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)