When my first child was 21 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. This was news that I greeted with pleasure. I was still breastfeeding my son and was wondering how it would go. Would I nurse through the pregnancy or would I wean him? I knew quite a few breastfeeding mothers at that point and some continued to nurse through their pregnancy while others chose to wean. How would I decide which was right for us?
My son was a very active, busy toddler and I found that breastfeeding soothed so many small ills, that I didn’t really want to stop. I knew that by stopping completely, I would have to work really hard to replace everything that breastfeeding meant to him. I remember going to a support group when he was just over a year and the support group leader listed all the things breastfeeding could be: food, drink, comfort, warmth, security, fun and games, routine, immune protection, medicine and so on. I knew it was helpful for soothing hurt feelings and when he got sick, all he wanted to drink was my milk. I knew that if I was to wean him, I would have to work harder at mothering him. For me the right decision was to continue breastfeeding.
I had a few normal worries. How would breastfeeding affect the developing fetus? I did a little bit of reading and found out that breastfeeding would not deprive the new baby of any nutrients. I would have to take even more care of myself and make sure I was eating well and enough and getting enough rest.
My body was changing. In the first trimester my nipples were more sensitive, so I decided to cut down on the length of time of our nursing sessions and also not offer the breast, but wait until he asked. However, sitting or lying down to nurse him when I was tired was a good way of looking after an active toddler and dealing with my own normal fatigue from pregnancy.
By the second trimester, I was starting to feel more energetic and wasn’t suffering from nipple sensitivity quite as much. It wasn’t always easy or comfortable to continue nursing, and sometimes I would feel restless while nursing. In my case the numerous benefits of continuing to breastfeed far outweighed the drawbacks.
By the third trimester, the volume of milk available for my toddler was much less. The milk had switched to colostrum in preparation for my new baby. My son became much less interested in nursing at that point and I thought he might wean altogether. I was still nursing him to sleep and once during the day. I was happy to know that breastfeeding would not send me into early labour. Only women who have risk factors for early labour may be told to wean. My health care provider told me that breastfeeding is far less likely than sex to start labour, so unless I was told to stop having sex, well I could continue to feed my toddler. By the end of my pregnancy I was hoping that the stimulation of the nipples might actually start to work and get labour going! That didn’t end up being the case, but I did have a smooth birth and gave birth to a lovely 4.5kg baby girl. She certainly wasn’t lacking in any nutrients! My nursing toddler had a baby sister and a new chapter of my motherhood began.