Posted on June 29 2021
Breastfeed your older one through your pregnancy to promote bonding and to boost his immunity.
Expecting another child while still breastfeeding? Here’s what you should know if you want to continue breastfeeding while pregnant. Of course, check with your OB-GYN and paediatrician beforehand, and do what works for your family. Your doctor may advise against breastfeeding while pregnant if your pregnancy is deemed high risk or you’re more susceptible to miscarry. Other circumstances include carrying twins or multiples, having uterine pain or bleeding, or if you’ve been advised to avoid sex while pregnant.
Benefits of Breastfeeding While Pregnant
Even though breastfeeding may be a little more difficult while managing your pregnancy symptoms, it still has plenty of benefits. First, your child still reaps the benefits of immunity boosts and nutritional gains while drinking breast milk. It's also a good way to continue bonding with your older child, and helps reduce engorgement after your newborn arrives. This also helps establish a good milk supply, essential especially if you're planning to tandem feed.
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For Your Older Child
Ensure your baby gets sufficient nutrients, especially if she's under a year old, by using up your freezer stash, donor milk from the KK Human Milk Bank or supplement with formula. Older children will depend on other foods to obtain most of their daily nutritional requirements.
Be sure to eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet rich in iron. Having iron deficiency may cause your newborn to be underweight. Pregnant mums may also be more susceptible to developing perinatal infection, pre-eclampsia and bleeding. In the second and third trimester, you’ll need 350 and 450 more calories respectively. If you’re nursing during this time, an additional 500 calories for children under a year old, and less if your child is mainly on solids. Check with your doctor, or nutritionist to ensure you’re getting all the essential calories and nutrients.
Pregnant and breastfeeding mums, Dr Li says, “should maintain a balanced diet that is high in protein and vitamins.” She suggests eating “40 per cent protein, 40 per cent carbohydrates and 20 per cent fat” and recommends healthy carbohydrates like wholegrains, green leafy vegetables and fruits.
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When pregnant, ensure you have a supportive nursing bra like this one from Bravado.
Mums with uncomplicated pregnancies who choose to breastfeed should not be discouraged. However, Dr Sarah Li, Associate Consultant of the Division of Maternal-fetal Medicine in National University Hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, adds that “due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy, mothers may experience more breast and nipple tenderness.”
Try using lanolin, cold or warm compresses like the Lansinoh Therapearl ($27.90) to help with the soreness. It’s also good to set boundaries with your baby - stop nursing if she gets too wriggly or if she bites down on your nipple. If you prefer to wean, shift from nursing to cuddling to maintain the attachment and one-on-one time - it’s also natural and okay to feel guilty or sad about weaning. Your baby may also self wean if she doesn't like the milk's quantity and consistency. Seek your obstetrician’s advice if you do not feel well when breastfeeding.
Changes in Your Supply and Breast Milk
As your pregnancy progresses through the first and second trimesters, your breast milk supply may decrease due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy. Hence, your little one may only nurse for a short time, or dry nurse, chafing your nipples. Dr Li adds, “It is also thought that the components of breast milk may change, causing a change in taste.” No studies indicate a significant impact on the nutrients your older child receives, but she may self-wean if she does not like the taste. Around the fourth or fifth month, you’ll start producing colostrum.
Another factor affecting breastfeeding while pregnant is morning sickness, which may impact your fluid intake, nutrition and rest. While breastfeeding, sit or lie down with your feet up, and nap when your child is napping.
Dr Li says, “Breastfeeding during pregnancy is largely safe.” She adds, “There is no scientific evidence to suggest that breastfeeding while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage or preterm birth.” While oxytocin, the hormone released during breastfeeding, can lead to mild uterine contractions, Dr Li says, “These are not strong enough to trigger labour. Therefore, breastfeeding during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy are considered safe.” In the third trimester, she recommends discussing with your obstetrician. Your doctor will “evaluate the risk on an individual basis, especially with mothers who have a history of preterm birth”, she says.
If you do have a low backache, pelvic pressure, menstrual-like cramps or increased vaginal discharge, you might be in preterm labour. Other signs include four or more uterine contractions in an hour, and your uterus might also feel tight, hard and may feel painful. If the contractions still persist after you’ve stopped nursing, start timing your contractions. Try emptying your bladder, drinking a large glass of water, and relax. Either lie on your left side, or recline with your feet elevated. If these do not help, call your OB-GYN immediately.
Positions to Breastfeed With a Pregnant Belly
As your bump grows, you may need to modify existing nursing positions for both you and your little one’s comfort. Try positions like a modified football hold, where your baby’s head lies on a nursing pillow ($54.90 to $135.90) on your lap in the middle of the couch. Another good one might be lying down to nurse on her toddler bed or your bed.