Like all aspects of parenting, breastfeeding evolves over time. The way I nurse my third and last baby is much different than the way I nursed my first. So, let’s discuss the distinctions between nursing your first and nursing your last baby (we will skip over the middle child — she should be used to it by now).
First baby: You try to nurse every 2-3 hours. You pump on a schedule. Your breasts become engorged exactly when baby should be nursing: 7am, 9am, 11:30am, 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm. Then you nurse at around the same time overnight.
Last baby: You nurse on a set schedule, also known as: whenever the baby wants. Or if there is something you want to read on your Kindle app. Or if you are readingGoodnight Moon to your toddler and you need baby to chill out. Or if you need a nap.
First baby: You have a few nursing covers that you use in rotation. You even wash them. Although baby and you are both hot and uncomfortable when you wear the cover, you feel embarrassed to nurse without it. You would never nurse at, say, a crowded restaurant, without a cover.
Last baby: You lost or gave away all the nursing covers by now. You barely even sit still to nurse because you are always running after another child, so the idea of adding another step to the nursing equation is ludicrous. Further, you now think it is silly to make your baby uncomfortable because someone might be disconcerted by seeing you feed him. Therefore, you whip out your breasts with abandon, like a college girl at Mardi Gras, but more frequently and with an even more appreciative audience (of one). You have nursed openly at restaurants, playgrounds, doctors offices, the frozen yogurt place and your kids’ preschool. (You would nurse in other places but you don’t go anywhere else anymore.)
3. Middle of the night feedings
First baby: You devise an elaborate system involving twilight feeds, some bottle feeds of pumped milk by dad, and cluster feeding in order to try and appease the gods of night wakings and get a full night of uninterrupted sleep. You have some success, through sheer force of willpower.
Last baby: You have no time to pump or cluster feed. You feed baby whenever he wants. For most of the night he is in your bed so that when he wakes up, he doesn’t wake the other children. You learn to sleep while being suckled on. You haven’t had a full night of uninterrupted sleep in five years. Eventually baby will learn to sleep through the night. Or he won’t, whatever.
4. Breastfeeding supplies
First baby: Large bottle of filtered water, glider with footstool, nursing pads, the aforementioned nursing cover, nursing tanks, nipple cream, fenugreek capsules, Mother’s Milk tea.
Last baby: Breasts. Baby.
5. Activities during breastfeeding
First baby: Watch TV on silent. Look at phone, possibly.
Last baby: Eat three-course meal, discipline two other children including pulling them apart during physical altercation, prepare snack for family of five, sleep, type on computer, supervise two children on playground, wait on line at amusement park.
6. Worst part of breastfeeding
First baby: Anxiety about supply.
Last baby: Anxiety about it ending.
7. Best part about breastfeeding?
First baby: Being close to your first, sweet, precious baby.
Last baby: Being close to your last, sweet, precious baby.