I entered this third season of postpartum nervously, feeling unsure of just about every aspect of adding a new baby to our family. I found myself wondering how my two younger children would respond to a new sibling and how I would possibly manage the responsibilities of three kids under 5 years old. One of the things I found myself most concerned about was breastfeeding. Breastfeeding my first two children was a struggle. There was an endless battle with a low milk supply and learning to manage my D-MER, an unexpected complication that made me feel depressed every time my milk let down. I worked outside of the home, so I had to pump several times a day and regularly relied on formula when I couldn't pump enough to keep up with my babies. I wasn't sure if breastfeeding my third baby would be easiest, or if it'd be more of the same.
After all I'd been through — struggling with a low milk supply, D-MER, pumping at work and relying on formula — it was easy for me to assume that this time around would be just as hard. I had no reason to believe that anything would be different when my son arrived so I prepared myself for the worst, stashing formula samples away for supplementing and reading up on different ways to increase my milk supply. Today, my son is 6 weeks old and I am so thrilled that breastfeeding has been way easier with my third child. I know we may still have struggles ahead of us, but I feel confident that our strong start has set us up for success. And honestly, it's a relief.
From the start, he took the breast. After my doctor placed him on my bare chest following his birth, we took a few minutes to get to know each other and then he quickly started to root around, looking for food. In the past, I had awkwardly encouraged my girls to eat, dealing with the frustration of not knowing how to show a newborn how to eat. With my first, a nurse had even stood over me, shoving my breast into my daughter's mouth while she fussed. It was uncomfortable and foreign; nothing felt familiar about it.
Sometimes I feel like I let my anxiety get the better of me, supplementing with formula for no reason other than the fact that I didn’t trust my body to do its job. This time around, however, once I knew my baby boy was latching well, I was able to relax, and let go of my worries. Now, I just enjoy our time together.
Not this time. My son and I seemed to have an understanding: he knew how to eat and I knew how to feed him. And I felt like the familiar comfort of breastfeeding was by far one the most rewarding parts of adding a third baby to our family. From that day on, I felt more confident than ever that I could trust my body to feed my son. Instead of becoming obsessed with feeding intervals and scheduled naps, we began our life together with me following his lead instead of trying to force on him my expectations of how often he should eat and when he should be sleeping.
Honestly, I feel like my confidence helped to put me more at ease. In the past, I felt a lot of anxiety about breastfeeding. I worried about whether or not I was making enough milk or if each of my children were putting on enough weight. Sometimes I feel like I let my anxiety get the better of me, supplementing with formula for no reason other than the fact that I didn’t trust my body to do its job. This time around, however, once I knew my baby boy was latching well, I was able to relax, and let go of my worries. Now, I just enjoy our time together.
At 6 weeks old, my son is eating well and gaining weight. I don’t know what's different about this time around, but something is definitely is. Adjusting to life with a new baby is definitely not without challenges. Everyday I feel overwhelmed with the weight of caring for a new a little life. I awkwardly juggle my days as a mom of three, but this part of our life — this part of breastfeeding — is just easy. We've found our rhythm, him and I, and I am beyond thrilled to have something simple in my life when so much of being a mom feels so overwhelmingly complicated.
It really goes to show how different each new life really is and how much can change when you learn to trust your instincts and to stop doubting your abilities as a mom.