Pregnant while breastfeeding - safe?

Tine - posted on 12/14/2010 ( 23 moms have responded )

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I am still breastfeeding my 2 year old daughter, and recently had an early miscarriage (at 5 weeks). Since then I've had odd hormonal stuff ... pregnancy symptoms with definately no pregnancy (blood test was definately negative) and the doctor insisted that breastfeeding 'confuses your hormones'. I'm on Chinese herbal medicine now, which seems to be bringing things back to normal.
I am getting a bit long in the tooth (nearly 4 decades under my belt .. eek!) but very much want a second child. I'd wait to try another pregnancy until my daughter naturally weans, but I don't know how long that will be, and ... well, the old clock's ticking!
I would love to hear stories of pregnancies while breastfeeding, and any info anyone may have on the subject; research, etc.
Thanks in advance! :-)

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Mary - posted on 12/20/2010

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I got pregnant with my second while my first was 9 months old, she had just been introduced to solids (once in the afternoon) and I hadn't even had a period yet! I nursed my entire pregnancy and am still nursing both of them (27 months and 8 months). The 8 month old has solids once a day, and the 27 month old only nurses once or twice a day. I never had complications. The only thing was my weight. I was underweight to start out with (110 lbs) and didn't gain the recommended amount (but it was the same with both pregnancies- I'm still underweight.) You can read the book Adventures in Tandem Nursing, published by the LLLI. It was pretty smooth sailing my entire pregnancy. In the beginning I had sore breasts, so that was a stumble. In the 2nd trimester, I had a queasy feeling every time I'd nurse her but when that happened I'd take a break and nurse her more in 5-10 minutes. In the 3rd trimester, it was hard to find a comfortable position to nurse in. I never had any early labor trouble from nursing. I nursed my first at 9 am on the day I went into labor, then my water broke at 2 pm, and I had my 2nd at around 7 pm. If you want to message me or anything I'm always open to questions! Good Luck!

Tanith - posted on 12/20/2010

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If you are eating a well-balanced diet including a variety of nutritious foods there should be no cause to worry about either baby being harmed. Some mothers may worry that nursing through pregnancy will cause a miscarriage. There are valid reasons to doubt that this would occur and many mothers who have previously miscarried have not done so while nursing a toddler. In Hilary Flower's book, ADVENTURES IN TANDEM NURSING: BREASTFEEDING DURING PREGNANCY AND BEYOND, she reviews current research on the effects of nipple stimulation on the pregnant uterus and concludes that there are safeguards in place during a normal pregnancy that block the effects of nipple stimulation on the uterus until the pregnancy is full term.

In most cases your child may wean herself early in the pregnancy when a few little ones notice a taste change in the milk, or she may stop nursing around the fourth month when some women notice a reduction in the milk supply. She may even wean towards the end of the pregnancy when the milk changes to colostrum, or after the birth because of the separation if you are in the hospital for several days or because the increase in your milk supply does not suit her taste. If she seems to have a strong desire to nurse in spite of the changes that occur during pregnancy, feel free to continue if you wish.

LLL

Danielle - posted on 12/14/2010

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my daughter has just turned 19 months and im still feeding her and im currently 12 weeks pregnant, it does happen, it can just take a little longer as it is much harder to judge when you are fertile if you are at all during that month.
don't give up hope you can do both, my feeling was i didn't want to deprive my first just because i wanted another, it isn't her fault we want more kids. mind you though now im pregnant im kinda wishing she would wean lol

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Kelly-Marie - posted on 12/20/2010

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I have also miscarried whilst feeding my second child and was assured that the m/c was nothing to do with hormonal changes associated with b/f. I continued nursing 2nd child, and fell pregnant again within 6 months, fed throughout pregnancy and tandem fed after the birth which I found great for engorgement when milk comes in. I now have 5 children and have tandem fed after 2 of my pregnancys, fed throughout 3 pregnancys too. I will say though that your 1st born may self wean during pregnancy, either because he choses to naturally or because of changes in the milk itself, this happened with my 4th child. I certainly don't think that b/f has any link to fertility after normal menstruation resumes, as after my third baby, my cycle resumed after 8 months and I conceived after only one period, although fertility differs greatly from woman to woman. I see no problem in continuing with what you feel is right, do what suits you and your family. One thing I will say though is watch your iron levels as even after 6 months and the weaning stage, your body will still supply iron to your milk, and also to your unborn child, I was quite anaemic during times of b/f and pregnancy and took iron tablets as prescribed, but you can always help yourself in the early months with pregnancy safe multivitamins ( although these usually only contain small amounts of iron).

[deleted account]

I just recently got pregnant my supply actually dried up. My daughter began to want to feed less and less and now isn't breastfeeding at all.

I had a hormonal imbalance and had to take suppliments to stay pregnant with my daughter. I'm at that point with this pregnancy as well and have been doing just fine. I had some mild spotting but that lasted only an hour and it hasn't come back. With my daughter I actually had sizable clots and decent bleeding.

I can't see how breastfeeding would cause a misscarriage unless your body couldn't handle both. My step-mom lost a baby at 26 weeks while nursing but she had also gotten pregnant right after having a baby.

I really think it comes down to health of the mother.

Tanith - posted on 12/20/2010

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Sorry Lisa Moreau - I didn't read your post before submitting mine. I basically just repeated your post hahaha.

Lucy - posted on 12/20/2010

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definitely safe. i had two early miscarriages while nursing but the third time was the charm... nursed my almost 3yo (at the time) daughter halfway through the pregnancy and had a big healthy boy. keep trying, and keep nursing :)

Christie - posted on 12/20/2010

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I fell PG with Mr 8months without even having a period return after having Miss 2. I continued to nurse her until self weaning and would happily have tandem nursed if she had wanted to. Obviously you know for yourself personally you can get pregnant whilst breastfeeding and not being a doctor I can't tell you why you miscarried I can only give my condolences. But my personal understanding is breastfeeding and pregnancy is totally fine. Good luck TTC!

Tanya - posted on 12/19/2010

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My son is 15 months old and I am 7 months pregnant. He is still nursing, though significantly less because at this point in the pregnancy I am producing much less milk. I am a teacher and when I was home on summer break at the beginning of the pregnancy, I had no problem keeping my supply up. I went back to work at 3.5 months pregnant and still had no trouble nursing, but my body wouldn't pump much anymore. I have had no significant problems in this pregnancy besides worse ecszema since both nursing and pregnancy require more fluids.

That said, I have read in some places that in cases of high risk pregnancy, mothers have been advised to wean by their health-care providers. I think it has to be a case by case decision and think one of the factors would be if you still feel yourself contracting while nursing (which I sometimes do) and how often your daughter feeds.

There is some good info on kellymom as well as a book called "adventures in tandem nursing" that may be helpful. i would check it out of the library rather than buy now. that's what i did at the beginning of the pregnancy, though I may buy it if my son continues to nurse after the baby is born.
HTH!
Good luck in your decision!

Jen - posted on 12/19/2010

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I breastfed my son throughout my whole pregnancy (with another son!) and the only advice my OB gave was to take additional calcium. My oldest was 20 months when his brother was born. I nursed him the night before I went into labor but after I got home he never asked to nurse again! Just weaned himself right then!

Anna Marie - posted on 12/19/2010

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I nursed a 2 year old throughout my pregnancy. My sons are now 13 months and almost 4. Both are still nursing. While breastfeeding does change hormones to an extent, it is highly unlikely that it was the cause of your miscarriage. I am sorry for your loss and admire that you are trying to figure out what to do while still caring for your daughter in the best way possible :) Good luck!

Melanie - posted on 12/18/2010

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I have breast fed two of my kids while pregnant with another....Although your milk supply will probably go away....it does not hurt to nurse...they just wont get much

Lori - posted on 12/18/2010

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It is defitiely possible. It is hard to plan, but still possible. My son was 8 months old when I found out I was pregnant with our last. I had a very hard time breast feeding. I found my breast milk was not as plentiful as it once was. I had to wean my son at 10 months, but I had so much breast milk stored, that he had enough until he turned 1. Good luck, and have patience. Stress will not help to get pregnant. I wish you the best.

Deanna - posted on 12/18/2010

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I breastfed my daughter until I was over 20 weeks pregnant with my son. I dont really think it causes miscarriage to be honest. I think the baby probably just had something genetically "wrong" with it and caused the m/c.

Lauren - posted on 12/18/2010

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I nursed my daughter through pregnancy and continue to nurse her. It does not pose a health risk to any of you. The book Adventures in Tandem Nursing is awesome and very comforting. There are lots of ways this can work without weaning your daughter completely.

That being said, I do know some people who, for whatever reason, struggled to get pregnant until their children weaned. I think it's unusual but it does seem to be a factor for SOME people. I would personally try everything I could before resorting to weaning.

Tine - posted on 12/18/2010

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Yeah, we're doing that too at the moment - lots of time at the beach, parks, etc, and she often forgets to feed at all - today she went 12 hours without even noticing that she hadn't fed! Other days she wants a few feeds suring the day :-)

Merry - posted on 12/17/2010

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Eric was still bf about 7 times a 24 hr day, including nighttime feeds when I conceived, but on the implantation days I was able to get him down to 5 feeds, and shorter then normal.
Then he went right back! (we spent a lot of time out of the house cuz being at the park, or grandmas keeps him busy :)

Tine - posted on 12/16/2010

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Thanks so much everyone! xo

I'm a member of the ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association), and certainly know people who have breastfed through pregnancy, but crikey it's easy to lose your confidence when something frightening happens and you are vulnerable! The doctor confused me, so thanks SO much for the information and support. I will go to the LLL or ABA forums, and I appreciate all your replies, it's great to have my confidence returning :-)

I have had normal fertile cycles (I do track my mucus) since my daughter was 18 months old (my period was trying to return before that but I had an undiagnosed bit of retained placenta that just came out in the shower after I started taking homeopathics when my daughter was 18m/old!). I conceived the one that miscarried after 4 normal cycles, on the first actual try, so hopefully my basic fertility seems to be ok.

Thanks for the tip about the uterine lining, I will try that too! My daughter has started really cutting back on daytime feeds now, so perhaps that will do that job anyway.

Thanks so much! :-) xo

Jennifer - posted on 12/15/2010

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I'm 37 weeks pregnant and nursing a 21 month old. I did talk to my midwife about it when I initially got pregnant. I began taking prenatals and folic acid immediately. I increased fluids and calories (specifically protein and calcium) at the beginning of pregnancy. I have exercised throughout the pregnancy.

It's been safe for me. Good luck to you!

[deleted account]

It better be safe cuz I did it last time, and I'm doing it again!

My son weaned when I was 5 months pg, but my daughter now is showing no signs of letting that happen any time soon. I also had a 6 week miscarriage the first time, but then had a successful lovely pg the month after, so obviously bf had nothing to do with it.

I like Lisa's info posted above.

Have you found the bf to be delaying the return of a normal cycle for you?

Merry - posted on 12/14/2010

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I'm 20weeks pregnant while breastfeeding my 20 month old son!
I had regular periods since Eric was 9 months, and took four cycles to conceive once we ditched the diaphragm. I am planning on bf Eric for a few years more so I will be bf both kids together.
Bf really hasn't ever been seen to cause miscarriages, if you miscarry then the baby was probably going to not make it no matter what you do.
Bf only confuses hormones until the weaning process begins, like at 6 months when you start solids. So once your periods are regular, consider yourself fertile! Now, that said, I did learn that bf will thin the lining of your uterus, which can cause a fertilized egg to die and not implant. This is the natural way your body decides if you can sustain a pregnancy. And you never know if it happens cuz it just passes in your period.
So, if you figure out when implantation happens in your cycle and try to bf less for those days it might help.
Just what I did! And that month we were pregnant!
Then Eric resumed bf often.
Good luck, I too didn't want to wean Eric just so I could have another baby, seemed unfair, and I'm still happily bf him now halfway through my pregnancy!

Minnie - posted on 12/14/2010

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If you head on over to the LLLI forums you'll probably get to talk with many mothers who are pregnant and are still breastfeeding. The LLLI website also has a resource page for breastfeeding answers. Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hillary Flower is a good book to read.



There are at least a few of us here in this community that are currently pregnant and nursing toddlers. Normally breastfeeding is safe while pregnant unless you are at high risk for premature labor- such as irritable uterus.



Typically the uterus doesn't become sensitive enough to the oxytocin released during breastfeeding/nipple stimulation to begin labor until the last couple weeks of pregnancy- when it would usually be safe for the baby to be born anyways.



Your milk will change to colostrum at some point in your pregnancy but if your toddler is pretty solid with nursing she'll probably continue to nurse through it.



Breastfeeding doesn't confuse your hormones- it does usually delay the return of fertility. You can keep track of your cervical mucus changes to know when you're ovulating.

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