Breastfeeding success second time around and what I did differently
Baby, Breastfeeding, Homebirth

Breastfeeding success second time around
(and what I did differently)

My breastfeeding experience with Jasmine was short lived. We got off to a bad start and when she lost a lot weight my anxiety got too much to handle. I switched to combination feeding her expressed breast milk and formula for 6 weeks before switching to formula completely.

As soon as I fell pregnant with Elowen, aside from my fears of suffering yet another miscarriage, I was also fraught with anxiety at the prospect trying to breastfeed another baby, to the point I was having dreams about it every night. I went back and forth throughout my pregnancy on whether or not I even wanted to try again. In the end, I decided to give breastfeeding another shot. Jasmine had thrived on formula milk, if breastfeeding didn’t work out second time around, I knew that I’d be OK with switching to formula with baby #2. I had nothing to lose by giving it another go.

I’m really pleased to say that Elowen is now 3 months old and I am still exclusively breastfeeding her. Trust me when I say that nobody is more surprised about that than I am. It just goes to show that every baby is different. And I do think that has a lot to do with it. As mums we often blame ourselves when breastfeeding doesn’t work out but breastfeeding is a two-way thing. Jasmine wasn’t interested in feeding from me and was such a sleepy little thing. Elowen, on the other hand, was alert from the get-go and took to breastfeeding fantastically.

That said, there were quite a few things I did differently this time around which I’m sure helped us along the way on our breastfeeding journey.

They are as follows:

Having a physiological third stage of labour (delivering the placenta naturally)

When I originally wrote my birth plan I said that I wanted drugs administered to help speed up the delivery of my placenta. Partly because that’s what I did last time and partly because I was having a home birth and I was worried that the placenta might not come out, meaning I’d have to be transferred to hospital. However, a few days before I went into labour with E, I came across this article about a study that found a link between the drug used to speed up placenta delivery and breastfeeding problems. The news article is a few years old (2014) and was based on a relatively small study but it was enough to convince me to at least try for a natural placenta delivery. It took a little while (probably longer than it did to push E out!) but it did come out of it’s own accord eventually. I’ve no idea if it helped me have a more successful breastfeeding experience or not, but I think it did, even if only psychologically.

I had skin-to-skin contact and breastfed E when she was minutes old

I went an entire night before attempting to breastfeed Jasmine for the first time after she was born. Which, when I think about it now, is pretty shocking. I was too scared to attempt the first feed without the guidance of a midwife. Unfortunately, once I’d been stitched up the midwives all disappeared until the morning. Jasmine was fast asleep and I was exhausted so I took the opportunity to rest.  When I did get help the next morning, a midwife literally shoved Jasmine at my boob. I gasped when she latched on because of how painful it felt and the midwife grunted “Oh it’ll hurt until your nipples toughen up.” Great.

Elowen’s first feed could not have been more different. She was minutes old. The midwife who attended my home birth told me to go ahead and feed her how I felt I should, but assured me she’d be right there to assist should I need it. E latched right away and began to suckle, I don’t remember it being painful at all. (The pain came later on!)

I used nipple shields when the pain got too much

I was under the impression, after having Jasmine, that nipple shields were the epitome of all evil. At least that’s how certain midwives portrayed them, as well as most of the Internet. ‘They’ll confuse baby!” was the overwhelming opinion on them and because of that I steered well clear.

Between then and becoming a mum for a second time I’d read numerous blog posts from fellow mummy bloggers who said they’d never have been able to continue breastfeeding had they not used nipple shields. (Hannah from Budding Smiles springs to mind, as an example.) So I bought nipple shields before I’d even given birth and I’d already decided that if I felt I needed to use them, then I would. And to Hell with any midwife or health visitor who cared to argue with me about that.

In the end, it was a midwife who suggested I try the nipple shields to feed Elowen. It was only my second day post-partum but my nipples were in agony. I told the midwife over the phone how sore I was and she said if I hadn’t tried using nipple shields yet, to give them a go. I found them quite fiddly to use but they were worth the hassle as it meant I could give my poor nipples a break. I genuinely don’t think I would’ve carried on feeding E had it not been for the shields. I will always encourage other breastfeeding mamas to try them if they’re struggling with nipple pain/damage.

By the end of week four I’d ditched the nipple shields completely.

I had formula on standby

When I was pregnant with Jasmine, I was very determined to breastfeed her. Being a first time mum, and the first in my friendship circle to have a baby, I took a lot of ‘advice’ from people on forums. I’d read, several times, that if I were to really give breastfeeding my best shot then I should avoid having formula in the house as it would be ‘too tempting’ to switch to using it on a bad day. The night I broke down and decided I could no longer keep trying to breastfeed Jasmine, Stephen had to drive out to find the nearest 24hr supermarket to buy formula and bottles. I sobbed the whole time whilst watching Jasmine scream in hunger. Never, ever would I go through that again.

Second time around, I stocked up on ready-made pre-sterlised formula bottles (even packing some in my ‘just in case’ hospital bags). It took the pressure off me knowing that I always had a back up to hand which, ultimately, helped me to establish breastfeeding.

I knew where to seek professional help… and then got it.

There was a real lack of breastfeeding support available to me when I had Jasmine. It’s something I’m still quite bitter about. Because of this, I did my homework whilst pregnant with E. I found out where all of the local breastfeeding support groups were, I joined Facebook groups and I had a name and number for a local lactation consultant. I felt armed with information on people who could help me with any problems I may come up against. Elowen had a really shallow latch, which was what was causing my nipple pain. I decided I would go and see a lactation consultant about it. She spent a good 45 minutes observing E feeding, giving me advice, reassuring me that using nipple shields was absolutely fine and that the supposed ‘nipple confusion’ they caused was a load of BS.

I had a better support network in place

I had discussed my fears about breastfeeding with a lot of my friends (mummy friends, non-mummy friends, blogging pals, Instagram chums… whoever cared to listen) and because of that they went above and beyond to support me in those early days. They’d send me messages to tell me how well I was doing, giving me a little boost when my morale was low. Those who had been through this before gave me hints, tips and gentle encouragement. It all made such a big difference and for that I will be forever grateful.

I was more relaxed about breastfeeding

Like most aspects of parenthood, second time around I felt more relaxed, particularly in my approach to breastfeeding. If it worked out, great – if it didn’t, I’d formula feed Elowen and that would be that. Either way, the world would keep on spinning.

I took each day as it came…

I didn’t have a specific target in mind – I had no goal to ‘breastfeed exclusively for 6 months’… or a year or two! I decided to take each day as it came. Again, it took the pressure off.

3 months on and I’m very much still in that mindset. I’m enjoying feeding Elowen but whether it ends tomorrow or in a year’s time – that’s fine. Today I’m feeding her and that’s all I’m going to concentrate on right now.

Breastfeeding success second time around

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post has ended up being a bit ‘wordy’ but I really hope it might help someone. Breastfeeding is bloody hard work and as I said at the start of this post, every baby is different. Whatever happens, whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, please enjoy your baby and soak up those newborn snuggles. I spent far too long feeling guilty and miserable because I couldn’t breastfeed Jasmine. I will never get those early days back to just enjoy my brand new baby girl without the all consuming guilt and sadness.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Sarah Rooftops March 5, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I love this post. I totally get the fear of even trying second time around – I’m already worried about it and I’m not even pregnant (I don’t think…!); I don’t want to be the second time mum who doesn’t know what she’s doing. With my first, I knew where the breastfeeding support groups were but, as it took about two months for me to leave the house without another adult for moral support, making it halfway across town at two weeks was never gong to happen! I also knew that I couldn’t cope with trying to breastfeed once my partner went back to work (honestly – if the government wants more women to keep breastfeeding, increasing paternity/parental leave seems like the obvious place to start) and I had no doubt that continuing on would end in PND. So, yes, I think this unnecessarily long and personal comment shows how many emotions I’ve still got tied up in the whole thing!

    Anyway, yeah… was there a point to all this? Just to say well done and thanks for talking so openly about it. I’ll come back and have another read of this, should I have a second child!
    Sarah Rooftops recently posted…More Things: Another Stream of ConsciousnessMy Profile

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 5, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      Thank you, Sarah. I’m glad you like the post. I was really worried about publishing it because I know breastfeeding is such a sensitive subject for so many. I felt anxious about trying to breastfeed again before I even got pregnant too. I agree about paternity leave, I found it tough when my husband went back to work – he’d been so good at making sure I always had a drink and something to eat. Not to mention, he kept our eldest entertained whilst I got to grips with feeding. I felt deeply sad about not being able to feed my eldest for a long time, I know how those feelings linger.

      I hope that, if you do have another baby, you have better breastfeeding experience. If nothing else, I’m proof that it can happen. :) xx

  • Reply Georgina March 8, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    Such an amazing post, I so wish I had tried to breastfeed Rory but it’s all good in hindsight!
    Georgina recently posted…On the hunt for an Alternative Healing Therapist… | BidvineMy Profile

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 8, 2017 at 8:05 pm

      Ah I know, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Maybe next time! ;) x

  • Reply Rachel March 8, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Love this post. I definitely think I’ll be able to cope better a second time around and will definitely give it more of a chance, as I think with still finding my feet as a mother, trying to exclusively breastfeed as well just seemed too much. So proud of you for sticking it out as I know you found it tough sometimes! xx
    Rachel recently posted…Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed RecipeMy Profile

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 8, 2017 at 8:07 pm

      I know exactly what you mean. I think you have more confidence in your parenting capabilities second time around and therefore can focus more on the breastfeeding. Thanks so much, lovely – it’s definitely not been easy but I’m so pleased we’re still going. xx

  • Reply Emma March 8, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    Amazing Jenna! Breastfeeding is so hard especially in the first few weeks. I said to my husband in the nights so many times ‘he’s going on bottles tomorrow’ but I kept going and I’m so glad as it’s our bonding time now. The doctor even said how pleased she was today that I’m BF as it’s so rare and it was the first time I thought yey go me! Well done Jenna xxx

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    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 9, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Well done, Emma. I know there’s a bit of advice that goes around which is “never give up on a bad day!” and it’s so true. It’s been well worth sticking it out. Initially I would scowl at my husband as he slept because I was the only one who could feed E at night but now I love my nighttime huggles. :) xx

  • Reply Rebecca Wilson March 9, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I wasn’t able to breastfeed Oscar this time round (gutted). I wish this post had been around when I had Emelia, it probably would have helped me stick it out longer with her. x

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 11, 2017 at 6:51 am

      That’s precisely why I wrote it as I would’ve love to had read a post like this first time around. I maybe would’ve maybe tried a few things (nipple shields, for example) before giving up breastfeeding Jasmine. I’m sorry you didn’t get to breastfeed Oscar. *big hugs* xx

  • Reply Katy (What Katy Said) March 9, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I am so glad it is working this time around. It is such hard work and I think all mums put unnecessary pressure on themselves. Such a useful post hun xx

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 11, 2017 at 6:53 am

      We do put so much pressure on ourselves. Thank you, lovely. xx

  • Reply Kiki March 9, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    I so wish I had stumbled across your blog post on breastfeeding before I had my little one. I put so much pressure on myself and had little advice of alternatives to easing my breastfeeding pain like the nipple shields, that when it came to me switching to formula I sobbed and sobbed because I felt like such a failure as mother. My milk production didn’t come in until the second week but by that time I had developed mastitis and sepsis so was back in hospital, and without baby. All I got told by the health visitor and midwives were ‘breast is best’ and there was no mention of what could help me e.g. hot flannels, the shields and so forth. I’m really glad you’ve blogged about such a tricky topic with new Mums. If I have a second baby, I will definitely be taking a leaf out of your book and not writing it off. x

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 11, 2017 at 7:11 am

      I’m so sorry that you had such a difficult time trying to breastfeed your baby. I know exactly what you mean when you say you felt like a failure, I did too. Definitely don’t write it off for next time, your experience could be so different next time around. Lots of love xx

  • Reply Lucie March 10, 2017 at 5:33 am

    I love this post so much! BF is so hard and I have ao much respect for mums doing it. I wiah Amelia could of stayed bf’ing but obvs due to her alleries we stopped. Hopefully baby no2 (did i just say that?) Will be the one xx

    • Jenna
      Reply Jenna March 11, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Yeah, you said it! ;) You gave it a damn good shot with A so you should be proud of yourself for that. xx

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