Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
The short answer is yes, you absolutely can. But, as with many things pregnancy and motherhood related, it’s not quite as simple as the short answer.
Even though you can get pregnant while breastfeeding, breastfeeding hormones do impact your fertility, especially in the first few months.
Let’s start by looking at how.
In this article 📝
- Can breastfeeding prevent pregnancy?
- Does breastfeeding make it harder getting pregnant?
- Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding and no period?
- How can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Can breastfeeding prevent pregnancy?
Let’s say it again: There’s no guarantee that breastfeeding will prevent pregnancy.
Even if sex is the last thing on your mind, your body might be ready to start the whole pregnancy process again as early as three weeks after you give birth.
Your chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding in the early weeks are small, but there is still a chance of conception while breastfeeding that a lot of new mamas would rather not take.
Does breastfeeding make it harder getting pregnant?
This being said, breastfeeding hormones can make it harder to get pregnant. This is especially true if:
- Your baby is under six months old.
- You’re exclusively breastfeeding (not pumping) every four hours during the day and every six hours at night.
- You’re letting your baby comfort suckle and feed on demand, rather than using a pacifier.
- You’re still waiting for your period to restart.
If you tick all these boxes and are choosing to rely on breastfeeding as birth control, it’s known as the LAM, or Lactation Amenorrhea Method. Amenorrhea, by the way, just means ‘no period’.
The reason the LAM can work (for up to 98% of women) is that breastfeeding releases the hormone oxytocin when your baby latches on. Oxytocin suppresses luteinizing hormone (LH), which stimulates ovulation.
No LH = no ovulation. No ovulation = no chance of pregnancy. However, there’s a catch.
Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding and no period?
The problem with the LAM method is that you have no way of knowing when it’s going to stop working.
It’s really hard to predict when you’ll ovulate and then get your period for the first time after having a baby.
This means that there’s a chance that a breastfeeding mom can get pregnant even before her period returns.
If you’re not ready for another baby, it’s best to have another method of birth control in place.
But what if you are ready? Many parents want to have siblings in close succession, so that they are near each other in age.
What if you want to start trying for another baby, but are not ready to stop breastfeeding your first?
How can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Remember that, in the first six months of your baby’s life, there’s around a one in 50 chance that you’ll get pregnant — even if you’re exclusively breastfeeding.
Once your little one starts solids, this chance increases pretty quickly. But if you’re still impatiently waiting for your normal fertile cycle to return, you can try any or all of the following:
Feeding your baby less often, especially at night, can signal to your body that it’s time to start prepping for another one.
There’s some evidence that suggests that abrupt changes to your baby’s feeding routine will have a greater effect on your fertility. So dropping one feed completely and distracting your baby with food and a cup of water, milk, or formula might be even more effective than the reduction method.
We know that no one can switch off on command, but taking care of yourself and your needs as much as you can has also been shown to up your chances of conceiving. This applies while breastfeeding as much as any other time.
If you’re still impatient to grow your family and frustrated at having to wait, remember that your fertility will eventually return, even if it is slowly.
Some mamas, especially those whose periods come back before their baby is a year old, aren’t truly fertile for their first few cycles, either because they’re not actually ovulating or because their uterine lining isn’t thick enough to let the egg implant.
Usually, these issues take care of themselves within a few more months. So it might just be a case of waiting a little longer.
We can’t offer a magic formula, but we can promise you that you are sure to find other mamas in the Peanut community who’re on this part of the journey with you.
💡You might also like:
Can You Get Pregnant Right After Your Period?
Can You Get Pregnant Right Before Your Period?
How to Get Pregnant: Expert Advice From Fertility Specialists
7 Breastfeeding Positions to Try
17 Birth Control Methods
A Guide to Breastfeeding While Pregnant
How to Stop Breastfeeding (When You’re Ready)