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Breastfeeding through Pregnancy

So Peer obviously did not wean before I got pregnant, so I have now ended up nursing through this pregnancy. It’s been quite the adventure. I immediately borrowed a book from my local La Leche League group, Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Nursing Through Pregnancy and Beyond to aid me on my journey. I remember not long after he was born my doctor telling me that if I got pregnant again I would have to stop breastfeeding. I thought this was absurd. How could the human race sustain itself if that was truly dangerous? Later on as I learned more, I discovered why some in the medical community hold this line: breastfeeding does release oxytocin which can cause uterine contractions. But since then, I have seen so many moms nurse through pregnancy that I maintained my original position that to insist a mom must quit breastfeeding when she gets pregnant is just lame. The book is both clinical and practical, so it spends a considerable amount of time going through the research on breastfeeding during pregnancy (and nursing two children at once), explaining each position, the research involved, and arguing why tandem nursing is usually safe. It also gives explanations of situations in which it would not be. The bottom line is essentially that if a woman isn’t starving (as in third-world country type of starving), breastfeeding during pregnancy is safe for mom, fetus, and nursling. And yes, the uterus does contract. It is always contracting– this is good, as it is practice for labor. It does not produce any more oxytocin than having sex, so if a woman is healthy enough to do that during pregnancy, then she can certainly breastfeed.

So, safety and medical issues aside, the body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, and those changes definitely effect breastfeeding. In the first trimester, my breasts were extremely sore. Nursing hurt a little the first month, and A LOT in the second and third month. Once the initial tenderness got better, nursing was a little easier. But it still hurts. Every time. It hurts at first, and then after a few minutes the pain subsides. Also, his nursing habits have changed. He now digs his teeth into me more than he ever did. I think as my milk is drying up, he is adjusting his suck so that he gets more, maybe. So now he employs his teeth. We are working on fixing this. It’s obviously unacceptable! Also, breastfeeding him down to sleep at naptime has become sometimes ineffective. This is very sad. I’ve taken to walking him to sleep, but now it’s getting hot outside and I am getting too big to wear him in front in the carrier. The next time I need to do that, I will either take him for a drive or try him on my back. Sucks. Nursing him down to sleep at naptime used to be about my favorite time of day. So it’s sad when it doesn’t work anymore.

Oh, and he also kicks me in the belly a lot. But that also happens in the shopping cart, in bed, and at other random times of day. THAT sucks.

After a lot of soul-searching and pouring over that book, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the parent weaning the child during pregnancy. I always wanted him to wean himself, but he’s almost three now, and if it gets too painful I feel I have the right and maybe even the duty to cut him off. I don’t want to have negative feelings toward him or toward breastfeeding in general. It must always be pleasurable! Peer is old enough to be weaned, so if it comes to that, I will do it with a clear conscience, knowing that I have accomplished all my breastfeeding goals with this child, and have done more for him in this area than I ever thought I could. And knowing that he is ready. And acknowledging that he may come back to the breast after the baby is born. That is okay by me. But for now, we are still going. With God’s guidance and grace, we may go all the way up to the birth and beyond. Or not.

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2 Comments to “Breastfeeding through Pregnancy”

  1. That is tough! All of my kids weaned while I was pregnant. One of them weaned himself during that time, and the other two weaned with a tiny bit of encouragement from me. I had to stop because of the pain too, and I was also getting really sore and bleeding sometimes!

  2. Ouch! Part of me hopes that is what happens, but he hasn't taken my hints yet.

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