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?
1 mom found this helpful
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!
1 mom found this helpful
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.
1 mom found this helpful
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,
1 mom found this helpful
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!) :)
A.D. answers from Iowa City on August 03, 2008
I have nursed through 2 pregnancies now and continued a bit tandem after baby was born (the older child usually only nursed occasionally or at night). Nursing after birth produces a hormone that can contract the uterus. I am not sure if it is strong enough to produce the effect of preterm labor, however, many people and pregnancy situations are different. I had no strong noticable contractions. You may want to research a bit more online AND tell your OB or Midwife your feelings/plans and have them explain their reasoning to you so that YOU can make an educated decision. I agree keep up the fluids and good nutrition! Enjoy the experience.
L.S. answers from Iowa City on August 03, 2008
I nursed my older daughter all the way through my second pregnancy and afterwards for 7 or 8 more months. I experienced some contractions but no more serious or frequent than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I was already having...which they tell you, are your uterus practicing for labor or something and you are supposed to have them. I had a supportive La Leche League leader and a non-supportive OB. I think, in general, that it is easier for doctors to tell you to just quit doing something because you are pregnant than to really sit with you and weigh the pros and risks and talk about moderation (caffeine, alcohol, medications, changing the litter box, latest I heard was lunchmeat?!?). You will be very thirsty and need more calories and fluids than if you were just pregnant and not nursing, so take care of yourself. My daugher and I were just not done nursing! I was really glad to still have an older nursling when engorgement arrived after daughter #2, and I think having them share the nursing afterwards made a big difference in the bonding between the two of them. They are 9 and 11 now and still a practically inseparable pair. Also, nursing the toddler meant that for sure I would have a few minutes to sit down and relax - essential when you have a new baby and are not sleeping as much as you'd like, but also have a toddler keeping you on your toes.
I got a book from La Leche League called 'Mothering your Nursing Toddler', that includes a section on tandem nursing that you may find helpful. Bottom line: if it still feels like you and your 1 year old are not done nursing, stick to your guns and keep on doing it as long as it feels healthy for both of you. Your doctor is not the one who will have to deal with the consequences of trying to wean before you are ready.
M.C. answers from Iowa City on August 04, 2008
I nursed my 3rd child through my pregnancy with the 4th. then I tandum nursed them for a year. You and the babies will be fine. Make sure your calorie intake is high. The baby (inside) will take what it needs first. The baby nursing with get what it needs second and you and your body will get what's left.
Don't let them tell you the birth weight will be low either. My 4th son weighed 10 1/2 pounds. I had no premature labor/contractions. My labor was really fast though.
It gets interesting in the end when your beely is big but my son could always find a way to the breast. Then after my other son's birth I would nurse them together; it created a strong bond between them.
I would do it again in a heart.
Feel free to email me if you have more questions.
Good luck, and if this is what you want to do then do it and don't let anyone, not even the doctors, change your mind.
A.H. answers from Rochester on August 03, 2008
Nipple stimulation at the end of a pregnancy can cause contractions. It is one of the ways doctors reccomend to help you go into labor. But it does not always help. If you had factors for preterm labor then nursing could aggrivate that. I would assume as long as your pregnancy is healthy and there is not a chance of preterm labor then you could continue to nurse. Just make sure you are getting extra nutrients needed. Which I am sure you are doing. But please stop if there is any reason to think it would end your pregnancy early. Which I again I am sure you would do.
J.S. answers from Minneapolis on August 02, 2008
My sister-in-law nursed her daughter through her pregnancy with #2, and then tandem nursed them both for about a year (before weaning the older one). She had no problems with preterm labor or anything else. She highly recommended it for helping her older child through the transition of adding a baby to the house. Her children are 23 months apart.
I have been pregnant and nursing twice (currently pregnant - no longer nursing). The first time I ended up weaning my son when I was about 20 weeks pregnant (my son was about 15 months). This time I was about 15 weeks pregnant and my second son was about 17 months.
Neither time did my midwives seem concerned that I was nursing and pregnant. The first time, they recommended cutting back on nursing IF I felt that it was too draining to be pregnant and nursing a toddler. You need to eat a lot of extra calories to feed your new baby and your nursing toddler.
I never noticed any contractions or problems while nursing, but was very uncomfortable by the time I weaned each of them. For me, around 16-18 weeks pregnant my breasts get super sore and nursing was really unbearable for me. Plus, neither of my boys would sleep though the night until they were weaned, so by stopping nursing I gained some much needed sleep (especially this last time around - being pregnant while having a 3 year old and 17 month old was a lot for me to handle).
SO, you might want to try a different doctor (or a midwife) this time around, someone who is more supportive of your decision to nurse in general will be helpful for you and your new baby if you are still nursing a toddler at that time.
Good luck to you!
K.V. answers from Des Moines on August 04, 2008
Does you doctor suggest nursing after your baby turned 1 ? Babies normally switch to whole milk and eat regular food...and should also be introduced to a sippy cup rather then breast milk and/or bottle ?? Just curious...
L.Y. answers from Wausau on August 02, 2008
I was still nursing my son when I became pregnant with my daughter. I think my son was about 19 months when I got pregnant so he was down to nursing at nap time and bedtime. My CNM said that was fine for me to nurse but around 20-24 weeks it could cause pre-term contractions. Nursing can cause the uterus to contract and that time frame is which it becomes more suseptable (sp). I guess it goes along the same lines of after you have the baby and are nursing they say a nursing mom's uterus will shrink back down quicker than a mom who is bottle feeding. I did fine with nursing my son. I really wanted to nurse him until his 2nd birthday. About a month before his birthday I weaned him from his naptime nursing. My nipples were become more sensitive and was getting a bit painful to nurse. A couple of weeks after his 2nd birthday I weaned him. My advice to you is to do what you are comfortable with. I think you are doing a great thing with nursing your kids. There is info out there from Le Leche League and motherwear.com. If it becomes to painful or you end up having contractions then you should probably stop...you don't want to put baby #2 in danger by going into pre-term labor. *hugs* L.
D.N. answers from Minneapolis on August 03, 2008
Hi A., good luck with the nursing during pregnancy, I did it for a little while with my then 13 month old. Then my milk dried up and he wasn't getting satisfied at night and would ask for a drink. I think that was at about 5 months into my pregnancy. I was also pregnant with twins at the time. i don't know if that contributed to my milk drying up. I have heard of others that can nurse the whole pregnancy. I don't know about the medical issues, sorry. Good luck, my boys are 18 and 20 now!
G.H. answers from Minneapolis on August 03, 2008
Good for you for nursing you baby :)
I nursed my 14 month old through my pregnancy and then tandem nursed both for awhile, and am still nursing my 3 y.o. daughter once a day now.
I received conflicting opinions on nursing, so I did what I believed was right for me. I nursed... no problems!
The info that they told me was that I should be careful of possible contractions. But that since I was still nursing and already pregnant that there should be no problems continuing as long as it was a "normal" pregnancy without complications. If there were complications then I would need to stop.
They said that the body knows what it is doing. If a woman was not nursing and resumed trying to nurse after she had stopped, then it could be problematic. (My question is why would someone stop and then try to resume after awhile off of not lactating...? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...)
One helpful piece I wish I would have known... the colostrum is so powerful it completely cleaned out my son when he was tandem nursing after my daughter was born... So I had to hold him off for three days until the colostrum was out and the new milk had come in.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email.
Other helpful resources: Mothering.com (mothering magazine).
La Leche League
Good Luck! Congratulations!!!!!!!
Blessings to you!
J.H. answers from Milwaukee on August 03, 2008
you run the risk of being dehydrated. This will cause contractions.
C.M. answers from Minneapolis on August 03, 2008
Wow, I didn't think you could get pregnant while breastfeeding! I would think you would want your unborn baby to get all or most the nutrition possible since your 14 month can get nutrition by eating real food.
As for nursing causing contraction. Apparently they think that suckling at the breast can be arousing. But I think it is mind over matter. We are focused on our babies not a man. I remember when I was feeding my daughter at the breast. It didn't arouse me. I know sounds sick but that is what it comes down to.
S.K. answers from Milwaukee on August 04, 2008
Let me first say I'm not a doctor, but I have 4 children of my own, so I definitely have experience. Nursing causes your stomach muscles to contract. This is why so many women say they've lost weight faster after having a child when they nurse. If you continue to nurse while you're pregnant, you would run a great risk of tricking your body into labor, which could be very dangerous for your unborn child. Having a child is harder on a women's body than we sometime are willing to admit. Nursing a child can take a lot from you as well... when I was nursing my last child, I started loosing more hair and started getting migraine headaches after the 6th month. So, I can only imagine the stress your causing on your body by both being pregnant and nursing at the same time.
These are just my thoughts... hope I helped.
J.A. answers from Omaha on August 03, 2008
I nursed through pregnancy and just when I thought my first born, then almost three, was about to wean, she continued and nursed through our newborn's first year. We loved it, had no problems and I was already "in shape" to nurse the newborn.
It was a challenge with the first to learn how to nurse and I am really glad I stuck with it. I didn't have to think about sore nipples or milk supply or anything, when baby #2 came, we just kept going. My midwife supported me either way and I have some wonderful memories of my two girls nursing and falling asleep on my lap like a pile of puppies. I wouldn't trade this experience for most anything.
Best of all, we are all really close, my girls are really healthy and haven't had any of the issues that tend to happen more often with formula feed babies. I also am encouraged by the thought of the risk reduction of breast cancer when you nurse, especially since my sister just had it recently. (Her wise dr, refused to let her nurse, because of some fibroids! We know now, that nursing would have been a huge benefit.)
If it is the right thing for your growing family, then you will find a way to make it work. If your care provider doesn't support you and your views, then find someone else. There are many people out there that do this care and each has their own philosophy on practicing medicine and it is imperative that you find one that respects your needs and wishes.
Have you thought about visiting with a Midwife? That really makes a difference in the philosophy around childbirth and it made all the difference for our family. I wouldn't want it any other way. I also would never have another baby without a doula. They are wonderful and give you and your family another layer of support that I wished I had when my first was born.
I am an "older Mom" and am glad that I stuck to my guns and didn't let anyone sway me. I often wonder if I had been younger, if I would have had the gumption to do and say what I wanted, needed and believed in. I know from experience that all my biggest regrets were when I knew something should have been one way and I let someone else decide or do something exactly opposite. Go with your gut, I always say, it has NEVER let me down.
Good Luck to you and enjoy your growing family!
P.S. I am still nursing and we are loving it!
R.K. answers from Appleton on August 03, 2008
The hormone you secrete for breastfeeding causes the uterus to contract. It is natures way to reduce the uterus back to normal size after giving birth. Usually a woman does not produce eggs while breast feeding. It is like natural birth control. But it is not fool proof. Women in third world countries often can breastfeed while pregnant and can breast feed more than one child at a time. Quite often it is the only milk the family has access to. I would look up some information on line and also contact the La Leache League. Their information is very good and their whole purpose is to increase knowledge of breastfeeding.
Good luck with the babies, it will be a trying time to have two babies so close together but joyfilled as well.