Just shy of 7 weeks pregnant, I found out my progesterone level was low and started taking supplemental pills, which I continued until nearly 13 weeks. This was my first time taking progesterone, as my first trimesters with the boys were textbook.
After finding out about my low progesterone, I did some research and discovered that often times the prolactin produced from breastfeeding will suppress progesterone. Obviously, it did not completely suppress mine because I was able to get pregnant, but I personally questioned whether my low progesterone level was linked with nursing. For several days after the call from the nurse, I scoured the internet for articles on low progesterone, breastfeeding and pregnancy. But I didn’t find much concrete evidence out there. Some claimed you could nurse with low progesterone while pregnant with no ill effects on the baby. Others recounted personal experiences claiming nursing while pregnant with low progesterone put their babies at risk.
I don’t think breastfeeding while pregnant with low progesterone has been researched much at all, though it is an interesting topic. I weighed the pros and cons of breastfeeding Beau while pregnant, and ultimately decided that I would do whatever I could (proven or not proven) to help this new little baby thrive. Because the last thing I wanted was for something to happen to Baby #3 and always wonder the what ifs; I wasn’t willing to take any chances.
Beau was still nursing four times a day and once in the middle of the night–not unheard of for an 8.5 month old. If he was older and nursing only a couple times a day, it would have been a different story.
Despite losing my supply with JM by 9 months, weaning Beau was no easier. I had weaned before, for different reasons, but ending a nursing relationship is never easy. After feeding Beau his first bottle of formula, two minutes later he threw up the entire thing all over the kitchen floor. I just about lost it as I wallowed in mom guilt and questioned weaning and whether he would get enough nourishment. Obviously, the pregnancy hormones had already kicked in.
Many moms worry about being able to love their second baby as much as their first. I’ve got plenty of love to go around, but not enough Mama.
I switched up the type of bottle he was using, and after a few feedings, he was fine and adapted. Physically, I adapted easily as well. I dropped from five to three nursing sessions a day, replacing the two with formula. Then a couple days later, I replaced another nursing session, and so on. He was eating more from the bottle than I assume he ever got from me (8 oz.), so soon he dropped another feeding and was down to four a day.
I was also hoping this switch would bring about better sleep at night, since he was getting more at his bedtime feeding and formula takes longer to digest than breastmilk, so theoretically he’d be fuller longer. But alas, that did not happen. I think his sickness all winter spoiled him into seeing mama every few hours in the middle of the night. 🙂 So really, it’s not that he was waking from hunger, it was likely more from habit. I can say that now, at 11 months, he has finally turned the corner on sleep. Just in time for mama to get a little bit of rest before December.
Do I miss nursing? Yes. I found it easier than formula because food is always at the ready and I was lucky in that I never had any struggles (engorgement, mastitis, etc.) nursing Beau. I never had to remember to pack formula before, and then worry if it’s the right temperature, then wash the bottles later. And it sure was nice not having the extra expense of formula every grocery store trip (Earth’s Best Organic Formula is not cheap!)
Do I wish I could have made it to a year? Yes. But I am my own harshest critic. We didn’t make it to my goal, but Beau is thriving and we have a new little blessing to think about.
If I could do it all over again, I would make the exact same decision to wean. I’m a mom; part of my job is to make hard choices–but ultimately the best ones–for my kids.
The only thing I’m regretting is not filling out my bathing suit the way I thought I’d be able to this summer. And now instead, I have an expanding midsection that will be quite the eye catcher 🙂