just taken the bag out of the compost bin to take out.  Maybe that's what you're smelling."

"Ah, could be.  Well, that's good.  For a moment I was wondering if it was so smelly I could smell it through the washing machine door."  We laugh again as I unlock the back door to step outside with the compost bag.

I could just leave the bag outside the back door for Barry to take down to the composting box later, but I like the walk down the garden in the evening peace.  It's a long summer evening, the cloud-blotched sky still almost light even after all the delay getting the children to bed.  We live on top of a hill, and beyond the garden fence I can see the town spread out in front of me, the lights just starting to come on.  And I take a few minutes, as I always do, to breathe the evening air and let the calmness soak into my soul.  This is all right, this life here.  This is good.

 

(This post was written for the Writing Workshop, for the theme 'Contentment'.)

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Blimey!

I am, in 10 – 15-minute snippets when I have time, trying to catch up on my enormous backlog of recorded programmes waiting to be watched, and thus it is that I'm watching the end of Cherry Healey's 'Is Breast Best?' over my morning toast.  She's just visited a neonatal unit to discuss milk banking with one of the nurses, and, when the nurse told her that they sometimes had to purchase milk from other milk banks if their supply ran low, Cherry asked her how much this cost.  £100 per litre, was the reply, which had Cherry's jaw dropping.

Curious, I looked up conversion sites on Google to work out how many litres I'd donated back when I was pumping my milk.  Now, I very much doubt that all of mine was worth that much – some of it had been kept for longer than their regulations allow and was only donated on the off-chance that somebody might have been able to use it for research (well, it was that or the bin), and all of the fresher stuff had been pumped when Katie was over six months old, which means the composition would have changed to the point where only small quantities at a time could be given to premature babies.  Still, even allowing for that… it looks as though I might just have benefitted the world of milk donation to the tune of over a thousand pounds' worth of milk.  Which is quite a good thought to start the day on.

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