Nursing Through Pregnancy: The Third Trimester
Now that Elliot is almost three months old, it’s probably time that I share the conclusion of my nursing through pregnancy journey. I chose to write through this experience because it can be a challenging one for many of us and knowing to expect is one of the best ways to prepare for any challenges that may come. Pregnancy hormones can affect milk supply and make nursing uncomfortable or even unbearable. I really appreciated hearing the stories of women who had been through it all when I was preparing for my second pregnancy, and I wanted to add my own story in hopes of helping others prepare. Personally, I think I had it pretty easy, but it’s valuable for women to know that it’s entirely possible they’ll have it easy, too.
I wrote about the first trimester, during which things remained pretty darn normal and the second trimester, when my milk supply more or less disappeared. I mentioned before that when I found out I was pregnant, I was aware of two common problems: pain with nursing, and weaning due to changes in milk or milk supply. My daughter was not yet two when I conceived, and I wanted to provide her with milk for at least two years, as recommended by the World Health Organization. I knew that pain or lack of milk might interfere, but we gave it a shot and all turned out pretty well.
At the end of my second trimester, I couldn’t express any milk, so as far as I could tell there was none. When I asked, Annabelle still said she was getting some, but I’m not sure she really understood the question since having milk, to her, means nursing. Despite knowing that my breasts are, in fact, breasts, she still refers to them as “milk” even today. Fortunately, just as my third trimester began (about 28 weeks), I started producing colostrum. At that point, Annabelle was still nursing at bedtime each night, at naptime most days, and occasionally once more, but always for very brief moments since there wasn’t much, if anything there. After my colostrum came in, frequency was the same, but she nursed a bit longer each time.
Throughout everything I never reached a point where nursing was actually painful. It felt different from before, when it simply felt like nothing, but not painful. Occasionally there was discomfort and I would simply tell Annabelle it was time to be done for now, which was typically no big deal. My one disappointment was that nursing to sleep did not work anymore. Although we had transitioned from nursing to sleep at night and had night weaned, I was still nursing Annabelle to sleep for naps until late in my pregnancy when naps became incredibly difficult. Of course it was also late in my pregnancy that we moved and I found myself exhausted by lunchtime every day, so this was a bummer, but after awhile we got into a routine where Annabelle would nurse and then we would both roll over and doze off. A few minutes later, I would wake again and sneak out of bed, and she’d sleep another hour or two. It worked perfectly – I loved getting a quick nap and having my “me” time, too.
Overall, nursing through pregnancy turned out to be pretty uneventful for us. I’m grateful that I had plenty of milk throughout my first trimester and into my second and was able to meet my goal of providing milk for Annabelle throughout her first two years. I’m so appreciative of others’ willingness to share their journeys, and that I had the incredible resource that is Adventures in Tandem Nursing. Knowing what to expect and what was actually happening in my body allowed me to relax and go with the flow, literally and figuratively, and it worked out pretty well.
If you’re looking for more information and stories about nursing through pregnancy, you can read about my experience in the first trimester and the second trimester, and check out some of the links below. If you’ve nursed through pregnancy, what was your experience? Did your supply drop? Did you experience any pain or discomfort?
Jorje of Mommajorje.com has several updates from her third trimester experience, starting with this one about her 29th and 30th week. Links to the rest of her story are in the bottom of that post.
Luschka of Diary of a First Child wrote specifically about Breastfeeding a Toddler Through the Third Trimester of Pregnancy.
If you missed them in my first two posts on this topic, these mamas have some great information in breastfeeding while pregnant in general:
Dionna of Code Name: Mama addresses, “Breastfeeding During Pregnancy – Common Concerns About Safety” as well as “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.”