by Shannon (New Mexico)
I am currently breastfeeding my 23 month old, and I am also 18 weeks pregnant. My daughter still nurses to fall asleep and for naps, and still wakes to nurse at night.
I am considering how things will go, when our new baby comes. I wanted her to wean naturally, but I don't know if it will happen before I give birth.
We also sleep in what we made into a cosleeper, and I am trying to decide how we are going to work out our sleeping situation.
What are some of the obstacles that we will be dealing with, and some of the options on what we can do in the situations to come? What other suggestions do you have in general for our expanding family? Thank you so much.
Many times toddlers are happy to nurse right through pregnancy and then tandem nurse along with the newborn. This is perfectly OK if you are comfortable with it. Other times mothers want to gently encourage their toddlers to wean during pregnancy, and even wean completely. Those are OK too, and it's really up to you.
Typical issues that mothers nursing through pregnancy face are drastically lowered milk supply and some sensitivity. Both of these are normal and typical, but don't always happen. Often toddlers don't care about the lowered milk, or the fact that the milk taste changes.
If you're getting sensitive to your daughter's nursing, that could be more of a challenge. The breasts and nipples usually do get more sensitive during pregnancy and moms can find it very, very hard to nurse. Some moms even feel guilty because they start to dread nursing sessions, and their bodies seem to be telling them to stop the toddler from nursing. These are all totally normal feelings, and they're most likely a hormonal response to help protect the new baby.
Thankfully you can get plenty of nourishment for both of your little ones, and tandem nursing (and nursing during pregnancy) has resulted in healthy siblings throughout time. If you find yourself feeling irritated or having trouble nursing, you can put gentle limits on things with your daughter. Telling her “we'll nurse while I sing the ABC song, then we'll be done,” for example, is a way to limit nursings. You can also limit nursings to certain times (such as after meals and before bed only). These are also ways to gently move a child towards weaning. You decide what you feel comfortable with.
I recommend you follow a nourishing pregnancy diet, such as the WAPF Diet for Pregnant and Nursing Mothers. In general you want to aim for around 80-100 grams of protein for pregnancy, and with tandem nursing you should try to get a bit more, around 100-120 grams, as if you had twins. This will give you an excellent nutritional base to keep your milk supply up as much as possible and provide lots of nourishment for both your little ones.
After your baby is born, you can continue to nurse both little ones just fine. It takes some juggling to get used to nursing two. Many mothers are surprised by just how different it feels to nurse a newborn compared to a toddler – toddlers have a much stronger suck!
It's recommended that you try to nurse the baby first, letting him or her get the letdown and fatty hindmilk for good growth. But you can often nurse both at the same time.
There are times that having a nursing toddler is actually very helpful – they can get the milk to let down if a newborn is having trouble with it. They can also take the heavier initial letdown that some newborns have trouble with, then switch sides so your baby can have the rich hind milk. If you get engorged a nursing toddler is very handy to have around 😉
There are challenges and things to figure out as you nurse two, and it's good to establish gentle but firm boundaries with your toddler so that you're able to stay peaceful and happy with nursing.
If you're looking for stories from other moms, as well as practical advice, Adventures in Tandem Nursing is a well-written and well-organized book that you may find helpful. It's published by La Leche League – a group in your area may have it, as well as having other nursing moms who can share their experiences about nursing during pregnancy, tandem nursing, and weaning with you 🙂
Best of luck to you!