I Was Way Better At Breastfeeding My First Baby

108353971__1389132346_142.196.167.223Is it just me, or is breastfeeding a completely different experience the second time around?

Before the birth of my first child, I was so prepared. I really, really wanted to breastfeed and armed myself with all of the books, blog posts and products I could get my hands on to prep myself for the process. I had the Lansinoh, the breast pads, the nursing bras, the Mother’s Milk tea, and the top of the line breast pump. I was ready.

Luckily, my son latched on and began to feed with no major problems. I followed the nursing advice I got in the hospital to a tee; each time he was ready to feed, I timed 10 minutes on each boob. I’m not kidding – I really did this.

When I began to pump, I did it methodically and religiously. I had my little Sharpie marker next to my breast milk storage bags in the kitchen. I rotated all the breast milk in the freezer accordingly. I woke in the night to pump to make sure I kept my supply up.

I wore breast pads so religiously, it was almost as if I thought a drop of breast milk would dissolve my clothing. I bought those things in bulk; running out would have been an absolute disaster. I managed to exclusively breastfeed my first child for six months – when I introduced formula because I was back to working full time. I gave it up entirely at eight months. I was pleased with that.

The second child? Very different experience. I feed her whenever she seems to want it, and I don’t time anything – I just let her eat until she’s done. I’ve used exactly zero supplements to increase supply because since my fancy breast pump broke, I’m not really pumping. I’ve purchase zero breast milk storage bags and haven’t frozen a single batch. Admittedly, it’s a whole different experience because I am working from home and don’t need to stock up for when I am out of the house. But I can confidently say that if I had to be in a situation where I was away from my child for several hours a day, I would definitely supplement with formula more. In fact, the few times I’ve needed to have a bottle for her when I wasn’t around, I gave her formula. I started that as early as three months. Oh, and the breast pads? I’ve purchased one box that I use… sometimes. If CSI came in here with a black light, they’d probably find traces of breast milk all over my house.

I did my best with my first child and I’m doing my best with this one. The biggest difference between the two is that it wasn’t until the second that I realized my best was good enough.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Véronique Houde

      I think you’re probably actually doing better this time as in you’re more lax about it, which is the way it seems you are about everything about parenting in general ;). You’re probably a lot less stressed out! I hope so at least

    • Kay_Sue

      Yeah, I put so much stress on doing it “right” and getting it perfect with my older son that I wound up completely screwing it up. I was so stressed out that I was losing my mind–and there wasn’t much left, considering the sleep deprivation.

      My younger son I was much more relaxed with. I didn’t stress it. I did time my pumping a little more regularly because I knew I would be going back to work in the height of the Christmas season (at a toy store–yay!) and would wind up working long hours even though my boss tried to make concessions, but other than that, we just vegged out and I read my Kindle or watched Netflix while nursing, never bothered to time it, occasionally forgot to switch breasts (never made that mistake awesome) from feeding to feeding, ate what I wanted, and generally did everything I had worked so hard not to do the first time around.

      And I was way more successful, because I decided, much like you state, that it was good enough, lol! ;)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I was so sick of breast-feeding with baby #2 that I did exclusive pumping. I think because he almost always had a bottle available, he’s much fatter than my first son ha ha. Or, it could just be genetics. I will tell you that I recently quit breast-feeding forever, and it was the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE.

      • Natasha B

        I feel you there. I’m actually on the fence about whether I will be exclusively BF #4. I mean, I’ve BF 3 kids. I just want to wear a real bra. Plus, sleep. I will be pumping and hubby will be doing bottles some nights.

      • Bethany Ramos

        The pumping and night help from my husband was the best! I’m sure you’ve got a good routine by now with almost 4 kids. :) We split night duties, and it saved my sanity.

    • MerlePerle

      With my first I never really thought about breastfeeding, I just knew that’s what I was gonna do and then I did. She latched right on and it was smooth sailing for 9 months. I was really smug about it too. With my second I had become convinced that bottle feeding mothers just didn’t try enough. 4 weeks in I gave up. I had been bleeding from day 2, it was the worst pain I had every experienced and was getting worse by the minute. It also put a strain on our bonding experience…when I finally gave up it was the biggest relieve but I also really felt like a failure. But I know it was the best decision and breast isn’t always best.

      • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

        That sounds awful. You are a superhero for making it 4 weeks.

    • Shannon

      Actually, you’re doing what’s recommended for breastfeeding moms anyway. Let your baby nurse on demand, and let her stay on until she’s done. They know when they’re hungry and realize when they’re full. It takes a lot of stress out of caring for a baby if you can go with the flow. I was a big ball of stress with my son and I am hoping I’ll be much more relaxed whenever we get around to having another baby.

    • ELK

      I’m on my fist baby — I started out pretty lax. I knew to feed on demand and to let her go as long as she wanted and had been told that stressing about it doesn’t help anything. I didn’t pump religiously because I only leave her to work two days a week. Now she’s three months old and still not gaining weight right. I’m going to start feeding her as often as I can, just hoping that she’ll put on some damn weight. She was nine pounds when she was born. At her first doctor’s appointment, when we found out that she had lost too much weight, she was in the 54th percentile. At two months she was in the 33rd. Two and a half months she was in the 29th and now she’s in the 24th percentile. She’s gaining enough that she’s not “failing to thrive” but she keeps falling on the chart and it’s freaking me out. I just want to make it to six months so we can start introducing solids.

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I think the last sentence of the article is so perfect!!!!! I want it on a t-shirt for Mommyish.

    • kouklaD

      I never had expectations about breastfeeding with my first—if it worked, awesome. I wound up breastfeeding for 19 months. I’m home on maternity leave with my second, and find breastfeeding is so much more painful and messy than with my first. I’m much more relaxed this time around, but damn, the engorgement this time. But this is good for him and I know it will be nice to reconnect with nursing when I go back to work soon.