There two main reasons people tell mothers they should wean their babies when they become pregnant: one, that breastfeeding puts you at an increased risk of miscarriage; and two, that a baby will suffer from lack of nutrients. Both claims are unsubstantiated.
In reality, it's hard to document why a miscarriage occurs. Unfortunately, 15 to 25 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage during the first three months. However, there are no studies that show breastfeeding increases this rate.
And there is no evidence that a baby whose mother is nursing will suffer from lack of nutrients if the mother's diet is healthy and balanced. (Millions of women nurse during pregnancy and give birth to healthy babies).
There are, however, a few things women should know about breastfeeding during pregnancy:
- Nipple soreness is often associated with a new pregnancy so you may find you suddenly experience pain or discomfort while nursing.
- Fatigue is normal when you are in the early months of pregnancy, so if you feel tired while breastfeeding it's nothing unusual. Breastfeeding shouldn't make you feel more tired.
- Milk supply does decrease when you are pregnant. You can continue to breastfeed, but encourage your toddler to eat more solids and drink other liquids from a cup in order to make sure his nutritional needs are met.
The choice to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy is totally up to you. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have so you can make an informed decision you are comfortable with.
Dr. Jack Newman established Canada's first breastfeeding clinic in 1984 at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. As the need for his expertise grew, Dr. Newman opened clinics in several Toronto hospitals. In 2006 he co-founded the Newman Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute (NBCI) with Edith Kernerman. One of North America's most respected breastfeeding experts, Dr. Newman is the author of Newman's Guide to Breastfeeding (Canada) and The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers (United States) and The Latch and other keys to Successful Breastfeeding (www.ibreastfeeding.com). Dr. Newman's breastfeeding information is also at www.drjacknewman.com