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I have heard 2 arguments against breastfeeding while pregnant, that it causes contractions that can lead to premature labor, and that it can be difficult on the mother to support a developing baby, make milk for another baby, and have enough nutrition for her own body. My OB, and another that I've talked to, have both initially said that it was dangerous due to the possibility of early labor. Dr. Google seems to give a different answer, that the body is designed with safeguards that prevent nursing causing early labor in a healthy pregnancy. Both doctors have said they will look at the current reasearch and get back to me. Neither has done so.

Does anyone here know of any studies proving the harm or lack of harm in breast feeding while pregnant in a healthy pregnancy? Does anyone know of a trustworthy, unbiased organization that has taken a position either way, especially in recent years?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It is interesting that your medical practitioners are advising you otherwise. Mine said that it was no problem. I breastfed all the way through the 7th month of my pregnancy - until my daughter weaned herself off.

Mayo Clinic is a trusted source (non-profit medical practice & research group). The recommendation from there basically amounts to listen to your body. They do advise to consult your OB - if you have a history of pre-term labour or have a complicated pregnancy, you should consider weaning your child off.

Generally, it's possible to safely continue breast-feeding while pregnant — as long as you're careful about eating a healthy diet and diligently drinking plenty of fluids. There's an important caveat, however. Breast-feeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren't a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your health care provider may discourage breast-feeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor.

I found one study from 2003, Breastfeeding during pregnancy, with a small sample size (57 women), where the participants breastfed a child during pregnancy. The study claims that all children born to these women were healthy. The study discusses various reasons why the women weaned off their children, as well as children who weaned themselves off, and other women who continued to breastfeed the older child even after delivery.

A book to consult would be Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond; however, whether or not that is a biased source, is for you to decide.

Given that your OB knows more about you than any resource or study online, I would trust their medical expertise (as much as I personally disagree with what your OB is telling you). If you disagree with them or they are unable to back their opinion with studies, you should find one that is more up-to-date in their field and has experience in dealing with women who have breastfed their children during pregnancies. (You would need more nutrition, would be more fatigued, etc.)

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+1 Thank you so much. Great resources. I will be switching doctors. –  Rachel Apr 16 '12 at 19:38
    
+1 for making sure to get a second opinion if you're unsure. –  deworde Apr 17 '12 at 13:01

I don't know as there are a whole lot of studies out there. However, I havre known many, many mothers who successfully breastfed while pregnant. Everything that I've read says that if it is a healthy pregnancy, not to worry about breastfeeding... the La Leche League has this article about it which I found helpful when I was deciding what to do: http://www.llli.org/faq/bfpregnant.html

Also, I concur that Adventures in Tandem Nursing is a great resource about this subject and also nursing a toddler and an infant..if you get that far in your nursing relationship.

Mostly, listen to your body.

Some other related articles include: http://www.thebabycorner.com/page/208/ http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/special-situations/breastfeeding-while-pregnant

The following link refers to a study of 157 moms, but does not say when the study was done...http://kellymom.com/pregnancy/bf-preg/bfpregnancy_safety/

Here is a study printed in 2012 between breastfeeding moms-to-be and non breastfeeding moms-to-be: http://journals.lww.com/jnr-twna/Abstract/2012/03000/A_Comparative_Study_of_Breastfeeding_During.10.aspx It concluded: Results suggest that breastfeeding during normal pregnancy does not increase chance of untoward maternal and newborn outcomes. Nurses and midwives should give expectant mothers appropriate evidence-based guidance and focus attention on promoting proper nutritional intake based on lactation status during pregnancy.

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I will add a quick answer here since the new OB did investigate and call me back today. Her summary, after looking into the matter, was that there are no good double-blind, high sample size studies done so far on whether or not breastfeeding is safe. BUT the smaller studies do not show a risk of premature birth rates. They do show a tendancy towards smaller, but not significantly smaller, babies at birth.

Her conclusion was that if it was important to a woman to continue nursing that she should be able to do it, keeping in mind that there might be risks involved. More research is needed to state a lack of risk conclusively.

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