Breastfeeding while pregnant – the third trimester

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.

Breastfeeding more
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 while pregnant - the third trimester

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.

Breastfeeding while pregnant – the first trimester
Breastfeeding while pregnant – the second trimester
Tandem breastfeeding – the early months

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17 Comments

  1. February 18, 2014 / 10:29 am

    this is so interesting! I doubt I will ever be in this posistion (as we are planning a longer gap and I cannot imagine bf a 4 year old…but you know never say never! ;)) It’s so sweet how she’s telling the baby how much she will like ‘milkies’ Wilf only nurses in the morning now after waking up he runs into our room and nurses for about half an hour whilst he wakes up slowly. He often says’ mmm delicious!’ or ‘yum yum I love booboos’ which always makes me laugh. I sometimes wonder how I would have felt hearing stories like this before I became a mum, it seems normal to me now but I never really imagined bf a two year old. I’m really looking forward to hearing how tandem nursing goes xxx
    Fritha recently posted..Living Arrows

    • February 18, 2014 / 7:47 pm

      I love the conversations they have about it! I definitely found the idea of breastfeeding a toddler odd before I found myself doing it.

  2. February 18, 2014 / 11:01 am

    Ah, ‘you will like milkies!’ – that’s so cute! I found pregnancy to be nine long months of sore boobs, so imagining breastfeeding while pregnant makes my toes curl, though I think it’s amazing – and must really be helping Talitha to prepare for the new baby. I’m interested to read your posts on tandem feeding when that happens 🙂 x
    Fiona recently posted..Books from my Granny’s House

    • February 18, 2014 / 7:49 pm

      I generally haven’t had the kind of breast pain I did in my first pregnancy, actually. That was sooo awful! I don’t know if that’s just because this is a second pregnancy or because I’m still breastfeeding or what.

  3. February 18, 2014 / 11:16 am

    I never tandem breastfed into the third trimester. Lola was feeding a little when I got pregnant with kiki {she was 3 1/2 – so it was only maybe a once a day thing} but she self-weaned when I was about 10 weeks pregnant. Kiki had other issues, and ended up on a soy formula at 8 months which was the only thing that stopped her colic and reflux. This is really interesting to read, looking forward to hearing more about how you get on tandem feeding xx
    Polly Davies recently posted..Homeschooling Q & A

  4. February 18, 2014 / 1:12 pm

    I fell pregnant with my third child when my second was six months old. Before then she had loved breastfeeding, but within weeks she seemed repulsed by the smell of my breasts and of the milk. She would still naturally go in to feed, but then pull of again within seconds and cry.
    It broke my heart and it meant that by seven months our journey was over. It’s not that I chose to stop.
    I did not choose to stop with any of them. My third daughter decided enough was enough at eight months. My first at nine months. I never tried to stop it.
    I assume it happened because after six months I expressed milk so my husband could help at night time. They soon wanted bottle over breast.
    I do not regret it, because it was the best thing for my family as a whole.
    I miss breastfeeding more than I thought I would. I never got to the stage where I found it really annoying,but if I did – I would have stopped 😉
    x
    Ericka Waller recently posted..Are you mindful of your baby?

    • February 18, 2014 / 7:50 pm

      So many women say that – that they missed it more than they expected! Thanks for stopping by to share your experiences, hon.

  5. February 18, 2014 / 6:03 pm

    Wow such a wonderful insight into the world of breastfeeding. With F nursing was not as enjoyable and he self weaned at five months due to low milk production. It’s nice to hear the closeness Talitha has gained with the bump throughout the pregnancy. X
    Lori recently posted..A GOOD BOOK // Paris: Portrait of a City

    • February 18, 2014 / 7:54 pm

      Yes, it has been so good for her, I think. I’m really sorry your experience wasn’t very enjoyable. I also experienced low milk production and breastfeeding didn’t become normal or enjoyable for us until around six months (I was very lucky to have A LOT of support, amongst other things). I haven’t really discussed it in this post but, even having been able to continue to breastfeed, it’s something that’s taken a lot of coming to terms with. Breastfeeding is just not always as we expect it will be – as is a lot of parenting, hey?

  6. February 18, 2014 / 9:18 pm

    Hey I didn’t realise you were still breastfeeding. Interesting piece and I totally get that what you are doing is best for the two of you. Cool tummy art! Luv it. Things usually work themselves out as you say she probably needs that added comfort at the moment its clear you body is willing and able to do that.

    It was not long ago I found out a pregnant mum could breastfeed ‘dah’ but there you go there is still ignorance out there even for those of us you are in mothers. Or maybe its just me dunno lol.

    I recently decided to discontinue breastfeeding. It was a bittersweet decision but I felt it was right for us. Maybe more me than her but I needed to get some of me back and she’s seems to have adapted to the change much to my relief.

    • February 18, 2014 / 9:29 pm

      You’re definitely not alone in that! I was trying to find online experiences of expressing while pregnant and saw a lot of worry that it would trigger premature labour so breastfeeding through pregnancy is not a widely known about experience, it would seem. I’m glad you’ve been able to come to a smooth end you’re happy with. x

  7. February 19, 2014 / 11:32 am

    Wow this is amazing and I think you simply need to do what feels right for you. I weaned my little man just past 2.5 years old and if I had been pregnant at the time I probably would of carried on just to keep the milk flow going throughout, although not sure if I would of coped with increased nausea in the first trimester as I struggled with morning sickness as it was the first time round. Although I am not sure I would of been able to cope with the emotional stress of weaning during pregnancy either as I found this very very tough but the little man was choosing breast milk over everything else and simply was not eating enough food because of it and at 2.5 his weight was starting to take a hit by not eating enough food. It’s such an exciting time for you and I can’t wait to see the new arrival 🙂

    Laura x
    Laura recently posted..His and Her outfit post

  8. February 19, 2014 / 9:04 pm

    I love reading experiences similar to my own!

    We’re now tandem breastfeeding and I have to say, I love it. It wasn’t easy getting here – breastfeeding through pregnancy was tough, especially since I had a HG pregnancy and John went through major sleep regression in the first & second trimesters but in the end it all paid off.

    One thing I didn’t realise was how breastfeeding could help with labour too! My contractions were really irregular to start and breastfeeding John actually helped bring things along and a little more bearable pain-wise.
    Amy – Diddle Diddle Dumpling recently posted..We Are Reading: Edinburgh 123

  9. chloe
    July 30, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    Hi, I’ve just stumbled across this blog and found this particular post very close to me! Im currently 25 weeks pregnant with my third and still breastfeeding my middle child who is nearly 31 months. My first child (now 7) decided she wanted to self wean at 1 year, so i always assumed thats how long id feed subsequent kids for. It felt like, in an irrational way, like a nice round number, haha!

    When my son hit 1 year he was definitely more of a milk fiend, as id co-slept with him (mid dissertation when he was born, only took 7 days off uni and then took him with me and NEEDED sleep any way i could) which was something new to me. We then decided, as we had some ‘free time’ to go backpacking around Asia for 6 months with the 2 kids. It made sense to carry on feeding because i wouldn’t need to sterilise and with the heat he’d always be hyrdated! Of course, by our return he was well and truly hooked!!

    I really thought id wean him before getting pregnant again. This time I’ve had Hyperemis so at times it repulsed me feeding him, and i physically couldn’t do it on the meagre 100 calories i was consuming a day. But at other times, i was desperate to feed him for a rest, possible sleep. I thought for a while he’d gone off it, maybe the taste had changed, but he now asks for it a few times a day. Not at night luckily. I allow it in the morning if we aren’t rushing for school runs, after preschool before he has a little nap (because he’s missed me and the closeness) and if he asks at bedtime. The rest of the time i distract him, and if we are out he is very easily distracted. But its suddenly become a very real possibility that i might tandem feed!!

    Im a sole breastfeeder in my friendship group and family so its hard, particularly with the ages. But its funny how we’ve just fallen into it because i know its the best thing for not just him, but us as a family unit!

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