Congrats! Your latest pregnancy test has come back positive. However, you are still breastfeeding your young one. What now? Can you continue to breastfeed while carrying your new baby?
The simple answer is yes you can. However, there are some things to be aware of before you make your decision. It is not an easy thing to deal with so taking it easy during your pregnancy is important.
Breastfeeding is a very personal thing between you and your baby. It is ultimately up to you and the baby to decide when it is best for you to wean. You do not have to worry about weaning before the both of you are ready.
Do not let friends or relatives sway your decision either way. They may have doubts and these doubts are normal but not necessarily based on facts. Even if you were not pregnant again, you would still be making this decision for the two of you and no one else.
Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
It crosses every breastfeeding woman’s mind when she gets pregnant: is it okay to continue breastfeeding? Being worried about this is entirely natural.
It is perfectly safe to breastfeed your baby while you are pregnant. However, there are some things to look out for. Talk to your doctor when you learn of the pregnancy, for you may have personal reasons for not wanting to continue feeding your baby this way.
Since breastfeeding can cause contractions in the uterus, many worry that this can cause preterm labor. These contractions are not much of a concern. Oxytocin is only released in small amounts, so the contractions are barely even noticeable.
Only rarely do the contractions from the oxytocin increase your chances of having a miscarriage.
Pregnancy hormones raging through your body do not pose a risk when passed through your milk to your nursing baby. With such small amounts of the hormones, there should be no worries.
Some situations are riskier if you are still in the breastfeeding stage. If you experience any of them, talk to your doctor about what is best for you and your baby. Only with the help of your doctor will you be able to make the best decision.
These situations are as follows:
- High risk pregnancy or risk for preterm labor
- Twins being carried
- Avoiding sex
- Bleeding or uterine pain
Pregnancy Breastfeeding Myths
There are several myths about breastfeeding while pregnant. To clear the air about these myths, here is a list of them and the truth behind them.
- 24 weeks of pregnancy changes the uterus in a way that causes breastfeeding to become risky.
- Myth. The hormone released during breastfeeding, oxytocin, causes mild uterine contractions. However, the uterus is relatively insensitive to oxytocin at the beginning of pregnancy. Research shows that this insensitivity increases after the 37th week and that there are little to no problems before then.
- Newborns will always need to nurse first.
- Myth. The new baby may need to have the colostrum from your breasts right after they are born. However, that does not mean it always has to be this way.
- Your breast milk supply will drop significantly while you are pregnant.
- Truth. A good percentage of mothers experience a drop in their supply during pregnancy. However, a few will continue to produce the average amount of milk, if not more.
- During pregnancy, the body will give to the fetus first and then to the one who is nursing. The leftovers go to your own daily reserves and needs.
- Myth. There is no research to show that anyone is short on the nutrients that they need. If you have a low body fat level, note that some of this fat will be yielded to your unborn baby to help him gain weight.
- Mothers who nurse in tandem have double the milk supply.
- Truth. The only concern with this is oversupply, but otherwise, it is completely accurate.
- Most children will wean themselves during the pregnancy of their mother.
- Myth. While most children do wean during pregnancy, it is not always the child’s idea. In one study, only 26 percent of children weaned themselves.
- There is no reason to believe that you will not continue to enjoy nursing your baby during pregnancy.
- Myth. Breastfeeding certainly changes during pregnancy. It can become painful and even nauseating. This can affect how you feel about nursing, and your young one might not like the change in supply or flavor of the milk.
- Nursing in tandem will help your older child adjust more smoothly to the new baby.
- Myth. Your older child will go through a lot when adapting to a new member of the family. There can be the fear of being displaced, anger, or even delight in the new baby. Relationships between siblings develop their own rhythms when it comes to fighting and bonding.
- Morning sickness is reduced by breastfeeding.
- Unknown. Some women may find that their morning sickness gets worse when they breastfeed their baby, but there is inconclusive research about it. Many also find that morning sickness is indeed reduced.
- Nursing in tandem is rare.
- Myth. It is actually very common to tandem nurse. Many are careful about whom they tell about this, so that is why it seems so rare.
Be prepared for what you will go through not just with your new baby, but with the breastfeeding one as well. Your hormones are naturally going to be all over the place, so it is natural for you to feel conflicted.
You are now eating for three, so you are going to have to make some changes to your diet. Make sure that you are eating plenty to keep all three of you going. When it comes time to wean, you will both know, and taking the appropriate measures to wean is important. It is not easy to wean with a child that is reluctant, so just make sure that you help your child understand.