Every parent has a unique experience breastfeeding their child — this experience can even differ from their firstborn to the second born child. If a parent’s breastfeeding experience was negative with their first child, for example, they weren’t able to produce enough milk or the baby wouldn’t latch, the thought of trying with the second baby may be daunting.
Kathryn Tucker, RN, a lactation specialist at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital, wants to provide guidance and encouragement for mothers eager to breastfeed their second child, even after a less-than-ideal experience the first time around.
Easier or harder?
“It’s hard to say if it will be easier or harder because every infant is different,” Tucker says. “But even if you have difficulty starting, it doesn’t mean you won’t be successful. Keep stimulating and pumping your breasts to keep your milk production up until breastfeeding attempts are successful.”
She says it’s important for parents to remember that the breastfeeding process can be different with each child. “In my experience, a first-time mother can be more anxious with all the new information, and it is very understandable,” Tucker says. “The new experience of being a mother and learning so much new stuff can be overwhelming.”
But with the second infant, 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 it can take time for full milk production. They know how to hold an infant and understand that an infant is sturdier than they first believed.
“I find the second infant can be much less stressful overall, which helps milk production,” Tucker says. “So whether it’s your second or first infant, know that breastfeeding takes practice, lots of patience, and persistence!”
You know more than you think
If first or second-time mothers are interested in breastfeeding their baby, Tucker encourages them to prepare before birth by gaining all the knowledge they can. “Read a book about breastfeeding, watch videos on how to latch your infant, do internet research, take a breastfeeding class, or join a support group,” she says.
As a lactation specialist, Tucker says her tip to mothers wanting to breastfeed their second infant but weren’t successful with their first is “don’t let your first experience cloud your second.” Every experience is different, she says. “Give it your best shot and come prepared with all the experience and the knowledge you gained after your first child was born.”
If it still doesn’t work, what are your options?
If a second-time mom isn’t successful with breastfeeding their second infant, there are options. One of those options is moms can choose to pump and bottle feed their breast milk to their baby. With a maintained milk supply through pumping, an infant may still learn to latch on later. Tucker encourages moms to get outpatient help with a breastfeeding clinic or mother’s support group.
“Breastfeeding is challenging but so 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 yourself in whatever way that looks to you.”
You’re a great mom either way
As a lactation specialist, Tucker and her team are here to educate and support parents’ decisions about breastfeeding in whatever way they choose. “We are here to help you reach your goals,” she says. “If a mother decides she doesn’t want to breastfeed her second infant, we will respect her choice and support her and baby in whatever way we can. You’re a great mom either way!”
Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital supports moms breastfeeding their infants because of the many benefits to both mom and baby. Visit our website to register for one of our classes or support groups, covering topics from breastfeeding basics to birth & beyond fitness to childbirth.