Breastfeeding, Take 2

As of yesterday, I've received 16 emails asking about breastfeeding the second time around. That. Is. Awesome! I love that everyone feels comfortable enough through this forum to ask questions and share stories and have real conversations.

To avoid being super repetitive -- and in case there's someone out there who may have questions, but not feel comfortable enough to email some random blogger and ask (ha!) -- I thought I'd share a little bit about our experience with breastfeeding this time around.

Learning how to breastfeeding with your first is like trying to learn a new language. Actually, it's like trying to learn a new language with a squirmy, impatient, loud and tiny study buddy. Hard. Really dang hard.

The First Time

The first couple weeks of feeding Caroline, my oldest daughter, I felt clumsy and inadequate. She frequently de-latched and would get super restless because I had a slow milk letdown. (Letdown, in BF speak, means "when your milk starts flowing out of your boob." ; )

We stuck with it for four months and I was (and still am) proud that I did that. However, when C was three months old,  I went back to work and my supply tanked. Looking back, I was uninformed about how to pump, when to pump and what to do to boost my supply. I was stressed about working and having Caroline in daycare, and although I wanted to continue so badly, it just wasn't happening.

This Time

I've learned one thing as a mom and that is to never go on record for anything. Kids have a way of completely changing our grand plans, so I've learned never to carve anything in stone.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed Ainsley too, but I promised myself to take it one day at a time and see where we landed.

So far, so good.

Our Feeding Routine

I'll start by saying: I am NOT a lactation consultant. I am not a "seasoned" mommy. Heck, many days, I feel like I'm driving a car with a blindfold on. This is simply what has worked/is working for us. If you have questions, please reach out to a local lactation consultant in your area or your pediatrician. 

Ainsley eats about every 2.5-3 hrs during the day, and wakes for one feeding at night. (I'm grateful for a pretty good sleeper, but she definitely has her "off" nights, too. Example: this post.) I exclusively nursed her for the first four weeks to establish a good supply. It was hard, folks. Friggin' hard. But alas, it helped boost my supply tremendously.

At four weeks, I started pumping milk between each nursing session for bottles. This was so Stephen could feed her in the middle of the night and let me catch some more sleep.

When Ainsley began going for longer stretches between feedings at night, I got really engorged for the first couple weeks and would have to wake anyway to pump to relieve the pressure. Thankfully, my body has adjusted and that doesn't happen anymore. (Talk about uncomfortable!)


Like I said, around the four-week mark, I started to pump in between feedings for nighttime bottles. Before we get into the deets, I feel like I should say, I am NOT one of those lucky women who can pump 6-7 ounces in a sitting. I just can't.

In an average session, I'll pump 3.5 ounces in a 30 minute span in the morning when my supply is higher, and about 2.5 ounces total in a 30 minute span in the evening. With Caroline, I was lucky to have squeaked out an ounce, so to me, this is a crazy amount - ha!

What boosted my supply

I realize now that I was never drinking enough water with Caroline. With Ainsley, I made it my mission to hydrate 24/7. On an average day, I probably drink 80-90 ounces of water. Before my coffee in the morning, I fill up my gigantic Tervis tumbler and get to chugging.

I ate a lot of calories while I nursed Caroline, but they weren't the right calories. I realized quickly that donuts and brownies probably weren't helping my body recover from the C-section or produce milk. Crap food doesn't equal a good milk supply for very long. Plus, I felt so sluggish all the time.

This time, I'm eating tons of whole grains, protein, monosaturated fats (olive oil, etc.) and leafy greens, which are great for iron. I don't keep track of the number of cals I'm eating, but I eat very frequently - like every two hours.

Less caffeine
I also cut out ALL caffeine after 5 p.m. and keep my intake to about one cup of coffee in the morning and one small cup of black tea, half-caff latte or a Coke in the afternoon. Caffeine is a natural diuretic and can be a little dehydrating.

Finding the right flange
Call it a flange, call it a breast shield, call it "that cone thing"...point is, you need it to fit correctly. My lactation consultant took one look at the flanges I was using last time and said, "These don't fit." This go'round, she helped me find a flange that fit and, the first time I used them, I pumped a whole extra ounce! The simplest tweaks can make all the difference, girls.

I suggest getting on YouTube for help with finding flanges/breast shields that fit you best.

Getting a quality breast pump
Please note, many health insurance companies will cover the cost of a breast pump for nursing mamas. Check with yours and see because it could save you big time!

I did a ton of research before buying a pump. The one I kept seeing and hearing about was the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. I'm SO glad I went with this pump. It's relatively quiet, creates a great amount of suction and is very easy to tote around. It's not the cheapest pump on the market, but it is undoubtedly one of the very best.

Other products I like for feeding

The Boppy - I didn't use or love this with Caroline, (she was longer than Ainsley and latched better in a different position), but with Ainsley, I'm loving the Boppy pillow.

Medela Hydrogel Pads - Lanolin cream is amazing for sore nipps, but these things are a true godsend. If you plan to breastfeed or even attempt to try, get yourself a set of these pronto.

Dr. Brown's Bottles - I cannot express my love for these bottles enough. If you have a gas prone or colic prone or reflux prone baby, get them. (They also come in gender neutral blue.)

Medela Milk Storage Bags - Get some of these milk storage bags if you plan to pump and store. They are pretty resistant to punctures and a great space-saving solution to the plastic storage containers.

Great resources for breastfeeding mommas

The Leaky Boob - I'll be honest, some of the women on this forum can get a little preachy, but if you can tune them out, there's a wealth of amazing information on breastfeeding, pumping, supplementing, weaning, etc.

La Leche League

The Baby Guy NYC - I know what you're thinking, "I'm going to seek boob advice from a dude?" Not exactly, BUT he does have fabulous recommendations on breastfeeding products like nursing pillows, pumps, etc. that his sister (a mom of four) reviews for him.

KellyMom - Like an encyclopedia for breastfeeding. Anything and everything you wanted to know about milk, boobs and baby.

Final thoughts

If you're about to be a mommy again, (or maybe you're a first-time mom), and are a little intimidated with nursing, I want to encourage you that IT GETS EASIER. If there's even a tiny part of you that wants to try it, or try it again, do it and don't hesitate. Use your lactation consultant and if you don't have one, get one. Your hospital or birthing center should provide one during your stay, as well as information for your local La Leche League and other breastfeeding support groups.

You aren't in this alone. There is assistance to be had and advice to be gotten. Bottom line: You're an amazing mom however you choose to feed. Seek out an option that works best for YOU and YOUR BABY and do that, whether that be breast, formula, a combination of both, osmosis (ha!) get the picture.

You just do you.


  1. Leslie, I can't say how proud I am to see you make a blog post about this!! Being a seasoned nursing momma...three kids and 45 months of nursing, I can place my seal of approval on everything you shared! With Will being premature, I spent three months pumping every three hours. My pump in style had a name, we were that kind of close!! Btw, it is still functioning so money well spent as #4 comes this summer!! The biggest thing I would share is breastfeeding is one of the hardest things as a momma I did. It is not for the faint hearted to do solo BUT with that being said, there hasn't been many things if any that have been more fulfilling!! Find a resource, a good friend who has bf'd or consult a lactation consultant. They have skills!! I loved seeing every ounce of weight coming from ME!! Any amount of time is better than none and just because you may not be able to exclusively bf, even one bottle of mom's milk is better than none!! The last thing I will preach is mom's nutrition is crucial. Breastmilk is mostly water so your fluid intake is essential!! (All that water is also crucial to get your baby weight off!) And as you said, good calories..not just calories!! Go Leslie, go!! Keep the good work up!!

  2. Love this post! Nursing is so hard but SO rewarding! I am a full-time working mommy of a 6 month old who has been on exclusively breast milk since day 1 (and yes, it makes me incredibly proud to say that!) I have encountered many issues with nursing and struggled to maintain an appropriate supply at times.

    A couple of tips that I've learned along the way that I'd add to your awesome post:

    1. Definitely pump while on maternity leave to start building a "just in case" supply. At 3 weeks I started pumping and would do it just once a day (in the morning shortly after I nursed my baby). I'm so thankful I had milk stored up (and it didn't kill me to do so) for when I had supply issues.

    2. I spoke with a lactation consultant several times about supply and how to increase it. My supply seems to tank during my monthly cycle (and yes ladies - you can get your cycle while nursing!) I feel like I've heard it all - pump more frequently, pump for longer periods of time, do something relaxing while pumping, drink more water, eat more oats, drink Mother's Milk tea, rent a hospital grade pump, etc.

    What I found that helped me the most was taking Fenugreek. The lactation consultant I spoke with said to start with 3600mg /day (which is typically 2 capsules 3x/day), but that you can go up to 7200mg / day (may cause some tummy issues though). Out of everything I tried, the Fenugreek definitely helped the most, though I know every woman is different.

    3. Talking about nursing, sharing tips, advice, words of encouragement has also helped tremendously (which is why I love this post so much!)

    Thanks again for sharing your story, Leslie, and for providing a forum for other nursing mommies to support one another. Your little ones are adorable!


  3. Thank you for sharing this! I'm not pregnant yet, but I'd like to be before 2016, so this is helpful information to know. Also, what is a lactation consultant? Is this something that you have to pay for or might be covered by insurance? Lastly, I appreciate that you said to seek an option that works best for both...I do want to be able to breastfeed when the time comes, but it's also possible that medications I take for Crohn's Disease may prevent that. I would much rather feed my baby formula than have to be away from my baby, back in the hospital and potentially having more surgery.

    1. Lactation consultants are ladies who are specifically trained in the art of breastfeeding and problems nursing moms face and how to remedy the problem. Typically yes, insurance will cover at least a portion of the consult and while you are in patient after delivery, they will come visit to see if you have any concerns, make sure baby is latching on well, that sort of stuff!! They are godsends when need be!!

    2. Hi Kate! Exactly what Tamara said! LCs are trained to help mamas breastfeed their babies. They are so helpful in those important first days of learning how to feed, latch, etc. Our insurance covered one, so it's definitely possible that yours may too. And you are so welcome!

    3. Thanks for the info, ladies!

  4. Such great information and so glad you're doing so great! I BF my sweet girl for 15 months and only pumped occasionally! I read this book while pregnant with her and it also has a lot of great information! It is written by the La Leche League!


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