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We have a 1 year old son, and my wife is now pregnant with our second child. Our doctor says she should stop breastfeeding our son because she is pregnant, because it may harm the fetus. This makes me sad, as I would like her to continue breastfeeding our son until he is 2. Is what the doctor said true?

If she indeed needs to stop we are planning on giving our son soymilk as replacement for the breastmilk. Are there any other good suggestions regarding this?

Edited : Hi guys, until now, my wife is still doing tandem nursing. But we are planning to stop breastfeeding my first son. It makes me very sad actually. But it must be done, because tandem nursing make my wife's healthy condition is becoming worse. When she often breastfeeding my first son, my wife is getting flu. And the flu is getting worse if she increase the frequency of breastfeeding.

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If you want a second opinion, another doctor would be better than asking the internets. –  Dave Clarke Oct 7 '12 at 19:05
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Have you done research on soymilk? It may not be the best alternative. –  thursdaysgeek Oct 10 '12 at 3:30
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Soymilk is a somewhat poor subsitute for breastmilk for a variety of reasons, and isn't any better than other liquids/solids. But a lengthy discussion of that would be better served in it's own question. –  Jessica Brown Oct 11 '12 at 21:01
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Flu is caused by the influenza virus. I guess you might feel that breastfeeding is somehow reducing your wife's ability to fight off the flu (although this study claims that breastfeeding strengthens the mother's immune system, rather than weakening it), but there is absolutely no way that breastfeeding is causing your wife to get the flu. Exposure to influenza virus is the only way to get the flu. –  Beofett Nov 11 '12 at 20:30
    
In our case it just self regulated. My wife continued breastfeeding #1 about half way through the pregnancy with #2. Then it just stopped on it's own and all parties were happy. Mother and baby have a fair bit of self protection and evolutionary wisdom build in. –  Hilmar Nov 6 '13 at 12:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

There is generally no reason at all to stop breastfeeding just because you are pregnant [1] [2] [3] [4]. As with all pregnancies, it is important that the mother keeps a healthy, well balanced diet. Her body will be perfectly able to produce milk as well as provide for the growing fetus inside her. The milk may change in taste due to the hormonal changes in her body, her nipples may become more sensitive than normal, and her supply may decrease slightly, but other than that things should be just as they always were.

The only real worry should be if your wife is going through a high-risk pregnancy or is prone to miscarrige, as the nipple stimulation when nursing releases a small amount of the hormone oxytocin, which can cause very light uterine contractions. Generally, though, these will not harm the baby in any way, and for a normal pregnancy these are no reason to stop breastfeeding.

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I would like to add that concept of hunger and thirst should be avoided. When we feel hungry/thirsty, damage is already done to the body due to lack of nutrients. Our body is showing symptoms only after damage. I would recommend that pregnant mother should eat and drink more frequently and avoid getting into a situation of hunger & thirst... –  apeirogon Oct 9 '12 at 8:28
    
@apeirogon Thanks for your input. I've edited my answer to correct this. –  Mia Clarke Oct 9 '12 at 8:43
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@Banang, thanks for your brief explanation. your answers are enlighten my minds –  kalingga Oct 9 '12 at 15:48
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@apeirogon, I'd like to know why you say that damage is already done if we feel hunger or thirst. This doesn't sound legitimate to me. –  Ben Mordecai Feb 15 '13 at 0:14
    
@BenDordecai ask another question, don't update comments... –  apeirogon Feb 16 '13 at 14:15

I saw my CNM (certified nurse midwife) today for a well woman's check up, and mentioned that I may be pregnant (too early to take the test). I am still breastfeeding my 15 month old. She said that it was perfectly safe to continue breastfeeding unless I experienced contractions that lasted longer than an hour.

However, a lot of children self-wean when the mother is about halfway through her pregnancy, as the milk changes to more of the colostrum variety.

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The above answers all seem to address the needs of the child in giving reasons to continue breastfeeding. While these are important, it is not best to forget the mother in the equation. The question is why the doctor said it would be a good idea to stop. Perhaps the doctor was considering the mother's calcium levels or some other piece of information about which we are not aware (in which case supplements could also help, but I suggest a deeper discussion about it with Doc).

Additionally, the milk a mother feeds her child starts to change and lose its nutritional value (slowly over time) as the child begins eating more and more solid food. I was told by friends I made at La Leche League that while continuing to breastfeed after a year continues to maintain strong bonds and has emotional benefits they "admited there isn't a lot of nutritional value once the child is somewhere between 12 and 18 months anyway" This statement is counter to their usual claims, so I'm giving it some weight here I might not otherwise give it. My child self-weaned at around 10-11 months and we still remained very close, she has a good immune system and never had any nutritional red-flags.

Generally, it appears there isn't usually a lot of reason to stop. Breast feeding will not play a huge part in struggles with the flu. However, if the doctor had a specific reason due to some condition your wife has, perhaps weaning wouldn't be so bad. Maybe further discussion with her doctor to find out his reasoning, is in order before taking a bunch of advice from strangers online.

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I'd heard that the milk gets more nutrient dense for a small amount after 6 months - do you know when it looses nutrients? Or did I hear wrong? I thought one of the better reasons I'd heard for extended breastfeeding was to help pump nutrients into a picky toddler who may not eat a well-rounded diet during various phases. –  justkt Nov 8 '12 at 15:42
    
I'm just repeating what I learned six years ago from the ladies at la Leche League. It is remembered information. I'm sure the book, "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" would also hold a conclusive and well-backed through research answer for you. I know after a year the nutrients in the milk become less and less important progressively. I'm sorry I can't help further. –  balanced mama Nov 8 '12 at 17:07

There is certainly an element of truth, as right now the developing fetus should be getting a wide range of nutrients and will lose out on some if your wife continues breastfeeding.

Three simple solution that keeps your 1-year old getting the right nutrition is to look at the follow-on or weaning milk products. These will have the right vitamins, minerals etc for your child, whereas soy milk won't.

If you do decide to go the soy milk route, look into the supplements you may need.

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-1. The statement that the fetus will lose nutrients due to breastfeeding is just not true. There is no reason why a healthy pregnant woman should stop breastfeeding. –  Mia Clarke Oct 7 '12 at 22:39
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Actually the one who loses out most is the mother, but sure, you are splitting resources. You can improve your intake of nutrients to offset this. –  Rory Alsop Oct 8 '12 at 19:27

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