Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Breastfeeding during pregnancy

Since Shira was born, several people urged me to start using birth control. The reasons suggested were various: my body needs time to recover after a pregnancy; having a baby and a child under two is nearly impossible to manage (I wonder, what about people who have twins then?) and finally, if I fall pregnant while breastfeeding, I will either run out of milk on my own, or must wean immediately.

Now, I'm not under an illusion that it's impossible to fall pregnant again while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding may reduce the chances of another pregnancy, but I have heard of more than enough women who became pregnant while breastfeeding, even exclusively, when their baby was still very small. I might find out I'm one of those very fertile women. And of course it would be very sad to wean my little Shira too soon, or to switch to formula. But is it true that breastfeeding during pregnancy is impossible?

From the La Leche League website:

"Relatives, friends and health care professionals may express doubts about breastfeeding while pregnant. Their concerns might include that you would be risking the health of your unborn baby. It may be reassuring to know that in a normal pregnancy there is no evidence that continuing to breastfeed will deprive your unborn child of necessary nutrients."

"Women who breastfeed while pregnant often find their milk supply decreases around the fourth or fifth month. If your breastfeeding baby is less than a year old, watch his weight gain to be sure he is getting enough to eat. It's also not uncommon for the flavor of your milk to change. These changes may prompt some older toddlers to nurse less often or to wean entirely."

My mother told me that when she got her period again (I was 7 months old), I immediately sensed the change in flavor of her milk, and liked it far less than before, and then gradually self-weaned. I'm not sure I can have any control over the flavor of my milk in case I get my period again, and/or become pregnant, but I heard there are some supplements that can boost milk supply. I plan to research this if need arises - I'm still very new to breastfeeding, as you know.

Obviously, being pregnant and nursing would put a strain on a woman's body, which is why adequate nutrition and proper rest become even more important. If I become pregnant when Shira isn't at all close to reasonable weaning age, I plan to make every effort to continue breastfeeding her during and even after pregnancy.

Once again, I will pass a question to you ladies: do any of you have experience of nursing an older baby while pregnant again? Did any of you nurse a newborn and an older sibling/s? How did it work out for you, and what recommendations can you give?

72 comments:

Otter Mom said...

I have one child only, so this wouldn't apply to me. But my niece just had another baby and she was still breastfeeding when she got pregnant with this one. She continued through the pregnancy with no problems, although the first one was at the age where they were starting to introduce "solid" food to her. It's possible, I think you might just have to make sure that you are getting enough nutrients yourself but there should not be a problem to breastfeed while pregnant, if that is what happens.

Anne Kennedy said...

I just physically couldn't do it, unhappily. But as for boosting milk supply, I always try to take a flaxseed oil pill every day I'm nursing. This is far easier than my doctor's suggestion that I drink a beer every day which I don't like, and is impractical when you have a lot of little children running around. Flax seed is good for you anyway, and you can get the oil in pill form. They are very large to swallow but work extremely well. Congratulations on your lovely baby!

Beth M. said...

I'm 17 weeks pregnant and just weaned my daughter, who turned 2 years old a few weeks ago. The main problem I have experienced with nursing during pregnancy is sore breasts, but that is a problem I could (and would) have dealt with if my daughter had been much younger and still in need of my milk. Other than that, I experienced no problems with breastfeeding while pregnant.

There is no medical need to wean during pregnancy UNLESS you are experiencing a complicated, risky pregnancy or have a history of preterm labor. Nursing during pregnancy is similar to having sexual relations while pregnant - both cause your body to produce oxytocin, which is the hormone that triggers contractions. However, the amount of oxytocin produced at these times is not enough to begin true labor unless you are already at the end of your pregnancy and your body is ready.

You should also be aware that hormonal birth control, such as the pill, can affect your milk supply. The hormones may also be secreted in your milk, which could affect Shira.

Although there are a few rare women who get pregnant very easily and very early while breastfeeding, the average return of fertility for a woman who is practicing ecological breastfeeding is around 14 months. If you fall anywhere near the average, that should make the spacing quite manageable. Ecological breastfeeding means exclusive breastfeeding, frequent nursings on demand, nursing at night, lots of mother/baby togetherness, and no use of pacifiers or other artificial nipples. I personally did not begin ovulating again until my daughter was 18 months old, and I know many other women who have gone that long or longer. I got pregnant (intentionally) when my daughter was 21 months old.

If you do get pregnant soon, and wind up with two very small children, you will find a way to manage. You may need more help from friends and relatives, and you may have to relax your standards for housework even further, but plenty of other moms have done it and survived. I know one mom who had twins, and then got pregnant right away and had a third baby just a year later. She needed a lot of help at first from her family, but she's surviving and the children are now 3 and 4 years old.


If you feel that you need some sort of birth control, you might look into Natural Family Planning (NFP). I use the techniques taught by Couple to Couple League (CCL) which is a Catholic organization, but their recommendations can easily be used by those of other religious backgrounds. I don't know all the details of Orthodox Jewish law, but I imagine you could make use of NFP. NFP is also very useful for trying to conceive, and for generally being aware of what is going on with your cycle.

Beth M. said...

Anne-

You might want to consider getting a new doctor... beer does NOT increase milk supply, and in some cases actually reduces it. Here's it a link from La Leche League on that topic:

http://www.llli.org/FAQ/alcohol.html

I wouldn't take any further breastfeeding advice from a doctor who is so uninformed.

Thia said...

I nursed 5 months into my second pregnancy and 6 into my third. Each time I had to stop b/c it was too painful. My milk supply also dropped dramatically. As far as spacing, I really think each woman is different per her needs. I have had babies in 2004, 2006, 2008, they're approx 20 months apart. I know that my body really needs a rest now.

Persuaded said...

Oh, I am so glad you asked this question... I can answer!;) I nursed all the way through my second pregnancy and nursed both babes until my oldest was weaned. I also nursed two little ones following the adoption of my third child. It can be done, and for me, it wasn't all that difficult. The main problem that I encountered wasn't one of nutrition or energy, but was something I didn't expect at all. During the first trimester of the pregnancy I found the physical process of nursing to be extremely... well irritating, for lack of a better word. I was so sensitive and when my dd would nurse I felt like I'd jump out of my skin sometimes, yikes! Emotionally that was very difficult for me, as nursing times were always such a cozy time of closeness. I coped by limiting the length of the nursing sessions, and lots of *prayer.* Things got better during the pregnancy, and surprise of surprises, all irritation was instantly gone after childbirth. I have found tandem nursing (the nursing of both the older and newborn) to be an absolutely ***wonderful** way of welcoming the wee newcomer without discombobulating the "older" baby. I can say with complete honesty that we never had any of the jealousy issues that are said to be inevitable. I credit the tandem nursing with that... well, and the grace of God!;)

blessings to you my dear((hugs))

Mrs. Anna T said...

Beth,

About hormonal birth control - I know, and that's just one more reason I'm opposed to using it!

As for NFP, as far as I know, Jewish rules of family purity are more or less like NFP *in favor* of conceiving - since all physical touch is prohibited during menstruation and 7 days after it, it's easy to see that the marital reunion is scheduled just as the woman is at, or near her peak fertility. A Jewish couple practicing NFP effectively is likely to have only a few days together each month.

Keren said...

I am not one of those "fertile women" who gets pregnant when her baby is about 2 months, but we did not believe we should do anything to "prevent" our next pregnancy, regardless of what type of fertility I have.

I have a little girl who is 13 months old. My period returned when she was 11 months old, and I am "guessing" :) we conceived when she was around 11-12 months. (We just found out--so excited!)

I am still nursing our 13 month old once in the morning and once before she goes to bed. She has not seemed to have a distaste--at ALL! In fact, a few weeks ago, she would just really want to nurse for long periods of times even when the milk was gone. My period returned the day my father passed away, so she may have had distaste, but all the things going on may have wanted to make her nurse more.

Anyway, I think nursing did prevent my cycle from returning sooner, but I don't think that my period or pregnancy has created a negative effect for my daughter.

I nursed exclusively up until around 7 months, and the she began to eat a few solid foods. Also, we did not use a pacifier and she didn't suck her thumb; nursed on a schedule, too. (Helped her sleep through the night at 6 weeks.) Just thought I'd share those fact, since they can also have effects.

(We need more Shira pictures, please! ;))

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I got pregnant again just 4 weeks after my son was born. Yes, my babies were 9 months and 29 days apart! Unfortunately, when I got pregnant my milk dried up. As much as I wanted to nurse my baby I couldn't. It was, however, well worth it! How could anyone say no to a sweet new baby? Keep nursing, avoid birth control and let God decide.

Good luck,
Mrs. Melody

Keren said...

Oh, I should add, that like Persuaded, it has been very sensitive, and at times I suppose, "irritating," and like Persuaded, I have often prayed through those times. Nothing unbearable, just uncomfortable.

Beth M. said...

I see what you mean, it would be difficult to use NFP in conjuction with Jewish rules. However, if you (and your husband) had very strong reasons for avoiding pregnancy, you could possibly make it work. It doesn't sound like you're in that situation now though.

Also, even if you don't use it for contraception, learning your body's signs of fertility will help you to identify when your body is ready to conceive again. If it seems like your fertility is returning earlier than you are ready to conceive, then you would have an opportunity to reconsider the birth control issue.

All that said, if you want more children and aren't terribly worried about having them close together, there's no reason to bother with any form of birth control.

Tikva said...

i nursed during pregnancy twice. both kids self weaned while i was pregnant. i maintained lactation infertility for a long time with each child.... NFP would leave a tiny window of opportunity! but really, anna if you learn to read your cervical mucus it will be a great help to you.

Everybody's Mama said...

I am a big believer in breastfeeding as long as possible and allowing child-led weaning. Allowing weaning to take place naturally as the child gets older just seems to make it such an easy process.
I became pregnant while nursing my 18 month old. She still enjoyed nursing very much so I was reluctant to stop. Thankfully my doctor was supportive! I had no problems other than a little nipple soreness during the first trimester. The milk changed taste at some point and she actually bagan to prefer a certain side. She weaned the week before the baby was born. After the birth, she occasionally still nursed for comfort but it never presented any problem. If anything, it seemed to reassure her of her place in the family.
Much of it is determined by your mindset. That baby weaned at around 3 years old. It was such a natural process that I am not even sure exactly when it happened! I am now nursing the third out of my 4 children. I would not even give it a second thought if I found out I was pregnant. Don't worry...it is NOT a given that you have to wean with pregnancy as long as the pregnancy is uncomplicated. I would worry much more about using a hormonal form of birth control! Oh, and BTW I have never personally noticed any apparent change of taste with a period. However, it does change according to what you eat so if cravings at that time create a change of diet that may be the cause. :)

Morethnrubies1 said...

I got pregnant again when my firstborn was only 8 months, practicing "nearly ecological" breastfeeding (we did use a pacifier) I managed to nurse all throughout pregnancy with no real problems...other than the sore nipples and occasional emotinal um, craziness. I am now nursing both my young toddler and 4 month old...I find it helps in mothering two young ones to feed them both at the same time, it keeps the toddler out of trouble and now they actually hold hands and play a bit while nursing.

If you do find youself expecting again, Have courage you will learn how to cope with two, it often feels like I simply have twins at two different developmental stages.

Do be sure and find a healthcare provider who supports your decision!

sara said...

I have two children and am currently twenty-two weeks pregnant. I weaned each of my two children when they were about twenty months old and when I was about four months pregnant. (I just finished weaning my younger child.) I chose to wean only because it became very uncomfortable to me -painful and a little bit, well, just weird. (I can't explain the weird feeling - it just didn't feel the same physically.)

The child I just weaned really loved to nurse but even he came to the conclusion that he was not getting enough milk for his efforts and that it tasted different.

My midwife says that at sixteen weeks of pregnancy is a good time to wean because the milk starts to change flavor then. It's also when I start to become uncomfortable.

These are my experiences and they may be unique to me, but I hope the information is useful to you.

Love Abounds At Home said...

Once I found out I was pregnant and at the time I had a 3 month old that I was nursing. After about 2 months, it seemed as if my milk decreased over night. One good thing though, I had a lot of milk in the freezer that I pumped during those months. I did have a hard time getting my baby to take the bottle nipple.
You might want to consider pumping extra milk and storing it. So that if you do become pregnant while nursing and encounter any problems, Shira can still get the nutrition from your milk.

Ways of Zion said...

I haven't personally, but a close friend has, and she found that she could until she was about 4-5 mths and then her milk dried up. Of course that could also be because she was so exhausted!

Good post, thanks!

sara said...

Oh, and weaning for each of my children took about two months. I found other ways to comfort them, offered them cups to drink from and let my husband take a more active role in cuddling them (he was already doing a pretty good job of that anyway).

Anonymous said...

I have three, the first two 18m apart, the second two are 15m apart.

I think the "difficulty" of raising three small children centers primarily around the question "What kind of lifestyle do you want to live?"

Do you want to have 'a life'? Um, you probably are going to worry. BUT, if you can lose your life and find it again in caring for your family, you will rise to the challenge and do just fine.

I nursed the first trimester with my eldest and well into the second trimester with my second, as he was much younger. When my milk started to dry up, it became painful. I weaned my eldest because he would go the entire weekend without thinking to nurse, and I dried up. The same with my second, except he always thought to nurse in the middle of the night, never during the day.

I love nursing my little girl!

You cannot follow "the world's" example for raising children if you are going to have more than 1-2 and not carefully spaced for your covience. Each of my children can't have the usual amount of toys or they would multiply too fast, etc. We teach and train our children to be obedient and fun to be around very young so we sometimes get "dirty" looks when we expect things of our little ones everyone seems to think we should be tolerating because it's "just a stage".

Just some thoughts.

~Ashley~
www.homesteadblogger.com/Jonash2004

Mau said...

I've done both, and successfully! We have six children and I was still nursing a toddler while pregnant with each of four of our children.

I once read, years ago, that nursing while pregnant actually reduces the likelihood of miscarriage (I wish I could remember where I read that, possibly a study done by LLL).

I suppose the most important thing that would limit nursing while pregnant would be pre-term contractions. Many women must stop nursing while pregnant because of contractions, but if you do not have them you should be fine.

Another thing to consider it that pregnancy may change the consistency of your breast milk or even change the taste of your milk, and may lead to voluntary weaning of an older child. None of my children seemed to have a problem with any change in my milk.

I successfully nursed a toddler and newborn for several months, while my toddler adjusted to the idea of his new baby sister. He was only 21 months, but was very patient and would wait his turn to nurse. He enjoyed the increased milk supply ;-) Eventually, he gave way to his baby sister and voluntarily self-weaned. I would not have done it differently for the world!

My advice to you would be, if you would like to continue nursing while pregnant, try it. Give it your best effort. It is doable. I know you are a pretty self-aware young woman and know your limitations fairly easily. Be on guard for hard, pre-term contractions, but otherwise you should have no real difficulty.

Rina said...

Anna,

I have nursed while pregnant, but I have also notice a significant drop in breastmilk. This doesn't mean, however, that the baby won't get enough nutrients. Once baby is past 6 months, we suppliment with solid foods and organic goats milk, and they do just fine.

I also wanted to encourage you that if you do get pregnant soon, having two babies under the age of two is not at all as scary as it might seem (or others would make it out to be). My oldest was six months old when I got pregnant with my second. To be honest, I cried. I was so sure I wouldn't be able to handle it. But the adjustment was so much easier than I ever expected it to be, and caring for "two under two" wasn't difficult at all! When I became pregnant with my third when my second was nine months old, I wasn't concerned at all. And there was no need to be!

From someone who has "been there, done that" I can tell you that if God sees fit to give you another baby soon, He will meet all of baby Shira's needs, and yours too!

Elijah's Mommy said...

My midwife gave me some tea called "mother's milk" to boost my milk supply.

I have a friend who nursed a baby during and after pregnancy. Now she nurses them both. So it is possible.

Lori said...

My daughters are 22 months apart. I got my cycle back when my first was six months and HAD NOT started solids yet. During my pregnancy my milk went down a little but I never lost it. There were days where I thought I couldn't handle it, nursing was driving me CRAZY, but usually within the next day or two the feeling passed. I assumed it was a hormonal thing.
After the baby was born my toddler started nursing ALL THE TIME. She loved having my milk back to full force, but she was never much of an eater anyway.
Now she's 2 years and 8 months and the baby is 10 months. The oldest still doesn't eat much and nurses a lot. On the days I can't handle it I just nurse and count to ten. She knows she has to stop at ten and very very rarely gets upset about it. Oh, and this time I still don't have my cycle back.
However, I know it has been hard on my body. I'm having lots of teeth issues and am working hard to repair the damage, but we're in the process of moving and I'm not trying as hard as I should to avoid processed foods and sugars. Hopefully once we get settled in I can get back on track. Anyhow, that's my experience. I don't mind it and most days I actually find it easier just to nurse my picky toddler rather than try to figure out what she wants to eat. We can't afford to keep lots of variety around the house, but she never gets tired of nursing.

Alycia said...

My son was seventeen months old when I became pregnant with my daughter. I continued to nurse him throughout the pregnancy and for about five months after she was born. My milk supply actually surged for the first three months of my pregnancy, but my milk did virtually dry up after that.

It's important to realize that even when a child is getting very few calories during pregnancy, he or she is still getting enough to continue benefiting the immune system.

Most of the herbs that are the most useful for boosting milk supply are contraindicated during pregnancy, and the gentler ones that normally helped my supply prior to pregnancy did nothing for me anymore. This was not much of an issue since my son was older, but I know I would have been concerned with a younger baby.

As an aside, I noticed supply dips just before my period started each month. My son would get fussy and wake up more at night. This is fairly normal and due to hormones.

I agree that we need more pictures of your sweet daughter!

Joanna said...

I became pregnant with Anna when Lily was 8 months old and still nursing almost exclusively. Lily nursed just fine until she self-weaned at 13 months.

Anna was born Jan. 13 and is now 7 weeks old. Having an infant and a toddler under 2 years old is not the easiest thing I've ever done, but by no means would I ever tell anyone that it's something to be avoided. Lily says "hold her" and kisses Anna and loves on her a lot. I have five daughters; Lily and Anna are the two closest in age. I expect that they will be fantastic friends once Anna gets older.

Raven said...

Hi Anna,

I got pregnant while also doing "nearly ecological" breastfeeding (pacifier, and I didn't always take a nap during the day) when my oldest was 9 months. I nursed her until 13 months, when between the sore nipples and the "nursing aversion" I developed (the irritation other mommies have described) I concluded it was time to wean. I took it slow, over the course of a couple weeks, dropping feedings but letting her nurse if she got hysterical. We weaned to solids and cow's milk (she was introduced to solids around 7 months) but I'd use goat milk if lactose is a problem.

Really I think we could have continued to nurse, but my milk dried up/turned to colostrum at about 5 months pregnant and my daughter's dry sucking really made me antsy and resentful. So I would just go with whatever you feel is best for your baby, should you be in that situation; you will know whether she needs to nurse exclusively etc. or whether you can gently wean.

It certainly won't hurt the unborn baby; my midwife put my mind to rest about that and explained that my body would dissolve itself if necessary to feed the kiddos. She then proceeded to tell me how much to eat to make sure I don't dissolve! (It's a lot.)

Relax and enjoy your little one. God knows what He's doing; if you get pregnant again, He'll enable you to handle it.

Anonymous said...

I have lost so much weight while breastfeeding (nearly 10 lbs past my pre-pregnancy weight) that I doubt I would even get my period back at this point. Not that I'm looking to get pregnanat right now.

I hope this is merely spectulation on your part and that you are enjoying time with the baby you have and not just looking to the next one (as I have seen several friends do)


And yes, breastfeeding is NOT birthcontrol!!

Mrs. Anna T said...

I would call it "preparation", rather than "speculation". Certainly I'm enjoying every day with our sweet Shira, but it's important to think ahead to a possible future pregnancy. I got pregnant VERY quickly last time, so it might happen again.

Tammy said...

I nursed my firstborn while I was pregnant with my second. I took prenatal vitamins and tried to eat well. My main issue was dealing with nausea my first trimester. Somehow, her sweet baby hair didn't smell so sweet to me anymore, and it was difficult at times. But once I got past that first trimester, I was fine, and she was a happy girl. :o)

Toward the end of the pregnancy, I would let her nurse, and use the contractions I would have as opportunity to practice breathing, relaxing, and getting ready for the birth.

She continued to nurse after the birth of her little sister, but by then it was only in the morning and at night before bed. She was 18 months old then, and did not wean completely until she was two.

My only recommendations are to eat quality foods and drink plenty of water. Oh, and nursing the older one on demand might be too much burden on your body. It doesn't hurt to have a set time and place for nursing the older one.

Beth M. said...

Annonymous-

Breastfeeding IS birth control! It definitely affects and postpones fertility. It's not 100% effective, but then neither is any other form of birth control, except for complete abstinence. And, like any other birth control, it's effectiveness varies depending on how you use it - formula supplements, pacifiers, nursing schedules, etc. significantly reduce the effectiveness. The effectiveness also varies from woman to woman, which is true of other forms of birth control as well. I know several mothers who conceived their children while on the pill - and they hadn't forgotten to take it! Does that mean the pill isn't birth control? No, it's still birth control, just not very effective for them. Same goes for breastfeeding.

Homemakers Cottage said...

Anna, we space our children naturally (without the use of synthetic birth control) so I can certainlly relate to your questions about breastfeeding, getting pregnant again, etc.

My periods started up again when Emily (our 2nd child) was 10 mos old- I was nursing her a lot, although she was sleeping through the night (most of the time) and eating solids. I didn't notice a change in her nursing when my cycles started up again, so I'm not sure if it affected my milk or not. I got pregnant with our 3rd baby 4 months later. I nursed Emily part time for 2 more months then weaned her.

From what I've read- and from my own experience- a woman is less likely to become pregnant again within the first 6 months if you're nursing full time, if your baby is waking up to nurse during the night, and if you delay any supplemental feedings (such as cereals, juice, etc) until after Baby is 6 mos old. Of course, every woman is different so this certainly isn't a hard and fast law!

Having little ones close together is a challenge, but it isn't impossible. Our two youngest, Emily and Keith, are 23 months apart.

I echo the last commentor- breastfeeding is definitely a nursing mama's best friend... I lost all my baby weight with all 3 of our children simply by breastfeeding and eating healthy.

~Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

Anonymous said...

There is a theory, backed up by at least some research, that breastfeeding on demand (as opposed to scheduled feedings) acts as a quite effective (although not foolproof) form of contraception. Since you seem to be doing this, you will probably gain that benefit at least until Shira is old enough for you to consider weaning her.

And while I understand and respect your stance on hormonal birth control, and breastfeeding, please note that thousands of women have used such forms of birth control with good results--no terrible disasters within their bodies or families. We mustn't get emotional about these things--chemical contraception works well and, for many (not all) women, has few side effects. Similarly, some women nurse, some do not; some schedule feedings, some do not; some nurse for two years, some for four months. All women who are concerned and devoted mothers will end up with more-or-less the same sort of healthy, well-adjusted child regardless of which approach they use. Raising "good" children is about far, far more than bits of our bodies and what courses through them.

Best of luck to you.

Gombojav Tribe said...

I don't have time to read all the comments, so I hope I'm not repeating information you already have. But, yes, it's completely possible to nurse and be pregnant. One thing that I have found very important in being able to do so is to really watch your calorie intake! It's takes a LOT to keep up milk supply and support the unborn baby. Don't worry....nature will always choose to support the baby in the womb first by reducing your milk supply. So the unborn is not in danger. I've found I need about 3,500 calories a day to maintain both.

I've nursed in four of my six pregnancy and tandem nursed the children afterwards. First I nursed Meg and Israel together. Then I nursed Israel and Luc together. Then I nursed Luc and Caesar together. It was actually nice to nurse two. I didn't get engorged after birth because the older child was able to nurse very efficiently. And it smoothed the transition for the older child by helping him not to feel displaced by the new baby.

Hope that helps!

Joslyn said...

My brother and I are only eighteen months apart. (My mom got pregnant with my brother nine months after she had me.) She wasn't on any form of birth control. She also didn't breastfeed, because in the late sixties, that wasn't really encouraged and the hospitals pushed formula. So I can't comment on that aspect.

However, regarding the close-spacing issue, she said that she enjoyed having two children eighteen months apart. There were very few times when I remember witnessing my mom lose her temper. She was in her late twenties and didn't have family close by, yet she managed and even made it look easy. (And I don't think she was as fit or nutrionally aware as you seem to be.)

She said that while it was a lot of work when we were little, once we got a bit older, we could entertain each other, and that actually made things easier in some ways.

Anyway, she was in her late twenties, had no family help and wasn't an especially high energy person, yet she did it and enjoyed it.

Mrs. Reverend Doctor said...

With baby #1 I never got my cycle back for a long time with baby #2 I got them back at 6 week PP and I was ecologically nursing. However I had horrible morning sickness with both and really couldn't keep enough fluids down to keep myself going not to mention nurrsing a toddler and the unborn baby.

Aelwyn said...

Just a word on having children close together. Although I have no experience myself in this, most people I know who have large families say that it is actually better to have children close together. It is difficult in the beginning, but the children tend to be close and serve as playmates for each other.

My mother had eight children. The first five were quite close in age. Each one was between 13 and 18 months apart from his/her closest siblings. My mother has always said that, since she kept to a schedule in the home, it was not that difficult. They kept each other entertained.

The last three of us were more spread out and had older siblings who doted on and entertained us.

This doesn't meant that there were not difficulties or a lot of work. My mother had three babies in cloth diapers at one time. But, according to her, it was a very positive experience.

Everly Pleasant said...

All I can say is that my cousin is nursing her seven-month-old and is also several weeks into another pregnancy. I haven't heard yet of any complications or concerns and both babies seem to be healthy so far!

Bethany Hudson said...

With my first, I breastfed until 11 months (she self-weaned). My menstruation returned when she was 9 months old, and she was an avid solid-food eater starting about 6 or 7 months (we exclusively breastfed before that). If this next baby doesn't love solid food as much as my first (I mean she LOVED it!), I wonder if my ammenorrhea will last longer... in any case, I think I can probably safely anticipate just under two year spacing for many of my children, as this seems to be my regular fertility rhythm, and my husband and I are still so young that age is not likely to factor into our fertility yet.

So, I wasn't pregnant while breastfeeding, but I am going to be the mom of two under two (at least for two months!), and while the first trimester with a toddler and no family or friends nearby to help me during the day, it was a challenge. But, I just froze a lot of meals and took things easy, and I managed--I would do it all over again for the blessing of carrying this baby boy in my womb. Just think, if I'd used birth control, I would never get to know him!

~Bethany

sewbusy said...

I am still nursing and just "started" again at 16 months. I hope to be pregnant again before another one starts! I plan to nurse into my next pregnancy. I will nurse as long as I can. My midwife tells me it is WONDERFUL to have a toddler to help with engorgement just after a baby is born. That alone seems like a really good reason to keep it up.
I take liquid chlorophyll to increase my supply. I was amazed at how well it works. A company, http://www.beeyoutiful.com/ makes one that has mint in it that soothes the stomache wonderfully. I have a feeling I will be taking it often during the next pregnancy. You could use any though. It worked better for me than even Mama's milk tea for increasing my supply.
Oh, I LOVE NURSING!!! And my little one LOVES it too!!

MamaOlive said...

I am "very fertile" and have gotten pregnant while nursing 4 times. The last time I was still nursing exclusively, and I was able to tell a difference in quantity and quality of milk. The nursing baby lost weight and we began really pushing table food, while supplementing with nursing until she was ready to wean. (All my babies have weaned themselves sometime between 9 and 11 months.) The new baby was quite healthy when he was born. I didn't lose a pound.
I'm not careful with my diet at any time, though I do try to improve, and all the children have been very healthy in spite of my lack. (I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs, but I like my dessert.) One thing I remember reading several years ago is that oatmeal can help milk supply, so I developed a taste for it. I don't know if oatmeal deserves all the credit, but I do have more milk now than I did when I was starting out in motherhood.

Marianne said...

Yes, I breast fed into the sixth month of my last pregnancy. No problems with reduced milk but then my toddler was nursing for comfort mainly. The advantage was that my milk came in very quickly once my baby was born.
There is a lovely book by Sheila Kipley called Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing which might be of interest.

sewbusy said...

I had one more thought, on birth control. Don't you think our God who created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it is big enough to decide the when, where and how of having a baby??? We used NFP and decided we were "ready". God had other plans and we miss our little boy terribly. We decided to just trust God COMPLETELY and He blessed us with the daughter we had been praying for for YEARS! She is a healing salve strait from the hand of God.I would much rather trust God who knows and sees everything then myself who sees such a SMALL part of the whole picture! He does have the whole world in His hand and he even sees when a sparrow falls. I love Him!

Marianne said...

..an added thought. For those who are very worried about return of fertility during breastfeeding but do not wish to use birth control, Marquette University has devised a method of tracking fertility return with a fertility monitor as an added tool to breastfeeding NFP.
http://nfp.marquette.edu/sc_breastfeed_monitor.php

Betsy said...

I am pregnant with my third child and the timing/ages are the same for this child as the last one, born almost exactly 18 months apart. I found that nursing and pregnant was harder, but not impossible on my body. Like you said, I think it makes nutrient dense foods and proper rest even more essential. No slacking off for me! I weaned my first baby at about 14 months when I felt I was getting overloaded with the next pregnancy demands, and I expect I will have to do that again. It wasn't the 2-3 years per child like I wanted, but God directs our paths, does he not? My children are clearly healthy and growing very well.

I felt more comfortable weaning my child because I knew I had a supply of fresh cow and goat milk from healthy animals (i.e. not the confinement-kept and pasteurized-to-hide-the-contamination milk from the supermarket). You talked about getting some goats in an earlier post, maybe that would be a good idea? You could share the responsibility with some neighbors and the milk benefits should supply both families. Just an idea!

S. Belle said...

I got pregnant with my daughter when my son was almost 3 months old. They are 11 months and one week apart. There are challenges, but it's manageable for the most part.

I nursed my son throughout my entire pregnancy, and still nurse him now. He's 17 months old, and my daughter just turned 6 months old. I have more than enough milk to breastfeed her exclusively, and nurse him about twice a day. It works out well.

Sally said...

Hi Anna,
I really enjoy your blog and the perspective you bring from your culture and faith.
I am currently 30 weeks pregnant with our third and my second, 19 months old, still nurses once a day or so. He went through a "refusal period" when I was 8 weeks pregnant or so, and I attributed it to hormonal changes, but it passed and he still briefly nurses some nights and most mornings. My midwife said it's fine, and just advised that if it gives me contractions before 38 weeks I should keep him away then! So far, so good though. My first weaned on his own when I was 3 months pregnant, but I'm kind of excited to see how nursing a toddler and baby will work this May! We'll see if my second keeps it up (or if I can keep it up with my ever-growing belly!).

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention this, I'm very newly pregnant with number 3. I'm still nursing number 2, who is just shy of 8 months old.

I started my period again at about 5 months, and had one light cycle, and one normal cycle prior to this cycle where I became pregnant.

So far I've noticed I am more sensitive and can't withstand the all night nursing as well since becoming pregnant, but other than that I haven't had any problems so far. It's not terrible, just a bit uncomfortable when she's latching on/off.

My daughter seems fine with my milk's taste and is nursing on her normal schedule. I've noticed I've had less nausea this time around, but that isn't necessarally because of the nursing.

I plan to nurse my daughter until she's 1, which will naturally coincide with the middle of my pregnancy.

I feel like this is very natural and am excited to meet number 3!

BellaMama said...

I've nursed while pregnant with the next child with all my children (6). I've also gone without menses after my boys (3) until right before the next baby came :) I've wanted to tandem nurse, but it's not in God's plan for me. I have found that eating high protein meals (which do include your veggies) 1.5 gallons of water per day(no other drinks-that's for my weight of around 150 while preg & nursing & exercising) as well as red raspberry leaf with nettle tea. I would also eat about 1/4 tsp of fennel seeds 3-4 times per day-that increases the milk and it's nutrients. Eating smaller meals more often (for me it's every 2 hrs almost around the clock!!) will help you lose weight, continue nursing and carry the next baby!
This is what works for me and a good rule of thumb for women in general, especially those who eat no white flour or sugar or processed foods.
I hope you find good info throughout all these comments!! Don't worry about the next baby, prepare whatever you decide then just enjoy the time with your daughter. God made a wonderful release when it's time to wean-it may start to hurt, but listen to your body and it will be an easy transition!
Blessings always!

Kacie said...

I saw something in an above comment that struck me: hormonal birth control will get into breastmilk, and that will be passed on to the baby.

Of course! Why didn't I think of that? It's frightening to think of how the hormones might affect my son.

Good thing I don't use birth control! :)

And, wow, you must know some busybodies. How dare someone tell a woman that she'd better be using birth control!

Anonymous said...

To Beth--for a woman looking to prevent a pregnancy while breastfeeding, she should use another form of BC...as a woman's cylce can resume at any time, as evidenced by the comments here.

Mrs. Lindblom said...

I'm nursing my second baby and not using birth control to prevent another pregnancy. I breastfed my son until he was 10 months old and didn't resume my period for several more months. I became pregnant with his sister when he was about 15 months old.

HisBeloved said...

I am now 37 weeks pregnant and am still nursing my 12 month old daughter 2-3 times a day. I love nursing her, aside from irritation while nursing sometimes, which I am still trying to overcome. Until about a month ago, she was still nursing 5 times a day. I haven't noticed any change in supply or any signs that the taste has changed.

I have also had some trouble with my teeth and found out that I need to be taking an extra calcium supplement to make sure I am getting enough for all three of us. Other than that, make sure you take your prenatals and eat healthy, which you seem to do anyway.

One benefit that my midwife mentioned is that if you have trouble with engorgement, you will have two babies to nurse instead of just one! :D

I hope all this helps.

Anonymous said...

I did, Anna...for a while, that is. I didn't nurse very long beyond the point of learning that I was pregnant again. I probably should have, most likely could have, but I thought it would be bad for me. It wasn't until I was nursing our third child, & visiting the lactation nurse about a concern I was having, that I was told I could have gone ahead & nursed through pregnancy. Baby suffered no ill effects, & happily went to the bottle, so I suppose I have no real regrets, but I did wonder about it for a while.

Brenda

Kelli said...

Hi Anna,
I nursed Grace until I was 8 months pregnant with Emily and then I weaned her. If I had to do it over again, I would have nursed both of them though. By the time they are older (12+months) it's not like they are nursing for long periods of time anyways. I never had a problem with my milk supply.
~Kelli

Melinda said...

I was nursing my first daughter when I became pregnant again. She was 11 months old. I didn't know I was pregnant yet when I started to experience a very sad nursing aversion toward my daughter. It was mostly at night, and I did feel a lot of breast pain nursing her. This was all before I was 2 months pregnant with my second daughter.
My older dd was dead set on nursing, though, so we carried on. My supply eventually did stop altogether even though I nursed her day and night. It was painful, but we did it, I knew she needed the comfort. The most amazing thing was that she became an incredible eater of solid food! DH and I used to joke about it. LOL
I thought she would have a problem with the taste when the colostrum came in again and if she did she never let on. I contunued to nurse her until she weaned herself a year after the birth of her sister.

So as you can see I wasn't one of the lucky ones who continue to produce milk during pregnancy but it was important to me to nurse her anyway. It worked out and I'm glad I did it.

C. said...

I did it! I became pregnant with my second when my first was 18 months old. I nursed for the entire pregnancy without a dip in supply or noticeable change in flavor. I was able to get pregnant with exclusively breastfeeding past 1 (I didn't actively push solids til about 13 months) and did not night wean until 18-20 months).

I didn't have any issues with it. There was a period of a couple months where it was just too much stimulation wise but that also was about the time my morning sickness kicked in and anything would trigger it.

Mrs. Anna T said...

I must agree that breastfeeding is not birth "control". Breastfeeding is meant for nourishing babies, and though it naturally spaces children in many cases, a woman cannot know when her cycle will return, and so the next pregnancy will probably take her by surprise.

Beth M. said...

Whether or not breastfeeding is birth "control" is probably a matter of definition. What exactly constitutes birth control? Not worth arguing over.

However, an awareness of fertility signs during breastfeeding (as in NFP) CAN allow a woman to know when her cycle is returning. Until that time, *ecological* breastfeeding while monitoring fertility signs can be quite affective and reliable for avoiding or postponing pregnancy. No other birth control is needed.

A few failed cases do not mean breastfeeding it ceases to be effective or reliable for avoiding pregnancy - all forms of birth control (except complete abstinence) have a failure rate greater than 0. I know several moms who got pregnant while taking the pill - yet millions of women continue to depend on it for birth control. Don't discount this option simply because it didn't work out for some women.

CappuccinoLife said...

My older two boys both weaned about three months into pregnancy--they were both about 18 months old. So I really don't know if they were just ready to wean, or didn't like the milk.

My youngest is still happily nursing at 22 months, perhaps because I haven't gotten pregnant again as I usually do. :(

Jenny Izirba said...

I finished weaning my two-year old when I became pregnant with my next child, but that was my choice. My friend nursed her toddler through most of her pregnancy with twins! She worked very hard (for eight weeks!) to get her daughter actually latching on, so she was NOT going to give it up unless she absolutely had to.

Robin said...

I haven't read all the comments, but I'll chime in as another mommy who nursed a young toddler throughout my second pregnancy. It was a little irritating to my nipples, but nothing I couldn't handle. She was very attched and nursed often throughout the 9 months. I found it very helpful when my son was born, because she could relieve my engorgement when my son didn't want to nurse immediately after birth. He didn't nurse much for the first couple of days.

I tandem nursed for about 8 months and decided to wean my daugther when she was almost 3 1/2. At that point, I was kind of tired of tandem nursing, and she was old enough that I could communicate with her better when she needed comfort. I have since had a 3rd child, and he's still nursing at 19 months. I'm not on birth control and don't intend to go on it. If I get pregnant, I'm happy to have the baby, and I'll still nurse as long as my son wants to.

So, yes, you can get pregnant while nursing, and it's not a big deal. I'm not really sure why the medical profession and others believe women are so fragile.

Julia said...

Yes, I have personal experience with that. My daughter was conceived when my son was 17 months old and still nursing. Around month 4-5 my milk supply became very low, and he nursed much less than usual. I never offered to nurse him, but I didn't say no either. I think weaning him then would have been a little hard, but not so bad. I never had any problems during the pregnancy. My daughters was born 3 days after her due date, and she weighed 8 lbs 12 oz, and was very healthy.

After she was born he was a milk maniac. On the positive side, I could eat like a pig and stay thin. Physically, I was healthy. I found having two babies that nursing mentally exhausting. The good part of the arrangement was that my son was never jealous of my daughter. While would nurse together, he would gently stroke her head. He was very sweet with his sister, and they've always had a good relationship. I can't entirely give the credit to nursing together, but I think it gave them a good start. The negative part was that I felt like I was nursing all the time, and it got boring and sometimes frustrating. If I had to go back and do it again, I honestly don't know if I would have weaned him while I was pregnant.

Tilly said...

First, let me say I love stopping by your blog! I (currently) have two children, dd will be 3 next month, and ds will be 1 at the end of May. I use no form of birth control, but do co-sleep with the baby and nurse on demand...and since he still has no teeth, that's almost exclusively what my little (30lb!!) boy eats. I got my period back on my daughter's 1st birthday, and was pregnant a few months later. My daughter weened herself (mostly, I also had that "nursing aversion" from the hormones) and eventually just asked for a cup and snuggles instead. That was when I was about 4 months along, and she was 18 months old. I hope that is of some help!

Suzanne said...

Anna-I became pregnant when my first
little boy was 9mos old.I didn't realize I was pregnant until 4 mos
along due to being a new mom,nursing
for the first time,being young, etc.
My 9 mo old only took the breast and
no supplements other than homemade
yougurt and applesauce (he shared
mommy's lunch-his choice)My first and I were fine,however my next little boy had "soft enamel" on his
teeth-dentist said not enough Calcium
during my pregnancy.Perhaps you can
research this and be sure you are
consuming enough nutrients for 3.
Number one weaned himself at about
13 months to a cup-he wanted what
the big people were eating.He's
always been a happy, active, curious little boy.Maybe also the taste changed as you said.By the way- second son weaned himself at abt 8 mos- he had teeth and wanted to eat.Thanks for your
blog and thoughtful posts.

Karen said...

I got pregnant while still breastfeeding Rachel, who was 13 months old at the time. We continued for a while with no real problems other than some nipple soreness, but I lost the baby. I don't think one has anything to do with the other. It's just a sad coincidence.

I personally can't rely totally on breastfeeding to space children as my babies take up soo much of my time with their constant nursing. i think I just have extremely slow flow, but it's incredibly stressful. However during the first 6 months after a baby, if you are breastfeeding often your chances of getting pregnant are only about 2%, which makes me wonder why it is that so many people worry about it - and then have no problem with other forms of birth control which are statistically far less effective.

Auntie eM said...

Hmmm, I could not possibly read all the comments - so hope mine is not a duplicate! My response to your Q: Did not the LORD God create woman? My mother had seven children - all born within 14-16 months apart. NO KIDDING! She is 82 and still chirping!! Like I said, God created your lovely frame - trust Him!
Love to you,
Auntie eM

Cheryl said...

Anna,

Shalom! I was just passing through your blog and saw this post...I read through a lot of them, but not ALL!!!! Whew!

Anyhoo, I thought I would add my 2 cents worth..... I noticed you said your daughter finally slept through the night. I don't know exactly how old she is....but if you are nursing her and want to use breastfeeding (ONE of the benefits I should add) that NOT nursing at night does take away the "protection" barrier of nursing.

Night nursing (definition of once every 4 hours - so basically getting up once during an 8 hour night) causes your body to most LIKELY not ovulate. I forget what hormone it is...but after 4 hours of not nursing that particular hormone starts to diminish in your system and therefore you start back on the track to ovulating. Also too, I don't know how old your daughter is, but during the first 4-6 months of her life, it is good for her to nurse and not go so long without breastmilk.

Please don't get me wrong - I am not judging you....just giving you my knowledge and experience with breastfeeding for over 5 years straight now. My Isaac turns 3 on Thursday and he is still nursing morning, nap and bedtime. Sometimes he still wakes up and he wants to rock and nurse back to sleep.

All in all, if you can tolerate (some women find it a drag, others like myself enjoy nursing and the closeness it brings between you and child) nursing on her schedule (it can be crazy and usually is!!! ) she will for a good routine probably by 6 months and be like clock work. Just remember the 4 hour "rule" of sorts.....if you can handle it, you will extend that window of time for probably NOT getting pregnant.

Blessings to you and your family. Happy Purim too!!!

Cheryl :-)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Cheryl,

Let me just clarify that I'm not "pushing" my baby to sleep through the night at such an early age; I don't think it necessary, or even possible, as a matter of fact. But if she sleeps, I don't wake her. In my opinin feeding on demand includes also NOT feeding when she doesn't ask for it, and setting an alarm clock for 3 in the morning is just too much for this tired new mom if my baby is sleeping anyway...

Auntie eM said...

Oh, I forgot the most important part:
She nursed us all except the last; that is 7 pregnancies in 9 years - all nursed except the last one. He happens to be the one that is most irritable in temperament. I just realized that. My mother also ate very intense greens like dandelions, kale, lots of white beans, lentils, olive oil and butter; the 'real' stuff. So her minerals and iron never was depleted. Her teeth though - when she was 70 she got new ones.
auntie em

Kimberline said...

Anna,

I have not been by your blog in quite a long time. I think I did say congratulations on your daughter's birth, but I am not sure. If I did not, not that you would notice, but congratulations on your blessing!

I did want to chime in though I see you have had dozens and dozens of comments already. I have nursed through several pregnancies and tandem nursed successfully several times. I never pushed the older small one to wean, but often they would do it naturally and very sweetly, too. I remember one son in particular said he would leave the milk for the baby. He did express interest in wanting to nurse again months later and my mother was repulsed by the idea and told him that is only for LITTLE BABIES. Later, when she was not there, I took him aside and said that he didn't need to nurse any more, because he was bigger, but that if he wanted to return to it, I was not opposed. He still was quite little. He nodded, indicated a desire to try, but his sucking reflex was completely gone, so he rapidly tired of it and never asked to nurse again.

Tandem nursing was a very precious time and my older baby would often cradle the younger baby and give gentle pats and rubs. I just did not have jealousy or problems with it at all.

I do want to share with you a miracle that happened for us one time regarding nursing and tandem nursing. One of my daughters had weaned after enjoying tandem nursing since her little brother was born. When she was well past 2 and 1/2 she contracted some sort of a virus or possibly a parasite and was unable to keep food down well and often had runny stools. Our pediatrician was not able to diagnose her and she was becoming quite frail and just looked terribly ill. I took her to a Christian naturopath who told me to return her to the breast immediately. I thought it couldn't possibly work as she had been weaned for so long. We all prayed about it and that evening at her bedtime I took her onto my lap and she happily went right back to nursing as if she had never weaned.

It made all the difference in the world. Her system quickly healed and the breast milk was so digestible that she began gaining weight and vigor again immediately after returning to the breast. It was a blessing to me that Father had made my body in such a way that I could give her the exact nourishment that she needed to recover. It was a regained precious time together between that toddler and myself. I am always so thankful that I was able to give her what she required most.

I know that some are unable to tandem nurse or to remain nursing through pregnancy, but there is no point in worrying which thing may be. There are enough worries for today and it just may be that with strong help more women could do this thing more easily. It never hurts to try again, either. One pregnancy may never be the same as another and what was impossible one time, may be possible at another time.

It is encouraging to know you are not intimidated by the idea. Good for you!

Warmly,

Kimberline

Cheryl said...

Hi Anna,

PLEASE, PLEASE don't think I was thinking you were pushing her to sleep all night!!! Oh, if you did, please accept my apology. I never thought that. I am truly sorry if I came across that way.

I understand completely about sleep. Believe me. :-) I was just trying to explain the "night" nursing side of things regarding not ovulating for an extended period of time while nursing. Obviously, I should have worded it better.

All babies are different and mothers know their babies best. If she sleeps, I am with you - don't wake her up. If she wasn't thriving or was beginning to have a nursing issue, then you (or any other nursing mom) would have to decide for yourself the best course of action to take.

Again, please let me apologize for the mis-communication. I truly hope I didn't offend you....especially being a new mother.

Cheryl :-)

Emily said...

I realize this post a almost a month old but it's a subject so dear to my heart. I have 2 daughters 30 months and 9 months. My oldest was nursing 12+ times a day/night when I had my first period right before her 1st birthday. She was an extremely unhappy baby. I got pregnant the next month. I was able to nurse happily through out the entire pregnancy. I praise the Lord I never had any nipple or breast soreness. I never noticed a dip in my supple nor did Maggie (my oldest) ask to nurse less or seem to notice a change in taste or texture. I nursed a few hours before Emma (my youngest) was born and a couple of hours after birth (I had a (home birth). Maggie weaned herself 1 week after her 2nd birth day, when Emma was 3 months old.

Now Emma is 9 months and nurses on demand (which means ALOT) and is no longer interested in eating (she went through a phase where she ate food all the time) and I have no signs of any periods but am praying wholeheartedly for another healthy pregnancy soon (as in now).

I am not one of those who's starts their cycles early after pregnancy while nursing. I wish I was but the Lord knows what He's doing. : )