While I would never categorize breastfeeding as an "easy" endeavor, I can say that for me, personally, nursing my first child was a relative breeze, all things considered. He latched almost immediately, that first initial feed hurt but was ultimately successful, and I was able to exclusively nurse my kid for seven months. So when I found out I was pregnant with my second, I assumed it would be more challenging. The shoe has to drop sometime, right? I mean, is breastfeeding your second child easier, or are you starting back at square one every single time you have a baby and decide to nurse?
Everyone is different, of course, and no two children are the same, either. My second son didn't have a tongue tie, for instance, and wasn't born early or required any additional medical attention after he was born that would've delayed breastfeeding and/or made it more difficult for us to establish our nursing relationship. And I didn't have any medical conditions that would've impeded me from nursing my second son as easily as I did my first, either. Just as it was with son number one, I was lucky when my second son was born and we had a pretty easy go of it.
And, to my surprise, I have to say that breastfeeding my second child was actually easier. I seemed to produce milk quicker, feeding times felt shorter, and my milk definitely came in sooner. So if you're preparing for baby number two, planning to nurse, and wondering if it'll be easier, here are a few things you can expect to potentially encounter as you give breastfeeding another go:
Your Body Will Remember How To Make Milk...
According to a 2015 study in Cell Reports, our bodies remember how to make milk. If you've breastfed before, according to the study, your mammary glands remain in a "state of preparedness," so it's easier for them to start producing milk a second time around.
... So Your Mammary Gland Prepares To Make Milk Quicker...
The same study found that "methyl groups," cells inside a mammary gland that act as a brake and keep and/or slow down milk from being produced during pregnancy, are stripped away during pregnancy and don't return. As a result, mammary glands make milk quicker during subsequent pregnancies.
... & Your Milk Might Come In Sooner
Since your milk is made at a quicker rate during your second pregnancy, your milk comes in quicker.
Your Mammary Glands Will Change
The same 2015 study found that "the mammary glands of mice that had been pregnant before also grew more treelike branches of milk-moving ducts than mice who had not been pregnant before," according to Science News. In other words, your mammary glands are never going to be the same after you've been pregnant once before.
You Might Produce More Milk
Because your mammary glands have changed and, in many ways, expanded, chances are high you'll produce more milk the second time around. According to a 2001 Lancet study of 22 mothers, moms breastfeeding for a second time produced about 30 percent more milk than they produced when they were breastfeeding their first child.
Feedings Might Be Quicker
Not only does the expansion of your mammary glands mean you'll potentially make more milk, but that milk might come out faster, too. The same 2001 Lancet study found that moms breastfeeding their second children did so faster.
You Can End Up Burning More Calories
If you're tandem breastfeeding, as in feeding a newborn and a toddler at the same time, chances are you're burning even more calories than you did when you were just breastfeeding one baby. According to the Institute of Medicine, a mom breastfeeding a newborn needs to consume an additional 650 calories, and a mom breastfeeding a child 6 to 12 months old will need to consume an additional 500.
You'll Be Less Stressed
Chances are, if you've been successful in breastfeeding your first child, you'll be far less stressed breastfeeding your second. No two kids are alike, to be sure, but a sense of "been there, done that" will help you feel more confident when latching, mastering the numerous nursing holds, and feeling assured that your baby is getting enough milk during each feed.