Pregnant and Breastfeeding – Benefits, Side Effects & more

A pregnant mother playing with her infant

Giving birth and nurturing a baby are few of the most wonderful and satisfying feelings in the world. You are enjoying your motherhood to the hilt and then you come to know that you are carrying again! You may be overjoyed and worried at the same time because you are still breastfeeding your little one. Do not let your joyous feelings fade away because in the following article we shall discuss how you can effectively manage to breastfeed your baby during pregnancy and we shall also talk about various side-effects associated with breastfeeding during pregnancy.

Is Breastfeeding Safe during pregnancy?

A mother breastfeeding her baby

Breastfeeding is considered absolutely safe during pregnancy. Your body does not stop producing milk which means that you may continue to feed your baby. So if you are wondering can I breastfeed while pregnant, the answer is yes it ok to feed your baby during pregnancy until or unless you have been advised not to do so, by your doctor. Sometimes women who have had a miscarriage in the past may not be advised to breastfeed; however, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove the same.

You should eat a well-balanced diet to support your unborn baby and along with your breastfeeding baby. Therefore, you should let your toddler reap the benefits of breastfeeding while pregnant because it is perfectly safe for you and your unborn baby.

Can Breastfeeding during Pregnancy Cause a Miscarriage?

There are many myths about breastfeeding during pregnancy and one of the myths is that it may cause miscarriage. It is true that when you are breastfeeding, your body releases the same hormone oxytocin, which is released by your body during labour to stimulate contractions. However, the amount of oxytocin released by the in breastfeeding mom is very low that it is not sufficient enough to cause any kind of major contractions that may harm your unborn baby. Therefore, you should not worry about breastfeeding while pregnant miscarriage risks. The pregnancy hormones do get transferred into your breast milk, however, it does not pose any threat to your baby, however, there is no substantial breastfeeding while pregnant risks, if you have a healthy pregnancy.

When should you Not Breastfeed your Baby during Pregnancy?

Most women plan to nurse their toddler during pregnancy, however, you may wonder when to stop breastfeeding when pregnant. Though, breastfeeding during pregnancy is extremely safe for your toddler and also for your unborn child, however, your doctor may advise you weaning off your toddler under following circumstances or not to breastfeed your baby:

If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is recommended that you get in touch with your doctor and discuss your breastfeeding options.

What Changes Take Place in Breast milk while you are Pregnant?

As you enter your fourth of pregnancy, your breast milk composition will change. The mature milk will start getting thicker and turn yellow in colour, this is called colostrum. Colostrum is the milk that your newborn baby consumes after birth. However, sometimes toddlers may not like the taste and wean off on their own but if your baby is fine with the changed taste, you may continue nursing your baby.

Benefits of Breastfeeding during Pregnancy

Here are some of the benefits of breastfeeding during pregnancy:

  • Breastfeeding during pregnancy ensures that you keep sharing a special bond with your toddler.
  • It helps it building your toddler’s immunity.
  • It helps in building a sibling bond also because your toddler may adjust well to the new baby if he is already feeling secured and comforted.
  • Some mothers feel less nauseous if they are breastfeeding during pregnancy.

What are the Side-Effects of Breastfeeding during Pregnancy?

Where some women do not mind nursing their babies in pregnancy, others may find it extremely difficult to deal with their body’s changing demands and thus put an end to breastfeeding or wean off their babies. You can make either choice as it is majorly up for you to decide, however, there are some side-effects or breastfeeding while pregnant risks that you may have to deal with in case you decide on feeding your baby in pregnancy:

1. Effect on Unborn Baby

Many women fear that breastfeeding may cause harm to their unborn baby by increasing their risk of miscarriage. This belief is supported by the fact that the pregnancy hormone that aids contractions during labour is released during breastfeeding too and thus may cause miscarriage.

2. Sore Nipples

As soon as you become pregnant, your body starts releasing progesterone and estrogen, the sex hormones which makes your nipples and breast sore. Thus when you nurse your baby you may feel pain and discomfort, just the way you feel when you begin feeding your baby during the first few days after birth.

3. Morning Sickness

The ongoing hormonal tussle inside your body can make you extremely nauseous and cause severe morning sickness too. Breastfeeding tends to intensify your morning sickness, however as soon as you transcend to your second trimester, your morning sickness may subside or reduce to considerable amounts.

4. Hormonal Changes

Pregnancy takes a toll on your hormones and you also experience changing hormones while you practise breastfeeding. Therefore, your body undergoes a lot of hormonal changes, which can make you cranky and irritable.

5. Criticism

Most women find themselves in a state of dilemma as soon as they find out they are going to have a baby again when they already have a nursing child. You are already hard on yourself and you may also fear about your friend’s and family’s reactions. You may find it a little difficult to deal with.

How Many Calories should you Consume if you are Breastfeeding during Pregnancy?

When you are pregnant, you need to pep up your calorie intake and the same applies when you are feeding your baby. When you are doing both, then you need to pay extra heed to your pregnancy and breastfeeding nutritional needs. Therefore, it is very important that you take a well-balanced diet and take enough calories to support both the babies. Make sure you include fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy in right amounts. Do not forget to drink an adequate amount of water because lack of water or dehydration may cause various complications during pregnancy.

You may wonder what should be your daily calorie intake. Well! That depends majorly on the age of your nursing child. In case your baby is less than six months old and is exclusively on breast milk, then you should consume 600 calories extra than your daily calorie intake. However, if your baby is older than six months and is eating other solid foods apart from breast milk, then you should include 500 calories extra in your daily calorie intake. Also, in addition, you may have to pep up your calorie intake by 350 and 450 calories a day in your second and third trimester respectively. If you experience nausea and morning sickness in your first trimester and find it difficult to gobble down extra calories, you may relax as you can go without extra calorie intake in your first trimester.

Can Pregnancy Affect Breast Milk Supply?

If you find your milk supply lesser than before or your milk supply reduces after you become pregnant, this may be due to the changing hormones in pregnancy. Here’s what should be aware of about your milk supply during pregnancy:

  • Your milk supply may reduce or drop as soon as you become pregnant or a little later in your pregnancy journey.
  • In case your nursing baby is less than a year old and your breast milk supply diminishes, you should talk to your baby’s doctor about the same. Your doctor may recommend you to give formula milk to compensate for your baby’s milk requirements.
  • If your baby is more than a year old, then it will be a good idea to include more solid food in his diet to cover up for the reduced milk intake. You may continue to breastfeed your baby and in addition, you may also give formula milk or whole milk to your baby.
  • In some cases, the reduced milk supply may make your baby irritable and fussy and they may stop breastfeeding completely.

However, if your baby has adjusted well to the changed milk supply, getting adequate nutrition from solid food and gaining enough weight, there is no requirement of adding formula milk to your baby’s diet. But if your baby is not gaining weight and seems fussy, get in touch with your baby’s paediatrician.

What if you are not able to Breastfeed your Baby during Pregnancy?

If you are healthy, then you may continue to breastfeed your baby even during your pregnancy. However, sometimes due to certain health concerns, you may not be able to breastfeed your baby. Under such circumstances, you have to make up for your baby’s nutritional requirements through other sources. If your baby is under six months of age, you can start giving him formula milk. In case, your nursing baby is older than six months, then along with formula milk, you can also start giving solid food to your baby. Though the sudden transition may be difficult for your baby to cope up with, gradually your baby will adjust well to it.

Tips to Keep in Mind when Nursing during Pregnancy

Here are some tips that you should keep in mind while nursing:

  • Consume a well-balanced and a healthy diet.
  • Drink adequate water.
  • Keep a check on your baby’s latching position to avoid sore nipples.
  • Brace yourself to meet your toddler’s additional nutritional requirements due to your decreased milk supply.
  • Try new positions for feeding as your pregnancy bump may make it difficult for you to feed.
  • You can give tandem nursing a shot.
  • If you feel nauseous, keep a few snacks handy and eat before you begin nursing.
  • Make sure you check with your doctor if breastfeeding is safe for your during pregnancy.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions or facts about breastfeeding during pregnancy:

1. Can Breastfeeding Affect Nutrition Of Baby In Womb?

No. If you are eating a healthy and nutritious diet, your body can take care of you, your nursing baby and also your unborn child.

2. Will Breastfeed Baby Get Nutritious Breast Milk During Pregnancy?

Yes. Your nursing baby will get adequate nutrition from your milk. However, your milk composition may change and also some of your pregnancy hormones may get into your breast milk but it will not cause any harm to your nursing baby.

However, if you have any complications in your pregnancy, you should consult your doctor about breastfeeding your baby.

Also Read: Chances of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding