I think this post will come as a surprise to many people. I know breastfeeding a toddler is not common in our society and breastfeeding through pregnancy is also something you don’t hear much about…and I did both. Before I became a mom I didn’t think much of breastfeeding, for me it was the natural thing to do and I thought it’s something you did for the first year of your kid’s life but after having my baby I researched a lot on the topic and now, 2+ years later I am still nursing. Most of our friends don’t know I’m still nursing because nursing a toddler is different than nursing an infant. In my case, my toddler nurses much less and only at home so you’d only know I was still nursing her if you asked me about it.
My daughter was about to turn 2 years when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. She was nursing about 3-4 times during the day, mostly when she woke up, before and after nap and before bedtime. She was also nursing at night, about once or twice. She wasn’t really waking up at night, but she would ask to nurse half asleep – she would nurse and keep sleeping. When we started trying to get pregnant I had a feeling I would still be nursing my toddler because she didn’t seem to be ready to stop nursing and although I wasn’t offering the breast I wasn’t saying no because I want her to wean on her own – which wasn’t happening any time soon.
I started looking into breastfeeding during pregnancy when we started trying for our second child and luckily found very positive information. There is a misconception that breastfeeding during pregnancy can cause a miscarriage but that is not true. Miscarriages are a common risk of pregnancy, wether you nurse or not. The only recommendation is to stop nursing if you have a high risk pregnancy, which I did have, but I’ll get into that later.
It seems that the experience of nursing through pregnancy varies from woman to woman, some might have their milk dry up, some might not have this issue, some find it very painful while others don’t and some find it too hard to nurse because they experience nursing aversion. There is no way to predict how nursing will go for you during pregnancy until you’re actually pregnant.
I knew that getting pregnant might dry up my milk and I didn’t want to have this problem with an infant, who really needs milk. This is why we decided to try for our second baby once my toddler was 18 months. I knew by then she didn’t need milk as much and she could get the nutrients she needed from food.
At around 7 weeks pregnant my milk started drying up, I had less and less. This caused my daughter to completely stop nursing at night, which was great. I was thinking of how I would get her to stop at night because I didn’t want to nurse both a baby and a toddler at night but luckily she did it on her own. As the weeks went by I had less and less milk until I had none. This caused my daughter to nurse less during the day too, she nursed maybe once or twice and for about 5 minutes each time – it was mostly dry nursing, in other words, she sucked but nothing came out. Some time around 30 weeks my colostrum came in, and my daughter kept nursing the same amount during the rest of my pregnancy. She didn’t decrease nor increase her nursing time/sessions.
Right about the time my first trimester was over, nursing started to feel painful. It seems that hormones plus the fact that I didn’t have milk made my nipples very sensitive causing me to feel pain when my daughter nursed. Luckily my toddler wasn’t nursing much however I did have to stop her nursing sessions several times because it was getting too painful. This pain stayed with me up until I gave birth to our second child and although mine was manageable I know some moms that had to wean their kid because of it.
There is also something called nursing aversion that many moms experience during pregnancy: it’s a strong feeling you get while nursing that makes you want to stop nursing. The Badass Breastfeeder wrote a great post on her episode.
The way it manifest and the intensity of it varies from women to women but this completely normal and not something that everyone goes through it. If you’re feeling this way join the support group I mention below.
The day my milk came in, after the birth of my second child, was amazing. My toddler was nursing and I had a (milk) letdown, her eyes got all wide and she got really excited. She was shocked there was milk again and just so overjoyed. It was so sweet. The best part of having a nursing toddler when my baby was born was that there was someone to drink all the milk when I was feeling engorged so I didn’t have to pump and had someone to relieve me from the engorgement pain. I will write a post in the future about my experience tandem nursing (nursing both my baby and toddler).
As I mentioned earlier I was considered a high risk pregnancy due to bleeding caused by subchorionic hemorrhage (SCH), you can read more about this here. I researched a lot on wether I should continue to nurse or not. Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of information regarding this topic so I started asking around and found many other mothers that had nursed through a SCH pregnancy without any issues. I started paying attention when I nursed to see if I felt any cramps and since I didn’t I kept on nursing. Breastfeeding didn’t affect my pregnancy nor my baby, and she was actually born “late” – 3 days past her due date.
I know many of you wonder why I kept on nursing through pregnancy when I had a toddler. There are many health benefits to nursing a toddler and that was one of the reasons that I continued nursing but the main reason is that my toddler wasn’t ready to stop and I didn’t have the heart to make her stop. If my baby’s life was at risk I would have, but that was not the case. For most moms, especially if you have a normal pregnancy, there isn’t any risk to continue nursing.
I was recommended a great book about breastfeeding through pregnancy and tandem nursing that I meant to read but I didn’t get around to it, Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond. However, if you have any questions about nursing more than one child or nursing through pregnancy this is the book for you. Also, if you are looking for more knowledge and support with other moms going through the same I recommend you join this Facebook group.
One last thing, if your doctor says you have stop nursing during pregnancy it might be because he or she is not updated with the latest information. You can either research on your own and decide what to do, or ask him about studies supporting what he’s recommending and/or share information with him stating that nursing through pregnancy is completely safe.
Remember I am not a doctor and you should not follow my advice, this is meant as a resource for you to research more, ask questions and figure out if nursing through pregnancy is right for you.
Resources for nursing through pregnancy:
Did you nurse through pregnancy? If you have any questions or tips to share with my reader please leave a comment below.