I don't see many moms these days for breastfeeding help, and I don't really want to see more now that I'm home with my daughter.
But if there is one group of moms I'd love to help more, it's mothers who had a rough time breastfeeding their first babies and are now expecting their second. It's so gratifying to help moms have a much better experience after a difficult first go round. I think it's also very healing when it goes better.
I've seen enough moms through their first and second, and even third babies to know that - in general - it gets much easier after the first. So, as reassurance to those of you who are expecting, I thought I'd share some reasons why that is often the case:
1) You know a lot, and you're broken in. You know that breastfeeding (any kind of infant feeding, actually) takes a whole lot of time. You don't have the expectation that you'll study for the bar or clean out your garage with all of the "free time" you'll have (those are not made up examples - they're things moms have told me they thought they'd do!). You know how the whole system works, and that counts for a lot.
2) You may have had an easier birth and recovery. On average (and of course you may not match the average), labor is shorter with second babies, and this may mean less difficulty getting breastfeeding off to a good start.
3) You have more milk. In general mothers have more milk with a second baby, likely in part because they have developed more glandular tissue over the course of multiple pregnancies and even during the intervening mentural cycles, and in part because they're much more likely to get off to a smooth start with breastfeeding. It's still a 'use it or lose it' proposition, so you can't feed infrequently and expect to have lots of milk, but you usually have more raw material to work with. In some cases this means oversupply, but that's an easier problem to deal with than not having enough.
4) You know that pain = 'seek help immediately.' You know that breastfeeding can and should feel comfortable. Especially if you've needed and received good help in the past, you're far more likely to know where to get help and to not hesitate to use it if you're having latch difficulty.
5) You're street smart. By that I mean that you've paid your dues with your first and you are determined to make it work better this time around. Maybe you had a tongue tied baby and you make sure to get things lined up to deal with that if your second baby has one. Maybe you bought a bad pump the first time and you do your reseach and get a great one this time. Or maybe you have your baby at a hospital with better breastfeeding policies. You're also less likely to be swayed when a case of formula lands on your doorstep.
6) You've figured out how to navigate the cultural and family issues. You've figured out how to nurse in public confidently, you've resolved not to care what your mother-in-law thinks, and you've made the case to your co-workers that if they get to take smoking breaks you should be able to take pumping breaks.
7) Finally, you're just more mellow. You can more easily settle into your 'new normal,' instead of fearing and fighting it.
Of course, there are some ways in which it can be harder the second time around: you have less attention to devote to breastfeeding because you have another one to take care of and maybe you might remember the 'reward' phase of breastfeeding and forget that you start from square one in terms of latch with each baby. In some unhappy cases you get an easy nurser with your first and a tough second baby, which is usually a huge shock.
But, on average - in general - most of the time, it's easier the second time around!
Check out these other posts on this month's theme (updated throughout the day):
- Ambular Logic: Breastfeeding the second time around
- Blacktating: Second time's the charm
- Reporter 2 Mother: Lessons Learned
- The Good Enough Mummy: The second time around
- Dou-la-la: Once more with feeling
- Three Girl Pile Up: Totally Different and Completely the Same
- Treasured Belle: Tandem Nursing
- Christine's Contemplations: Nursing Styles Between Siblings
- TouchstoneZ: Once More With Feeling