Is it Safe to Breastfeed During Pregnancy?


Breastfeeding, the baby's natural supply of breast milk from the breast, combines two elementary advantages: the best possible nutrition for the baby in the first few months of life with the establishment of a particularly close relationship between mother and child. Breastfeeding should not only "satisfy hunger", but also the need for warmth and affection.

A mother is not tied to breastfeeding in terms of space or time. Breast milk is free, always at the right temperature and adapted to the child's nutritional needs. The necessary hygienic precautions, which are required in the production and storage of bottled milk, are omitted, which is particularly important in warm countries. Sleep is less disturbed by breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding protects the baby from pathogens and subsequent allergies. It is given the chance of optimal weight development, which lays the foundation for all of life.
Neither the figure of a woman nor the size of her breast has an influence on the ability to breastfeed, only the texture of the breast tissue. Only severely malnourished women can suffer from lower milk production.

Current recommendation on breastfeeding duration

Breast milk is the best food for almost all infants. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is the physiological diet for the majority of infants. The point at which an infant also needs complementary food depends on the individual's growth and ability to eat. As a rule, complementary food should not be given later than the beginning of the seventh month of life and under no circumstances before the beginning of the fifth month. The introduction of complementary food does not mean weaning, but a slow reduction in the amount of breast milk and breastfeeding at an individual pace. Mother and child jointly decide when to wean. If six months of exclusive breastfeeding is not feasible for the mother, this should by no means be a reason not to start breastfeeding in the first place. Shorter exclusive breastfeeding or partial breastfeeding is also beneficial for the child and is good news for both mother and child. These recommendations provide a framework. They should not be applied schematically.

The recommendations for allergy prevention have led to discussion and confusion in the past because they have changed in some cases over the years due to the results of scientific studies. According to the S3 guideline of the scientific societies for allergy prevention drawn up in 2014, the above recommendation on breastfeeding duration makes sense.

With regard to the prevention of allergies, the following applies:

The mother does not have to refuse her baby, who requests complementary food, because she believes that this is how she can protect him from allergies. There is no evidence for this. For babies born to mothers who suffer from allergies themselves, the introduction of complementary foods at the beginning of the 5th month of life may reduce the risk of allergies.

Partial breastfeeding during the introduction of complementary foods has an important anti-allergy effect.
Neither the avoidance of certain foods in the 1st year of life, nor the targeted administration of certain foods before the beginning of the 5th month of life protects against allergies.

Fish should not be avoided as complementary food in the first year of life, as recommended earlier, but, on the contrary, should also be introduced as complementary food because it has an allergy-preventive effect.

Additional feeding during breastfeeding

According to current knowledge, feeding newborns in the first days of life without a medical reason has negative effects on their metabolism. Baby's metabolism as well as energy and water balance are regulated by a sophisticated hormone balance in such a way that it gets along completely with breast milk (foremilk) and the energy reserves that were stored in the liver and adipose tissue during the last weeks of pregnancy. Even if some parents are concerned about the natural weight loss in the first time after the birth, additional feeding, for example tea, sugar solutions or baby food, disturbs this natural balance.

The following are guidelines for healthy weight development:

  • Up to 7% weight loss in the first 3 days is normal.
  • Birth weight is regained within 10 days.
  • In the 1st and 2nd month of life, the infant gains weight 170 to 330 g per week, in the 3rd and 4th month of life 110g to 330g per week, whereby the weight development varies greatly from baby to baby.
  • After 3 to 5 months, the weight doubles, towards the end of the 1st year it triples.

If the weight loss is greater in the first few days of life, breastfeeding behavior must be checked and corrected. A weight loss of 10% or more in the first few days of life, jaundice, signs of dehydration (such as sagging skin, little urine or stool) or symptoms of illness already require therapy, e.g. feeding expressed breast milk or an infant formula.

Sick infants, immature premature babies or people who are severely underweight are subject to different rules and additional feeding may be necessary from a medical point of view. In any case, the mother should leave the decision on any additional feeding to her doctor.

Don't want to breastfeed ...