Third Trimester Nursing and Weaning A Toddler (all in two weeks)

If you’ve read any of my previous posts about nursing, you’ll know how much I love it. You may also have read how I was hoping to nurse through my current pregnancy, and then tandem nurse.  My concerns with having a second child were “How will I nurse two babies at night? And how will we all fit in one bed?!” But that was before I hit the third trimester.

Here’s something I had never even heard about- it is common for nursing in your third trimester of pregnancy to become difficult, somewhat painful or unbearable. Some people call it feeling “touched out” but in my experience, it felt worse than how that sounds. Here is a quote from The Adventures in Tandem Nursing book-

“Feeling ‘touched out’ is a common feeling during pregnancy and tandem nursing. That irritating feeling is your body’s alarm system saying, ‘I need a break!’ Think of yourself as an Olympic athlete — while you’re struggling to break new personal records of intellectual, emotional, and physical accomplishments, you must feed, rest, and pamper yourself in every way possible.”

For me, it literally started overnight. What was the most beautiful thing to me, suddenly had me in tears at how uncomfortable I was. When my 21 month old daughter latched on, I could handle about 3 minutes before I wanted her off. Fast. In the daytime, I would sing twinkle, twinkle and then unlatch her as soon as it finished. She was fine with that, and would happily play with me afterwards. I know that, despite what people say, nursing is not “just food” but it is about the closeness between the child and the mother. So, during weaning, you need to prepare yourself for lots of cuddles, playtime, eye-to-eye contact.

But the nights were awful, and left me in tears. My daughter would continually suck in her sleep and it hurt like crazy. I felt horrible, I would cry as she nursed to sleep from a mix of me feeling like a terrible mother and how awful the nursing felt. I thought I was the only one.

Until I read The Leaky Boob’s Facebook page and an anonymous mother had sent in a question where she was in exactly the same position as me- third trimester, toddler around 2 years old, and nursing had become unbearable. And suddenly there were over 100 comments from women who had felt the same. I realized I was not alone, and that breastfeeding can be difficult for some women during pregnancy, mainly during the last few months.

I told my husband we had to find a new way of putting our daughter to sleep. He agreed, said he would try, and that he had “mentally prepared himself” for the tears. My daughter has never taken a bottle or pacifier, so we knew this wasn’t going to be easy. The first night he told me there were a lot of tears 🙁 I left the house to go to a friend’s because I knew I couldn’t bear to be at home. After that one night, every night she kisses me goodbye and falls asleep with Daddy- and I literally mean “with”, I come upstairs to both of them snoring away! The hardest part was probably the 2am wake up call when, after drinking her water as she had done for months (my supply took a plummet in my second trimester) she wanted to nurse to go back to sleep. We cuddle and pock her back to sleep. Nap times were also difficult and I almost gave them up. But one week later and now cuddling has replaced the nursing to sleep, as we haven’t given up cosleeping just yet. The daytime sessions were few anyway, so distraction with a game, books, snacks, cuddles and anything else has really helped.

So after 21 months of a beautiful nursing relationship, my daughter has now weaned. And as much as I am happy to have my sleep filled nights back, and wear high neck shirts (in the heat of summer, no less), I am also very sad. The emotional side of weaning is difficult for the mother too, but I didn’t think about it because I simply expected her to self-wean and for it to be gradual. Stopping so quickly was not what I had planned, but I know it was for the best. Moms don’t need to be heroes, but they do need to be happy. Because happy babies come from happy parents. So now I am enjoying lots of kisses and cuddles from my toddler, while looking forward to welcoming baby number two in 9 weeks and hopefully starting the process all over again.

Have you experienced feeling “touched out” during pregnancy and nursing? How did you feel when you weaned your baby/babies? Share your thoughts.