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Breastfeeding during pregnancy

Though some doctors advise against it, unless you have a problem pregnancy, it can be safe to feed another baby or child.

Posted: 25 November 2009
by Laura Lee Davies

Because breastfeeding is not a sure-fire form of contraception (despite any old wives’ tales you’ve heard), it is possible to become pregnant by accident or design, when you are still breastfeeding another infant.

Breastfeeding has no proven detrimental affect on the fetus or on the feeding child. However, because breastfeeding requires the mother to look after herself nutritionally, as does pregnancy, some doctors and other health professionals advise against continued breastfeeding once you know you are pregnant. This is because they believe the demands on your body (now, and the possible nutritional drains placed on your future reserves of calcium for your bones in older age, for example) will be too great.
If you do not have any specific health concerns related to nutrition then this should not necessarily be an issue for you.

Some people believe the uterine contractions experienced during breastfeeding are a danger to the unborn baby, but these do not appear to be any more strenuous than those during sex, as far as we know.

If you have a history of miscarriage or have had problems with another pregnancy or birth (including having a premature baby), then it is more likely that your doctor will strongly advise against breastfeeding during pregnancy.

Feeding a younger child
If you are pregnant and feeding a child under one year, make sure you keep an eye on her weight gain, to ensure the quality of your milk is not being compromised by the need for nutrients elsewhere. It is also known to be the case that breastfeeding women find their milk supply reduces during mid-term pregnancy.
If this is a problem, you can try to increase your healthy calorific consumption to improve the milk production but if there is still no weight gain in your baby, look for other ways of boosting your child’s intake of food – from formula and/or solids.

Feeding a toddler
If you are pregnant and still feeding your toddler, you might find she reacts to changes of taste or flow and naturally wishes to give up the breast. The nutritional value of feeding beyond one is greatly reduced, so you do not need to worry that your older child is not getting what she needs from your milk in terms of its reduced production, if you do continue.
The weight of an older child feeding on you might become uncomfortable, so think about better positions to feed.
If you are simply feeling too drained or unwell (possibly with morning sickness or sore nipples) to continue to feed, an older child will be more aware of the wrench and it could cause a resentment of your growing bump. When you do have to wean an older child, make sure you are loving, physically still close and perhaps find new things you can share – afternoon naps or baths together.

Reasons you might need to stop
If you are getting a lot of advice to stop but do not feel there is any physical problem or genuine reason to do so, get in touch with the breastfeeding support group La Leche League who can talk to you about concerns and give you words of encouragement. They are pro feeding, but will also give you good advice if you really should stop.
If you have suffered bleeding or are not gaining weight, you might need to give up feeding as these are important concerns which affect the wellbeing of your unborn baby.

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