Nursing through pregnancy

I am nursing my 14-month-old, and we're thinking about trying to conceive. We would like to space our children fairly close together, which brings up the subject of nursing while pregnant and tandem nursing. Is it possible to continue nursing when pregnant -- even if your baby is still nursing 10 times a day?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Though it is possible to continue nursing during pregnancy, even if your baby is still nursing frequently, it may be difficult for you to get pregnant at this time. If your baby is spending that much time at your breast -- even if your menstrual period has returned -- the frequent feeds may be inhibiting ovulation.

If you do decide you want to have a baby (now) and find it difficult to get pregnant, I would recommend beginning to cut back the nighttime nursings first. It can really help fertility to return when there is one good eight-hour period without breast stimulation each day.

Most likely, by the time you get pregnant, your daughter will be spending less time nursing. Even if she is still breastfeeding, there is a good chance she will wean on her own during the first four months of your pregnancy, though I can't say that this is something you should count on (About 40 percent of babies do wean on their own during pregnancy.)

Many mothers, in the US and throughout all cultures, breastfeed during pregnancy. An excellent diet is always important during pregnancy, and I would recommend paying special attention to your nutritional requirements while pregnant and nursing. Eat a variety of good foods, and don't just rely on nutritional supplements.

If your toddler is still nursing when your new baby is born, allow your new baby to nurse first. Your older child may feel jealous when the new baby nurses. This is normal. Tandem nursing can be stressful, and is not for everyone. Be sure to ask for the help you need, once your new baby is born. Your partner may be thrilled to begin taking a much more active role with your older child -- while you are busy with the new baby!

Trust your body. There's a good chance that if your body isn't able to maintain a pregnancy, you won't be able to get pregnant -- yet. Good luck!

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