I'd completely forgotten what the early months of BFing were like, especially with a tongue-tied baby.
Ernie's tongue-tie was corrected just days after his birth, and although I still had latch issues, I didn't suffer any damage to my nipples, and he had no problem emptying my breast of milk at each feed. So despite a bad week of gripe or two, we got on just fine.
This time was different from the get go. I spotted her tongue-tie immediately though no one believed me because i was 'feeding her', but as soon as my milk came it this became increasingly difficult.
This time around baby Beatrix was born with an even more extreme tongue-tie than Ernie had, and it wasn't corrected until a week after birth. Even after having the snip I struggled endlessly to get her to latch on at the beginning of feeds, and in turn I suffered for weeks with terribly cracked nipples.
I experienced way more engorment, and I was proved right (about her not emptying the breast effectively) when I got mastitis.
Both times now I've realised that I have an overactive letdown - to the point where I leak constantly, and if I don't express off the excess at the beginning - I basically just choke my babies for the first five minuets!
Which leads to even more issues - the worst for me being excessive gas. Something we're still dealing with. Thank God for Infacol!
I've hit the wall with breastfeeding a few times recently (it takes A LOT to feed a baby with cracked nipples), doubting our ability, and worrying that she'll never get good at it, but I just think, or I'm hoping that it's just a matter of time.
I learnt that tongue-tied babies need to re-learn how to suck as they've developed the wrong skills in utero.
Whenever I'm worried that she isn't getting enough, I just look at her little chubby body and convince myself otherwise. It's definitely not easy to begin with, but it does, and is, getting better. Touch wood.
Whether bottle or breastfeeding I believe we all experience a lot of the same issues. Breastfeeding is harder, but neither should be thought of as easy. We all deal with our baby's immature digestive issues, learning to latch (bottle or breast), or how hard it is for them to learn to poo!
From what I can see both ways of feeding require learning whole new skills sets.
Getting your baby positioned and attached comfortably at the breast is an art - it's true that it takes a little while for breastfeeding to feel entirely comfortable and natural, even if you’ve breastfed before.
What I've now learnt is that no two children are alike. My pregnancies were different, breastfeeding is different.
Even when it’s not your first baby, we quickly forget what those newborn days are like until we do it again. It can be a shock to the system even the second and probably third time around!
There's a lot of help and support out there, but if like me, you're a bit shy or don't know where to begin, online resources like this La Leche League post on Postioning & attachment, including youtube 'how to' videos - is a great place for help.
Here's some more good advice if you think you're suffering from an overactive letdown like me, and it's worth scouting out your local breastfeeding cafe/community - or any breastfeeding friends you may have.
The best advice I could give to any new mother, including myself is the phrase “the days are long and the years are short” and "this too shall pass."
Some days fly by and I feel like I'm floating on cloud 9, and other days feel impossibly long.
It felt like a lifetime when I was breastfeeding Ernie, and looking back it feels like no time at all. I'm keeping this in mind this time.