Can a Nursing Mother Get Pregnant?
This is a special time in your life: Your little one has arrived and you are nursing. Is it possible to get pregnant while you are still breastfeeding — even if you haven’t had a period since giving birth? Isn’t breastfeeding considered a contraceptive? This article provides answers to these questions.
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Yes, It Is Possible to Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding!
Are you familiar with the conception that breastfeeding is not only good for the baby, but also works as a contraceptive? That is not entirely true — a woman can definitely become pregnant while breastfeeding. This is why:
1. The Effect of Breastfeeding on Hormone Levels
The production of breast milk delays the first postpartum ovulation. This is caused by a change in hormone levels. While the hormone prolactin is responsible for milk
production, it also reduces the likelihood of ovulation.
The more frequently and regularly you nurse your baby, the more prolactin is released. Breastfeeding
six to ten times a day makes a new pregnancy highly unlikely within the first six months after delivery.
2. Why Is It Possible to Get Pregnant Despite Breastfeeding?
The six-month-rule is not foolproof. While fertility levels are lowered by nursing exclusively, they are not eradicated. Delaying even one nursing session could reduce the release of prolactin, making ovulation and fertilization possible.
Conceiving right after giving birth is a definite possibility. Some women breastfeed exclusively and still become pregnant. One’s first ovulation could theoretically take place shortly after the natural
discharge following childbirth has ceased.
Breastfeeding does not provide reliable contraception!
3. Pregnant While Breastfeeding and Without Menstruation?
It is not uncommon for women to become pregnant despite breastfeeding and without their period having started again.
Reason for this is that the first ovulation precedes the first menstruation. If this first egg is fertilized, a new pregnancy has begun.
- Read more about the process of fertilization in our article "How do you get pregnant?"
Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
How do you notice that another baby is on the way while you are nursing? Symptoms can be different with each consecutive pregnancy. Breastfeeding affects your hormone levels, making it more
difficult to detect a pregnancy.
Get a clear answer by taking a home pregnancy test — The result is not compromised by breastfeeding.
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Continuing to Breastfeed While Pregnant?
If you are pregnant with a nursing infant, you may have mixed feelings:
You want to enjoy breastfeeding your baby.
You also want to be prepared for the second child.
You are aware that you need to take care of your own body.
1. Breastfeeding and Pregnancy Are Compatible
Breastfeeding during pregnancy is okay. Your body knows what to do:
Despite breastfeeding, the embryo is supplied with all essential nutrients. Nursing in late pregnancy could trigger premature labor, but is not an initial concern.
The composition of the milk remains perfect for your nursing infant, even though its taste may change. This may cause your baby to wean on its own accord.
2. Take Special Care of Yourself!
You do not need to be concerned about your children’s well-being, but breastfeeding while nursing will be doubly taxing on you. Take extra good care of yourself during this time! We recommend:
A balanced diet
Plenty of rest
Taking folic acid
Discuss with your physician whether you need to take other dietary supplements, such as iron or zinc.
Hormonal changes can cause your nipples to become more sensitive or even sore. Don’t let this get out of hand - Take good care of your body!
Allow your doctor or midwife to closely monitor you during the course of your pregnancy, especially in regard to breastfeeding.
3. Nursing an Infant and a Newborn Simultaneously: Tandem Nursing
Even if you have continued to breastfeed your child throughout the new pregnancy, your breast milk will immediately adapt to your newborn after delivery. This milk is especially nutritious. Your older child will benefit from this and may even experience a growth spurt.
If you want to continue breastfeeding both children, give preference to the newborn. It should
always be nursed, before giving its big brother or sister a turn.
Your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant will be able to advise you on how to go about this. They may suggest alternating sides or provide other guidelines.
Unintended Pregnancy While Breastfeeding: Now What?
Are you unexpectedly pregnant, even though your baby is still very young? This would make you feel completely overwhelmed. It is probably hard to know what to do next.
You may feel like you have more questions than answers right now.
You are not alone! We have created a non-judgmental setting for you to find your unique path. Try out our free resources:
- ⚖️ Wondering whether to have an abortion or not? Take the Abortion Test!
- ⛑ What's next? Take the First Aid Test!
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