Breastfeeding while Pregnant

Posted by  | Thursday, January 22, 2009  at 6:09 PM  

My two cents for this week deals with breastfeeding during the early months of pregnancy as well as child-led vs. child-encouraged weaning when mom becomes pregnant. My first post on breastfeeding, found here, has some great links to other resources if you want more to read.

My son Samuel was 10 months old when I found out I was pregnant with my second son. I started my period again when Samuel was 6 months old and only had it three times before I became pregnant again. Samuel was a great nurser and didn't show any signs of slowing down. I began to investigate 'tandem nursing' as a possibility. I spoke with some of the moms at my La Leche League group and read two books on the LLL reading list about tandem nursing. I wasn't sure if I would do it or not, but I wanted to know more about it.

First off, it is possible to continue nursing through pregnancy. Your body will continue to make milk, although there will most likely be a drop in production around 20 weeks. You should speak with your pediatrician about your child's nutritional needs. If you do experience a drop in milk production you may need to supplement. It is so important to make sure you maintain a good diet and drink plenty of water. You should be eating an extra 500 to 650 calories per day for your nursling, as well as the 350 extra calories in the 2nd trimester and 450 in the 3rd. God has made your body so that nutrients go first to your growing fetus baby, second to your nursling, and third to you. Eat up!

The next thing to consider is that breastfeeding can become uncomfortable once you are pregnant. It is possible that you will have sore nipples while nursing. It is also possible that nursing will be incredibly uncomfortable and annoying to you. This happened with me. Sometimes my skin would be absolutely crawling while Samuel nursed. This feeling passed eventually, but it was tough to get through. Another thing that you may experience is sexual arousal while nursing during the first trimester. It will totally wig you out, but it is normal and it will pass as well.

When you experience a decrease in milk production, or the taste of your milk changes, your child may cut back on nursing or refuse all together. If your child is 12 months or older at this point, you can decide to gradually or abruptly wean. If your child is younger than 12 months, you will need to talk to your pediatrician about supplementing with formula.

Some women decide to continue to nurse for comfort and the immunological benefits of breastmilk. Once your baby is born and your milk supply returns both children will be able to nurse without adversely affecting the other. This is what I was considering at first. It is a personal decision you will have to make yourself. There are definitely pros and cons of each.

I ultimately decided to let Samuel self-wean once I was into my second trimester. Technically, it was probably a mix of child-led and child-encouraged weaning because I initiated some of the cutback. After Samuel's first birthday, towards the end of my first trimester, I noticed that Samuel was nursing for much shorter periods of time. I had always initiated a nursing session with him (I was still nursing every 3 hours during the day), so I decided to let him go for awhile and see how long it would be until he fussed to nurse. Over three days I saw that time greatly decrease until he no longer fussed or indicated that he wanted to nurse. At that point I was only nursing him in the morning when he got up and at night before bed. I cut out the morning feeding next by feeding him milk and breakfast as soon as he got up. He didn't fight it at all. I finally cut the night feeding by just cuddling him for a bit but not rocking him and then putting him to bed awake. He did fine (mind you, this is also the time we finally did CIO with him - they coincided). He didn't nurse for three days after that. I offered once more to see what he would do. He put his mouth to my breast, looked up at me and giggled, and that was it. He was done. I didn't experience any engorgement because my milk was almost completely gone at that point.

Please ask questions or share your weaning while pregnant stories if you could. There is definitely variety on this point of breastfeeding.

If you want some further reading, check out La Leche League's collection on the topic:

La Leche League Breastfeeding During Pregnancy


Melissa said...


I love your posts as always and have really been encouraged by all the posts and comments this week. I have to admit though, I have surrendered to the pump to save my sanity and am currently pumping exclusively with no problems (baby had milk intolerance and I had some other problems off the bat with the breast-long story). I have great hope for the next baby with this and am lgad I now know what to expect!

I was wondering if any of the readers have tips for pumping or ever noticed a decrease in their supply after pumping exclusively? I have been doing it for over a month now and noticed no supply changes, in fact I am pumping a TON more! I was wondering if anyone has done this for a long time and if so how many times a day did they pump? I am still getting up in the middle of the night to pump...any tips you could share? Some days I think I could do this until my child is a year...some days I want to quit in a month...

I just wonder how mommas do it...It is a pain, yes but I want my baby to have this liquid gold!

Christina said...

First of all - I glanced at your blog and see that are you here in WF with me...and my kids had RSV just before Christmas. I have heard of at least 6 other families in the area who also battled it. It is truly going around and NO FUN. I hope your sweet (and ADORABLE) little boy finally gets over it soon! And pray that he starts gaining weight before there is a need to supplement - been there too!

Also - it is TOTALLY that breastmilk you are pumping for him that kept him out of the hospital! My 2 year old and I were both WAY sicker with RSV than my 10 month old who is nursing. It's amazing to me.

The REAL reason I wanted to comment is to tell you that you are doing an AWESOME job pumping! I know how hard getting up in the middle of the night to pump is - I was so glad when that phase passed.

I'd guess that you haven't seen a dip in supply yet is b/c you are still pumping at night - which is a good thing!

What kind of pump are you using? Just curious...

Hoping that Hollie will chime in - she pumped exclusively. AND, my friend Mary that reads this blog pumped exclusively and I'm pretty sure she made it to a year!!

I only pumped exclusively for the first month and then pumped at work.

Laura said...

I got pregnant with my 2nd when Jack was 10 months old. He nursed fine for the first few weeks but my supply had dropped so low by then that we had to start weaning/supplementing. We cut out our afternoon session and replaced it with a sippy of half pumped breastmilk and half formula. We then cut out another nursing session and I stopped pumping before bed because I was only getting about an ounce and it was so painful! About a week later I noticed he did not really want to nurse anymore. He weaned himself completely at 11 1/2 months. He then was formula only for two weeks till his first birthday when we could switch to whole milk. I'm glad that he finished the weaning process himself and it was a smooth transition. I think I was more upset than he was when he didn't want to nurse anymore!

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Pearce said...

So I got pregnant with my 2nd when Vaden was 6 months old...(definitely a surprise baby.)I found out I was pregnant when Vaden kept fussing and pulling off while nursing and then fussing as if he was still hungry when he'd finished. I read up on kellymom and found out that milk changes if you're pregnant. I reluctantly took a test I had in the hall closet (becuase I thought it would be negative) and was shocked to see baby #2 was on the way.
From Vaden's 6 to 9 months checkups he had lost about 4 oz. I didn't think too much of this, since he became more mobile and still ate a lot-- breastfed 4 times a day and solids 2-3 times a day. At about 9 months we upped the amount of solids-- he eats 3-4 times a day and larger amounts, because I definitely seem to have less milk than I did pre-pregnancy. Being that the doctor was mildly concerned with the loss, he scheduled a weight check for 4 weeks later. So now Vaden is ten months and in the last 4 weeks he's lost 9 oz! Which seems crazy because he has no other symptoms- no vomiting, no diarrhea, he eats a good amount, he's happy. The doctor ran some bloodwork and we should get results next week. Has anyone else even heard of something similar? I don't know if this has to do with me and my supply? (he nurses 4-5 times a day in addition to eating 3 meals and sometimes an additional snack.) I had hoped to nurse him for another 2 months and then switch to whole milk. Though I am only 17 weeks, so if I get another dip in supply soon I will have to supplement for sure.

KC said...

Leah, how old is your son in that picture? My son is 3 months old and still doesn't like the Ergo even though I have the infant insert. I think he will like it better when he can sit with his legs around me like your son is doing.

Leah said...

My son is 12 months old in the photo. I actually borrowed the Ergo from the girl standing next to me. I usually carried Samuel in a pouch sling. I liked the Ergo because of the weight distribution. I would definitely try again in another month or so when your baby is bigger and can sit like mine.

Mark'sMeg said...

Ladies, thanks for your posts and comments! I have a week old baby and an overabundance of milk and I never thought of pumping a little each day for my toddler to drink to help fight the winter germs! What a great idea! Thanks.

KC said...

Question, my 3 month old seems to only be nursing 5 times a day. He wakes around 7am and nurses on average every 3 hours until he goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 at night. Usually he sleeps through til 7a the next morning. So he is eating something like 7, 10, 1, 4, 7. Is this enough? Should I be trying to get in more sessions?

I wonder simply because it seems to be a drastic drop from what he was doing just a week or two ago...8-10 nursings! Pee and poop, still fine, but we don't do a weight check for another month.


Anonymous said...

My son is on the exact same schedule and he is doing well. He wakes around 8:30, nurses every 3 hours and goes to bed at 9-9:30 and sleeps all night. The doctor isn't concerned because we were told that he gets all he needs during those nurses and since he is gaining weight he is fine. He has done this since he was 2 weeks old and is now an 18.5 pound 4 month old.

Shannon said...

I laughed out loud at the thought of him putting his mouth to your breast, then looking up at you and giggling. It totally sounds like something my Lilly would do.

Lilly is still nursing at 16 months. More out of comfort, I suppose. I am now pregnant with our 3rd, and early into the 1st trimester. Up to this point I haven't even thought of weaning.

But when the time comes, I think it will be difficult with Lilly b/c she is definitely a comfort nurser. She will come to me throughout the day and tug on my shirt just b/c she's tired. Not b/c she wants milk. (She drinks raw cow's milk during the day as well.)

She also wakes up at night and wants to nurse - again I believe just for comfort. And I'm usually SO TIRED that I let her, and we just fall asleep with her nursing. I know I'm creating a monster, but I'm not sure what to do.

Any advice on weaning a comfort-nurser???

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