3 Things I Learned About Breastfeeding the Second Time Around
When I was pregnant with my first child, I was given all kinds of information about breastfeeding. The majority of the advice was well-intentioned and went something like this: “It is the most natural thing in the world.”
But for me, it wasn't. It took me a long time to get it right, and even when I finally did, I occasionally had mixed feelings about it.
By the time I became pregnant with my second, I knew a lot of moms with more than one child. I got lots of advice and opinions on nursing your second but wasn't sure what to make of any of it. Was it going to be easier this time around because I was more experienced? Or was it going to be harder because I had another child to care for as well?
Here is what I learned:
Nursing was still painful in the beginning, but this time the beginning didn't last nearly as long. My nipples were most definitely irritated but didn't crack and bleed, so that was an improvement. It still wasn't a cake walk, and I certainly wouldn't describe it as coming naturally, but, it was easier than with my first.
I credit two things to my improved nursing experience: soothing gel pads (seriously, look those up!) and the assistance of a good lactation consultant very early on. Both of those things were vital to my nursing success. Oh! And coconut oil. Do yourselves a favor and ditch the nipple cream. Coconut oil worked wonders for me.
Nursing hasn't gotten old (yet). With my first, I was pulling my hair out by the time she was 3months old. And even though there were times when nursing my second felt like serious work, it didn't get to me in the same way. Maybe it was because by the time I had my son I was already used to feeling “over touched.” Or maybe it was because I knew my second child would also be my last. Either way, I have found myself to be much more patient with the (seemingly never ending) nursing demands this time around.
Nursing in public is actually no big deal. With my first, I was embarrassed to nurse in front of my own parents, much less in public places! Once my second was born, however, I realized I just didn't have it in me to feel self-conscious. I was too tired and too busy with my 2-year-old to seek out a private place to nurse and too brain dead to remember any kind of cover.
At this point, I have literally nursed everywhere. A train. The woods. Walking around Target. I've even nursed inside a bounce house. Seriously. It has been a truly liberating experience. And you know what? No one has said a single negative thing to me. In fact, I've gotten more than a few high fives.
Nursing my daughter felt like a healing experience for us both. It was almost magical. I was amazed that my body could sustain a human being. And although a bit of that novelty wore off by the time my son was born, it has still been an experience worth having — one I wouldn't trade away. Even for more sleep! And if you know me and my children, that is really saying something.