Reader Question: I’m getting ready for a second chance at breastfeeding when our daughter is born next month. I attempted breastfeeding with our first, but that only lasted about a week. I met with the lactation consultant 2-3 times during that first week, and she could see nothing really wrong with his latch or my nipples or anything really, but we just never jived.
He would scream and arch his head away and get rigid when it was time to nurse which would leave me in tears within minutes myself. I was worried he wasn’t getting enough since he wouldn’t really ever nurse so I was already pumping/feeding through a dropper before we even left the hospital.
It just became easier to know that he was actually getting nourishment, so after only about 1 week I switched to pumping exclusively and continued for 5 months, when my supply started to dwindle. I then supplemented my breastmilk with formula until he was 9 months at which point we switched entirely to formula. So I pumped for nine months (7 of those months while back at work) and it was exhausting but I felt like at least he was getting breastmilk so it was worth it to me.
I am really anxious to try breastfeeding this time around and praying for a different result. For some reason I feel like so many of my friends had very similar experiences with their first child where nursing never worked out so they pumped instead, but with their second child breastfeeding was so much easier and their baby nursed with no problem. Why is that I wonder? More confidence on the part of the mom? So I’m hoping our experience will be like that where Baby #2 nurses like a champ.
I wanted to pick your brain about why things went increasingly better for you with each child and what tips you might have for our second attempt to be more successful. I’m about 35 weeks along and also wondered if there was something I should be doing now to help boost my supply before she is born (or do you pretty much have to wait for your milk to come in?) I don’t feel like I ever really had a supply issue – when I pumped during the first 5 or so months, I was able to get between 30-40 oz in a day, no problem. It eventually dwindled probably because the demand wasn’t there since I was having to reduce the frequency of my pumpings due to work.
Any tips in general you have would be great. Ideally I would love to nurse exclusively for about 8-10 weeks until I have to return to work and then I plan to pump and give bottled breastmilk for as long as I can like I did with our first. But I would also love to be able to continue to nurse during that time (like mornings and evenings) – any suggestions on how to bottle and breastfeed simultaneously?
The babies will be 20 months apart so if you have any general parenting tips on having 2 under 2 then feel free to pass that along since you seem to have plenty of experience in that area too!
I can relate all too well with your first experience breastfeeding! I’m not sure Baby #1 and I even made it a week! Frankly, I think I’ve subconsciously blocked that week out of my memory because it was the week from hell. What I had been told was one of the most beautiful things I would ever experience turned out to be the most painful. thing. ever. I was in tears all day, every day. She was in tears all day, every day.
We also had a lactation consultant come visit us who told me I’d be cooking dinner with one arm and nursing her with the other in no time. I’m pretty sure I just blank-stared her. After wiping my blood off Baby #1’s cheek for the umpteenth time, I ordered a whole case of Earth’s Best and put an end to the nipple torture madness.
WHY BABY MAY ARCH BACK OR GO RIGID WHEN NURSING
You mentioned Baby #1 would scream, arch his back, and go rigid when it came time to nurse. I think the two most likely causes were either:
– 1 – GAS
Trapped gas bubbles are the worst. The medical community isn’t exactly sure why infants are so susceptible to gas. The best guess is that their digestive systems are still working up to full throttle.
To Relieve Gas:
a) Drape baby across the underside of your forearm, with the baby’s face pointing towards the ground (kind of like how a receiver would run with a football =) and burp her lightly on the back with a cupped hand. Baby’s head can point towards the crook of your arm or your palm. This is our go-to position. I think the pressure on the belly feels good to them.
b) Lay baby on her belly across your lap and rub her back.
c) Move baby’s legs in a bicycle motion, pressing the knees into the chest, to help relieve gas.
– 2 – REFLUX
Arching the back is one sign of reflux. We all know spit up comes with the baby territory (a territory marked by mounds of laundry…..)
But if the spit up is accompanied by coughing, gagging, swallowing a lot and angry, angry screams, you may have wandered into reflux territory. Reflux happens when the acidic contents of the stomach travel up the esophagus because the sphincter that acts as the barricade between the two opens when it should be closed.
Whether you’ve been pregnant or just under-estimated your alcohol tolerance, I think we’re all familiar with how insanely terrible stomach acid feels on your throat. Sometimes babies with reflux will thrash around to try to relieve the pain.
Most baby reflux is pretty obvious, a la le constant spit up, but others suffer from silent reflux (adults gets this too), where the acid only travels partially up the esophagus. So not only does it burn coming up, the poor things have to endure the acid sliding back down their throat.
To Relieve Reflux:
a) Hold baby as upright as possible:
- after baby eats. For at least 30 minutes. (Best excuse ever to mindlessly browse ModCloth, Lookbook Store… Daydreaming about a new wardrobe + baby cuddles will make 30 minutes feel like mere seconds =).
- and even while baby sleeps. Pretty much just hold your baby upright 24-7. I josh. I josh. This one’s a bit tricky because you’re supposed to put any baby 6 months and under to sleep on their backs always and forever. SIDS and all. So…some options to check out for the reflux baby: a wedge pillow, The Tucker Sling, a crib wedge.
b) Ask the doc. Occasionally babies have reflux so badly they need meds. The only dumb question is the unasked question.
THE SECRET TO BREASTFEEDING SUCCESS THE SECOND TIME AROUND
Why are so many mamas able to breastfeed the second time around when it didn’t work out the first time?
*The not-so-secret secret: They bid adieu to any and all rose-colored expectations. For 99% of breastfeeding women (based on the very scientific basis of my opinion), painless, effortless breastfeeding is an optical illusion, especially at the beginning.
With piranha #1 I actually thought I could keep attending my three hour long grad school classes and still exclusively breastfeed. Oh sweet, ignorant three-years-ago-me. You poor, unenlightened, milk-soaked-shirt-wearing soul….
So when piranha #2 essentially slid out (yes, there are some perks to having babies super close together!), I was prepared to have him perma-attached to my boobs in perpetuity.
I also expected breastfeeding to open up its best can of whoopass on me. I’ve heard of these mythical creatures, women for whom breastfeeding is painless. I am not of this blessed group. Knowing the pain I was in store for, I had my tools ready to deal with it:
- I iced my boobs about every two hours, around the clock, to take down the swelling;
- I hand expressed milk when I became painfully full.
- I took my time unlatching him when I knew he hadn’t latched well.
And those first couple weeks, screen time rules took a back seat to reality. Ellie, who was 14 months at the time, got to watch all the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse her little heart desired. Dishes were not done. Laundry piled up. I’m sure you could smell us from a mile away. I made a very intentional decision to be a bad housewife for the sake of establishing a good breastfeeding relationship.
AND BREASTFEEDING WORKED OUT THE SECOND TIME AROUND EVEN THOUGH IT WAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HELLISH EXPERIENCE THE FIRST TIME!
STEPS TO INCREASE MILK SUPPLY WHILE PREGNANT?
As for milk supply, really the name of the game is just getting in as many nutrients into your body as possible. So lots of varied protein, red meat, chicken, fish. Lots of veggies, fruits. Healthy fats.
For me, my milk supply drops when I snack on carbs. Not that the carbs decrease my milk supply, it’s just that after I pound half a box of Cheez-Its, I’m not so much hungry for the grilled chicken in the fridge anymore.
With baby no. 2 I had over-supply issues. With baby no. 3 I’ve had under-supply issues. Of course. Whenever I’ve felt like my supply was dropping, I’ve tried to up my fats (like putting coconut oil in my coffee), eating oatmeal for breakfast, and drinking a gallon of water a day.
COMBINING BOTTLE FEEDING AND BREASTFEEDING
and watch the 2nd video. I am a raving fan of Paleo Parents, especially Stacy. In the video, she talks about breastfeeding and pumping simultaneously while working. She’s a La Leche League certified lactation consultant, super hard core paleo eater, mom of 3, who works outside the home. So she’s pretty much a rockstar and does a far better job at explaining the bfing-pumping combo than I ever could!
2 UNDER 2 WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE
Kids really are the ultimate oxymoron. They make you want to throw your own tantrum and smother them with kisses all at the same time. When I discover my jewelry has been buried all over the back yard, I want to do unmentionable, violent things, and then my 3 yr old proudly exclaims they’ve found buried treasure, the 2 yr old giggles with delight. And my heart melts. C’est la kid life.
All that to say, as far as having 2 under 2, no rose-colored glasses here. I’m not gonna lie. Having two under two is hard. In fact I think having two under two is actually harder than three under three.
I think I was most surprised by the physical demand of having two under two. Just carrying two babies around, changing two sets of diapers, loading and unloading two babies out of the car…..it’s just really physically demanding. I’m still trying to strengthen my lower back muscles at the gym. They’re constantly being assaulted by the need to bend over repeatedly with a baby on my hip.
I will say this, something happened when Baby #2 turned 6 months. I don’t know what. I just know it got a whole lot easier.