The common belief that breastfeeding when pregnant can be harmful to your future baby is, perhaps, one of the most persistent myths about breastfeeding. Many mothers hurry to wean their breastfed child immediately after discovering they are pregnant. However, since it relates to both of your babies, many questions about the safety of breastfeeding when pregnant may go through your mind. In this article, we will try to address the most frequent concerns that you may have to help you make an informed decision.
Will breastfeeding when pregnant cause premature labor?
One of the key concerns is that whether nipple stimulation may cause premature labor. This concern is rooted in the fact that nipple stimulation triggers the release of oxytocin hormone responsible for uterus contractions. However, the amount of oxytocin released during breastfeeding is very small to stimulate labor in case of normal pregnancy. Amy Spangler, MN, RN, IBCLC, and author of Breastfeeding: A Parent’s Guide, writes: “… the uterus may be less sensitive to oxytocin during pregnancy, making the risk for uterine contractions even smaller.”
When breastfeeding is not recommended?
Complicated pregnancies may require complicated decisions. In the case of high-risk pregnancies that have higher risks of premature labor and/or vaginal bleeding, many health providers may advise against breastfeeding. However, each case is individual. If a woman made a decision to breastfeed when pregnant, she should not immediately blame herself for spotting and miscarriage: it could very well be that other factors and not breastfeeding caused them.
How Breastfeeding When Pregnant Affects Milk Supply?
During pregnancy, the regulation of your milk production will no more depend on the demand-supply formula. The hormonal changes happening to your body and, particularly, the increase in the level of progesterone hormone will decrease your milk supply even if your child increases its nursing frequency. A small percent of breastfeeding moms, however, will continue making as much milk as before
If you worry about whether your little one will get enough milk, monitor her or his weight gain. You don’t need to worry about your milk supply if the kid is gaining well and seems satisfied after nursing. Otherwise, consider offering more solids or supplementing with baby formula.
At about the fourth month of pregnancy, your body will gradually change the type of milk it is making. During the second trimester, your breasts will start producing a mixture of mature milk for your child and colostrum for the baby to come. This mixture will taste different to your breastfeeding baby, and he or she may decide to wean.
How should a Breastfeeding Pregnant Mother Take Care of Herself?
Breastfeeding pregnant moms should remember that now they are feeding two babies instead of one. Taking care of yourself is important to be able to take care of the other two.
- Take care of your body. In the first trimester, your breasts may become very sensitive and sore. This will make breastfeeding less comfortable than before. However, most of the breastfeeding pregnant moms report that this soreness significantly decreases during the second trimester.
- Take care of what you eat. Diversify your food to include good sources and amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Meat and seafood, low-fat dairy, grains and cereals, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, are good sources of calcium, iron, iodine, and folate. Don’t forget to drink enough liquid to satisfy your thirst. The amount of food you consume depends on the age of the baby and your weight. Moms of babies less than six months old who are exclusively breastfed may need an extra 650 calories each day. Mothers of toddlers usually do not need additional calories.
Mothers that are breastfeeding when pregnant are often told that their breast milk takes the nutrients from the unborn baby. This is yet another myth about breastfeeding: in reality, compared to your breastmilk, your unborn baby has first call on all the nutrients in your body.
Breastfeeding Your Newborn and Your Toddler: Tandem Nursing
Many mothers continue nursing their older kid along with the new one. This is called tandem nursing. Don’t worry whether your body will be able to meet the needs of the two. A good healthy diet will provide them with all they need. Be ready that your older kid may want to breastfeed more often after the new one is born. This sudden increase in demand will gradually drop with the time.
If you are not planning to tandem nurse, be considerate of your older child. Wean him or her while you are pregnant and give enough time to forget about breastfeeding. In this way, he or she will not feel left out when the new sibling starts breastfeeding.