Concerns About Your Unborn Baby|
If you are well-nourished you should have no difficulty providing for
both your nursing child and your unborn baby, especially if your older
child is more than one year old. It will be important for you to gain
weight within the normal parameters and eat nutritious foods as well as
get adequate rest, just as you would with any other pregnancy. It may
be that you will need to consume extra calories if you decide to
continue breastfeeding during your pregnancy and taking extra vitamin
supplements may also be a good idea.
Although uterine contractions are sometimes experienced with
breastfeeding, they are a normal part of every pregnancy and no
different than those experienced by many mothers during sexual
relations that take place during a pregnancy.
There is no reason to fear that the colostrum that your newborn will
need will be "use up" by your older child. No matter how much your
child nurses, there will still be plenty of colostrum for your new
Concerns About Your Nursing Child
hormones that help maintain your pregnancy do appear in your milk but
in very small quantities, far less than the amount your unborn child is
These same hormones also will cause a decrease in your milk supply
about the second half of your pregnancy, or the last four months. If
your nursling is less than one year old, you will want to keep track of
his weight gain to ensure that he is receiving enough milk for adequate
Your breastfeeding child may wean on his own during the course of your
pregnancy due to the drop in supply and change in the taste of your
milk as it transitions to colostrum during the last few months. Some
toddlers continue to nurse despite these changes in milk quantity and
flavor. If your child is still nursing as the birth of your next child
approaches, you may consider tandem nursing (nursing your older child
along with your newborn).
Discomforts Associated With Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
As has already been mentioned, you may experience nipples soreness once
you become pregnant. For many mothers, this passes as the end of the
first trimester approaches. For others it continues throughout the
pregnancy. Implementing the following measures may help you manage this
discomfort with more ease:
- Use the breathing techniques you learned in your childbirth classes.
- Try different nursing positions.
- Ask your older child - if he is old enough to understand - to nurse for shorter periods of time or more gently.
- Pump or hand express until letdown occurs so that your child does not nurse so aggressively.
Feelings of restlessness, antsiness, or irritation at the nursling
are also common during feeding times. Trying to distract yourself with
a book , the television, a chat on the telephone, etc. may make this
As your abdomen grows, you may find it increasingly hard to find a
comfortable position in which to nurse your child. The side-lying
position may be the most comfortable, and if challenged, your older
child will find a way to reach your breast as long as you allow him
freedom to explore and try different positions!
Fatigue will be a normal part of your pregnancy whether you are
breastfeeding or not.. One advantage of continued breastfeeding is that
it may be easier to persuade your older child to lie down with you to
nurse when you feel you need some added rest.
Medical Reasons to Consider Weaning
weaning is not necessary in most circumstances, there are a few
situations where it may be the wiser choice. These include:
- the presence of uterine pain or bleeding
- a history of premature delivery
- continued weight loss by mother during pregnancy
What If I Decide to Go Ahead and Wean?
It is not possible to predict if a child will wean during a pregnancy.
Children mature at different rates, and while one child may be ready to
wean, another may not. You may wonder if your older child's nursing has
become just a habit that needs to be broken, especially now that you
are pregnant. Know that it is rare for a child under one year of age to
be ready to wean and extended nursing
past one year is still beneficial to the child. If your child is older,
try substituting a favorite activity for nursing or change your daily
routine and note his reaction. If he still wants to nurse despite the
distractions and substitutions, it is very likely that breastfeeding
still meets a real need in his life. In this case, weaning that is
positive may take lots of time, patience, and energy on your part.
Taking one day at a time may be the best course for both of you at
least for a while.
Written by Becky Flora, IBCLC
Last revision: March 8, 1999
Resource: La Leche League's, "The Breastfeeding Answer Book" (1997) by Nancy Mohrbacher, IBCLC and Julie Stock, BA, IBCLC
Helpful resource books/pamphlets:
Mothering Your Nursing Toddler" by Norma Bumgarner
"The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning" by Kathleen Huggins and Linda Ziedrich
"Nursing Two: Is It For You?" - a pamphlet by G. Burke, available through La Leche League