Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Matilda was still very small, when Joey and I agreed on trying for another baby as soon as she turns 2 years old. When Matilda was already about to turn two, (it was faster than I expected!) I also had my own hesitations about having another baby. In my head, I was thinking, “What if my pregnancy becomes complicated that we need to stop breastfeeding?”. And during this time, Matilda wasn’t showing any sign of weaning yet, even the slightest bit. Honestly, it made me anxious from time to time and I just relied onto God’s Word, for strength to overcome it.

We really wanted to go past the 2-year mark to maximize the benefits of breastfeeding, however, deep inside I knew that if ever the need arise, Matilda will be more than ready physically, as she gets her main source of nutrition now from solid food. It would then just be the psychological aspect I would need to address.

Breastfeeding is one of those things, like birthing a child, which I never thought I would endure. It is truly all by God’s grace! All I really wanted was to be able to give my best in all that I do, especially when it comes to bringing up my future children. With that, I knew in my heart I never wanted to force Matilda to wean if she’s not yet ready, that’s why I am still breastfeeding her up to now, and will continue to do so until she decides to wean on her own.

”Isn’t it dangerous to breastfeed while pregnant?”

As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy without any underlying medical conditions, (you are not classified as high-risk) and you don’t experience bleeding, premature contractions, lower back pain, or severe cramping in the abdomen, then it is safe to continue breastfeeding, until you reach your term.

Right now, I am close to reaching my 4th month. I haven’t encountered any problems from what I mentioned above, that’s why my OB-Gyne, who I love so much, never asked me to stop breastfeeding. This is because there really is no concrete evidence that links premature births to breastfeeding. And there are also plenty of mothers who have done it successfully. There isn’t really anything to worry about as long as your OB-Gyne is really knowledgeable, and an advocate for breastfeeding.

“Isn’t that milk supposed to be ‘reserved’ for the next baby?”

Our bodies are made perfect by God to be able to nourish our young. It does not stop producing milk as long as there is a demand. When baby number two comes, there will still be enough milk for them to share, hence, the term, tandem feeding. This happens when an older child feeds along with the younger sibling. This term is also used for breastfeeding multiple babies, such in the case of twin siblings.

“I always get so hungry because of breastfeeding, isn’t that a sign the baby in my tummy is being deprived of nutrients?”

The answer is, no. Because our body changes during the pregnancy, even the size of our organs also change with it. If you noticed, whenever we are pregnant, we can no longer eat as much as we used to, in one sitting. We tend to eat smaller portions, but we do it frequently. This also applies when we are breastfeeding during pregnancy. We just have to be smart in the choices we make when it comes to food and pick those that will benefit us, as well as our babies. Food that are high in calcium, iron and fiber are some of the things we need to add more to our diet, like that of green leafy vegetables and seasonal (local) fruits. Remember, we are not eating for two, (or in my case, three!) in a sense that we should eat a lot! We eat for two (or three) knowing that there is extra nourishment needed for our baby to grow healthy, and not in terms of the actual amount of food we eat.

“My breasts are so sensitive during pregnancy, it hurts so bad. How do I go on breastfeeding?”

This part is inevitable. Yes, it is true that it may hurt during the 1st trimester as our body adjusts to the changes brought about by our pregnancy. Nipples become very sensitive and based on my own experience, having a good and deep latch really alleviates the discomfort. Take note that this pain usually goes away in the second trimester, so a little sacrifice on our end is all we need. And if it’s any consolation, seeing the satisfied look on the face of your child who is just happy to be comforted by your breasts will really help you overcome it too.

“How do I manage breastfeeding 2 kids if they both want to feed at the same time?”

My expert friends say that it would be good to breastfeed the younger child first to make sure he/she gets all the colostrum he/she needs in the early days of life. As soon as the mature milk comes in, usually on the 4th or 5th day after birth, it really doesn’t matter which child nurses first. If you can manage to feed them together with each of your breasts, that would also be a good idea. However, take note that since breastmilk changes in composition depending on the age of your younger child, usually, the older child becomes so full from the breastmilk (which is high in calories to support the infant’s growth), they sometimes lose their appetite for solid food. It would be good to also watch out for this as it would possibly disrupt the established eating pattern of your child. Finding the balance is still the key.

Are you currently pregnant and breastfeeding? Or thinking about continuing to breastfeed even when you conceive again? Please leave a comment and let’s talk about your concerns!

IMG_9472

Advertisements

Raising a Happy Eater

It can be very frustrating when your baby refuses to eat anything, even his most favorite food at that.

From the beginning, we have followed the principles of Baby-Led Weaning also known as Baby-Led Feeding. This is a method wherein you do not puree or mash foods and/or spoon-feed, once the baby is ready to start eating solids (6 months and up). In Baby-led Weaning, you will offer the food in a way they can easily grab, instead.

What is Baby-Led Weaning?

Baby Led-Weaning or Baby-Led Feeding is simply Self-Feeding. This concept will allow your child to learn to chew before swallowing. Chewing is very important because this is a precursor to talking and exercising those muscles is extremely necessary for it. Learning how to chew also eliminates the difficulty when you transition to “real” food. Most kids I know resist eating real food if they are used to mashed food. Why? Because it is so much easier to swallow than to chew and allowing your child to go on with this can be a cause for greater problem, later.

What are the signs of readiness?

1. When the baby is able sit on his own – unsupported.
2. When the baby can accurately grab something and put it in their mouth.
3. When baby starts making chewing and gnawing movements.

The main reason why we chose this method for Matilda was because, we believe that if she learns to eat on her own at a very young age, she would most likely develop good eating habits as she grows.

In baby-led weaning, no special food or preparation is necessary. All you need is to invest on a highchair, and you are good to go. What’s so good about this is, what you will eat at home is what your child should eat as well (minus the salt for babies below 1 year old). Why? Well, why not? Would you want your children eating bottled/canned or processed unhealthy, junk food? Of, course not! So like them, you are forced to eat right. This worked for us a lot. Way back, we loved eating deli meat, processed food, and canned goods for breakfast, but since Matilda started eating, these became just emergency food or a “treat” for our family. We resorted to serving healthier options to encourage Matilda to do the same.

Baby-led weaning also relieves all the stress of feeding your child. Because Matilda is breastfed, there was never really pressure on my part about her eating. At 6-12 months, breast milk is still her main source of nutrition and food is just for fun. Whether she eats or not, it was fine. When she hit a year old, she still wasn’t eating very much but I just waited patiently for her to be more interested. (It takes quite an amount of patience, mind you, but do believe me when I say, it will pay off later!)

We started out by giving her a variety of fruits and vegetables like that of avocado, sweet potato, squash, banana, apple, carrots, and a lot more which I prepared either fresh – for fruits or steamed, roasted, or sauteed in olive oil or unsalted butter for the vegetables. I gave her these in finger-sized portions which she can easily grab and munch on.

Gagging vs. Choking

Here’s the deal, I strongly believe that no matter how you decide to feed your child, you must be equipped in knowing how to handle these incidents. Yes, it is true that choking is possible, but the possibility is never greater compared to those who are fed traditionally. Remember when you spoon-feed mashed food, the baby is used to swallowing rather than chewing, right? So when you start introducing lumpy food, that’s where the problem usually starts. If you think about it, in baby-led weaning, since the baby learns to chew before swallowing, he becomes a lot more careful about the food he will put in his mouth. I know this for a fact because I have witnessed this with Matilda. She did have gagging episodes during the early days of baby led weaning, but she did outgrew it eventually. So, how do you distinguish gagging from choking then?

Gagging is a baby’s natural and normal reflex when the food is too big for him to swallow. The gag response for babies is much more active than that of adults because it is triggered far forward on the tongue. As the baby grows, it moves farther back, closer to the throat, that is why it is necessary for them to be able to manage food by themselves right from the very beginning. When they are aware of the size of the food they put in their mouth, it reduces the risk of choking as they already have practiced how much food they can handle.

You will know your baby is gagging when he starts making sounds as if he wants to vomit (naduduwal or nasusuka is the filipino term for it). They also sometimes cough and then spit the food out. In choking, however, baby becomes very quiet, almost gasping for air because the food lodged in his throat may have partially or totally blocked his airway and therefore, turns his color into blue.
So it is really good to know basic first aid for any emergency situation and for all you know, food isn’t the only thing that can cause choking. A lot of things can, it’s still best to be prepared.

Looking back, the first weeks were fun although frustration was inevitable on my part when she won’t eat at all, I resolved to trusting her that she wasn’t hungry and was just at a phase of exploration. Soon enough, at about 9 months old, as I started introducing more and more food, she began showing more eagerness to try it out and began feeding herself a whole lot better. (I know this because I see it all in her poop! Haha!)

There will still be days, up until now when she wouldn’t eat or just grab a few bites and she’s done. And as I am able to observe her daily, I began realizing what causes these episodes and listed them down for your reference.

  • Teething
  • When she’s about to get sick with a cold or cough
  • Right when she’s feeling ill
  • At times when she’s just plain full or not hungry
  • When she is allergic to the food

It is also good to know that since your child is eating food in its pure form, meaning you did not add any liquid to it, you must expect that he would most likely eat less than babies who are fed traditionally. Even though he just bit a few pieces, trust him that those few bites are just what his body actually needs.

Mealtimes should be fun and should always be about sharing the food with the whole family, the food that was provided by our Lord for our nourishment. Any negativity can be easily felt by your child so make sure you are calm and relaxed during this time. Also, try your best not to concern yourself over the mess your child will possibly create (no matter how OC you are – like me!) just let him be, and focus instead on the fact that your child is exploring and learning a lot by eating on his own. Baby-led weaning requires trust, trust between your baby’s own instinct and judgement as well as your trust on your child’s capability to do it by himself. So, when your child refuses to eat, don’t over-think it and just try again in the next meal. As time goes by, he will soon realize that food makes him feel full, and would then eat more and more each day.

Matilda is a living testimony why I encourage my friends to try Baby-Led Weaning. At 19 months, she eats a wide variety of foods from fruits to vegetables to fish to meat and has already mastered feeding herself with a spoon. I am just so happy I found out about this and I am glad I have virtual friends over at Baby-Led Weaning Philippines to support me in this journey.

IMG_6299     IMG_6882

To know more about baby-led weaning, please join the Facebook Group and try to grab a copy of the book as well.