Every parent has a unique experience of breastfeeding their child – that experience may even differ from their first born to second born child. If a parent’s breastfeeding experience was negative with their first child, such as not being able to produce enough milk or the baby not latching on, the idea of trying with the second baby can be intimidating.
Kathryn Tucker, RN Lactation Specialist at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, wants to guide and encourage mothers who want to breastfeed their second child, even after a less than ideal experience the first time around.
Easier or more difficult?
“It’s hard to say if it will be easier or harder because every baby is different,” Tucker says. “But even if you have trouble getting started, that doesn’t mean you won’t be successful. Continue to stimulate and pump your breasts to maintain milk supply until breastfeeding attempts are successful.
She says it’s important for parents to remember that the breastfeeding process can be different with every child. “In my experience, a first-time mom can be more anxious with all the new information, and that’s very understandable,” says Tucker. “The new experience of being a mother and learning so many new things can be overwhelming.”
But with the second child, mothers have increased their knowledge with experience, helping them navigate breastfeeding even if they weren’t successful with their first baby. For example, a second-time mother has a better understanding of her own body after pregnancy and how long it takes to fully produce milk. They know how to hold a baby and understand that a baby is stronger than they first thought.
“I find the second baby can be a lot less stressful overall, which promotes milk production,” says Tucker. “So whether it’s your second or first baby, know that breastfeeding takes practice, a lot of patience and perseverance!”
You know more than you think
If first- or second-time mothers want to breastfeed their babies, Tucker encourages them to prepare before birth by learning all the knowledge they can. “Read a breastfeeding book, watch videos on how to put your baby to the breast, research the internet, take a breastfeeding class, or join a support group,” she says.
As a lactation specialist, Tucker says her advice to mothers who want to breastfeed their second child but have been unsuccessful with their first is “don’t let your first experience cloud your second.” Every experience is different, she says. “Do your best and prepare with all the experience and knowledge you gained after the birth of your first child.”
If it still doesn’t work, what are your options?
If a second mother is unable to breastfeed her second child, there are options. One of these options is that mothers can choose to pump and bottle feed their breast milk to their baby. With sustained milk supply from pumping, an infant can still learn to latch on later. Tucker encourages mothers to get outpatient help from a breastfeeding clinic or mother support group.
“Breastfeeding is a challenge, but it’s totally worth it,” she says. “Every breastfeeding experience is different — don’t compare yourself to someone else. What works for one family may not work for another, so make it work for you in the way that works for you.
You’re a great mom anyway
As a lactation specialist, Tucker and her team are here to educate and support parents’ decisions about breastfeeding in the way they choose. “We’re here to help you achieve your goals,” she says. “If a mother decides she does not want to breastfeed her second child, we will respect her choice and support her and her baby in any way we can. You’re a great mom anyway!”
Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Supports Moms breastfeeding their infants because of the many benefits for mother and baby. Visit our website to sign up for one of our classes or support groups, covering topics from the basics of breastfeeding to birth and beyond fitness to childbirth.