Q: I have a 22-month-old who is still nursing, and I’m thinking about trying to get pregnant again. How long before I have a second child should I wean my first? I don’t want to nurse two at once, but I don’t want my firstborn to feel rejected when he sees me nursing a new baby. Can he watch me nurse a second child without feeling jealous and left out?
A: You are asking a very tough question, and one I can’t answer for you. If you ask friends who have already had two children, you will probably get a variety of answers. “I wish I had waited a little longer.” “I wish I had not waited this long …” It is such a personal choice. You may want to go to a La Leche League group and talk to other nursing mothers about how they felt about this issue. You also may want to read How Weaning Happens, published by La Leche League—a very helpful book.
You will find that if you are still nursing when you become pregnant, you may experience some discomfort when nursing due to tender nipples. If you continue nursing past three months into the pregnancy, you may find that your milk supply drops dramatically, as your body concentrates on using nutrients for the growing baby. Some toddlers will wean at this point as the milk available to them dwindles. Or, some mothers encourage the weaning, as they are uncomfortable nursing.
I don’t know if your toddler will feel jealous and left out when you nurse another. Maybe. But certainly there are ways to handle this with love, and to help your older child feel special even though he is no longer nursing. An important part of life is learning to share. As your child gets older and understands more, it will be easier to explain that he also was nursed when he was a baby. Now that he is older, he gets different special things, like french fries and trips to the park, that the baby doesn’t get.
Enjoy your 22-month-old. That is a wonderful age of excitement and discovery!
By Ann Calandro
BSN, RNC, IBCLC Lactation Consultant