I have written this post as part of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding scavenger hunt for National Breastfeeding Awareness Week. All week, bloggers will be sharing their breastfeeding experiences. Today’s theme is ‘Breastfeeding Support’. See the bottom of the post for details of how to enter the competition to win £1000 worth of breastfeeding products.
Before I had Rory, I often wondered whether my breastfeeding experience would be the same with a second child, or whether the saying ‘all babies are different’ would ring true in the case of breastfeeding.
Do you experience the same nipple soreness the second time round? Do you experience it even if you are still breastfeeding your older child? Will I get the same feeling of ‘fullness’ between feeds in the early days even though I’m breastfeeding an older child and have a well established supply? Will I find positioning just as hard? Will I have forgotten how to breastfeed a newborn??
Rory was born and latched straight away. There has never been any of this on/off business that Arlo suffered with. It would sometimes take 30 mins for Arlo to latch successfully, with Rory it was as if he already knew what he was doing. As Rory latches so well, positioning has not been an issue. I couldn’t believe how easy it all was compared to my first breastfeeding experience.
There was some initial nipple soreness, lasting maybe a week. But feeding Rory has never made me curl my toes or stamp my foot in pain as it did for four long weeks with Arlo.
The fullness is the same. Although this time round I have a breastfeeding toddler, so I never feel ‘full’ for long.
Although breastfeeding a newborn is very different to breastfeeding a toddler, I found that it all clicked back into place as soon as Rory was born.
What did surprise me was suddenly feeling a bit self conscious when it came to Rory’s first breastfeed in public. But it had been a long while since I’d fed Arlo around anyone other than Sam.
So, I’ve found that a lot of things are the same, or very similar. But there have been massive differences too, and this is where the importance of support comes in.
With Arlo, my first newborn, I asked every visiting midwife and health visitor at my postnatal appointments to check his latch. “Are you sure he isn’t tongue-tied??”, I’d ask, hoping for a simple solution. But everyone said he was fine, that he just needed to learn. We had all these problems with Arlo and breastfeeding, and yet it was Rory, my perfect-breastfeeding second child, who turned out to have a tongue tie.
I say that Rory was a perfect feeder, but the reality was that I was so relieved that we had no huge feeding issues, that I completely missed his underlying issues. I went to a breastfeeding drop in session at my local children’s centre (I went to this specific one because I know that an IBCLC volunteers there).
Initially, I didn’t think that Rory’s tongue tie was an issue. I could see that he could move his tongue up and down, and he was causing me no pain and was gaining weight VERY efficiently (despite being a big baby at birth, Rory never lost any of his birth weight and has been gaining like a beast)
The lactation consultant helped me to identify that Rory was glugging down far too much air, and was a very snacky feeder – things that I hadn’t even acknowledged amongst the hecticness of having a toddler and a new baby. She asked me a lot of questions about his feeds that I didn’t really have answers for, I realised that I hadn’t really been paying enough attention to his feeding habits at all. She also confirmed that his tongue tie was prominent and affecting his tongue movement, and that his latch was very shallow. (In fact, she said, in the nicest possible way, that his latch and my positioning could do with improvement. It’s something I’m working on, but I find it near on impossible to work on good latch when I have a toddler climbing all over me for the majority of Rory’s feeds).
The breastfeeding drop in gave us a referral to the tongue tie clinic at the hospital, where Rory’s tie was cut. The instant results were a wider latch and no longer gulping down air with every suck. It’s not a cure-all for bad latch, we still have to concentrate on that. But when everything falls into place, he transfers more milk and is satisfied for much longer periods of time. Good latch and milk transferral also helps to ensure my supply is steady and plentiful (I would imagine that if it wasn’t for Arlo breastfeeding as well, we might have encountered poor supply issues before Rory’s tie was cut, but lucky Rory has been benefiting from Arlo’s help in regulating my supply).
In all honestly, as a breastfeeding ‘veteran’, I wasn’t expecting the breastfeeding drop in to be of much use to me. I was proved completely wrong, they have helped me loads and continue to welcome me back, provide Arlo with biscuits and toys, and offer support with positioning to ensure that Rory is transferring milk as effectively as possible.
I have been breastfeeding for two and a half years, yet it was only after Rory was born that I found myself seeking support for the first time. I don’t know why I didn’t visit a breastfeeding drop in with Arlo, I really should have. It was probably a combination of being unfamiliar with the children’s centre environment (having a child was unfamiliar to me at that point!), not being particularly confident getting my newborn out of the house, into the buggy, and navigating a new place at one week postpartum. I also didn’t know that there was a difference in breastfeeding experience between the midwives on the postnatal ward, the health visitors, breastfeeding councillors, and IBCLCs. I didn’t even know what an IBCLC was. And so I took what the postnatal ward midwives and health visitors told me as a given, and didn’t ever think to seek further advice.
Good breastfeeding support and advice is invaluable no matter where you are in your breastfeeding journey. It’s worth going along to a breastfeeding cafe or group whether you are a breastfeeding beginner or someone who has been breastfeeding for a while. You don’t even have to have a specific problem (I didn’t when I first took Rory), you can just go along for a general chat and to socialise with other mums. I can’t help but think that things might have been that little bit easier if I’d taken Arlo in the early days of his life.
Reading all the posts from last year’s scavenger hunt was one of my blogging highlights of the year, and I’m really excited to see what kinds of interesting posts and different perspectives crop up this week. We’re only a few days in, but a couple have already caught my eye:
Through hashtags like #3amfc or #nightfeeds I met a whole load of other mums who were up with babies (however they were feeding). And even at normal times of the day, Twitter mums – and dads – were and still are a fantastic source of advice and comfort - I really got into Twitter when Arlo was born for similar reasons. Gill from A Baby on Board shares her fab tips about breastfeeding and Social Media
Stock up on lots of maternity bras. It is fairly normal to leak a lot in those first few months and there is nothing worse than discovering all your bras are crusty (they do actually go crusty when the milk dries). - Jess from Mum to Baby Insomniac has written some really to-the-point tips, I would have really liked to have read something so honest and detailed before I had Arlo. A must-read if you are just about to start breastfeeding for the first time.
I’m not talking about one of those over-priced cushioned nursery chairs you see in the catalogues. I mean, if you want one of those chairs then by all means get one, but that’s not really your breastfeeding station. That’s just the place you’ll be angrily breastfeeding from at 6am, furiously wishing you’d created a better breastfeeding station – I found myself chuckling and nodding along with this oh-so-true post on creating a ‘breastfeeding station’ from Fiona from Pea Musings
I really, really, really don’t think most new mothers realise how often newborn babies need to breastfeed, especially since the generation before us were taught to schedule feeds. – I certainly didn’t with Arlo, I’m much more relaxed about Rory wanting to feed all the time. As always, Adele from Circus Queen‘s breastfeeding posts are a great read.
Breastfeeding burns calories, so you are going to be hungry. Don’t feel like you should be dieting, you don’t and it’s the worst time to. – Some more great tips from Jodie at Life with Pink Princesses.
And there loads of breastfeeding-related companies offering up prizes for the scavenger hunt, including Bravado (I’m currently testing two of their nursing bras and they are now my favourites).
Enter the Rafflecopter below to be in with a chance of winning all these great products: