Can I Continue Breastfeeding Through a Pregnancy?

Kathleen Tackett's picture

QUESTION

Dear Lactation Consultant,
My son is 13 months. We want to try to get pregnant soon, but he is not ready to wean.

Are there problems with breastfeeding while pregnant?

ANSWER

The short answer to your question is no, there is no problem with breastfeeding while pregnant. In fact, I did it myself twice. Many MDs, however, don't know much about it and may be nervous when asked. Some even recommend weaning "just in case." Two excellent resources are: Mothering Your Nursing Toddler by Norma Jane Bumgarner and the brand new book Adventures in Tandem Nursing by Hillary Flower. In my own book, The Breastfeeding Answer Book (2003), a guide for breastfeeding counselors, I wrote a chapter on this topic.

Only in parts of the world where mothers are poorly nourished have any health problems in mothers or babies been found. In the US, no problems have been recorded. In fact, it is also possible to breastfeed though a pregnancy and then breastfeed both siblings, which is called "tandem nursing." Some mothers find themselves in a situation where the older child is still not ready to wean when the newborn arrives. One study found, however, that about two-thirds of the older children wean during pregnancy. This may be because the milk turns to colostrum at about the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy and some children don't like the taste. Or it may be because about that same percentage of mothers experience sore nipples during the hormonal changes of pregnancy and naturally begin to discourage nursing due to the discomfort. Or a combination of both.In any case, there is no reason you have to wean while you're trying to get pregnancy, during pregnancy, or even after birth.

Best wishes to you and yours,
-- Nancy, IBCLC