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When the pregnancy is complicated decisions become more complicated, too. When faced with weight loss, unexplained bleeding, threatened preterm labor or twin pregnancies, the mothers who contributed to this book have made a variety of different choices including: immediate weaning, initiation of gradual weaning, taking a “wait and see” approach, reducing nursing to a lower level in order to continue, and nursing on. It’s a heart-wrenching position to be in. One mother said she felt as though she was forced to choose between the baby at her breast and the baby in her womb. It takes courage to make these decisions and mothers deserve support for this unenviable responsibility.
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How do you make the best decision? Remember that weaning will not guarantee that the pregnancy will be saved, nor will continuing to breastfeed necessarily result in the loss of the fetus. Ultimately a mother must make the decision that best fits her situation as she understands it.
Sometimes, the answer is weaning…
I had been having considerable trouble with morning sickness and had lost a total of 18 pounds by my 12th week. My obstetrician recommended weaning and I thought it would be best, too. I did it very gradually, and my goal was to have her weaned by mid-pregnancy. I am now 20 weeks pregnant with our little boy and Nina is completely weaned.
I have now started to slowly gain weight and I feel the baby kicking. It is an exciting time and I feel so blessed to be a part of all this life force.
– Maria, Texas
…and sometimes the answer is to stay the course.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter I was shocked. My son was almost 9 months old and I was not willing to wean him, even though that is what everyone, including my obstetrician, had insisted on. I was told that I should wean because of all of the problems that I had had with my first pregnancy, including bleeding for about 1 month beginning at my 16th to 17th week of pregnancy and being on medication for preterm labor for the last two months of my pregnancy.
I was sure my son still needed the sucking and the comfort of breastfeeding, but was not willing to start him on a bottle or a pacifier. I finally found a doctor who would support my decision to continue to breastfeed during my entire pregnancy. It was a great way to be able to sit and relax while I was pregnant, and it entertained my son while I got the extra rest I needed.
My doctor and I did have a plan. He was very comfortable with my situation and felt that nursing a child rarely causes labor, although he said it was possible. We decided that I would immediately wean my son if I started to have problems with preterm labor early on in the pregnancy. Although nursing was very important to me, I decided that it would not be worth the chance of losing a baby if it came to that.
I had no problems with my pregnancy despite all of my family’s concerns about the new baby getting what it needed to be healthy. Nine months later I delivered an 8lb.11oz.baby girl. She was perfect.
Sometimes weaning occurs regardless of the mother’s intentions. Sometimes hospitalization for complications leads to the child’s self-weaning. Mothers who are worried about a future prospect of abrupt weaning for medical reasons also sometimes begin gradual weaning in early pregnancy. If weaning is medically necessary, an understanding care provider should be able to help you evaluate whether it must be immediate or if a specific transitional period can be worked out. In cases where immediate weaning is required, you may benefit from contacting a local La Leche League Leader or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to help you find ways to make it as painless as possible.
… from Chapter 12: Health Concerns
Excerpted with permission from