Yes, I Really Breastfed Through Pregnancy and Labor!
Ever heard that you shouldn't breastfeed while pregnant? Many people were surprised that I was breastfeeding while pregnant and even more surprised that I nursed while in labor.
There are many things I never thought I’d do before becoming a mom, such as breastfeed a toddler. I had it in my head that my daughter would wean when she turned one then we would try for our second baby. Somewhere along the way my daughter didn’t get the message, but by then I didn’t care as much. I wanted her to self-wean, but wasn’t sure if I could get pregnant while still nursing.
We decided to try anyway since my period returned. I figured my daughter would wean when I got pregnant. She didn’t.
I started to recall hearing reasons why moms couldn’t (or shouldn’t) nurse while pregnant:
- It’s bad for the baby.
- It’ll rob baby of nutrients.
- It’ll cause a miscarriage.
- It’ll cause preterm labor.
- Milk supply will dry up.
So, I did a little reading on the subject and learned that it should be fine. Baby would receive proper nutrients if I ate well and ate additional calories. Women at risk for preterm labor need to be cautious, otherwise nursing doesn’t produce enough oxytocin to start labor until the body is ready. A drop in supply is common about halfway through and the taste may change. If those factors led my daughter to wean, we’d cross that bridge when we got there.
I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to force my sweet little girl to wean yet. However, there were days I silently wished she would. I’m not going to lie–it was often very uncomfortable nursing her. My breasts and nipples were sore. Some days I could barely stand to have my bra touching them. Other days I struggled with feeling touched out or agitated.
On those days I had to cut sessions short. I found myself unlatching her quicker and more often. As my belly grew, it was increasingly difficult to position her to breastfeed. It was nice savoring those bonding moments knowing they were the last few with her as my only child. Perhaps it started the bonding between brother and sister since he rarely, if ever, kicked when she nursed.
In regards to the concern about preterm labor, we certainly did not have that issue. I wondered about if breastfeeding would naturally induce labor as we approached my son’s due date. Two days past, I finally went into labor in the middle of the night. I stayed home for most of my labor. It wasn’t until we neared my daughter’s normal afternoon nap time that I realized she hadn’t nursed since bedtime.
She started having a rough time and asked for mama milk. I wasn’t sure what to do. Who nurses a child while in active labor? My contractions were about four minutes apart and fairly strong. My doula said I could, but it may intensify my contractions and speed things up a bit.
She wasn’t lying.
I laid down with my daughter–she was so tired. I thought she’d drift off fast. Poor thing was almost asleep when a very strong contraction surged through me. I had to unlatch her, which I did clumsily while writhing through the contraction. She got upset so we tried again, but another one hit. My husband and my doula checked on us and I started to feel pushy. My contractions jumped from four minutes apart to two minutes apart. That natural oxytocin worked a little too well!
It was interesting how many people assumed I was no longer breastfeeding simply because I was pregnant. Even the hospital staff who assisted my son’s birth seemed surprised. Heck, sometimes I’m surprised! With having my children close together, it just made sense to us that I breastfed through pregnancy. I’m not sure I’d suggest trying to nurse during active labor again. That was extremely intense. I wouldn’t have had it any other way though.
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