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Just when you’ve gotten the hang of this new mom thing, your maternal juggling act gets a little bit trickier when you find out you’re pregnant again. But if you’re concerned you’ll have to wean your little one sooner than you originally anticipated simply because another bundle is on the way, worry no more.

Is it safe?

Yes, breastfeeding and pregnancy are usually perfectly compatible: As long as you feel up to it, you can continue breastfeeding your baby while expecting another. However, be aware that, since breastfeeding triggers the release of oxytocin (the hormone that also causes contractions), you may feel some stronger-than-usual Braxton Hicks contractions. In a low-risk pregnancy, they’re not a problem. In fact, until your body is ready to give birth (usually around 38 weeks), oxytocin doesn’t seem to have much effect on the uterus at all. But be sure to discuss your decision to continue nursing with your practitioner and pediatrician as your pregnancy progresses; if you have a high-risk pregnancy or are at a particular risk of preterm labor, your doctor may suggest that you at least temporarily wean.

Concerned that the pregnancy hormones circulating in your system might find their way into your milk? Happily, your breast milk is just as safe now that you’re pregnant, and experts say pregnancy hormones don’t pass easily into breast milk.

The myth about miscarriage while breastfeeding

You may have heard that nursing while pregnant may slow the growth of your baby-to-be or even lead to a miscarriage. Not to worry: There is no evidence showing that there is any increased risk of pregnancy loss among women who continue to nurse while expecting, even given the increased contractions caused by the production of oxytocin.

Will breastfeeding interfere with your current pregnancy?

While safe, nursing while pregnant isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. The combination of nipple sensitivity in early pregnancy and nursing a hungry baby can be painful. And, as you’ll undoubtedly recall, pregnancy — especially in the first and third trimesters — is an arduous endeavor. Pair that with the toll milk production takes on your body and you could have a recipe for sheer exhaustion. So be mindful of your energy levels and pregnancy weight gain, and take it easy on yourself.

How many calories should you consume?

Now that you’re eating for three, you’ll need to consume more to fuel both baby growing and milk production. Aim for a total of about 600 to 800 extra calories — 300 for the fetus and 300 to 500 for milk production. Ideally you’ll get four servings of protein and six servings of calcium each day. And don’t forget about drinking: Focus on downing at least 8 to 12 glasses of fluid per day.

Morning sickness and breastfeeding

Having a hard time keeping anything down? Morning sickness can be a drain, especially now that you need to eat more than ever to nourish both your pregnancy and your milk supply — and that means it can deplete you of the nutrients and fluids you need. If nausea and vomiting are especially severe, and you’re losing weight early on, discuss it with your practitioner. You might come to the conclusion that the best choice for all three of you (Mom, baby and baby-to-be) is to wean your firstborn.

However, if your morning sickness is manageable, you’re not losing weight and your practitioner supports your decision, you can ride out the first few months, using the remaining two trimesters to further bump up your pregnancy weight gain and reestablish those depleted nutrient stores. That way you can be sure you, your baby and your baby-to-be are getting all the nutrients and calories necessary.

Your milk supply during pregnancy

Wondering whether your breast milk supply might start slowing down once the demands of pregnancy start picking up? It probably will, but usually not until mid-pregnancy. Your breastfeeding baby may or may not notice any slowdown in milk production or changes in the consistency or taste of your milk supply once colostrum starts being produced (again, usually midway through pregnancy).

Some little ones decide to self-wean at some point during Mom’s pregnancy, either because of the decreased milk supply or the changes in taste, while others never miss a breastfeeding beat. Either way, your doctor will keep an eye on your baby’s weight gain to be sure your little one is getting enough to eat.

Can you breastfeed an older baby and a newborn?

Assuming you and your milk supply are still going strong after you’ve delivered your latest bundle, you can breastfeed both your newborn and your older baby (a.k.a. tandem nursing).

If you can’t nurse full-time while pregnant

Aren’t up to full-time breastfeeding but you’re also not ready to fully wean? You can do the combo: supplement with formula as needed.

And if your baby does self-wean, you just don’t feel up to breastfeeding while you’re expecting or you’re too sick or tired to continue, don’t feel guilty about calling quits. You’ve already provided your little one with many of the benefits of breastfeeding, and those continued cuddles and kisses will keep the bond between you as tight as ever.


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