Second Try at Breastfeeding

I had a tough go of it the first time around. After being “stuck” in the birth canal for about 4 hours, my daughter finally made it into the world. She failed pretty immediately to latch on. We soon figured out she was tongue-tied but the only local doctor that could help was in another country doing charity work and once he was back he was pretty booked up. I called daily, hoping someone would cancel and we’d be fit in. We went to a “baby chiropractor” for craniosacral therapy. She would latch on immediately after our sessions, but never again until the next one. I remember just breaking down when the therapist hugged me before one session – it was the motherly hug I’d needed, with my own mom so far away in Florida. I’d heard stories about blistered, bloody nipples, but not about a baby’s failure to latch. I tried and tried and tried, for weeks and weeks, shoving my breast into my daughter’s face. Her tiny head was smaller than my huge breast. All the while she screamed and screamed and I cried and cried. I would pump and my husband would do the finger feeding instead of starting her on the bottle so she wouldn’t get nipple confusion with the hope that one day she’d figure it out. He bonded with my baby while I sat strapped to the pump like a farm animal. We were holding out for the tongue tie snip – it was our cure-all. Except it cured nothing.

Ready for the next feeding!

I tried getting her to latch on for another week after that and then I gave up, finally giving her a bottle at just over a month old. As I continued to exclusively pump, I continued to be plagued with painful clogged ducts. I remember once just punching my breast, trying anything to get the clog out. I had no problems with supply – I was pumping 48-72 ounces per day. Right around this time, we also figured out that she had reflux. It was a tough time. At eight weeks old I gave her the first formula bottle. I went to a mothers’ group the next morning, and left ten minutes into it crying, as they said even one formula bottle messes with a baby’s digestive system. I wish I could go back and stand up for myself and call bullshit. Or at least say “STOP JUDGING!” I never went back. Finally, a friend started dragging me out to stroller fitness classes and when my daughter was three months old I went back to work. Once I was back to work, I felt like I’d rejoined the human race. I was finally away from all those lactation consultants (except mine who rocked!) and other moms who I was sure were judging me for my decisions. While I was racked with guilt in the beginning about stopping pumping and starting formula because it was the right thing for ME, I soon relaxed into our new routine of formula feeding.

Fast forward two years. I became pregnant again and almost immediately began fretting about the possibility of breastfeeding. The problem the first time around had been with my daughter, not me. But what if it DID work? I now felt that formula feeding was easy enough – anyone could do it, it was super easy to do in public, the baby really didn’t seem to care what kind of milk she’d gotten, she’d lived and even (gasp!) flourished with formula instead of breast milk. Breastfeeding was not something I knew anything about! When my second daughter was born, her tongue tie was detected while we were still in the hospital. We pushed and got it taken care of as soon as possible before we left the hospital. We had our early struggles with latching, but overall it was very successful. Once she arrived, I stopped worrying and just kind of went with the flow. And this time around the breastfeeding worked out! It sure made things different in many ways. I was now always the one getting up with her during the night and even now, at 10 months old, I am always the one putting her down for naps and bed. I’m still feeding on demand and for comfort as needed. It seems easier to sooth her than my first child, but she doesn’t have reflux issues. It’s hard to tell how much the breastfeeding plays into my second daughter’s more relaxed temperament, but I am glad I’ve been able to experience what it’s like to breast feed a child. And I am amazed daily that my body produces something that exclusively nourished my child for 5 months until she started on solid food. Our bodies really are amazing.

12 thoughts on “Second Try at Breastfeeding

  1. My first son happily breast fed (once I got the hang of it after a few weeks!) for about 7 months. My second son and I fought and fought about it — he didn’t want to, and finally after 4 months, I gave up (the first of many battles he won, that stubborn Taurus!). They are both grown men now (32 & 27) and they both turned out great! And they both love me equally, I believe. “Go with the flow” should be the official slogan for breast-feeding, because that’s exactly what everyone should do: relax and do what feels right for the mom and the baby, not for anyone else who has no business judging!

  2. Jenn I’m sorry you got such a negative response about breastfeeding both from other moms and lactation professionals. I never would have made it breastfeeding, at all, let alone still, if I hadn’t supplimented in those early days. I did that despite what is typically recommended for breastfeeding success…and my daughter’s pediatrician fully supported my decision. I’m still grateful for that. She never judged one way or the other, breast or formula feeding. She told me I needed to do what was right for me. She could see the stress it was causing me but also knew it was important to me…and gave me the support to do what I felt was best. And, well, you know the rest of the story… 🙂

    I know you’re relatively new to our blog team, but I’m not sure how long you’ve been following the blog itself…I’ve written about breastfeeding several times, if you want to go back and read. I can so relate to so much of what you’re saying here. Breastfeeding is not easy. Good for you for trying again; not an easy choice to make with a tough first experience.

  3. Amen, sister! No one talks about how hard it is and there seems to be such a culture of shaming the educated mother who cannot (for a host of reasons) breastfeed. Women need to hold each other up!

  4. Awesome article . . . I felt all kinds of anxiety reading the first part of your experience just from thinking about all that we worry about as first time moms – just hoping we do it right and knowing nothing about how that looks.I had similar feelings about breast feeding being important. My son did o.k. but as mentioned, I developed cracked bloody nipples, that I personally did not know about. Then, to my surprise, ended up with fevers due to breast infections then on antibiotics and worry about thrush for the baby, and on and on. The second child, as you mentioned, it all seemed much easier just to go with the flow. What happened with her was something I had never expected, she would not take a bottle. She would not take anything but the boob. They told me not to give her a pacifier or bottle in the hospital because of nipple confusion, well, she was not confused at all about what she wanted. It has been just about two years and I am still at it with her. I had to take some antibiotic for the last 10 days so I have been using that as a way to break us both from the boob time. I really don’t mind it other than when she asks for it by name “boobie” in public or reaches in my shirt to have it. I have wondered how long she will want it if I don’t cut her off??? Will I be the mom with the 7 year old kid still asking for boobie? I have been using it to my advantage really because she wakes up at 5am every single day . . . nursing in the morning buys me an extra 20 minutes to lay in bed with her, otherwise, I am on the clock immediately. She has gone 10 days now with no nursing, but still asks for it. I know if I give in one time, I will be back in it. She will be 2 on the 20th, I am debating if this is a good time to just be done, or does she know what she needs? Am I depriving her of a connection that she desperately needs right now? I guess I will just take it one day at a time.

    1. Chiming in because I see Jenn pointed you to my most recent post below… I struggle with this too. My daughter is now past 2.5 and I keep hearing from everyone how she couldn’t possibly need to nurse anymore, there’s no need to keep breastfeeding, etc. But it’s more for her (and me) than just nutrition. Let’s face it, at two years old, the majority of their calories are coming from a slew of foods other than breast milk; I know that. But this has been a part of our lives for SO LONG. It’s part of our daily routine, it’s how we connect and reconnect…that’s not easy to give up or say that she no longer needs that…because who doesn’t? Other babies just get that need met in other ways. Ours need to learn to do that when we wean.

      I’ve been giving my daughter lots of extra snuggles when I say no to breastfeeding. I offer the cow’s milk and a snack too, but most often she’s not looking for food as a replacement; she wants the closeness. We’ve only made it two days so far without nursing, but that was because I was feeling like I needed her to nurse and I refused to break out the pump after so long. It’s now been two more days, with tomorrow morning being the third time I’ll refuse…I don’t feel the same physical need to nurse like I did that first time, so as you are doing, we’ll take it one day at a time.

      I don’t think there’s one right answer to how to wean a toddler. Just be forgiving with yourself (and her) during the process and take it as it comes. Good luck!

  5. I’m so glad it worked out for you the second time around. I totally agree that no one should judge us for whether or not we formula or breastfeed – it’s such a personal choice! It’s interesting to hear your perspective as far as how the experience has differed (you having to do all the nighttime feedings this time etc.)

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