Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Nursing Through Pregnancy

When I first found out I was pregnant in December one of my first thoughts was about Sammy nursing.  He was 14 months at the time and was still nursing 5-6x a day.  I began doing some research on nursing during pregnancy and not only came up short but also full of conflicting information.  There were obvious biases on and the towards it being safe and then of course less breastfeeding friendly sites were on the cautious side and told you to wean.  I fortunately knew a few women who had successfully nursed during pregnancy and their encouragement as well as their healthy thriving children gave me the courage to continue on with my goal of allowing Sammy to self wean.

Had Sammy been knocking out his nursing sessions like other toddlers his age I may have just encouraged weaning, however he was still nursing as much as he did at 8 months and clearly needed the comfort and nutrition.  Just like with bottles as a young infant, he was not interested in milk from any other source aside from straight from the tap.  This trend continues to this day.  I'm now 4 weeks post partum and Sammy is 23 months old.  As you can see Sammy loves dem boobies ;)

 During the first trimester there didn't seem to be any change for me in continuing nursing so on we went.  However, almost immediately into my fourth or fifth month of pregnancy, nursing became incredibly uncomfortable almost to the point of what it felt like to nurse a newborn who didn't know how to latch onto breasts that had no idea what they were doing.  I would literally count to get my mind off of the pain.  It was horrible, especially because it was my body's doing and had nothing to do with Sammy.  I had to start cutting his nursing sessions short.  In a way I wonder if this was my body's way of making sure I allowed my pregnancy to continue without harm (My OBs concern was that my toddler would be taking away the nutrition my pregnancy needed).

All of a sudden around month 7, in the midst of counting and using the length of a song to get through a nursing session with Sammy the pain just went away.  I started to feel like Sammy wasn't dry nursing anymore and could hear him swallowing vs just suckling.  I also was able to hand express to see what was up and while the milk coming out wasn't cream in color (it was more clear) it was there and easy to produce.  I didn't ever have colostrum leak when I was pregnant with Sammy, so I'm not sure if that is what it was.   I showed the lactation consultant in the hospital a few hours after I had given birth to Lexi and she called it transitional milk.  I have no idea exactly what that means, but it wasn't my full milk and wasn't colostrum either.

One of the few pictures of us nursing.  Side lying ended up being the most comfortable position once I was pregnant.  Bailey likes to get in on the morning snuggles too.  And don't worry, I'm wearing shorts, they just are short and my belly as you can see was HUGE.
A few benefits to nursing during pregnancy were the ample amount of times I was able to sit still with a toddler.  I honestly don't know if I could have survived pregnancy without the "downtime" of nursing.  It gave me an extra 20 minutes in bed in the morning with Sammy, as well as anytime I needed to rest I was able to just ask him if he wanted to nurse.  Normally the answer was yes. Nursing through pregnancy also without a doubt made the transition for Sammy from only child to first child easier.  He understands without having to be explained what the Baby is doing.   It also made breastfeeding a newborn again one billion times easier.  I was insanely shocked.  Even the hospital lactation consultant couldn't believe how great my nipples looked for having had a newborn latching on for several hours.  I haven't had any pain whatsoever this time.  I was dreading it and am so glad I was spared.  I also think the engorgement process didn't last as long as my breasts are already set to regulating a supply.

Also, shockingly, Sammy started to really wean once the baby came home.   I'm not sure if it was because I spent two days away from him in the hospital or because he saw the baby nursing from me, or the taste, or it was finally time for him or a combination.  Either way, he went from nursing 3x (morning, nap, and bedtime) to 2x a day (morning, nap), then 1x  (morning) all withing a week of being home.  It was a very welcome change!  I had been wanting to stop the bedtime nursing session for a while just because I was so tired by that time of night.  Over the last few weeks, he'll occasionally ask to nurse before his nap or bedtime or at odd times like during a playdate (hi Steph).  Normally as long as his sister has just nursed I'll let him get some leftovers.  Otherwise he waits. 

I hope this information helps other women in the same situation.  If you have a normal healthy pregnancy, trust your body and your gut.  If your child is ready to wean, pregnancy is as good a time as ever since it can at times be very hard.  If your child is showing no signs of wanting to wean and is old enough to get nutrition from other sources, keep on trucking on.


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