Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding While Pregnant
Choosing whether or not to breastfeed your newborn is a highly personal decision that can depend on a variety of factors. Some mothers may feel enthusiastic about giving it a try, yet may also be willing to switch to formula if they experience discomfort, stress, or find the process too overwhelming to manage. Conversely, there are also mothers who are deeply passionate about breastfeeding and wish to sustain it for as long as possible. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of breastfeeding while pregnant, and help you make an informed decision on what is best for you and your child.
Breastmilk is packed with essential nutrients that can provide numerous health benefits for infants, babies, and toddlers alike. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is highly recommended and encourages continued breastfeeding for at least two years, as long as both the mother and child remain interested in doing so.
Pros of Breastfeeding While Pregnant
1. Extra Bonding With Your Baby
Transitioning from one child to two can be a daunting task for families, as it requires caregivers to balance competing demands. It’s important to avoid neglecting or overshadowing the older child, while also meeting the intensive demands of infant care. For mothers, choosing to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy can deepen the profound connection that nursing fosters, providing an additional nine months of special moments with their firstborn. These moments of closeness and serenity will undoubtedly be cherished even more once the new addition arrives.
2. It Is Good For Mom & Baby
Breastfeeding for an extended period can have remarkable health benefits for both mother and baby, according to WebMD. Studies have shown that breastfeeding for at least 12 months can significantly lower a mother’s risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. These benefits are particularly noteworthy.
But the benefits of breastfeeding are not limited to the mother. Breast milk is an excellent source of nutrition and supports healthy immune system development, brain growth, and emotional wellbeing in babies. Additionally, breastfeeding has a calming effect on infants, providing them with a sense of comfort and security. Overall, breastfeeding is a valuable investment in the health and well-being of both mother and child.
3. You Can Store Pumped Milk For Your Newborn
Expectant mothers in their third trimester may choose to pump their breast milk to collect colostrum, a process known as “colostrum harvesting.” This can prove helpful in situations where the mother aims to avoid supplementing with formula, as some infants may face difficulty feeding or regulating their blood sugar levels during their initial days of life. The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers highlights several advantages of colostrum, including its immunological properties that safeguard gut health and defend against diseases. Colostrum also contains the optimal combination of proteins, fats, and micronutrients necessary for human babies, while also serving as a natural laxative that facilitates the passing of initial meconium stools.
Cons of Breastfeeding While Pregnant
1. You’ll Need More Calories
The consumption of an adequate amount of food can prove to be a challenging task for some, although not all may view it as a drawback. For women during pregnancy, their calorie intake must increase by roughly 300 extra calories daily. According to the CDC, a well-nourished breastfeeding mother needs an additional 330 to 400 calories each day. Consequently, a mother who breastfeeds while also carrying a developing fetus will require a substantial amount of extra food, particularly if she leads an active lifestyle that quickly burns through calories. This emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy and balanced diet during such a critical period.
2. Breastfeeding Triggers Mild Contractions
Breastfeeding while pregnant can result in mild contractions that can exacerbate Braxton Hicks contractions. These contractions, which are often mistaken for actual labor contractions, can be more prevalent in women carrying twins or multiples, and those with a history of preterm birth or miscarriage should consult with their healthcare provider before breastfeeding during pregnancy.
Fortunately, for the average woman with a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy, mild contractions caused by breastfeeding are generally safe and not a cause for concern. It’s worth noting that some people believe that breastfeeding during the first trimester can increase the risk of miscarriage, but the National Library of Medicine reports that there is currently no evidence to support this claim.
3. Your Breastmilk Changes As You Grow A Baby
The remarkable adaptability of the female body to the needs of a newborn is demonstrated in the production of a distinct variety of milk that caters to their specific requirements. This milk, which is different from the milk produced for older babies, is known as colostrum and is produced from around 36 weeks of pregnancy until three days after birth. Colostrum, with its distinct yellow hue, is jam-packed with nutrients that are ideal for a newborn’s delicate digestive system.
Mothers may wonder if their older children should also consume this precious “liquid gold” meant for their newborns. Fear not, as regardless of the frequency or duration of breastfeeding, the production of colostrum will persist for several days after delivery, solely for the needs of the newborn. While it is true that breast milk contains hormones present during pregnancy, these pose no risk to the baby.
Tips for Breastfeeding While Pregnant
Your body needs extra calories during pregnancy for your growing baby and when breastfeeding to produce milk. Thus, it’s important to increase your caloric intake to satisfy both needs.
Keeping your body hydrated during pregnancy and breastfeeding is vital to maintain a healthy body and increase milk supply. You should ensure to drink sufficient fluids throughout the day.
During pregnancy, your milk supply may decline, but pumping between feedings can help to maintain it. Nursing more frequently can also stimulate milk production, so keep an eye on your milk supply.
Using proper breastfeeding techniques can reduce nipple soreness and discomfort. It’s critical to ensure that your baby latches on correctly, and you are in a comfortable position. Trying different nursing positions can help find what works best for you.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding can be demanding on your body. Getting adequate rest, eating a balanced diet, and taking prenatal vitamins are essential for taking care of yourself. Consider seeking help from loved ones to reduce stress.
Your older child may notice changes in your milk supply and taste during pregnancy. Communication is vital in this case to explain the changes that are happening. You can offer your child other sources of nourishment such as formula or solid foods.
Weaning may be necessary if you experience discomfort or pregnancy complications. It’s important to talk to your doctor or lactation consultant to develop a plan that works best for you and your child.
If you choose to continue breastfeeding both your older child and the new baby, prepare for tandem nursing. This can include finding comfortable positions for both children and ensuring you have enough time and energy for both.
When it comes to breastfeeding, it’s essential to remember that it is a personal choice that should not be subjected to judgment. The decision to stop breastfeeding is entirely up to the mother, particularly when it no longer serves the best interests of the family. For expectant mothers who are curious about breastfeeding, it’s worth trying if your doctor approves.
It’s worth noting that you don’t have to breastfeed for the entire pregnancy if you don’t want to. Weigh the options and choose what works best for your family. Whether you breastfeed for a few weeks or several years, keep in mind that you’re doing an excellent job, and that’s what matters most!
There is a common belief that breastfeeding while pregnant may pose a risk to the unborn child. Nonetheless, recent research indicates that as long as the pregnancy is uncomplicated, breastfeeding does not pose a threat to either the expectant mother or her offspring, including older children.
Experiencing pregnancy while still breastfeeding can be a complex and perplexing experience. It is characterized by a variety of symptoms that may catch one off guard. Women may notice a missed or late period, which can be an early indicator of pregnancy. Along with this, fatigue and a general feeling of tiredness can set in, making even the simplest tasks feel daunting. Nausea may also be present, making it difficult to keep food down. And as the body prepares for the journey ahead, soreness and tenderness in the breasts may be experienced.
Recent research conducted by LUSEM and published in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health suggests that exclusive breastfeeding may increase the risk of miscarriage. However, this study found no evidence that complimentary breastfeeding has any impact on miscarriage rates. Despite these findings, more extensive research is necessary before any definitive conclusions. Recommendations can be made regarding the relationship between breastfeeding and miscarriage.