Breastfeeding is considered the healthiest option for baby and can be continued for more than one year. In some cases, back to back pregnancies can mean mom is still breastfeeding one child while pregnant with another. Is breastfeeding while pregnant a safe option for mom and baby?
How does breastfeeding affect fertility?
You can still get pregnant even though you are breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed have delayed ovulation for several months after delivery. Breastfeeding cannot be used as birth control, and while you are less likely to ovulate and get pregnant when you breastfeed, you still need to use birth control if you do not want to get pregnant.
Is it safe to breastfeed while you are pregnant?
Breastfeeding causes increased oxytocin levels, which also can cause uterine contractions. That is why many doctors used to advise women to stop nursing and breastfeeding during the next pregnancy. The concern is that breastfeeding stimulates uterine contractions and therefore could deprive the developing baby of nutrients or lead to premature labor and delivery.
But recent studies have show that there is no conclusive evidence that this occurs and babies born to mothers who breastfed during pregnancy appear to be perfectly healthy.
A Comparative Study of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy: Impact on Maternal and Newborn Outcomes Journal of Nursing Research: March 2012 - Volume 20 - Issue 1 - p 74–80
Today, many doctors feel It's safe to continue breast-feeding while pregnant, esopecially if you are at low risk for preterm labor and birth. Breast-feeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren't a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your doctor might discourage breast-feeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor or you're experiencing uterine pain or bleeding.
The consensus is that it's up to the moms to decide whether to keep nursing during a new pregnancy. In a few high risk conditions, such as placenta previa, doctors may advise increased caution but for most, nursing during pregnancy is probably safe.
How does pregnancy affect breastfeeding?
The first thing a pregnant woman may notice during the first few weeks of pregnancy is tender breasts and sore nipples. Breastfeeding during this time can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, painful. Pain and discomfort may ease a bit leading into the second trimester, but some pregnant women feel breast pain and discomfort throughout the pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progresses breast milk flavor and volume will likely change. Your breastfeeding child may choose to wean from the breast without provocation because they simply don’t like the taste of your breast milk any longer, or they may not be getting enough breast milk to satiate hunger. If you notice your breastfeeding child wanting to feed more often, you may not be producing enough breast milk.
Complicated Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding stimulates mild contractions. For the uncomplicated pregnancy these contractions are not usually a problem, but during a complicated pregnancy even the mildest contractions may prove risky. Talk frequently with your obstetrician about contractions during pregnancy, especially early contractions that occur well before your due date. While these contractions are most often Braxton Hicks contractions that prepare the uterus for real labor, it is best to keep your obstetrician informed if you’re breastfeeding during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding Two Children at Once
It is safe to breastfeed more than one child simultaneously, but your breastmilk production will increase to meet the demand. Calorie and water intake needs to increase to accommodate the increased breast milk production. Fatigue may also be a problem in the first few months after birth as you get used to multiple overnight feedings and keeping both infants fed throughout the day.
Breastfeeding during pregnancy can be safe and effective, but taking proper care of your body is crucial. Make sure to take naps often, drink more water, increase calorie intake and talk with your physician if you have contractions before your due date. You must also be prepared to give up breastfeeding during pregnancy if there are complications associated with breastfeeding during pregnancy. Each case is unique so talk with your obstetrician if you are pregnant and currently breastfeeding.