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Trimester Thursday: Supply Changes During Pregnancy

Trimester Thursday:  Supply Changes During Pregnancy

by Natalie Cassell

A year ago


So, you are still breastfeeding your infant/toddler/child, and you just found out you are pregnant. Congratulations! After you finish jumping for joy (or panicking), you may realize you have SO MANY questions about how breastfeeding will work now. In earlier articles, I talked about being pregnant with my third, surprise, baby. My son, Jackson, wasn’t quite 9 months old when I found out. Of course, I worried I would need to wean him and switch to formula. Mostly, I hoped we could make it through his first birthday. Many women find that their milk supply decreases or turns to colostrum toward the end of the first trimester, and I was no different.

Around 12 weeks, I started noticing small changes in my milk supply. Normally, my breasts would feel full and achy just before a feeding, but I suddenly quit having that sensation. Still, I hoped this was a normal decrease in supply. He was eating more solid foods after all. My milk was still creamy white, and his nursing schedule stayed the same. So, I felt confident we could keep my supply up. However, at 16 weeks, I noticed my milk looked thinner, like colostrum, at some feedings. Jacks was also nursing for shorter sessions. I told myself he just didn’t want to sit still. He was walking now. He had things to do, places to go, and a big sister to follow! But a week passed and breastfeeding started to become uncomfortable again. Suddenly, Jackson only seemed interested in nursing at nap times and bed times.

The last time he breastfed, I was 18 weeks pregnant. He barely nursed before pulling away and staring at my breast a moment like it was broken. He poked it, laughed, and climbed down from my lap to go play. I tried expressing some milk, but all I had was colostrum. I didn’t know that was the last time he would nurse, but days went by and he showed no interest in breastfeeding again. Suddenly, here we were. He was turning a year old. He was falling asleep without nursing. And he was quite happily transitioning to cups.

Even if your supply changes, you can keep breastfeeding.

Twice since he weaned, Jackson acted like he wanted to nurse for comfort. Of course I let him, but it was extremely painful for me. Thankfully, he unlatched both times as soon as he realized there was no milk. Since then, I have found that when he is upset and snuggles against my chest, he is happy to be held close and rocked. If your breast milk changes to colostrum or decreases significantly, less frequent or dry nursing is still an option. Some women are less sensitive and dry nursing isn’t painful for them. You may choose to decrease nursing sessions to once a day or even every other day until your supply increases again in the third trimester. As long as you are comfortable and your child is interested, go for it!

If you have an infant, things are a little more complicated. Talk to your pediatrician. Depending on your baby’s age, you may need to monitor your supply and baby’s weight gain more closely. I was lucky. The middle of my pregnancy (when most women see significant supply changes) coincided with his first birthday. Although my aching heart says otherwise, the fact that he weaned himself was really no big deal. If he had been 7 months old, it would be a different story.

Tandem breastfeeding is still possible.

You may have your heart set on tandem nursing and feel very disappointed when your milk disappears or your child weans. Don’t worry just yet! The middle of your pregnancy may just be a short break from breastfeeding. When your supply picks up in the third trimester it should be easier and more comfortable to breastfeed again. When the baby is born, older siblings often show a renewed interest in breastfeeding. Either of these scenarios could be an opportunity for you to start on your tandem breastfeeding journey. I have been considering these possibilities myself, and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on tandem breastfeeding in a couple of weeks!

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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