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Nursing a child can take an unexpected turn when you are not ready for the journey. While several mothers have textbook knowledge, some barely have any information. Also, is the bookish knowledge enough to tackle breastfeeding issues? It is one of the reasons why many mothers, especially the first-timers, struggle with breastfeeding their first-born. Sometimes, the mother is completely unable to provide any breast milk, and the child is entirely formula-fed. This concern might escalate the second time around, and it could bring back haunting memories of the breakdown of the breastfeeding relationship with the first child.
However, there is a higher chance you will succeed the second time! This post will help you understand why some mothers are unable to breastfeed the second child after failed attempts with the first one and tackle some of those issues immediately. Be sure to read till the end for some useful tips shared by moms who have overcome the challenges of breastfeeding the second child after facing issues nursing the first-born. Here’s one tip right away – If you can’t beat fear, do it scared! – Glennon Doyle Melton.
Apprehensions About Breastfeeding the Second Child
Breastfeeding is a fulfilling experience for mothers. It produces oxytocin, the hormone that promotes a sense of bonding, and prolactin, the hormone that helps mothers produce more breast milk. However, despite breastfeeding being a natural phenomenon, many mothers have apprehensions about it. Misconceptions, such as the supply of breast milk dwindles by the time the second child is born, or the mother will fail to breastfeed the second child because she faced issues nursing the first, somehow find their way even to the well-read and cautious mothers.
According to Fatima Siraja, an active member of Breastfeeding Support For Indian Mothers, although natural, breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be developed. If a mother doesn’t have an appropriate support system to develop the skill, she will eventually face a dead-end and give in because mothers never fail to breastfeed, it’s the system that fails them. She strongly believes that breastfeeding is not just the responsibility of the mothers; the onus is on the community, too. Fatima has successfully breastfed her second child for two years despite experiencing severe nursing issues with the first child. She now uses the platform to reach out and support mothers in need.
Several moms, like Fatima, have managed to bust myths about breastfeeding the second child. They motivate themselves and each other to figure out a way to toss any misconception out of the window and successfully utilise nature’s health plan the second time around. As they made their way through this seemingly simple plan, they have experienced increased fulfillment of nursing the second child and also gained strength to go the extra mile for the baby’s wellbeing. If you’ve been worried sick about nursing your second child, remember, all of it doesn’t come without grit and the right support.
Let’s take a look at some common issues that can pose as roadblocks for mothers struggling to breastfeed their second-born.
Common Breastfeeding Issues
Breastfeeding the second child is not always the same as breastfeeding the first child. Issues, such as the ones given below, can affect nursing the second child, too:
- Medical issues, such as inverted nipples, flat nipples, overflowing, etc.
- Baby latching issues due to a cleft lip or tongue tie.
- Baby latching issues due to incorrect posture or incorrect latch.
- Guilt, emotional baggage, mental blocks, or fear arising from the inability to successfully breastfeed the first-born.
- Challenges in maintaining the feeding schedule when multitasking.
- Inability to establish a secure bond with the second child because of a demanding first child.
- No/less awareness and the absence of a support system.
These factors can be dealt with if mothers can openly ask for help. Therefore, it is important for them to connect and research in order to gain knowledge and troubleshoot feeding problems. Read on for some more tips that could help you tackle any issues when breastfeeding the second child.
Tips for Breastfeeding the Second Child
Awareness provides empowerment; the more you know, the better you can deal with issues. These tips should help you gain awareness and also seek help whenever needed:
1. Establish a support system.
We know there are several books and websites that can help you with the right technique of breastfeeding your child. However, without ample support, it will be quite a challenge to nurse your second baby, especially if you have faced issues when breastfeeding your first-born. Therefore, join peer groups and establish your own little support group that can motivate you and guide you in the right direction when you need help.
Simultaneously, let your family and friends know the kind of support you expect from them. Many a time, people are ready to help; they mean well and suggest an appropriate way ahead, but it is not the best way ahead for the child. Remember, communication is the key, and nobody will know what issues you are facing unless you voice them. Open up to the mothers who have, at some point, gone through similar instances and seek tips and tricks to tackle your own breastfeeding issues. Also, speak to your husband and immediate family and share the responsibilities; tell them when and how you need help. By taking a clear and direct approach, it is possible to create your own informed support system.
2. Don’t hesitate to seek counselling.
Many mothers hesitate to approach a medical practitioner, or a lactation consultant thinking breastfeeding is supposed to happen naturally. But, it is not the phenomenon you need help with; you need help developing the skill. Therefore, brush all your worries, unload the baggage and speak to someone who can help you with a medical point of view and assist you in the right direction.
3. Begin early; before the delivery.
Most mothers, who have successfully overcome the battle of breastfeeding the second child, always advise starting early. Mental preparation plays an important role in manifesting what you desire to do after childbirth. It also helps you isolate the past experience, plan better, establish a tight support system, seek help in advance, and also chart ways to reach out for issues that occur out of the blue.
4. Use breastfeeding tools and techniques.
Use tools and techniques that will help you establish a breastfeeding schedule for your second child. You may try the ones given below:
- If you have a breastfeeding toddler, try tandem feeding.
- Use a baby carrier to carry the infant to breastfeed on demand or to deal with cluster feeding.
- Try new positions to resolve incorrect latching.
- Include the first child in the breastfeeding journey of the second child by making her aware of why you need to spend extra time with the infant. One of the parents could also take up the responsibility of educating the child or keeping her engaged during feeding schedules.
While these tips will help most mothers gauge what can be corrected to resolve the breastfeeding issues with the second child, there is a lot that the families and friends can help them with. Below, we have also provided some tips for those who could help such mothers in distress.
What Others Can Do to Support Breastfeeding Mothers
These tips will enable you to take ample load off the second-time mother and let her feed her baby with some ease and a lot of peace.
1. Be supportive and encouraging.
Be encouraging and do not doubt the mothers. Since the mom has already gone through a lot emotionally and physically, it is likely that your concerns, although genuine, will trigger her. All she needs is a bunch of extremely supportive and encouraging people. As much as possible, avoid any negativity that can affect the mother’s focus and pull her down the gloomy hallways of postpartum depression.
2. Avoid being pushy and insensitive.
A “We have done it; why can’t you?” or “It’s natural; why aren’t you able to do it?” approach doesn’t help mothers when they are trying to figure out a way to breastfeed their second child. Instead, listen to them, help find answers, share tips and tricks to help them tackle the issue.
3. Your experiences are not hers.
Sometimes, women tend to think that their experiences are applicable to every other mother struggling to breastfeed the second child. This is also true about some mothers, who doubt their daughters’ supply of breast milk or the ability to breastfeed only because they couldn’t, at some point. Just as every pregnancy is different, every breastfeeding experience is different, too.
4. Don’t dismiss the mother’s efforts.
It is not new that mothers can push themselves beyond limits to provide what is needed for their child. If they are trying their best to establish a breastfeeding relationship with the second child, being dismissive of their efforts is the last thing they want from you. Instead, ask them how you could assist and work a way around it.
5. Steer clear of shaming
This is the most important tip for those who want to help a mother deal with breastfeeding issues with the second child. Because breastfeeding is a natural phenomenon, taking help or even talking about it as an issue is usually looked down upon. When trying to be a part of a mother’s support system, ensure you steer clear of any shaming and avoid making things awkward and embarrassing for her.
Some trust and confidence can help mothers deal with breastfeeding issues second time around even when they couldn’t do it for the first child. Believe in yourself and nature; your body could birth a living being, and it can help her survive, too. A beautiful quote by Sarah Manguso resonates well with this thought – ”My body, my life, became the landscape of my child’s life. I am no longer merely a thing living in the world; I am a world.”. If every mother lives by this ideology and becomes ‘a world’, she can win any battle.