Mellow Mummy: Breastfeeding Baby Number Two : Taking life as it comes...

Thursday 24 May 2012

Breastfeeding Baby Number Two

I consider myself a very lucky mum to have had two daughters who have taken naturally to breastfeeding without a struggle. I'll admit that breastfeeding the second time around hasn't been as easy as it was the first time, but I think we're managing OK! I guess I'm just surprised that breastfeeding is not just a mum-skill but is also a skill your baby has to learn.

When Lara was born, she had a traumatic birth and didn't feed for many hours after the birth - this could well have been to do with the copious amounts of drugs and anaesthetic I had been given. When she did feed, she fed like an animal. Lara fed regularly for the first few days and right from the very first feed she gulped the milk down. Lara was always in a hurry. Even to this day, as she approaches her third birthday, Lara is a gulper. If you offer Lara a drink of water, juice or milk it is gone in seconds with loud, distinctive gulps.

Holly is very very different - a very mellow feeder. When Holly was born, as she laid against my chest in the moments after the birth she naturally shuffled to the breast (it is a natural instinct that, when left to its own devices can result in your baby "crawling" to the breast unaided). Holly feeds regularly and well but she doesn't have the same urgency as Lara. A feed can take well over an hour and will often take place in stops and starts. Holly doesn't suck like she is posessed (!) she calmly goes at her own pace and on her own rules. I can see this becoming quite frustrating in the future when I have people to see and places to go!

Holly also needs help with positioning. Left to her own devices, Holly will suck on the nipple rather than taking a great big mouthful of boob! It hurts, and it isn't efficient for feeding. I keep repositioning her in the hope that one day she will work it out for herself. During the first 48 hours I found it hardest. I didn't have the energy to reposition her and she was constantly sucking; back again for another feed within 2 hours every time. The sucking seemed to be for comfort more than anything and it gave her awful wind which then left her restless and sleepless and me bruised, sore and bleeding. If this had been my first baby I could well imagine having given up breastfeeding at this point, especially as when the milk comes in, you are at an emotional, hormonal peak (I remember the tears from when Lara was two days old).

Thankfully, experience told me that if I could just get through the pain and exhaustion and hold on until the milk came in, then the situation would improve. And it did. The stints between feeds got longer and Holly seemed more satisfied. Breastfeeding isn't easy but it's a skill worth learning - every day I continue to feed, I know I'm setting up Holly for life.
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