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Q&A: Breastfeeding while pregnant?

Is it okay to keep breastfeeding my 10-month-old if I'm pregnant?

Re: Is it okay to keep breastfeeding my 10-month-old if I'm pregnant?

The Bump Expert

Many experts agree that it's safe to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy. In fact, there are tons of doctors, lactation consultants, and moms who would encourage you to keep it up. All over the globe, mothers breastfeed during pregnancy and go on to deliver healthy babies. Here are a few common concerns and how to deal with them:

Nutrition

There's no evidence that baby or baby-to-be (or you) will suffer nutritionally as long as you keep up a healthy, balanced diet and follow the same weight-gain parameters as you would if you weren’t breastfeeding.

You may possibly need to supplement your 10-month-old's diet during this time, due to the natural drop in milk supply that accompanies pregnancy. Monitor her growth and hunger cues in order to assess if she needs additional calories.

In general, your body will take the nutrients it needs for the fetus first, then your nursing baby. You live on the rest, so a healthy diet will help you feel much better.

Preterm Labor and Miscarriage Risks

In the past there was concern that the natural contractions that can occur during breastfeeding would put a mom and her fetus at risk for preterm labor or miscarriage. This has been shown to not be the case for normal pregnancies. The only time that weaning is recommended for this reason is if mom has been put on "full pelvic rest" -- meaning she's been told to refrain from sexual activity because she's at increased risk for preterm labor. Sexual activity results in much stronger contractions that breastfeeding does, so if sex is okay then breastfeeding shouldn't be a problem.

Drop in Milk Supply

You will experience a decline in your milk supply during pregnancy. You can accommodate baby's nutritional needs with additional solid foods.

Pain and Discomfort

Your breasts and nipples are likely to be sore as you begin your new pregnancy, and breastfeeding can make this worse. (Sorry.) You might also be extra tired, and some moms find that breastfeeding makes them nauseated. (But don't freak just yet -- other moms say breastfeeding helped relieve their morning sickness.)

If you are breastfeeding and considering another pregnancy (or are pregnant already), talk to your doctor or midwife about your concerns.

Jeanne Cygnus, IBCLC, RLC