Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Breastfeeding - the second time around

Bobbin's first breastfeed - less than 10 minutes old
Breastfeeding is such a natural thing... that didn't come very naturally to me at all last time. I struggled. A lot. Despite reading all about it, joining the Australian Breastfeeding Association, attending meetings and seeing three lactation consultants.

It took two months for anyone to realize that I had a massive oversupply and was drowning the Trickster, making him pull back and have an incorrect latch. Hello cracked, bleeding nipples and a world of pain. I also got nipple thrush a few times and just as it cleared up a lovely golden staph infection. Niiiice.

I ended up pumping half of Tricky's feeds just to give my poor nipples a break. It took a while, but we got there and soon enough (though it didn't feel quick at the time!) we found our stride. And then some.

I thought this time around, with a bit of experience up my, err, bra, and a stack of confidence, I would be one of those women who just puts their child to their breast and VOILA, perfect, painless breastfeeding from day dot. Nup. I was wrong.

I had enough milk for twins again. Which is fantastic if you actually have twins and much less wonderful if you only have a singleton. Every time I've mentioned I have an oversupply of breastmilk there is always the same few reactions:

If the woman I'm chatting with has experienced similar they tend to give a sorry smile quickly followed by some great tips about how they coped in those early weeks before it regulates.

If the woman has battled to breastfeed thanks to an undersupply, generally the first thing I hear is "You're so lucky!".

Um, I'm not actually. I'm the first to admit that out of the two I'd prefer to have an oversupply, but it really isn't as cut and dry as a well fed babe. It is freakin' painful.

Having enough milk that your chest rivals that of the latest porn starlet is not fun. Not even for the partner looking at those super boobs because OMG I LOVE YOU BUT IF YOU TOUCH THEM YOU WILL DIE. It bloody hurts to be almost constantly engorged. Even with cold packs and cabbage, the pain is pretty bad.

The thing that does make me lucky is that this time around I know how to handle it straight away, rather than waiting for weeks and getting all sorts of different, conflicting advice. Just like last time, I had so much milk that at first, I couldn't get Bobbin to latch on at all - imagine a tiny newborn mouth trying to latch on to a basket ball. Every lactation consultant will tell you it is breast feeding not nipple feeding but with a rock hard boobie, nipple is the only thing Bobbin could get.

So I would express off a little to make it soft enough for her to latch - which is always great fun to do when your baby goes from yeah, feeling a little peckish to FEEEEED MEEEEE NOOOOOOW screaming in about thirty seconds. So sometimes I would just let her feed with a bad latch for a few minutes then reposition her - which I really don't recommend. Ouch.

With expressing off a tiny bit I was getting up to 250ml of excess milk a day which I have frozen for whenever we may need it (read: when I want to have a couple of glasses of wine). And slowly, but surely, with only expressing the absolute minimum for comfort and latch, the milk level has been dropping and is much more manageable now to the point where I only have to do it in the mornings now. Huzzah! It gives new meaning to supply and demand curves (thank you year eleven economics).

That and block feeding is what saved us again. Even though block feeding does mean I look like a lopsided porn star at times, it is a price I'm willing to pay!

It might not have been instant success but it has come so much quicker this time and I'm SO grateful that I can breastfeed Bobbin because I know how many people struggle with it. I'm in a position that some people envy, and while I can't change the breastfeeding experience of anyone else, I can give milk to those babies who really need it - I'm back donating milk again to the PREM Bank at King Edward Memorial Hospital. I've been unable to donate blood for a long time due to a heap of reasons including being either pregnant or breastfeeding or both for the last four years, so it feels bloody good to be able to donate my milk again.

Did you have an easier time breastfeeding second/third/fourth/etc time around?

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