Breastfeeding was one of the things that I really enjoyed experiencing with our first baby and has been one of the things that I’ve been looking forward to getting to experience again with our second baby. The little lady and I breastfed for ten months although it wasnt without its challenges, especially during the first six weeks. But once we found our rhythm I enjoyed it and was really sad when our breastfeeding journey came to an end.
I didn’t know what to expect the second time round and recently shared my breastfeeding hopes and fears. From experience I know that the first few six to eight weeks are a critical time for establishing breastfeeding, but they can also be some of the most challenging, confusing and frustrating. So I have captured our breastfeeding diaries from the first week to show what it has looked like for us the second time round.
Day 1: Saturday
Straight after our little one was born we had skin to skin contact, but our first breastfeed was not for another hour or two because I needed a couple of stitches straight afterwards. When we finally did get to breastfeed we had some challenges getting an initial latch, I think because we were both learning how to breastfeed together. The little one for the first time and me, a refresher. I was actually surprised by how much I’d forgotten like what positions work well and how to get the correct latch so was thankful when one of the midwives came to help us get started. But whilst she spent quite a while with us, it felt like she just wanted to make sure that the little one got some colostrum and so I didn’t find her that helpful. After about 15 minutes of physically trying to help us get a latch she moved on to supporting us to hand express into a little syringe and then fed it to the little man. It all felt a bit rushed and pressured and it wasnt until she left us that we able to get going at our own pace once we were both a bit more relaxed. We managed a good little feed between the time she left and came back which meant that we felt confident enough to leave the hospital and go home the same day.
Day 2: Sunday
On day two we were breastfeeding on demand through the night and the day. The feeds were relatively sporadic, but I made sure that the little one had a feed at least every three to four hours. My milk hadn’t come in yet but I knew he was getting enough as we had lots of wet and soiled nappies, he was sleeping well and seemed sated and content. Breastfeeding at this point seemed to be relatively smooth, although I started to recognise that sore nipple sensation creeping in. I made a conscious effort therefore to make sure that we were getting the right latch at every feed, taking baby off with my little finger and putting him back on correctly if needed which was much easier to do in the day than at night time when I was half asleep!
Day 3: Monday
On day three we were still breastfeeding on demand with feeds every three to four hours, although sometimes a little more frequently. The feeds were also relatively short still, around five minutes or so where I though that they would be longer but figured it was because my milk still hadn’t come in. At this stage it had started to feel like it was going to come in really soon and I was pretty sure I would wake up in the morning feeling rather full. It was at this point that I also felt like I started needing to use my Medela PureLan cream after each feed to help soothe my sore nipples. If there was one thing I had learnt the first time round, was that prevention is better than cure when it comes to cracked nipples.
Day 4: Tuesday
As expected, I woke up feeling like my milk was starting to come in. I was feeling and looking fuller and I noticed that when I fed I could feel and hear that baby was getting a good amount of milk which was new. Previously I was relying on wet and soiled nappies to be sure that baby was getting milk, but now I could start to hear that he was which was comforting and a sign that we were heading in the right direction. My milk was still looking more yellow than white which I was surprised by, but baby still seemed to be sated and content after each feed so I assumed that this was normal.
Day 5: Wednesday
I woke up and was certain that my milk had now properly come in as I felt very full, but not engorged. We were also feeding a bit more regularly around every two to three hours with each feed lasting between five and ten minutes. I also started to get that familiar let down feeling as the milk came in at each feed. My nipples were still a little sore, but faring reasonably well. We were feeding really well on one side, but not as well on the other side just like with the little lady which meant that by the middle of the day one side felt uncomfortably full and sore which made me start to worry about getting mastitis.
Day 6: Thursday
After a night of feeling really uncomfortable all I could think about was how I could relieve myself and get us starting to feed more on the side that we weren’t feeding very well from. Every time I tried to feed the little one from the less favoured side he really struggled to latch on and ended up getting quite frustrated which then got me really stressed. After a few minutes I usually gave up and reverted back to our easier and more favoured side but I knew from experience that we would just exacerbating the problem. It was really frustrating as we were feeding really well otherwise so I got in contact with Medela’s wonderful Lactation Consultant Sioned who gave us this advice;
This often happens in the early days when you both are getting the hang of breastfeeding and milk coming to volume. If it is still going on practice more on this full side – you might find hand expressing useful to help soften your breast to help him to latch on easier. Keep on checking your breasts after every feed as you are doing- two can pump but take it easy as you don’t want to stimulate more but manage the fullness so they are comfortable. It does settle down, try a few feeding positions too.
Day 7: Friday
After another day of feeling quite sore and uncomfortable I started expressing from one side with my Medela Swing. But I was really conscious that we were still establishing breastfeeding and therefore didn’t want to confuse my body too much so I only expressed the once for around five minutes. I was really surprised by the fact that my milk was still really yellow and that I only managed to express a very small amount as I was expecting there to be a lot more. It helped a little bit to express, but I realised that if nothing changed over the next few days we’d have to head to our local breastfeeding clinic to get some advice and support with positions just like we did the first time round.
On the whole our first week has gone relatively smoothly. We definitely have a few things to work through, like getting a good latch on both sides and balancing out the supply but otherwise it has felt easier and more comfortable than it did the first time. I have to keep reminding myself how early it is still in our breastfeeding journey and that it takes weeks, not days to establish. There are lots of things I forgotten, but there are also lots of things that I remembered and have learnt from experience that have really helped the second time round. It has been similar in many ways, and different in so many ways too and I am really enjoying the start of a whole new breastfeeding journey and experience with the new little man in my life.
Disclosure; This is a collaborative post written as part of my brand ambassador role as a Medela Mum. However all experiences and opinions expressed are my own.