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Trimester Thursday: Breastfeeding Through Early Pregnancy

Posted by Natalie Cassell on

When Jackson was less than 9 months old, I was shocked to find out I was pregnant with our third child. After years of secondary infertility, we were going to have two babies in less than 18 months. Seeing that second pink line was thrilling and terrifying. One week before, I had threatened to schedule my husband a vasectomy for his birthday. Jackson was going through a phase. Several phases. At the same time. Sleep regression. Teething. A food strike. Breast refusal during the day and comfort nursing all night. I felt isolated, trapped, and, if the threatened vasectomy didn’t make it clear, angry. My husband’s sleep remained almost completely undisturbed, and he went to work each day well-rested. I was awake most of each night and attempted to work from home each day. For 40+ hours a week he was child free and had actual adult conversations. No one clung to him as he ate his lunch or tried to use him as a teether while he worked. I was tired and envious.

I wrapped the positive pregnancy test up, and gave it to my husband. It was his birthday. He was very surprised. He laughed and laughed. Somewhat hysterically, I started laughing too. Once our laughter stopped, I realized it was time to take control of my situation. Things needed to change, and I needed to ask for help. Having a history of severe hyperemesis gravidarum and miscarriage, I wasn’t sure it would even be possible for me to continue breastfeeding. If you are breastfeeding and recently found out you are pregnant, you may have a lot of questions and worries too. Allow me to share a few general survival tips for the early weeks:

Morning Sickness.

Keep in mind every pregnancy is different. I vomited at least 3 times a day for 6 months with my first two pregnancies. While I have 24/7 nausea and food aversions with this pregnancy, I have only vomited twice. It has almost been pleasant. You may notice that breastfeeding makes the nausea worse though. I certainly did. Thankfully, it stopped having that affect by around 8 weeks. In the meantime, many of the usual tricks for alleviating morning sickness will work while breastfeeding. Have a snack, sip some water, and minimize stimuli. When I have morning sickness, I am very sensitive to noise, light, and motion. Just like in the early days of breastfeeding, try to find a calm and relaxing place to nurse your child.

Fatigue.

It hit me hard immediately. If you are breastfeeding, you probably have a young child, possibly an infant. So, fatigue is already an intimate friend, and pregnancy may amplify its presence. Remember: You are creating a child, and you are a food source for another human being. Ask for help. Demand help. My husband took over diaper duty at night, and brings Jackson to me for nursing. This is especially nice when I am very nauseated. Accept any help you can get. When your child takes a nap, lay down. Even if you feel like you can’t sleep, try it anyway. I’ve never been good at napping during the day, but with this pregnancy I’ve learned to take every opportunity I can. You may surprise yourself by drifting off for a few minutes. Or you may just lay there for 10-15 minutes. Either way, rest!

Sore Nipples and General Discomfort

You know those sore and sensitive nipples you had during the first trimester with your last baby? Those will probably be back. Only now you have a small child that expects to be able to nurse from them. It may really hurt at times. Other times, it may just be really annoying. For weeks, I almost couldn’t breastfeed. I hated how it felt. Each session left me agitated, and I found myself hoping my milk would dry up. Then, as quickly as that feeling began, it disappeared. For some women, the discomfort can be so overwhelming and pervasive, they choose to wean. This is a personal decision, and you shouldn’t feel guilty for considering it. I don’t think I could have breastfed much longer with those feelings. Your emotional well-being should be a top priority.

Of course, one article isn’t enough to address all of the possible concerns or questions you might have about breastfeeding through pregnancy. However, I hope reading this has helped another overwhelmed mother feel a little less alone and a little more hopeful. I won’t sugar coat it. You may have a bumpy experience with breastfeeding during your pregnancy, or it may go smoothly. Just know, if you want to give it time, it is possible the physical and emotional discomforts will disappear once your body has adjusted to the new hormones. For now, take it one day at a time.

Hi readers! I’m Natalie, writer and mom of two. I am so excited to join The 16 Minute Club’s new blog, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you. My pudgy breastfed baby, Jackson, is 8 months old and looks like he subsists on whipping cream. You would never know he was once “failing to thrive.” Breastfeeding has certainly had its ups and downs. Like most moms, I spend my days wavering between maternal bliss and horrification at some of the realities of motherhood. After my first child, I was sure I had things figured out. I just knew breastfeeding would be easier with my second. But the truth is that every baby is different, and they each present new challenges. Sometimes they even present the same challenges, but require different solutions.


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