Preparing for Breastfeeding of Second Child After Low Supply with First

Updated on March 03, 2009
C.Z. asks from Randolph, MA
15 answers

I am 28 weeks pregnant with my second child and had a terrible time breastfeeding my first. I had low supply, he didn't latch well, we had to give him a bottle in the hospital due to low blood sugar, I've had a reduction... The list goes on and on! I've worked with lacation consultants in the past and will be talking to them again but I'm looking for personal experience with breastfeeding another child after having similar problems with a previous child.

I'm hoping to start pumping in my last week of pregnancy to see if I can force my milk in early assuming my OB gives me permission. I know nipple stimulation can induce labor so I won't try this without my doctor's approval. All of the literature I can find on inducing lactation has to do with mothers who have "taken a break" from nursing and want to re-establish their supply or adoptive mothers who haven't given birth. I can't seem to find any information about inducing lactation *before* giving birth.

Anyone with some experience in this area? I would love to know I'm not alone. I would hate to give up and just bottle feed if there's a possible solution to making breastfeeding easier the second time around.

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So What Happened?

We are 12 days pot partum and nursing is going amazingly well! I decided to just wait and see what happened and a lot of your advice was right. It seems my breasts figured out what to do and our second little boys is a much better nurser. He latched from the start and seems to really like to breastfeed regardless of the flat nipples (which are getting a little less flat each day).

Thank you for your responses and help!

Featured Answers



answers from Hartford on

I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding my first as well, but not a bit of trouble with the second. I've heard similar stories from several friends, so my advice: try to relax and not worry about it. If you have trouble when the baby's born, address it then.

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answers from Boston on


I would suggest contacting La Leche League. The women leaders should be able to help you and answer all your questions and concerns.

Good luck,
L. M

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I had a terrible time nursing my first son but I nursed my second child w/o any problems and the only thing I did differently was drink mother's milk tea it worked wonders and I highly suggest it.



answers from Boston on


The same things happened to me with my first daughter and I really wanted to try and make it work the second time around too. Speaking with a good lactation consultant was very helpful for me (I had several that I did not connect with and then found one that I worked really well with). One of the things that worked for me was a medication that the lactation consultant reccommended but the ob had to prescribe (of course I can't remember the name 6 mo later but I know it started with an "r") this med was taken for two weeks and the amount was built up, maxed out at one week, and then you began to ween off of it. It helped build milk supply in the first days while the baby was still sleepy and not eating very well. After taking this med I had established a strong enough milk su[pply that I have been able to successfully breastfeed my son now for 6 months. I know this is vague but it might give you a lead to mention to your consultant.
Congrats on your pregnancy and good luck!



answers from New London on

I highly recommend the book; So That's What They're For! It has excellent advice in a frank and easy to read way. It will have tons of advice on how to keep your supply up. The Dr. Sears books are super as well. Great advice from real people who have the medical knowledge and the real experience of their own children.

Don't pump before your baby is born. If you do manage to get fluids out- it will the colostrum that your baby NEEDS in the first few days before your milk comes in.
Remember- your baby only needs the few teaspoons of colostrum that your breasts make for the first few days. Even hospitals sometimes insist that your baby needs a bottle because your milk hasn't come in. That's not true- stick to your guns and just BF. I actually taped a "NO BOTTLES" note to my daughter's bassinet at the hospital. It just messes everything up. It can take a few days for your milk to come in!

You need to BF on demand- sometimes every hour or two until the second or third day when your milk comes in. (and after, if your baby wants to nurse that often) The more you nurse- the faster your milk will come in and the more milk you will make.
Don't think that pumping is the answer. Some women never can pump well. My milk never let down well when I was pumping. I needed to at least see my babies in order to let down strong.

The more education you have about breastfeeding- the more successful you will be. There is A LOT of bad advice out there- even from doctors and lactation consultants. I'm shocked sometimes to hear the advice people get from medical professionals!

Like others have suggested- LLL is great. But nothing beats educating yourself. Read, read, read. So that you can know the answers for yourself and not have to depend on the sometimes BAD advice of others.
Good luck and remember that you are the mom- you know best- and go with your motherly instincts.



answers from Boston on

Before you make your last weeks of pregnancy crazy with worry and uncomfortable nursing pressure, I hope you will consider that the second time might go more smoothly. I had supply problems with the first, and had no trouble at all with the second. The milk came in earlier and was plentiful. Your confidence and skill, having done this before, is going to serve you well! Good luck!



answers from Boston on

I did not have this problem, but I cannot say enough wonderful things about Lactation Care based in Newton. Worth every penny. Best lactation consultants around. They also have a website, I believe. Get in touch with them because not only are they knowledgeable, but also really caring. Good luck!



answers from Burlington on

I know I am repeating what many have said here, but I had the same problem with my first.After a few weeks and a consultation with a lactation specialist it was clear that I just was not making enough milk. So we switched to formula and I felt so guilty. I finally realized that for the rest of our lives we are going to be making choices on what is best for our family and will have to ignore what others think and say. Our daughter thrived after that and is a VERY healthy and happy little girl. With our son, born 2 years later, I had no problems nursing and finally understood what "engorged" meant! Dont stress about it and it will be easier. Good luck!



answers from Hartford on

I have two children and breastfed both of them with completely different experiences. My first was a slow nurser, needed a nipple shield for 10 weeks (which meant that I pumped after every feeding as well) and I had to supplement with bottles of breast milk at 6 weeks old because she wasn't gaining appropriately. But I still did it because I wanted her to have breast milk. I would just pump and after she nursed, she'd take another 2 oz or so by bottle. My second child latched on easily right from the start. He gained great and never had any nursing issues.

It was freeing to know that it wasn't me...rather a team effort (mom and baby)...that makes breastfeeding work. It might be completely different this time around.



answers from Springfield on

You are not alone in dealing with low supply with breast reduction. It can be very challenging for your new baby to get all the milk that he/she needs from your supply. It is great that you are already thinking about this issue now. Commitment to breastfeeding is what will make it possible for you to continue on, however difficult it may be. There are many herbs that are helpful in supply: fenugreek, milk thistle, & shatavri (an ayruvedic herb). Prescription wise it is best to get your hands on Domperidone. It is important to get it before you give birth because you must get it from outside the US & it can take a couple weeks to come in. Of course this means that insurance won't pay for it, but it really works. There are other Rx that are used is this country but they have more side effects & aren't as good at increasing supply.

It will not help to stimulate your breasts more in pregnancy it try and "induce" lactation before birth. With the help of a lactation consultant, having your baby get a good latch will be much better and more effective stimulator than a pump could ever be. The reason I recommend starting on herbs and Rx is because of the breast reduction you have had. It is likely that you will have supply issues again & you want to have all of the "tricks" ready for once you have giving birth. Do not start taking these herbs until after you have given birth.

Also even if after you do all of these things & you still need to supplement with outside breastmilk or formula, that does not mean that you need to give a bottle. There are many benefits to your baby getting its nutrition at the breast, even if the baby is not drinking breastmilk from your breast. There is a device that will allow you to nurse your baby even if you have no milk, it is called a lactation supplementer (a good one is the Lact-Aid). It is basically a tube that has milk/formula at one end & goes right next to your nipple so that when your baby latches on the tub is in her mouth & when she sucks she gets any breastmilk that you may have & whatever is being supplemented at the same time. It sounds cumbersome at first but once you get the hang of it, it is just part of the routine.

Please feel free to contact me off list if you would like to discuss any of these things more.

You have lots of options. You are not alone. Many women have supply issues. Women who have had breast reduction surgery almost always have supply issues, but you can overcome. The fact that you had milk with your first child is great. It means that the surgery did not damage all of your milk ducts & that means that you can increase your milk supply, perhaps not to produce everything that your baby needs but you can get closer, and supplement if needed. I honor your path & that you are willing to do all that you can so that you & your baby can get the benefits of nursing.

Good luck



answers from Boston on


I had a much easier time with my second child. More milk, and just easier all around.

I would not recommend pumping to get your milk supply up, unless it is recommended by an expert. I had to pump to get my milk to come in faster with my first child (he had jaundice and that is what they had me do). The pumping seemed to negatively effect supply and demand, and I believe it contributed to the nursing problems I had (the fattier milk comes in at the end of a nursing session based on supply and demand).

Good luck!



answers from Hartford on

I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding my first as well, but not a bit of trouble with the second. I've heard similar stories from several friends, so my advice: try to relax and not worry about it. If you have trouble when the baby's born, address it then.


answers from Hartford on

Hi! I only had one, 7 years ago but I had LOTS of milk for him. I was worried about it and my midwife had me take some Mother's Milk tea before he came. We had big trouble with the actual breastfeeding, but I had loads of milk. After not being able to get rid of a yeast problem, I pumped and he used that milk for over 2 months!



answers from Barnstable on

I had low supply with my first, so bad that I ended up using formula - doctors orders, she was dehydrated - it was scary.

My second was a whole different story - nursing worked out fine (with the usual engorgement, blisters, mastitis, etc ....) . Mother's milk tea is fantastic.
Honestly, I think that stress has a lot to do with milk supply (at least for me) - your efforts to pump before the birth seems exhausting and not useful - just let your milk come in, trust that it will be a different experience the second time, drink the herbal remedies if you need.

I proceeded to have two more babes, and nursing was fine with them too. It was like my body knew what to do the second time around -
also, I was under a lot of stress the first time, and life was very chaotic - the second time was a bit calmer, I was better able to understand what my baby needed and when.

The other thing I did the second time, which I think really really helped, was to have no-one come visit me in the hospital after my second was born (well, my parents came). My husband stayed home with the oldest (who was 2), and I had perfect peace and quiet to pay attention to my second daughter, get to know her, listen when she was hungry, and respond immediately with NO distractions, no feeling uncomfortable with visitors, and waiting to nurse until visitors were gone. Before I had to go home to my first. This was invaluable.

Think back: did you have lots of company the first time?
Did you have lots of visitors at home? Did you ever delay nursing because of this? Was your home life stressful?
That all worked against me, and I made changes the second time around that helped tremendously.

Good luck.



answers from Pittsfield on

I, too, was worried, to the point I got a prescription for Domperidone. Although I did not have a reduction, I had very low supply for my 1st, with poor latch (so I had to supplement with Formula, which was fine, and eventually use the Domperidone drug to increase my milk). But, I stressed for nothing. When my 2nd baby was first given the breast in the hospital, man, did she ever latch and I had absolutely no problem with supply (no drugs required!). I also pumped in the hospital and the first few days at home to be sure my milk came in (and did it ever!). I could not get over how different one breastfeeding experience could be versus another. My 2nd was a totally different baby and nursing was a breeze!



answers from Lewiston on

Please don't feel like going to formula and bottle is "giving up"! Breast feeding is not for everyone. I tried with my first, and I had the same problems as you. Poor latch-on, nipples kept going flat, and I was starving my son to death. The lactation specialist tried to help me, but it didn't work. I was totally stressed out, the baby was crying, I was crying, it was horrible. He was so thin, I am shocked when I look at his christening photo, his legs are so skinny. If I hadn't switched to formula, he would have died. I am not joking. It was the best thing I ever did - he began to thrive immediately and I have never regretted it. Give yourself a break - you are NOT a bad mother if you use formula. The doctors and nurses are pushing breastfeeding too much, to the point where women are feeling guilty if it doesn't work for them. The most important thing is whether the baby is thriving or not. Please, please, please don't wait too long to switch to formula and bottle. You won't regret it. Just my 2 cents from someone who's been there twice!

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