This is my story about my journey breastfeeding during my pregnancy. Today’s ramblings is my experience breastfeeding during the second trimester with my toddler (14-16 months). It is about hardships, and internal struggles. These are my choices I have made as a mother under the consult of my health care providers.
Last I wrote about my breastfeeding journey, I was really struggling. I was struggling with nursing aversion, with pain and discomfort, and it was really really hard during the first ~20 weeks. But things have changed as I continued breastfeeding during the second trimester, and into the third and final trimester.
Shortly after I had published my piece, my breastfeeding journey took a turn for the better. Sometime before Canadian Thanksgiving, the pain subsided, and the nursing aversion melted away. This is the time *I think* my milk changed.
I am so grateful, I powered thru those early weeks and figured out how to make it work for me and my family. Breastfeeding during a pregnancy can be so many different experiences for so many moms. Had things gotten worse, my story might have changed, but for me things got better.
Changes in Me
They (being the world of breastfeeding know-how) say breastmilk changes at some point after getting pregnant (in preparation for your next baby). Sources on the internet seem to settle on an average midpoint (16-20 week) for things to change (not always, just average). For me, I continue to be just average.
I wish I had written about that week, or two. In my vague recollection, I can remember things changing. The change in myself, the change in my toddler, it was all very obvious that something was up. I went from daily pain, aversion and anger to “hey, this is okay.”
My breasts haven’t felt full in weeks, maybe months. I don’t think they’ve experienced that sensation at all breastfeeding during the second trimester. Even in the first trimester, if he was having an off day and went 3-4 hours without nursing, I’d feel a little heaviness in my breasts, but not anymore. On more than one occasion we’ve gone 5-6-7 hours without nursing, and my boobs are still in their saggy glory.
I’m not one to pump, so I haven’t. But every now and then I try to hand express. Just to see if I can’t squeeze anything, and alas, breastfeeding during the second trimester makes for hard work. Not much, if anything is ever achieved from my hand expression, maybe a drop. I have noticed my toddler with a mouth full of milk, so there is some lingering milk in my body and its not all for nothing.
The pain. Oh the pain. This is perhaps the biggest change. The pain is gone. I know this isn’t the case with all mama’s who breastfeed during the second trimester or breastfeed during pregnancy, but for me, the pain quickly disappeared. I haven’t felt pain or discomfort with nursing in weeks or months. It makes me glad I powered thru the nursing aversions early on.
Changes in My Toddler
My toddler doesn’t have the language skills to tell me things have changed. He only knows three words – Ball, Wow, Daddy. He can sign food, but doesn’t associate that with breastmilk. If he wants to nurse he tugs on my shirt, and rapidly prods my breast tissue.
While his language can’t tell me things have changed, his behaviour can. In early October, we went from nursing all day and all night, to nursing every 3-5 hours. He cut his nursing in half, and was rarely, if ever satisfied with the experience. He loved the closeness and connection, but less the nutrition and substance.
All of a sudden, I had a hungry hungry toddler on my hands. Until this point, our approach with solids had been pretty casual. He enjoyed them. He ate, and I rarely stressed about having enough food (after all, I was a waking milk machine). But now, he needed snacks and he needed water. He ate his meals with so much fervour and he devoured cups of water or milk (yes, I offer him cows milk. I’d prefer goats milk, but the thought makes me nauseous) even after a nursing session.
I took these signs as an indicator things had changed for him and me. A growing toddler does need to wean to food eventually, but I feel the changes in my body encouraged him to move along a little quicker.
Where From Here?
He’s nursing less and less each day. We nurse to sleep. And we nurse to nap. So twice a day, and sometimes more, and sometimes less. He still wakes thru the night, but doesn’t want to nurse back to sleep. Just wants to cuddle. When he’s hurt he sometimes nurses, but mostly cuddles. When he’s sad, he comes and nurses. When he’s in a strange place he comes and nurses, but mostly when he’s tired, cranky and done for the day.
The emotions are flooding. In the past couple of weeks the gradual preference for food/drink over mama milk has been hard, but in the recent days and weeks, I’ve begun to feel a sense of “can we be done.” I want to be done, but I feel sad I won’t make my goals. I really wanted to breastfeed until the age of 2 and encourage a child-led weaning. I feel like my pregnancy is robbing my chid of tis experience, and opportunity for his health and development. I didn’t mean to get pregnant so quickly again, I honestly didn’t think it would happen.
But most days, I wonder “WHY ARE YOU SO OBSESSED WITH ME TINY CHILD?” Between the growing human inside me, and the growing human on the outside, I’m ready for a break. I’m ready for some me time. Some time for just me and my body. But internally, emotionally, I am so conflicted about these feelings.
Right now, we go at things day to day. Just one day at a time. This morning, I thought the end was near. He barely nursed yesterday, and none at night. But then, he nursed nearly every 90 minutes. It was exhausting. I was left so confused and bewildered. How does a toddler change like that. He’s teaching me there is little consistency, and toddlers are confusing. So, we will take it day to day.
Where will the third trimester take us? Neither of us really knows… I’ll let him take the lead, as I can’t control the changes in my body. Breastfeeding during the second trimester has been a pleasant change of pace, but it definitely became the beginning of an even harder emotional struggle.