One of the first questions I had when I found out I was pregnant with my third baby was, “Is it safe for me to continue breastfeeding?” I was in a near panic. I have a history of miscarriage, and as it is, I need a little medical intervention in order to stay pregnant. I already knew breastfeeding caused uterine contractions. I also worried breastfeeding might take necessary nutrients away from my growing baby, or my growing baby may take nutrients away from my breastfeeding infant. Jackson was less than 9 months old. We were experiencing a rough patch with breastfeeding and sleep schedules, and the thought of being free of breastfeeding was appealing. But we were not physically or emotionally prepared to wean yet.
Thankfully, my doctor saw me right away, and my concerns were quickly alleviated. This is my first piece of advice for you: If you are concerned or have a complex medical history, see your doctor as soon as possible. Every pregnancy is different, and your doctor will be able to address your specific concerns.
Most women have nothing to be concerned about. A minimal amount of oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, which can cause light contractions of the uterus. I did notice a bit of the normal cramping in early pregnancy. Sometimes I noticed it more during nursing sessions, but I also think my worry made me hyper-aware. My doctor reassured me that I was not at an advanced risk for miscarriage from contractions, because my history of miscarriage had a specific and unrelated cause. She advised that I stay hydrated to reduce cramps, but reassured me I had little to worry about.
Of course, I still worried about whether or not my body would be able to provide the necessary nutrients for both of my babies. My doctor recommended increasing my caloric intake a bit to make up for the extra calories I would be burning. I did try to eat a little more, but a few weeks into my pregnancy I started to have extreme weakness in between meals. I would get shaky, nauseated, and dizzy. Just standing took super human effort. Chasing after a toddler felt impossible. I quickly realized I needed to snack between meals. In fact, I needed to be eating about six small meals a day just to feel somewhat normal. You see, most likely, your body will take care of your growing baby and your nursing toddler. But if you aren’t eating enough, your body will take what it needs from itself. So, eat enough to sustain yourself and your babies. If you have an older child that nurses less, you probably won’t need to make many changes. However, if you have an infant that nurses frequently, you may want to “eat like you are having twins.”
Try not to obsess too much over whether you should continue breastfeeding or not. Often, the best course of action is to let things happen naturally. You may find that your baby weans itself as your supply naturally decreases later in pregnancy, which I will talk about in another post. Or you might find that all the discomforts and worries subside, and you slide right into tandem breastfeeding like a natural.
For now, ask for your doctor’s advice, trust your instincts, and take care of yourself!
Hi readers! I’m Natalie, writer and mom of two. I am so excited to join The 16 Minute Club’s new blog, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you. My pudgy breastfed baby, Jackson, is 8 months old and looks like he subsists on whipping cream. You would never know he was once “failing to thrive.” Breastfeeding has certainly had its ups and downs. Like most moms, I spend my days wavering between maternal bliss and horrification at some of the realities of motherhood. After my first child, I was sure I had things figured out. I just knew breastfeeding would be easier with my second. But the truth is that every baby is different, and they each present new challenges. Sometimes they even present the same challenges, but require different solutions.