I can shout it from the rooftops now - Miss Bernadette has officially been weaned, and my risks of any infections (or jinxing myself) from breastfeeding are over! Yippee!!
(Note - you've been forewarned - this post is about nursing. Stop reading now if necessary!)
I'm thrilled to say that I nursed Baby B for almost 7 months, without even as much as a hint of an infection. When Deirdre was little, I nursed for just over 6 months, and was on antibiotics a total of 6 times for mastitis. Yikes! Not sure why I had such trouble the first time. Nonetheless, I'm really glad I stuck with it two years ago...but now I realize how tough it is to be sick with a fever and infection for a week out of every month or so. It didn't seem ridiculously awful at the time (if it had been, I definitely would have thrown in the towel earlier than I did), but now I can see just how great the first 6 months of nursing can be. Yeah, Bernie!
When I think about the circumstances that contributed to my success, I wonder if the following might have had something to do with it. Keep in mind, of course, that these are my musings only...and they could have everything or nothing to do with it. As you know with a lupus body, you never can tell sometimes!
Possible contributors this time around:
1) I knew what I was doing - while I can't say that 2 kids makes one an expert, I can assure you that I definitely knew a whole lot more about nursing than I did when Deirdre was born. Plus, I wasn't as concerned about the whole "process" the second time around, either. On baby #2, you think, if it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't - it's no biggie either way. I've got bigger fish to fry with two under two!
2) I rarely skipped a feeding - with Deirdre, I skipped an afternoon feeding almost everyday, opting to pump instead so that I could get a little extra rest while someone fed her a bottle. This time around, I decided to nurse almost full-time, realizing that pumping during that afternoon feeding actually took longer (and was often less productive) than if I just fed Bernadette myself, working in my nap in and around that feeding. Having full-time help definitely made this possible - because even if I was napping when Bernadette needed to eat, I knew I could wake up, feed her, and then hop right back in bed. Rest was essential, and I think I got even more this time around.
I also think that the fact that I had Deirdre running around made a difference, too. I mean, who has time to sit and pump when you've got a two-year old raring to go?
3) I wasn't worried about building up a milk supply - this time, I didn't do any extra pumping, which kept my production at the level of only providing for Bernie on a daily basis and not an ounce more.
4) I wasn't worried about "equal opportunities for all" - the advice from the lactation consultants this time around was this: empty one side, burp, and then offer the other. If she still wants to eat, great. If she doesn't, don't worry about it! So that's what I did. I didn't worry about switching half-way through every feeding, or watching the clock, or logging my minutes. When she ate, I fed her. When she stopped, I stopped. I still switched sides from one feeding to the next, and I made sure that she got as much out of each feeding as possible, but I think cutting out the stress of tracking my time, in addition to emptying completely before switching really helped.
5) I was healthier - no doubt about it, I felt better during Bernie's first 6 months of life than I did after Deirdre was born. Very little joint pain, very little disease activity overall, so I wasn't as prone to infection as I was the last time around. And as I said, the fact that I was battling a fever and horrific pain from infection 6 times over last time didn't help matters at all.
All that said, of course, there could be no real concrete explanation for the success I had this time around. As my doctor said - different baby - different bacteria. I'm certainly no stranger to medical mysteries, so who knows! I'm just happy that I made it!