Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

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Every woman’s experience of both breastfeeding and pregnancy differs. As a result, it’s impossible to predict what it would be like for you. There is a very common thread, however, in the experiences of other mothers ‘pain’. *see the end of this post for links to some other experiences.

While I felt a certain amount of sensitivity around my nipples in the first trimester, it was never so bad that I even considered giving up (although due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I considered forced weaning). However, as we’ve approached and passed 16 weeks of pregnancy, the pain associated with latching on and off has become relatively excruciating, and I’ve found myself grimacing like never before during nursing.

Another problem I experienced in the first trimester was that nausea increased during breastfeeding, and I’d sometimes have to unlatch my daughter to vomit.

Additionally, while my daughter eats really well during the day and only has breastmilk to help her settle down for naps, she is still a regular night time feeder. While this has never been a problem, the pain now actually wakes me up at night.

I have been looking for ways of coping with breastfeeding pain during pregnancy, but so far haven’t come up with much by way of solution.  The problem is that just as the pain differs from person to person, so does the solution.

  • Some mothers are able to ‘suck it up’, grimace through the pain, and get on with it. For some it only lasts for a short while. For others it becomes so bad, they feel they have no choice but to wean.
  • You can try a regular nipple cream, although this may also make your nursling withdraw from nursing.
  • Ice rubbed on the nipple, or a cold compress applied before nursing, can help deaden the area a little, decreasing pain – but most of the problem for me is with night nursing, and getting up to first do a cold compress is impractical.
  • Increasing fluid intake. Apparently dehydration can make the nipples more sensitive.
  • Relaxation techniques. This has probably been the most effective and practical solution for me so far, and has provided a good platform to exercise hypnobirthing relaxation techniques that I used during the last labour. Golden thread breathing has made a major impact, but it is also really mind over matter. (This has also really helped during the worst bouts of sickness.)

When to wean is really up to each mother to decide what she wants to do, what she can cope with and for how long and what her reasons are.

Why not just wean my 23-month old? Because she’s still too attached to her nursing. It gives her comfort and security. I am afraid to simply cut that off and in six months give it to another baby. I do not believe that she will have ‘forgotten’, but feel that it will increase the chances of rivalry between her and her sibling, and really, weaning is something I would like to come from her, when she is ready.

On a slightly different note, what has surprised me more than anything during this time has been the response to finding out that I am still nursing during pregnancy. To put it into perspective, I’ve never really had any negativity towards breastfeeding an almost two year old, even though her height makes her look older.

I have, however, been asked repeatedly, and told with concern that you cannot breastfeed when you’re pregnant. Especially older women have made comments like:

  • Breastfeeding in BrusselsYour milk becomes poisonous when you’re pregnant

(Erm…it doesn’t. It does change, from the second trimester onwards, and reverts back to colostrum eventually. While your nursling might no longer like the taste and decide to self-wean, it is certainly not poisonous and is in fact incredibly healthy, although it may also have a laxative effect on your nursling.)

  • Your nursing child is taking nutrition from your growing baby

(Actually, your body is going to provide for both unborn baby and nursling. It will take everything it needs from you, so it’s important to have a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet.)

  • You CANNOT nurse during pregnancy

(Erm… Watch this.)

  • Your milk is gone and she’s just sucking

(You can hear when a baby is simply suckling, and when they are taking in liquid. Big gulps and a deflating boob are evidence of milk being consumed.)

  • Breastfeeding can cause you to miscarry

(To date, no research suggests or proves this.)

While the sheer misinformation saddens me, I am also pleased that I have been able to use each of those comments as an opportunity to gently, calmly, educate and correct the line of thinking. In each case, it was simply a matter of what they themselves had been told, and seeing me actually doing it has been evidence enough in each case.

Breastfeeding during pregnancy isn’t impossible, but it is an active choice and a conscious decision. At least it is for me.

 

* HoboMama – Breastfeeding Through Pregnancy – 2nd Trimester

* HoboMama – Breastfeeding Through Pregnancy – 3rd Trimester

* CodeName Mama – Common Concerns About Safety (Of nursing during pregnancy)

* Ask Dr Sears – Nursing through pregnancy

* Kelly Mom – Nursing During Pregnancy and Tandem Nursing

* Smiling Like SunshineTips for Tandem Nursing

* Momma Jorje – Nursing Through Pregnancy ( a look at the late night, tired, more miserable side of it all) 

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28 thoughts on “Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

  1. Rebecca

    I can relate to everything you have said here. I’m 18 weeks pregnant with a 19 month old boy, still nursing. The backlash from people is annoying, from the risk of miscarriage to not giving the fetus enough nutrients and “you will have to wean- how will you cope with 2 nursers!”
    Siiiiigh. Thank God for women like you, I need the support. X

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  2. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    So glad you’re helping to correct some of the misinformation out there against breastfeeding during pregnancy. There really is a lot of it!

    Kudos to you for continuing to give your daughter what she needs, and hugs to you, too — because I know it’s hard. I also found the pain a great chance to practice my childbirth hypnosis in advance. Funny how that works out!

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  3. missy

    I nursed through our second pregnancy, although I remember limiting my daughter at times due to the pain. She even continued to dry nurse during the second trimester. I just thought about the closeness we could share while nursing, closeness that she would have to share soon enough, and that got me through. We now have two tandem nursing toddlers.

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  4. Carolina J.

    Me and my husband always were wondering if one can breastfeed while pregnant. Your article is wonderful as always and, oh, how we laughed at “Ouch-Kiss dhoo dhoo better” episode! :-)

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  5. I’m still nursing strong at 24 weeks. I think I mainly knew I was pregnant because she started nursing more often. It does hurt from time to time, so when my breasts are sensitive, I ask her to nurse gently. SOmetimes I ask her to relatch. Often I just scream. Not at her, just in pain. Many say you shouldn’t show your pain, but I think that’s BS, she can know that it is uncomfortable, and it makes her more considerate. I don’t scream AT her though ;)
    Mamapoekie’s last blog post ..Indoctrination, Alienation, Violence and Consumption (rerun)

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Mamapoekie, I tend to agree. Sometimes when I say “Ouch” she’ll unlatch, give ‘dhoo dhoo’ a quick ‘kiss better’, then relatch – normally without waking up!! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Jo

    A person should do what’s good for him/her: if you can nurse then nurse. I just love all those lines- especially “your milk becomes poisonous when you’re pregnant”! lol
    Jo’s last blog post ..Growth in High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Jo, lol. yes. that’s my favourite too!

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  7. I nursed for 16 weeks of my pregnancy and near the end had the pain with latching. I attributed it to my 18 month old cutting her upper molars and I-teeth though. Needlesstosay, we had to wean (she was only nursing 1x/day…at bedtime) because my milk dried up. After four days of increasing frustration on her part, I finally “checked” my nipples for milk and there was none. I cried. She cried. But what was I to do? “Dry” nursing hurt so bad and felt really weird. Plus she would just be so frustrated with me she’d bite, scratch and pinch me. So we weaned at 18.5 months. It took her about 3 weeks to stop asking for milk. Since then we’ve developed a new nighttime routine with lots of snuggling, skin2skin contact, etc. and she’s adjusted. I had hoped to nurse her until at least 24 months (when her brother is due as well) and possibly tandem nurse, but it wasn’t in the cards for us. I am proud though, to have nursed her as long as I did…we overcame many early obstacles and 18.5 months was WAY longer than I ever imagined we’d make it.

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Married2MrWright, Thanks for your comment. If you’re happy with your decisions, and proud of them, I think that’s the most important part. I am rather terrified of quitting nursing. It just makes both our lives simpler, specially since we travel so much. What did you tell her when she asked for milk? I’ve tried telling Kyra it’s finished for now, or milkies is sleeping and so on, but she just keeps asking for/crying for it?!

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    georgine Reply:

    @Luschka,

    I am night weaning my youngest (20 months – started last night) and I told her the milkies are sleeping. So, no nursing in bed at all. There was some crying 0 each time she woke up and asked for it, but I just kept telling her they were sleeping. But the crying makes me feel horribly. I feel like I am letting Charley down in some way. BUt she is 20 months, and doesn’t really need milk at night – and I really want to sleep a whole night through (haven’t since before I had her). I still hope to nurse her during the day until she is three and maybe just gives it up on her own – HA! HA! I girl can hope!
    georgine’s last blog post ..Labor Day Weekend – 2011

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  8. Thanks for sharing your story! I remember doing the same thing, nuring my 10-11 month old, and having to go throw up due to morning sickness. (Not FUN!) Unfortuenatly for me, I couldn’t continue to nurse past 12 months because I lost my milk. I was working and trying to pump and would have the pump attatched for 30+ minutes and nothing would come out and when it did, there wasn’t much and it was like coudy water, so I knew there wasn’t enough nutrition to sustain my first born. (Wish I could have tho) I nursed my 2nd until she was 20 months old when she self weaned. My kid’s are now 4 & 2 1/2. I would really like to have 2 more kids close in age and plan to nurse the 3rd through 4th’s pregnancy (If I got to choose, lol!)

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Rachel @ day2day joys, I have so much respect for working moms who still pump. It is such a stress on the body, I think. Good luck with planning 2 & 3. I wanted four too, but with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I don’t have the strength of character or will power to go through pregnancy again!

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing your experience (so far)! I have my own BF / pregnancy post publishing tomorrow. I wrote it in the late hours of the night when my nursing discomfort was at its worst. (So it is a bit vent-y.) Things have improved a bit, so I think I may need to write an update at some point.
    Momma Jorje’s last blog post ..Why Treat Lice without Chemicals?

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Momma Jorje, Thanks Jorje. I’m adding your post to the list above. Let me know when you write the follow up and I’ll add it too.

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    Momma Jorje Reply:

    @Luschka, Cool, thanks! I’ll let you know.
    Momma Jorje’s last blog post ..Nursing through Pregnancy – 20 weeks

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  10. I nursed my oldest while I was pregnant. About a month before she turned three and and I was sixth months pregnant, my milk dried up. I am not sure if was the pregnancy, that my daughter was only nursing a couple of times a day (and at least one of those was “checking in” kind of nurse. I felt badly, though she was fine with it. I had planned to nurse longer.

    Funny, I knew I was pregnant because my nipples were sore. I must have just dealt with it. I don’t remember. I do know now, with my younger daughter, my nipples kill (like when you first start nursing) when I ovulate. Hormones are funny aren’t they?
    georgine’s last blog post ..Labor Day Weekend – 2011

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    Luschka Reply:

    @georgine, it’s so amazing, isn’t it, just how incredibly different we all are? thanks for sharing your experience. It’s so helpful for other moms to know that ‘normal’ is different for everyone.

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  11. Eleanor

    I had to stop breastfeeding Emily when she was 16&half months, I was about 4&half months pregnant. The pain was too much for me and at first I thought she was biting and gave her a telling off! By that stage she had almost weaned herself and was only having a 5 minute feed at bedtime anyway. I think she has either forgotten all about it or is just not bothered, she doesn’t seem interested. She knows about the baby and once indicated that my breasts were for the baby… maybe that wasn’t what she was getting at though, who knows!?

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Eleanor, I totally understand. I have no idea how I’m going to get through it at this point, but am taking it a day at a time.

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  12. Thank you for sharing your experience! After also reading Dionna’s post today, I have to admit it makes me nervous about potentially being pregnant and still nursing Baby one day, but I know how much Baby loves nursing, so I also know I will do everything in my power to get through it. Not that I have to worry about it now, but I’m so glad to read honest information about this so that nothing is a surprise later on.

    I’d love to have you link this post up at Green & Natural Mamas Thursday if you’re interested.
    Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama’s last blog post ..Green & Natural Mamas Thursday Linkup Plus 3 Ways to be a Mama Activist

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    Luschka Reply:

    @Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama, Hi Charise. Thanks for the comment. Sometimes I think being aware is half the battle won. People are often taken by surprise and that’s when they give up. At least if you know, and know it’s normal, you can make an informed choice.

    (I haven’t linked up this time, as I really don’t have time to read other posts right now, which is a little unfair. Will remember in future though)

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