So, this may be what weaning looks like – Breastfeeding while pregnant

When I wrote about breastfeeding through the first trimester, I kind of thought it might eventually be followed by second and third trimester sequels – or at least the former. I guess I knew that chances were Talitha would wean before the new baby comes. At 26 months, she’s that bit older and her need to breastfeed is not as strong as it was. It doesn’t outbalance her distaste for the changes pregnancy has brought. So, it looks like we’re weaning.

I’ve been totally cool with the prospect of continuing. That is a lie. I have been nervous about the possibility of tandem nursing though I know it’s a great option for many families and genuinely would be open to it. But yes, I have been cool with it in the sense that, despite the considerable discomfort that pregnancy has brought to our breastfeeding experience, I wanted it to end consensually if possible. Incidentally, it looks like that’s what’s happening – just sooner than I expected.

My milk went sooner than I expected. It took a dive sort of nine weeks in and now I don’t hear her swallow at all. At first, she started telling me that my breasts weren’t working, squeezing them in vain to try to stimulate a let down. Now, she generally only wants to be on there for a few seconds at a time, which honestly suits me because when she’s there any longer, she goes into flutter sucking because there is no milk and I find that intolerable at the moment.

What’s amazing to me is how she’s taken this so matter-of-factly. I have not had to tell her what’s happened and she’s not in the least upset about it. When it first went, she informed me: “Milk gone for the baby in Mummy tummy.” Now, when I offer, most of the time she’ll smile and say: “Noooo. Milk for the baby in Mummy tummy.” I tell her: “But Talitha can have milk too.” She looks at me in this poor-mummy-she’s-so-clueless way and grins: “Nooooo.” Well, OK.

So, we often go days without breastfeeding now and when she does, it’s usually just for a moment. It’s as if she just wants to remind herself that it’s there, available to her. I know that this is not necessarily the end. She could change her mind when my colostrum comes in, for example. But right now, it feels like it is.

She surprised me the other day by out of the blue announcing: “When the baby in Mummy tummy comes, milk come back.” How she knows this I’m not sure. Maybe she just worked it out herself. So, I asked her: “Will Talitha have milk when the baby comes then?” Again the silly Mummy look: “Nooooo. Milk for the baby in Mummy tummy.”

Friends who know what a significant role breastfeeding has played in my parenting ask how I feel about all this. Mixed feelings. If I’m honest, a part of me feels relieved that she may be weaning. I’m a little daunted at the prospect of breastfeeding a newborn again and it’s forever in the back of my mind that the challenges I had with Talitha may present themselves again with this baby. In which case, I’m not sure how I feel about also breastfeeding a toddler, though I’ve heard it can help. I’m also still in a lot of nipple discomfort so weaning looks really attractive from that point of view.

Another part of me is sad that this chapter of our lives is drawing to a close because it’s happened sooner than I expected but then, it was probably always going to be sooner than I expected. If I really look at it, I do think that the timing is good for both of us. I certainly don’t feel any guilt. I may have contributed to my milk going as quickly as it did by night weaning but then pregnancy hormones are powerful and may have done the job then anyway.

All in all, it’s just interesting seeing this whole thing play out. I don’t have strong feelings about any of it and that may well be a good sign.

Breastfeeding while pregnant the third trimester

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  • Awww, that’s a lovely post. Sounds just how weaning should be! I BF throughout my second pregnancy including some dry nursing- Daughter was 12months at conception so didn’t have much understanding of what was happening.

    Although I’d tandem feed again I think my son will wean during pregnancy as he’s that bit older, 20months already. I’d be sad but relieved, nursing in third trimester was so hard as was tandem with a newborn.
    Celesse recently posted..Review- Joy and Joe Super Comfy Baby Wrap.

    • Oh my gosh, I can imagine nursing in third trimester is hard. Resolved to just to see what happens. Lovely that you continued to nurse during pregnancy and even feed them together. What a journey!

  • Awh this is beautiful, brought a tear to my eye. What a sweet and clever girl you have. Its lovely reading about your journey. I’m still breast feeding Valentina and she’s approaching month 9, I didn’t expect to but she wants to and I’m not rushing to end it this time as she is my last child. I want embrace motherhood, as I didn’t do that so much with my first.
    MsXpat recently posted..One Bank Holiday Weekend in Crawley

    • That’s wonderful! I think we have so little preparation for our first children that we can kind of get hit with it! I’m really hoping I’ll have benefited from experience when this next baby comes!

  • This sounds like the perfect situation in a way, I don’t think it can ever really end at the right time because I think there will always be a bit of doubt or sadness about this chapter ending. Well that’s what I imagine with Wilf anyway. Talitha is so clever and sweet xx
    Fritha recently posted..DIY Soap

    • Haha! I did wonder! I can’t wait to see her as a big sister though I’m sure there’ll be all the usual sibling issues too!

  • I recently found out that I’m pregnant again, probably about 8-9 weeks along. My first born is only 5.5 months old. I want to continue exclusively breastfeeding him up to the one year mark but I’ve been reading up on it and everything says he may self-wean before then and that my milk will turn into colostrum when I’m 4-5 months along. I detest formula with every fiber of my being, so that’s not even an option. Has anyone else dealt with pregnancies this close together and still been able to EBF the whole time? Did you have to wean to animal milk or formula?

    • Beverly, the concerns that seems to be coming through your comment is understandable. Your baby is young and you worry that this pregnancy may complicate your breastfeeding relationship. You mention reading about self-weaning (and of course that’s what I’ve blogged about here as what could be happening with us!). Every mother’s experience of breastfeeding while pregnant is unique. Some women find that pregnancy doesn’t change their milk supply at all. Some don’t even experience pain or discomfort breastfeeding while pregnant. Many babies continue to breastfeed regardless. It seems to be that the less reliant the baby is on the breast for nutrition, the less likely they are to continue but that’s by no means a rule of thumb. It is very early in your pregnancy to tell what’s going to happen with your milk supply and with your baby.

      You may find it helpful to keep an eye on your son’s weight with your health care provider so you will know whether some supplementation might be necessary. It may be that in a few months your son eats more solids or there may be no problem with your supply at all. Even if you do decide to give other milks, you may well be able to continue breastfeeding as well.

      A really helpful book to read is Adventures in Tandem Nursing – Breastfeeding during Pregnancy and Beyond. It’s cheapest from the LLL website I think. You may also find this article helpful as it includes mothers’ responses to a pregnant mum with a 6-month-old:

  • I’ve breastfeed my 14 month old everywhere, Times Square, on the train, in Central Park, museums, restaurants you name it. What I am not comfortable doing is pumping in such public places 3 times a day. Breastfeeding can be done discreetly pumping always seems to require getting half naked. A location designed primarily for pumping would be a welcome addition to the promotion of breastfeeding.

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