On feeling broody, breastfeeding, and future baby #2

September 24, 2013

Being unusually stillAt the end of last week there was a strange feeling hanging over me. It whispered quietly from the corners of the room, gently tapped at my shoulders and ruffled through my hair. I couldn’t quite identify it.

And then, wham, it hit me, like a tonne of newborn sleepsuits.

“Alex!” I cried. “We need to have another baby!”

It had been building for a few days. I heard some lovely news from people around me, there was a dream in which future-me came back to present day with an important child-related message, and then the newly hatched infants on an episode of The Midwives finally finished me off. Just like that, I was so incredibly broody.

While a second baby has always been on the cards, it’s a hand we don’t want to play for a while. We need to move house first, work is going well, a bigger age gap seems more sensible for our family, and we are, quite frankly, too exhausted to even consider it at the moment.

And here’s the thing. Not only was it an unexpected feeling, it was also completely impractical. Due to breastfeeding my body has been a period-free zone since pre-pregnancy (which, I’ve been told, is fairly normal for some women). And while I don’t miss the migraines, mood-swings and feeling of being repeatedly socked in the stomach for a few days each month,  it doesn’t take a Biochemist to work out that we’re missing a pretty fundamental part of the baby-making equation.

But it’s never occurred to me as being a problem before. So of course, as with all matters of such importance, I paid a visit to Dr Google.

The basic gist of getting pregnant while still breastfeeding appears to be cut down dramatically, or stop altogether. Although we’re already on a pretty skeleton feeding regime, cutting down is an option. After the most recent bout of teething E has started consistently sleeping through, so we’ve decided to stop any future comfort night feeds. Hopefully this may make a difference, but if not, it looks like we might have to consider stopping altogether.

While I’m laid-back about many things, extended breastfeeding is something I’m passionate about. It’s a tiny but huge part of our lives. It’s a bond that ties us together. It’s our sleepy morning hello, and our final evening goodnight. I don’t want to be forced to give it up, and neither does my already feisty and opinionated daughter.

This story does have an ending, of sorts. On Friday we went out for the day, Eliza missed her nap, and as a result she screamed at the top of her lungs on the entire bus journey home. For 20 whole minutes. The noise was pitched at a frequency that silenced any of my subsequent thoughts about having a second baby, for now.

But if nothing changes it’s something we do have to ask questions about, as I don’t want us to get to the point where we’re ready and realise only then that we have a problem. And I have no idea what the answers are. At what point do you sacrifice the very real needs of your first child, for the possibility of having a future second?

16 Comments

  • 3yearsandhome

    September 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Ah, this is a tricky one. We had our boys close together due to medical reasons and I had to stop breastfeeding CK when he was 15 months old to go back on medication in order to be able to conceive again. He was down to just the bedtime feed then but it broke my heart and it’s still something that I’m emotional about now even though he’s going to be three next month. However, had we left it any longer, BB might now be here. It’s so tough but hopefully your body, your mind and E will all arrive in the same place at the same time and you’ll know it’s right x

    1. gillian

      September 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm

      Aah that does sound so tough 🙁 But so lovely that it all worked out. At the moment Eliza still loves it (asks for it by name, knows the times we have it, gets cross if I say no and so on) that it doesn’t seem like she’s going to stop naturally just yet…which would be fine if the period thing wasn’t an issue. But hopefully it’ll all align at the right time! I hope x.

  • Emma

    September 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Hehe.. Stopped Breastfeeding at 15months, had one cycle. BANG pregnant. #justsaying 😉 x

    1. gillian

      September 26, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      That’s really positive to hear! Woohoo 🙂 x

  • Rachel

    September 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    funny old things, aren’t they, bodies. I didn’t stop breastfeeding until 9 months but my periods came back after 2/3 months. I hear you on the difficult decision regarding how much age gap is enough of an age gap 🙂

    1. gillian

      September 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      They are really odd, aren’t they – I guess I don’t want to be in a position either where we stop just when we decide the time is right for another baby, and then have to wait months for them to start again. We should chat age gaps! Broodiness aside I’m so undecided..x

  • Alison, Not Another Mummy Blog

    September 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I have nothing to add to this conversation but just wanted to say again how much I love your blog x

    1. gillian

      September 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      That is such a lovely thing to say – thank you! xx

  • Molly

    September 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I think, as with all huge life decisions and events, it will work itself out. If you worry about it, chances are it will become a “thing” and then the stress of that won’t be good for you. When the time does come to have another baby you will know you are completely ready and it’s likely that will tie in with the time your daughter naturally stops breastfeeding. I have long since learned that life has a way of meandering along and some things we just can’t plan – no matter how much we worry about them! I’m in a similar boat – we’re starting to consider if we may be ready (one day) for another baby. I’ve decided to wait and see – everything will work itself out in the end. xx

  • Muddling Along

    September 25, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I did some research around this when we were trying for Littler – I didn’t want to stop breastfeeding but I did want to try and get pregnant quicker than perhaps nature might want. I went and saw my lovely acupuncturist who gave my body a gentle nudge to start ovulating again and managed to get pregnant – that said I was pumping during the day not nursing which may have made a difference. Definitely one to explore

    1. gillian

      September 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      This is such a good idea, thank you. I had acupuncture when I was trying to get pregnant the first time round. Although I’m not convinced it did the job (I actually got pregnant once I stopped) it did really help with regulating cycles and so on – and I found it so relaxing. I’ve just emailed the acupuncture lady again – thank you xx

  • Jess @ Along Came Cherry

    September 26, 2013 at 9:09 am

    It is a tricky one. My periods came back when Cherry was about 9 months (no idea how as she was feeding SO much), then I carried on feeding her until she was 18 months when it came to a natural end. I was prepared to carry on though so I’m not sure whether I would have still conceived. I think it’s so hard to plan anything to do with a baby though so maybe just carry on and maybe cutting out a feed will trigger your periods to start and you might end up falling pregnant and being able to carry on breastfeeding x

    1. gillian

      September 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      It’s funny how bodies are so different, isn’t it?! We have just stopped the night feed (through happy circumstance of better sleeping) so hopefully that will trigger something…it’s hard to think of what to do if it doesn’t though x

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  • Domi

    October 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    This is my life EXACTLY, what you just described! I would actually like to reduce the number of feeds my baby has now (she’s sucking like a newborn, hungry beast!) but honestly don’t know how.
    Great post, thank you

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