Breastfeeding while pregnant can be a joyful experience that connects you to your child at the same time you have a new life growing inside you. Whether or not you planned a pregnancy while still breastfeeding, your body is perfectly capable of nourishing both as long as you follow a healthy pregnancy diet diet , drink plenty of water and get plenty of rest.
Research studies bear out the safety of nursing while pregnant
According to the Breastfeeding Answer Book, “there is no documented danger to mother or fetus when mothers breastfeed during a healthy pregnancy.” (with multiple citations) Moreover, in the 1993 study titled “Breastfeeding During Pregnancy” conducted by Moscone and Moore and reported in the Journal of Human Lactation found that, “breastfeeding does not appear to adversely affect the course of pregnancy.” So relax and enjoy nursing while pregnant!
Situations where breastfeeding while pregnant is not recommended
Breastfeeding while pregnant is perfectly safe for a mother with a normal pregnancy. However, if you have a history of:
or if you have been identified as a high risk pregnancy, you should consider weaning your child once you know you are pregnant. If you are in this situation, we highly recommend you read How To Stop Breastfeeding for tips about how to do so gently and with love.
What to expect if you breastfeed while pregnant
During pregnancy your body goes thru many changes. Pregnancy related fatigue may pose a challenge as it can be more intense if your body is doing double duty. This is easily combated by getting extra rest.
You may also notice nipple tenderness akin to what you experienced during your first few days of nursing. Nipple sensitivity will come and go depending on where you are in your pregnancy. Nipple contraction caused by cold air can exacerbate the sensitivity, so lie down and nurse your baby someplace warm and consider placing your hand or shirt over the nipple not being nurse from to keep it warm. Use the same abdominal breathing and relaxation techniques you used for natural childbirth. Read Natural Labor Pain Management Management for more about this.
You may also experience some breast soreness or tenderness, but while irritating, it will come and go if it comes at all. You can help yourself with this and prevent plugged ducts caused by changes in your breast milk due to pregnancy hormones by massaging your breasts to ensure your ducts empty completely while your child is nursing.
Your milk supply is likely to decrease briefly at the start of your pregnancy and then again at the end when pregnancy hormones cause your breasts to start excreting colostrum. Your baby is more likely to notice these changes and some babies will wean themselves due to the changes in supply or taste. If your child is less than a year old, you will want to include extra solids in his or her diet (after nursing) to ensure they are getting adequate calories given the fluctuations in breast milk supply.
Even when the taste and volume changes, we see a huge percentage of babies continue nursing for as long as mom is willing, for the comfort alone. For information about how to nurse both your older child and your newborn infant, read our article about Tandem Nursing (coming soon).
Q - Will the pregnancy hormones come thru in my breastmilk and harm my baby?
A - While small quantities of the pregnancy hormones come thru in breastmilk, they are not harmful to the breastfeeding child.
Q - How will the volume and content of my breastmilk change?
A - The sodium and protein levels of your breastmilk will increase while the lactose and glucose levels will decrease as your breast milk reverts to colostrums late in your pregnancy. Your baby is likely to notice this during your last trimester of pregnancy.
Q - Will my baby’s suckling cause uterine contractions that lead to miscarriage or premature labor?
A - Nipple stimulation is indeed one natural method to stimulate labor once you are full term. However, If you have been breastfeeding regularly throughout your pregnancy, it is unlikely to stimulate premature labor as your body and unborn baby will be used to the light contractions caused by breastfeeding. Braxton Hicks Contractions will likely be stronger than any contractions stimulated by breastfeeding. Studies show that breastfeeding and pregnant mothers do not deliver any earlier than other pregnant women. See the LaLeche League website for more information on the latest studies.
For more information about Breastfeeding while pregnant:
For information about Getting Pregnant while Breastfeeding
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Tell us what you did to get pregnant while you were breastfeeding!