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From the Dr's Corner......Breastfeeding worry

Breast Feeding While Pregnant?? Yes, No or Don't Know.

Some women are unsure about whether they could harm their unborn baby when breastfeeding their older sibling. In this article, we look at the question.

Little african baby in  pink hair bow with older sister smiling next to her

"Hello Doctor,
If a woman is two to three weeks pregnant can she still breastfeed a child of eleven months?"

Yes, it is possible, to breastfeed your young child when pregnant with another baby and generally quite safe at any stage.

Your body can still produce milk while pregnant.

Hormones are produced during the early stage of pregnancy but not in enough quantity in the breast milk to cause any problems to the breastfeeding baby.

Another hormone called Oxytocin is produced when your baby is breastfeeding.

This same hormone is important in helping with contractions during labour.

Therefore, some people worry that breastfeeding, while you are pregnant, could cause premature contractions or premature labour but this is not the case.

The amount of oxytocin produced during breastfeeding is too small to affect the new pregnancy.

However, there are some scenarios where women are asked NOT to breastfeed when pregnant:

  • 1. High-risk pregnancy or where there is high risk of miscarriage
  • 2. Multiple/. twin births
  • 3. Problems like pelvic/ womb pain or bleeding in pregnancy.
  • 4. When you have been asked to avoid sex during pregnancy

The benefits of breastfeeding if you choose to do so are:

  • 1. Your unborn baby continues to get its nutrients from your blood supply while your older child can continue to get some of its nutrients from the breast milk.
  • 2. Take extra care of your nipples to avoid getting sore nipples - they are more sensitive when pregnant and breastfeeding could further risk infections or cracked nipples -  Lanolin and cooling gel breast pads will help.

Are there any downsides to breastfeeding when pregnant??

  • In some women, breastfeeding while pregnant may make the side effects of early pregnancy seem worse.
  • As mentioned earlier the sore breasts of early pregnancy could be worse if you are also breastfeeding.
  • Your breast milk changes as your pregnancy advances. By the 5th month, your body will start to produce Colostrum, which is the '1st milk or early milk' - specially formulated for newborns - packed with fats, protein and antibodies to protect the baby.
  • Your older baby may not like the change in taste when colostrum is formed and at that point, they may need to have something else to feed on - you should, therefore, ensure you monitor their weight to be sure nutrients are sufficient.
  • But some babies may not mind the taste. In this case, after the new baby is born, feed the newborn first so they can get the benefits of the colostrum before the bigger baby! 

I hope this helps to shed some light! Would you be reluctant to breastfeed if you are pregnant? Share in comments below!

More Reading:

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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Dr Sylvia Kama-Kieghe

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