I kind of wasn’t really expecting to ever write this post. I found breastfeeding in the first trimester such hard work, especially since it triggered nausea which led us to night wean. I was determined to take a “wait and see” approach, making myself no promises either way. I believe that allowing children to outgrow the need to breastfeed is such a gift but that the balance of needs between the two people in a nursing relationship naturally shifts over time.
So I had mixed feelings when I thought she was weaning. During the second trimester, breastfeeding, as most things, got a whole lot easier. My colostrum came in and Talitha reached a stage where I could reason with her about how often and how long we fed. It began to look like weaning was unlikely.
By last month, I realised I needed to get my head around the distinct possibility that I would be tandem breastfeeding my two-and-a-half-year-old and my newborn.
Now at almost 40 weeks, I look back and it’s been such a weird and wonderful journey, breastfeeding during this pregnancy. It’s certainly an incredibly personal experience, unique to any mother who finds herself in this position. I’ve benefited from hearing others’ stories and, hopefully, someone else will benefit from mine.
I guess it must be down to my body producing more colostrum but Talitha has suddenly in the last few weeks wanted to feed more frequently and for longer. I’m not thrilled about it but at least it means she sometimes naps or gives me a chance to rest and read during the day.
Discomfort still there
Breastfeeding continues to be physically and, at times, emotionally, unpleasant. It’s unbearable on one side so I’ve stopped feeding from that side altogether. As long as I get Talitha to latch really carefully, it’s usually OK but I never just let go and stop thinking about it as I would before.
It’s always something I’m actively choosing to do. She comes into our bed in the morning and her asking for “milky” is generally a countdown to us waking up altogether because I know that I can only manage it for so long. So, I’ve got really militant about counting to ten with her, after which she’ll happily come off and demand porridge for breakfast.
The only time I just carry on is if I am absolutely desperate for her to have a nap. And then it becomes an opportunity to practice hypnobirthing! It’s not pain so much as just really irritating! In my less rational moments I worry that it’s always going to be like this but I know it’s down to pregnancy hormones.
Breastfeeding in public
For the first time since Talitha was a very tiny baby and I was a new mother, I’ve started to feel slightly embarrassed about breastfeeding in public. I think part of the issue is that, apart from breastfeeding support groups, we haven’t done it in so long. Generally, Talitha is too busy to ask or is easily distracted if I feel it’s inconvenient for me to feed her when we’re out and about, which, to be honest, I usually feel like it is.
However, there have been a few times recently where she’s been (loudly) adamant that “milky” is what she wants and nothing else will do. I have felt that she is expressing a need for reassurance or comfort and that, actually, breastfeeding her is the quickest and least disruptive way of meeting that need. I actually think it’s a pity we don’t see children breastfed into, well, childhood, in Britain. It does little for normalisation and quite a lot for isolating mothers who continue for longer.
At the same time, I would rather Talitha not pick up on my discomfort or anyone else’s and, thankfully, I’ve yet to deal with that. I think my feeling of strangeness has primarily come from the combination of being out and about breastfeeding a child approaching three and exposing my massive pregnant belly!
Conversations with my nursling
Talitha surprised Laurence the other day by calling my breasts “our milkies” meaning that they belong to her and the baby. I asked her again what the milk tastes like and she said: “Sweet and just like milky” – whatever that means! Sometimes, while she’s feeding, she’ll lay a hand on my bump and stroke it. She’ll come off and have a little chat with the baby. It goes something like this. “Hello, —, having a nice day? You will like milkies!”
Preparing for our new baby
In early pregnancy I was a bit freaked out about how tandem nursing could work should my newborn have similar breastfeeding problems to the ones we struggled through with Talitha.
The prospect of breastfeeding two didn’t reassure me that I would make enough milk because I was still uncertain that tongue-tie was the only cause of my low milk production. I also didn’t know that things were ever completely resolved with Talitha’s feeding. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never were.
However, I’m now in a really good place with this. I feel prepared to breastfeed the second time around, having addressed the last experience and defined my own success. I will talk at greater length about this another time.
All in all, I’m really glad we got here. I know that many women do end up needing to wean during pregnancy and that is a valid and entirely personal decision. Others find their nurslings self-wean before they expected them to. We’ve been fortunate, really. I have no idea what’s going to happen next and I don’t really have any milestones in mind for when we’ll go on to. I just feel good about where we are.