The blog is written by our guest writer, JayDee Vykoukal. She is the founder of Mom Blog Life, designed to empower women in pregnancy, motherhood, and working from home. She is also a Doctor of Physical Therapy, girl mom, and outdoor/travel enthusiast who loves helping others live their best lives!
When it comes to breastfeeding while pregnant, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around. Some women are afraid they won't produce enough milk, or that it can harm their unborn baby. Yet, it can be a wonderful experience as a mom if you truly understand the facts.
In this blog post, we will address all of your concerns and give you tips for successful and safe nursing while pregnant (and beyond if you choose to tandem nurse)!
My Personal Experience with Breastfeeding
When I became pregnant with my second baby, my daughter was two years old and still breastfeeding. Since I got pregnant in the mid-summer heat, I struggled with some major nausea and fatigue. For me, breastfeeding made this worse. Thus, I resolved to wean my daughter over the next few months before my belly got in the way. This was ideal for my situation because I also wasn't keen on tandem nursing.
On the other hand, I have a few dear friends who nursed throughout their pregnancies and continued to tandem nurse both their babies after birth. Of course, what you choose to do depends on your (and your child's) preferences and needs. The bottom line is that it's doable!
Breastfeeding and Pregnancy
Are you pregnant and still breastfeeding? You're not alone! Many women choose to continue nursing even while pregnant. In fact, there are many benefits to breastfeeding while pregnant.
Primarily, nursing during pregnancy has been found to help ease common nausea and vomiting in some women. It can also help to maintain a healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy. Nursing during pregnancy can also reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage and improve your baby's immune system.
Why Some Women Choose to Breastfeed During Pregnancy
There are many reasons why a mother might choose to continue nursing during her pregnancy.
Getting pregnant quickly postpartum. Since breastfeeding is recommended for at least the first six months (and many experts say a year or longer is best), some moms want to try to get pregnant again (or accidentally get pregnant!) while still nursing.
Choosing to breastfeed for a longer period. Some women want to continue breastfeeding until their child is ready to self-wean, which could be a few years after birth. I never planned to breastfeed my first for so long, but she held strong for 2.5 years! If you want more children that are closer in age, this will require some breastfeeding overlap for sure.
To help the first baby with transitioning to a new baby. When a second (or third, or beyond) baby is born, it can rock your first baby's world pretty hard. Having the continued comfort of mom's breast can help them feel secure as they adjust.
Is Breastfeeding During Pregnancy Safe?
The short answer is yes, breastfeeding during pregnancy is generally safe in a healthy pregnancy. However, you should always consult with your doctor to make sure that it is right for you and your babies.
There is a common worry among parents about breastfeeding and miscarriage. You can take comfort in knowing that this myth has not been confirmed by any research. Just like sex, exercise, and stress aren't linked to miscarriage, thankfully neither is breastfeeding.
Can Pregnancy Affect My Milk Supply?
You may find that your milk supply decreases as your pregnancy progresses. This decrease is most likely due to the increase in pregnancy hormones, which can affect milk production. However, exactly how pregnancy will affect your milk supply can vary greatly with each mama.
Tips for Maximizing Your Nursing Experience While Pregnant
There are a few things to keep in mind when breastfeeding during pregnancy. These include:
Most likely, you will need to increase your caloric intake, as you will be burning more calories than usual. You're nourishing two babies after all! It's useful to choose foods that boost your milk supply and are nutrient-dense to prevent depletion of your own reserves in your body.
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, as dehydration can worsen nausea and affect your milk supply. Keep a designated water bottle for breastfeeding near you at all times to stay on top of your water (and other fluid) intake.
If you experience any pain while nursing, consult with a lactation consultant or your doctor. You may find your breasts are more sensitive to nursing while pregnant. They can give you some useful adjustments to navigate any breastfeeding problems.
Being pregnant often comes with a lot of fatigue. Breastfeeding can exacerbate this. Thus, it's important to prioritize your rest time and sleep. When breastfeeding, choose a restful place like a nursery recliner. Also, make sure you're getting enough rest via naps and nighttime sleep.
Don't stress about a loss of milk supply, as this can ironically make it worse. Since it is due to pregnancy hormones, taking supplements, extra feeds, and pumping haven't been found to help much. Depending on the age of your child, it's best to offer other foods/drinks to supplement their nutrition adequately.
If you aren't enjoying the breastfeeding process during pregnancy (due to discomfort, irritability, etc.), get support from a lactation specialist to consider weaning when you're ready.
How to Prepare Tandem Nursing
If you choose to tandem nurse (nurse two babies at the same time), there are a few things you should know.
#1 As you create your newborn shopping list, don't forget to add an extra stock of nursing bras, pads, and tanks to keep you comfortable as you nurse. It's a full-time job mama! Undercover Mama has a great selection of clothes for both pregnancy and nursing.
#2 If you are exclusively breastfeeding your current baby, you might consider pumping and getting them used to a bottle. This will make the transition easier after birth when you are constantly feeding your newborn. However, this isn't completely necessary if you don't want to.
#3 When you introduce your new little bundle to your older baby that is still nursing, try to avoid holding or nursing the new baby when they first meet. This can reduce your child's anxiety and help them adjust better.
#4 Most importantly, relax and enjoy the experience! Tandem nursing can be a wonderful bonding experience for both you and your babies.
You've Got This Mama!
Nursing while pregnant can be a wonderful experience for both you and your baby! Just be sure to take some extra precautions and listen to your body.
If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding during pregnancy, be sure to consult with your doctor or a lactation consultant. They will be able to help you navigate this new chapter in your nursing journey.
Happy nursing! And congrats on your pregnancy!