Just found out you are expecting? Happy? Elated? Worried? Concerned? Might be the later reasons if you are still breastfeeding. At least that's what I felt when I found out I was expecting Alyson and I was still breastfeeding Benjamin (he's at 20months+ then)
I was so concerned with the following:
- What if my breastmilk stops producing (trust me, it will due to hormones in pregnancy!) and my boy is still not weaned yet? How to substitute my breastmilk then?
- What if the breastfeeding causes contractions and early labors or increases the risks of miscarriages?
- What if the breastmilk is poisonous? (old wives tales)
- How to cope with breastfeeding and tummy getting bigger and me getting more and more tired?
Before you read on, do note that I am not able to advise you on how to substitute breastfeeding with formula milk as until today (my boy is almost 4 years old and my girl is almost 1.5 years old) we are still at zero specks of formula powder at home. So, I apologise first as I really am not able to comment on anything with regards to formula milk.
Now back to whether you should continue breastfeeding during your pregnancy...
If there are no risks or complications in your previous pregnancy, I personally think there are no reasons why you should wean. I nursed through my boy until I delivered my girl in Sept 2011 and continued tandem nursing them until I weaned my boy at 45 months old. I am still breastfeeding my almost 1.5 years old girl now.
Now, I have no complications or risks history when I was pregnant with my boy so that makes it a plus factor in my decision making to continue breastfeeding him. I also believed that I should not wean just because the baby is coming especially when my previous pregnancy is fine.
If you are worried about risks of miscarriages caused by breastfeeding as some people believe nursing will trigger contractions... well, if you read up on Google, you will find out that even having sex during pregnancy will also cause contractions.
Nursing Ben at 21 months old...
However, do note that if you decide to continue nursing:
- your breastmilk will change taste during pregnancy (mine tasted sour and bitter when I tasted it at 4th mth into pregnancy)
- your breastmilk will stop midway through pregnancy (mine stopped at 5th month but my boy continued nursing until I delivered)
- there are some nurslings who self-wean because of the above 2 reasons, so do have a backup plan (or backup expressed breastmilk) if your nurslings are still very much into your breastmilk
- you will be very tired during pregnancy, for me, I normally lie down on my bed to rest and let my boy nursed (he gets to nurse and bond and comfort and I get to rest too)
- some mums will have nursing aversion (I only have mine when I started tandem nursing) so do research more and read up on what to do if this happens
If you feel you should wean, I would suggest that you do it gently as you don't want your child to feel that she/he is being rejected or pushed aside to make way for the coming baby. Try to slowly replace nursing times with other bonding activities (reading books, doodling, drawing, play dough, anything to keep their mind off from nursing). The key is to keep them distracted from asking for their feed.
I did reduced my 4-5 times daily nursing Benjamin to nursing prior to afternoon nap and bedtime (total twice a day and maybe 1-2 times during sleep when he's fussy or sick) I also practised the 'Don't offer, don't refuse' method of weaning (will write a post on this later)
I am very happy I get to nurse my boy throughout my pregnancy as I personally believed in letting my child decides when he should stop nursing (which he did at 45 months old) and I believed that it really helps to kick in the breastmilk production as my milk came in right after I delivered my girl and she has no time to experience any weight loss (due to meconium) thanks to the immediate supply of breastmilk.
Feel free to comment or email me if you need to, I can share with you my experiences and what I needed during my pregnancy while still breastfeeding.