5 Important Tips for Breastfeeding While Pregnant
As your baby surpasses his or her 9-month milestone and approaches their first birthday, you may already be considering your next pregnancy. Of course, every mom is different! Whatever decision you’ve made – or if you haven’t given much thought to more children yet – is what works best for you and that’s wonderful!
If you’ve recently found out you’re expecting again or if another pregnancy may be right around the corner, you probably have questions about breastfeeding while pregnant. Making sure that doing so is safe for both your little one and your developing fetus is imperative as your pregnancy progresses, particularly because breastfeeding releases hormones like oxytocin, which can cause mild uterine contractions. In fact, that’s why our first tip for breastfeeding during pregnancy is so important:
Check with your healthcare provider first.
You can never be too cautious, especially when it comes to your babies. Generally, breastfeeding while pregnant is safe. Though trace amounts of pregnancy hormones can be present in your milk, these are not harmful to your breast milk feeding child. Additionally, oxytocin is released in small amounts during a nursing session, so it is not enough to induce preterm labor. The contractions caused by this hormone are very minor and rarely increase the chance of having a miscarriage. However, there are certain circumstances when your doctor may advise weaning your child, such as:
If your pregnancy is deemed high risk or you are at risk for miscarriage
If you are carrying twins or multiples
If you have been experiencing uterine pain or bleeding
If you have been advised to avoid sex while pregnant
Talking to your healthcare provider will be a crucial part of determining whether you should continue breastfeeding while pregnant. If it is not recommended for your unique situation, that’s okay – you’ve done a great job and now it is important for your body to prepare for your new baby and the next chapter of your breastfeeding journey!
Sit or lie down while breastfeeding.
It’s no secret that nursing and/or pumping requires energy, something that can be hard to come by with both a baby and a developing pregnancy. Be sure to sit or lie down in a relaxing spot when breastfeeding or pumping to give yourself extra time to rest as your baby is fed. As your pregnancy continues to progress, you may need to get creative with new pumping or nursing positions that are comfortable for you and your little one.
Monitor your milk supply.
Many moms’ milk supplies will start to decrease around months 4 or 5 after birth, so it is important to begin incorporating other nutrition into your baby’s diet. If they are satisfied after breast milk feeding and are meeting their growth and weight markers, then there’s usually no reason to be concerned. The other nutrition your baby is receiving will make up for any temporary or permanent decrease in their breast milk intake. Chatting with your little one’s doctor and/or an experienced lactation consultant can be especially helpful during this time.
Once your new baby arrives, it is important for them to get colostrum, or your early milk. With that in mind, you may decide to nurse him or her first and/or temporarily limit your older child’s breast milk feeding during these important first few days after the new baby’s birth
Consider your diet.
By now, you know all about how eating well is important for the health of your baby – both during your developing pregnancy and after birth, while breast milk feeding. However, consuming additional calories is also crucial for you, mama! Pregnancy and breastfeeding both require a lot of energy, so it’s important to ensure you’re taking in enough calories to maintain your own overall wellness. A general rule of thumb is:
500 extra calories needed if your breast milk feeding child is also eating other foods or 650 extra calories needed if he or she is under 6 months old.
This is in addition to the 350 extra calories needed if you are in the 2nd trimester of your pregnancy or the 450 extra calories needed if you are in the 3rd trimester of your pregnancy.
Most healthcare providers agree that no additional calories are required if you are in the 1st trimester of your pregnancy, which is often considered a positive for moms who are experiencing morning sickness or nausea.
Invest in breast and nipple care.
You probably already know that sore nipples can be a frequent ailment for breastfeeding moms, but this can be especially noticeable if you are expecting and breastfeeding. This is because breast tenderness is a common symptom of pregnancy, so taking time for self-care is important for both mental and physical wellness. Keeping a supply of products like lanolin and hydrogel pads can provide some much-needed relief, so be sure to stock up!
In many situations, breastfeeding during pregnancy can be done. Remember, even though you might be tired, irritable, busy, cranky, or otherwise exhausted, your body is providing important care to your babies. You got this, Super Mom, and we’re here for you through every step (and each baby) along the way!