Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: It's Safe in Most Cases
Finding out you’re pregnant is an exciting moment, but you might also have feelings of sadness or confusion if you’re still breastfeeding another little one. Fortunately, for most moms, it’s safe to continue nursing throughout your pregnancy and even once the newest addition arrives. You can keep yourself and your little ones healthy by following a few guidelines.
Breastfeeding While Pregnant
When you breastfeed, your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which can stimulate contractions. This is why some people are concerned about nursing while pregnant. As long as you have a healthy pregnancy and haven’t had complications during previous pregnancies, these contractions are harmless, and you can continue breastfeeding.
There are some instances in which you might consider weaning. Talk to your doctor if any of the following conditions apply.
- You have had a previous miscarriage.
- You have had a previous premature delivery.
- You are considered at risk of early labor.
- You have been advised to avoid intercourse during pregnancy.
- You are pregnant with twins.
If you do nurse while pregnant and experience any bleeding or uterine pain, you should also call your doctor.
Taking Care of Yourself
Monitor your diet and fluid intake carefully if you choose to continue breastfeeding. In addition to the extra calories you need during pregnancy, you also need to up your calories for nursing.
If your little one eats solids along with nursing, add around 500 extra calories each day. If his only nutrition is your breast milk, add 650 additional calories. These calories are in addition to the extra 350 calories a day you need during the second trimester and 450 more calories during the third trimester. Following these guidelines ensures that your nursing little one, baby and you all get enough nutrients.
Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, as well.
Breastfeeding while pregnant isn’t without challenges. In addition to the normal nausea some moms experience during pregnancy, the let down of your milk can cause more queasy feelings. Your nipples also may become sore and make nursing uncomfortable. If you experience either of these, distract yourself with a book, music or watching TV. Adjusting your little one's nursing position can also help with nipple soreness.
You may also find yourself too tired to nurse. In this case, use the nursing session to your advantage. Relax as you sit to nurse or even lie down to get some much needed rest.
Changes to Your Milk
Your breast milk changes in a couple different ways during pregnancy. Your supply will likely decrease during the fourth and fifth month. If breast milk is your little one’s only food source, monitor her weight and growth closely during this time to make sure she’s getting enough milk. Older babies will likely make up for any deficiency by eating extra solids.
The taste of your milk also changes. Don’t be surprised if your nursling starts to wean herself because she doesn’t like the new flavor. If she starts to wean, don’t offer her the breast, but don’t refuse it either. Offer a healthy snack in place of nursing sessions when you can. If she's under 1 year old, you'll need to offer formula or previously expressed milk. After 1, you can offer whole milk.
Once Baby Arrives
If you are able to continue nursing throughout your pregnancy and plan to nurse both once baby arrives, congratulations. Keep a couple things in mind as you continue this relationship.
Nursing both may help your older child adjust to the new baby and also allow you to spend time cuddling both. Finding cuddle time with two or more little ones is a challenge for any new mom, so savor those nursing moments.
It’s a good idea to nurse your new little one first to ensure he gets enough milk. Your toddler can make up for any decrease with extra solid foods.
Keep in mind that breastfeeding two takes more energy than nursing one. Make sure to get rest when you can and keep up your calories. A healthy momma is a happy momma.