This post is from one of my fellow bloggers, Anne from Zephyr Hill blog. I’ve followed her for a few years now. Anne is an absolute wealth of knowledge on cloth diapers…among many other interesting things she writes about on her blog. She is a mom to seven and also writes about homeschooling and hobby farming! I haven’t yet had to nurse while pregnant. But I know that this post is something that many of you might find helpful. Be sure to check out Anne and follow her on Facebook at Zephyr Hill.
If you’re nursing a baby and recently found out you are pregnant, join the club. This has happened to me several times! And there a few things I wanted to share with you about my experiences, just to give you a heads up and help you prepare for the experience of “eating for three.”
Your milk may change. Sometimes, pregnancy will alter the taste and/or amount of your milk. Your nursing baby may be fussier than usual, may show signs of wanting to wean or his/her weight gain may slow or stop. If changes occur, they tend to happen after the first trimester. About 70% of women will see a decrease in supply. But that leaves 30% who will produce enough to exclusively feed their nursing baby as long as they wish, so don’t lose hope, but do watch your baby for signs that he/she is not getting enough. If that is the case, you can still continue to nurse even after the baby comes, but you’ll likely need to supplement in some way.
Demand will increase. I had a friend who was eating for four; she was feeding herself, nursing twins and growing a baby! Be vigilant about nutrition and hydration if you are pregnant and breastfeeding at the same time. Answer your appetite, eat nourishing foods and you should be fine.
Take your vitamins. Really. During pregnancy, you’re constantly reminded to take your vitamins; this can be doubly important if you are also nursing. It’s a good idea to ask your doctor or midwife about any supplementation that you might need to due to higher needs. With my last pregnancy I was advised to continue taking Vitamin D to benefit my nursing baby; I also became anemic halfway through the pregnancy and had to supplement with Floradix (a fantastic herbal iron formulation that had my levels up in less than 2 weeks).
Dueling hormones. You’ve got pregnancy hormones doing their thing, and breastfeeding hormones doing theirs. It can be quite a roller coaster!
But there are many positive benefits. The soothing effect of nursing can help counteract the moodiness of pregnancy. Every time you stop to feed your baby, you enjoy a little quiet time. You might become even closer to your child as you treasure the fleeting moments you are sharing before delivery day. Nursing and caring for a baby may take your mind off morning sickness, aches and pains and pregnancy worries, at least for a little while. And there’s something about nourishing two babies at the same time that really makes you feel like a super hero sometimes!
But….if you find yourself experiencing breast discomfort and pain, feeling more tired and irritable, or just wishing your baby would self-wean, those are all normal emotions, too.
It may affect morning sickness. There are no scientific studies I know to back this up, but some women do report that breastfeeding helps to lessen morning sickness a little bit. This has been my experience. Others experience waves nausea while feeding their child. For some, this happens during letdown. I’m sure the reason it’s hard to do a conclusive study on this is that every pregnancy is different; having morning sickness – or not – is hard to attribute to just one thing.
You might be curious about other effects that breastfeeding can have on your pregnancy, especially if you are high-risk, or have had a prior high-risk pregnancy. Those would be questions to ask your healthcare provider, since every situation is different and you don’t want to wean unnecessarily.
Have you nursed a baby during pregnancy? Did it change things for you?