I’ll admit. It pretty much feels like my nipples are going to fall off.
Breastfeeding during the first trimester of pregnancy—in effect nourishing one baby inside and one baby outside—isn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
Here’s the good news though, breastfeeding through pregnancy DOES get easier. It’s just the first trimester that tries to break you. That's when your nipples are BEYOND sensitive. Your little nursling has no idea how to less voraciously latch on despite your coaxing of “gentle baby, please be gentle.” And, well, you’re usually feeling sick on top of it all.
When I was pregnant with my third baby, my second was still a very committed nurser. He loved himself some mama milk and no amount of baby bump was going to keep him from me. I gritted my teeth through that first trimester and every latch made me wince, but it was worth it. My big boy needed his mom and I wasn’t ready to cut him off cold turkey.
Things got easier during my second trimester. The sensitivity decreased and I no longer had to hold my breath when my son latched on. My body continued to produce milk in addition to growing a new little one and we fell into a good rhythm.
For us, I decided it was best to wean before Baby #3 arrived. My son turned three halfway through my pregnancy and knowing him, he and I needed time to establish a new way of bonding before his little brother was born. But I have to wonder, was every mom's experience similar to mine?
So I turned to some other moms who've done the whole breastfeeding while pregnant thing to see how their stories stacked up:
Jasmine never planned on nursing while pregnant, but when her daughter hadn't weaned by the time she found out she was expecting again, they just kept on going, an experience she calls "magical." "I loved laying on my side nursing my toddler, our bellies touching feeling both my babies moving about," she shares.
The now mom of two believes that this special time of breastfeeding while pregnant really helped her older daughter transition to life with a newborn smoothly.
But that doesn't mean Jasmine didn't set limits. "When your nipples are crazy sore you need a break. I would explain to my toddler why she could only nurse occasionally and only for the duration of the ABCs."
The now mom of two believes that this special time of breastfeeding while pregnant really helped her older daughter transition to life with a newborn smoothly. "My milk dried up during the second trimester but colostrum came in the last six weeks. It was magic sleepy dust! My toddler put on a little weight and we didn't get sick during a bad flu season.” A total win-win if you ask me.
Brittany, a mom of three, taught me that it doesn’t even take milk to continue breastfeeding, “I breastfed through two pregnancies. It was special and wonderful. My milk completely dried up both times, which didn't end it for us," she shares. When her milk came in after birth, her older child continued nursing and Brittany tandem nursed for 10 months which she says created a special bond between her kids. And she wouldn't have done it any other way.
But not every mom can continue breastfeeding throughout their pregnancy. Jackie, a mom of three, weaned mid-pregnancy like me: “I breastfed until the end of my first trimester. It was summer and I found that I was getting dehydrated much more easily, which made my morning sickness worse. My son also wanted to nurse a lot during the night and the lack of sleep made my morning sickness worse too. I eventually weaned because I was ready (he was two and a half) and it was difficult for me to breastfeed when feeling so sick.”
As you can see every mom's experience is different. So, if you’re in the boat of trying to decide if you should breastfeed through pregnancy or not, I vote that you just take it one day at a time. You’ll know what’s best for you, your child, and your little one on the way and then you can make a plan that works for each of you in your own time.