Breastfeeding while pregnant, is it safe?

You may have just started adjusting to breastfeeding only to find out you are pregnant again. This might lead to a rush of questions and concerns. Is it safe to breastfeed while pregnant? How will this affect the fetus? How will this affect my weaning child? Can I breastfeed two children at once?

All of these questions and feelings are understandable. While the decision of whether or not to breastfeed while pregnant is not always clear, an understanding of its benefits, its risks, and how ready you and your nursing child are to wean will help you determine what is best for everyone involved.

Many women worry about breastfeeding while pregnant as breastfeeding can cause mild uterine contractions. However, in a healthy pregnancy, these contractions are not a concern, as they generally do not cause preterm labor. This is because oxytocin, the hormone released during breastfeeding that stimulates contractions, is usually released in such a small amount during breastfeeding that is not enough to cause preterm labor. Such contractions are also harmless to the fetus and rarely increase the chances of having a miscarriage. Also, although a small amount of pregnancy hormones pass into your milk, these hormones pose no risk to your child.

While breastfeeding during pregnancy is generally considered safe, there are some cases where weaning may be advisable:

  • If you have a high-risk pregnancy or are at risk for preterm labor
  • If you are carrying twins
  • If you have been advised to avoid sex while pregnant
  • If you are having bleeding or uterine pain

If you experience these symptoms, talk with your doctor to determine whether weaning would be the best option for you, your nursling, and your unborn child.

-American Pregnancy Association