Pregnancy: Is weaning necessary for a healthy pregnancy?

We have a 12-month-old son, and my wife just found out that she is pregnant. Does she need to stop breastfeeding to have a healthy pregnancy?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Congratulations on your wife's pregnancy! Many women find themselves pregnant while still nursing. Often they are concerned about the effect that breastfeeding will have on their unborn baby. There are no studies documenting any danger of continuing to nurse during a healthy pregnancy.

If you do choose to continue nursing during your pregnancy, your baby may decide on his own that it's time to wean. Often weaning occurs around the fourth to fifth month. During the second trimester the quantity of milk is lessening and the taste also may begin to change. Around half of all nursing babies wean themselves at this time (Moscone S, Moore J, 1993). If your baby begins to cut back on nursing, remember to offer other liquids and solids to replace the nutrition and fluids that he received through breastfeeding.

During pregnancy a woman's nipples may become very sensitive. This may actually be one of the first signs of pregnancy. Continued nipple tenderness can also be a factor that contributes to the weaning of your child during pregnancy. Many mothers naturally cut back on nursing at this time. Not all women experience nipple soreness during pregnancy, and if it does occur, it's duration varies from woman to woman.

It is always important during pregnancy to pay special attention to your health, whether you are breastfeeding or not. Eating a good, nutritionally balanced diet each day, taking prenatal vitamins, and allowing time in your schedule for adequate rest is vital to your health, and to the health of your unborn baby. Taking good care of yourself is the most positive action that you can take toward an excellent pregnancy outcome.

If you have a history of giving birth prematurely, or have other underlying medical problems that could be jeopardizing this pregnancy, it is very important that you discuss your choice with your Health Care Provider.

It is a personal decision whether or not to continue nursing throughout your pregnancy -- trust your instincts! Best wishes for a healthy and happy pregnancy!

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