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Can Breastfeeding During Pregnancy Cause a Miscarriage?

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Updated July 18, 2008

Question: Can Breastfeeding During Pregnancy Cause a Miscarriage?

Everyone's heard the advice that "breast is best" for feeding new babies, but what happens when you get pregnant with a new baby while you're still nursing your older one? Is nursing during pregnancy safe?

Answer:

Although there are numerous conflicting opinions on the issue of breastfeeding during pregnancy, no research has ever found any increased risk of miscarriage in women who continue breastfeeding an older child during pregnancy.

In the past, doctors used to advise women to stop nursing when they became pregnant again. The concerns were that breastfeeding could deprive the developing baby of nutrients or stimulate uterine contractions (because breastfeeding causes increased oxytocin levels, which also can cause uterine contractions). But there is no conclusive evidence that this occurs and babies born to mothers who breastfed during pregnancy appear to be perfectly healthy.

The consensus is that it's up to the moms to decide whether to keep nursing during a new pregnancy. In a few high risk conditions, such as placenta previa, doctors may advise increased caution but for most, nursing during pregnancy is probably safe.

Sources:

La Leche League, "Breastfeeding During Pregnancy." 8 Sept 2006. Accessed 17 Jul 2008.

Moscone, S.R., M.J. Moore, "Breastfeeding during pregnancy." Journal of Human Lactation Jun 1993. Accessed 17 Jul 2008.

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