During my pregnancy with Dashiell I prepared as much as I could for breastfeeding although in hindsight I realize there's only so much that you can prepare. You can't anticipate how your body will respond, what your milk supply will be like and how your baby will breastfeed.
Right now nursing and pumping and frankly just my boobs in general are such a big part of my life, for better or for worse! I feel so fortunate that I have been able to breastfeed both of my boys but sometimes I forget how much time and effort it takes up and that one day I will get that back.
I was able to breastfeed Dashiell as planned and overall I enjoyed breastfeeding but it did come with challenges. Dashiell has a mild tongue tie that left me in terrible, tearful pain during the first three weeks of breastfeeding. We had Dash's tongue-tie corrected and although it was very quick it was so stressful for me and Chris. I felt light-headed sitting by while my tiny baby endured pain as a result of something we elected to do.
Before breastfeeding I hadn't anticipated how nursing would curtail by ability to take time for myself. I have never been able to pump enough to build a freezer supply so for the first several months of both Dashiell and Cedric's lives I was always on the clock if I left the house on my own. Now that Cedric eats solid food (and really loves it!) I have a bit more leeway but I still need to nurse or pump after about four hours.
A few things that have been easier or different breastfeeding the second time around:
Nursing in general has felt so much easier. Although everyone says breastfeeding is "instinctual" both you and your baby have to learn and work at it. This time around I had muscle memory and confidence on my side and could nurse from the beginning almost on auto-pilot. I also knew that for me nursing is 100 times better when I use the My Brest Friend pillow and so I had that at the hospital with me for Cedric's birth and continue to use it just about every time I nurse. I did have some initial soreness with Cedric but it subsided over the first two weeks and Cedric did not have a tongue-tie.
Hospital grade pump for the win. Around the time Cedric was one month old I began to pump using a rented hospital-grade Medela Symphony pump once a day in the evening after he went to sleep. This helped me build a small freezer milk supply for returning to work and for being able to take an hour or two here and there for myself. I've found the Medela Symphony to be more effective and more comfortable that my personal pump. But I've recently switched back to using my Medela Pump In Style to save the cost of the rental (my insurance doesn't cover breast pumps, don't get me started!) and my supply has been fine.
We are supplementing Cedric's bottles with formula. Honestly I do not know how I got by without supplementing Dashiell with formula. I think I was pumping twice at home outside of work in addition to pumping at work to juuuuust eke by and I just do not have the energy for it this time. And honestly after pumping three times a day plus nursing to put Cedric to bed I really do not feel like being connected to a breast pump during my precious free hours after bedtime. The bottles that we send with Cedric to daycare are about half breast milk and half formula (at almost nine months old Cedric is taking 3 x 5 oz. bottles, just this week down from 4, while at daycare). At the recommendation of a friend we use Earth's Best Organic formula.
Keeping a more consistent work pumping routine. While I was pumping for Dashiell I think I tried to pump around the same time every day but now I'm really consistent. This is partially because previously there were two rooms available for pumping and now there is only one so I have reserved the room at specific times. But I think being consistent is a good thing both for my supply and for scheduling my work day. But bonus, the room I use now doesn't have a lock! So I always post my "Please do not enter" sign when pumping.
Counting down the months left of pumping. Several women have told me the hate pumping with a capital H. I don't hate pumping but I definitely don't love it. There's really nothing fun about hooking your breasts up to a machine; and pumping three times a day feels really disruptive to my work day. My pump routine includes leaving my desk, getting my pump parts from the kitchen, setting up my pump in a spare office, pumping, putting away my milk and cleaning my pump parts and then returning to my desk. Times three every work day. I have a calendar notification at the end of every month telling me "Just X more months!" I plan to be done pumping by the time I go on holiday for Christmas.
See what happens after one year. With Dashiell I had a goal of breastfeeding until he was 18 months. I think it was a somewhat random timeframe and I didn't feel any "failure" when I stopped at 15 months, we were both ready. With Cedric I want to nurse until he's a year old and then we'll see. Cedric is also an active nurser, like Dashiell was, so we'll see how it goes as he gets older. I do look forward to the time when I can nurse when I'm with Cedric but when we are apart I don't have to pump. I'm thankful and proud to have been able to breastfeed and pump as long as I have already with Cedric and I am appreciating having this sweet time with him and and intimate connection with him.