For the most part, breastfeeding is going well between you and your baby. She (finally) has a good latch, and things are, well, flowing. So it might come as a surprise when seemingly out of nowhere, you hit a breastfeeding roadblock. Could a potential baby bump be to blame? That’s why you should know the signs that you’re pregnant when you’re still breastfeeding.
So let’s get this out of the way straight from the start. Yes, momma, you can get pregnant again while breastfeeding, What To Expect reported. Breastfeeding isn’t always a safe form of birth control, and as such, you should be aware of the signs that your body is sending both you and your baby that another sibling is already on the way.
But if you thought that you’ll have to stop nursing once you find if you’re pregnant, think again. “It’s totally possible to continue breastfeeding while pregnant,” Dr. Samantha Radford, Ph.D., a chemist with a focus on public health, tells Romper. “You probably couldn't sustain enough supply to keep an exclusively breastfeeding infant fed, but you can certainly continue to nurse a toddler or preschooler!”
The problem is that some pregnancy symptoms are easy to miss when you’re nursing, or you might attribute them to a pending period. “Of course, breastfeeding moms can have all the usual signs of early pregnancy... queasiness, moodiness, and so forth,” says Dr. Radford. “But there can be other signs specific to breastfeeding.”
One of the biggest ways to know that you’re expecting baby number two (or four) is that you’re making less breast milk. “You may have a drop in milk supply, even during early pregnancy,” says Dr. Radford. More often than not, the decrease in milk production is due to hormonal changes, La Leche League reported. If you experience this, you might need to speak to your child’s pediatrician or a lactation consultant to ensure that your child is getting the nourishment he needs.
If your nipples suddenly hurt to the touch, don’t blame your breastfeeding babe. It might actually be a pregnancy that’s the cause. “If you have raw, sore nipples, you might be pregnant,” says Dr. Radford. “The problem is that this can also occur with PMS, so it's easy to confuse pregnancy with an approaching period.”
And while your baby might not notice it right away, the taste of your breast milk will change during pregnancy. “Another possible sign of pregnancy is if your baby is less interested in breastfeeding due to the fact that the milk often changes and some babies don't like the taste,” Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC , a registered nurse and lactation consultant, tells Romper. If your baby is suddenly squirming when it’s time to nurse, you might want to confirm if you’re pregnant or not.
Yet another pregnancy symptom you might experience is a sudden (and strange) aversion to nursing. That’s right, even if breastfeeding is going well, you might become agitated by it or want to stop nursing altogether. “One of the most bothersome signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding is nursing aversion and agitation — a severe irritation or even rage while your child is nursing,” says Dr. Radford. “Staying well rested and hydrated can at least partially alleviate nursing aversion, but that can be hard with a baby or toddler.” You might want to speak to your doctor about this issue, especially if you want to continue nursing.
The good news is that you don’t have to stop breastfeeding if you become pregnant again. But if you start to develop some of these symptoms, you might want to purchase a pregnancy test to see if you spot two sweet little lines.
Dr. Samantha Radford, Ph.D.
Andrea Tran, RN, IBCLC , a registered nurse and lactation consultant