Breastfeeding While Pregnant
Finding out you are pregnant while breastfeeding might be a surprise. For many breastfeeding moms, the first sign that you are pregnant might be sore nipples. If you are still nursing your infant or toddler, those sore nipples may be extra sensitive and may cause you to question whether or not you want to continue nursing throughout your pregnancy. If you are nearing the end of your breastfeeding relationship with your current child, a pregnancy may push you to finalize weaning. However, if you want to continue nursing, there are things you can do to make the experience more comfortable for you and your baby. And contrary to what some people think, if you are a mother with no other health problems, it is completely safe to continue breastfeeding while pregnant (of course, talk to your healthcare provider about nursing while pregnant).
Will breastfeeding cause a miscarriage? This common misconception about breastfeeding while pregnant is simply not true. If you are a healthy, well-nourished mother, breastfeeding and being pregnant at the same time is completely fine. Breastfeeding can cause you to be more aware of common Braxton-Hicks contractions, but these "practice" contractions are usually nothing to be concerned about. Keep in mind that you have toning contractions throughout your pregnancy, you may just not be aware of them until the end of your pregnancy. Breastfeeding may stimulate them, just as other things can, such as an orgasm or exercise. In most cases, toning contractions do not cause any your cervix to change and therefore lead to a potential miscarriage. However, if they are concerning to you in any way at all, talk to your midwife or doctor. They can help to alleviate your worry.
It is true that most likely, your milk supply will change with pregnancy. The rising pregnancy hormones can cause your milk supply to decrease and in most cases, go away completely by around 20 weeks of pregnancy. Just,remember that there is a wide variation of normal breastfeeding while pregnant and some women breastfeed their entire pregnancy.
Taking traditional herbs and herbal supplements to increase breastmilk supply is not encouraged in pregnancy. The herbs can't just make breastmilk out of the air, they stimulate your metabolism and effect blood sugar by lowering it. When pregnant women have low blood sugar they have headaches, feel dizzy and nausea. In other words, traditional (galactagogues breastmilk stimulating herbs) are too taxing on a pregnant woman.
However, Nourishing herbs are perfectly suited for pregnancy and breastfeeding. They feed and nourish the body instead of tax and deplete it. I whole heartily encourage pregnant and breastfeeding moms to drink plenty of nourishing herbs like Nettle leaf which is high in iron, Oat Straw is rich in calcium and Red Raspberry Leaf which is high in lots of vitamins and minerals - especially magnesium. I feel so strongly about how wonderful these herbs are for pregnant moms I blended them into our Lady in Waiting Herbal Pregnancy Tea.
If your nursling is still receiving a significant amount of nutrition from breastmilk, you may need to supplement. Donor breast milk is a wonderful option, if you know mothers who are able to share. Goat milk formula can also be a good option. If your child is eating a good amount of solid food, you may not have to supplement for long or very much at all. However, watch their weight gain to make sure your toddler is getting the right nutrition.
Remember that even if your milk supply decreases or goes away completely, your child is still receiving a lot from breastfeeding. Your love, your touch, your smell are all comforting and a safe place for your child. You are your child’s first home and breastfeeding fulfills many needs besides nutrition. You do not need to stop breastfeeding even if your milk supply goes away completely.
We all know that sore nipples are a common sign of pregnancy,often showing up around the time you miss your period. Sore nipples can make breastfeeding uncomfortable, even if you have been nursing for a long time.
If your child is older and only nursing a few times a day, it is okay to tell them no if they want to nurse. You can distract them with a snack or a fun game. Or ask your partner to take them outside for a walk or an exploration of the yard. With toddlers, they will usually forget about nursing pretty quickly. For some mother’s, being pregnant with a nursing toddler was the first time they started to put some boundaries around when their child nursed.
Remember to be gentle with yourself and your nursling - pregnancy is a time of huge changes, and it involves your whole family. It really is important for you to take care of your own needs, and this can include how often your child breastfeeds.
Even if you limit your child’s breastfeeding, you may still have sore nipples. Often when and if your milk dries up completely, your nipples may be even more sore. This “dry nursing” can be really uncomfortable. If you want to continue breastfeeding through this time, you can use nipple salve to help sore nipples.
Breastfeeding through a pregnancy may or may not be what you want to do. However, whatever you decide is best for you and your family, there are things you can do to make it more comfortable and a good experience. The closeness your nurser experiences with you through the breastfeeding experience can help them to ease into the transition of having a baby in the family. Your gentle direction if you decide to wean can help prepare your whole family for its next steps.