Friday, September 23, 2011

Nursing through Pregnancy - 25 weeks

Soon after my last post on this topic, things improved.

Sasha mostly stopped needing to nurse for as long. She started to go to sleep a little earlier each night. She stopped clamping down on my nipple (except when I didn't get her to bed fast enough once she was asleep).

However, the teeth marks continue and are further and further around my nipple now, almost performing a full circle. Sleep improved, but has gotten worse again. I think due to some illness.

About to bare it all here, you have been warned...

My nipples are not nearly as tickly now, but rather painful. I try to keep that in perspective and maintain gratitude that it is pain rather than tickle. I did, after all, say I would welcome that change! Another issue I'm having, however, is that often when she nurses I can feel... something going on... either in my uterus or my vagina or something, I don't know. But it is creeping me out quite a bit (did someone say heebie jeebies?) which results in me feeling a tiny bit ill while she is nursing.

Nursing my child is not pleasant at all, my body should not think it is foreplay! My breasts have not been approached in a sexual manner in over 2 years! I actually suspect it is the pain aspect that is causing this new issue.

It is increasingly difficult to distract her from nursing when she asks. She is asking between sleep times, so that is difficult and has made my nipples even more sore. As I mentioned above, I think this is because she hasn't been feeling well.

She is, no doubt, still not taking any milk. I'd love for my milk to come in and for her to resume actually ingesting! I'm hopeful and still worried about her maintaining her knowledge and ability to nurse. I do make her re-latch at times, but I think that she then adjusts back to however she wants to nurse in the first place.

There were times when I asked her to switch that she refused. Now sometimes I tell her to switch and she refuses. I generally try a couple of times, then let her latch back on for a moment before I simply must insist she switch sides. I put it off until I can hardly stand it, so it isn't really an option by the time I'm telling her to switch.

Overall I'd say that we're doing better in our nursing relationship. I'm better at maintaining my calm, too. It is still unpleasant, but I'm dealing with it much better somehow. I can manage to keep my breathing slow and steady while nursing, though sometimes I simply must tense up my legs for a moment... something to express the tension! I figure its much better than groaning or tensing my upper body. If I'm sitting next to Elmo, he welcomes me to clutch his shoulder. Just being able to quietly communicate my discomfort to him is nice. He is supportive and hasn't tried to push me into weaning her off the breast. Nursing is clearly still important to her.

It is embarrassing to admit a sexual reaction to nursing. That is not why I nurse! I admit it, though, because I want to present an absolutely honest image of my nursing experience here. If it is happening to me, it has happened and will happen to other women. Knowing you're not alone is sometimes the most amazing support you can get!

Has your body ever had a sexual reaction to nursing?
Has nursing ever triggered Braxton Hicks contractions for you?
What is your most embarrassing breastfeeding story?

Find the other posts in this series:
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (39th week)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (38th week)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - final weeks (36-37, so far)
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 35 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 29/30 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 25 weeks
  • Nursing through Pregnancy - 20 weeks
  • Extended Breastfeeding, So Far! (posted pretty much the weekend I got pregnant!)

    1. I admire your bravery and honesty in sharing. There's a lot to all of this that I will get into in a guest post with Dionna also.

      Nipple stimulation (or nursing) can lead to uterine contractions. This is great for after birth in returning the uterus back to normal size.

      When I tandem nursed there was often a feeling like I wanted to push off my older child. It felt very conflicting because I loved her so and wanted her to self-wean. I eventually moved to nursing her and her brother separately, then she did self-wean with relatively gentle nudging after about a year. I felt guilt often. In recent years I realized I had been adhering to the idea that child led weaning (that seemioingly doesn't take into consideration how the mother feels) is somehow superior to a more collaborative nursing experience. Beware of this idea - it in itself is founded in respecting the child. If at the same time mom isn't respecting herself, she is sendong two messages: I love you and want you to have the ability to choose this for as long as you want *and* I don't matter.

      The body is wired for pleasure. Although the breasts are perfect for feeding, they are also centers for pleasure and for most of our lives the connection made is for sexual pleasure (whether we personally feel that way or not, the consciousness of humanity does affect us individually). Breastfeeding can feel pleasurable without the vaginal/uterine connection (in a nonsexual, yet initmate way). I feel it is designed for that to be our experience, just as sex has the potential to feel good... like the circle of love I mentioned in the WW post on learning from our kids. Sex is a sacred act creating life, breastfeeding is a sacred act growing and sustaining life - pleasure is the basis and instills feelings of love in the experience.

      However, and this is a *big* however, the tendencies of humanity have completely made sex (and breastfeeding) out to be nasty, shameful, dirty, and even hidden. A quick look at porn and the broad range of nursing covers demonstrates just a few nuances of this phenomenon.

      So, what does one do if she experiences a sexual reaction while breastfeeding. Know that it's not inherently harmful, it is the body responding to the mental associations made with specific parts of the body and experiences. If you're uncomfortable, stop nursing. If you recognize it is just an association and not lust for your nursling and feel comfortable continuing, then do so while breathing into the sensations you feel, relaxing your body, and allowing them to dissipate from the inside out.

      To me, it is okay to meet out own needs first in situations like these. There are other valuable ways to connect and share love than nursing. If we continue to nurse while feeling resistant to it, we are sending at least two conflicting messages to our children. One is that we love them and will sacrifice anything for them. Another may be that connection is more important than honoring the messages of our bodies. Another may be that one should endure discomfort for the pleasure or well being of another. Are these the messages we want to send while we share a nursing session?

      I realize some may disagree, just sharing as food for thought.

    2. Also, feel free to edit my typos. :)

      On the example of porn and nursing covers, I didn't mean them together as in porn stars doing their thing while nursing under cover.

      I meant that the industry of porn, how we relate to it, and how it is hidden mimics how we are about breasts and feeding, in a very exaggerated way.

      Yeah, okay, I will totally talk about whatever for the purpose of liberation. :)

      I hope it is somehow helpful for you and others reading.

    3. One more add on (I made the original lengthy comment from my phone. Silly me).

      When I said if you feel uncomfortable, stop nursing I did not mean right then and there wean your child. I meant for the moment, that it is okay to stop and breathe, re-focus, and decide if you really want to nurse. You can still love your child while doing that. If someone is nursing a little baby I'd suggest working with someone to resolve any inner issues/aversion - or try Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or meditation - so the person could continue nursing while working through the uncomfortable sensations/thoughts.

    4. Once again I'm really thankful for your no holds barred honesty on this topic. I know I'll be much more comfortable during my next pregnancy for knowing what to expect, and what may or may not happen. Just knowing something is normal, or at least not *ab*normal can be such a relief.

    5. Yup, that's pretty much what happened to me right around the end of the first trimester. I never really admitted it and instead called it "heebie jeebies." I was planning on weaning my daughter before my baby was born, but I did do it a month earlier than planned due to the fact that I couldn't handle it any more.

    6. Thankfully, I haven't had to deal w/sexual feelings - that would give me a case of the heebie jeebies. But I've read plenty of posts from bf'ing mamas on the topic - you're not alone!

      I am still experiencing pretty intense emotional discomfort when nursing Kieran. I think Amy has a pretty valid point above about honoring our bodies and our feelings. I do feel like I'm doing that by limiting our nursing sessions (esp. b/c he's been asking so much more lately). I'm also viewing it as practice for labor - I breathe through the bad parts ;)

    7. Thank you everyone for all your support! The sexual thing was definitely an embarrassing thing to admit and it is a relief to hear that others experience it.

      I understand not setting an example of being a martyr (and I do have martyr tendencies), but I also see nothing wrong in being willing to do something outside your comfort zone for one you love. I also see it as working hard to reach a goal (tandem nursing).

      It seems I vacillate between my 3 major nursing physical feelings now. Sometimes it hurts (especially at latch), sometimes it tickles, and other times it feels like arousal. As it happens more often, I'm working on dealing with it in my own mind.

      Something has been going on with Sasha so she has wanted to nurse more often. I do still try to distract, but I've certainly been letting her nurse more often. I try to remember her perspective and that makes any/all discomfort easier to bear. I want her to know that I love her and want her to feel better / safe / loved.

      Besides... I still haven't discovered any different sleep solutions! Who knows how many more changes I'll experience between now and Spencer's birth (in early January), so I'm trying to just go with it and hope for the best! That is just kind of my style anyway.

    8. @ Dionna - I definitely liken some of the coping styles to labor! That really is a great analogy and a good way to find strength.


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