Does that sound right? No? Doesn't sound right to me either. The reality is, all breastfeeding moms can benefit from guidance, support and education prenatally and in those early postpartum days and weeks. Every baby is different and thus every breastfeeding relationship is different. In fact, I've noticed that most of my clients lately are not brand new moms. They are moms who know the value of early support for continued success. As a first-time mother I certainly benefited from the varied and repeated lactation support I received. Then, as a new-again mom, with experience as a lactation professional, I expected differences between the breastfeeding relationships with my son and my daughter, but I did not think I would need lactation support services. It turns out I needed the support all the same! The second time around I was a different person (in as much as circumstances had changed) and my daughter was a different baby from my son. The fundamental mechanics may have remained unchanged (mother, child, nutrition), but the implementation and maintenance of my new-again breastfeeding relationship required flexibility, patience and willingness to accept support, guidance and even more education.
Here are a few reasons a new-again mom might need breastfeeding help.
New Baby, New Breastfeeding Relationship
I can't emphasize this enough - every single baby is different. Every breastfeeding relationship is different. As a new-again mom, you may face an entirely different breastfeeding scenario with baby number two or three. Differing labor and delivery with/without different interventions can produce a different set of circumstances. Whereas a previous nursling may have been an insatiable eater, this new nursling may be a snacker. Weight gain patterns can also vary greatly baby-to-baby. Checking in with a lactation professional may be just the ticket to keep breastfeeding on the track of your choosing. On the child component side of the relationship, a lactation professional can facilitate success through a number of services to include assessing baby's latch, checking baby's weight gain / transfer of milk, identifying any physical obstacles (i.e. tongue tie, neck/muscle tightness, etc.), and/or helping baby discover a more efficient position. As for the mother component, a lactation professional can support via expanding arsenal of holds and/or assessing effectiveness of holds, assessing breast condition, teach hand expression, educate on milk movement massage, and equip mom with the tools and knowledge to overcome any breastfeeding challenge.
The Challenge of Breastfeeding When You Have Other Kids
New-again moms are undoubtedly experienced moms, and no doubt familiar (if not overly so) with the challenges of motherhood. They are diaper-changing, car seat-installing, baby-wearing pros! But let's face it - they are still outnumbered when the family adds a new addition, especially when the challenges of toddlerdom overlap with any breastfeeding challenges. Adding another child to the equation is reason enough to seek breastfeeding support. Juggling toddlers or school-aged children and an infant is hard work in the early postpartum! The immediate postpartum is a difficult time. You've been through labor and birth and the rollercoaster of emotions tied into those life-changing events. Your body is sore and you are back in zombie land; seemingly endless diaper changes, round the clock feedings and plain old sleep deprivation. Establishing breastfeeding in the first few weeks is imperative to a successful breastfeeding relationship. You may or may not have received sufficient lactation support through your prenatal provider. Regardless, much can quickly change as you move venues or simply because time has passed. It certainly did for me during both periods of postpartum. With my first and second, one of several lactation consultants would help me overcome an issue one day, only to have that new, succesful hold I just learned to improve latch become ineffective later. And with my daughter, I discovered just how distracting big brother could be when baby and I had settled into a solid rhythm. Rhythms are difficult to maintain amid disruptions, but you don't have to rely on improvisation to see the song through, you can lean on other members of the band (though probably not the youngest member as they're clearly infantile and going through a destructive phase).
Stay at Home Mom to Career Mom
Supporting a growing household is expensive. More and more women are finding the need to return to work after the birth of a baby. Has your family dynamic changed since your first was a baby? Has your work situation changed? Maybe you were able to stay home with your first, and now you have to return to work. Do you have worries about pumping, giving baby a bottle and building and maintaining supply? A new-again mom may have a whole new vision for meshing breastfeeding, family life, and career. Working with an IBCLC to create a back-to-work pumping plan can make all the difference in a breastfeeding relationship that seeks to withstand the challenges of separation.
All These Reasons and More - You're Exhausted
Your exhaustion and stress levels can put you in a vulnerable position. Exhaustion and stress can greatly impact your goals by obscuring the once clear view you had of how to reach your breastfeeding goals. You may begin wondering why you ever made breastfeeding a priority. You may begin to second guess the length or breadth of your breastfeeding relationship. Exhaustion and loss of focus go hand-in-hand, as does energy and clarity. While we have yet to discover a way to directly tap an IBCLC's energy to provide mom some focus or clarity, time with an IBCLC can energize or provide the supplemental support needed to attain the goals you established when still of sound mind and body. Investing time with an IBCLC can pay dividends in the immediate to overcome those vulnerable periods (definitely plural, at least it was for me), and also in the long term as the relationship evolves - what used to work becomes less effective or everything still works but suddenly the pattern is disrupted and the puzzle pieces are no longer sliding together.
The breastfeeding journey is a dynamic one. By utilizing lactation support services proactively and reactively I was able to adapt and overcome. While there are a myriad of external factors which can impact (negatively or positively) your breastfeeding journey, the internal momma factors are more often than not the most impactful. Not every breastfeeding relationship is a puzzle to be solved by a professional. Support can certainly come in the form of a support group, family members, friends, or even the vast resources of the internet. The most important contributor to a successful breastfeeding journey is you. This of course places an incredible amount of responsibility on you as momma. But we're mothers and we're no strangers to navigating chaos and accepting responsibility. The strange part is navigating an uncharted territory when it's been charted and there are not only maps available, but trained navigators ready to collaborate with you to ensure you reach your destination. How's that for a maritime analogy that relates to breastfeeding?!
Finding a Lactation Consultant
Being a new-again breastfeeding mom definitely has its advantages. You are likely more confident as a mother and have a better idea of what lays ahead in the next couple of years. However, you may still find yourself in strange waters with a new baby and you deserve support. All breastfeeding moms, whether it's their first or their fifth time, can benefit from dedicated lactation support from an IBCLC. Finding a lactation consultant is as easy as Googling, but you can also go through the Find A Lactation Consultant search tool on the International Lactation Consultant or ILCA website. Click here to find a lactation consultant near you. Happy Breastfeeding!