The relationship between fertility and breastfeeding is an interesting one. In this post, you will learn about what you should know about conceiving (or avoiding conceiving) while breastfeeding.
After giving birth it can be a confusing time trying to track your menstrual cycle and know when you are most fertile.
This is due to your body trying to recover from pregnancy and get back into a rhythm. Throw breastfeeding in there and you might be really confused about fertility and breastfeeding.
Whether you are trying to conceive while breastfeeding or prevent it, we are answering all your fertility and breastfeeding questions to help you understand the signs your body is giving you.
Can I get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Yes, you can get pregnant while breastfeeding. There are some levels of protection if you are exclusively breastfeeding known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method, but you cannot rely on this alone if you are trying to prevent pregnancy.
Breastfeeding while trying to conceive
If you are trying to conceive while breastfeeding there is no harm in trying. Some women often have success in becoming pregnant while breastfeeding without changing anything. Others find they have success by partially weaning their baby or feeding them less often.
The main “problem” is if your body is not ovulating due to you breastfeeding. Many women have a return to fertility once their baby starts to get more solids, however, there are some women who will not ovulate until they completely wean.
How to Improve my chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding
If you are trying to conceive while breastfeeding you can limit the number of feedings throughout the day.
Try to feed less often for longer periods of time and then pump after each session.
At the next feeding, use the milk you pumped rather than breastfeeding.
This decreases your prolactin and causes your body to become more fertile.
Keep in mind that if you are cutting down on breast milk before the age of a year, you may need to give supplemental milk with a bottle.
Some women find that cutting out night feeds is the final trigger to have their menstrual cycle return.
How can I tell if I’m ovulating while breastfeeding?
It is possible to become pregnant even before you have a period after you have your baby. You will want to watch for ovulation signs even while you are breastfeeding.
The most obvious sign you will see is your menstrual cycle returning. Once it returns you will want to track it on your calendar or an app on your phone.
I personally am a HUGE fan of the Glow apps that help you track your period and your fertility. You can download those here.
Here you can record your period days, track your basal temperature, symptoms, and other valuable information about your menstrual cycle.
By tracking this key information you will know about what days you are ovulating and most likely to become pregnant.
Cervical mucus is a critical component for sperm to survive and get to the egg.
Without cervical mucus, they cannot survive. Most women will notice a change in their cervical mucus a few days before ovulating.
Your mucus becomes clear and wet, looking very similar to egg whites. If you are trying to conceive this is a good time to be intimate.
If you are trying to avoid pregnancy then be sure to use some form of protection (check out this post for breastfeeding-friendly birth control options)
Here is a great article on how to check cervical mucus.
Other Signs of Ovulation
Other signs of ovulation are breast tenderness, cramping, and headaches. If you start to see these signs returning it is a good indication that your body is ovulating while breastfeeding.
Your fertility does not go away when you are breastfeeding. It is very common to get pregnant while breastfeeding, so if you are trying to conceive relax and have fun. If you are trying to prevent pregnancy while breastfeeding be sure that you opt for a birth control method safe to use while breastfeeding.
What other questions do you have about fertility and breastfeeding? Share in the comments!
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.