Breastfeeding while pregnant | Pregnancy Birth and Baby
beginning of content
You can carry on breastfeeding while you’re pregnant with your next child, without causing any harm to your toddler or your unborn baby. Here’s what you need to know if you decide to breastfeed while pregnant.
Is it safe to breastfeed while pregnant?
You might choose to breastfeed through your next pregnancy for several reasons. For example, you might unexpectedly fall pregnant while your first baby is still young (it is possible to fall pregnant while breastfeeding, even if your periods haven’t come back). Or you might not be ready to wean your toddler yet (weaning usually happens any time between birth and age 3).
Whatever the reason, it is usually perfectly safe to breastfeed while pregnant. Your body will carry on producing enough milk to nourish your older child, while your unborn baby will get all the nutrients they need from your body.
Breastfeeding does trigger mild contractions. These are safe in uncomplicated pregnancies, but if you are at risk of preterm labour — for example, if you are expecting twins or more, or if you have had a miscarriage or preterm birth in the past — then seek advice from your doctor or midwife.
Looking after your first child
Your breastmilk will still provide your first child with the nutrients they need. However, you are likely to produce less milk as your pregnancy progresses. Also, the content of your milk will change as you start to produce colostrum, and it might taste different. These changes might lead your older child to wean themselves at some point during your pregnancy. This often happens around the 5-month mark.
Colostrum is a natural laxative, so your older child’s poo might be more liquid than normal. This is nothing to worry about.
If your older child is less than 1 year of age when you fall pregnant, keep a close watch to make sure they’re putting on enough weight after your milk changes. You may need to introduce extra feeds if they are still relying on breastmilk for their nutrition. Talk to your maternal child health nurse for advice.
How to look after yourself
Breastfeeding while pregnant can make your breasts sore and your nipples tender. You might find you are even more tired or experience worse morning sickness than you normally would during pregnancy.
These side effects are due to your pregnancy hormones. They may clear up after the first trimester, but for some women they last the entire pregnancy. It can help if you make sure your older child is attached well, or change your position while breastfeeding.
You can look after yourself by eating well, making sure you are well hydrated, and getting plenty of rest. You don’t need to take lots of vitamin or mineral supplements — your body will adjust to making breastmilk and nourishing your unborn baby at the same time.
After the baby is born
You can keep feeding your older child after the baby is born. This is called tandem feeding. Your newborn will still get all the colostrum they need. You don’t have to limit your older child to one side.
There are different ways of tandem feeding. You could feed both children at the same time (you might need some cushions to prop you up or you might find it easier lying down). Or you could feed the newborn first and then your older child.
You might find your older child wants to feed all the time because you have a lot of milk. If you like, you can limit their feeds. You might also find that your newborn has trouble coping with your let down reflex because you are producing so much milk. You could try feeding your older child first then attaching the newborn to the other breast after the milk has started to flow.
How to wean your older child
If you decide to wean your older child, it’s a good idea to do this while you’re still pregnant so they don’t have to cope with so many adjustments after the baby is born.
If you would like to encourage your older child to wean while you are pregnant, you could try weaning them slowly by delaying feeds or encouraging shorter feeds. If your child is old enough, explain to them that your breasts feel sore.
For more tips, see weaning.
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal child health nurse for advice and support.
American Pregnancy Association (Breastfeeding while pregnant), Australian Breastfeeding Association (Breastfeeding through pregnancy and beyond)
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: November 2020
Back To Top
Breastfeeding your baby
This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.
The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.
Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.
Support this browser is being discontinued for Pregnancy, Birth and Baby
Support for this browser is being discontinued for this site
Internet Explorer 11 and lower
We currently support Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari. For more information, please visit the links below:
Chrome by Google
Firefox by Mozilla
Safari by Apple
You are welcome to continue browsing this site with this browser. Some features, tools or interaction may not work correctly.
Causes & How It Works
Lactation is the process of making human milk. It's driven by hormones and results in milk coming from your nipple.
What is lactation?
Lactation is the process of producing and releasing milk from the mammary glands in your breasts. Lactation begins in pregnancy when hormonal changes signal the mammary glands to make milk in preparation for the birth of your baby. It’s also possible to induce lactation without a pregnancy using the same hormones that your body makes during pregnancy. Lactation ends once your body stops producing milk.
Feeding your baby directly from your breasts is called breastfeeding (or sometimes chestfeeding) or nursing. You can also feed your baby milk that you have expressed or pumped from your breast and saved in a bottle.
Where does human milk come from?
Human milk comes from your mammary glands inside your breasts. These glands have several parts that work together to produce and secrete milk:
Alveoli: These tiny, grape-like sacs produce and store milk. A cluster of alveoli is called lobules, and each lobule connects to a lobe.
Milk ducts: Each lobe connects to a milk duct. You can have up to 20 lobes, with one milk duct for every lobe. Milk ducts carry milk from the lobules of alveoli to your nipples.
Areola: The dark area surrounding your nipple, which has sensitive nerve endings that lets your body know when to release milk. To release milk, the entire areola needs stimulation.
Nipple: Your nipple contains several tiny pores (up to about 20) that secrete milk. Nerves on your nipple respond to suckling (either by a baby, your hands or a breast pump). This stimulation tells your brain to release milk from the alveoli through the milk ducts and out of your nipple.
It helps to think of the lactation system as a large tree. Your nipple is the trunk of the tree. The milk ducts are the branches. The leaves are the alveoli.
Why do people lactate?
The primary reason people lactate is to feed a baby. Lactation is a biological, hormonal response that occurs during and after pregnancy to feed a newborn baby. Your body triggers specific hormones to initiate milk production and ejection (releasing of milk). All mammals lactate for this purpose and it’s possible to induce lactation in men and in non-pregnant women using the right hormone medications.
What triggers lactation?
A series of hormonal events, which begin when you’re pregnant, trigger the lactation process. That process is called lactogenesis.
Stage one lactogenesis: This begins around the 16th week of pregnancy and lasts until a few days after you give birth.
Estrogen and progesterone rise and cause your milk ducts to grow in number and size. This causes your breasts to become fuller. Your mammary glands begin to prepare for milk production.
Your nipples darken and your areolas become larger.
Your Montgomery glands (small bumps on the areola) secrete oil to lubricate your nipple.
Your body begins making colostrum. It’s highly nutritious and filling and serves as your baby’s first milk.
Stage two lactogenesis: This stage starts about two or three days postpartum (after giving birth). It’s when milk production intensifies.
Once your baby and placenta are delivered, a sudden drop in your estrogen and progesterone causes the hormone prolactin to take over.
Prolactin is the hormone that produces milk.
You’ll notice your milk production increases dramatically at this stage. It’s often referred to as milk “coming in.”
Your breasts are often engorged (or overly full of milk) to the point where they feel sore, painful or tender.
Stage three lactogenesis: This describes the rest of the time you lactate.
Lactation generally continues as long as milk is removed from your breast.
The more milk that’s removed, the more milk your body makes to replace it. Frequent feeding or pumping will cause your body to make more milk.
Hormones for lactation
The hormone prolactin controls the amount of milk you produce, and your body begins producing prolactin early in pregnancy. At first, the high levels of estrogen, progesterone and other pregnancy hormones suppress prolactin. Once you deliver the placenta, those pregnancy hormones drop and prolactin takes charge.
When your baby suckles, it stimulates nerves that tell your body to release prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin causes the alveoli to make milk and oxytocin causes muscle contractions that push out of the alveoli and through the milk ducts.
When milk is released, it’s called a “letdown,” and it takes about 30 seconds of suckling before the letdown occurs. Because you can’t control which breast receives the hormones, the letdown can cause milk to drip from both nipples.
Inducing lactation in people who aren’t pregnant requires medication that mimics hormones your body makes during pregnancy. Suckling from the nipple can initiate lactation, either with a breast pump or by a baby. This is a complex process that involves working closely with a healthcare provider who understands the needs of non-pregnant people and has experience initiating lactation.
When do you lactate during pregnancy?
Lactation begins as early as a few weeks into the second trimester of your pregnancy. As estrogen and progesterone levels rise, your body prepares for lactation by increasing the number of milk ducts in your breasts, and those milk ducts will transport milk from the alveoli to your nipples. About midway through pregnancy, your body creates colostrum, which is your baby’s first milk.
Can you lactate when you’re not pregnant?
Yes, it’s possible to lactate if you’re not pregnant. Inducing lactation is a complex process that usually involves using hormone-mimicking drugs for several months to produce milk. The second part of lactation is expressing the milk through your nipple. Stimulation from infant suckling, pumping with a breast pump or hand-expressing signals the brain to release the milk. It’s common for people in this situation to receive assistance from a healthcare provider who understands the needs of non-pregnant people and has experience initiating lactation.
How do you stop lactation?
There are many reasons why you might need to stop producing milk, and you can stop lactating either naturally or with the help of hormonal drugs.
Natural milk suppression
Lactation is a supply-and-demand process. Your milk supply gradually goes down as your baby relies less on breast milk, or as you reduce the number of times you nurse or pump. Generally, if you decrease the volume of milk removed from your breasts, your body will slow milk production.
Suppressing your milk can feel uncomfortable and most people will become engorged (the term for overfilled breasts). You may also leak milk or develop a clogged milk duct. However, you can treat that pain by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, wearing a firm bra or using an ice pack on your breasts.
Medications can also be an option if you need to stop producing milk. Your healthcare provider can explain more about lactation-suppressing drugs, as well as the benefits and possible side effects.
Where are the mammary glands located?
Mammary glands are commonly called breasts and both genders have them. They are located on your chest and are composed of connective tissue, fat and special glandular tissue that makes milk. A woman’s glandular tissue is slightly different because it contains the alveoli and lobules necessary for producing milk. Women also have much more glandular tissue.
Conditions and Disorders
What are common conditions that affect your ability to lactate?
The ability to lactate and the length of time you’re able to produce milk varies. Some can produce milk for years, while others have trouble producing enough milk for their baby.
Some common factors that can impact lactation or breastfeeding are:
Hormonal levels and conditions.
Undergoing radiation therapy in the past.
Trauma to your breast or nipples.
Breast augmentation, reconstruction or other breast surgeries.
Other medical conditions like HIV infection.
Use of drugs and alcohol.
If you’re nursing or pumping your milk to bottle-feed your baby, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new medications or treatments. Many medications can pass to your baby through breast milk, which may have dangerous effects on your baby.
What is lactational amenorrhea?
Lactation amenorrhea (ah-men-oh-re-uh) means you aren’t menstruating (getting a period) due to lactation. When you’re lactating, your body produces prolactin, the hormone that produces milk. Prolactin reduces the amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) in your body, which helps trigger the release of an egg during ovulation. If you aren’t producing enough LH, you can’t ovulate or get your period. The length of time you can be amenorrheic due to lactation varies from a few months or until you’re completely done lactating.
Does lactation reduce my risk of any diseases?
Studies have shown that breastfeeding reduces a woman’s risk of ovarian and breast cancers. It can also lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
How do you maintain milk production?
Maintaining lactation is mostly based on supply and demand. The more your baby breastfeeds or the more milk you express with a breast pump, the more your body will make. There are ways to suppress lactation with hormones or oral contraceptives. If you wish to maintain lactation, some things you should do are:
Continue nursing on-demand or pump milk frequently (approximately every four hours).
Eat a healthy diet with enough calories. Low-calorie diets can decrease milk supply.
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Human milk is primarily water.
Avoid smoking, drugs or alcohol. These can reduce your supply and transfer to your milk.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between lactation and colostrum?
Lactation describes the process of making and secreting milk from your breast. Colostrum is the first milk your breasts create during lactation and the first milk your baby drinks. It’s thick, yellow and commonly called “liquid gold.” Colostrum is high in protein, minerals, vitamins and antibodies.
What is hormone therapy for inducing lactation?
Couples or families who wish to induce lactation, maybe because of adoption, surrogacy or other reasons, can try hormone therapy. Induced lactation means you’re creating a milk supply without being pregnant. It’s a process that involves taking estrogen and progesterone for several months to make your body believe it’s pregnant. This helps prepare your breasts for lactation. Some medications and herbs are believed to help establish a milk supply, too.
Several weeks before your baby arrives, begin pumping your breasts with a breast pump. This encourages your body to release prolactin, which produces milk. Ideally, you express your milk several times a day, just like you would if you had a baby. This helps establish a supply. You can also freeze any milk you produce for use once your baby arrives.
If you’re considering this as an option, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your desire to feed your baby with human milk. Induced lactation works for many people, but not all.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you want to feed your baby human milk, it’s helpful to understand the process of lactation so you know what to expect. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to best prepare for nursing or expressing milk. Remember, lactation can look different for everyone depending on your circumstances and health history. If you struggle with lactation at any point, you may feel embarrassed or even ashamed. But struggling with lactation is very common, and lactation specialists and other healthcare providers can help you as you try to overcome these difficulties.
New pregnancy while breastfeeding - what to do?
Number of views: 135 247
You are pregnant while breastfeeding. You are faced with a difficult choice: you do not plan to terminate the pregnancy, and the first-born is still too small to wean him from the breast. How to be? Is it possible to breastfeed during pregnancy? What is it fraught with?
Breastfeeding pregnancy - heart of the matter
Even 300 years ago there was no question of stopping breastfeeding during pregnancy. The woman had no choice - a small child needs food, and there were practically no alternatives to mother's milk.
Today, a pregnant woman can receive a categorical recommendation from doctors as a matter of urgency to wean the firstborn from the breast. Yes, sometimes the completion of breastfeeding is dictated by the interests of pregnancy . But more often than not, it's overkill. Unless there is a clear medical indication, whether or not to feed during pregnancy, and if so, for how long – decision of parents , not doctors and relatives.
The medical side of the issue
Very cautious The decision to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy is worthwhile for women who have experienced preterm labor, recurrent spontaneous miscarriages, or are currently at risk of preterm labor . Here it is important to carefully weigh all the pros and cons, listen to the opinion of your doctor.
Physicians recommending interruption of breastfeeding are afraid that the onset of pregnancy during breastfeeding may end in miscarriage or the fetus will not grow and develop harmoniously.
The reason doctors fear miscarriage or premature delivery is the effect of oxytocin on the uterus. Hormone oxytocin causes milk flushes and uterine contractions . That is, theoretically, each time breastfeeding, a woman can provoke uterine contractions, which will lead to a miscarriage. But in practice, things don't quite work out that way.
Yes, frequent nipple stimulation can trigger labor pains in a full-term woman. And putting the newborn to the chest allows the uterus to contract after childbirth and return to its previous state.
But nature is wise and in most cases breastfeeding does not harm women with normal pregnancies. Once again, we note that we are talking about the norm !
The state of the uterus at the beginning of pregnancy is different from the state "before delivery or immediately after". She has low ability to absorb oxytocin. Between the 1st and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy, the number of oxytocin receptors increases 12-fold. The low ability of the uterus to absorb oxytocin at the beginning of pregnancy suggests that 90,005 HBs will not cause 90,006 effective contractions.
One of the reasons recently given by doctors who advocate stopping breastfeeding during pregnancy was the impossibility of prescribing medications . Now the list of drugs allowed for hepatitis B has expanded significantly. Women have the opportunity to receive medical care in the required volume.
Nutrition of the expectant mother
Will the body of a nursing mother be able to provide fetus with all the substances necessary for harmonious development? Good and balanced a feeding woman will have no problem meeting the needs of her baby and unborn child. Of course, she needs a nutritious diet , as well as vitamins that the doctor will prescribe. The problem will arise in case of a lack of nutrients. The deficit will be satisfied at the expense of the resources of the mother's body. The kids will get theirs, but the woman may be emaciated.
Difficulties to be encountered
The peculiarities of breastfeeding during a new pregnancy are as follows:
's nipples become very sensitive. A woman may feel unexpected attacks of pain in the nipples or breasts, they are provoked by hormonal changes in the body. You can solve the issue with lanolin . Due to its viscosity, it blocks the nerve endings on the nipple and reduces sensitivity . Lanolin can be applied a few minutes before feeding in a thin layer.
Increased fatigue level . In the first trimester, women often feel increased drowsiness , and an actively crawling toddler will not let you relax. Mom's fatigue is associated with hormonal changes during pregnancy, and not with breastfeeding. The condition will improve as the pregnancy progresses.
Becomes less milk . 7 out of 10 mothers confirm that the volume of breast milk is reduced during subsequent pregnancies.
Breast milk changes taste . Sometimes the firstborn refuses the breast on his own, because the milk has changed. The onset of pregnancy during breastfeeding leads to hormonal changes in the body. As a result, the amount of lactose in milk is reduced, but the amount of sodium increases. The taste of milk changes.
A woman may feel uterine contractions while breastfeeding. Most often, they do not pose any threat to the mother or fetus. But at Feeling sore Need to see a doctor immediately !
In the late term, due to the large belly, it is difficult to find a comfortable position for feeding . Sometimes it is difficult for the baby to reach the mother's breast. Here you need to experiment, a suitable option is sure to be found.
Breastfeeding for a child is not only food , but also contact with mother , comfort. There are situations (illness, stress) when the baby is is better left on GV . The ability to suck on his mother's breast has a beneficial effect on his emotional and physical condition. If mommy can organize the feeding of the eldest without harming herself and the unborn baby, this will be the best way out.
Pregnancy while breastfeeding means very little difference between babies. Jealousy and competition for mother's attention are inevitable here. Many women find that tandem feeding helps them cope with the jealousy of an elder and problems with childcare with a slight age difference. An article about tandem feeding will soon appear in the online magazine MamExpert.
Comment of a tandem-feeding mother
One of the mothers of the MamExpert community shared her own experience with us. We gratefully publish her opinion:
“I breastfed during pregnancy and in tandem for over a year. And all this period I had to listen to scoldings, starting from the gynecologist in the LCD consultation and up to the head of the department of the 2nd maternity hospital (from her after the birth). Moreover, in the period from 36 weeks until delivery (41.1), the doctors were glad that I was breastfeeding, hoping that this would stimulate labor early, since the fetus was large. The first contraction really came during feeding, but already at 41.1. The boy was born 57 cm 4375 gr. Then even the dermatologist tried to stick his nose into my breastfeeding. And about pediatricians who strictly say that after a year there is nothing to feed children with breast milk, I generally keep quiet. This is a personal matter for everyone, and sticking your nose into someone else's GV is at least not competent! Only one doctor in the ambulance could explain to me why our doctors demand so much to stop breastfeeding early: to make it easier to treat mothers if they get sick. If someone would give me some more intelligible argument against breastfeeding after a year, and this applies to both state institutions and adult and pediatric medicine, as well as paid centers.
Both young and experienced mothers have many questions about breastfeeding. Each baby is individual and with him parents can get into a situation that did not arise with older children! MamExpert courses will help you not to succumb to difficulties and find a solution to any issue.
Come to our breastfeeding course! Here you will gain knowledge that will give you a real understanding of what breastfeeding is. You will understand what to do if something goes wrong. Gain self-confidence and be able to enjoy breastfeeding.⠀
Inna Shabelnikova - certified lactation consultant, leading lecturer MamExpert and mother of three children - Every day I come across mothers who have been told that they are "not dairy", that their milk is not nutritious enough for the baby and much more .. . utter. These are all myths! The limits are only in your head! You will be able to feed, enjoy it and give the child all the best!
Would you like to take a course? Sign up here: https://www. mamexpert.by/ochnye-kursy/ or call +375 44 553 20 50!
Pregnancy while breastfeeding is not uncommon. In a similar situation, according to studies, are up to 40% of women. When deciding whether to feed or not, it is important to take into account the state of oneself and the baby, feelings, relationships in the family. In most cases, this is not a medical issue, but a parental decision.
Author of the article: Daria Sovina
comments powered by HyperComments
Breastfeeding during pregnancy
There is a statistic that says that half of the women in the world become pregnant while breastfeeding their previous baby. And before each of them the question arises - whether to continue feeding, and how it will affect both children?
Lactose-free milk Valio Eila UHT, enriched with vitamin D, 1.5%, 1 l Read more
Cottage cheese Valio "Soft", 4. 5%, 180 g Read more
There is no clear answer about the advisability of continuing breastfeeding during pregnancy. It all depends on the health of the woman and the child, as well as the course of the waiting period for a new baby. The woman makes the decision herself, but after a mandatory consultation with the supervising doctor. The thing is that pregnancy, childbirth and feeding is a stressful period for the body of any woman. It has been proven that a young mother needs at least 2 years to fully recover. Having realized this information, it is easy to guess that a new pregnancy, when the first child is still quite a baby, is a tough situation for the body, almost an emergency. Mom's, not yet recovered, resources should now be enough for three. However, it is not uncommon for a woman to cope with an increased load, so the situation is not considered critical. Rather difficult.
If, after discussing all the nuances with your gynecologist, you decide that feeding is not worth interrupting, make sure that your diet is as balanced and complete as possible. Take extra vitamins. During breastfeeding and bearing a baby, calcium, magnesium, iron, folic acid, and phosphorus are especially actively consumed. These elements must be supplied to the body of a young mother in sufficient quantities. Remember how important the presence of protein foods in your menu, because protein is the main building material for the fetus. Its main source is meat and dairy products. There is also a lot of protein in nuts and legumes. However, when adding them to the menu, remember that nuts are strong allergens, and legumes can cause gas in the baby.
You will not be able to feed during the entire period of pregnancy. In obstetrics, there is a so-called "gold standard" - feeding stops no later than the 20th week. If there is a threat of miscarriage or other complications (for example, a decrease in hemoglobin levels or significant toxicosis), the process will have to be curtailed earlier. Sometimes the baby himself refuses the breast. In the mother's body, hormonal changes begin to occur that change the taste of milk. It becomes less tasty for the baby. Often a woman refuses to feed, because she, naturally, noticeably increases the sensitivity of the nipples and feeding begins to be accompanied by pain.
Weaning crumbs from the breast due to a new pregnancy, of course, is an undesirable phenomenon. In some situations, to the extreme. It is very important to continue breastfeeding for at least 6 months for babies born prematurely, treated with antibiotics, retarded, prone to allergies or have gastrointestinal pathologies.
It is better, of course, to plan a new pregnancy, taking into account all the nuances of your health and the health of a little person. Have time to recover after such a resource-intensive period for the body. And be healthy!