Q: I didn’t produce enough milk for my first child. Will that change with my second?
A: That must have been a frightening experience for you with your first child. At this point, it would be difficult indeed to assess what really caused the problems with that first. Such things as a complicated delivery, complete with a lot of medication and other medical interventions, may have affected your baby’s ability to nurse as often and as effectively as is needed.
Rarely, a woman will not be able to produce enough milk to sustain her baby. Some studies quote a figure as high as 5 percent, but those of us “in the trenches” find that number to be high and largely unsubstantiated.
Often, the mother who does fall in that tiny percentage will notice no change in breast size during pregnancy. Some mothers who have extremely tubular-shaped breasts have difficulties.
It is hard to say what will happen with your next child. I would encourage you to read as much about breastfeeding—how it is supposed to work—as you can. La Leche League International’s Womanly Art of Breastfeeding would be an excellent resource for you. If there are LLL meetings in your community, attend as many meetings as you can before your child is born. There is nothing like learning breastfeeding from another mother who’s “been there, done that.” You can learn practical tips on how often babies nurse, to how to tell if the nursing is going well, to how to plan for a delivery that will help get breastfeeding off to as good a start as possible—and tips for how to help if that delivery doesn’t go as you plan.
Talk to your health care provider about your experiences in the past and your desire to breastfeed your next child. For your own peace of mind, I would encourage you to make sure that breastfeeding is evaluated before you leave the hospital—preferably by a board certified lactation consultant (with IBCLC after her name). Ask your pediatrician about scheduling a visit within a week after delivery.
Realize that the new baby is not the old baby—he will not know of any problems that happened before! And your body is not the same body that delivered that first child, either.
The more you know about how breastfeeding is supposed to work, the quicker you will be able to identify any problems that are going on. The problem that is identified early is more likely to be solvable.
By Melissa Clark Vickers
International Board Certified Lactation Consultant
Moms & Babies Huntingdon, Tenn.