Answered by Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
I have heard it is forbidden to continue breastfeeding while one is pregnant. Someone also referred this ḥadīth to me, can you kindly clarify? “Narrated Asma, daughter of Yazīd Ibn as-Sakan, I heard the Apostle of Allāh (peace be upon him) as saying, ‘Do not kill your children secretly, for the milk with which a child is suckled while his mother is pregnant, overtakes the horseman and throws him from his horse.’”
Jazāk Allāh for contacting Mathābah for your query.
You have referred to the practice which is known as “Ghayl” or “Ghīla” in the Islamic terminology.
Imam Abū Sulayman Al Khaṭṭābī states, “The meaning of Ghayl is when a man has intercourse with the wife during a period of time, when she is breastfeeding a child”. (Maʿālim Al Sunan)
There is an authentic ḥadīth recorded in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, wherein a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) and stated, “I withdraw from my wife (during intercourse)”, The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) asked, “Why do you do that?” the man then said, “I fear her child”. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him), said, “If this practice (of having intercourse while the wife is in a state of breastfeeding her child” was harmful, it would have harmed the Romans and Persians (since they engage in this practice)”. (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim)
Imam Abū Sulayman Al Khaṭṭābī explaining the ḥadīth you have quoted, says, “The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) is indicating that when the husband has intercourse with his breastfeeding wife, which results in pregnancy, it reduces her milk, thus depriving the suckling child, as it is being nourished from that milk, hence weakening the suckling child”. (Maʾālim Al Sunan of Imam Abū Sulayman Al Khaṭṭābī)
Imam Ibn Qayyim Al Jawziyyah writes, “The prohibition (of intercourse with the wife during a period of time, when she is breastfeeding a child) means either:
- A recommendation and advice (not necessarily absolute ḥarām prohibition)
- A disliked (makrūh) prohibition (not forbidden)
(See Tahdhīb of Imam Ibn Al Qayyim Al Jawziyyah on the Sharḥ of Sunan Abī Dāwūd)
Thus, to answer your question, the ḥadīth indicates that the matter is not forbidden, however, it is still not advisable to become pregnant while breastfeeding. If one does, then the wife may continue to breastfeed, but one needs to be careful, so that there may be no harm for the child or weakness on part of the mother.
Assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Laurie C. Zephyrin writes,
“Both breastfeeding and pregnancy require extra nutrition and rest. It is possible to breastfeed while you’re pregnant, but you have to make sure that you’re eating a balanced diet, taking vitamins, and getting plenty of rest. Nipple stimulation sometimes stimulates the release of a hormone that might cause contractions or uterine cramping. If this occurs regularly, see your doctor for an exam”. (www.babycenter.ca/)
And Allāh Knows Best