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Can I breastfeed during pregnancy?

Updated: Apr 10, 2023

So we know that you can become pregnant while breastfeeding, and therefore many moms find themselves asking, "Well can I breastfeed during pregnancy?". Today, I'm going to answer this question and give you some insight on what to expect when breast-feeding during your pregnancy. The short answer is, Yes, you can breastfeed during pregnancy. But there are important things you need to know. Keep reading to learn tips for breastfeeding during pregnancy.

 

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Why do women breastfeed during pregnancy?


The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, and then a minimum of 2 years total of breastfeeding. It is very common for a mother to find herself pregnant again during this time period, but still prioritizing the benefits of breastfeeding for her older child.


Is Breastfeeding during pregnancy safe?


Breastfeeding during pregnancy, contrary to common belief, is considered generally safe. Some doctors may express concerns about "premature contractions" with breastfeeding. The theory is that the oxytocin from breastfeeding can cause contractions. While this is accurate, a low-risk pregnancy without complications should not be threatened by breastfeeding. Generally speaking, more oxytocin is released during orgasm from intercourse, which is not contraindicated during pregnancy. So as long as the mother can safely have sex during pregnancy, she can safely breastfeed during pregnancy.


Another concern may be nutrition. A mother who is breastfeeding may need to play close attention to her diet to ensure she is getting enough nutrition for making breastmilk and nourishing her growing baby. In general, however, this does not mean a pregnant woman shouldn't breastfeed.


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Breastfeeding during pregnancy can present some challenges, however.


Pregnancy can make nipples extra sensitive, making breastfeeding uncomfortable or even painful. Additionally, as progesterone becomes dominant, prolactin can decrease making it difficult to maintain a full milk supply. Some women continue to produce colostrum throughout pregnancy while others "lose" their milk supply early. If your older child is under 12 months old and you are breastfeeding during pregnancy, you need to monitor their growth closely. While they may be happily nursing, they may not be receiving enough milk, and therefore may require breastmilk donor supplementation or formula supplementation. For children over 1 year of age, dry nursing during pregnancy is not problematic as long as the mother is comfortable with it. While "supply and demand" approaches work well to increase milk supply in general, during pregnancy, pregnancy hormones rule, and it is not typically possible to increase a dropping milk supply during pregnancy. If you have any questions about breastfeeding during pregnancy, be sure to connect with an IBCLC who can help you navigate your personal circumstances. Are you planning to breastfeed throughout your pregnancy? Tell us about it in the comments!

 


Jaimie Zaki a lactation consultant who teaches online breastfeeding classes and offers virtual breastfeeding support and also serves Wichita Falls is wearing a pink shirt standing in an office with pictures of breastfeeding art behind her on wall

Jaimie Zaki is an Air Force Wife, Catholic mother of four, Doula, IBCLC (lactation consultant), and Motherhood Photographer residing in Wichita Falls, Texas. Jaimie offers virtual and in person lactation and pregnancy support.


Jaimie offers virtual lactation consults and can help answer your questions for prenatal and postpartum breastfeeding concerns. Contact Jaimie at jaimiezaki@littlebearlactation.com to learn more about booking a breastfeeding consultation. Jaimie also hosts a Free Virtual Pregnancy and Postpartum support group, LIVE Online Breastfeeding Classes and LIVE Virtual Childbirth Preparation Classes.



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