Guest Post: The Whys and Ways Of Nursing While Pregnant

Guest Post: The Whys and Ways Of Nursing While Pregnant

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on breastfeeding while pregnant.  Today you’ll hear from guest blogger Carrie Willard about her experience and expertise with breastfeeding during pregnancy.  Check back next week to hear from Katy about her experience.

At the moment, I’m 23 weeks pregnant. My 21 month old daughter is also still breastfeeding several times a day. This isn’t the first time I’ve nursed through a pregnancy, and it wasn’t an accident that snuck up on me. I quite intended to continue breastfeeding my toddler while pregnant with her younger sibling. This is the fourth time I’ve done so. Why would a mom choose to breastfeeding during a pregnancy? What are some of the common difficulties and how can they be overcome? What if the toddler doesn’t wean by the time the new baby arrives? These are some of the common questions that surround this topic.

 

For starters, nursing a toddler has many benefits.

Those benefits continue even if the mother becomes pregnant with a new baby. Some of these benefits are: the ability to calm a toddler when life is getting frustrating for him or her, naptime and bedtime made easier, and of course the health and immunity benefits of breastmilk are important for the ever more mobile toddler.

In addition, there are a few unique benefits for the newly pregnant mom.

Many of us experience what could be referred to as “bone crushing” fatigue in our first trimester. Add morning sickness to the mix and it’s no picnic enduring those first weeks. Some moms feel that nursing is a godsend, since at least for those times, their toddler will slow down and relax for a bit. No worries about the little one getting into trouble while you get a little afternoon shut eye. Some women say that breastfeeding helps mitigate their experience of nausea. I’m not sure about that, but I did find that being able to put my feet up several times a day while parenting an active toddler was definitely a plus, as well as the peace of mind that came from continuing to provide a toddler with mom’s milk during a period of illness.

That doesn’t mean that nursing through a pregnancy is always a picnic.

For many, sore nipples are severe during the first trimester of pregnancy, and sometimes later. I certainly experienced this, however I noticed that my nipples were sore whether the baby nursed or not. Even my shirt rubbing against me or the stream of water in the shower hurt. Incidentally my nipples often felt LESS painful after a nursing session.

Careful attention to latch and positioning are paramount at this time.

Toddlers (and let’s face it, us moms too!) often get lax about these two important issues once breastfeeding is “old hat”. Toddlers tend to want to watch everything that’s going on instead of getting down to business. Don’t allow your toddler to lie on his or her back, insist they get “tummy to tummy”, and take a wide mouthful of nipple instead of latching on to the end and “sliding” up. Some moms find that using a moisturizer like olive oil or purified lanolin really help soreness. The good news is that soreness will likely pass.

In the meantime it is perfectly copasetic to tell your toddler that you are sore, and that you need to limit the time or frequency of nursing.

Toddlers are usually accepting of “other mothering” in the form of snacks or drinks, rocking, playing, reading stories, etc. You can also try distraction, avoiding your regular nursing spot or changing your routine. My “morning” sickness was severe at night, so my husband began rocking our little one to sleep. She was quite accepting of this arrangement and my husband now looks forward to this special time with her.

Having no room left in your lap and nursing-induced contractions are common issues late in pregnancy. I never felt that the latter was a problem. “Practice” contractions are likely harmless (unless you’re having a high risk pregnancy, in which case you would probably have already weaned). They can get tiring however, so some of the aforementioned techniques may be in order.

What if your toddler doesn’t wean before your new baby is born?

Toddlers differ in their response to the inevitable changes in mom’s milk supply. It’s common for the milk to slow down considerably at some point in the pregnancy. Some toddlers wean in response to this change,but some don’t. For many nursing isn’t about the milk so much as the comfort that comes from sucking and being close to mom. Some babies will notice and comment on the change if they’re highly verbal or sensitive.

If your little one continues to nurse until their new sibling arrives, you may find yourself in the small but proud camp of women who are “tandem nursing”, meaning they are nursing two babies who are siblings but not twins! That’s a topic for another blog post.

Carrie is a mom of 5 (with one bun in the oven) breastfed babies. Not all at the same time, of course! She blogs about breastfeeding (and being a hot mama!) at http://www.sexynursingbra.com.
When are you going to stop breastfeeding?

When are you going to stop breastfeeding?

Isn’t that the million dollar question?  How many times do moms get asked how long they are going to breastfeed?  I got asked SO many times with my first.  When I chose to follow the WHO guidelines, and let her stop when she was ready, I certainly was on the receiving end of quite a few comments.

Are we setting moms up to fail?  I think some people ask out of a genuine curiosity.  And some people think it’s crazy that you’re STILL breastfeeding your 3 month old/6 month old/13 month old/2 yr old. Do all of these comments get to moms?  Do moms stop breastfeeding before they really WANT to because they feel pressure from others?

I was saddened when I saw this Today Show clip with Kourtney Kardashian.  She says, “I think I stopped early because my sisters were like ‘OK, it’s time, it’s time….I miss it, I loved it.”

Why do we let other people dictate our parenting decisions? At what point does society start to encourage moms to do what they feel is best for their baby instead of pressure them to make the baby grow up faster?  It all makes me so sad.

I’m thankful that Kourtney and Mason had the 14 months of breastfeeding that they did, it’s a great start in life.  I’m sad that all of us fall prey to the pressures of society and have motherhood regrets.

It’s time for us to surround ourselves with supportive people who will encourage us and build us up.

Where do you find your support and community to allow you to make the decisions you feel are best for your family?

 

Breastfeeding Support, it’s crucial.

Breastfeeding Support, it’s crucial.

Everyone will tell you, breastfeeding is natural, it’s best, it’s what our bodies were made for.  That’s all wonderful.  However, what you don’t often hear is the realities of how breastfeeding culture has changed.  Sixty years ago we all would have grown up watching our aunts, mothers, and cousins breastfeeding their babies.  We’d be surrounded by a culture of ‘normal’ breastfeeding, so when we became mothers, we’d have a clue as to what we were doing.  Unfortunately the reality is that most moms don’t ever see a woman breastfeeding until they are breastfeeding themselves.  This is why breastfeeding support is SO crucial.

There are many ways to find support today.  Many moms are turning to the internet and message boards, some moms are turning to Twitter, and some moms are choosing in person support meetings, like La Leche League or Breastfeeding USA.

I host the #bfcafe chat on Twitter on Thursday nights (10 PM Eastern), and our topic a few weeks back was support and where most moms find their support.  The answers were as varied as the moms participating, but the key was that everyone who was successful had support from somewhere.

So as a mom where do you find support?  How will you be successful? Who is your cheerleader?  Trust me, you’ll need one.

I joined my local LLL group when my oldest was a few weeks old.  I became a leader after she turned 1.  I also found support through message board with like minded moms.  Moms whose breastfeeding goals were similar to mine, and moms who had been successful at reaching those goals.  It is also very rewarding to be on the other side of that now.  I get to hang out on Twitter and encourage moms who are struggling with breastfeeding.  I can go back to the message boards that gave me support, and now I can offer support.  I also offer support to every mom I know who is breastfeeding.

I have turned my passion for supporting moms into my career.  I’ve spent time learning and educating myself, and I am anxiously awaiting my results from this years IBCLC exam.  My goal is to help as many moms be successful in meeting their breastfeeding goals as I can.  I sometimes have to sit back and remind myself that my goals are different from other moms’ goals, and that’s ok.  Everyone has different goals, and different ideals, and different circumstances.  In a perfect world all moms would find a support system.  A support system that would encourage them to meet their goals, to consider themselves successful, whatever that might look like for them.

Having in real life support is very valuable, and if you can find a group of like minded moms, who will support and encourage you to meet your goals, that is a great place to start.  Turning to the internet for support is also great, but it’s different.  There’s nothing like seeing another mom successfully breastfeed to help build your confidence.  So if you can, find moms and surround yourself with a good support network.

Where did you find support? Was your support what it should have been?  How can we help support you?  How can you help support other moms?

Today’s post is a part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop.  Click below to see what others have to say on the topic.