Nursing a toddler (a 2-year-old) while pregnant
I said a long time ago that I wanted to write about my experiences nursing a toddler - not only for my own record, but in hopes that it might provide some insight to someone else out there. I figure I need to tackle this topic soon (and actually started this entry a couple weeks ago), while I still have time to reflect on it and blog about it before baby boy gets here, so here goes...
I always knew that I would nurse my children, but I never thought about the length of time I would do it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has their recommendations, as does the World Health Organization. Both seem to agree that breastfeeding should continue "as long as mutually desired by mother and child." I figured I would play it by ear with Ava, allowing her to self-wean if possible, but not commit to anything one way or the other.
She celebrated her second birthday in June 2006 and nursing continued. By this time, Ava was only nursing a few times a day and had night-weaned as of 22 months. I'm not sure if the drop in nursing came as a result of her age or as a result of my milk drying up with my pregnancy. I had become pregnant with our second child in February 2006, and my milk dried up somewhere around 15 weeks pregnant.
While nursing a toddler was not something that bothered me, nursing a toddler while pregnant (with all the lovely pregnancy hormones coursing through my system) and without any milk coming out was less than appealing to me. I kept at it despite the fact that it wasn't always easy, partially because I felt like it was easier to grin and bear it rather than wean. I know that may not have been the best way to respond and others chose different paths (which I can totally understand), but that's how I handled it.
There was a time, several weeks ago, when I was seriously contemplating weaning Ava before baby boy is born. I was having such a hard time and feeling very overwhelmed with nursing (even though it wasn't that often) and life in general. But after talking with several other moms who are either nursing now while pregnant or have nursed while pregnant, and reading the chapter about nursing while pregnant and tandem nursing in "Mothering Your Nursing Toddler," I was reassured that all of the feelings I was having were completely normal. Such a relief! That didn't make nursing any easier, but it did reassure me that there was nothing wrong with me for feeling the way I did.
Here we are now - me at 37+ weeks pregnant and Ava at 28 months old. She is still nursing 1 to 2 times per day - which consists of always before bedtime (though she doesn't nurse to sleep) and sometimes once in the middle of the day. I managed to cut out the morning nursing session fairly easily by way of distraction. When she does nurse now, I place restrictions on it and it's only for 2 to 3 minutes at most, which is really all I can handle. There have been times when nursing is just too much for me at the time and I tell her that mommy is feeling frustrated, etc. She understands and has been fine with me placing restrictions, so it works for us.
I'm hoping that by continuing to nurse her, it will make her transition from being an only child to an older sister a bit easier, since we will still have that special connecting time together each day. I know that moms who wean are still able to connect with their older child, but maybe by sharing something as sacred to her as mommy's milk with baby brother, it will help calm her uneasiness with the changes of having to share mommy with someone else. Time will tell.
I never expected nursing while pregnant to be as difficult as it has been. Hormones can do crazy things to a person. I can totally understand why women wean while they are pregnant and I wouldn't have been too upset if Ava had decided to wean on her own. Of course, that didn't happen. ;)
I'm still not making any promises as to how long nursing will continue. We will take it day by day, even after baby boy comes. No matter what happens, I feel good about the nursing relationship Ava and I have had and know that we both have shared some precious memories together over the years.
I welcome any tales from mamas who have nursed while pregnant or tandem nursed. It's always nice to know I'm not alone. Thank you. :)
By the way, I did some searches for nursing a toddler and found this info on LLL's site with "Toddler Tips", as well as info about nursing while pregnant. Also found this with "Toddler Nursing Testimonials."