By Carla Sargent
In the first article I wrote about my experiences of breastfeeding whilst pregnant, covering the first 17 weeks of my pregnancy. This article is a continuation of the previous one and covers weeks 17 to 25.
Night weaning Luca was, much to my surprise, quite a breeze. He grizzled a bit but there were no major tears. What a relief! Unfortunately, I can’t say that night weaning him has improved his sleep at all. At 13 months of age he is still waking most hours of most nights (except for a longer stretch of sleep at the beginning of the night which is when I am awake anyway!). Still, it feels reassuring that he won’t be expecting to be fed in the night when there is another baby needing lots of night feedings. I am starting to feel somewhat anxious that Luca’s sleep isn’t going to have improved significantly before the baby arrives. The next logical step will likely be to get Mark (Luca’s Dad) involved in night time re-settlings. Watch this space!
At about 16 weeks of pregnancy I started experiencing quite a nasty, sharp stabbing pain whenever Luca initially latched at the breast. Having heard from a number of mothers who either tandem fed their babies or had the intention to, that painful breastfeeding during pregnancy (usually beginning around mid-pregnancy and associated with a decrease in milk supply) was the most difficult hurdle for them (an insurmountable one for some), I was quite worried that there was worse to come. Much to my surprise the painful latching abated after just a week or two. Yeehaa! I am now 25 weeks pregnant and breastfeeding Luca is pretty much pain free (apart from him occasionally using his teeth to grab and latch – ouch!).
I am sure my milk supply has decreased rather significantly. Not only do I no longer experience let-downs, nor need to use breast pads (as mentioned in the last article) but also, Luca has started to switch from breast to breast during each feeding session. At the start of my pregnancy Luca would guzzle from one side for about 5 minutes and that was that, feed over, tummy full. Since about 19 weeks of pregnancy he has been feeding for about 20 to 25 minutes a feed, and often switches breasts 4 or 5 times during that time. I am pretty sure that he is only swallowing for the first couple of minutes and, thereafter, he just likes the comforts and pleasures of being close to mum while he sucks. In fact, sometimes he looks quite deliriously happy whilst feeding – as he relaxes his eyes roll back and half close as if he is in ecstasy. At times like those I feel so besotted with my little guy and very grateful that I am still breastfeeding him.
My unborn baby whom I’ll refer to as a ‘she’ (I’m sure it’s a girl!) has certainly been making her presence known. She has grown a lot and is really active in there. Being so distracted with parenting Luca, I have found it hard to believe that I’m really pregnant at times, so it feels lovely and reassuring to have a bigger belly and feel my baby moving a lot. When Luca breastfeeds or lays in my lap when I am trying to get him back off to sleep several times in the night, his unborn sibling kicks furiously. It’s as though she is trying to kick him right off my lap! I hope this isn’t because she is feeling uncomfortably squashed at these times. I guess it isn’t going to be long until Luca and I will need to start getting creative with breastfeeding positions. And in terms of the night time re-settlings in my lap, I am going to have to start getting tough with Luca and teach him to resettle in the cot.
Luca seems to be becoming more clingy towards me lately and less tolerant of Mark or Laura cuddling me. This is making me feel a little anxious about how he will cope with sharing me with a newborn, especially with regards to breastfeeding. Is he going to expect to be fed every time he sees his sibling feeding? Is he going to be physically pushy with her and not allow her the peaceful breastfeeds she’s entitled to? No doubt it is going to be a steep learning curve for him (and me!) and will require some adjusting, I just hope that that won’t involve too much stress for any of us. My sisters have both suggested I get Luca into a breastfeeding routine, thinking that might be helpful for when the baby arrives. They figure that if he has set feeding times that he will hopefully be less insistent on feeding whenever he sees the baby feeding. It probably makes sense, but I am just not a routine-type person and can’t foresee myself (or Luca) sticking to a schedule. Furthermore, most of his feeds are requested by him when he seemingly has an emotional need to feed, such as when he hurts himself, or when he hasn’t seen me for a couple of hours. Breastfeeding Luca at this stage in his life is much more about an emotional need than a physical one. However, any advice from any of you out there who have had experience with tandem feeding would be very welcome and greatly appreciated!
I am pleased to be able to say that I haven’t experienced any negativity towards my intention to tandem feed since I last wrote. A lot of people have seemed genuinely interested in my keenness to continue feeding Luca when the next baby arrives and I have enjoyed the opportunities this has given me to educate them about the possible benefits of tandem feeding. Also, I have received a number of supportive and encouraging emails and comments from people who read the last article I wrote. What an unexpected and lovely treat that has been!
Carla Sargent lives in the Waikato and is a mother of three home born children. She has worked as an independent midwife and secondary school teacher. She is happy to be contacted at email@example.com.