Saturday, November 2, 2013

Guest Blog: Breastfeeding while Pregnant

Today, I am super thankful for the internet and the ability to find information on a variety of topics. Lately I was struggling about whether or not it was safe and doable to breastfeed while pregnant. This article was my favorite. It is from Mama Say What. - Rejoicing in the Present
It’s no secret that breastfeeding is hard work. And even for a seasoned breastfeeding-pro mama, breastfeeding while pregnant is no walk in the park.
When my daughter was a newborn, she and I definitely went through our share of bumps in the road when it came to breastfeeding— an oversupply, an undersupply, a painful latch, using nipple shields, long nights and lots of tears. I was pretty determined to breastfeed my baby though, and my husband and I worked through all of it together.
When my daughter was almost 11 months old, I found out I was pregnant again. I had gotten my period back only four months postpartum and we had just recently decided to start trying again for a new baby. While we certainly didn’t expect it to happen so quickly (first try!), we were thrilled about the prospect of a second pregnancy.
I had originally planned on breastfeeding for at least six months. Clearly we had reached that goal, and I wanted to continue until she was at least a year. C’s first birthday came and went, but neither us of were ready to stop nursing.
I did some research about continuing breastfeeding while pregnant. I didn’t know anyone in real life who was able to breastfeed while pregnant— most women’s milk dries up during pregnancy. I turned to some breastfeeding websites and blogs and read about how it will probably hurt quite a bit, but that if I’m able to continue nursing, it’s completely safe for both my little girl and my new baby.
As my pregnancy progressed, I considered myself extremely lucky to continue to have such a good milk supply and not feel any pain.

Out of nowhere, nursing my little girl started to hurt— and I mean, really, really hurt. Like, first week of breastfeeding type of pain. It felt like my nipples were being cut. I was at the start of my second trimester when this began.
Then that changed. Ouch.

I stopped pumping altogether— pumping was so much more stressful and painful than actually nursing my baby and to me, it wasn’t worth it. We continued to give C milk from my frozen stash for a while until we switched almost entirely to cow’s milk for her sippy cup during the day.
I learned that in pregnancy, there really isn’t any way to stop the pain since it’s caused by pregnancy hormones. I read a few stories of other women’s experiences of breastfeeding while pregnant and I was convinced that if I just pushed through the pain for a few weeks, it’d get better and eventually go away.
Well, I was wrong. It’s very true that every woman’s experience is different, apparently. I’m currently 32.5 weeks pregnant and let me be honest with you— I’ve given up on the idea that it might stop hurting. Some days are better than others, but overall, it hurts like hell! C is now 17 months old.
For a long while in the second trimester and also still now at times in the third, nursing also caused me to have Braxton Hicks contractions. Nursing through the contractions is uncomfortable, but do-able.
I’ve contemplated stopping altogether because of the pain. My husband, who has always been our number one breastfeeding supporter, has encouraged me to wean my daughter because of it.
The biggest problem, for me, is that I don’t feel my daughter is ready to wean. If I’m being completely honest, I’m not quite ready for her to wean yet either— but I know I could handle it.
Her tears and outstretched arms and little hands signing “milk” over and over when I say no wrench my heart and tell me she’s just not ready.

We’ve cut back on nursing here and there— for the most part, C only nurses before naps and bedtime. Although she really, really wants to nurse to sleep and in the middle of the night, I try not to give in and let her.
I decided that since I’ve made it this far, I could push through the last two months.

My milk has changed and C has definitely noticed it, but I don’t think she minds. Whereas she used to nurse for ten plus minutes on each side, she now nurses only for a couple minutes on each side and switches back and forth.
In part, I don’t think it’s as much about the milk for her as it is about the security and comfort of nursing, and that’s okay because she’s still so little.
I’m hoping that C will possibly self-wean before the new baby arrives— we currently practice “don’t offer, don’t refuse” at bedtime and naptimes, but she always asks to nurse. At the very least, I’m hoping we can cut back on nursing just a little bit more before the new baby comes.
I fully plan on tandem nursing when our new baby arrives, but I hope that C will understand that the new baby must nurse first. Because your body produces colostrum with nutritional value meant for the new baby, the older child must wait until the younger one has had his or her fill. For any mom who has breastfed, you know it’s not always easy for a new baby to become full.
I write this to share my story about breastfeeding while pregnant, because so few women do. I mean it to encourage breastfeeding and not to scare newly pregnant moms.
Breastfeeding has been such a wonderful experience for me, and I know I am so blessed to be able to continue to breastfeed through my pregnancy. Although it is difficult, it’s completely worth every ounce of effort when I get time to cuddle my little girl into my arms at night and together we get to feel the new baby’s kicks.

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