Nursing Through Pregnancy: Second Trimester
At the end of my first trimester, I wrote a post about the ins and outs of nursing during early pregnancy. I’m a bit late in doing so, but I wanted to follow up with an update on how things went during the second trimester. I mentioned previously that my main concerns going into this pregnancy were that either my milk would dry up and I wouldn’t be able to nurse successfully for a full two years as I had hoped, or that nursing would become too painful for me to continue comfortably.
At the end of my first trimester, I hadn’t noticed any changes in my milk at all. It actually seemed that my supply may have increased, and Annabelle was nursing a bit more than she had before I became pregnant. This changed soon after. It was sometime around sixteen weeks that I realized I wasn’t producing much milk at all. I have never pumped, but was always able to hand express easily when I needed to store milk for one reason or another. Early in my second trimester, however, I noticed that I was only able to express a few drops. Annabelle still asked to nurse at her usual times (morning, nap, bedtime, and sometimes in between), but grew bored very quickly, so our nursing sessions became very short and I began to wonder if she would wean. We were in Italy at the time, and being able to nurse on our flight out had really helped Annabelle settle down to sleep on the long overnight journey there. By the time we headed home, I was nineteen weeks and my supply had dwindled so much that offering milk at sleep time failed to settle Annabelle and I found myself with a tired and very grumpy toddler on our return flight. I suppose because there wasn’t really much milk to offer.
It was shortly after our return home, sometime around twenty weeks, that I realized I couldn’t express even a drop. Annabelle still asked to nurse, though sessions did not last long at all. I asked her often if she was getting any milk and her answer was always yes, but I was skeptical. I have heard from many other women who nursed while pregnant that this is when it can really hurt, but fortunately I still never had any actual pain. There was definitely sensitivity, and I began to limit nursing or offer something else when I knew it would be uncomfortable if I said yes. Fortunately Annabelle didn’t seem bothered, and she turned two just after I reached twenty weeks, which meant that we had reached my breastfeeding goal. Of course the goal had been at least two years, so we continued on, but it was nice to know that if she chose to wean or it became painful for me, we would still have achieved my original goal.
I consider myself to have had a pretty easy time of nursing while pregnant. I was relieved that supply didn’t become an issue until mid-pregnancy and the change seemed to be somewhat subtle, and I’m so grateful to have has minimal negative sensations. As I mentioned previously, I admire women for sticking with it, even when it’s tough, but for me personally nursing would not have continued to work if it has become painful. I was so pleased that we were able to continue a positive nursing relationship throughout my entire second trimester and beyond. As I became more tired and more emotional in general, that quiet time together became an even more important anchor in our mother-daughter relationship than it had been before. No matter how tough the morning was, relaxing and snuggling up at nap time almost always brought us back to center.
The one thing that really surprised me was how emotional the loss of my milk made me. I knew, of course, that Annabelle was getting of plenty of nutrition from healthy food and that my milk would return in time for the new baby. It was the sudden realization that my child was unsettled, and this parenting and connecting tool that I had relied on so much was suddenly gone completely that caught me off guard. There’s also just something about knowing that you can provide perfect nutrition for another human being that is pretty neat, but suddenly I no longer had that. I didn’t realize how much that meant to me until it was gone. Of course the heightened emotional state of a pregnant woman probably made this a bit more difficult than it would otherwise have been. In any case, it wasn’t long before we found some new ways of settling and centering, and fortunately nursing still came through at least once a day, too.
I’m very nearly thirty six weeks, so this post is publishing a bit late and will be followed before I know it with one on the third trimester. It looks very much like posts about tandem nursing will follow in due time as well, but we’ll see how things unfold. If you have nursed, or are nursing while pregnant, I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. So much can be gained, I believe, from sharing our experiences. I know I felt so much more relaxed and prepared early in my pregnancy, simply because I knew what to expect from having talked with other women who had continued to nurse an older child during all or part of a pregnancy. It helps to know we’re not alone!
Jorje of Mommajorje.com has also written about her nursing through pregnancy journey. It is so different for every nursing pair! To see what the second trimester was like for her, you can refer to her updates from 20 Weeks and 25 Weeks.
If you missed them in my first post on this topic, these mamas have some great information in breastfeeding while pregnant in general:
If you’re curious about the safety of nursing during pregnancy, you’ll appreciate this post by Dionna of Code Name: Mama, “Breastfeeding During Pregnancy – Common Concerns About Safety.” She also addresses Common Concerns About Supply.
For honest answers to most any question you may have about nursing while pregnant, look no further than Dulce of Dulce de Leche. She wrote, “Everything you ever wondered about breastfeeding during pregnancy but didn’t want to Ask.”
Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares her experience and some suggestions for others in, “Breastfeeding During Pregnancy.”