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Everything That's Different About Breastfeeding Your 1st and 4th Child

Photograph by Twenty20

There’s nothing quite like the learning curve on breastfeeding. In fact, with my first child, I was much more worried about nursing than I was labor and delivery.

I figured with delivery, I’d have a whole team of doctors, midwives and nurses to help out. One way or another, it’d be finished within 24 hours. Nursing, on the other hand, would mostly be on me (no lactation consultant was going to come stay at my house for days on end). With any luck, it’d last for months, not hours.

Adding to my concern was the fact that my mom had five children and never was able to breastfeed successfully.

Spoiler alert: it all worked out fine. I nursed my first three babies for more than a year each and am currently four months into nursing my fourth.

But, whew, the difference between nursing that first baby and nursing this fourth is night and day.

With my first baby, I had to completely strip down to the waist to nurse for the first two weeks.

With my first baby, I clearly remember sitting in that hospital bed with my husband and a lactation consultant all helping to position the baby, while I tried to get her to latch on. I remember thinking, “How will I ever do this without someone to help me?”

When my fourth baby was born, the lactation consultant stopped by my hospital room, took one look at me feeding my day-old baby with my e-reader in my other hand and said, “It looks like you have this covered—buzz me if you have any questions or concerns.”

The nursing muscle memory is strong.

'I can’t believe how much better I am at this now.'

With my first baby, I had to completely strip down to the waist to nurse for the first two weeks. I had all these flashbacks to women I’d seen nursing in public and thought, “How is that even possible?”

Now, seven years later, I’ve nursed in a swimsuit, a formal dress at a wedding and 10 million T-shirts. I’ve nursed on airplanes, in church, in a car, at the beach and at more playgrounds than I can count.

The 2010 version of me would be in awe.

Like so many parts of parenting, breastfeeding is one of those things that seems like you’ll NEVER get the hang of it and then, suddenly a few weeks or months or years later, you look back and think, “I can’t believe how much better I am at this now.”

If only nursing in a swimsuit was something I could put on my resumé.

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