Isn’t it fascinating how every baby you have is so different? When nursing, my VBA2C baby would only latch in the side-lying position. For me, getting help from a lactation consultant made a difference between giving up and continuing to breastfeed – with all my babies, but especially with my third!
Most hospitals offer parents a quick consultation with a lactation consultant after the baby is born. I naively thought it would be enough, when I was pregnant with my first. I went on to struggle with breastfeeding so much. That combined with painful C-section recovery made that period very traumatic. I almost gave up, if it wasn’t for a wonderful lactation consultant who got me on the right track.
Fast forward to becoming a doula and having helped hundreds of VBAC mamas welcome their babies earth-side, I was more prepared with my VBA2C baby. I interviewed several lactation consultants before the baby arrived (you’re just in a more clear state of mind and why not approach your lactation consultant search the same way you do a doula or an OB). I scheduled several sessions with a local lactation consultant immediately after birth and it made a difference between giving up and breastfeeding him.
I recently learned about The Lactation Network. They make this process a lot easier (and less time-consuming) by pairing you with the *right for you* lactation consultant (called IBCLC – stands for International Board Certified Lactation Consultant). They also handle your insurance to get the visits covered by insurance. If you decide you need a breast pump, they can help you get a free or almost free pump (including a wearable electric one).
I sat down with Chrisie Rosenthal, a mom of 3 boys, an experienced International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, author and Director of Content & Programming at The Lactation Network.
Today, she shares 5 Helpful Tips for Breastfeeding Support for Second (or Third! or Fourth!) Time Parents:
1. Take a prenatal breastfeeding class: You probably took a prenatal breastfeeding class with your first baby, but did you know most parents find them to be very helpful with subsequent babies as well? Even though you may be an experienced breastfeeding parent, each baby is different – and each breastfeeding experience can be different. In a prenatal breastfeeding class, you’ll typically review the stages of lactation, signs of transfer, latch and positioning, common concerns, pumping and bottle-feeding, and supplies.
2. Schedule a prenatal consultation with an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant): Meeting with a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) for a prenatal lactation consultation maximizes your chances of meeting your feeding goals. In a prenatal lactation consult you will typically review your lactation history, feeding challenges you experienced in the past, your medical history, supplies, answer questions, and create a plan for support. If the Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is new to you, it also gives you a chance to get to know the Lactation Consultant, and to get a feel for whether they are a good fit for you. If you had difficulty feeding in the past, this is a great time to talk to your Lactation Consultant about how you’ll avoid those issues this time around. You may also ask about how to navigate breastfeeding an infant while also taking care of older children. Often, your insurance will cover part or all of the cost of a lactation consultation. The Lactation Network is the easiest way to check your insurance coverage and arrange a time to meet with a Lactation Consultant. It is free to check your insurance and get matched with a Lactation Consultant through The Lactation Network.
3. Talk to you partner / support network about feeding goals: Sharing your feeding goals and creating open communication around the feeding plan help to ensure a smoother newborn period. Discuss how long you’d like to breastfeed, when you’ll introduce a bottle, how night-time feeds work, how each person will get rest/sleep, and what you need for support. It’s important to revisit this with each baby. Your feeding goals may change with each baby, and your partner / support network may make assumptions based on your past experiences unless you take the time to have the conversation.
4. Coordinate support in advance: Decide in advance what support you’ll need. Support needs may be different from when you had your first baby. Do you need help during the day when you’re taking care of multiple children? Or do you need nighttime help? Balancing feeding your baby, recovering from birth, and making sure your other children are cared for can feel like a lot. Do you have local friends or family? Have you considered hiring a postpartum doula? Pre-planning will make the first few weeks less stressful.
5. Create a plan in advance for feeding when your older children are present: Depending on the age of your older children, you may find your older child more “demanding” of your attention when you breastfeed your baby. This is especially true if the older child is a toddler. Some parents find it helpful to invite the older child to sit next to them while breastfeeding, and offer them a snack or a new / special toy. As the newborn gets more skilled at breastfeeding, you may be able to read a book to your toddler while feeding. If the child is older, you may find they are more willing to give you feeding time with the baby if they know they’ll get time with you later. Consider setting aside one-on-one time with your older child daily – even if it’s only a few minutes. Some parents find that being the parent who continues to do a certain part of the routine (bath, bedtime) helps the older child accept sharing you with the new baby – and makes breastfeeding easier.
Thank you Christie for sharing these helpful tips. And thank you to The Lactation Network for existing and helping us, VBAC Mamas! We are already so busy with our other kiddo(s) – it’s so great there is an organization that helps us get the lactation support we deserve and utilize the insurance for the cost.
I am also here to remind you that breastfeeding is not the best choice, it is just a choice. What I am trying to say is that if I chose not to breastfeed my kiddos or if it didn’t end up working for me, it wouldn’t have made me any less of a mother. Just like there is no right or wrong way to birth your baby, there is no right or wrong way to feed your baby: breastfeeding, combo feeding or just formula are all valid and great choices.
I will leave you today with this affirmation and a reminder:
Grateful to be supporting you on this journey,
– Meagan & The VBAC Link Team
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of The Lactation Network and is produced in partnership with The Lactation Network, but all of the opinions within are those of Meagan and The VBAC Link Editorial Team. We only recommend products and share topics we genuinely love.