Breastfeeding A Toddler During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

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Breastfeeding during pregnancy is an interesting experience.  More so with a child that’s able to talk to you. Really, if scientists want to fully understand breastfeeding, the production of milk during pregnancy and the changes in milk during that time, they need a core group of mothers breastfeeding children with communication skills. I don’t think there’s any more reliable evidence.

At around 20 weeks – I don’t remember exactly when, Ameli was nursing away happily one day, when she unlatched, looked at me with an obvious question mark on her face and said ‘that’s not milk, it’s something else’. Then threw herself at my nipple and guzzled away before pulling off again and saying, “what is it?”

Colostrum, I suppose.

It must have turned back to milk again at some point, because she didn’t mention it again. Or maybe she’s just happy with colostrum.

At around 28 weeks, a friend’s son developed an eye infection and she asked if I’d be willing to provide some milk for him. Of course I didn’t mind, so I tried to express. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t. It took almost 15 minutes to produce a teaspoon full of clear, sticky liquid – colostrum. It worked for the eye, but being unable to express really shocked me.

At 31 weeks, Ameli was nursing one day when she pulled off and said “there’s no milk, mama. I hope there’s some in the other one?” Apparently there was, but it does seem that my milk supply is finally running low. Not only does she nurse for as long as she did as a newborn if I let her, but every now and then she’ll say “other one please” as the milk is drained from whichever breast she’s feeding from.

For me, personally, I’m ready to wean – especially at night, and I’m a bit sorry that I won’t have a break at all between nursling babies, but she is definitely not ready to wean, and any refusal on my part is taken as a pretty serious punishment. She’ll cry as if I’ve just shredded her favourite teddy bear or run over her dog. It’s pretty gut wrenching.

The experience of nursing through pregnancy isn’t a great one for me. My breasts are more sensitive than I remember them being during my first pregnancy. And prolonged nursing is actually painful. The only way I can think of explaining it is this:

It’s like being tickled, but when the tickling is no longer fun and is actually physically painful, but the tickler isn’t listening to your pleas for them to stop. You’re still squealing and laughing, because that’s the physiological reaction, but it’s unpleasant, painful and no longer fun.

Perhaps that’s a terrible explanation, because each person will experience that in their own way depending on their level of ticklishness, but then, perhaps that makes it the perfect explanation because each person’s experience of breastfeeding and of breastfeeding in pregnancy, is so different.

At it’s worst, in the first trimester, the hormonal stimulation of breastfeeding through Hyperemesis Gravidarum used to make me throw up.  In much of the second trimester it was simply painful – like blades being sucked through my nipples. But in this, the third, my nipples are constantly sensitive, but the actual act of feeding doesn’t hurt as much anymore.

It’s been an adventure, finding out exactly what the milk is doing in there through the vocalisations of a two year old. I don’t regret feeding my daughter through this pregnancy, despite the fact that it has often been very uncomfortable, and I hope that sharing nursing with her sibling will be something that bonds them, rather than a cause for rivalry, and then, it is my hope that she will decide that this is for babies and at her own pace and time, let go.

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12 thoughts on “Breastfeeding A Toddler During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

  1. shanna

    I am in my 2nd trimester and my toddler isn’t fitting on my lap to nurse like he used to. What positions worked for you when you started getting big.

    • Congratulations, both on your pregnancy and your continued breastfeeding! I found this to be a really useful time to get my daughter used to the ‘rugby ball’ or ‘football’ position – her head cradled in my arm/on my lap, but her body under my arm. That way she was ‘next to’ me, nursing, making space for the baby to be on my lap. Hope that helps! Do say if that’s not clear though!

  2. Thanks for sharing your breastfeeding during pregnancy experience. I lost my milk very early, in the first trimester. I also felt *insane* when she would nurse. Eventually she just weaned herself without me really noticing that we had fully stopped for weeks. However, I just joyfully wrote a post called I Am a Tandem Nurser because she started nursing again now that there is milk. (Wasn’t the quick short route there either, but I’m glad to be nursing her.) I wish you all the best on your continued journey.

    http://alivingfamily.com/2012/01/20/i-am-a-tandem-nurser/
    Sheila’s last blog post ..Talking with a Toddler about Feelings

  3. I confess I was really expecting not to be still feeding Smallest at this point. We’re down to one feed a day, but any suggestions she might want to skip that are firmly dismissed. And I have found it deeply uncomfortable to the point of pain for some time now – last night I had to stop her because it hurt so much. I’ve no idea what she’s getting in the way of milk, I doubt it’s much, but she is still very determined to continue.

    At this rate I will be tandem nursing, though that wasn’t part of my plan at all!
    liveotherwise’s last blog post ..Never Coming Home by Evonne Wareham – review

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