When I was pregnant for Luke, I had ever intention to breastfeed. I worried about if I’d succeed, but it was one of those things I was really set on (I didn’t have any formula in our home, purposely. We live 20 minutes from the closest store we could buy formula at. I figured by making it hard to obtain I would be less likely to give up during a breastfeeding session).
When Luke was born and we started breastfeeding it was hard. Really,really hard. I wanted to give up. I was just going to pump and bottle feed. In mentioning this to my midwife, she did everything in her power to prevent that. She made every effort to help me through the difficulties and prevent me from going down the pump/bottle road (not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s just a really really hard thing to maintain long-term). After about 6 weeks we were finally getting the hang of nursing.
The next big challenge we had occurred around the time Luke got his first teeth. With those teeth came my first bite while nursing. Lets just say that was tough! I jumped and yelped and scared the daylights out of my little baby and he refused to nurse for 3 days! I thought this was the end of our nursing but he finally went back to it.
My original goal was to breastfeed for one year. That seemed like the right amount of time before we actually got there. Once we got there, I was already about 6 weeks pregnant. I seriously considered weaning, but it just didn’t seem like the right option. I still appreciated the benefits of breastfeeding as far as Luke’s health was concerned and Luke still appreciated the comfort he got from nursing. Neither of us had any real reason to give it up…so we didn’t. Now 18 months later, 34 weeks pregnant we’re still breastfeeding.
Resources that offer information on breastfeeding during pregnancy are few and far between. I hope that sharing what we’ve been through so far is helpful to someone!
Pregnancy week 4-12:
During this time breastfeeding was virtually the same for me as it was before pregnancy. Luke was nursing 6 times a day at this point and I was still producing a good bit of milk. At 12 weeks pregnant I was in a wedding and wasn’t home to nurse Luke. I pumped that night for the missed feeding and got 7 ounces of milk (I was shocked!). At this point the nipple pain wasn’t too bad and my nausea from morning sickness was close to the same whether or not I was nursing.
Pregnancy week 13-24
My morning sickness got really bad during this time and it would intensify while breastfeeding. Between the morning sickness and the calorie demand for breastfeeding I had a really difficult time eating enough. I lost 10lbs and didn’t start gaining weight in this pregnancy until 20 weeks. I remember one night I ran and dropped Luke into Jon’s arms mid nurse so that I could hightail it to the bathroom. In addition to that the pain during nursing was really, really intense during this period. It was agonizing and I had to talk myself up for each session. During this time we cut back from 6 to 3 nursing sessions a day and I very seriously considered weaning. It was like the pain of first learning to breastfeed combined with the feeling of Luke having a mouth full of razors. I am really surprised that I didn’t wean during this time, but Luke really didn’t seem ready. I lived one nursing session at a time and often sat there thinking “if I just make it through this session, I’ll consider weaning and a technique in time for the next session” and yet I always nursed just one more time. My milk significantly decreased in amount during this timeframe too. I was probably lucky to get an ounce of milk/colostrum?
Pregnancy week 25- now at 34 weeks
During this time breastfeeding got better. It didn’t go back to normal but it’s not nearly as painful. Rather than excruciating pain throughout the whole session I just brace myself when he latches and then the pain reduces. We’re still nursing 3 times a day although Luke will now ask to “neh” (nurse) more often. I’ve never fulfilled a request to nurse outside of his normal times. My milk (which I’m pretty sure is totally colostrum at this point) has increased in volume again. It’s not nearly as much as it used to be, but I can hear Luke gulping again while nursing which indicates that he is getting more. A new side effect of nursing that started around 30 weeks is the contractions. Nursing releases similar hormones as those released during labor and as a result it can cause the uterus to contract. I’ve had some very strong contractions during nursing sessions. They don’t cause any alarm as they always stop within 15-30 minutes of a nursing session, but they can make it very difficult to lift Luke into his crib before bed!
Another side effect of nursing at this time is the laxative effect of colostrum. Colostrum is an excellent laxative to help newborn babies remove meconium from their bodies. Lets just say that it has the same effect on toddlers but it’s a lot more work when they also eat a full diet of normal food….
Our nursing future:
I have no timeframe on weaning anymore. I never thought I’d nurse a baby for this long and I’m not sure how much longer we’ll go for. I now know it isn’t worth trying to pinpoint a date. It will happen when it happens. I have full intentions to tandem nurse once the new baby arrives. I wish there were more resources available in regards to tandem nursing but it seems to be a learn as you go type process! I am thankful that my midwife has nursed through pregnancy and tandem nursed and offers a wealth of information. Please be sure to speak with your midwife/ob about breastfeeding during pregnancy. While it has been deemed safe for me to follow this path I know some woman (such as those at risk for preterm labor) may not be good candidates.
I often get asked if I’m still nursing and when I’m going to stop. My go to answer has been, “we figure he won’t nurse when he goes to college.” This tends to end the conversation pretty quickly