Breastfeeding While Pregnant
HAPPY WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK!
I could not let this week go by without sharing something breastfeeding related.
I understand that this might be a controversial subject but I felt it is also one that isn't frequently and openly discussed so I wanted to share my own experience.
Many women become pregnant while they are still breastfeeding one baby. A few decisions are made at that point. Wean abruptly and completely, continue to breastfeed and gradually wean or continue to breastfeed and go on to tandem nurse (nurse both children).
I have heard many reasons why a mother should stop breastfeeding once she finds out she is pregnant. Some of the reasons are good and necessary while others are just based on myth. One reason to stop breastfeeding is if the pregnancy is high risk. Since breastfeeding causes the womb to contract, it may be risky for women with history of miscarriage or other similar pregnancy challenges. It has not been found to be a problem for women who are otherwise healthy. When considering breastfeeding while pregnant, it is important to look at the mother's physical and mental health because let's be real, breastfeeding is taxing and pregnancy is also taxing and doing those two together can be a huge drain. If she can and wants to and is healthy enough, then there is no reason she shouldn't; especially if the child is still at an age when breastfeeding is essential.
I found myself in this situation and my decision was to continue to breastfeed. Despite pressure from some well meaning but misinformed people, I decided to continue because that is what worked best for our situation. I did try to gradually wean and when my milk started drying up around 24 weeks, my son slowed down but continued to dry nurse occasionally.
Here are a few things I learnt about breastfeeding while pregnant:
1. Yes you can do it if you want to and there's no reason to feel bad or to allow yourself to be bullied to stop.
2. You are not harming your unborn child. I nursed even with Hyperemesis Gravidarum and still gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby. If you are really worried about this, speak to your care giver to get some reassurance.
3. If your milk dries up midway through pregnancy, your child may not necessarily self-wean. I heard and read that this could happen so I hoped my son would but he did not. He was not just nursing for the milk, he was nursing for comfort; comfort he still greatly needed and I just could not deprive him of.
4. You may experience Nursing Aversion or Breastfeeding Agitation. Along with nipple sensitivity caused by pregnancy hormones, I experienced what I can only describe as my skin crawling (sometimes) while nursing. In those moments, I would feel a really strong urge to tear my son off my breast but I found ways to cope with it.
5. Bear in mind that tandem nursing could be a possibility if your child doesn't wean. I also have experience with this that I will share soon.
6. You are not somehow weird. Many women breastfeed while pregnant, it is just not widely spoken of.
Not going to tell a fib and say it was a picnic in the park, it was painful and irritating at times to breastfeed while I was pregnant. If you're reading this and can relate, be encouraged! You are not alone in the struggle. I will put together another post shortly to share some coping mechanisms.