I get asked A LOT of questions about nursing my toddler, nursing while pregnant, and nursing in general so here are some answers to common questions that I get!
Disclaimer: I am a mom. I am not a doctor or lactation specialist. Please contact me for suggestions and encouragement because I love to help! For expert advise, please contact a lactation specialist or find a local breastfeeding support group. This blog is my personal experience and research. There is no mom shaming or judgement here if you nurse or don’t nurse. This is simply information sharing.
You’re still nursing past 1 years old? But your baby can eat food and ask for milk, shouldn’t you wean?
These are funny questions. I used to think the same thing, and even say the same thing! It is easy to make uneducated judgments when you haven’t studied the benefits or facts. Being open minded and doing research has changed me!
We live in an over-sexualized culture that causes people to be weirded out by nursing. Here’s the thing... For all of time, women nursed their babies. Their babies weaned when they were done. Here in our westernized, over stimulated, too-busy culture, we limit, cut off and schedulize our kids at an early age. However, in spite of all this breastfeeding is recommend by the experts! In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that infants receive a minimum of one year of breastfeeding, and the World Health Organization calls for two years or more.*
There are so many benefits to nursing a toddler! For me, my primary reason is the emotional bonding and attachment that cannot be understated. The early years of development are critical for life long confidence, security, and emotional stability. Children that know that their primary caregiver will respond to their needs, and are allowed to be appropriately dependent when they are infants and toddlers, grow up to become appropriately independent when they are mature enough to handle those demands.
My second favorite reason for nursing is the immune system boost breastfeed babies attain! A child’s immune system is not fully developed until age 3. Breastfeeding gives incredible antibodies that cannot be reproduced in formula, food or medication. In fact, when a child nurses, their saliva tells the mom's body what antibodies the child needs! If they have been exposed to illness or are fighting infection, the mother will actually create antibodies to help the baby fight those germs! Creating a strong immune system and healthy body at an early age sets up kids to be healthier long term.
You’re still nursing while you’re pregnant? How do you do it? Do you need extra vitamins?
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
Well, I’ll just continue to nurse as I was! At this point nursing a toddler means that she eats food, so nursing is not necessarily an all day affair. She primarily nurses for comfort, if she is hurt, or tired. She gets good emotional bonding and the power packed antibodies every day.
It is typical that a woman’s breasts are tender at the beginning of pregnancy. I will admit that in the first half of pregnancy, it was painful to nurse! But we powered through because I was unwilling to quit. It has been said that “breastfeeding s 90% will power, and 10% milk.” That was my experience when we started nursing, as well as my experience during the first half of pregnancy. Now we have smooth sailing.
As far as nutrients go, women all over the world produce milk and give birth to healthy babies even with limited resources for food. I am conscious to make sure that I eat a good balance of healthy foods. I also take a power packed vitamin with mehtalyeted folate, and aloe and a plant based omega each day to make sure my body gets the good stuff. My energy levels, immune system and digestion have been awesome thanks to good food, rest, and great supplements too. I’ve made a full video on what I take and why. If you’re interested, contact me and I’ll pass it along!
Isn’t it risky to nurse while pregnant?
Sometimes people express concern that nursing will initiate preterm labor by causing uterine contractions. However, acccording to the La Leche League International BREASTFEEDING ANSWER BOOK, 3rd Edition 2003, page 407, "Although uterine contractions are experienced during breastfeeding, they are a normal part of pregnancy... Uterine contractions also occur during sexual activity, which most couples continue during pregnancy." Also, according to the BAB, page 408, "Currently, no specific medical guidelines exist that define in which situations it may be risky to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy, and prenatal caregivers vary widely in their recommendations.”**
There are actually no studies that indicate that nursing causes preterm labor. There are no studies that suggest it puts the babies or mom at risk.
Aren’t you going to wean? You don’t want to nurse two babies do you?
Actually I do want to tandem nurse! I have many friends that tandem nurse their babies. Will it be challenging? Of course. But we can do hard things. I am called to give my babies the very best. The very best often requires sacrifices. I cannot speak for anyone else’s situation or perspective but my own. I am called to love my babies well, and for me, I have a strong conviction that it includes nursing both my babies for now. When my toddler and I are ready, she will wean. I don’t know when that is, but I’ll follow her lead and give her what she needs to set her up for a strong future as best as I can.