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Ask the experts: Breastfeeding while pregnant Ask the Experts

Ask the experts: Breastfeeding while pregnant

My firstborn is 11 months, and I just found out I'm expecting again. Can I still breastfeed while pregnant?

Of course! If you’d rather not wean your child just because of your pregnancy, don’t fret. Many mothers who nurse while pregnant go on to “tandem nurse” (aka breastfeed the infant and the older child simultaneously). Our bodies make it possible to provide enough nutrition to both children, whether one is still growing inside your body or both have already been born. To alleviate worries, here’s what you need to know:

  • Your breasts and nipples will be more tender. This may mean you need to establish boundaries, such as no pulling or tugging to initiate nursing.
  • Your milk supply might diminish (often in midpregnancy). Your child may respond by nursing more frequently, which boosts supply, or by self-weaning.
  • The taste of your milk changes, as reported by toddlers, at the end of the pregnancy because the body supplies newborns with colostrum (that thick, yellowish oily looking stuff) right after birth.
  • Many people are afraid that the oxytocin response (oxytocin is the hormone responsible for starting and regulating contractions) stimulated while nursing might bring on labor. Your body has set up many ways to protect itself, and the science repeatedly shows that unless you’re at preterm risk, nursing doesn’t produce enough oxytocin to initiate labor.

—Gillian Foreman, childbirth and babywearing educator, doula, lactation counselor and director of education at BirthFocus.com

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