StorkNet interview with
Anne Smith, IBCLC
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant

Be sure to visit Anne Smith's website for more breastfeeding information and wonderful products. Also, read her articles on StorkNet.

Q's and A's:

SECOND BABY ~ How will I do it?

Cindy: Anne, My daughter is now 10 months old, and when she was born I had a very hard time nursing, my milk production stopped. I ended up giving her formula. We plan on having another child in a couple of years and I am very concerned that I won't have the ability to take care of a toddler and learn how to nurse a baby at the same time. Not only the actual nursing portion of it, but also the scheduling. Plus going back to work and how long I would have to wait. What can I do to prepare myself and my husband for that enormous change in our lives? Thanks so much.

Anne: Wow, I wish I had the answer to this question! Having a second baby is definitely a momentous, life changing event, and I'm not sure that anyone can tell you exactly how to prepare for it. I remember all the scary thoughts that went through my head when I found out I was pregnant again: How will I handle a toddler who is going through the terrible twos and a newborn? Will I have two in diapers at the same time? Can I possibly love another baby as much as I love my first? Will the older baby feel left out while I'm nursing the newborn? How can I possibly take care of two kids and still have time left for cleaning, cooking, and spending time with my husband?

I think that all of these are normal feelings for any mother, especially if her babies are spaced pretty close together. First time mothers are stressed because everything is so new, and they are afraid that they will do something wrong that will scar their child for life. They worry about whether the baby is sleeping enough or sleeping too much, eating too little or eating too much, whether they are warm enough or too hot, etc. etc. They also tend to be in a huge rush. First time moms can't wait for the first tooth, the first solids, the first steps, and so on.

The good thing about expecting your second is that you kind of know what to expect because you've been there before. You've learned that your baby isn't as fragile as you thought, and won't die if she eats a dustball off the floor or skips a bath one night and goes to bed with dirty feet. You tend to not sweat the small stuff as much, and not to be in such a hurry for all the milestones that you just couldn't wait for the first time around.

The downside of having a second baby is that you are spread much thinner. You have more laundry, cooking, and cleaning to do, and less time to do it. With the first baby, you have the luxury of letting everything revolve around the baby's schedule: when she naps, you nap. When the second baby arrives, you have to accommodate the needs of a newborn who has to have attention pretty much 24/7, and also the needs of the older child who suddenly has to share you with this new little person. When the baby naps, you feel like you should be spending time with your toddler or emptying the dishwasher or folding the laundry or defrosting the chicken for dinner and on and on and on.

It is challenging, but mothers have been doing it for millions of years, and you can too. You have plenty of love to go around, and you will find ways to cope with the demands of housecleaning, sibling jealousy, etc. You may have to let some things go. For example, when I had one baby, I was a very meticulous housekeeper. I changed the sheets every week, all my closets were organized, and I dusted every week. After six kids, my sheets get changed when someone throws up or pees on them and not before. My closets are so full that you are taking your life in your hands when you open them, and I don't even notice the dust bunnies as long as the floor is cleared out enough so that there is a path through the living room. It all seems to work out somehow. My kids are happy and really don't seem to care how often their sheets get changed or how many dust bunnies are lurking in the corners.

As far as breastfeeding goes, I nursed all mine so I can't really imagine doing it any other way. To me, nursing is so much easier than formula feeding. When you nurse, you have a built in milk supply that is ready immediately and always at the right temperature, and you can pick up and go anywhere without hauling bottles around. You get more sleep at night if you tuck your baby in bed with you and doze while you nurse, rather than dragging yourself out of bed to fix a bottle. You also have a built in pacifier, so you can calm and comfort your baby wherever you are.

Older siblings have got to learn to share you with the new baby regardless of whether you breast or bottle-feed. It's always an adjustment, regardless of how you feed your baby. I found that my older children were very accepting of the matter of fact explanation that the new baby drinks special milk from mommy's breasts and when he is a big boy, like you, he'll be able to eat regular food. My older sibs were very close to their younger nursing sibs, and quickly learned to tell me when the baby wanted to nurse. They didn't like to hear them cry, and would curl up next to me while they were nursing and gently pat the baby. I used the time I spend nursing as an opportunity to cuddle and read books to my toddler (nursing gives you a free hand). I also got a big box and started filling it with little surprises while I was pregnant ( coloring books, bubbles, hot wheels, etc. from yard sales, dollar store, Goodwill, etc.). When I nursed the new baby, I would let the toddler pick one "present" out of the box. This helped make nursing a special time for the new big brother or sister.

As far as preparation for breastfeeding goes, I don't know why you had problems before, but lots of mothers have problems nursing their first baby and then have a much easier time with the second. The best way to prevent problems is to educate yourself beforehand about the basics of positioning and what to expect when the baby is born, and to have a good support system in place in the event that problems do develop.

I don't know what kind of support/advice you had before, but if you gave up on nursing because of nipple soreness or low milk supply, then something was wrong. There is only a small percentage of mothers who can't breastfeed, and most of the time this is due to medical problems that can be corrected.

A good lactation professional will be able to work with you to discover the cause of the problem and make recommendations to remediate it early on, whether the problem is soreness or low supply or whatever.

It is very important to have a good support system in place so that you will have someone to call for advice at the first sign of problems.

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Ask nursing mothers in your community for recommendations on "breastfeeding friendly" doctors in your area. See if any breastfeeding classes are available. Many WIC offices offer breastfeeding classes if you qualify for WIC.

Read a good book on breastfeeding. I like Dr. William Sear's "The Breastfeeding Book" and La Leche League's "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding."

Attend La Leche League meetings. You'll get to meet other nursing couples, as well as have access to tons of excellent breastfeeding information. La Leche League is a great source of support for all expectant and nursing mothers.

Find out if there are any IBCLCs (International Board Certified Lactation Consultants) in your area. These are health care professionals who have received extensive training in lactation, above and beyond the training that doctors or RNs receive. They are the only members of your health care team whose focus is primarily breastfeeding. Most major hospitals have IBCLCs on staff, and some IBCLCs are in private practice.

You can find an IBCLC in your area by contacting ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association) at 312-541-1710 or by e-mail at ilca@erols.com

You can find out how to locate your nearest La Leche League group by calling 1-8-LALECHE or going to their website: http://www.laleche.org.

I hope that everything goes smoothly for you this time, and wish you all the best.

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