Breastfeeding when Pregnant

mother breast feeding her baby

I was not expecting to get pregnant with my second child so early on after having my first. I was still breastfeeding, enjoying motherhood and finally got my life back on track. I was not planning to be pregnant but yet I did not prevent it. I like to leave things up to God’s will and not control what is meant to be. Not to say that I don’t plan, organize or work hard to achieve things but it’s that I don’t prevent life from naturally taking it’s course. I have always lucked out not controlling my life aggressively but this time, I was very upset for letting the second pregnant to happen, especially because I am not financially stabled to raise another child. I was truly depressed to be pregnant (which is shameful) and did not tell my family until I was 5 months pregnant.

When I finally timidly told my family that I was pregnant, their response was worse than I had prepared or expected it. They were discouraged, raised more worries with comments such us “why did you let this happen“, “it’s going to be hard for you“, “when will you have the third child” and “you should stop having more children“. The worst comment was “you have to stop being selfish having many kids and provide for the child that you do have now“. 

I literally cried over and over again. I even blamed my husband for making me pregnant. I just though that his wish of having another child got me pregnant, which off course I know is a stupid thought to have. But my hormones and lack of support from my family were playing with my senses. On top of my family not supporting me, I was still breastfeeding and that in itself raised other comments.

When I had my first midwife appointment, I had expressed to her that I was still breastfeeding my one year old. She didn’t even raised an eyebrow, so I had to bluntly ask her if that was “ok”. I felt stupid having to ask if breastfeeding while pregnant was “ok”, especially because I knew in my heart it was perfectly normal and have done some research about it. But the pressure from my peers that glanced with disgust by the fact that I was breastfeeding while being pregnant had overpowered my knowledge.

I was now fighting against two causes that I firmly believed in, with the people that are closest to me. I was constantly defending my awareness of breastfeeding while pregnant and being pregnant with a toddler and not being the way society thinks “financially stable” is supposed to be like.

Yes, I don’t have a fancy car, but never the less I have a car that drives my family from and to places. I might not have a house of my own but I have a roof over my head and my child has always been fed, clothed and sheltered and most importantly secured, protected by it’s parents. So, basically my child has been blessed with everything, even though it’s not luxurious, it is enough to be thankful and blessed for. Especially in today’s society where too much and too little, I think can be a misfortune.

However, I do not wish to dwell in this post about society’s ideology of wealth vs poverty. I want to focus on the topic of breastfeeding while pregnant. For a good material research, it’s always a good idea to read kellymom website, there are extensive articles from breastfeeding to weaning and many other parenting topics. But I am here to offer my personal experience and advice.

Firstly, I advice that if you are breastfeeding and pregnant that you should eat very well and take your vitamins, especially your iron supplements daily. I did not follow my advice in the beginning of my pregnancy and felt like a complete zombie and my hormones were off the roof, from crying to worried to not being able to sleep. Once I started taking my iron vitamins which my midwife strongly recommended I did so, I felt a huge difference. I got my energy back, I was able to sleep soundly and most importantly my mood changed completely. Even though, I still do cry occasionally, I am not as sensitive as before. If by second trimester, you are still feeling fatigue with a lot of mood swings it’s very important to tell your doctor or midwife, it can be due to iron or other supplement deficiency.

Partly the reason why I did not want to wean my daughter immediately was because we were not ready yet to let this strong bond come to an end. She was still extremely depended on my milk and I felt as though taking her out could have some psychological impact, in other words she might feel resented. This was our chance to bond until her sister will arrive and take over most of the feeding.

Another reason why I kept going is because in the Quran, the book that I follow my religious practices advises women to feed their children up to 2 years of age. The word of God is the most valuable to me than any other opinion in the world. But I know that a lot of people rely on science and there is nothing wrong with that as well. I definitely researched about breastfeeding your toddler and again kellymom has good articles about the benefits that doctor’s have found in breastfeeding your toddler. In fact, in one of the articles kellymom went on to say that,”Indeed, weaning before the age of two has been found to raise a child’s risk of illness.2 American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a minimum of one year of breastfeeding, and the World Health Organization calls for two years or more”. If a woman’s body is capable of over going labor, why would it not be able to resist through breastfeeding when pregnant? Off course, each pregnancy is different and each family has their own values and believes. Regardless what you think is best for you and your family, no one should overstep.

And that was exactly how I felt, that people were educating or advising me of something they probably never had done themselves or have been in the same situation and have gone on a different route. It was as if I was committing a crime to my unborn child. All the sudden I was being selfish to my toddler for dividing my resources with her soon to be sister and unfair to my unborn child for giving most of my supplements to her big sister. Both of theses ideas were absurd and in my opinion absolutely ignorant and saddening. 

One symptom that I do feel is the occasional soreness in my breast. In the beginning the soreness occurred due to early pregnancy symptoms. Eventually that subsided, however, since I have been gradually trying to decrease the amount of feedings per day, my nipples were drying out due to not having to produce a lot of milk throughout the day.

Feeding your toodler or baby in a rocking position can get uncomfortable as your belly gets bigger throughout the pregnancy. I felt most comfortable either positioning my daughter to the side or I would lean to the side with pillows on my back and one pillow over my shoulder so I would rest my head on. This is also a good way to rest or take a nap while you are breastfeeding. A lot of the times, when my daughter was throwing a tantrum and was too tired to deal with it, I would offer her a feeding and I would be “all set”. Breastfeeding can be the best solution to a toddler’s tantrum. 

In conclusion I did not let my pregnancy determine whether or not I should wean my child. I knew I was totally capable, I had researched about it, talked to my midwife and finally prepared myself with the possibility of tandem feed until my daughter turns 2 years old in June.

I now feel that I can finally start weaning her, again, not because I am due to have a new baby but because I honestly feel that my toddler is ready. She is starting to rely less on me for things and wanting to do everything on her own. She finds adventurous getting dressed and undress. You can see that she gets joy from holding my hands while walking instead of riding on the stroller. Taking the stairs while holding mommy’s hand is now her new playground. I am enjoying this bond that I have with my daughter, letting overcome her boundaries and seeing how much and how quickly she is growing. She doesn’t need as much feeding as she did before and she is telling me this through her daily actions. In the past 8 months I was able to cut from 3 daily feedings (morning, nap and night time) to 2 feedings a day (morning and night time). On the weekends she is not at daycare so if I am at home during her nap time, I will feed her for 5-10 minutes. However, during the weekdays I have subsided her feedings to once a day at night.

She occasionally asks during the weekends for a couple of feedings throughout the day. I normally either distract her by playing or giving her a snack. I am trying to cut on the night feeding gradually by lessening the amount of time per feeding at night. For example, I used to feed her at night for 30 minutes than I went to 15 and slowly 5-10 minutes. The success of decreasing the amount of time feeding your child all depends on the mood of the day. Sometimes she is very tired and falls asleep immediately other times she is wide wake and will take her time to fall asleep. On the days that she is still alert and does not want to go to bed, I do not feed her for longer instead I feed her for that 5-10 minutes and I might rock her in my arms for another 5-10 minutes. I found that the times that she cries after I placed her in her crib, is not because she wants milk, it’s because she still wants to cuddle more.

It is very important that when weaning your child that you continue that warm snugly feeling that breastfeeding offers. As the child gets older, they are not looking for your milk but rather the snuggle, the comfort and the security that breastfeeding provides. Reading a book also works wonders, as they get older they find the cartoons and the stories amusing.  I found my daughter reading books in her gibberish language while laying down with a black over her.

Moreover,you raise your child to the best of your ability. Mother’s are humans too, they are not a freak of nature. We get tired, we make mistakes and we have our days. It is important to know that your kid loves  you no matter if you don’t give them the devout attention because you are tired and overwhelmed. Breastfeeding did help a lot during those days that I was almost immobile and was not able to play with my daughter, I was still able to continue to give her emotional needs.

So if you want to breastfeed when pregnant or tandem feed, don’t let anyone shy you away from your decision and go for it.

Best of luck!

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