Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breastfeeding during Pregnancy

I was planning on weaning Noah in the next few weeks, but now that the time is here it doesn't feel like it's a high priority. I know breastfeeding can be a sensitive topic, and that it's all tied up in our ideas of ourselves and womanhood and the body and health and... but I've become a bigger and bigger fan of breastfeeding as time has gone on.

In public health school they emphasized the way in which breastfeeding was devalued with the rise of formula in the 60s and 70s (which persists in many countries), and the way in which public health research has succeeded and failed in bringing the message of "breast is best" back to moms. Theoretically, I knew I wanted to breastfeed for one year, so that Noah didn't ever have formula. 

Practically speaking, two good friends were instrumental in actually following through on that- they provided me with the confidence to

  1. know that if I breastfed regularly and didn't supplement with anything, my supply would meet demand 
  2. breastfeed in public (which can be daunting at first). 
  3. know that breastfeeding while pregnant is totally fine (unless you have any conditions that make it not).
So, I pumped and pumped and pumped through the first year, and Noah kept breastfeeding. The first year is by far the most difficult. In the year of upheaval that was 2011, breastfeeding felt like a comfort that helped Noah to grow up in all the other ways that matter. Then I found myself pregnant, and it felt strange (but necessary?) to wean. So I swore I'd wean as soon as we were settled in our house (we're moving Jan 9). 

Now it doesn't seem like such a big deal whether Noah weans or not. I'd wanted to leave some space before the baby was born, but now I wonder if we can just see what happens. He may well wean when he's in his own room, which would be great. But breastfeeding is not on my list of things that make parenting a 19 month old hard. It's actually on the list that makes it easier. 


leah said...

As you know, Harvey was weaned two days after his little brother was born. There were benefits to waiting that long, mostly that I was only emotionally ready to wean him after the second was born. There would have been benefits to weaning earlier too, like a little more space for our marriage and a bit more emotional emancipation for Harvey earlier. The important thing is that you feel freedom to do whatever you feel is right, because there are a lot of good options.

catbrink said...

Go Jo! I know some other mommies who are facing the same challenges and feel equally divided. On the one hand, if you continue, it will give Noah some comforting mommy-baby bonding time when his SISTER (!!!! yay!) comes along. I've heard that it can help combat jealousy. At the same time- it can, quite literally, be draining for the mum. I do love the end of your entry- I feel he same way with a 15 month old. I want to wean because he always wants it- but BFing makes our lives 1000x easier. Good luck... and keep us all posted (get it? nyuk nyuk). HUGS!

Unknown said...

I'm in the same-ish boat. I was planning to night wean my 18 month old during my pregnancy - and still may. But at 14 weeks I still haven't really made any steps towards it and I'm kind of just hoping it will magically work itself out. And I would like to have nursing in my toolbox when he is adjusting to life as a sibling.