Whether you planned to get pregnant while still nursing a little one, or it just sort of happened, you’re suddenly faced with a lot of internal questions. And it’s totally understandable. This is uncharted territory for you, and you being the smart mama you are, you want to know all the facts. Here’s what you need to know about nursing while pregnant.
Is It Even Safe?
First and foremost, is it safe to continue breastfeeding when you’re pregnant? With the increasing hormones and all the changes in your body, you want to make sure breastfeeding will be safe for your child. And since breastfeeding is known to cause uterine contractions, that’s definitely a concern as well.
The short answer: In healthy pregnancies, breastfeeding while pregnant is totally safe.
According to The Mayo Clinic:
“Generally, it’s safe to continue breastfeeding while pregnant — as long as you’re careful about eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids. However, breastfeeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren’t a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your health care provider might discourage breast-feeding while pregnant if you’re at risk for preterm labor.” (source here)
Great news, right?
Expect Some Challenges
There are a lot of changes that come with pregnancy, but breastfeeding provides an added challenge. Fortunately, knowing what to expect can help.
Here’s a look at some of the major challenges you can expect:
Pregnancy often brings nausea, but that nausea could be enhanced by the let down of milk.
During the first trimester, your body is especially sensitive. You can expect sore nipples, and that the pain may be enhanced by breastfeeding.
Fatigue is another thing to be aware of. When you’re a mom, you’re already tired. Add in pregnancy and meeting the demands of a breastfeeding child, you may find yourself even more tired.
Lastly, your milk supply may decrease. Some nursing mothers don’t see any change in their milk supply when they become pregnant, but some do.
Tips to Survive Nursing While Pregnant
#1 Check with your doctor
While it’s generally safe to do, I’d err on the side of caution and check with your doctor, especially if you have had any type of complications in this or in previous pregnancies. A quick check with your doctor will give you the go ahead, and the peace of mind.
#2 Lie down when nursing
The best way to help combat that fatigue? Breastfeed your little one while lying down. If you can’t lie down, sit in a comfortable position. While you normally want to be comfortable when you’re breastfeeding, you want to make extra sure that you’re comfortable if you’re breastfeeding and pregnant. The less stress on your body, the better. As your tummy expands, you may have to find new positions for nursing or pumping.
#3 Eat well
Eating well is essential when you’re growing a baby, but with the additional needs of breastfeeding, it’s even more important. You will need additional calories for your growing fetus, but also extra calories to keep your milk supply up.
According to the What to Expect website: “Aim for a total of about 600 to 800 extra calories — 300 for the fetus and 300 to 500 for milk production.” (source)
Your actual calorie needs will depend on how old your nursing child is and how often he or she nurses.
#4 Stay hydrated
Don’t skimp on the water either! Not getting enough water can affect your supply, but it can also affect your pregnancy. Dehydration can lead to complications, which can lead to birth defects or premature labor. Make sure you’re getting 8-12 cups of water daily.
#5 Nurse in short spurts
If you’re determined to push through the nipple pain, nursing in short time periods could help. This works best if your breastfeeding child is a little older, already on solid food, and not completely reliant on breast milk.
Congrats! You just found out that you’re pregnant but you’re still nursing your last baby. No need to worry, it’s actually perfectly safe to breastfeed while you’re pregnant. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re safe to do so, and then make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Eat well, drink enough water and make sure you rest.
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