You’ve come to the right place. Pregnancy is an exciting time. But when you have a child that is still nursing, things may be a little overwhelming. There may be many thoughts and concerns running through your head. You may be wondering if it is safe. Or you may be wondering how it will affect your relationship with your child. All of these concerns are completely normal. The tips and advice provided below will help you determine if breastfeeding while pregnant is the best option for you and your family.
1. Always Check With Your Obstetrician First
It is always wise to check with your medical care provider when making any decisions that could ultimately affect your pregnancy. Though rare, certain risks can be associated with breastfeeding while pregnant. Instances of this risk are not highly reported and are typically restricted to high-risk pregnancies. Other risks include uterine bleeding or pain, carrying twins, or being advised against sex during pregnancy. It has also been said that due to the oxytocin released during breastfeeding, there are possibilities of uterine contractions happening. The chance of this happening is rare, but your medical care provider will be able to help determine if this should be a concerning factor for you.
2. Take You and Your Child’s Feelings Into Consideration
Pregnancy can be an emotional time for women. And the changes involved could have you feeling a bit overwhelmed and nervous. This is a natural response, and these things should be taken into consideration when determining if breastfeeding while pregnant is best for you. One consideration would be whether you are ready to wean your child away from breastfeeding. Another aspect to consider is whether or not your child is prepared for this change. You may want to also factor in other aspects such as your nursing child’s age, nursing patterns, and behavioral patterns. All of these things will help you determine if continuing to breastfeed is right for you and your child.
3. Some Experimentation Will Be Necessary
As the pregnancy progresses, there will be a need to adjust routines or nursing positioning. The growth of the belly, along with the physical discomforts that can come along with pregnancy, nursing may become a little more difficult. If you plan on continuing to breastfeed past this point in pregnancy, you must find a way to make it comfortable for you and your nursing child. During this time, it is best to experiment with different positions or even considering options such as pumping. Positions often suggested include side-lying or having your child sit next to you while feeding.
4. Prepare for Fluctuations of Milk
At some point in pregnancy, it is reported that nursing women experience a decrease in milk production. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the changes in milk production usually occur during month four or month five of the pregnancy. Some suggest that this would be the perfect time to start introducing other foods to your child. However, if this is not possible, you may need to make extra preparation by pumping a little more before the decrease occurs. If issues with breastfeeding do occur because of decreased lactation, it is best to consult your child’s primary caregiver on ways to accommodate their needs.
5. Increased Nutritional Needs
It’s no secret that nutritional needs increase during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. But breastfeeding while pregnant means these nutritional needs increase even more. With this in mind, it is extremely important to make sure that you increase your nutritional needs to avoid issues of malnutrition or fatigue. Reportedly, a mother needs an additional 500 calories while breastfeeding a child who receives nutrition from other food sources. For a child whose sole nutrition is dependent on breast milk, a mother will need to add 650 calories. And this does not include the additional caloric intake needed during the first and second trimester. Nutrition will need to be a top priority to remain healthy for yourself, your nursing child, and your growing baby.
6. Early Weaning Is Possible
Changes in the consistency and taste of milk have also been reported. Mayo Clinic suggests that mothers should be aware of this fact so that they may be prepared if their child starts to reject the nipple. The important thing to remember is don’t be alarmed if this does happen. It could be very well that your child no longer likes the taste or consistency of your breast milk. At this time, you could see your nursing child will start to wean on their own.
7. Physical Discomforts May Increase
Outside of potential risks and changes to breastfeeding, there are also factors to consider, such as your comfort. Both the APA (American Pregnancy Association) and Mayo Clinic discuss issues related to sore nipples and fatigue beyond the usual amount associated with pregnancy. It is estimated that nearly 75 percent of women who breastfeed while pregnant experience increased tenderness or soreness in the nipples. If this does pose an issue, it may be necessary to invest in nipple care or learning techniques to decrease the discomfort.
8. Start Thinking About Tandem Breastfeeding
Tandem breastfeeding is the practice of breastfeeding two nursing children. Depending on how long you want to breastfeed each child, it may be good to learn about tandem breastfeeding before your second bundle of joy gets here. Some medical professionals even suggest that the newborn baby gets priority breastfeeding due to antibodies that are present and beneficial for the newborn. According to La Leche League International, it may be easier to nurse the older child after you finish with the newborn. If there are any concerns regarding tandem breastfeeding, it is best to contact a lactation or breastfeeding specialist who can help.
The consensus across the medical and parenting community is that breastfeeding while pregnant is perfectly safe in most cases. However, your obstetrician should be consulted in case there are certain risk factors involved. Only you and your care provider can determine the safety of breastfeeding while pregnant. Other than risk concerns, breastfeeding should not interfere with your pregnancy nor with your relationship with your child.