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Generally, it's safe to 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 might discourage breast-feeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor or you're experiencing uterine pain or bleeding.
If you're considering breast-feeding while pregnant, be prepared for changes your nursing child might notice. Although breast milk continues to be nutritionally sound throughout pregnancy, the content of your breast milk will change — which might change the way your milk tastes. In addition, your milk production is quite likely to decrease as your pregnancy progresses. These factors could lead your nursing child to wean on his or her own before the baby is born.
Your comfort might also be a concern. During pregnancy, nipple tenderness and breast soreness are common. The discomfort might intensify while breast-feeding. Pregnancy-related fatigue might pose challenges as well. If you want to continue breast-feeding while pregnant — or breast-feed both the baby and the older child after delivery — you might need additional support from loved ones or other close contacts. Also check with your health care provider about taking supplemental prenatal vitamins.
Roger W. Harms, M.D.
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