Have you ever wondered if you can breastfeed your baby when you get pregnant again?
A lot of moms automatically assume they must, or they are told to wean by their Doctors.
The truth is, however, is that most women don’t have to wean their currently nursing child. The thinking that a mom can’t breastfeed while pregnant comes from the fact that the uterus contracts during breastfeeding, and the possibility exists that contractions can cause early labor or miscarriage. This isn’t the case however. The uterus contracts during normal activities and sex, so as long as these activities aren’t deemed off limits by your Doctor, nursing is probably ok too.
While weaning may turn out to be the best decision as your pregnancy progresses, you don’t have to assume that at the beginning. Many mothers have kept nursing while pregnant and then gone on to nurse both children after the baby’s birth. You can join that rare breed of tandem nursing mamas if you and your child want to simply keep nursing. Moms who have tandem nursed have found that the older baby experiences less sibling rivalry and feels less displaced by the birth of the new baby.
There are other benefits too – for instance, tandem nursing moms enjoy a very plentiful milk supply yet don’t experience engorgement. Personally, I found that nursing while I was pregnant and very sick with nausea helped me get some much needed rest with a toddler who was otherwise keeping me on my feet! Here’s what’s in store for you if you decide to breastfeed through a pregnancy.
The first part of tandem nursing is nursing through an entire pregnancy. It is possible to temporarily wean during pregnancy and have the older child resume nursing after the baby’s birth. The child may want to, or she may not. In either case, you will be nursing through a significant part of your pregnancy.
The pregnancy hormones cause nipples to be more sensitive to touch in general, and nursing may be uncomfortable for you. At times it can be painful. Every woman’s body is different so you will have to decide what you can tolerate. In many cases, the discomfort comes and goes at different times of the day or stage of the pregnancy. If it starts to hurt, you should try to figure out if it hurts all the time or if there’s a pattern you can detect. There are reasons why a mom nursing an older baby may have soreness that have nothing to do with pregnancy – for instance she and the baby may have gotten into some sloppy habits and aren’t latching on and positioning properly. This can happen even if you’re an “old pro”. If despite taking measures to prevent nipple pain there’s still too much discomfort, that may be a good reason to wean.
Another change pregnancy brings is in the taste of the milk. Often called weaning milk, the milk a mother produces during pregnancy is often more salty and the nursing child will notice this change in milk quality. Many children will wean on their own because they don’t like the taste of the pregnancy milk. Some children will enjoy nursing so much they’ll put up with the saltiness. This was the case with my own breastfeeding toddlers – they hardly seemed to mind the change, it was a small price to pay in exchange for the continued closeness with Mom.
The quantity of your milk will also decrease. You will produce less and less as your pregnancy progresses. Some children will wean because there isn’t any more milk (my kids who nursed through their sibling’s pregnancy never seemed to care). Others will continue to comfort nurse even though they aren’t getting any milk.
It can cause discomfort or pain when a child is nursing and there is no milk. That may be another reason to wean. Regardless of whether you produce no milk or a little milk, your older child will be getting most of his nutrition from solid foods. Once the baby’s born and the milk comes in, there will be plenty more milk for both of them if the older child is still interested – and he might very well be, although some rare toddlers will wean when their mother’s milk supply returns in abundance. Mine didn’t, but I’ve heard of this happening. Mine just acted like they had hit the jackpot. The Milk Fairy had returned. lol!
While it is possible to continue to nurse through a pregnancy, it’s going to be an extra drain on your system in addition to growing the new baby. You will need to consume enough nutrient dense foods to make sure you have enough reserves for yourself, your children, and the many activities you no doubt will be doing throughout your pregnancy. Make sure you are eating well and often and getting much needed rest. Remember that since nursing is a relationship, there is nothing wrong with setting limits with your nursling in order to make yourself more comfortable.
Read more: Adventures in Tandem Nursing