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Is it safe to breastfeed during pregnancy for the breastfed child?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary
— Updated on :

Yes and no. Since breast milk production is reduced during pregnancy, breastfed infants should receive a supplement to breast milk, depending on their age; otherwise their growth will be at risk.

Milk production is generally reduced, mainly in the second trimester, due to hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. This reduction, combined with the change in milk flavor associated with the preparation of colostrum in late pregnancy, lead some children to wean themselves off milk. Some children still continue breastfeeding despite these changes. In this case, it is important to provide the breastfed infants with sufficient nutrients to support their growth. Depending on whether breast milk is the main food of the child or if it is only a form of solace, breast milk may or may not be sufficient to meet the needs of the breastfed child.

BEFORE 6 MONTHS

The decrease in milk production during pregnancy may have an impact on the growth of breastfed infants because they receive only breast milk. It is therefore important that during this period, the growth of breastfed infants be carefully monitored by a nutritionist or a pediatrician. If the child’s growth slows down, it usually becomes necessary to use a commercial preparation to supplement infants in addition to breast milk. For more information on choosing an infant formula, click here.

Between 6 months and 1 year

Breast milk is still the main food for the baby, despite the introduction of complementary foods. It remains important to provide necessary commercial infant formulas or 3.25% cow’s milk if age-appropriate, and to monitor growth.

After 1 year

Children that eat a variety of foods from the four food groups in the Canadian Food Guide and in sufficient quantities can usually meet their needs despite the reduction of breast milk. However, if breast milk still occupies a large part of their diet, which is unusual, it is possible to introduce 3.25% cow’s milk (Article to come) or infant formula which is adapted to age in order to supplement breastfeeding.

Of note

As the production of colostrum begins during pregnancy, some parents believe they must wean their breastfed child for fear that the newborn will not get enough colostrum at birth. You should know that the newborn baby will not miss this first milk, even if another child is breastfed, as production continues at the birth of the child. To learn more on the subject, see the following article here.

It should also be noted that the usual strategies to increase/stimulate the production of breast milk have little effect in the case of a pregnancy, since the reduction is caused by hormones.

References

  • Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) protocol committee. (2011). Protocol #9: Use of galactogogues in initiating or augmenting the rate of maternal milk secretion. Breastfeeding medicine, 6(1), 41-49.
  • Allard, M. et Desrochers, A. (2010). Bien vivre l'allaitement. Montréal : Éditions Hurtubise HMH.
  • Mohrbacher, N. et Stock, J. (2003). The breastfeeding answer book (3e éd). Schaumburg, Illinois: La Leche League International.
  • Moscone, S. et Moore, J. (1993). Breastfeeding during pregnancy. Journal of Human Lactation, 9(2), 83-88
  • Nice, F. J. (2011). Common herbs and food used as galactogogues. ICAN: Infant, child & adolescent nutrition, 3(3), 129.
  • Riordan, J. (2005). Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (3e éd.). Jones and Bartlett Publishers: Sudbury.
  • Zuppa, A., Sindico, P., Orchi, C., Carducci, C., Cardiello, V., Romagnoli, C. et Catenazzi, P. (2010). Safety and efficacy of galactogogues: Substances that induce, maintain and increase breast milk production. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 13(2), 162-174.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.