It is possible to become pregnant while breastfeeding. Although the likelihood of conception may be lower while you are actively breastfeeding, it can still happen and should be accounted for. To increase your chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding, here are 11 tips to help you along the way.
Child spacing is a personal issue that can depend on various factors – and for some, it makes the most sense to try and conceive another child while still breastfeeding another.
However, trying to conceive while breastfeeding can prove to be difficult, as breastfeeding can sometimes act as birth control.
With that said, many conceive while breastfeeding (on purpose and on accident) so it is possible!)
Moms who are trying to conceive during this time have to pay close attention to their bodies, as well as make sure they’re providing proper nutrition for both themselves and their breastfeeding baby. Here are our top tips for getting pregnant while breastfeeding.
Think you might be pregnant? Be sure to check out these 7 Signs You May Be Pregnant While Breastfeeding.
Track your cycles
This is the best way to conceive regardless of breastfeeding status. However, it can be the only way to even know if you are actually ovulating if you are breastfeeding.
Tracking your cycle and ovulation can be tricky while breastfeeding, especially if your period hasn’t come back yet. Most have a return of their period while breastfeeding around nine months, though it can happen at any time. Some women don’t have regular cycles until they wean completely.
Because ovulation comes before your period actually returns, you will definitely be fertile before your first period – you may even ovulate a few times. Because of this, tracking your cycle using OPK tests, temperature tracking, and cervical fluid monitoring can be helpful so you can catch your fertile window, even before your period comes back.
Many women have irregular cycles even after their period comes back, so tracking can be your key to success. There are plenty of resources out there to help you track your period more successfully, but I love some of the digital resources available these days. These can be helpful if you aren’t the best at remembering to take a temperature or pee on a stick every day:
- Ava Bracelet
- Mira Fertility Tracker
- Tempdrop – I like this one because you just really don’t have to think about it. The code AFBREASTFEEDINGMAMA saves you 10%.
Decrease Nursing Sessions
If you are finding that you are not ovulating, it may mean that you are nursing frequently enough to stop your body from menstruating. If getting pregnant to you is important, you will have to weigh the pros and cons of decreasing nursing sessions.
Keep in mind that if your child is younger than a year, you will need to supplement these feeds with donor milk or formula.
Eliminate Night Feedings
I have found that frequent night feeds can impact your cycle quite a bit. If your are nursing a lot at night, you may need to cut back or eliminate those.
With that said, I don’t recommend purposefully eliminating night feeds before a year, but again, if pregnancy is important, then you may need to weigh those pros and cons.
I talk quite a bit about night weaning in my course “Weaning Made Easy“. This online course is an incredible resource for anyone at ANY stage of the weaning process. Don’t forget to enroll here!
Avoid the use of hormonal contraception –
This probably goes without saying, if you want to increase your chances of conceiving, avoid using any type of hormonal contraception method. As a parent, you have a lot on your mind – sometimes it’s a help to eliminate the most significant causes of pregnancy prevention!
Eat healthy foods
Eating healthy foods will help provide essential nutrients to both mom and baby while keeping hormone levels balanced in the mother’s body. Focusing on foods high in iron, folate, vitamin B6, zinc, and selenium especially is important during this time.
I highly recommend Real Food for Pregnancy by Lilly Nichols. It is a fantastic resource for preparing your body for conception and pregnancy.
Get enough rest
Fatigue can be a major issue when breastfeeding and trying to conceive simultaneously so getting enough sleep is essential in order to keep your body functioning properly and give yourself the best odds at conception success!
Something that has personally helped me sleep a lot better at night is a weighted sleep mask. They are relatively inexpensive and really help with sleep quality.
I also have really liked Sleep + Relaxation support from needed. It tastes great and is very calming.
Exercise not only helps boost fertility but also helps create regularity in the menstrual cycle plus provides numerous health benefits for mama and baby alike! Make sure you stay safe with any exercising routines and try low-impact activities like swimming or yoga that won’t interfere with breastfeeding schedules too much.
Here are some different exercise programs you might enjoy.
Vitex is a supplement that is also known as chaste berry. It is often used for hormonal balancing, and in some, it can induce ovulation/menstruation. There isn’t a ton of information on vitex, but many consider it safe while breastfeeding. Because it can induce your period, though, that could result in a decrease in supply.
Take prenatal vitamins
Taking prenatal vitamins will ensure that you are receiving all the necessary essentials for a healthy pregnancy including folic acid which helps reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and neural tube defects . Talk with your doctor about what kind of vitamins would work best for your needs before beginning any new supplement regimen though!
Here are two high-quality prenatal vitamins that I recommend:
- needed prenatal vitamin – essentials (150 mg) / capsules (400 mg). Use the code TBM for 20% off your first 3-month order, or you can get $10 off a sample of the prenatal vitamins with the code TBMSAMPLE.
- FullWell prenatal vitamin – use the code TBM10 for 10% off
Stress can slow down fertility hormones, so relaxation techniques like breathing exercises or yoga are highly recommended while working toward conception success!
Wean from Breastfeeding
If all else fails and you can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding, it might be time to wean. There are some women who will not be able to conceive until they do.
Knowing how long it takes between ovulation/conception attempts gives convenience and peace of mind that all efforts are being made successfully without negatively affecting the milk supply too much either way hopefully !
More Articles You May Enjoy:
- 15 Reasons for a Sudden Drop in Milk Supply
- RSV and Breastfeeding: Everything You Need to Know
- Breastfeeding While Swaddled: What You Should Know
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.