Breastfeeding second or third child may be a charm

Soon after giving birth to my daughter, Kara, I was presented for the second time in my life with a wrinkly-newborn, crying out for my breast.

In that moment I was filled with joy at the sight of such beauty. I was also haunted by deep insecurity and sorrow.

I had failed to breastfeed my first child, and honestly, I was reluctant to even attempt it again with baby number two. I was scared and unsure. I was so scared and unsure, that I fed Kara formula through her first two days of life, and left the hospital feeling defeated.

I didn’t breastfeed her in the hospital, because I didn’t want to cope with falling short, not again.

I didn’t even try… How could I not have even tried?

Breastfeeding: Sometimes The Second Time Is A Charm

When I got home from the hospital, I pushed the thoughts of breastfeeding completely out of my mind. I told myself that I could accept things the way they were, after all, I formula fed Evan, and he is a beautiful, brilliant, and healthy child. I don’t judge any mother who formula-feeds her child, even when it’s simply a choice.

The last thing a mother needs is scorn from other mothers—this—I know.

How everything changed…

On my second home with Kara, during a bottle-feeding and while breathing-in her intoxicating baby-scent, I felt the urge to pluck the latex nipple from her tiny mouth and to replace it with my own.

Within the lonely silence of that late-night feeding, when I knew that no nurses, or lactation consultants, or well-meaning family members were watching me, I tried, and I tried, and I tried again.

Please latch, please, PLEASE just do this.

And she did. I did.

The connection was made, Kara had latched, and I enjoyed the euphoria of motherhood and the tingle of pain that comes from a latch that isn’t quite perfected, for fifteen minutes.

I wasn’t sure if I had waited too long by not trying to breastfeed her for 48 hours after giving birth, I wasn’t sure if this was a fluke, and I really wasn’t sure why I had waited to give this my best effort the second time around. The only thing I did know, was that she seemed eager to breastfeed, and from the start, it was a totally unique experience when compared to the breastfeeding experience I had with Evan.

Kara is now 17-months-old. I exclusively breastfed her until she was 6-months-old, and continued to breastfeed until she was 15-months-old. I kind of feel like a rock star about the whole thing, if I’m being completely honest. I’m totally a rock star, right?

Breastfeeding: Second TIme Might Be A Charm

What I want you to know

I want you to know—yes, you—that just because your experience with breastfeeding wasn’t perfect the first time, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.

Truly, the second time, or third time, or seventh time may be the charm. If you want to breastfeed a subsequent child, try. Even if you’re scared of failing. Reach out for help, be patient, give it your best effort again.

If it still doesn’t work for you? Everything will be okay in that case, too. You’re still an amazing mom.

I’m so glad that I followed my motherly instincts during that 3:00 a.m. feeding, and that I was finally inspired enough to just keep trying.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t perfect, but it was worth it in every way.

Every. Single. Way.

Moms, were your breastfeeding experiences different from child-to-child?

I’d love to hear your stories in the comment section.

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31 comments

  1. Oh, my goodness, THANK YOU. I desperately wanted to exclusively breastfeed my first child, and was never able to make enough milk to do it, whether it was him, or me, or both of us. I tried so hard, for so long, and still feel the sting of that failure. We’re expecting our second now, and I’m so nervous and scared about trying (and possibly failing) again. I went to a breastfeeding class today, and couldn’t stop feeling angry and jaded about the teacher’s oh-so-typical attitude of “oh, practically every mom can breastfeed any baby if THEY JUST TRY HARD ENOUGH.” This post is the first thing I’ve read or heard that’s made me feel hopeful about trying again. Thanks for this. 

  2. I am so glad to read this. I have a ten month old who I breastfed or about four weeks before switching completely to formula in a torrent of tears and shame. It was the darkest spiral of my life. I am currently pregnant with her brother due in June (14 months apart) and I’ve quietly, tentatively, only to myself thought I’d like to try again… without all the pressure (from myself and others) and judgement from the internet (wow, women can be really cruel to each other)! It turns out to this day my first child doesn’t like certain textures (my nipples happen to be one of them) but at the time thought I was a complete failure… but reading this gives me courage to try again. Thank you for your supportive and thoughtful article.

  3. Crissy, you made me tear up a little bit. I could’ve written a variance of this story! My first child and I failed miserably at breastfeeding. She would turn blue while nursing and I was told it was my fault for swelling her nasal passages using a bulb syringue. We didn’t find out until she was 11 that she had CHARGE syndrome, and it wasn’t my fault at all.

    With her sister we nursed until she was 3 years old and I was ready to have my body back! I was so passionate about nursing after failing I almost became a lactation consultant.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story for all those out there that breastfeeding didn’t go as planned the first time.

  4. Love it! I get emotional reading others bfing stories. Great job going for 15mos! That takes endurance! I know. We are at 18.5 mos and no end in sight… this momma is tired…

  5. I had problems with my first two babies but was able to successfully BF for the last 4. IT took determination but I did it!

  6. I know exactly how that feels. My first wouldn’t latch for anything, and when he halfway did, he was very lazy about the whole process. My second was great at latching on, but he wasn’t getting enough fast enough for him. I bottle fed both of them in the end. My daughter however … she was textbook. Perfect latch, refused the bottle, and we’re still going strong at a few days short of 8 months.

  7. I so hear what you’re saying! I gave up rather quickly with my first, my daughter. I pumped and fed her breast milk in a bottle. It hurt no matter what I tried. She wouldn’t latch properly. I sprayed milk all over me and her and just got frustrated. My nipples also cracked really badly. I went to a lactation consultant, but only once. So I gave up. When we got pregnant again I knew I couldn’t do it like that again. I was so desperate to make it work this time that I went to a lactation consultant before my son was even born. After his birth I started having the same problems, but I went back to the LC again and again. It turned out I had a condition in my nipples called Raynaud’s Phenomenon. My blood vessels constricted every time I nursed and it really hurt, even though my latch was good. I took blood pressure meds for the rest of the time I nursed my son and it was a wonderful, yes wonderful experience. I tell people, they can do it. Keep trying and keep asking for help if you need it. It’s there for you.

  8. It’s nice to know that other moms have difficult times breastfeeding too. I never knew that some babies just couldn’t do it. My baby girl Avynn is a month old and were still just getting a hang of it. I’m working on increasing my supply by pumping when I get a chance and taking fenugreek but I still supplement with formula. It killed me in the hospital when the nurse told me that she was losing to much weight and wasn’t gaining it back and that I was going to have to include formula. At about two weeks old she got fussy and extremely aggressive at the breast(imagine how a dog shakes a toy, that was my nipple in her mouth!OUCH!). Come to find out, we have thrush! Things are looking up, she’s getting more formula than breast milk now, but we are still trying our best! I give you props for breastfeeding I’m hoping I can too!

    By the way, Margaret reffered

  9. You are a rockstar! That’s an amazing accomplishment. I had a hard time trying to breastfeed my son. He wouldn’t latch and my milk supply drained so fast because I couldn’t get him to feed. In the end, he was formula fed and turned out healthy and beautiful, but I’ve always wanted to breast feed my baby. If I decide to have another baby, I’m going to try again. There’s no way I’m giving up! (:

  10. I couldn’t. My son was a preemie and too small to nurse. I pumped for a long time, but he had reflux really bad and the doctor said to use the Enfamil AR with the rice to thicken it so he could keep it down better.

  11. My son was born 5 weeks early and I didnt even get to touch him, let alone be in the same hospital as him for the first 48 hours. I gave an honest 4 week effort to breast feeding him but we just couldnt. It made me feel really sad and I wish there was more that I could have done but it just wasnt working.
    When my daughter was born all was well for the first week. She breast fed like a champ but then my c-section wound didnt heal properly, it abscessed and I was put on a wound vac for almost 2 months, and because I wasnt healing properly I was on a new kind of antibiotics almost every week. In the end my doctor told me to quit breast feeding so they could put me on stronger meds.

  12. Love this post! I had my oldest when I was 19 and the thought of breastfeeding was weird to me (which is so silly to me now, but hey, I was 19 and in a not healthy relationship, so that was the least of my worries). He is now almost 10 and despite being formula fed exclusively, he’s so bright and healthy. I had my daughter 6 years after him, and I breastfed her and she latched like a pro. When she was 3 months, I had to take some medications where I had to pump and dump/supplement while on them and I unfortunately dried up. My youngest would not latch correctly at all! There was a lot of tears, sores, blood (all on me) and numerous visits with dr and lactation consultants and no matter what, it just wasn’t working. I pushed through and managed to exclusively breastfeed or pump for a whole month, but I am diagnosed with anxiety and my anxiety over it was on overdrive. I decided to switch to formula for my own mental health and for the happiness in the rest of the family. I still am so upset that it didn’t work out, but he is big, healthy 8 month old now!

  13. You are a rockstar, that is awesome it worked the second time around! I actually know many moms who had trouble the first time because they had no support and the next baby nursed like a champ :)

    Thankfully I had great support and it worked with my first baby, but we overcame a ton of hurdles from a painful latch, thrush, to a milk protein intolerance where I had to quit all dairy to keep breastfeeding (even though they offered formula and said it would be ‘easier’). Wasn’t easy but it was worth it!

  14. Every child was different for me. My first I just couldn’t keep up the supply/demand. He was a very hungry 9 pound baby and I was an unsupported and inexperienced 18 year old mother.

    With Kaydee I was much older and had a great support system. She was a breast milk only baby (not even bottles) until 14 months when she self-weaned.

    Then Emma was even stranger. She slept 90% of the time right from birth. I couldn’t keep her awake long enough to breastfeed and my supply just disappeared within weeks.

  15. I tried with my 2nd child but I couldn’t stick with the breastfeeding diet. You can’t have fish, chocolate, garlic etc Since fish contains a high amount of mercury and it all can affect the breast milk.

  16. What an awesome story! I’m so glad you tried on the second one….I also breast fed and it is a bonding hard to explain…. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I was not able to breastfeed my first son for a variety of reasons. Now my second son? Totally different experience! Don’t give up second time moms! And yes, you’re a rockstar :)

  18. Yay! I’m so glad it worked out with your daughter. Such a moving and inspiring story of when you needed to try. It is NEVER too late to breastfeed your infant. It may take some work but you can re-lactate and get your milk back at any time if you know how to do it! It is a ton of work but you can do it. I was lucky enough to not have to try that route. I got my milk in shortly after my daughter was born. She was born on a Friday morning and by Monday night I was in AGONY because she wouldn’t nurse and I needed her too. She had nursed twice in the hospital. She was in the NICU so I couldn’t just nurse her whenever since I was still a patient in postpartum. I pumped and kept trying with her even after we got home. She was used to the bottle already :( She liked the instant milk coming out of the artificial nipple. I never gave up. It was the Wednesday after she was born and I called my mom, crying. “Evelyn just won’t take my breast. She wants the bottle. I can’t do it.” My mom, being wonderfully supportive said “just don’t give up yet. You can do it. But if you really want to quit, you can.” The way I heard it was “I dare you to give up. You can’t do it.” (Oh the joys of postpartum emotions!) And at 6pm on the Wednesday after she was born, Evelyn and I FINALLY connected. And we breastfed successfully, but not stress free, for nearly 13 months! Momma, you CAN do it. Keep trying. If you come to the point where you are done. Great. Try once more. Then, move on. I tried once more. It worked. I am glad I tried the one more time!

  19. My mother had 4 children from 1973 to 1985. She formula fed her first two children because that was the norm at the time. Things had changed by the time I was born and she was able to successfully nurse two babies. Things aren’t written in stone after your first child. We are constantly learning as parents and shouldn’t beat ourselves up as badly as we do.

  20. Oh, absolutely a rock star!! I like to think I am too;-) With my first born (who is now a 4 year beautiful girl), I tried to breastfeed. It didn’t go well. I don’t know if it was a poor latch, lack of support and resources locally (I live in a very small town) or if I just gave up too soon. She got breast milk for about a month but most of it was being pumped and then mixed with formula. My supply ended up drying up but I think I wasn’t pumping enough. With my second daughter I was determined to try again but told myself I’d be okay if it didn’t work. I had WONDERFUL nurses while I was in the hospital, more alone time with my newborn and I was much more relaxed. She latched right away and nursing was wonderful! Then the soreness started…..then I got thrush which was so painful I wanted to quit. But I didn’t! I kept reading from other mama’s like you, that if you can get through that painful part and keep going you won’t regret it! And I haven’t=) Still going strong at nearly 11 months!!!

  21. Wow, so glad you tried and it worked out. Either way, you are a rock start mom because you love your kids and give them all you’ve got!

  22. Yes, you absolutely are a rockstar!

  23. Maybe it’s the postpartum hormones but this totally made me tear up!!

  24. Yes, you certainly are totally a rock star! It’s great that you were able to learn how to do it without any pressure from the outside world. She is beautiful!!

  25. I tried breastfeeding for my daughter. It was difficult and she wouldn’t latch at all. I tried for the first month and while doing so had to supplement with formula. It was pretty rough. I didn’t even try with my son, but wish I would have. I think I was just so scared of my previous experience, but still regret not trying for him.

  26. Thank you for sharing this Crissy. I am having my second early next year and I just remember the struggle with breastfeeding but I keep telling myself why I’m doing it, for the baby and all the benefits that come with it. I’ve learned this time around not to beat myself up if it doesn’t go well but I’m so happy that you were able to have a GREAT connection with breastfeeding the second time around! You ARE a rockstar.

  27. Good that you kept with it! and oh, my goodness, your little ones are beautiful! Enjoy every moment…they grown up tooooo fast!!!

  28. Thank you for sharing your breastfeeding story.
    No one’s experience is the same. Although I breastfed my son from the day he was born to 21 months old, I also had my hurdles to overcome – bleeding/sore nipples and his food allergies that made me change my diet to benefit him.

  29. It is so different with each child! Even for having breast fed one, the challenges I faced with each new baby were different. I think all the fighting from both sides (and well meaning hospital staff checking in on new Moms constantly) puts unnecessary pressure on a process that is so personal between Mother and child. You are a rockstar. Not because you did or didn’t breastfeed… because you followed your intuition and stuck to your Mama-guns! You did what you obviously wanted and felt like doing. Either way as long as we are confident in our decision … we are ALL rockstars. We are Moms.

  30. You ARE a rock star mom! Congrats on successfully raising two beautiful children. I’m glad you were able to experience breast feeding. As you said we shouldn’t judge women for the way they choose to feed their children.

    I have 5 kids–the last two are twins. I nursed them all including the twins. I did supplement the twins so someone else could help with feeding and I was just too dang tired to pump!! I am lucky that I had no problems, but I was judged by my mother in law who was totally against nursing! But I knew it was right for me and my babies.

    Bless you & keep up the important work raising awesome kids!

  31. I’m so glad you tried again and was successful! I was only 23, single and worked two jobs when my son was born, so breastfeeding him for even the 10 weeks I did was a huge accomplishment. When my daughter was born 2 years ago, I was determined to BF longer, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. It became frustrating, tearful and more stressful than it should have been. I stopped, but everyone said I should “try harder” and try more pumps – everyone had their fix and nothing worked. Eventually, I learned that happy time spent bottle feeding my baby was better than stressful BFing her :-)

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