I talked about my intent to breastfeed this baby when he arrives in this post: Preparing to breastfeed a second baby, and now we’re getting closer to my due date I’ve been thinking about it a bit more! Medela very kindly let me ask their lactation consultant Sioned some questions about breastfeeding, and two of them very much focussed on my worries about feeding for a second time. If You’ve got any questions you’d like to ask then follow the Medela UK Facebook page and join in with the ‘Breastfeeding Cafe’ on Tuesdays at 7.30pm. They also run competitions from time to time too!
1. In your experience is the breastfeeding journey easier the second time for mums?
In terms of how breastfeeding works as with every pregnancy your body changes in different ways. Your breasts develop the milk making structures throughout the pregnancy and this varies on timing with the surges of pregnancy hormones.
The experience of breastfeeding before, I believe makes the journey easier second time around. Having the experience of learning how to breastfeed, knowing that the first few days are difficult, know that if it doesn’t feel right you can find support. You are more confident in knowing when things are going right or not so great. You also have a network of friends that you can also talk too that may have been in similar situation.
2. What is the biggest myth you have to debunk about breastfeeding in your experience as a lactation consultant?
That you have to wait 6 weeks before you can express after birth.
There are 2 schools of thought on this, if the baby is born early, mum is not well enough to feed, engorgement / mastitis or baby doesn’t latch on well – expressing is a medical need to ensure than mum comes to volume and her milk supply is established for when mum and baby are able to breastfeed. Mums need to pump in a pattern that mimics a newborn feeding behaviour and this can be every 2-3 hrs day and night. So when baby is unable to feed mums need to express 8-12 times in 24hrs with no longer than 4-5 hr gap at night.
If mums wants to express so that dad can be involved, a social occasion for a wedding or a night out it is best to wait until breastfeeding is established this is usually after 3-4 weeks after lo has regained his birth weight and just had his 3 weeks growth spurt.
That breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and babies and mums know what to do.
Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and some mums find that initiating breastfeeding isn’t what the baby book tells them and this is a difficult time all round. Yes it is natural and so much more than food and humans are nursing mammals but for generations upon generations new mums have been given a warm chain of support with a wealth of family expertise and a nurturing community to help overcome the early blips.
Twentieth century mums face a different world with a wealth of information available from social networks , books magazines and the media but what really makes a different is a that face to face support from family, friends, peer support, and health professionals. As each mum and baby is different it isn’t always straight forward. The medication that mum receives in labour can makes those first feeds a little more challenging – the natural reflexes are a little subdued and take a little longer to present. Society has a say in supporting breastfeeding mums and over the past 10 years more mums find that their immediate friends and family are breastfeeding more so that there is more support nearer to you so that you can share your experiences and blips.
Breastfeeding is the most natural thing and the best for both mum and baby but it does need a warm chain of support to help make it succeed. It is ok to ask for help, to seek reassurance and mums need to know when and what to look for and where to get help and support without them feeling a failure. It isn’t easy but it does take time and practice and once you are over the early hurdles it does get easier.
3. When is the best time to express? I hardly ever expressed with my first baby but I think I will need to get my husband to share feeds so that we can ensure that I can still spend quality time with our toddler one on one.
This is individual to both mum and baby. In the first few weeks it is best to get breastfeeding established first so ideally wait at least 3-4 weeks after baby is born before you start expressing. Wait until little one has gone through his 3 week feeding / growth spurt. The reason for this is that you and your little one have got to know one another, you are more confident in your latching on and positioning techniques and also you have an idea of his feeding pattern. His feeding pattern is what will influence your expressing times.
If your little one feeds frequently then sneaking a session to express is a little more challenging. If you are only feeding from one breast and little one is full and content then you can either pump at the same time as a breastfeed or immediately after the feed. If you are offering both breasts at every feed you could finish off expressing the breast he finishes on as often there is a little milk left.
Wait 45mins after you finish a feed if you think that he has fed well from both breasts. It takes this time to replenish the supply, but if it is still early days only express off one breast so if little one does wake a bit earlier you have milk in the other breast. Some mums find a mid-morning session a good time to express as baby is settled following his first few feeds of the day – other find that pumping whilst feeding works for them. It is a bit of trial and error finding out what suits you both.
So I feel a bit more prepared to start the journey a second time around, and will be doing a lot more pumping and storing thanks to the lovely kit that Medela have supplied me with! The nipple cream and breast pads will safely in my hospital bag too, and my next update will be after this little one has arrived!
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