Rewind...Breastfeeding

Posted by  | Tuesday, November 24, 2009  at 7:00 AM  
This post was originally titled "Breastfeeding while Pregnant" and was written by Leah. You can use the labels to the right to find all posts on breastfeeding. This includes some written specifically about weaning, low milk supply, pumping and other nursing challenges!



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

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