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.”

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69 thoughts on “Nursing a toddler (a 2-year-old) while pregnant

  1. Okay, I think if you are still breast feeding your child when it’s old enough to eat the same food you do, it should be treated the same as abuse. Honestly. As far as I know all other mammals wean their off-spring, none of this self-weaning shit. The purpose of breastfeeding is to provide your baby with nutrients, if your child can eat regular food, they no longer need those nutrients so why are you still doing it? It’s sick. Why is this legal?

  2. Wow, what a sad perspective, I feel really sorry for you that you would see breast feeding that way. There is so much more to breast feeding than nutrients, apart from the closeness & bonding, primarily the undeniable & proven health benefits to both the mother & child. It should be illegal NOT to breast feed for as long as possible! Your attitude reflects how warped most western societies view of Breastfeeding has actually become, & this is the real tragedy. Get educated.

    Maria

  3. I am 8 months pregnant and still nursing my 35 month old. They have the exact same due date to the day. My daughter says there is still milk in there and will sometimes stop nursing and say the she is saving some for her little sister. She says she is going to stop nursing when her sister comes. I don’t know that I believe her. My 35 month old usually nurses before bed, once at night, and once in the morning.

    I never offer milk to my 35 month old. I think that prolonged nursing has help my daughter to develop good sleeping habits. She says when she is ready for bed or a nap (although she doesn’t nap anymore) and goes to sleep. We have never had any bed or nap time battles. She usually sleeps about 11 hours a night and wakes up happy and refreshed.

  4. I think when your milk has dried up that it is probably more of a comfort for the baby. Your body really knows what is best, sometimes it is a fine line between nursing for the health of the baby and for the ease of the child going to bed.

  5. I wonder how many critics of breast feeding know the first human action a baby takes after breathing is to nurse. And when they nurse for the first time, their gall bladder must release.

    That is why natural healing always includes the liver and more importantly the gall bladder.

    Love is felt through the heard but is given through the gall bladder.

    This may sound a bit different the first time you read it but take the time to talk to an experienced Reiki healer.

    I say, nurse for a healthy life!

  6. I am 8 1/2 months pregnant with my 3rd child. I am still nursing my 2 year old, he only nurses at night before before he falls asleep, and when he wakes up in the early morning. He has always been a terrible night sleeper. Most times he only sleeps 2-3 hours then wakes and is brought into to bed with us. I understand that it is our fault for holding and loving him to sleep, but what do I do now? My nipples are so sensitive and his teeth almost feel like razors. But I feel so sad the next day when I realize I have been frustrated and standoffish with him. He just wants to be close to mommy. I’m not worried about tandem breastfeeding, I’m all for it. But how do I get him to not want to nurse at difficult hours?

  7. When my second was born the infants cluster feeding time ended up being at bed time. I told my older child, who was still nursing that I was worried about there being enough milk. She literally takes one sip on each side or doesn’t nurse at all. We talked and read books about babies only drinking milk before the baby was born. The current situation works well for us.

  8. I find this website very helpful, and inspiring. I’m 6 weeks pregnant and nursing my 23 month old. Tried several times to wean her though I’ve nursed when she wants to during the day. At night, she co-sleeps and wakes sometimes 6 times, screaming if I ask her to go back to sleep and have boobah next time. It’s emotional for me because I really believe in positive parenting and I thought weaning would be different, easy on Eiliyah. So, is it not the right time? Now I’m pregnant, I definitely plan on nursing her until she wants to stop. I believe it’s better for her development and she will feel equal to baby.
    Thank for Having this blog, very helpful knowing there’s support out there in cyber world!

  9. Thanks for sharing! I am 11 weeks pregnant and nursing my almost 15 month old. I am frustrated and short fused but feel our nursing relationship is important to keep until he is ready to wean. Which, I am sure many know, is difficult when you have little family support. I know he is nursing for more emotional and attachment reasons, but I think that is just as important as nutritional. Good luck nursing and tandem nursing!

  10. Hi, I am 38 weeks pregnant and breastfeeding our 23 month old son. I never thought, that I would nurse this long. I did not have a bad opinion about mothers who nursed for long time, but I thought that I will be done by 12 months… Well our son didn’t think so ;)… He nursed exclusively and constantly until 8 months old, at this stage he would start accepting some baby food ( mind u, he was allways in the 95% of weight). My periods returned shortly after he started with solids. Firstly, everyone was super supportive of my breastfeeding, however, with his age, slowly but surely, lots of people started to have far to many suggestions and tips as of for when to wean him off. This would maybe work with other kids, but not with him.. He loved it so much, that I just kept going whenever wherever and did tons of research about the benefits etc. mainly I trusted my gut, secondly, I would break his world if I would take his ‘cica’. When I got pregnant again, I was firstly worried if this can cause any complications. Not much info on this subject, and some people can be pretty nasty and rude..!!! Well, we decided to let things go as they want to, and he:a. Will wean himself or b. we will breastfeed throughout and tandem later… Here we are.. Still nursing… It has been super difficult . I experienced extreme pain when nursing- it actually went up until flashes of anger on the never ending sucking litlle thing ;)… When I got to week 30 or so, he at least self weaned for the night feeds… – lovely shocking surprise- mind you, whenever there is a bad dream or cutting teeth, he is back on… ;) we nurse throughout the day, a lot.. And my nipples do still hurt.. But I feel that I am doing the best for him that I can and I am hoping he will self wean eventually.. This is where we are at this stage, next stop Tandem? ;)

  11. I have literally been nursing a child for almost 4 years!!! I did have a few week break between my son weaning and the birth of my daughter. I have very significant family history of breast cancer and I know that I NURSED as long as possible and did my very best.

    But I digress…

    Nursing is such a gift. Luckily my son was born and nursing came easily to us. I decided to stay home and bottles were not really necessary. So we didn’t even try till he was several months old…of course, by then that ship had sailed. I attempted pumping, but that really was pointless since he was my sidekick 24/7 anyways. So mostly I pumped for comfort as I was a huge milk producer in the beginning.

    I feel grateful that I never had to warm a bottle, wash a bottle, sterilize a bottle — nursing is pretty darn convenient. I am not really a girl with a plan. I am pretty loosey-goosey and accept challenges and successes as they come. So I didn’t have any sort of “plan” in regards to breastfeeding. I still don’t. ;-p

    I guess I am pretty crunchy. I practice attachment parenting unknowingly. Our kids are nursed forEVER, slung in the ergo, and with one of us 24/7. We have cut back MASSIVELY in an effort for me (once the primary breadwinner and highest educated one in the family) to raise our kids at home. At this point, I would give up my car, my house, and every luxury I have in order to keep this arrangement going.

    So, I nursed and nursed and nursed. My son suffered many health issues (chronic ear infections/sleep apnea due to enlarged adenoids) and he NEVER has drank milk. After he turned one, I didn’t have a choice but to continue nursing him as he would drink nothing but water. I felt that I had no choice.

    I became pregnant when he was around 17 mo old and still nursing 24/7. I kept thinking that my milk supply would dry up or change or do something that would encourage him to self-wean. He didn’t. We just kept on nursing and nursing. Finally, my hubs took over the night-time routine altogether and I tried to become invisible to eliminate the night-time feed. That was successful for a while, but it was clear he still needed his Momma. So, we continued to nurse and nurse and nurse.

    Toward the end of my pregnancy I was huge, but we continued nursing in the am/pm for little periods. Thankfully, we was completely night weaned by this point.

    Nursing was painful and like the commenter above, I often felt HUGE surges of anger at times. I felt like I was giving children EVERYTHING I had. My patience was lessening, but because he didn’t drink milk I was at a loss. I couldn’t MAKE him stop, but I really didn’t want to continue. At about 33 weeks pregnant I started to make peace with the fact that I might tandem nurse. The thought seemed crazy at one point, but not so much any longer…

    And then one day he just stopped. I stopped offering and he stopped asking and we were done. I had a few weeks to myself and then my daughter was born and we started all up again. Nursing her was a BREEZE and still is (she is 17 mo now). My son stopped nursing at 25 mo and fully potty-trained at 27!!! lol Still seems pretty funny.

    My son is now 3 1/2 and massively confident, independent, and very outgoing. Nature vs. Nurture – we will never know how he would have been had we chosen a different path. And yes, I respect all the paths. This one just happened to be the best choice for our family.

    What I have learned is to take it as it comes. A stage is a stage. When you are in the thick of it it seems to last forever. But these sweet babies turn into kids so fast, so I try to just live in the day and even the moment to get by. To just enjoy. Because as I type this I now MISS nursing my son – seems like so long ago.

    Good luck, Mommas. It too shall pass and you will be on to worrying about something else.

  12. How old are/were all of you when you tandem nursed if you don’t mind my asking? I am 37, nursing 16 month old son and think I may be pregnant, don’t want to wean, but have heard nursing can cause miscarraige in women over 35.

  13. I was 36 when I got pregnant with #4. I nursed her for 17 months, 5 of which while I was pregnant with #5 whom I delivered within the month of turning 39. I never had a problem. I would have continued except I was so sick that I couldn’t lift my head up for months and ended up being sick the whole pregnancy with #5. My husband had to take over nighttime routines and for a few weeks daytime as well which resulted on her weaning. I was very sad as all my children have self weaned between 2 1/2-3 years. when #5 was born, #4 wanted to start nursing again and i tried to let her but ot was as if she forgot how to :( 5 is 13 months and still nurses 6-8 times a day.

  14. Even though this is an older blog, and not sure if the author even still reads it, it had been a source of comfort and infortation to many, as evidenced by all the comments. ( Minus the uninformed nay sayer) I myself feel MUCH better after reading what everyone posted. My lil man is 14 mos and will be a big bro in 8 months, but this doesn’t mean we have to necessarily have a weaning plan in our future. I just want to say I am proud of all the moms who made it so far. So many mothers don’t even attempt to BF, which I think is incredibly selfish! Good luck to all!

  15. Thanks for everyone’s input on this blog…. Made me feel more normal, most people frown on todlers still breastfeeding….. I find it very frustrating and painfull at times to bf while pregnant and hoped he would self ween with pregnancy hormones making it taste different – instead it’s almost as if he wants it more lately! I will just let nature take its cause and see what happens! We all just want happy and healthy children.

  16. Thanks for everyone’s input on this blog…. Made me feel more normal, most people frown on todlers still breastfeeding….. I find it very frustrating and painfull at times to bf while pregnant and hoped he would self ween with pregnancy hormones making it taste different – instead it’s almost as if he wants it more lately! I will just let nature take its cause and see what happens! We all just want happy and healthy children.

  17. I know this post is so old, but I am so relieved to read it. I’m 16 weeks pregnant and nursing my 27mo old daughter. Only 2 times a day but sometimes I get so tense and frustrated….. I’ve been limiting the feeds to short times when I can’t handle it, but I felt so guilty. I glad to know I’m not crazy and its totally normal to feel this way

  18. What a nice blog to read especially about supporting toddler nursing. Thank you for everyones input on the subject.

  19. This is an old post but I have so enjoyed reading it! I have a 15 month old daughter who still nurses 4-8 times a day. I always thought it seemed “gross” to hear of toddlers nursing, but I knew very little of it and feel terrible for ever thinking anything like that! My thoughts were a product of society, I guess. Then my daughter was born. I had planned to nurse her for a year, but instincts took over! I actually feel lucky that I didn’t get much “advice” about what to do with my baby. My mom passed away when I was eighteen, my grandmother lives out of state, I’m not close with my mother-in-law, and I was the first in my social circle to get pregnant. I was “in the dark.” Therefore, I did everything by instinct and I am SO glad of this. We co-sleep, I have never sleep-trained or put my baby on a schedule, I nurse on demand instead of using pacifiers, and I have listened to my heart when it comes to parenting my VERY spirited, energetic, strong-willed little girl. She is so happy, confident, and smart that everywhere I go I get comments on how advanced she seems for her age. I fully attribute this to the fact that she always has her physical and emotional needs met and enjoys a very close, special bond with her daddy and I. She has set her own schedule and I plan my day accordingly. She goes everywhere with me as my little buddy and no one understands why I don’t want them to watch her for awhile so I can have a “break.” I truly don’t want one! She does wear me out quite frequently, but I love and enjoy her being with me so much that it’s worth any sacrifice. She was become very compassionate with me and I feel like it’s because I have been compassionate with her since she was born. When she was has cried for me I have always comforted her, regardless of anything else I wanted to do. Now, when I am having a hard day, she climbs up in my lap and gives me hugs and kisses. When I don’t feel well, she will cuddle up with me even when I know she has lots of energy and would rather play.

    Even though I have always nursed on demand, I got my period back six weeks postpartum (dang it!) and my husband and I are getting pretty tired of having to “be careful” so I don’t get pregnant again. Not to mention, we’re also getting pretty baby hungry for another! I’ve been concerned about getting pregnant because my daughter is definitely not ready to wean and I want to nurse her as long as I can! I’ve always had plenty of milk but I’m concerned about not being able to take in enough calories to support both a nursing toddler and a developing baby. I struggled to gain weight when pregnant, and went below my pre-pregnancy weight within a two months of her being born. I have struggled to maintain my weight since then, despite eating A LOT. I’m 5’6″ and weigh 106 pounds. Is getting enough calories a legitimate concern or will my body just do what it needs to? Any advice would be very appreciated!

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