I have always wanted and planned on having my children close together. Not all my children if I were to have more than two, but I knew I wanted my first two to be close in age. I wanted two boys, two years apart – and that’s exactly what I got (yippee!).
Pig was around fifteen months old during the first month of my pregnancy with Dac. He was still heavily nursing around the clock. He was and still is my boobie boy. He loves his “mimis”. (Update – I weaned him a few months before his third birthday).
I have always been an “over-producer”. Crazy letdowns, prone to get mastitis quickly, leaking; you name it, I had it. I never thought I would have any supply issues or anything else besides maybe some discomfort nursing through pregnancy. I did some quick research before getting pregnant and read that milk supply can lessen or diminish, but I didn’t think it was possible for it to happen to me. So my research prematurely ended there and I skipped off to get pregnant.
I’ve joined a couple of support groups for tandem nursers and pregnant women nursing through pregnancy, so the first thing I know for a fact is this: the experience is different for every woman.
I wish I had read more because I could’ve prepared myself better. It wouldn’t have changed anything that I experienced, but it might’ve helped me ease more gracefully through those transitions. I was a hot mess several times during that pregnancy. I’d like to share with you some of my own personal experiences as well as what I’ve learned since truly researching this subject and being in contact with other moms who also nursed through pregnancy. Here are some of the most common things that you may or may not experience while breastfeeding during pregnancy:
- Pain during nursing – it’s very common for women in general to have breast and nipple tenderness during pregnancy, so this is probably top on the list of things I’ve seen a lot of moms experience. The first trimester was the worst for me as far as soreness and pain goes. It also didn’t help that I was experiencing nausea during the first twelve weeks, but I’ve heard it said many times (and I agree) that if you can push through the first trimester, the pain lessens.
- Decrease in milk supply – the most common time for milk supply to take a real nose dive is around the fifth month. This is when the milk starts changing over to colostrum. Some women notice a significant difference, and others do not. From what I’ve read, most will have a decrease to some degree. There is nothing you can do to prevent this. It is completely hormonal; your body is preparing for a new baby and progesterone levels are rising. Your current supply is no indication of what your supply will be five months into pregnancy. Or even the sixth through the tenth month. Some women even see their supply decrease from the beginning. Keep this in mind if you have a child that you want to continue giving breastmilk to. I personally saw a decrease in my supply around week 22. Apparently the taste will change as well and become more salty.
- Your baby/toddler may wean – my midwife, who is my breastfeeding guru with seven children of her own, told me this: if they are younger than 18 months when your milk supply decreases or changes, they are more likely to wean. If they’re older than 18 months, they are more likely to hang around and continue nursing through pregnancy because it doesn’t bother them. Babies that are still getting most of their nutrition from milk will obviously wean if there isn’t enough milk. Some babies and toddlers will wean because they don’t like the salty taste. My son was around 19 months old when my milk supply decreased and he didn’t wean. You’d have to pry boobie from his little dead, cold hands before he’d give it up.
- Nursing aversions – about a third of all pregnant, nursing moms will experience nursing aversions. I had never heard of this term until I began experiencing them and sought help to find out what was going on. When I’ve mentioned to people that I had/have aversions to nursing my toddler, they sometimes come back with “yeah, sometimes it’s uncomfortable to nurse during pregnancy, especially with your belly growing bigger” etc etc. No. Nursing aversions are a sensation of complete agitation and repulsion while nursing. It makes your skin crawl and your toes curl. It’s similar to PPD in that it’s hormonal and it’s not your fault. Your mind wants to nurse your toddler, but your body does not. Some women do not experience aversions during pregnancy and in fact even find that nursing helps them through nausea. And then some women experience the aversions after pregnancy is over. I personally experienced aversions from around 20 weeks until I gave birth. I didn’t have them for six weeks after the baby was born, and then they came back. I continue to have them off and on (more on than off) while nursing my toddler only. I believe my body has wanted to wean my toddler since the aversions first started, but I knew he wasn’t ready and felt it my responsibility to continue on because I purposely got pregnant before he was two years old. After experiencing aversions though, I do not blame any mom who chooses to wean. It’s not an easy choice either way.
I’m glad I did it though because there have been some very awesome benefits to tandem nursing, which I’m going to write about tomorrow! To be continued…Updated – Read about my experience in tandem nursing here.