Breastfeeding Starts Before Birth: 15 Facts

For many moms, breastfeeding is extremely important. They know how nourishing their milk can be for a newborn baby, and they want to do anything and everything they can to ensure their newborn will be healthy. Of course, breastfeeding is not the easiest thing in the world and many moms struggle to get babies fed. Some moms have trouble getting babies to latch on, while other moms simply don't produce enough milk for their baby to rely on that only.

Many moms often feel shame or embarrassment because of their inability to provide vital nourishment to their child. Of course, there is always formula and bottles that moms can give their babies, but there is a negative stereotype around this.

Formula moms are often labeled as lazy, or too uptight to deal with breastfeeding, but it is not always that easy. At this point, it's pretty much universal knowledge that breast milk is the best option, but when a mom simply can't produce it or is having a difficult time in general, the stress and guilt can be overwhelming.

RELATED: Foods That Can Harm The Baby While Breastfeeding

This is why many moms have chosen to start breastfeeding before they even give birth. Once a woman becomes pregnant, her breasts will begin the process of producing milk for the future baby to drink. However, there are many reasons women start pumping early, and here are 15 things moms need to keep in mind.

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15 Some Women Choose To Pump Before Birth

I know it sounds crazy, but some women take breastfeeding extremely seriously. There is nothing wrong with being a strong fan of breastmilk as it is the most nutritious thing for your newborn. However, there are a lot of things that could get in the way of your perfect feeding plan. Often times, moms end up giving their baby formula because the breastfeeding didn’t work out as planned.

Sometimes, babies don’t latch on, sometimes there is simply not enough milk being produced to meet your newborn’s nutritional needs, but other times there are legit reasons that are known to hinder your production of breastmilk. For those moms who are aware of the future challenges they might face, choosing to pump before your baby even arrives could ensure a safe amount of milk for your little one.

14 It Is Possible To Use Your Hands

use your hands

While many moms-to-be invest in expensive breast pumps and machines that are designed to suck the milk right out of them, many don’t realize that they have the best tools attached to their body. Women can actually squeeze the breast milk right out of themselves using their own two hands. A lot of women actually prefer this method because it gives them a more hands-on approach to the entire process (no pun intended).

Using your own hands could also be more work for some women who prefer being able to semi-relax while the machine does the work for them, but if you are thinking about extracting your breast milk while you are still pregnant, often times the idea of using your own hands seems less intrusive than pumping already.

13 Have You Ever Had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that occurs in women who are of reproductive age. It messes with a woman’s hormone levels and can make her time of the month way more painful than normal. The ovaries begin to develop tiny little collections of fluid called follicles. These follicles often prevent the ovaries from regularly releasing an egg and can make getting pregnant extremely challenging.

Women who have Polycystic Ovarian Disease may have a difficult time breastfeeding because it could interfere with the hormone levels that are required for producing milk. Women who know that they’ve had this disease are more likely to consider pumping before birth in order to properly ensure that their baby will at least get some essential amount of breastmilk once they are born. While some mothers with Polycystic Ovarian Disease may have no problems producing milk, others don’t want to take the chance.

12 Diabetes During Pregnancy Is Something To Think About

When a woman has gestational diabetes during pregnancy, the risk goes way up that her child will become obese during childhood. Since one study did find that breastfeeding your baby for six months will pretty much remove that increased risk completely, many pregnant women who are struggling with this issue are looking to breastmilk as their saving grace.

Of course, breastmilk is not the easiest thing to produce and women often give up trying to breastfeed after a month or two simply because it is painful, inconvenient or simply too difficult. However, women with gestational diabetes have an increased motivation to ensure their baby receives that milk, so they may consider pumping before their child is born just to ensure that a good amount of milk is stored in advance.

11 A Previous Surgery

Women receive breast surgeries for many reasons. Maybe they had a strong desire for a boob job, or maybe a doctor spotted some cancerous signs and thought it would be best to do a precautionary surgery. Whatever the motivation was, most women are aware that any sort of breast or nipple surgery can affect the milk production of a woman.

While breastfeeding after surgery is not impossible, unless all of the mammary tissue has been removed, some tissue may have been damaged or lost during the procedure. Because of this, many pregnant women who have undergone a breast surgery are more likely to consider pumping their breast milk before they give birth in order to see how much they can produce and create a plan for when the baby arrives.

10 Multiple Sclerosis Is Something To Consider

ms and breastmilk

For most women who have multiple sclerosis, their symptoms will actually disappear while they are pregnant. Unfortunately, they will likely return about four to six months after their baby is born. However, there are some studies regarding a correlation between multiple sclerosis symptoms and breastfeeding. Apparently, breastfeeding won’t make your symptoms worse, and it might actually delay them from coming back.

While breastfeeding can be hard, and tiring, and draining, it is vital for the health of your newborn baby. Many recommend breastfeeding for at least a year. However, when a mom has multiple sclerosis symptoms returning a few months after giving birth, it can be nearly impossible to find the energy to breastfeed. This is why some women who have MS would prefer to try pumping while their symptoms are suppressed during pregnancy. That way they have a decent milk supply for their baby.

9 Low Milk Supply With Previous Pregnancy

not producing enough milk

If you are a mom who experienced an extremely low supply of breastmilk during your first pregnancy or two, there is a good chance that you will not produce a lot of milk after you give birth to your next baby as well. For the women who desperately want to give their baby the essential vitamins and nutrients that come in breastmilk, they become increasingly eager to find other options.

RELATED: Breastfeeding Warning Signs You Shouldn't Ignore

For women with low milk supplies, the idea of pumping early, before they give birth to their baby is a genius plan. Not only are they preparing their body for what is to come, but they are stacking up on that amazing milk for their baby. While many women don’t know why they naturally have a low milk supply, the idea of constantly breastfeeding just to have a fussy baby who is still hungry sounds terrible. By having enough breastmilk on hand, mom and baby will get much-needed sleep.

8 Tandem Nursing Is Common In Other Countries


Tandem nursing is often done when women have twins or two very young children. It simply means breastfeeding both children at once. This practice is usually done when moms have a very young child along with a newborn. If they are both still needing the nutritional value of breastmilk, then there is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes moms even continue nursing their young kids while they are pregnant with their third baby.

RELATED: Surprising Things Babies Do While Breastfeeding

Studies have shown that nursing while pregnant is pretty safe for the most part. Women in other countries usually rely on this practice in order to ensure their babies receive enough nutrients. Since breast milk is so good for them, it may seem like the best option. However, with tandem nursing and nursing while pregnant, women need to make sure they are keeping themselves healthy enough as well.

7 Safety Is A Personal Decision

pumping while pregnant

Most of the research shows that there is absolutely nothing wrong with breastfeeding while you are pregnant. Your body will still keep producing milk and as long as you are healthy and don’t have a high-risk pregnancy, then there should be no issues. However, pumping or breastfeeding while pregnant has been shown to cause tiny little uterine contractions.

Some moms worry that this could cause them to go into early labor and choose not to breastfeed or pump early because they would rather err on the side of caution. While early pumping generally does not cause preterm labor, it increases the risk of it happening because of the hormone that is released that stimulates contractions. However, it is an extremely small amount and contractions are almost harmless to the fetus and rarely cause a miscarriage.

6 Does Your Baby Have A Cleft Lip During Pregnancy?

cleft lip ultrasound

Many moms have so much trouble getting their little newborns to latch on and breastfeed. It can be an exhausting job and also a very stressful one. Moms want their baby to get the nutrients they need, but when breastfeeding is so challenging for some it can feel discouraging. For the moms who notice that their unborn baby has a cleft lip, it can really change things.

A baby with a cleft lip is probably going to struggle with breastfeeding because part of their lip is missing. Depending on the severity, it might be difficult for them to even consume milk from a bottle. When a mom who is pregnant is aware of the situation, she can better prepare for what’s to come. Often times, women who find out their baby will have a cleft lip decide to start pumping while they are pregnant to ensure a good amount of breastmilk is on hand. Feeding will likely be an uphill battle and this way they can be more prepared.

5 Are There Fetal Complications?

Anytime there are fetal complications, the health of your baby is at risk. Knowing how nutritious and vital breastmilk is to newborns likely causes these moms to think more about providing enough milk to their baby once they arrive. While some studies claim that pumping while your pregnant should only be done on healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, others do consider it and weigh the pros and cons.

Just because the fetus may be experiencing some complications doesn’t mean that the pregnancy is in jeopardy. Perhaps the baby was diagnosed with Down's syndrome or a heart condition. There is not much the mother can do about these facts, but it might encourage her to start pumping early so that she can greet her baby with the most nutritional milk without having to worry about producing enough after she gives birth.

4 Pumping While Pregnant Could Induce Labor

Your Hobbies Can Wait
via Pumpables

It is not common, but overstimulating the nipples while pregnant has been linked to inducing labor, early deliveries, and even miscarriages. However, having sex while you are pregnant sends the same signals and hormones that nipple stimulation does to the body and no doctor discourages sex. Often times, doctors claim sex while pregnant is healthy and encouraged. However, it is warned that sex during the last stretch of pregnancy could help to jumpstart labor.

Since nipple stimulation could release oxytocin, which tends to cause contractions, there is a chance that pumping could induce labor, but this is mostly a concern for women who are late into their pregnancy and most likely ready to deliver in the next few weeks anyway. However, pumping while pregnant in no way guarantees that labor will be induced, so it’s as much of a risk as anything else.

3 It’s All About The Colostrum

all about the colostrum

Colostrum is a form of milk that women produce from their mammary gland when they are pregnant. This is usually generated just before a woman gives birth, and it contains antibodies that protect the newborn from getting diseases. Colostrum is usually yellow and much thicker than regular breastmilk and is produced at the beginning of the breastfeeding process. A few weeks after the baby is born, the colostrum milk eventually changes into mature milk.

Since mothers start to produce this early milk, known as colostrum, while they are pregnant, many women have taken it upon themselves to start pumping it early because will provide more highly nutritious milk for their baby. Since most moms only have a week or two of this product after birth before their milk starts to mature, pumping it while pregnant will guarantee a larger supply, which might be necessary for babies who need more nourishment.

2 Some Women Find It Over The Top


Of course, some women find early pumping to be completely over the top. They are under the impression that pregnancy is its own separate journey and you don’t start pumping or breastfeeding until your baby arrives. Some women are probably scared and worried about the risks that could be associated with it, but others probably don’t even want to deal with the inconvenience of it.

Pumping is hard work and sometimes your breasts can even start leaking milk while you are in public. It is a lot to deal with, besides just ensuring your child is well fed. Therefore, a lot of moms-to-be would rather not add on another level of stress while they are simply pregnant and would prefer to just do things the old fashion way and wait until they give birth.

RELATED: Breastfeedings Stats In America Vs. The Rest Of The World

1 It Can Be A Lifesaver For New Moms

new moms

On the other hand, there are some new moms who feel totally defeated by their breastfeeding challenge. They are so tired and just want their baby to fall asleep and feel full. However, no matter how hard they try, their breast milk just isn’t producing fast enough to keep your newborn satisfied. This can be hard for moms who really don’t want to turn to formula for their baby. Breast milk is a delicacy and it should be fought for.

Unfortunately, there comes a breaking point where moms realize that they can’t keep exhausting themselves and underfeeding their babies. After going through this struggle that ultimately resulted in baby formula, many moms have decided that they won’t let this happen again with their next pregnancy. This is why pumping while pregnant is so essential to the women who have had low milk supplies. It can truly be a lifesaver for them and their newborn baby.

Not sure when to stop breastfeeding? Read the signs to know when it's time to stop or when moms should keep going!

Sources: Laleche.org, Thehealthyhoneys.com, Babycenter.com, Breastfeedingusa.org

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