August 04, 2008,
A.G. asks from Minneapolis, MN on August 02, 2008
Nursing Through Pregnancy
I have decided to nurse my 14 month old through my pregnancy and I am wondering if other mothers have done the same, and what their expierence was like? I also would like to know why the medical community is so insisten that I quit nursing because it can cause contractions?
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So What Happened?™
I did attend a La Leche League meeting and learned that as long as I have no history of preterm labor, its fine to nurse through your pregnancy. I guess 70% of babies wean themselves because 1) the flavor of the milk changes due to your hormones 2) Your supply dwindles as the baby in your belly needs more nutrients. I'm so happy that I found other moms who have done this and were successful! Thanks for your support!
J.A. answers from Madison on August 03, 2008
A little background on me, so you know where my answer is coming from: I am a recent nursing school graduate and have been working since graduation on an OB floor. I also recently became a La Leche League leader.
A good friend of mine nursed her youngest child during her fourth pregnancy with no ill effects to either the child or the fetus. It is possible to nurse a child while pregnant. Your milk supply might dwindle a little bit, and it might taste different because of the hormones, but if your daughter is satisfied, you can continue to nurse her. Studies of women who became pregnant during nursing and who continued to nurse have shown that more than half of the older nurslings weaned before the end of the pregnancy. Some women also experience nipple soreness due to the increase in hormones during pregnancy, which can lead to weaning as well.
The reason you will be discouraged from nursing during pregnancy is because nursing stimulates the release of oxytocin from your brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that increases milk supply, stimulates loving feelings (it's often called a 'feel-good' hormone, alone with prolactin), and it also can cause uterine contractons. It has nothing to do with breastfeeding being "arousing," as one mom suggested. Having sex also causes the release of oxytocin, and no one suggests that women stop having sex during pregnancy unless a woman experiences signs and symptoms of pre-term labor.
If you have a history of premature babies or pre-term labor, you might want to reconsider nursing during pregnancy. If you are healthy and have an uncomplicated pregnancy, however, you should not have a problem. You should certainly make sure you are eating a well balanced diet and gaining the appropriate amount of weight. You might also consider taking additional supplements to be sure that all three of you are receiving adequate nutrition.
I would second the recommendation to contact your local La Leche League for more information and support, or contact a lactation consultant.
2 moms found this helpful
B.W. answers from Minneapolis on August 02, 2008
See if you can find a LA Leche League meeting, and look up tandem nursing on kellymom.com and llli.com. There is tons of good info on both sites, and if you visit www.mothering.com (mothering magazine) there is a whole board set up for nursing with alot of tandem moms.
Congratulations on nursing, and continuing to nurse!
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S.P. answers from Minneapolis on August 03, 2008
I nursed through 2 pregnancies. I nursed my 3 year old son while pregnant with my daughter with no problems. I experienced the Braxton Hicks contractions (quite strongly at the end of the pregnancy), but it was not a concern. My daughter was born on her exact due date in a very speedy two hour delivery (at home with midwives) so I guess all of those Braxton Hicks really did get my uterine muscles strong! I did go into labor right after I had nursed my older child to sleep, so I guess the nursing did stimulate labor, but I had contractions every day before that and no labor until it was time. The body knows. I tandem nursed afterwards for 6 months.
I nursed my daughter (age 2) through my third pregnancy. I got pretty sore (nipples) and then my milk stopped. My daughter still wanted to "nurse" for comfort, and I let her for the last 2 months of the pregnancy although it was rather uncomfortable for me. A toddler cuddles right around a pregnant belly, not a problem. When my third baby was born and the milk came in - oh the delight on my 2 year olds face as she got real milk again! Priceless. IT was a beautiful 4 hour labor and a water birth (can't rave enough about that!) I tandem nursed for almost a year after that.
I say to go for it. Generally speaking, the medical community is not familiar with the traditional ways of childbirthing and childrearing, and they do not feel confident in encouraging it. Just make sure you get lots of fluids and good nutrition and prenatal supplement. Trust your instincts - good luck:)
P.S. I had to add this after reading some of the answers. There is a lot of fear in some of these responses, and I disagree with some of the "medical" responses. The baby is well protected in the amniotic fluid and is not getting "compressed" by contractions. There is a general lack of trust in the wisdom of the body which has people doing crazy things out of fear. Mothers have nursed through pregnancies for thousands of years - it is a natural and healthy thing.
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T.P. answers from La Crosse on August 03, 2008
Nursing during pregnancy can cause contraction becuase when you nurse your body releases oxitocin wich is a hormone that can cause contractions, it is actually a hormone that is used to induce labor. Plus nursing while pregnant can cause you to use up nutrients that you may need for a healthy baby. I am assuming that you 14 month old doesn't breastfeed a lot and is probably eating a lot of other foods, but I would definilty cut back on breastfeeding as muc as possible,
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E.B. answers from Duluth on August 03, 2008
I lived in a very pro-nursing community when I had my first, and there was a very active La Leche League there as well. LOTS of the women there nursed not only through pregnancy but through the birth of their second as well. The reason your doctor might be encouraging you to stop is that nipple stimulation can bring on labor, but usually that is IF your body is ready for it. (If you've had a history of preterm labor or something, I'd ignore all this!) Anyway--lots of those women said nursing through pregnancy helped tremendously with morning sickness, and if you search the internet, you can even find information on tandem nursing (nursing your two children--not twins--together). If this is something you feel strongly about, you can definitely find a community that will support you. You might have to search, but there is definitely a faction of folks that supports nursing as long as you want to.
M.M. answers from Minneapolis on August 04, 2008
I am coming late to this discussion as I have not been on the forum for the past week (sorry). The reason the medical community talks in support of weaning your toddler is because of three things. #1 when your baby nurses it causes your uterus to contract and therefore squeezes the unborn baby. As this is not a HUGE issue when the unborn baby is a zycote then a embryo it does make a difference when the baby becomes a fetus. Just think it as the walls around your baby squeezing off blood supply and oxygen each time the toddler nurses. ~Now can the baby survive and not show any effects of the constriction- YES. Same way a mother can smoke a pack a day and for some reason her child appears not affected.~ Reason #2 being pregnant requires additional calories a day and breastfeeding requires 500 additional calories a day alone. Chances are you are not consuming enough calories to take care of you, your baby and lactation. I can not give you a calorie requirement as I do not know your prepregnancy size/ weight. You would have to eat like a huge man to meet that caloric intake requirement. Now can your unborn baby survive not enough calories and still be okay, YES women with histories of gastric by-passes and anorexia have babies and we sometimes see the effects and other times do not. #3 It is actually from your toddlers perspective. It is easier to wean your child now than when she becomes older; especially as your body starts to change and she "knows" something is different. Also as you start to prepare for the new baby, she is going to be harder to wean. Also we find that the toddlers who were weaned right before the babies are born tend to have bigger issues in that once the baby is born and is being fed, the toddler is emotionally hurt and either resorts back to nursing or views the baby as taking something that belongs to them. Now can you then tandum nurse an infant and toddler; YES but it takes away major nutrition from the infant as a toddler can empty a breast a lot better than a newborn... Now I am all for breastfeeding your baby as long as you can. My kids were both 2 years old, but I would not place my younger child at risk to make the older one happy - they are 4 years apart. (AHHHHH!!!!!!!!) Not arguing, just giving facts of where it is coming from in the medical world. Right now you sound early enough along the embryo is still small enough, the uterine contractions are not tight enough around the baby or the placenta to be a big deal, but as the embryo turns to a fetus and the placenta and baby is bigger, then just think it as placing the unborn baby under a decompressor each time the toddler nurses.
E.I. answers from Duluth on August 04, 2008
www.askdrsears.com will have lots of information on this for you. also, find your local le leche league.. www.llli.org. they will be able to help you a LOT also. it is completely possible to tandem nurse and nurse while pregnant! :D and its beautiful. my son weaned himself almost 2 weeks ago at almost 20 months old... and we arent pregnant, so i havent done it, but ive heard a lot about it and im glad you have decided to do it! good luck!
A.L. answers from Minneapolis on August 03, 2008
I nursed my baby through the first two trimesters of my pregnancy with no problems. My doctor was very supportive of this, but did want me to stop once I entered trimester #3 so as not to cause preterm labor. Plus, how many people can your body be feeding at that point? I know nursing is wonderful for both mom and baby and I would definitely say go for it for the first 6 mos or so, but the health of your new little one becomes a bigger concern after that. (Besides, I imagine it would be quite difficult to nurse a one and a half year old when that belly starts protruding!) :)