“You should wean your 2-year-old.” WHY? No answer. *Blank Face*
“Is it safe to nurse during pregnancy?” It is!
To wean is to habituate a baby to food other than its mother’s milk.
Many mothers start to wean their babies off breast milk as soon as the child turns 6 months or latest, within the year BUT that doesn’t mean you blindly follow what is done by the majority of people.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be breastfed exclusively until 6 months of age — that means not even water, just mother’s milk for the first 6 months — and then breastfeed along with nutritious food, for minimum 2 years of age.
Experts like Pamela Berens, MD, who is a faculty advisor for NICHQ’s Texas Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative, says breastfeeding through a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy is safe! Research confirms there breastfeeding has no harmful effects on pregnancy
Even though my Baby #1 is 22 months now, I am not about to abruptly stop this amazing bond we share through breastfeeding. We nurse multiple times during the day+night and I wanted to share with you the many benefits of continuing to breastfeed your toddler and also, what it takes to breastfeed during pregnancy too.
When do you stop breastfeeding a toddler?
Well, You Don’t stop. Your toddler stops when they stop needing it — on their own. That’s weaning naturally, also known as BLW – Baby Led Weaning. As is with all things in nature, when weaning is done in its own time and with love, it can be a beautiful experience for both the mother and the child.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
There are countless benefits if you continue breastfeeding your child and very less benefits to weaning early or abruptly. Weaning abruptly needs to be avoided and I’ll share why in a dedicated post for Baby Led Weaning later. For now, let’s get you back to what this post is really about.
Breastfeeding a Toddler Through Pregnancy
a Toddler is a child between the ages of 1 year to 3 years.
Breastfeeding through pregnancy was one of the hardest, but the most rewarding experiences of my life, thus far. Let me take you through what I felt in each trimester so you get a bird’s eye view of what may go on in such a scenario and how you can deal with it too.
Nursing through Pregnancy: First Trimester
Nursing is another term used for breastfeeding your baby/toddler.
Breastfeeding through my first trimester was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life – yes, even harder than trying to wrap my brain around trigonometry or dealing with an abortion at a tender age of 16. It was hard because the first 3 months of my second pregnancy (or any pregnancy for most women) was especially tough, physically.
Pregnancy is badass at this time because of the whirlpool of hormones doing somersaults in the body. You lose all sense of taste or get it heightened so much that nothing feels or looks good to eat except maybe a jar of pickles for lunch.
Your sense of smell touches the roof and most importantly, your breasts start living a life of their own – as though your breasts decided to stand open-mouthed under the Niagara Falls and it’s no big deal.
What I really mean is that breasts get sore, they change shape, they get busy deciding whether to go dry or to be filled with milk – depending on what vortex of hormones on duty that day.
Dealing with Nausea
Breastfeeding can actually trigger nausea and it’s all just a terrible, terrible disaster. Well, it can be until you decide to do something about your nausea, of course.
I faced terrible morning sickness with Baby#1 and the same continued with my second pregnancy as well. Mine is special because it doesn’t go away until the baby is out of my system.
Morning sickness is a very misleading term given to this condition during pregnancy, wherein you feel nauseated ALL day, not just in the mornings.
Yes, there are ways to tiptoe around morning sickness in your pregnancy. Many women may not be aware of it, or fail to ask their doctors about it or simply avoid taking medication as a matter of choice.
I was prescribed a combination of vitamin B12 pills to battle my nausea and those angel pills have kept me feeling normal and healthy throughout the pregnancy — well, until I forget to take them the night before and the next day is War of the Worlds.
Wrestling with Food
Once the nausea issue is parked safely, the next issue is the food. For some women who are completely healthy, they may not face a problem with food choices during pregnancy. You only “crave” for things that are needed by your body but when you are healthy then you get on with pregnancy and life like Thelma and Louise.
For me, I had a diverse array of cravings (I was underweight to begin with) and food became my enemy.
Consuming nutritious food and having small multiple meals during pregnancy is key to getting a good health and milk supply – especially if you want to breastfeed during pregnancy.
Making conscious food choices that pacified my taste buds and those that were also in-line with what my body was craving became important.
Most women try nursing through pregnancy but give up quickly at this point. Read on to know the key to success in persevering through this trimester.
Nursing through Pregnancy: Second Trimester
This is one of the best phases of pregnancy. For most women, nausea passes, you feel good; your appetite is normal and the baby bump starts to show, breasts grow a little bigger and all these subtle changes in your body make you feel beautiful and normal.
Breastfeeding also becomes a breeze because your milk supply –which was hardly there in the first trimester — comes back up in your second trimester. Woohoo!
Nursing through Pregnancy: Third Trimester
I was especially grateful for breastfeeding at this point because my breasts had started to fill up with much breast milk and nursing just helped me feel relieved of that burden (and weight). Here are other awesome benefits to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy or even toddlerhood!
Benefits of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
Breast Milk is High on Nutrition
Toddlers can quickly become picky eaters if you don’t follow the BLW method consistently and diligently. I really don’t have to worry about my toddler’s solid food intake so much because she gets approximately 40% of her daily nutrition through my breast milk. According to Kelly Mom, breastfeeding toddlers between the ages 1-2 years gives:
- 29% of energy requirements
- 43% of protein requirements
- 36% of calcium requirements
- 75% of vitamin A requirements
- 76% of folate requirements
- 94% of vitamin B12 requirements
- 60% of vitamin C requirements
— Dewey 2001
Nursing is the Go-to solution — for everything
Did your toddler have a badass fall? Is your toddler going through a terrible illness and refuses to eat any food or drink? Is a tantrum brewing? You are out and forgot to pack a snack for your toddler? No matter what the source of the issue, breastfeeding can resolve it in no time. This is because your baby feels the safest here, in your arms and on your breast. It is their comfort food. Imagine how would you feel if someone refused your ultimate comfort food when you were down and out? Like a hot bowl of soup or chocolate cake?
Time to reconnect
In this busy, busy world, when you take 5 minutes to just sit and nurse your child, time stops. Besides, if anyone has raised a toddler, you know how hard that can be because they push your buttons all day! They run the other way when you call their name or stick tiny thermocol balls up their noses when you’re not looking. So when the day goes haywire, breastfeeding quietly helps me reconnect with my monster; I get a breather and all is peaceful in the world, for now, at least.
Better Sleep – for you and your toddler
Babies are wired differently, and I am thankful that mine sleeps much better after she is breastfed – either in the night or for when she is ill. Naptimes and bedtimes are not struggles for us at all; in fact, we both look forward to our sleep schedules! Knowing this and experiencing this, gives me less anxiety and I sleep better as well — of course there are hormones at play when you breastfeed and they have got more to do with better sleep than just me having happy thoughts.
No need for a Breast Pump
In the first few weeks after the baby comes, there will be breast engorgement. It’s when your breasts swell up with so much milk that if you don’t pump it out, it becomes terribly hard for your newborn to suck it out of you. There are other serious implications when you don’t do anything about the engorgement. Here’s when your toddler — who is already an expert in sucking — can help you soften your breasts for your newborn! I am especially excited to see how this pans out as I am just a few weeks away from delivery.
Tips to Successfully Breastfeed During Pregnancy
This is important so pay attention now. Just as athletes keep their eye on the finish line, endure the pain and keep going, you need to do the same while breastfeeding during pregnancy.
Yes, it will hurt. Yes, there will be times when you just want to wean your baby or your toddler immediately because it just fucking hurts so much. BUT. When you know that there are so many benefits to breastfeeding, you stop and take a rain check.
Since I am a follower of Christ, it is especially encouraging for me to live selflessly for others just as Christ selflessly suffered for me and died for me, I could do the same day after day – it’s minute by minute death to self.
Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Wanting to wean your child just because you have discomfort is not enough reason compared to all those amazing benefits both you and your baby gets with breastfeeding.
Proverbs 3:27-28 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
Tip #1 Get educated.
Be informed and aware of all the benefits related to breastfeeding. That is your goal. When you keep your eye on the prize, it will keep you going regardless of discomfort, hurt or pain.
Tip #2 Get on a healthy journey.
Replenish your body with nutritious food and drinks. It will keep your milk supply going without making you feel exhausted.
Tip #3 Delay nursing sessions.
When the going gets especially tough, consider delaying the number of nursing sessions. This way you invariably reduce the frequency of nursing. I would calmly let my toddler know that “it hurts for mama, so let’s just have some water and go back to sleep” or “let’s have your favorite snack instead!”. Do not underestimate your babies – they understand everything you say.
Tip #4 Reduce nursing sessions.
We nursed only during naptime and bedtime in the first trimester. I simply had to lovingly weed out nursing sessions that were neither naptime or bedtime. You can distract them with their favorite snack or another activity.
Tip #5 Let go and let God.
This one worked for me the best! I would rely on God to give me the strength to go on and offer my body, day after day, to my child and to my husband. God is awesome and guides me through my struggles. So I don’t have fear or anxiety, I have solutions instead. Solutions that are win-win for all parties involved.
Title Image Courtesy: The Art Of Making Babies and Other War Stories
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