As a new mom, breastfeeding is an important part of your motherhood journey. It helps you nourish your baby with nutrients for their healthy growth, and also gives you a chance to hold your baby close to you, and therefore creating a mother and baby bond.
But sometimes, you may find yourself pregnant with your second baby when you’re still nursing the first. It can be confusing as you may wonder whether you can now continue to breastfeed, because both the baby inside your womb, and the one you have already, are dependent on mom for their food.
Moms commonly wonder whether breastfeeding can lead to pregnancy complications or affect either of the babies involved. Here are your answers:
1. Is It Safe During Pregnancy?
Many moms fear that breastfeeding may lead to miscarriage early in the pregnancy, or in case of later months, they worry about preterm labour. The hormone oxytocin is released when you breastfeed - the same hormone that is involved in uterine contractions during childbirth. However, this poses no actual risk, because oxytocin produced during nursing is in such small quantities that it cannot start labour.
Although breastfeeding can start uterine contractions, in a healthy pregnancy, these are not a concern unless your doctor advises against breastfeeding.
2. Is It Safe To Pump Breast Milk?
Pumping breast milk is usually not recommended. This is because nipple stimulation can occur, which is a scientifically proven way to induce labour. This is risky, especially in the later weeks of your pregnancy, when preterm labour can occur.
3. Is It Safe For My Child?
When you’re pregnant, a small amount of pregnancy hormones do pass on through your milk to the baby who is breastfeeding, but this poses no harm.
In the 4th and 5th months of pregnancy, supply will decrease, and this may change the milk, making your child decrease their demand for breast milk, and ready to wean sooner than you might have thought. Some moms experience that they wean their babies sooner if they get pregnant while breastfeeding, while others find that their babies are not ready to be weaned off.
Pay attention to your child’s health closely, as the weaning transition is one that needs to be done with care. Speak to your pediatrician about your child’s health, and to an OB about your safety during pregnancy.
4. Tips For Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
Breastfeeding is already challenging if you’re a new mom. It takes some time to get used to. But when you get pregnant during this time, you might have more doubts. If your doctor has told you that it is okay to continue breastfeeding, here are some tips to help you make it through the experience:
- Most moms experience sore nipples, and this may be more so if you breastfeed during pregnancy. Use your own breast milk to heal the skin, and use cold compresses to handle the pain you feel.
- Stay hydrated. Both your children need it. And so do you. Breastfeeding can dehydrate you, so keep sipping on water as this will also keep your little one in the womb safe.
- Breastfeeding moms need some extra calories every day, but now that you’re pregnant too, you should consider talking to a dietician or your own doctor about how much more food you need and how you can eat well during this time.
- Rest is very important. Pregnancy is tiring, and it can get more so when you breastfeed. Sit or lie down while breastfeeding to avoid fatigue. Avoid strenuous tasks and try to get enough rest.
Finally, remember that the decision to breastfeed or not do so when you are pregnant is up to you. You can always ask your doctor for more advise on how to keep all 3 of you healthy.
5. When Should You Avoid Breastfeeding During Pregnancy?
Although breastfeeding is safe during pregnancy, every pregnancy is unique, and it is advisable to wean your baby off in case of the following:
- If your pregnancy is a high-risk pregnancy
- If there is already a risk of preterm delivery
- If you are carrying twins and multiples
- If you have bleeding and/or uterine pain
Speaking to a doctor before making the decision is the most important part of breastfeeding during pregnancy, and keeping you and your children safe. Make sure that you do so to avoid any risks.