Breastfeeding While Pregnant Pros & Cons

Breastfeeding your baby can be a very personal choice. Some women are eager to try but have no issues calling it quits and switching to formula if it becomes painful, stressful, or simply unmanageable. On the other hand, there are some mamas out there that are really passionate about breastfeeding for as long as possible.

There are numerous health benefits of breastmilk for infants, babies, and toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and supports continued breastfeeding for two years or beyond, as long as it’s something the mother and child still want.


Related: Breastfeeding While Pregnant: Tips, Safety, and Challenges

While practicing extended breastfeeding is becoming more normalized in our society, it can complicate things if you want to grow your family and have kids close at age. There are pros and cons of choosing to breastfeed while pregnant.

Con: Your Breastmilk Changes As You Grow A Baby

Women’s bodies are extremely perceptive to their baby’s needs and the milk that they produce for a newborn is actually different than the milk that their baby will be drinking after a year or two of life. Starting around 36 weeks up until about three days after a woman gives birth, the breast milk that she is creating is actually called colostrum. It’s yellow in color and filled with very specific nutrients to accommodate newborns’ tiny tummies.

As a mother, you may be wondering if your baby or toddler should be drinking this “liquid gold” that is designed for your newborn. Fortunately, It doesn’t matter how often or long your child breastfeeds, there will still be colostrum produced for your newborn for several days after you give birth. While the hormones that maintain a pregnancy will be found in breast milk, these are not harmful to your baby.

Con: Breastfeeding Triggers Mild Contractions

Breastfeeding does cause mild contractions in pregnant women and can worsen Braxton hicks, which are contractions felt during pregnancy that can be mistaken for real labor contractions. If you are expecting twins or multiples, you may be at risk of preterm labor. similarly, If you are someone who has suffered a miscarriage in the past or experienced preterm birth, it is advised that you seek advice from your doctor or midwife before breastfeeding while pregnant.

However, for The average woman who is having an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy, mild contractions are safe and not a cause of concern. You may have heard that breastfeeding while you are in your first trimester can increase your risk of miscarriage. However, the National Library of Medicine states:

There is currently no evidence that the release of oxytocin caused by breastā€feeding is sufficient to cause miscarriage.

Con: You’ll Need More Calories

While this might not be seen as a con for everyone, finding the time and energy to eat enough throughout the day can become an exhausting chore. Pregnancy alone requires a woman to up her calorie intake by about 300 extra calories a day.

According to the CDC, a well-nourished breastfeeding mother needs an extra 330 to 400 calories a day. This means that if a mother chooses to breastfeed while she is simultaneously growing another human inside of her, she is going to need a pretty substantial amount of extra food. Plus, if her lifestyle is already fairly active, she is going to be burning calories quickly!

Pro: It Is Good For Mom & Baby

Extended breastfeeding has so many health benefits for the breastfeeding mother as well as the baby. According to WebMD, if a mother breastfeeds for 12 months or more, she lowers her risk of:

  • breast cancer
  • ovarian cancer
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • heart attacks
  • hypertension
  • obesity
  • diabetes

That is a very large amount of maternal disease reduction and protection just from breastfeeding.

Of course, the benefits don’t end there. When it comes to your baby, breast milk does wonders for them as well. Breastfeeding not only provides valuable nutrition for your child, but it also boosts their immune system, boosts brain development, calms them, and soothes your baby.

Pro: You Can Store Pumped Milk For Your Newborn

Some pregnant women start pumping their breast milk once they enter the third trimester, in order to build up milk stores in case their baby needs it. Expressing your milk before your baby arrives is also known as ‘colostrum harvesting’ and can be useful, especially if you are looking to avoid formula supplementation. Since some newborns may struggle with feeding or maintaining blood sugar levels in their first few days of life, supplemental feedings with stored colostrum from the mother could be crucial.

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers explains that colostrum has immunological properties that support your baby’s gut health, protects against disease, and:

It also contains the perfect balance of proteins, fats and micronutrients needed for human babies as well as acting as a laxative to help the passing of the first tarry meconium stools.

The transition from one baby to two can be hard on families. As a parent, it can be easy to feel torn in two different directions. You never want your older child to feel left out or not prioritized. However, the demands of newborn life can be brutal. As a mom, if you choose to continue breastfeeding while you are currently pregnant, you will have nine extra months of that close intense bond that provides nursing. Those extra snuggles and quiet moments together will definitely be cherished once your newborn arrives.

It’s also important to remember that breastfeeding is a personal choice that should come with no judgment. Moms can choose to end their breastfeeding journey anytime, especially when it is no longer serving their family. If you want to give breastfeeding a try while pregnant, and your doctor doesn’t have any concerns, go for it!

You don’t have to breastfeed for your entire pregnancy either. Feel it out and see what works for your family. Whether you breastfeed for three weeks or three years, remember that you are doing a great job!

Sources: The American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, WebMD,, MedlinePlus, CDC, Parkview, llli, Pregnancy Birth Baby, National Library of Medicine

Leave a Comment