Mothers who are expecting are often concerned about breastfeeding their older child. Those around you are likely to impose their own views, or even advise you to stop since your unborn baby will not get the nutrition they need. But according to lactation consultants, this is not true.
“At delivery, the mature breast milk changes to colostrum for the protection of the newborn. Previously, it was thought that breastfeeding during pregnancy may cause uterine contractions and lead to a miscarriage,” says paediatrician and lactation consultant Dr Koe Swee Lee.
Won’t breastfeeding cause a miscarriage?
“If a mother has a miscarriage while breastfeeding during pregnancy, it is not due to the suckling. After all, many women have miscarriages even though they are not breastfeeding during pregnancy. After the mother is discharged with the new baby, she can practise tandem feeding, meaning breastfeeding an older child and a young baby,” adds Lee.
Breastfeeding during pregnancy does not harm the mother, and usually, the breast milk decreases during pregnancy.
According to Lee, the nutritional needs of the unborn child are small and breastfeeding does not deprive the foetus nutritionally.
However, if the mother feels strong contractions, it may be wise to stop breastfeeding.
The United Nations Children’s Fund has long encouraged breastfeeding for two years and longer, and the American Academy of Paediatrics is now encouraging mothers to breastfeed at least one year and then for as long after as the mother and baby desire. Even the Canadian Paediatric Society, in its latest feeding statement has encouraged prolonged breastfeeding.
But I want my baby to become independent
Breastfeeding doesn’t make your child dependent. The child who breastfeeds until he weans himself is usually more independent, and more secure in that independence. He has received adequate comfort and security from the breast, until he is ready to make the step himself to stop.
The other very important aspect of breastfeeding a toddler is the special relationship that develops between the child and his mother.
This is a life-affirming act of love which repeats itself every time the child breastfeeds.