Little S is now 8 weeks and the breastfeeding is well established. Before she was born I was curious would breastfeeding my second baby be any different to my first. And ‘yes’ it is.
The beginning was easier, because I knew what to expect. I also had no reasons to be nervous about Little S’s growth, because I learnt to trust that babies eat what they need when I breastfed Big F. That doesn’t mean there were no difficult moments and doubt.
The first week was the hardest, especially the night feeds. Not so much because of waking up so many times – I was powered by love and adrenaline – but because I didn’t see what I was doing and found it hard to get a good latch. I didn’t want to put the main light on – to keep things dark and show Little S it’s night time. The night light was too far to reach from the bed (we had some work done in the house just before our baby girl was born and many things are not where they should be).
Poor latching at night meant that my nipples were sore, though luckily not cracked. There was so much going on with a toddler around that I didn’t manage to use nipple cream. The soreness went away on its own within a few days, once Little S and I got to grips with latching techniques.
From the start my milk supply seemed to be good, but luckily I didn’t suffer from engorgement. In a way it’s a shame as I was curious to compare Medela cooling gel pads we’ve been sent and good old cabbage leaves. Though I won’t be complaining too much about that!
We have faced an additional challenge to breastfeeding, as Little S developed fever of 38 degrees when she was just 2 weeks old (scary!) and we were both hospitalised. Because of suspected blood poisoning my poor little girl was stabbed and drugged more than I wish to remember.
Throughout our stay in the hospital I was happy that through breastfeeding I was able to give Little S nourishment and comfort. And help doctors’ efforts by providing her with my antibodies.
There was one afternoon when she didn’t want to feed and her fontanelle was a bit sunken – a sign of dehydration. She was too exhausted after crying for half an hour, while doctors tried to take blood samples and put cannula into her tiny veins.
When I asked the senior nurse what will happen if she doesn’t feed in the next hour or two I was told she would be offered a bottle of formula. I was surprised that expressing wasn’t mentioned. The only reason for using a bottle of formula would be the ease of drinking for a tired baby and that nurses can see how much milk she had. Expressed breast milk would do the same, but would also help Little S’s immune system and be easier to digest. Given that NHS promotes breastfeeding as the best for the baby I was surprised at the let’s-try-formula-first approach.
After 5 days in hospital we both returned home. Doctors told us to treat Little S as if nothing had happened. Thanks to antibiotics the blood infection has cleared and there was no reason to wrap her in cotton wool thereafter. It was a relief to know she is well and we can take her for walks and trips.
The difference between my first and second breastfeeding experience is that I have more milk this time round and Little S feeds for longer. About 15-20 minutes initially and now at 8 weeks 10-15 minutes.
Feeding at home is not a problem, but I have had an incident when feeding in the park. Namely: Big F walked off. Quite far. I could see him all the time, but he would not respond to my calls. A kind dog walker took interest and brought him back. That was scary. That he would walk so far and that he would take a nice stranger’s hand.
From now on I always make sure that:
I’m with someone else, usually a friendly mum we meet at the park
We are in a cafe and Big F is within four walls
I have a tempting snack for him – like raisins or corn puffs
So far it has worked well and he didn’t wander off again.
Now that breastfeeding is well established it’s time to start pumping and test Little S with a bottle. It would be nice to go out or start Tai Chi classes – I tried DVD and it’s impossible to learn properly at home, without a master correcting you.
What did you find helpful when feeding your second child, with a toddler around? I’d love to hear from you so do leave me a comment or get in touch on Twitter (@mumbalance).
PS. We have been sent Medela breastfeeding parafernalia to test. All opinions and stories and true, my own and honest.