Generally, it’s possible to safely continue breast-feeding while pregnant — as long as you’re careful about eating a healthy diet and diligently drinking plenty of fluids. There’s an important caveat, however. Breast-feeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren’t a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your health care provider may discourage breastfeeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor. In an uncomplicated pregnancy there is no evidence that continuing to breastfeed will deprive your unborn child of necessary nutrients. In addition, according to the LeLeche League International Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition 2003, page 407. “Although uterine contractions are experienced during breastfeeding, they are a normal part of pregnancy. Uterine contractions also occur during sexual activity, which most couples continue during pregnancy.” if you are having a difficult pregnancy and are at risk for preterm labor and birth, and in particular, have been advised to avoid intercourse during pregnancy, then weaning would probably be advisable.
It is important to have a healthy diet if you plan to breastfeed during pregnancy. Depending on how old your nursing child is, you may need an additional 650 calories a day if your breastfeeding child is under the age of six months, or about 500 if your child is now eating other foods. This is in addition to the 350 (second trimester) and 450 (third trimester) calories you need during your pregnancy. (No additional calories are needed during the first trimester as you work your way through morning sickness and some healthy foods are just not palatable. In malnourished populations, pregnant, nursing mothers do have lower weight gain and lower weight babies, as well as lower weight nursing siblings, than those who wean.
If you’re considering breastfeeding while pregnant, be prepared for changes your nursing child might notice. Although breast milk continues to be nutritionally sound throughout pregnancy, the content of your breast milk will change — which may affect the way your milk tastes. In addition, your milk production is likely to decrease as your pregnancy progresses. These factors could lead your nursing child to wean on his or her own before the baby is born.
Your comfort may also be a concern. During pregnancy, nipple tenderness and breast soreness are common. The discomfort may intensify while breast-feeding. Pregnancy-related fatigue may pose challenges as well. If you want to continue breast-feeding while pregnant — or breast-feed both the baby and the older child after delivery — you may need additional support from loved ones or other close contacts. Also check with your health care provider about taking supplemental prenatal vitamins.
Info provided from Midwifery Care Associates and LeLeche League International, Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition, 2003.
Sara Walters, B, Breastfeeding During Pregnancy, Carmathen Wales UK; from New Beginnings, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February 2008, pp. 32-33