I've been breastfeeding Rohan for 9 months now. It has been a much different journey than my breastfeeding relationship with Ethan. Some things have been easier (no weight gain issues!), but others have been harder (hello lip and tongue ties). Here are nine things I've learned breastfeeding the second time around.
|Rohan and I in early February 2015. This is how we nurse.|
I love his chubby little hand holding on to mine.
Photo by Valerie Cannon Photography
- Each baby is different. Ethan used pacifiers and took bottles very easily. Rohan spits out pacis and grudgingly takes a bottle from his dad. I could go on and on about their differences. Sometimes it's hard to believe they're brothers!
- It's hard not to let the negatives of the first experience bleed over into the second. My main issue with Ethan was a very slow weight gain. I didn't do a great job keeping track of his diapers the first few days of life and that got us into a bit of trouble. After Rohan was born, I fed him every 2-3 hours and never went more than 4 hours without a feed for the first several weeks of life. I watched those diapers like crazy. While I could have relaxed more than I did, all of my hyper vigilance paid off: Rohan was a half pound OVER birth weight at 2 weeks!
- Thank goodness I know what I know. Studying to become an IBCLC has helped greatly during the last 9 months. I know what what to expect, and how to handle things when they don't go as expected. I noticed R's lip and tongue ties while we were still in the hospital and was able to nurse accordingly. I contacted an IBCLC once we got home for confirmation and to make sure things were going well.
- Older siblings may be curious. Ethan was very curious about the baby drinking mommy milk. So curious that he asked to nurse. I believe his exact words were, "No, I don't want it from a cup. I want to drink it from your boob!" I was curious, too - I wanted to see what he would do! I let him climb up, but he didn't want to latch. He's been asking all kinds of questions about my pump and how long Rohan nurses. He also asks me to tell him about when he used to drink mommy milk.
- Baby knows best. Just as with Ethan, we've been taking all of our cues from Rohan: when it's time for a nap, when it's time to eat, everything. That includes when to start solid foods. At six months, R never seemed interested in solids. He didn't watch us eat, try to grab food, or make chewing motions with his mouth. He started showing an interest around 7.5 months. After a puking incident with a piece of avocado, we decided to wait a little longer.
- The overnight feeds aren't the worst. The 3am feedings haven't been too bad this time around. I don't know whether it's the fact that I won't be breastfeeding ever again, or being able to stay at home with the boys. I don't mind them as much this time around. When we breastfeed during the day, I'm often distracted by big brother, or silently willing him to finish so I can move on to the next thing. At night, I get to breathe him in, kiss his hands in my face, watch his eyes grow heavy with sleep, and know he's done when he lets out the contented sigh.
- I still need support the second time around. I lost my breastfeeding group when we moved from DFW to Austin. While things have been going really well for us, I miss being around other breastfeeding women. Sure, there's a lot of online support, which is wonderful. However, there's something about women feeding their babies together that creates camaraderie and support. No one quite understands like another breastfeeding mom.
- Nursing rooms are not evil. E was awesome at nursing in public. He'd latch, get what he needed, and that was it. He was efficient and focused. Rohan is a very distracted nurser. He wants to see the world around him, flash me a smile and giggle, talk a little, and then get back to eating. Nursing covers and scarves turn into a game, so they're not an option for us. I've taken to nursing him in the car or utilizing nursing rooms when they're available. They're also great for corralling E while I nurse the baby. I'm a firm believer in a mom and baby nursing where and how they're most comfortable. At this point, nursing rooms work best for us.
- I love breastfeeding, but I don't always like it. Rohan has just started to show an interest in solids. We've got 9 months of being exclusively breastfed, without formula, water, or foods. Have I mentioned that he prefers to drink from the tap rather than take a bottle? That's a lot of touching. There have been times where I am just done. I'm done being his pacifier, done being his primary source of comfort, done being his all you can eat restaurant. There are nights where the thought of anyone touching me is more than I can bear. The last few feedings of the day are done through gritted teeth or I hand him off to Dad once I notice he's getting sleepy. Luckily the feelings go away after a few hours.
- Each baby is different. It's so important to remember that I had to mention it twice! We've been doing things so differently this time around. Sometimes I feel like a first time mom. It has truly taught me to forget my expectations.
With things going as well as they have been going, we will make it to a year very easily and most likely making it to two years! This experience has had its challenges, but it is by far one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.