Bo and I are nine months into our breastfeeding journey and I’ve been thinking about our experience a lot lately. One of my friends is struggling with cracked, bleeding nipples as she nurses her second child and my heart goes out to her because I remember being in that same place just months ago. Although things started off a bit rough for us, Baby Bo and I managed to sort things out and I feel very lucky to have had a really good nursing experience so far.
I think this is pretty common, but I seem to have a stud and a dud.
Even before getting pregnant, my left boob has always been a bit bigger. My first son, Littleman, always seemed to have a preference for nursing on the left side. Of course, that only served to make Lefty even bigger. I tried to balance out the feedings, but, in the end, I never managed to feed him off the right side as often.
With Bo, I’ve noticed a similar trend. He always nurses for longer on the left side and is more likely to pull off and latch back on multiple times on the right side. This got me thinking and I noticed something else. Righty has some serious force. If Bo pulls off during a feed, my milk shoots out like a fire hose. Seriously… I could hit a target across the room. Multiple targets, actually. I suppose this could explain why he feeds longer on the other side. Maybe Lefty’s letdown is a lot less forceful. Or maybe Righty is just more efficient, resulting in faster feeds.
Now I don’t really know who is the stud and who is the dud. Is Lefty the stud because Bo likes him better? Or is Righty the stud because he so strong and fierce?
Breastfeeding my second baby started out a lot differently than my first. Bo latched on immediately and seemed to feed really well, right from day one. He gained weight like a champ over the first couple of days of his life and my milk came in quickly. However, like my first breastfeeding experience, I was in severe pain. And even worse? This time I was bleeding. There is nothing like seeing your newborn baby spit up blood that came from your nipple. Gross.
Luckily, our pediatrician discovered that Bo had a tongue tie very quickly (at his first appointment) and we were able to get it clipped right away. A little over a week later, I was all healed and nursing ceased to hurt.
I’ve also been luckier this time around when it comes to blocked milk ducts. It happened to me five or six times throughout the 14 months that I nursed Littleman. This time, it’s only happened once. It hurt like hell but Bo and I managed to clear it pretty quickly through excessive massage and force feeding. Yay for teamwork!
Dump the pump
One area that I hoped to be better at with my second child was pumping and bottle feeding. After following all the recommendations to “wait until breastfeeding is well-established” in the hopes of avoiding “nipple confusion”, we ended up waiting too long and Littleman flat out refused to take a bottle. Ever.
Of course, while I wasn’t offering a bottle, I was still busy pumping away to “build up a freezer stash”. I’m not exactly sure why I felt a freezer stash was necessary (I was on maternity leave for a year) but it seemed like it was the thing that everyone did.
We wasted a whole lot of frozen breastmilk trying to get the kid to take a bottle and ended up using some of it to mix with cereal when he started eating (and ultimately, hating) solids.
Take two. We offered Bo a bottle much earlier and, at times, it looked like he might cooperate and actually drink from it. But, in the end, he agreed with his brother that the breast was preferable. Since pumping is something that I generally hate and would only do if I absolutely needed to (i.e. when I’d wake in the night about to burst but baby was still sleeping), I didn’t bother filling my freezer with bags of milk. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I pumped for this kid.
This is where I need to give props to all those moms who pumped in order to feed their babies breastmilk – either because nursing wasn’t working or due to returning to work. You are amazing. Truly.
As I reflect on our breastfeeding experience so far, I realize I have so much more to write about. Stay tuned for the rest…