Question to Dr. Nancy:
Can you explain how you dealt with nursing while you were pregnant? Does the milk usually dry up or were you still able to nurse your children normally? Since I’m already 39 we plan another pregnancy right after the birth of our first child, but nursing this baby for as long as possible is so important to me, and I’m worried that once I’m pregnant again the milk will dry up. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks!
Comments from Dr. Nancy:
In terms of my personal experience. I have nursed through 2 pregnancies and it was tandem nursing for my second pregnancy. even with all of this nipple stimulation my milk supply did dry up. Some children will wean themselves at this point, mine chose to continue nursing regardless of milk supply. When I got pregnant with my second my first was 20 months old. When I got pregnant with my third my second was 22 months old. In both cases they were very avid nursers and still nursed every few hours throughout the day and night.
There is nothing you can do to guarantee that you will maintain milk supply through your next pregnancy. It is most common to lose milk supply because pregnancy hormones take over the nursing hormones to protect the most vulnerable child. Pregnancy and nursing hormones don’t work together and you can’t take the supplements to increase milk supply when you are pregnant. I know you would like to have your babies close together but it is likely that you will be sacrificing the older one’s opportunity for milk.
If you still really wanted to do this you could leave enough time between to stock up on pumped milk for while you are pregnant and then tandem nurse afterwards.
Milk supply usually wanes in the second trimester, so you may have enough in the first tri for baby #1. After that you could feed pumped milk, that you have stored up since #1′s birth. The challenge with this is that baby #1 (depending on the age when you conceive #2) may still be highly dependent on milk and it will be hard to predict how much s/he will need. The other challenge is that when babes have bottle introduced young they are more likely to wean from the breast. Many children wean from the breast when their mother is pregnant because there is no milk, some continue even though the milk is gone, more for comfort. If babe #1 needs to be getting milk from a bottle and there is none in the breast it is likely that they will wean from the breast and that will make tandem nursing after the second birth a non option. Often when they wean from the breast they forget how to latch and won’t nurse from the breast later even if there is milk. You could use a supplemental nursing system during pregnancy#2 so that baby #1 is still at the breast to receive all feedings and will less likely lose the ability to latch.
I feel like a barer of bad knew right now. The realities is that tandem nursing and nursing through pregnancy is a great ideal if you can make it happen but it is full of challenges and there are no guarantees.
My recommendation is to take it one baby at a time. I understand the urgency to conceive #2 because of maternal age but you need to evaluate how important it is for you that babe #1 have access to as much breast milk as possible. Could you wait until #1 is one year so s/he at least gets milk without interruption for the first year of life.
Ultimately nature will decide for you anyway. If you are exclusively breastfeeding it may not be possible to get pregnant right away. Nursing can be used as an effective birth control IF your baby is under 6 months, is nursing exclusively, on demand and through the night, nothing goes into its mouth, no bottles or pacifiers, etc., and you have not had your period yet. Also, if you have had problems with hormones and conceiving the first time nursing may also affect that.
The timing of the second baby will be something you will need to consider carefully based on your desires for the first baby. As with everything birth and baby we all need to recognize that we are not and cannot be in control. We need to surrender to nature and accept that what will be, will be, and even if we try to plan everything, it really isn’t up to us.
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