Breastfeeding First Versus Second Child

 
I just pumped four ounces of breastmilk.

FOUR. OUNCES.

For a lot of women, that’s not even remotely impressive. For me, it’s a big deal. With Ryland I never pumped more than 2oz total per session, even at work when I wasn’t feeding her all day. I would sometimes pump at the same time as some of my co-workers, and I remember once seeing that one of my lovely colleagues had pumped like 8oz in a single session. I stared at my measly little ounce per bottle, and I just felt like such a pumping/milk producing failure. Clearly my boobs were broken. Or just really lame.

But this time, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to pump 3-5 oz per session, at home, when I’m still feeding Bobby regularly. And I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling it is to watch my little freezer stash grow every day. I never had a freezer stash last time. It would have taken me 2 weeks to pump enough to save, so I just gave up and did formula when I needed to. Which is absolutely FINE btw. But, any breastfeeding mama can probably relate to the feeling of opening your freezer, seeing milk saved there, and feeling like it just represents:

I find myself visiting my stash sometimes, just to say hi.

I lean over my freezer and lovingly whisper their names:

“Hello there date night out”

“Hello gym trip”

“Hello mani/pedi”

What? This isn’t weird at all.

But in all seriousness, this ability to pump and actually produce something is representative of one of the many ways breastfeeding has been SO MASSIVELY DIFFERENT this time around. Here’s how:

1. Supply. I never had super low supply with Ryland to the point where weight gain was an issue, but my supply was low enough where she had to eat pretty much every 1-2 hours, for months. And when she did eat she took anywhere from 30-90 minutes. At the time I thought that was totally normal and just resigned myself to nursing almost nonstop. It’s also a HUGE reason why we coslept, because with her eating that frequently the alternative was for me give up sleep for 6 months and become a lunatic. Looking back now I realize that a big reason Ryland was so “difficult” was because she just was hungry a lot and needed to fuss so I would feed her.

It it so obvious that my supply this time is bigger. How do I know?

Leaking. This NEVER happened with Ryland. I actually had a huge box of nursing pads I bought after I had her that sat in my closet until I had Bobby because I never needed them. With Bobby the first 6 weeks I leaked A LOT, like went through several nursing pads a day a lot. Like regularly woke up in a lovely puddle of breat milk a lot. Like panic when you hear a baby cry in public because you know you’re about to have a big old milk stain a lot. It’s not fun but it is the cost of having more supply so I’ll take it.

Spraying. Also never did this with Ryland. With Bobby it happens after let down and the poor guy has frequently ended up with milk in his eye or up his nose. Luckily this has started to calm down as well and I’m not as much of a fire hose these days.

Let down. I never really felt let down with Ryland other than the hormonal feeling (hard to describe but a weird happy/sad melancholy/snuggly sensation). But with Bobby I feel the actual sensation of the milk muscles (that’s what they’re called right?) squeezing. It’s a little painful, and pretty weird. But at least it’s a nice warning if I’m not nursing when it happens.

2. Plugged ducts. Last time I had these constantly. Sometimes they were so bad I’d feel ill /run down and would have to take the max dose of ibuprofen round the clock to manage until they went away. I also had blebs constantly (blocked milk pore that hurt like heck during nursing). It was a nonstop party. This time (hopefully not jinxing myself here) I’ve had like one plugged duct. It’s SO much nicer not to constantly have a painful rock hard lump in my boob. My theory is that this is also supply related. Low supply=low flow=milk stasis=plugged duct city.

3. Frequency. This goes along with supply but I feed Bobby so much less frequently, about every 3 hours during the day, 3-7 hours at night. It’s amazing. My life isn’t totally dominated by my boobs like last time. I feel like I have a lot more freedom and don’t have to stress so much about timing life around feeds.

So really minus the leaking and spraying, it’s been such a better/easier experience this time. And if anyone is reading this who had a not so great first breastfeeding experience or were challenged with supply issues, I highly encourage you to try again if you have a second child. Your body just sort of adapts I think and learns how to manage it better.

Now excuse me while I go lovingly stare at my freezer stash.

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