Breastfeeding during pregnancy

Breastfeeding during pregnancy

Is it really OK to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy? 

Embarking on the journey of pregnancy while breastfeeding can bring up a myriad of questions and concerns. This blog post is dedicated to expectant and breastfeeding mothers seeking clear and reliable information. We delve into the realities of breastfeeding during pregnancy, guided by the expertise of Bonnie Forbes from Mammas Here Lactation. 

Bonnie, is Neonatal Nurse and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant after working in the special care nursery and neonatal intensive care for most of her career. Whilst a dedicated mother of two under 3 and still breastfeeding, her professional passion is to bring her knowledge and up to date skills to support new families on their breastfeeding or chosen feeding journey.  

Her range of knowledge comes from caring for premature or unwell babies in the NICU and Special Care Nursery. To supporting and holding new families in the community as a lactation consultant. With her new business as a private IBCLC “Mamma’s Here Lactation” being her focus to the community of Melbourne, Regional Victoria and Australia wide. With video calls as an option to face to face visits. Ensuring that all have access to her unique skill set.  

We asked Bonnie to tell us about breastfeeding in pregnancy and share with us all of the things we need to know.  

Mothers group image with babies

Is breastfeeding safe during pregnancy?

One of the first questions that arise is about the safety of continuing to breastfeed while expecting another child. Bonnie shares “The good news is, for most women, it's perfectly safe.”  A pivotal 2019 study involving a large cohort from Victorian hospitals, the findings were encouraging, showing no strong evidence to suggest that breastfeeding should be discontinued during a healthy pregnancy. This study is particularly noteworthy as it provides reassurance, debunking many myths and misconceptions surrounding this topic. However, Bonnie emphasises the importance of considering individual health histories, especially in cases of recurrent miscarriages, preterm labour, or when expecting multiples. Consulting with your healthcare provider is crucial to address any personal concerns and to ensure the best approach for both your and your baby's health. 

Understanding changes in milk and nipple sensitivity

During pregnancy, your body prepares for the new baby, which can lead to changes in your breastmilk and increased nipple sensitivity. One significant change is the transition from mature milk to colostrum production, which typically begins between the fourth and eighth month of pregnancy, although it can occur earlier for some women. Bonnie shares this natural shift is crucial for providing your newborn with the colostrum they need, but it's also interesting to note that this change doesn't compromise the nourishment of your older nursing child. They will still receive the benefits of breastfeeding without depleting the colostrum reserved for the newborn. However, you might notice a change in their feeding habits, as the taste of your milk alters and they may feed less or even go off breastfeeding. Colostrum also has a natural laxative effect, which can also affect your nursing toddler. 

Alongside these changes in milk, many women experience increased nipple and breast sensitivity during pregnancy, a phenomenon Bonnie attributes to the surge in hormones like oestrogen and progesterone. The nipples and areola may also undergo changes, becoming larger and darker in pigmentation. However, this increased sensitivity can sometimes lead to discomfort. Bonnie suggests gentle care routines, such as wearing a well-fitted, wire-free bra and using cold packs for relief. It's also important to be mindful of your shower's water pressure and to opt for clothing that minimises friction against sensitive areas. Understanding and adapting to these changes are key to a comfortable and successful breastfeeding experience during pregnancy. 

Breastfeeding both your newborn and older child

Many mothers wonder if they can breastfeed their newborn and older child simultaneously. The answer is yes. When your new baby arrives, it's recommended to prioritise offering them the breast first. This ensures that your newborn receives the vital nutrients and benefits of early breastfeeding, including establishing a correct latch and adequate milk intake, which are crucial in the early stages of life. 

After your newborn has fed, you can then breastfeed your older child. Some mothers choose to temporarily reduce breastfeeding their older child during the initial phase of establishing breastfeeding with the newborn. This period is crucial for adapting to the different needs and feeding styles of a newborn compared to an older baby or toddler.  

Essential tips for breastfeeding through pregnancy

Breastfeeding while pregnant requires extra care and attention to your body's needs. Ensure you're consuming enough calories – an additional 500 to 650 calories are recommended. Wearing a well-fitted, wire-free bra and practising self-care routines for sore breasts and nipples are also crucial. 

Addressing aversions to breastfeeding during pregnancy

It's normal to experience aversions to breastfeeding during pregnancy. These can range from mild discomfort to stronger emotional responses. Acknowledge these feelings and seek support. It's important to seek support and advice from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) to navigate any challenges and ensure a smooth tandem feeding experience. Their guidance can be invaluable in managing the physical and emotional aspects of breastfeeding two children at different developmental stages 

For more resources and support on your breastfeeding journey, visit The Circle, on Lactamo. Our goal is to provide you with the information and care you need during this special time. 

Where can I find support and help?  

Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand can help you find a lactation consultant near you.   

Ask your GP, midwife, obstetrician, or healthcare provider to connect you with a lactation consultant locally.   

The Australian Breastfeeding Association have many resources available including a 24-hour helpline for new mamas, face-to-face workshops, and online classes.  

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