Signs Of Ovulation While Breastfeeding
If you’re unsure if your fertility has returned while breastfeeding, there are a few signs to look out for.
Of course, the return of your menstrual cycle is a common sign that you’ve begun ovulating again, though some moms begin ovulating again even before their first postpartum period so it’s not always a perfect way to tell where your cycle is at.
Another sign that you may be ovulating again is that your cervical mucous temporarily becomes thicker while breastfeeding. Cramping, increased libido, and breast tenderness are other signs of ovulation while breastfeeding
Contact our Lactation Consultant or download our Medela Family app for more answers to your breastfeeding questions and concerns.
Breastfeeding Ovulation And Menstruation
Menstruation is the end result of an elegant and intricate chain reaction of chemical signals via hormones that trigger the physical processes that make up the menstrual cycle.
The cycle begins with the hypothalamus region of the brain sending the gonadotropin releasing hormone to the pituitary gland. In turn, the pituitary gland releases follicle stimulating hormones , which stimulates the production of an egg in the ovarian follicle and also generates the production of estrogen in the ovaries. Estrogen is a hormone responsible for stimulating new cell growth along the uterine lining, or endometrium. Another chemical, leutinizing hormone , triggers the release of the egg , which should ultimately attach to the endometrium. Once the egg is released, the follicle produces estrogen and another hormone, progesterone, both of which stimulate new cell growth along the endometrium to ensure that the egg attaches to the uterine wall.
If the egg is fertilized, the follicle continues to pump out progesterone and estrogen to ready the endometrium for the egg’s growth into an embryo — and eventually, into a fetus.
What may have once been true no longer necessarily holds, however. Due to the widespread availability of baby formula, women tend to breast-feed less frequently. Instead, physicians often recommend that nursing women who want to avoid pregnancy use a barrier method of birth control, like a condom or diaphragm .
If You Don’t Want To Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding
If you are relying on continuous breastfeeding as your birth control method, it is super important that you understand the following :
- You can only rely on continuous breastfeedingas contraceptionfor six months after you have delivered your baby.
- During this time, do not substitute other foods for a breast milk meal.
- You should be breastfeeding your baby at least every four hours during the day and every six hours at night.
- You have not had a monthly period since you delivered your baby.
So, for maximum effectiveness, you should not rely on LAM for more than 6 months or if you have had a period since giving birth. This means that even if you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you must choose another birth control method by the time the baby is six months old .
Also, the Lactational Amenorrhea Method is only effective if you feed your baby at least 6 times a day, with both breasts, You also cannot be substituting other foods for breast milk. Breastfeeding women who depend on LAM to prevent pregnancy should:
- Limit the number of supplemental feedings given to their babies to no more than 5% to 10% for the best contraceptive results.
- Feed their babies every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at nightspacing feedings out this way will maximize the effectiveness of continuous breastfeeding.
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What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding While Pregnant
While breastfeeding may be more challenging while pregnant, there are plenty of benefits that cause some moms to choose to continue to breastfeed. Some of these include:
- immunity boosts and nutritional gains for your currently nursing child that continue as long as they drink breast milk
- extra bonding and attachment opportunities with your child during your pregnancy, especially when youre feeling fatigued, as breastfeeding can be a relaxing way to spend time together
- promoting feelings of safety and security in older children during times of change
- helping reduce symptoms of engorgement after the baby arrives thanks to your experienced nurser
- a solid milk supply thanks to tandem feeds, plus breastfeeding them at the same time can keep older siblings out of trouble while you nurse!
How To Get Pregnant Whilst Breastfeeding
Mother Nature is a hypocritical sod. Check this out: The raison detre of your existence is reproduction. So why then, does good ol Mother Nature muzzle our fertility while were lactating? And is there anything we can do to get pregnant without pulling the plug on breastfeeding? In this post I will answer both questions in turn. What gives me the confidence to speak about this issue? Firstly, Ive been there , secondly, Ive conducted a shed-load of academic research into breastfeeding fertility.
A word of warning before we begin: As a result of reading this, you may find yourself up the duff, toot sweet. Want closely-spaced siblings? Dream of tandem-feeding? Read on!
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Signs Of Ovulation While Breastfeeding: Can You Get Pregnant
In general, theres no ovulation while breastfeeding. Actually, breastfeeding your baby exclusively for the first six months is generally considered to be natural birth control. Namely, to produce milk, your body also produces high levels of a hormone called prolactin. This hormone, in turn, suppresses the production of ovulation hormones. However, its not recommended to rely only on breastfeeding as birth control as you could still get pregnant. Its nice to give your baby a little sibling soon, but getting pregnant sooner than two years postpartum is not recommended in terms of the mothers health. Therefore, you should also use some other form of birth control during this period. The thing with breastfeeding is that its rarely ever exclusive for the entirety of six months. Whats more, your bodys production of prolactin might start decreasing sooner than expected.
To get rid of any doubts or worries you may have as you start planning to expand your family, it would be best to see a preconception and obstetrics specialist.
Regaining Fertility While Breastfeeding
Transitioning to full fertility while breastfeeding generally occurs in stages, which – depending on individual breastfeeding patterns and a woman’s hormonal state – might take from about sixweeks to over a year.
The process of fertility restoration after having a baby is very individual. Some women who are nursing might ovulate before their first post-partum menses, while others might start having periods but without ovulation. Although breastfeeding is known to temporarily suppress menstruation, there is no way to know for sure for when a woman’s ovulation will return.
Certain milestone moments, such as introducing the newborn to solid food or longer sleep intervals at nighttime, might be interpreted by the body as a reduced milk demand, triggering ovulation sooner.
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How Effective Is Lam
LAM can be a highly effective form of birth control if understood and used correctly, though even with perfect understanding and use, it is not a 100 percent method.
Studies show LAM is 98 to 99.5 percent effective when used properly. There are three conditions that must be met for this method to work:
- You must be exclusively breastfeeding your baby. This means no formula and you must put baby to breast at least every 4 hours during the day and at least every six hours at night.
- Your baby must be under 6 months of age.
- You must not have resumed your menstrual cycle yet.
If any of these conditions change or your baby is older than 6 months, you can assume that LAM is no longer a reasonable or effective method of birth control for you.
When Will My Fertility Return If I Am Breastfeeding
To be blunt, there is no way of knowing. For some women, the introduction of solid foods for baby will be enough to prompt their cycle returning. For others, returning to work and spending extended parts of the day away from baby will cause a change. And for still others, their cycle may return as soon as 6-8 weeks even with exclusively breastfeeding.
Yet, for some women who continue to breastfeed their babies into toddlerhood, they may not see the return of fertility until they wean completely at 2-3 years or beyond. The normal timeline for the return of a womans fertility varies greatly and is based on many different factors.
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How Do I Know If I’m Pregnant Without A Test
The most common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy might include: Missed period. If you’re in your childbearing years and a week or more has passed without the start of an expected menstrual cycle, you might be pregnant. However, this symptom can be misleading if you have an irregular menstrual cycle.
Whats The Verdict On The Lam Method
Breastfeeding specifically with the Lactational Amenorrhea Method can reduce the risk of pregnancy, but certain criteria must be followed according to the CDC. LAM may be difficult to follow in real-life practice making it a less than ideal method.
Many new moms need to be away from their little ones for more than 4 hours at a time during the day while working outside of the home. Other mamas need to supplement breastfeeding with formula to bridge the gap between milk supply and babys nutritional needs. Some babies are great little sleepers from the get go and may sleep more than six hours at a time after the first few weeks. These variables can make it challenging to follow LAM to a T making it less effective.
Some mamas may not have access to other contraception, in which case its important to get support from your provider or IBCLC while using LAM. No method of contraception is 100% effective so its important to make this decision with your own team of healthcare providers.
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Pregnancy Signs While Breastfeeding Are Usually The Same As Typical Early Pregnancy Symptoms
I know this is kind of boring to hear, but most of the usual symptoms we normally experience when pregnant occur when we are breastfeeding and pregnant too.
One notable difference is the absence or presence of a period as a pregnancy sign.
Since it is possible to get pregnant before your period returns while breastfeeding you cannot count on this as a sign.
Our cycles can be off or much different than we are used to when nursing as well. When my first baby was about one years old I decided I wanted to try and get pregnant again. It wasn’t as easy to predict ovulation as the first time around though.
My period had returned when she was around 9 months old but it had yet to regulate. One month my cycle would be really short and the next it would be long. I really thought I would not be able to get pregnant again until things normalized but I did.
What Are The Benefits Of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy
Being pregnant while nursing may feel more challenging when you are already jumping up with pregnancy hormones, but it is, in fact, beneficial for a mother and her baby. Heres how:
- Breastfeeding supplies the baby with essential nutrients and immunity-boosters for their growth as long as they breastfeed.
- Breastfeeding can be a great relaxing way to spend time with your baby when you are fatigued or nauseous as it will divert your mind off of it.
- Breastfeeding will reduce the chances of breast engorgement after you deliver the baby.
- Breastfeeding will not only relax you but also your little one during times of change in your life.
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Using Natural Cycles While Breastfeeding
Natural Cycles is an FDA Cleared app and thermometer that helps you understand your own personal fertile window. Natural Cycles has three modes that adapt to your unique fertility journey: NC° Birth Control, NC° Plan Pregnancy and NC° Follow Pregnancy.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to breastfeed, we recommend you start using Natural Cycles once you get your first period after giving birth. You can use Natural Cycles earlier, but keep in mind that until your first ovulation has been detected, NC° Birth Control will give you only red days.
We hope youve learned lots about breastfeeding, preventing pregnancy, and when youre likely to ovulate again after giving birth. Theres lots more to learn about your body and whether youre looking to plan or prevent pregnancy, Natural Cycles is a great tool that gives you personal insights into your own cycle. Are you ready to take control of your fertility?
When To See The Doctor
If you are older and more anxious to get pregnant again right away, you may want to talk to your doctor. You should also consult your doctor if you’ve had trouble getting pregnant with the child you’re now breastfeeding, or if you think you will need to use fertility treatments to get pregnant again.
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A Drop In Milk Supply
This usually will not occur till somewhat later -closer to the second trimester, but it can be an early pregnancy sign and it will usually occur at some point when pregnant and breastfeeding.
Since a drop in milk supply is specific to nursing mothers this is definitely a sign of pregnancy while breastfeeding.
If your milk supply drops unexpectedly and you think there is a chance of pregnancy please take a test.
I have heard anecdotal stories of this being a first sign of pregnancy when a mother’s period has not returned, and there are no other pregnancy symptoms.
The drop in milk supply is the first tip off of pregnancy for some breastfeeding women.
How To Wean Your Older Child
If you decide to wean your older child, its a good idea to do this while youre still pregnant so they dont have to cope with so many adjustments after the baby is born.
If you would like to encourage your older child to wean while you are pregnant, you could try weaning them slowly by delaying feeds or encouraging shorter feeds. If your child is old enough, explain to them that your breasts feel sore.
For more tips, see weaning.
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Fertility Signs While Breastfeeding
If you are hoping to become pregnant again, breastfeeding can become a confusing problem. While you want your baby to enjoy the benefits of breast milk for as long as possible, the hormones involved with breastfeeding reduce your chances of becoming pregnant.
According to WHO, mothers are recommended to breastfeed for up to two years and beyond . They also suggest waiting for two years after giving birth to have another child. Not spacing out your births can increase your odds of premature birth, as spacing them gives your body time to recover from the strain of pregnancy.
However, every family is different, and choosing when to add another child to your family is a very personal choice influenced by a host of factors. Regardless of the timeline, it is important you recognize the signs of fertility while breastfeeding.
What If You Want To Stop Breastfeeding While Pregnant
If you decide that pregnancy means that its time to wean your older child, ideally youll be able to do so gradually. This typically makes the experience more comfortable for you and offers you extra time to adjust your child to the idea that breastfeeding is coming to an end.
Most moms plan to drop one feeding session every 3 to 5 days . When determining which sessions to drop, youll likely want to drop the early morning and bedtime ones last, as these can be special bonding opportunities with your child.
If you need to wean quickly or find that your milk supply isnt drying up as fast as youd hoped, you may want to speak with your doctor about using over-the-counter medications, birth control, herbs, or another medication to help expedite the weaning process.
If you find yourself with pain and discomfort, you may want to try cold packs and over-the-counter pain medications to help with inflammation. You may also need to hand express small amounts of breast milk to take a little pressure off.
Weaning can bring about a lot of emotions, and pregnancy is already a time when your hormones may have you feeling a little more emotional than usual. If you find that you need some support, dont be afraid to reach out to a lactation support group or take up some physical activity to get those happy endorphins flowing.
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What If You Want To Get Pregnant And Also Want To Keep Breastfeeding
Want to get pregnant but dont want to stop breastfeeding? The good news is that even though youre breastfeeding, your chances of getting pregnant increase as you move further away from the day your baby made their appearance.
If you want to further increase your chances of ovulation, try making abrupt changes. Some people find that suddenly cutting out one nursing session instead of stretching out the time between feedings increases their chances of ovulating. Bear in mind that your baby might not appreciate the abrupt changes to their feeding schedule.
Theres no need to wean your baby: You can breastfeed and prepare for your next pregnancy at the same time. Many breastfeeding mothers find that once they go back to work or the coveted full-nights sleep becomes a reality, ovulation starts up and they begin to menstruate again.
Hasnt happened yet? Hang in there most people find that their periods return between 9 and 18 months after their babys birth, even if theyre breastfeeding.