Is it safe to pump while pregnant?

Pregnant mother hugging her child

Is it safe to pump while pregnant?

"Pumping while pregnant is generally not advised unless you are pumping to feed a little one who is still nursing," said Crystal S. Berry-Roberts, MD, MBA, FACOG, Ob/Gyn at ARC South Ob/Gyn in this recent article in

Dr. Berry-Roberts stressed that there are risks involved if you choose to pump while pregnant. "Pumping while pregnant can stimulate the release of oxytocin which can cause the uterus to contract," she explained. "If done early on in the pregnancy, this could increase the risk of miscarriage."

However, these possible risks should also be weighed against your nursing child's nutritional needs. If you are nursing a particularly young baby and need to pump to provide them with optimal nutrition, the benefits of pumping for them may outweigh the potential for complications during a healthy pregnancy. Both pumping and breastfeeding while pregnant can cause contractions, so paying attention to your body is key.

Are there benefits to pumping while pregnant?

During late pregnancy, pumping while pregnant can potentially help prepare your body for labor. "Pumping while pregnant can be considered later in the pregnancy when term at 37+ weeks to see if contractions can be generated," Dr. Berry-Roberts explained. "This could bring about some cervical change and may have a positive impact on labor." This could be especially helpful if you want to have a non-medicated birth, as it can stimulate contractions without medical intervention.

Other benefits may include:

  • Storing breast milk for future use can help ease the pressure you may experience after birth to formula feed.
  • Even if you aren't currently nursing another child, pumping or expressing breast milk by hand while pregnant can be done to collect colostrum before you give birth. This is known as antenatal expression, and that it's usually safe for anyone who's more than 37 weeks along and not considered high-risk.

Are there risks to pumping while pregnant?

As Dr. Berry-Roberts explained, there is a risk of miscarriage if you pump during early pregnancy. However, if you are already breastfeeding and pumping when you get pregnant, you should discuss the risks and benefits of continuing to pump with your doctor.

The bottom line is that pumping while pregnant can come with risks — especially in early pregnancy — so you should talk to your healthcare provider before deciding to do so.

ARC Obstetrics/Gynecology (Ob/Gyn)

ARC Ob/Gyn doctors are primary care physicians who focus on women's health issues including, pregnancy, fertility, birth control, mammograms, menopause, std testing, ultrasounds, and more.

Make an appointment today

Dr. Berry-Roberts is currently accepting new patients. If you would like to make an appointment, call ARC South Ob/Gyn at 512-383-9752 or schedule an appointment online.

Tags: Pumping, breast feeding