Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

Information, Safety, and Tips

Happy family. Child boy looking belly of pregnant mother
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Breastfeeding can help prevent pregnancy, but not always. It depends on things like how often you breastfeed and the age of your baby. So, it’s definitely possible to become pregnant again while you’re still breastfeeding another child. 

If you do find yourself expecting again—whether it’s planned or a surprise—you may have a lot of questions about how breastfeeding will affect your new pregnancy, the baby you’re nursing, your milk supply, and your body. Here’s what you need to know about breastfeeding during pregnancy.

Do You Have to Wean?

A new pregnancy is a common reason for weaning. Some children wean themselves, and some moms encourage weaning to get ready for the new baby. Of course, you don’t have to wean just because you’re pregnant again. You can usually continue to breastfeed. You may even choose to breastfeed both your newborn and your older child after your new little one arrives. 

The Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

When you learn that you’re expecting again, you should talk to your doctor about your history and your health. Your doctor can help you make the best decision about whether or not to continue to breastfeed.  

Breastfeeding during a new pregnancy is usually safe. If you’re healthy and having a healthy pregnancy, you should be able to continue to breastfeed. However, there are some situations when your doctor may recommend that you stop breastfeeding. You see, when you breastfeed, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone of bonding and love, but it also causes contractions of the uterus. In a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, these contractions are not considered dangerous. But, your doctor may be concerned and advise you to wean if:

  • Your pregnancy is high-risk
  • You have had a previous miscarriage
  • You went into premature labor with another pregnancy
  • You have vaginal bleeding
  • You’re carrying twins or more 
  • You are not gaining a healthy amount of weight.

How Breastfeeding Affects the Child You Are Carrying 

There is no evidence that breastfeeding during pregnancy will hurt your current pregnancy or interfere with the growth and development of your new baby. You can still produce breast milk for the child you’re nursing while providing the baby you’re carrying with all the nutrients he or she needs. Here are some tips to keep in mind. 

  • Your body needs a lot of energy to make breast milk, provide nutrients to your developing baby, and keep you healthy and strong. To keep up your strength and prevent your body from becoming depleted in any nutrients, you should drink plenty of fluids, eat a well-balanced diet with additional healthy calories, and try to get some extra rest. 
  • If you have a medical issue such as anemia or diabetes, or you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, talk to your doctor, a dietician, or a nutritionist to be sure you are getting all the calories and nutrients you need. 
  • See your doctor for regular prenatal check-ups to be sure that your pregnancy is progressing as it should and that you’re gaining enough weight. 

How a New Pregnancy Affects Your Breastfeeding Child

Changes in your breast milk and your milk supply can affect the child you’re breastfeeding. If your child is under a year old, these changes have to be monitored carefully to be sure the child is getting enough nutrition. But, if your child is a toddler already eating a variety of solid foods and drinking from a cup, then the changes in the amount of breast milk should not be an issue. 

Changes in Breast Milk

When the baby you’re carrying is born, he will receive that first breast milk called colostrum. So, as your pregnancy progresses and your body prepares for the birth of your new baby, your breast milk will have to change from the mature milk that your older child is getting back to colostrum. A few things you should know about these change are: 

  • Colostrum is full of antibodies and nutrition, so it’s still good for your older child. However, you don’t make a lot of colostrum. 
  • Colostrum looks and tastes different than mature milk. As the milk volume goes down, the amount of milk sugar or lactose drops making the milk taste less sweet. At the same time, the sodium level goes up making it saltier. The child you are currently breastfeeding may not mind these changes and continue to breastfeed without any problem, or she may not like the difference in the taste and could start refusing to nurse. 
  • Colostrum is a natural laxative. It helps newborns move the first baby poop called meconium out of their body. Your older breastfeeding child may also end up with loose stools. 

Breast Milk Supply 

Pregnancy is one of the causes of a low breast milk supply. Here's what you need to know.

  • You may notice a drop in your milk supply right away or a little later in your pregnancy. 
  • If your breastfeeding child is under a year old and you notice a decrease in your milk supply, be sure to talk to the pediatrician. You may have to give your child infant formula in addition to breastfeeding to be sure your baby is getting what she needs. 
  • If your child is over a year old, she should be getting more of her nutrition from a variety of solid foods. You can continue to breastfeed, but you may have to begin giving her whole milk or a toddler formula as a supplement, if necessary.
  • A decrease in the milk supply can lead to a slower flow of breast milk from the breast. Some children become frustrated and stop breastfeeding.  

How a New Pregnancy Affects Breastfeeding Moms

While it’s usually possible to continue breastfeeding during a new pregnancy, it’s not without its challenges. There are many ways pregnancy can affect you as a breastfeeding mom. Here are some of the breastfeeding issues you may face and tips to deal with them. 

Sore Breasts and Nipples

Pregnancy can bring back an old familiar breastfeeding problem. The hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy can once again lead to tender breasts and nipples. Breastfeeding with sore nipples can be uncomfortable or even painful. Unfortunately, the typical remedies for breastfeeding with sore nipples don’t usually work during a new pregnancy since the cause is hormonal. So, the treatment for pregnancy-related nipple tenderness is time. It may only last the first three months, so if you can get through the first trimester, you may be ok. However, for some moms, it can continue the entire pregnancy. To try to deal with it, you can:

Fatigue

It’s normal to feel more tired than usual when you’re pregnant because of all the hormonal changes going on in your body. Taking care of another child and breastfeeding can certainly add to it. If you can, get plenty of rest. It may be hard when you have a baby or toddler crawling or running around, but make an effort to:

  • Sit or lay down with your feet up while you breastfeed
  • Take a nap when your child is napping
  • Don’t skip meals and remember to drink plenty of fluids.

Comfort

As your belly grows, it can be tough to find a comfortable position to breastfeed. Breastfeeding holds that keep the pressure off of your stomach may work better. You may want to:

A Word From Verywell

Many women begin to wean when they find out they’re pregnant with another child. But, if you’re not ready and your doctor doesn’t feel that there is a medical reason to wean, then it isn’t something that you have to do. You can usually continue to breastfeed through a new pregnancy safely. You can even breastfeed your older child along with your newborn once she arrives. It’s called tandem nursing.  

Of course, a new pregnancy can bring sore breasts, a decline in your milk supply, and the demand for more energy. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted. Since weaning during pregnancy may be a little easier due to the changes in the taste and amount of breast milk, you may decide it’s a good time to stop breastfeeding. And, that’s okay, too. You should do what you think is right for you and your family and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. 

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