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August 9, 2009 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Nursing mother alumni filter: Question about breast feeding a second baby, when you had trouble breast feeding the first.

For nursing mothers, past and present: If you had difficulty breast feeding your first baby (attachment, pain etc) did you find it easier the second or third time around?

I got the hang of it eventually first time 'round, but not without bleeding, pain, classes, sheilds, lanolin and angst, and I'm wondering if I have to start from scratch with the baby I'm expecting later this year. Should I expect the experience to be similar? Should I prepare for classes, pain, shields etc all opver again? Or is it likely that I've learned how to do it now, and will have an easier time?

Just FYI: Mastitis wasn't one of my myriad issues. Thank god.

What was your experience?
posted by lottie to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience, there was no correlation from one to another. With my son, he just never latched on. He had bad jaundice, so on his second day we decided to give him a bottle of formula to get something in him after he hadn't nursed at all. Nothing we tried after that would get him to take the breast. I struggled with pumping for the next month or two before my milk trickled to nothing and then gave up. I didn't feel like I breastfed him at all, and really wanted to punch people who gave me "breast is best" speeches when I took out a bottle.

Before my daughter was born, I gave myself a pep talk to not drive myself crazy, to accept whatever happened, and stocked up on formula, especially when she had mild jaundice too. And then she latched on like a pro and never touched a bottle for ten months. At which time it was a struggle to get her to STOP breastfeeding when I had to take some medication.

In other words, babies will do whatever they want.
posted by saffry at 6:21 PM on August 9, 2009

Data point of 4 or so? In my parenting group there were at least 4 women who were unable to breastfeed the 1st kiddo that had no problem with the 2nd.
posted by k8t at 6:29 PM on August 9, 2009

I agree with above. My first took about 7 days to latch and get the hang of it. Luckily, no problems after that for the next 14 months. My second latched in the recovery room and never let go. My experience with friends has been that every baby is different, and each is a fresh chance to nurse again! Best of luck to you! You'll do great!
posted by pearlybob at 6:34 PM on August 9, 2009

For my first I had a lot of pain, some bleeding and went through tons of lansinoh. But, I forged through it all and breastfed my first for a year.

My second was easy peasy. I guess I knew what to expect and I expected it to be as bad as the first. So, when it wasn't as bad as the first - wheee!

I did learn from the first though and was prepared - lots and lots of lansinoh. I also was prepared for the pain/pinching involved with breastfeeding - something I was completely clueless about the first time around.

So, I guess I'm not sure if it was better for the second or I was just more prepared and knew what to expect. But really the second time around I felt like a pro - been there, done that, you know?
posted by Sassyfras at 6:46 PM on August 9, 2009

I found it depended so much on the baby. My oldest son and I were not able to breastfeed, despite trying everything possible, and it was very stressful (hormones and sleep deprivation and all that). I was very nervous about going through that again with Number 2. Well, Number 2 turned out to be one of those babies they show in the videos at your breastfeeding class: started looking for the nipple about 90 seconds after birth, nursed for most of the first two hours of his life, never would take a bottle... The only problem he and I ever had was some problems with recurring thrush.

Reading above, I had an experience similar to saffry's--we pumped and finger-fed for a few weeks, but I couldn't maintain a milk supply from pumping. If I'd been able to, #1 and I might have figured it out eventually; hard to say. And I really wasn't sure what I would do if #2 didn't nurse right away--on the one hand, I would have wanted to give him a chance to; on the other hand, I didn't want to go through all that hellishness again. Fortunately, Mr. Natural Nurser saved me the trouble.
posted by not that girl at 6:52 PM on August 9, 2009

With my first, he had trouble latching for six weeks (lots of meetings with LCs, used shields, an SNS, pumped around the clock, etc.) and then he/we finally got the hang of it. I had lots of pain, cracked and bleeding nipples, one blocked duct (no mastitis), but eventually everything settled down. I breastfed him for two years (it had dwindled to once a day by then, but he didn't totally wean until then).

With my second (six months ago), I stocked up on everything, really bracing for the first few weeks of nursing. But I nursed him with almost no pain (maybe only a day of engorgement when my milk came in). I knew that he was latching well and knew when he'd stopped eating and I could un-suction myself for a break. It was delightful, everything I had hoped. However, from about 3-5 months old, he stopped gaining weight and was crying frantically at the breast at every feeding for weeks, and I made the switch to formula. (I don't know for sure what the problem was, but I do know I have excess lipase in my breastmilk and he may have simply been rejecting it at the breast based on taste.)

So overall behavior I think will be very individual, variable. However, I think your breasts will probably not recoil in the same way and that you'll bring knowledge about latching, comfort sucking, etc. that will allow you to correct or stop things before they get painful.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:55 PM on August 9, 2009

I was only barely able to nurse my first baby, with lots of help from a lactation consultant who made house calls. Things did not get completely better until he was three months old, though it was fine after that. My second one was born knowing how to eat and did it right even the first time he tried. The difference was not in me at all, it was inborn. It was only chance that they were so different and that the easy one came second.
posted by Ery at 7:21 PM on August 9, 2009

I had a pretty dang easy time with my first, but the two problems I did have -- mastitis and overactive letdown -- didn't happen with the second.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:23 PM on August 9, 2009

6 weeks of cracked nipples and awful pain during latching with the first (plus the standard engorgement). But no problems after that, and I breastfed for a year. I was more prepared with the second one (lanolin, lanolin, lanolin -- start at the hospital!). It took less than 2 weeks to get past the initial pain and now we're 10 months into it with no other problems.

So, yeah, in my experience it's easier the second time around, but it still hurts like a, um, mother.
posted by ellenaim at 7:31 PM on August 9, 2009

I had cracked nipples and pain for the first 2 weeks with all three of my kids. With 1st, my husband convinced me to keep trying. 2nd, I knew what to expect. 3rd, same thing and knew that after a couple weeks it would be better. 2nd had two teeth when born - we did have a few more issues because of that. He had them pulled after a week because he would bite me when nursing, or if his tongue was in the correct position he got sores on his tongue. (They were also very loose and dr was afraid he would inhale them if they came out.)

1st I nursed until 1.5, 2nd until 10 months (he has motor/speech issues - he wasn't able to suck enough for me to produce milk. At that point he was eating some solids anyhow.) 3rd nursed until he was 3 (nap time!)

It sounds like many other women have no issues, or have things different with each kid. Nursing never was fun for me at the beginning, but it did get better. Do freeze some ice packs, and have the lanolin ready - at best you won't need them, at worst you are prepared. Good luck, and know that others have been there too!

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 9:53 PM on August 9, 2009

First one was very hard - born very underweight, physically too small to latch, so I had to pump and bottlefeed him for the first month. Then once he was big enough I had to get him off the bottle and start to breastfeed, which was a painful lesson to learn - nipple shields, nipple shells and lots of lanolin. Then later thrush and a blocked duct. No mastitis thankfully. I nursed him for 17 months, and only weaned because I was pregnant with number 2 and we were worried that nursing would magnify the complications I had with pregnancy number 1 (listen to me, can you tell I have the mommy guilt on weaning?).

Second one was born almost three months ago, and was fairly adept right away. Latch was a little shallow at first, but with a little lanolin and a little time, like maybe a couple of weeks, it all sorted itself out. I would not say I had any actual pain, just mild discomfort during that period. He also had formula in a bottle due to jaundice, but only for a couple of days. I insisted they use slow-flow bottle nipples to reduce the chance of it messing things up for breastfeeding.

I didn't feel like I really remembered anything about "teaching a newborn to breastfeed", so I felt unprepared and was expecting the worst. I got lots of help from the nurses and LCs at the hospital to ease my fears. I assume my nipples were perhaps hardened to nursing more than the first time around? I was also hardcore about putting lanolin on after every nursing session for the first month, until I realised it was unnecessary. Good luck and congratulations!
posted by Joh at 11:13 PM on August 9, 2009

Best answer: Just another point of data:

My wife had terrible pain, cracking, etc with our first who had trouble latching. We now have a one month old son and there is no pain at all with him. My wife never even uses Lanolin with him.

He's just a great latcher, so it varies from kid to kid I would think.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 7:27 AM on August 10, 2009

I think Lansinoh is absolutely necessary, and getting advice from a breastfeeding specialist can be helpful, but after that... I'm convinced that it's all up to the baby. I watched lots of friends & family members have a WIDE range of success with breastfeeding, even though they were all had the lanolin and were doing their part to help the baby get latched on. Some babies don't breastfeed well, for whatever reason, and others seem to do just fine.

So get some lanolin and cross your fingers. Hopefully you'll be lucky the second time round.
posted by eleyna at 9:13 AM on August 10, 2009

It seems in my circle of friends the second-and-after babies were easier to nurse than the first ones were. I wonder if a lot of it comes from just knowing how to prevent a lot of things that we didn't know how to prevent the first time around - engorgement, cracking, etc.

But with my first-born, my left breast didn't produce milk AT ALL. None. Test after test came back inconclusive. I was just lopsided for 13 months. With the second-born? Totally fine. Both breasts produced milk just fine. And it was MUCH easier the second time around. I had lots of pain with let-down the first time, not at all with the second.

Just know that if you do have issues you know where to turn and what to do. Good luck!
posted by cooker girl at 9:15 AM on August 10, 2009

I had a hard time with the first and it took many weeks to get the hang of it. It didn't help that he had reflux. With the second, I started using the lanolin before the baby was born. When the nurse handed me my daughter for the first time, she took right to it and feeding her has been a lot easier (so far).
posted by debgpi at 7:18 PM on August 11, 2009

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