I breastfed my son, Michael, until he self-weaned 5 days before his first birthday. Other than let down pain in the first two months, we had no issues at all. I never had problems with supply, never a blocked duct, no mastitis, and no cracked or bleeding nipples. Even with a tongue tie, he had a perfect latch within a week and everything was simple and easy. I put him to the breast, he ate, end of story.
Before he was born I read everything I could find on breastfeeding. Other mom's testimonials, medical journals, labor and delivery nurse's accounts on what they saw, and lactation consultants advise were saved to my bookmarks bar. I watched videos showing different latches and how to breastfeed discreetly in public. When everything went great, I assumed it was because I researched and so I was prepared. People who didn't succeed at breastfeeding just didn't try or didn't care enough to learn. Right? (That couldn't be further from the truth!)
If you don't wake baby to eat, pump
I am definitely a proponent of never wake a sleeping baby. Just because some schedule says that they must eat or be changed after a certain time doesn't make it true. Sleep is so important for brain development, growth, and honestly our sanity. If they are sleeping, they need to sleep. If they get hungry, they will wake up. If they need a diaper change, they will wake up.
I did this with both of my kids and still stand by that decision but I wish I had pumped during those long naps. Gracelynn slept great from the start. At 2 days old she was taking four hour naps. This seems like it would be great, and in a way, it was. I was able to recover faster and I think it was easier for Micahel to adjust to his new role as big brother. It also wrecked havoc on my milk supply.
Your body makes milk on a supply and demand schedule so when you don't empty as often, your body will make less. This won't be a problem at first, but if it continues like that eventually you will end up with a supply problem. This is exactly what happened and once I realized it she was over 12 weeks so my supply was established and I had to work continuously to get it back up and keep it. If I had pumped while she was napping, she would have still gotten her sleep but I would also have been able to keep my supply up.I used the Medela Pump in Style and loved it.
All babies are different
This is something people say all the time in reference to raising kids but it is usually referring to discipline or potty training. I didn't realize that they would be different in their breastfeeding preferences and needs. I honestly didn't even know they could really have preferences about it. I thought it was just straight forward.
Michael was a slow feeder. He only needed to eat on one side because he would eat for 45 minutes and completely drain the breast. Gracelynn was completely different. She would be done in 15 minutes. When I started out I never even offered the other side after she finished the first. I was treating her as if she was the same as her brother instead of treating her like the one of a kind individual she is.
It will be hard all over again
It does not matter how many children you have nursed or for how long, you new baby has never done it before. You can be an expert but they are just starting out. They have to learn just like your first baby did and you have to learn all over again. They might not latch right away or have a less than perfect latch. They can have trouble with your flow that they need to get used to. This all takes time and you just have to be patient.
You will probably be more comfortable
The first time around, I didn't go anywhere without my nursing cover. I wanted to make sure I was always completely covered. I would only nurse in public sitting down and usually in a back corner. I didn't want to offend anyone and was always afraid people would just stare.
With Gracelynn I just stopped caring as much. I only used a cover a handful of times at the very beginning. After that, I just fed my baby. Wherever we were whatever we were doing. If she was hungry, I fed her. People gave me dirty looks, made rude comments, and complete strangers even took pictures of me and put them on social media calling me inappropriate because I was nursing on the beach. But for every one of these people there was five people that would smile or thank me for normalizing breastfeeding.
I am not saying that wearing a cover is bad and you shouldn't do it. If that is what makes you feel comfortable then have at it! I used this nursing cover with Michael and loved it! I used this 4 in 1 nursing cover/car seat canopy/shopping cart cover/ scarf with Gracelynn and it was great too. Just know that you might not care as much and be more comfortable without it after the first one and the longer you are nursing.
You may not use all the products you did before
There are so many lists on what you HAVE to get to be successful at breastfeeding. In reality, you need two things, and you don't buy either one. You need lactating breasts and a hungry baby, that's it. I found that many products out there caused more of a hassle than the good they were intended for. I hated the boppy pillow and never even bought one with Gracelynn. I felt the same way about lanolin. It made my nipples slippery which made it hard to latch and I found that breastmilk worked better anyways! After you have a baby you realize all the stuff that "they" say you need that you don't. This list is different for everyone but it definitely includes nursing products.
I hope these tips help you in your breastfeeding journey.
Have some questions? Ask me in the comments below! I do this to help other mommies so always feel free to ask. I would love to hear from you.
Have some advice you feel like I left out? Share in the comments below!