Did you know it’s safe to breastfeed while pregnant*? This was a topic I really never thought I’d be blogging about but here we are, with a toddler who doesn’t want to quit and a mama who is (pretty much) okay with that. Here’s a real mama look at what breastfeeding while pregnant looks/feels like. Be sure to read to the end for some great looks from other mom bloggers on breastfeeding while pregnant, weaning and tandem nursing.
(disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. There are some circumstances which would make breastfeeding while pregnant unsafe. Be sure to let your care provider know you are continuing to breastfeed once you become pregnant to discuss your situation.)
Our breastfeeding while pregnant story
Looking back, the nipple pain started almost immediately after implantation. We got a positive test at 6.5 weeks and by 8 weeks it was extremely clear I couldn’t handle the constant nausea, horrible headaches and intense exhaustion along with extremely painful nursing all through the night. My champion dream feeder was still carrying on her merry way but instead of being able to continue sleeping through these late night nursing sessions, the pain was waking me up and often made it hard to fall back to sleep. Add in getting up with an early bird toddler, working all day and coming home to do dinner and bedtime usually on my own and the missing sleep was just too much.
I decided to give night weaning a try and in true Now One Foot fashion, I wanted to start with a very laid-back, no pressure, baby step approach. At almost 2.5, V was able to understand a lot so we talked about how she could nurse while I read her bedtime stories and we said our prayers but that after that we wouldn’t have nursies again until morning.
Maybe I had superior strategy. Maybe I was just lucky. Maybe she was just ready. But she night weaned – just like that. The first night she protested for a few minutes but quickly snuggled up and fell asleep. She only woke up once during the night and I was able to rock her back to sleep without much fuss.
The next night went about the same. The third night even easier. The fourth night we hit a bit of a wall. She cried for about 20 minutes before I offered to nurse her again until we counted to ten on each side. This is still today her least favorite limit-setting tactic. If I mention it she will cry, “No counting, mom!” so we don’t really do that one much.
Most nights I simply remind her of our routine once she switches from one side to the other:
“Alright V, that was your last switch. When you’re done with this side it’s time for sleep and no more nursies until morning.”
It seems to go pretty well. Some nights there is no protesting. Some nights she will cry for a few minutes, more fussing than crying really, and then calm herself and ask to rock, which we do in bed tummy to tummy. Rarely, if she’s not feeling well or overtired, she will get extremely upset. If I’m lucky it will happen on a night when Husband doesn’t have late clinicals so he can help. More often than not though I will have to try some portion of our bedtime routine again – reading another story, rocking, another round of nursing, something.
I’ve also been very open about the state of my nipples. Since V is over 2, I feel comfortable talking with her about certain things honestly. I tell her she can’t touch my nipples because they are sore. I ask her to please be gentle when she nurses. She has responded to this honest conversation really well and will often tell me she will be very careful with my nipples or ask if I need to breathe while she latches. It’s adorable and gives me a glimpse at the empathetic little being she’s growing into.
We’ve had to nix the rocking. My back has been killing me and with the big ole belly cuddling front to front with me on my back isn’t safe or comfortable. We do lots of snuggling and bedtimes have been pretty touch and go lately. Nursing has also gotten more painful and more aversion-y as pregnancy goes on. My milk dried up about a month ago. We talk about this openly with her as well. We’ve talked about how my milk had to go away for a little (and avoid mentioning it’s because of the baby, no need to spark sibling rivalry already) and that once baby is born and is outside of my belly there will be lots of nursies and she will be able to nurse more. I’m still reading up on balancing the toddler vs. newborn nursing demands (who nurses first, nursing at the same time, colostrum, etc.) but I know lots of moms who successfully nurse both toddler and baby freely without having to limit toddler much. I have to say I am very much missing painless nursing!
I reached out to several of the lovely moms in my mommy blogger groups to see if they had any posts or stories about breastfeeding while pregnant, weaning while pregnant or tandem nursing. Here are a few!
For Rebekah from Hargraves Home and Hearth, adjusting their nursing routine went smoothly and a medical issue led to weaning
Weaning completely while pregnant went smoothly
I was still nursing our then-14 month old when I got pregnant with our son. She was only nursing before nap time and before bed, but it was enough that I was very sore during her nursing sessions by about six weeks of pregnancy on. Morning sicknesses hit hard and I dropped the pre-nap time nursing sessions (she was totally fine with that and likely didn’t like the transition beginning to happen of my milk that she was used to going back to colostrum!). At 15 weeks I developed a blood clot in my leg, ended up in the hospital overnight, and when she did fine at home with Daddy that night and didn’t require nursing to go to bed, that became our last night of nursing while I was pregnant.
Lauren from Bellows in the Berkshires found enduring nursing while pregnant was a huge benefit once baby arrived and she began the adventure that is tandem nursing:
Tandem Nursing strengthened her sons’ bond
I can’t speak for Bear yet, really, but tandem nursing has made Bug so close to Bear. He loves to nurse with the baby, often times stopping to tell me to nurse the baby too. When Bear is latched on, Bug has been known to walk over and ask “Me nurse this side too?” Bug will hold his hand while nursing or pat Bear’s cheek. It’s such a beautiful thing to see – my two youngest boys eating and bonding together. It makes my heart melt.
Rebekah at Surviving Toddlerhood has some great details on how weaning has looked different with her toddlers.
Weaning went well just when she was starting to get sore
We finally got it down to morning and night but he just kept nursing and nursing….so we cut out bedtime nummies and he kept nursing and nursing. I was starting to think I was going to have to make him quit cold turkey and then a couple of weeks ago he didn’t mention it for about a week, then he requested nummies for two consecutive mornings and sucked for about a minute each time. Now, he just tells me he is hungry and wants some breakfast as soon as I make my appearance. I was starting to get sore, and I’m pretty sure he was dry nursing for a couple of weeks, so I’m glad to have the break before baby comes, but I also miss the morning and bedtime cuddles and that nursing relationship.
And be sure to check out my post “Breastfeeding while pregnant: 4 myths and 3 tips” for a more technical look at the implications of breastfeeding while pregnancy.