When picturing my life as a mother, I had always planned to practice extended breastfeeding. I really hoped my son would nurse until age 2, and then gradually wean on his own. That was my hope and from my experience thus far, it was wishful thinking!
One scenario I had not planned on was becoming pregnant for the second time while still breastfeeding my first. I’m not sure why it hadn’t occurred to me, but it just hadn’t. Well, here we are. I’m currently 37 weeks into my second pregnancy, AKA full term, and I still have a breastfeeding two year old. I was assured by my OB that it was perfectly safe to continue nursing throughout my pregnancy. She reminded me that people in third world countries do it all the time and this is often the best nutrition these children receive during their lives. “But remember, we don’t live in a third word country, so it’s no longer nutritionally necessary to breastfeed your toddler. You just need to decide it you’re willing to tandem nurse a newborn and a three year old. If so, I usually advise my patients to give each child one breast, that way you know your newborn is getting an adequate milk supply.”
Whoa! I am so happy I found an open minded holistic ob/gyn, but even this was “out there” for me.
So then I consulted La Leche League who told me that many children will gradually taper off of breastfeeding as the taste of the milk changes due to hormones, and then is replaced with colostrum during the 4th or 5th month of pregnancy.
We were seeing signs of hope as my son totally quit nursing during the day, but then he also quit taking naps (since this was his main way of falling asleep). Once again, something I was not prepared for! He continued to nurse in the evening, then got used to the new taste and reinstated his daytime nursing. He also recently told me that he’s going to nurse on one side while the baby nurses on the other. “I’m a really good sharer, Mommy.”
Where will this journey take us? I don’t know, but I have learned one thing so far in my career as a mother- never say never. I’m certain you will find yourself doing and saying things you could not even fathom pre-child. As for me, I have anywhere from zero to three weeks to either make changes, or to just go with the flow and see what happens.
Since I’ve heard tandem nursing reduces any jealousy or behavioral problems the toddler might experience and creates a quicker bond between the siblings, I’m pretty sure if you see me in a few weeks I’ll have my hands very, very full.