The facts about nourishing two babies
Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to nurture your growing baby, both nutritionally and emotionally. Even after the crucial infant stage, breastmilk and time spent nestled up against mom can have significant benefits for a young child’s nutritional, immunicological, and psychological health.
Many women become pregnant before they’ve wrapped up their nursing relationship with their previous baby, and they get hit with conflicting messages about whether breastfeeding while pregnant is safe for their developing baby.
With all of the wonderful reasons to continue breastfeeding your toddler while pregnant, we want to set the record straight.
Breastfeeding while pregnant is generally safe for your new baby
The biggest myth mothers hear about breastfeeding while pregnant is that is can cause miscarriage or reduced nutrition for the developing new baby. The “love” hormone Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding, and it can cause uterine contractions.
This function helps with postpartum healing as the uterus contracts back to its non-pregnant size, but it can leave newly pregnant women feeling uneasy about breastfeeding.
We encourage you to discuss any miscarriage fears or concerns with your care provider, but you can also rest assured that these mild contractions are not typically linked to dilation of the cervix. They’re closer related to Braxton-Hicks contractions.
Your El Paso midwife or doctor will be able to advise you about whether breastfeeding while pregnant elevates your rick of miscarriage. They will evaluate whether your pregnancy is high-risk and if you have any symptoms that indicate more than usual uterine sensitivity to the stimulation of nursing.
Pregnancy will not make your milk unsafe for your older child
There’s also a myth that breastfeeding while pregnant is questionable because of the rapid influx of maternal hormones. It’s important to remember that pregnancy hormones were still in your system (with small concentrations being passed to baby through your breast milk) when your toddler was first born.
Now that your pregnancy hormones are ramping up again, it’s true that a small amount will be present in your milk, but they won’t cause any problems for your older child.
Something you may find interesting is that when your body begins to produce colostrum in the final trimester of pregnancy, your older child may gradually wean him/herself. Colostrum is a powerhouse of nutrition and immune building substances, but it’s not as sweet as mature breastmilk.
Some tips for breastfeeding while pregnant
We applaud you for choosing to breastfeed your older baby for however long you do. Here are some tips to make breastfeeding around your growing bump easier.
- Make sure you’re feeding yourself enough too
Pregnancy and breastfeeding both burn through your calories. Stay energetic and healthy for both of your growing babies by keeping healthy snacks and easy meals around. Depending on the trimester you’re in and whether your nursing child is under six months old, you’ll need to consume between 500 and 1,100 extra calories every day
- Take care of your breasts
It’s normal to experience increased breast tenderness in pregnancy, especially when someone is pulling and prodding on them all day! Invest in a supportive nursing bra and use lanolin cream or a baby-safe oil like coconut oil when you feel dry or sore.
- Nurse and rest at the same time
Use breastfeeding sessions as a time to relax and lie down with your older child, especially in your first and third trimester when your energy levels are at their lowest. As you grow, this will also help you and your older baby to snuggle close with less negotiating around your bump.
We’re here to help and answer your breastfeeding questions
Our midwives and lactation counselors would love to help you navigate breastfeeding and pregnancy. Give us a call to set up a time to tour our gorgeous birth center and get answers to your questions.