23 answers

When to Ween During Pregnancy?

I am already 7 months pregnant and my son turned 3 2 weeks ago. He has never wanted to ween and I never pushed for it because he does not eat a lot of diary (mainly just cheese) and he doesn't like milk (even chocolate or strawberry). He doesn't even nurse every day - maybe 5-6 times a week. I do wish for him to be weened when the baby gets here though. My doctors office just reccommends that I ween him "sometime" during my pregnancy so that he is not taking nutrition from the baby or I. I have also heard from someone who had a hard time getting her new milk supply in when her 2nd was born due to nursing her 1st right up until the birth. I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with this and what problems you encountered? Also, has anyone had the older child be jealous because the new baby is nursing and he can't anymore? I am thinking of weening sooner rather than later because of this possibility. Thanks!

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try going to the library and getting a book called The breastfeeding book By Dr william sears and Martha sears. I read this book and it really helped me. she is a lactation consultant so she really knows her stuff

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Yes, you should ween. Make sure he is getting enough calcium and protein and most importantly-fat from milk EVERY DAY for brain development, it doesn't sound like he's getting enough. Have him drink more organic cow or goat's milk (enforce it, don't let him "not like it") and stop nursing. If he really won't drink milk, then find something equally high in those nutrients (I don't know what, maybe check some vegan nutrition manuals for how to replace the calcium and protein and fats that milk provides-I think it's too risky, but vegans disagree). Congrats on nursing so long-you did great, now save some energy for the new baby. Don't worry about jealousy, just handle your son like he's a new important big boy, and do special new things with him, give him some responsibilities "helping" with the baby and praise him, and don't neglect him (I'm sure you wouldn't). At three you should not let him identify with being a baby-whether he's nursing or not. Discipline him if he acts badly with the baby, but you can prevent this by keeping him involved and important from the start. Good luck!

P. good question. I weaned my first son at 14 months and had my second son 4 months later. So I was 5 months pregnant when I weaned him. I think there are important reasons to wean your son as soon as possible. If you continue to nurse right up to the point of birth and then just feed the new baby you are creating a jealousy problem. At 3 years old your son should be able to get all of his nutrional needs met through his daily solid diet and a multivitamin supplement. I think its important for your oldest boy to know he is just fine without nursing and its ok to be a "big" boy and drink out of cup exclusively. If you wean him now, he will not have it so fresh in his mind that he was nursing right before the new baby is born. It's time to make that transition because there will be plenty of other trnsitions to make once the new baby arrive. I have 3 kids and my first 2 were only 18 months apart. I breast fed all of them. There was still a degree of jealousy even tho my son had been weaned 4 months prior to the arrival of the new baby. And there was a degree of jealousy when my youngest was born even tho the boys were 4 and 5 years older than she is. I think the jealousy thing is normal but can be eased quite a bit if you don't put him in situations to be jealous. He is old enough to understand that he cannot nurse anymore. Explain that he is a "big" boy and you are so proud of him because he is going to be the best big brother and he has to show the new baby how big boys drink out of a cup so the baby can learn etc. I would wean him as soon as possible to avoid conflicts down the road. Good luck.

I think you already waited to long. He should have been weened when you found out you were pregnant to avoid jealousy issues. Yes I think your son is going to be jealous. The new baby took his food.. I hope you don't have jealousy issues. Ween asap..

my sil had a similar situation .. her milk's taste changed during the pregnancy and her daughter weaned herself then .. if he's only nursing a couple of times a week he probably isn't pulling a lot of nutrients from you .. make yourself as inaccessible as possible during the times he would normally want to nurse. Be busy and say something along the lines of "I'll be there in a moment or two"

try going to the library and getting a book called The breastfeeding book By Dr william sears and Martha sears. I read this book and it really helped me. she is a lactation consultant so she really knows her stuff

Hi P.,
I nursed my 2-year-old son all the way through my pregnancy with my daughter. I reminded my doctor at every visit that I was doing this to make sure it was still OK. When my daughter was born, they told me in the hospital to feed her first (of course). When she was done on one side, then my 2-year-old son could nurse on that side while my newborn nursed on the second side. The birth of my daughter made him want to nurse more since he saw me feeding her every 2 hours but eventually he weaned himself off. Dr. and Martha Sears write about this in one of their books - they call it "tandem nursing" which means nursing a newborn and a toddler. I didn't have any trouble getting the new milk supply in. The colostrum came in and then changed to milk after a few days, just as with my first pregnancy. Anyway, if your doctor says to ween, then I agree with you that sooner is better than later to allow your son to forget about nursing. Best of Luck to you !!!

i think you are doing a wonderful thing for your son. i know plenty of women that never had supply problems when they had their second child. i think when your newborn arrives, definitely get him to your breast ASAP. if you are still nursing your 3 year old, i would definitely make sure that your newborn always nurses first and however long as he wants. maybe once you get into the swing of things, you may be able to nurse both at the same time!! there is no such thing as taking away nutrients from nursing while pregnant. you are NOT taking anything vital from your son or yourself. like others said, this is a very common thing in other countries.
for the jealousy issues, maybe someone can make a specific toy box for your 3 year old and when you are nursing your newborn, he can play with that "special" toy box. i'm not really sure if that would work, but you can give it a shot!

good luck :)

P.,
I want to echo what the mom before me said, if you are gaining enough weight, are healthy and are not experiencing any problems with this pregnancy there is no medical reason you must wean. Many women do this with no problem. I did this with no problem. My son turned 3 a month after my daughter was born. He self weaned about a month before she was born and nursed once after she was born. He'd really hit his head and was in serious need of comfort and we both just nursed. Afterwards he told me the milk tasted funny and that was that.

As far as the milk being difficult to get started the second time around most women find the opposite is actually true. When breast feeding is well established, your body will naturally make enough milk to meet the demands placed on it. It is important during pregnancy that you make sure you are eating well and getting all the nutrition you need since you body will give the unborn baby what he/ she needs first, your nursling second and you last.

Nursing during pregnancy does have its own unique challenges and I would suggest you seek our other women who have done this. Many women find that their feelings about nursing the older child change during the pregnancy. La Leche League is a great resource and there are lots of moms locally who have been exactly where you are right now. The International group also has a great web sit, here is a link to their breastfeeding during pregnancy page: http://www.llli.org/NB/NBpregnancy.html

Whatever you do you will not be alone in having made that decision. Relax and enjoy your babies, they aren't babies for long!

Congratulations and good luck,

K. L.

Hello P.:
You are taking vital nutrition away from your un-born child. I do understand you wanted to continue breast feeding your first; however, you should have stopped a while ago. Soon you son will have to be enrolled in some type of school and it is not health for him. I am afaird you will encounter some major problems with your first when the baby arrives. Please check with your son's doctor for advice.

I would think that being pregnant is hard enough on yourself, but nursing at the same time would put a "double stress" on your body. i would think that you should wean soon. Also, I know I've heard that any kind of nipple stimulation (especially things like nursing) releases hormones that could send you into labor. You may want to talk to your doctor about that.

Hi P.,

Congratulations on your new pregnancy and on nursing your first child for such a long time. You have done a great thing for him! My son also just turned 3 and nurses 1-2 times per day. There isn't any medical reason to wean during pregnancy and it is very unlikely that your older child will take away milk from the baby or make it more difficult for your milk to come in. If anything, your milk should come in quicker because he is also nursing. Many children self-wean during pregnancy - but it doesn't sound like your son is going to. Most do it during the 2nd trimester when your milk supply drops. If you don't want to wean your son, then don't. Just prepare him and tell him that the baby is too little to eat chicken and fruits so the baby will get all of his food from nursing where as he is older and can eat, so only needs to nurse once in a while. There may be some jealousy - but it will all depend on how you approach it. Always feed your baby first - then your older child. You may notice that your older child wants to nurse more often when the baby comes - and this is normal too. But it will subside. You can also try reading to him while the baby is nursing so that he doesn't feel left out. If you do decide to wean, sooner is better, so that he isn't jealous when the baby comes.

Here are some helpful links for you:
<http://www.kellymom.com/bf/tandem/index.html&gt;

J.

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I do not have a full response to your post, however I did want to respond because I had problems with my son and dairy products, he HATED milk. I tried warm, cold, chocolate, soy, rice, you name it he refused them all so I continued to nurse. I did end up weaning his because of a pregnancy, and over time he started drinking milk, in fact he now loves it and asks for it! I weaned him at 19 months and had a baby when he was 25 months and I have never had an issue nursing my newborn and him being jelous. I honestly think he forgot, but he is a bit younger then your son. Good luck to you and enjoy your new baby!

Hi P.. I do not have direct personal experience, but I didn't think you'd get a lot of positive responses, so I watned to write. I had twins, my one son weened himself at 6 months and the other I weened around 2.5 years. Like you, he was nursing very occassionally and I found it very easy to ween him at that time simply by distraction, it was more of a comfort thing than nutrtion. Simply not providing him access right away when he asked, he may have gotten upset a few times, but nothing hysterical and it didn't last long at all. He as weened within days.

My best friend nursed through her entire pregnancy and nursed her 3+ year old and the baby simultaneously. This was important to her, so yes, it can be done, but if you aren't up for the extra challenge, then just ween him now. You do need to take extra precautions with calories, etc. She weened her son sometime in the first year without any problem, they are smart kids and old enough to understand they are big boys now and this is for babies.

Best of luck with your decision, but if you are ready, I'm betting you will have an easy time weening him now and there will be lots of reasons for him to be jealous of the new baby, so it will be natural if he is... this too shall pass. Perhaps there's some new ritual you can do with him as a big boy and big brother that the baby gets put aside for that will make him feel special.

A.

My daughter was the same way as your son.I found out I was pregnant when she was a little over 3.I stopped right away,gaining weight was an issue an I didn't want her to associate the pregnancy with not nursing.She did really well because we nursed every night before bed we just changed our routine.My son is now one and still nursing she has never expressed an interest in nursing or even seems to remember nursing.There have been some jealousy issues and some occassional rrgression in ome areas but she loves her brother and never acts out toward him.I hope this helps and good luck! Congrats too!

If you want to wean him, then by all means, at three there should be no problems with it. At the same time, if you aren't ready to wean him, there is no need to. Many, many women have tandem nursed an older child with a newborn.

If anything, I would imagine that having an older nursling at the time of delivery would be helpful because he already knows how to effectively nurse and can relieve engorgement for you - which makes it easier for the newborn to latch and to learn how to nurse.

If the older one is only nursing 5-6 times per week, I think I would be hesitant to wean totally, if only because it's such an effective means of comfort and may be very useful in the coming adjustment period. Perhaps you could institute limits on nursing, if that helps you. For instance, the older child can only nurse as long as it takes to sing a song, like the alphabet. It will cut down on the length of nursing sessions, but still allow comforting.

Congratulations on making it to this milestone in your nursing relationship. My nursling is almost 11 months old and I'm in still in awe of all the 2 and 3 year olds out there, not to mention the older ones.

Here are some helpful links from Kellymom regarding Tandem Nursing:

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/tandem/survey/q1.html

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/tandem/links-nursingpregnant.html

S.

Hi P.,

I weened after a year, so I don't have advice for you regarding weening an older child, but I did have a jealous son when I was nursing my daughter. One time, I got in the bath with the kids and the baby was hysterical because she was hungry, so I started feeding her and my son "swam" over to me with his mouth open, heading for my other breast. Eeek. At that point, he hadn't nursed in over a year. I immediately covered my breast and told him that he gets his drink from a cup, but the baby is too small, so mommy has to give her milk from her booby. That was sufficient for him.
Some advice though, try to ween sooner rather than later because you don't want him to feel that it is the baby's fault that he's not nursing any more. That could create resentment and jealousy unnecessarily.
My guess is that because he doesn't nurse every day, he's doing it only for comfort/security, not because he needs it. Try to give him yogurt drinks if he doesn't like milk. I told my son that when he turns 3, he has to use a big boy cup (not a sippy) and he has to feed himself (he likes us to feed him sometimes). I told him that those are the 3 year old rules, and that mommy and daddy aren't allowed to break the rules. You can even pretend to read and email or book or letter and say that you just got the rules for 3 year olds. If he thinks that is the way it has to be, he might not fight it as much.
Good luck to you! And congrats on #2.

You got some educated and well thought out responses already, so I don't have a lot to add. Just wanted to say I believe www.KellyMom.com and www.llli.org are among the best places for information on this topic. I'm sure you will find both very helpful whether you choose to continue breastfeeding or want to help your child wean. I do want to reiterate what a few other moms said: Breastfeeding while you are pregnant or tandem nursing should not be harmful to either you or your baby. If you are uncomfortable (some moms find it uncomfortable to nurse while pregnant) and really want to wean, that is okay too. No guilt either way :) Since your child is nursing only a few times a week, weaning shouldn't be too difficult. You'll find info on how to do this as easily as possible on those 2 sites. Congratulations on your soon-to-be new arrival and kudos to you for bonding so beautifully with your older child.

I never had this problem but I know that my son didn't really want to wean completely for quite awhile even though he liked milk. He liked that closeness to me. I also know that some kids are more difficult to wean than others. That being said, I would recommend starting the process as soon as possible. The longer he is weaned before the new baby, the less he will associate being weaned with the baby taking his place at the breast. This isn't to say that he might not still have some jealousy issues. However, he is, also, old enough now that he can understand a little more, too. So if he does associate with needing to wean with the new baby, you can discuss is a little more with him and rationalize a little better with him than you could a 2 year old or a 1 year old.

Also, to make the transition a little easier, perhaps the two of you could come up with something you do which is just the two of you to make it easier both now and after the baby is born. Perhaps it could be a special story time during a time when he would normally nurse and give him a drink in a cup at the same time. This way he will still be getting that time with you that is all his. I know when we had our 3rd child (second son), our 3 year old son refused to potty train. He was asserting his time to get attention from mom by having me change dirty diapers. But he worked through it and has been potty trained for about 9 months now. But it is because of his resistance to the idea that I recommend starting the process of weaning right away.

Anyhow, hope my ramblings help a little. Good luck with your little guys.

P.,
Please let me assure you that your son will NOT be "stealing" nutrition away from you OR your baby! That's just silly. :-)

Your body knows what it's doing. Many thousands, if not millions of women have breastfed while being pregnant & tandem nursed afterwards with no ill effects to themselves or either child. There are SO many myths surrounding this issue that it's just insane!

Your body knows that it's pregnant. It knows that it's nursing a 3 year old too (which, might I say, MANY kudos to you for wanting your son to self-wean! You are awesome!!!).

Many women's milk naturally starts to decrease sometime during the middle of the pregnancy b/c of hormones, but some moms keep their supply throughout. However, rest assured that your body will always make the youngest child the priority. So your milk WILL change over to collostrum in the next 1-2 mos or so.

I can't encourage you enough to go to some LLL meetings as soon as you can. I can almost guarantee you that there will be some moms who have tandem nursed and/or nursed during preganancy. Also, check out www.KellyMom.com for some fantastic info!

I hope that makes you feel a little bit better at least.
Congratulations & best of luck!!!!
A.

Hello P.! Congrats on your growing family!! I am the mother of five children. I nursed all of them. My first I nursed the longest....about 18 months. We both cried for a few days when i had to say no. Anyway, I got pregnant with my second child shortly thereafter.....and I remember having a really long conversation with my son before his new baby sister was to be born and I told him how she was going to be drinking "mommy's milk" just like he did......well i know he thought long and hard about that and when she did finally come he came up to me and said "Mom, I am going to try that one more time". He was so cute (he was 2 1/2) and it just choked me up and I decided I would see what would happen and he ended up saying, "no, that's okay!!!" and nursing our new baby went on without a hitch...... i guess my advice is to ween sooner rather than later. i really think had i waited, i really would have had a mess on my hands. it was pretty challenging having a second and trying to figure it all out. i can now say that my oldest son, who was really pretty jealous of his sister for a time, knows that she and his other sister and two brothers are the best things that could have happened to him. he is now 17!! my best to you and your family. enjoy every moment. it goes by too quickly.

If you are a normal, healthy woman and are eating enough calories and you and your unborn child are gaining a healthy amount of weight, then there is no reason you have to stop nursing. Some women nurse throughout their pregnancy, then continue to nurse their older child and the newborn after the baby arrives. It's called tandem nursing. For more information, check out: http://www.kellymom.com/nursingtwo/faq/index.html.

However, I can understand your desire to not have two nurslings. Most moms experience a drop in supply around mid-pregnancy (due to hormone changes) and this can encourage weaning in the older child. Also, the taste of the milk may change during pregnancy, which can also encourage child led weaning.

If your child shows no desire to wean, here's some more information on how to wean: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/weaning/index.html.

I hope this helps!

I didn't have this happen. However, my girlfriend nursed her second through her third pregnancy and nursed both boys together for another year after that. They are both weened now and completely healthy.

My daughter was 2 when I had my son. I continued nursing her throughout the pregnancy and until she was three and a half. So I tandem nursed for a year and a half. Wow, now that I think about it. Now my son is two, still nursing, and I am pregnant again. I plan on just seeing how it goes and continuing nursing him as well. I didnt experience any jealousy with the first tandem nursing experience. I think it actually fostered bonding in a way that others who chose to wean really struggled with. Especially with a boy. Girls are naturally nurturing, however, sometimes boys struggle with how to bond and may result to hitting or being aggressive, even if they dont really want to be mean. I highly suggest reading some books and searching the internet for tandem nursing. The only thing I discovered negative about it, was that at times I felt smothered by nursing. This could well be a feeling that could have arrisen nursing just one, but I felt it was snhanced since I was nursing two. It really helped with engorgement though. Good Luck!

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