Sometimes I am inclined to agree with them, other times I feel they are the mad ones for even suggesting weaning at a time when my daughter's world is changing in a way she cannot even understand.
As I write this I am 32 weeks pregnant, I have kept a reflective journal on my feelings of breastfeeding whilst pregnant so I can provide a really honest experience of how it felt for me. I cannot speak for others, this is purely my account of the journey, as honest as I can possibly be...
Can women breastfeed when pregnant?
I have been pregnant three times this year, two unfortunately ended in miscarriage. After the second miscarriage I was told by the consultant that it is probably the breastfeeding causing me to miscarry as they could find no other reason. He urged me to either wean my daughter or use some form of contraception until she had been weaned to avoid another miscarriage. I went home and cried, I felt it was my fault and resentful towards my daughter but actually when I googled I found out that there is no proof to state that breastfeeding when pregnant causes miscarriage. Hillary Flower wrote this interesting piece on nursing during pregnancy A New Look at the Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy she also wrote a fantastic book called The Adventures in Tandem Nursing Published by the Le Leche League. The book is completely non-biased and gives lots of accounts of mothers feeding stories; pregnancy and beyond.
I decided that taking all of that into consideration that I would wait at least 6 months before trying to conceive again, after all by then my daughter would be 19 months and most probably be on less feeds...
That was until about 4 weeks later when was feeding my daughter and I had some real tenderness in my nipples. I couldn't be pregnant as I had been careful yet this felt very similar to the last time - only the feeling was stronger! I was crying when my daughter latched on! I looked in her mouth and could see no sign of thrush although my breasts ached much like when I had thrush before. A few days went past and I starting feeling sick, then very tired so decided it was time to pee on a stick...
I prepared my self for disappointment and peed into the pot (I had the dip stick pregnancy tests you can buy in bulk from Ebay as they are apparently more sensitive than shop bought ones and much cheaper!). I watched the wee soak up the stick and immediately there were two red lines
You see I knew that I was but I just could not believe it so I did about another 5 tests to make sure, then went and bought a Clear Blue Digital which said I was about 4/5 weeks pregnant and I did a First Response test just to make sure...(ok, ok I got a little obsessed...)
To wean or not to wean?
So a couple of weeks passed, I had a bleed, I had numerous scans and tests but for some reason this baby decided to stay firmly implanted in the safety of my womb.
I was asked if I was still breastfeeding, I honestly replied that I was and was constantly told to prepare myself for another miscarriage as my body was obviously not capable of nurturing a fetus and a toddler, the two previous miscarriages were proof of that.
However, I would look at my beautiful daughter feeding, even though I was in pain and she seemed to want to feed more I just could not bring myself to stop
Breastfeeding was so incredibly important to my daughter, it was her comfort, her food, her drink, her time with me, her way to get to sleep, her skin to skin and one of the most important things to her. So I decided to carry on, despite the advice (which I was learning more and more was not backed up by credible research) and let nature take its course.
The pain eased off...
By about 8 weeks I was either not noticing the pain or it had more or less gone, my milk supply seemed a little lower but I could still express and my daughter seemed happy with the situation. I managed to stop worrying about miscarriage but I was still peeing on sticks most mornings to check I was still pregnant.
Hardly any nausea
I was a little concerned, I felt tired but hardly any sickness, I actually felt really well, much better than when I had been pregnant with my daughter. The absence of pregnancy symptoms did alarm me somewhat but I have since learned this is a common theme amongst pregnant women who are still feeding. I decided to just carry on about my business and cross off the days until my next scan at 12 weeks. I decided I could finally breathe once I got there and knew all was ok.
By about 10 weeks I had noticed my supply had diminished a lot and my daughter was not happy about this, there was still milk but not as much as there had been. I was not in any pain these days but I did notice she started eating far more, I take it that was to make up for the lack of milk. She also started drinking more water from her cup and actually cut a couple of feeds out.
Other than the worry of miscarriage I had a relatively uneventful first trimester and was very pleased at 12 weeks to see this