Can pregnancy be different the second time?

It's been a while since we've published the last Real Story on the blog, but we're happy to announce that we're bringing them back! Today we're sharing a part of Francesca's story, where she told us about what was it like to be pregnant for the second time...

How did you find out you were pregnant? How did you feel, what was your first thought? 

Found out early on - 4 weeks pregnant -, it wasn’t a surprise, it was planned and didn’t take us long. The joy was immediately overshadowed by immense guilt toward my 3 year old first born. Who, by the way, was standing next to me while I was peeing on the pregnancy stick of course. So I had to hide all my emotions and go on with my morning, get him ready for nursery etc. Such a  different experience from finding out I was pregnant with my first son! Then I could actually enjoy the news, call my husband, cry on the phone tears of joy...

Did your pregnancy go as you imagined it and was it any different for you than the previous one? Did you find out the gender in advance? 

I thought I knew what was coming with pregnancy since it wasn’t my first,  but it turned out I wasn’t fully prepared. All the symptoms kicked in much earlier and in full force: my morning sickness started week 7 and lasted well into week 16, while for my first it started later and stopped at around week 13. I was nauseous for 24 hours and it made me miserable for the first months. I had to put my life on “pause” and wait it out. I knew it would end but those weeks felt never ending. This is when I realized I had actually removed from my memory the worst parts of being pregnant. Through a genetic test we found out in week 10 that I was carrying a girl. This gave me some joy in those tough weeks as we were longing to have a girl. 

As far as we know, you decided to have a planned C-section. Can you tell us what brought you to this decision? 

I had a long complicated labour with my first child, which ended in an emergency C section. For my second pregnancy I did not want the disappointment of trying so hard for a vaginal birth and then being bitterly disappointed again, so I decided for an elective C section. It gave me a sense of having a bit of control.  

Planned C section however doesn’t mean things go as planned.. My daughter needed help with oxygen at birth, so I wasn’t able to have skin to skin with her for the first 3 hours of her life as she had to go into ICU for monitoring for half a day. I was worried about her and about not being able to kick off breastfeeding if I couldn’t latch her in the first hours. Luckily everything turned out well anyway. I think the takeaway here was there is really no point in trying to be in control for things you really can not control.

How do you feel now, after giving birth?

Postpartum for me was hard, very hard. The first 3 days were a blur of being under heavy painkillers, not sleeping at all and generally feeling dreadful. It does go by quickly though and after about a week I felt great. I find that having a supportive partner is key. 

How is breastfeeding going for you?

It’s been an adventure! I thought that since I did it already once, I must have known how to do it again… However, each baby is different of course, my second child is not a good latcher and my nipples got cracked and bruised in the first 3 days of trying to feed her. 

After consulting with a lactation professional I decided to temporarily stop breastfeeding to pump my milk instead and feed the baby with a special bottle called a soft cup, which is supposed to avoid nipple vs bottle confusion. This way my nipples had time to heal and I didn’t have to give up breastfeeding forever. I gradually started to latch my daughter to the breast again after 3 days of "full nipple rest”, at first just once/twice a day focusing on getting a good latch, and then gradually increasing to more breastfeeds every day,with the objective of fully replacing the soft cup with my breasts once I was ready, fully comfortable and without any pressure. I am currently still in this process but everyday it's getting better. I am positive that I will be able to return to full breastfeeding in a matter of a few days.

What kind of clothing item would have been really helpful? How do you feel about your body now, after giving birth?

When struggling with nipple/breast pain from initial breastfeeding, I had to be extremely mindful about what to wear. I needed very soft and quality bra/tops, with cotton on the inside as I could not withstand any other material touching my nipples, which were like open wounds at some stages. I used Femique nursing lingerie and haven’t been able to wear anything else since. The metal magnet closing and opening allowed me to handle baby and boob easily despite reduced mobility after the C-section. It really made my life easier. It also helped me feeling good about myself, wearing something nice and feminine after a long time feeling like I did not own my body anymore.

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