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Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: When to start weaning?

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: When to start weaning?  BreastfeedingPlace.com  #breastfeeding #pregnancy #weaningCongratulations! You just found out that you are expecting again! However, you are still nursing your little one. A big question looms – pregnancy and breastfeeding: when to start weaning?

I have nursed through part of three different pregnancies. I am currently 10 weeks pregnant and nursing my 2 year old. For me, I’m lazy. That’s the truth. Weaning can be hard work and I’m just not looking forward to that! My first weaned on his own at 15 months when I was about 18 weeks. My milk was gone and he was tired of dry nursing – and so was I. Since my first was a preemie, I had been told to wean by 20 weeks to stay on the safe side. With my second, I had had another very difficult pregnancy with preterm labor scares and 5 weeks of bedrest. He nursed until he was 14 months. I had family visiting who was willing to help him fall asleep away from the breast. I was about 17 weeks pregnant. This weaning was very traumatic for both of us. We weren’t ready to quit. Now, I am nursing while pregnant again.

What do the experts say about pregnancy and when to wean from breastfeeding?

  • It is safe to breastfeed while pregnant as long as you are not on pelvic rest. Breastfeeding releases small amounts of oxytocin which is a hormone that can trigger contractions. For most, there is no danger. More oxytocin is released during orgasm than breastfeeding. As long as you are healthy enough to have sex, breastfeeding should be fine.
  • You will need more calories. For some, especially those with morning sickness, this is a very hard task. Pregnant women should consume about 300-500 extra calories per day. Breastfeeding women should consume about 300-500 extra calories per day. My personal lactation consultant recommended I strive for an extra 1,000 calories per day for optimal health knowing that I likely would not reach that number.  A woman’s body will take nutrients it is lacking from diet from itself to care for the unborn child first and then for the milk supply. If mothers do not take care with their diets, they can end up depleted.
  • Nipple sensitivity and milk supply are the two biggest issues that arise while nursing while pregnant. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for milk supply. Progesterone is the hormone most responsible for maintaining a pregnancy.  As progesterone increases, prolactin decreases. The decrease in prolactin causes the milk ducts to be more porous and cause breasts to be unable to store much milk between feedings and cause supply to drop in the second trimester. If you are breastfeeding, you may find increasing the frequency of feedings helpful in maintaining a better milk supply. Please realize that you may need to supplement feedings during pregnancy.
  • When you do decide to wean, take it slowly. By dropping a feeding or two at a time, you make the transition easier for your nursling plus it helps prevent clogs and mastitis in you.

In general, breastfeeding is safe during most pregnancies. You should discuss this issue with your doctor to make sure you are not at risk. The La Leche League, International stands behind breastfeeding while pregnant.

So, what are my plans?

I plan to take out my copy of Adventures in Tandem Nursing and review all the fabulous information about breastfeeding while pregnant.  Since my nursling is 26 months old, I am working on weaning him. I struggle to get enough nutrition, my nipples are sore, and I’m exhausted. I want this weaning to be more gentle than my last which was a cold turkey wean-in-a-week. If my little one shows interest in returning to the breast after the baby is born, I won’t discourage it. My oldest tried to return to nursing at the age of 3 1/2 after my third was born. He had forgotten how to latch. He was content to try a couple times and then realized he was a big boy.

As for me and my health, I know that I am better off weaning than trying to nurse through the pregnancy and tandem nurse. I struggle to maintain and gain weight even when not pregnant. Pregnancy and postpartum cause major thyroid issues for me as well.  I am taking the weaning slowly this time, as well.

Here’s to happy and healthy pregnancies!

Are you nursing while pregnant? Have you wondered when to start weaning?

Sharing at My Joy-Filled Life.


Audra Michelle has been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for more than 6 years straight. Her first nursed for 15 months, her second for 14 months, and her third weaned at 27 months! Her first baby girl is thriving on breastmilk and will wean when she chooses.  Audra Michelle is a wife, mother, daughter, girlfriend, Jesus lover, and musician. You can find Audra Michelle blogging at UP and at Naturally Well.

Comments

  1. I am nursing my 24 month old and 6 month old and going strong. We are in it for the long haul. 🙂

  2. Different pregnancies, different toddlers … all have worked out their own way in our family! I have never ended up tandem nursing despite trying. ((shrug)) Maybe eventually???

    • You never know! Each child is so different! I have a feeling that despite my readiness to be done now that I will end up tandem nursing… maybe until this one goes to college???

  3. I’ve never tandem nursed. After my first two children, I got pregnant around 13 months post-partum. They both weaned themselves during my second trimester (at 16 and 17 months). It was a pretty non-traumatic, unstressful thing for all parties involved. Though I did cry both times. 😉

    My third is almost 17 months and still nursing quite a bit–much more than his older two siblings did at this point. I’m not pregnant yet and don’t have any immediate weaning plans, though I don’t *think* I would go much past the 2 year mark. 🙂

  4. K. Elizabeth says:

    I’m 3 months pregnant and nursing part time our freshly 1 year old baby since she was 9 months. It got really, really painful the past month so I’ve had to cut back some . :-/ But I’ve made it to 1 , my oldest never latched ever. Pretty happy here ! 😀

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