Thursday, January 14, 2010

Breastfeeding and Pregnancy

One of my earliest symptoms was sore nipples. I don't remember that from Margaret's pregnancy, but I wasn't nursing anyone during that pregnancy.

There are two things that make the soreness worse: not breastfeeding enough and breastfeeding too much. What a catch-22!

If Margaret decides that she only want to nurse on one side during a 4 hour period, the side that didn't get attention will hurt when she does go back to it.

But if she's constantly nursing or twiddling or otherwise messing with one side a lot, it hurts. That happened when she had colds: constant night nursing. And since she had a stuffy nose, she'd have to reposition herself so she could breathe, and that meant she'd pull my nipple this way and that and the next morning I'd be sore. Luckily she hasn't had a cold since I started taking cod liver oil. Hooray for vitamin D.

Another high soreness time was on the airplane at Christmas time. She had a hard time sleeping on the airplane, so in her half-awake state, she'd nurse and nurse and nurse, but never relax, so by the end of the 3 hour flight, I was sore.

The nipple soreness is really sporadic, though. I'll nurse her down for her nap and I won't feel a thing, but later that night when I nurse her down to sleep, it'll hurt like no other- or vice versa. It's kind of the luck of the draw. And since it's sporadic and there are many times when I think, "This isn't bad. Let's keep going." So I haven't done much to dissuade her.

How's my supply? I think it's gone down, but only recently. During the past couple of weeks, Margaret has suddenly started eating whole meals. And unfortunately, sometimes when she pees, it's pretty concentrated and so I know she's not staying as hydrated as she ought to be. In fact, just two nights ago, she was nursing to sleep, she unlatched, and then called out for "Water." Knowing the other breast had some milk, I offered her that one. But it was sad.

On the other hand, I know I'm still making something. Often when she's done nursing, she'll unlatch and I'll notice that there's milk on the end of my nipple. Also, I can still hear her swallowing. Last night when I woke up to switch sides with her, I latched her on and immediately I heard huge gulps. So I'm making something, I don't know how much, though.

Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do about supply. Sometimes hormones just trump all. In fact, I try to remind myself that it's a good thing my pregnancy hormones are still good and strong: it means my body is building and not rejecting the new baby and that person is getting everything they need. While the pregnancy hormones sometimes feel like they're out to get me, they really are on my side.

When I was pregnant with Margaret, I noticed that when I slept on my breasts funny, sometimes colostrum would leak out. That started happening after Halloween and definitely by Thanksgiving. Margaret was born in March... so that makes it around... 5 months? So if I hold out until 5 months, my body will start revving up its milk production and I know there will be at least something in there Margaret. I wonder what she'll think of colostrum.


  1. Oh, very familiar. My nipples are sore all the time, it seems. I think Bug has a hard time getting a good latch though. (He is just lazy about it, and doesn't appreciate my efforts to correct him.) I think my supply has also gone down. Recently, Bug has been eating ALL THE TIME! It's crazy, he is always begging to eat something or nurse. And when he nurses, he will usually nurse a little, then he wants his sippy cup, then he nurses..and on and on. I know it is just the hormones and being dead tired all the time, but I have been hoping that Bug weans himself during this pregnancy! (I don't want to have to wean him myself. And I'm too stubborn to do it anyway!)

  2. I'm not sure how I feel about her weaning. She nurses so often and asks for it even when I'm not with her (so obviously "out of sight, out of mind" won't work). But it's a long ways until the summer; who knows what will happen? My goal is to get her through the cold/flu season, but in the end, she might decide that colostrum just isn't her thing.

    But the idea of having a toddler on hand to help manage postpartum engorgement sounds so lovely!

  3. A least she's getting something. Even small amounts of breastmilk can protect her from getting sick or helping her through an illness. It sounds like she's adjusting well if she is eating more solids and asking for water. It's more about comfort than food at this stage, anyway, isn't it?

    I've heard some toddlers don't like colostrum, but who knows? Maybe she'll hang in and end up helping you with that postpartum engorgement!

    So do you find that there are any benefits to nursing while pregnant (for you) or are you just doing it for Margaret's sake?

  4. We're dealing with super sensitive nips over here! It doesn't help that baby girl is getting her top teeth, that teething business seems to mess with her latch... I seem to still have an abundant supply and I'm wondering if I'll be one of the lucky ones who never dries up... however, the thought of tandem nursing seems like a lot of work!

  5. I can tell my supply is going because Deirdre only wants to nurse for about a minute on each side. At 2, she may not want to go back to nursing full time when my colostrum kicks in. Tandem nursing the first two really helped them bond instead of becoming competitors, so I'm really hoping that she does!

  6. Neither of my first two kids changed their nursing patterns in any way at all when my colostrum came in.

  7. I've had the same off and on sore nipples throughout this pregnancy with Emma. I never paid much attention to my supply though. When I conceived this time around, Emma was only nursing for sleep times (pre wake up in the early morning, nap time, bed time, and occasionally - though rarely - during the night). Lately, not the same scenario! Emma has been asking to nurse WAY more than she has for a very long time! Several times a day even, in addition to regular trips back and forth between her "new" bed and mine for milk. I think she's enjoying this colostrum that must surely be abundant considering I'm now at 41 wks and 3 days. I sure hope there'll be some left for the baby when s/he decides to arrive! ;O)


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