You may have just found out you are pregnant again. Whether it was planned or a surprise, you still haven’t finished breastfeeding your previous child and are wondering if you can continue doing so. This is a legitimate concern that you may have and you need clarity, so prepare yourself.
The First Question
The first thing you are probably wondering is if it is possible for your body to support both a new pregnancy and breastfeeding at the same time. The answer is simply a yes. However, it will require some extra help on your part. When you are pregnant and breastfeeding, you will have to make sure that your diet is up to par most importantly. This means making sure that you eat foods that are both nutritious and filling.
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You should be consuming enough calories so that your body can both produce breastmilk, as well as support your growing fetus. It is usually recommended that a pregnant nursing woman should consume additional calories on top of what is already recommended for pregnancy. However, how many extra calories you consume is based on how old the child is who is nursing as well as how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Normally, your care provider will give you a set number to follow, however there are some already noted milestones available for you. If your child who is nursing is six months of age or under, it is recommended you consume an extra 500 calories per day. If your child is over six months of age and/or is starting to eat more table foods, an extra 300 calories per day is recommended. You should check with your medical care provider for further recommendations in special cases such as nursing multiples or being pregnant with multiples.
Common Concerns You May Have
Breast and nipple soreness is a common issue that many pregnant women who are nursing deal with. Some moms may experience more pain than others. This can even sometimes make moms not want to nurse anymore. If your child is over six months of age and is no longer exclusively breastfeeding, you may want to cut down on how many times you nurse. Some women have been able to push through this nipple pain, however for others it may seem unbearable.
If you have been experiencing unbearable breast and nipple pain, you should immediately speak with your health care provider. They will be able to give you some tips on how to manage the pain you are experiencing, and will most likely recommend you to a lactation professional for further help. Furthermore, a great hospital-grade breast pump can help a lot with the soreness and your lactation consultant may tell you to go that route.
You may also wonder if the small contractions you feel during breastfeeding are dangerous or not supposed to occur. Those small contractions you feel however are just a result of the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is also known as the love hormone and is naturally produced when breastfeeding.
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Furthermore, on the rare chance that you are far along in your pregnancy and still breastfeeding, the contractions you feel during breastfeeding are usually not enough to put you into labor. However, if the contractions continue and other labor symptoms occur after you have completed a nursing session, call your physician immediately. If your care provider has advised against sex during pregnancy or you are at risk for a miscarriage or preterm labor, you should ask them about breastfeeding as well.
Depending on the age of your child who you are nursing, you may notice that they are not breastfeeding as much. This can be due to the fact that the taste of your breastmilk is changing. This happens because you are producing hormones to support the new pregnancy. If your baby is under six months old and is exclusively breastfeeding and exhibiting this behavior, be sure to consult your pediatrician. If your child is over six months, you can still consult your pediatrician just to be safe. Regardless, you will need to make sure that you provide enough nutrition and food otherwise.
Your milk supply may also dwindle as you get into your last trimester of pregnancy. This is due to the fact that your body will go back to producing colostrum. As you probably know, colostrum only is produced in small amounts, which is perfect for a newborn. However, for a baby that is no longer a newborn, colostrum is not enough. If possible, you can pump and freeze a good supply of breastmilk before your third trimester. This will allow you to still be able to feed your baby breastmilk when your supply inevitably dwindles.
So there you have it, breastfeeding while going through a new pregnancy is definitely possible and doable, however it will just require more attention and detail than previously done. And lastly, be happy. Sometimes, all a mom really needs is some encouragement.