Trying to conceive while breastfeeding

Trying to conceive while breastfeeding

Many of you ask us how to try to get pregnant and trying to conceive while breastfeeding again when you are still breastfeeding. So today, we are going to talk about this topic.

When you are breastfeeding, you experience what is called amenorrhea, which means that for a certain period of time, you don’t menstruate or ovulate. When you get pregnant again, the milk supply drops sharply, and that’s why your body tries to avoid pregnancy before the first year of your baby’s life. The time of amenorrhea during lactation is highly variable. Some women see their first period before 3 months of the baby’s life, even if they are exclusively breastfeeding. However, for most women, the first cycle does not return until they start to introduce the baby to solid food. And there are also some women for whom amenorrhea lasts for several months, even years, while they are breastfeeding.

So, is it possible to get pregnant without having a period?

Yes, it is possible. It seems that if the baby is exclusively breastfed and less than 6 months old, and you haven’t had any bleeding yet, the chances of getting pregnant are very small. However, once other foods are introduced into the baby’s diet, the possibilities increase because you can ovulate before the first bleeding and, therefore, get pregnant without having a period before that.

And once my period is back, am I fully fertile again?

Sometimes, it takes several cycles for fertility to be fully established again, especially if your baby is less than 6 months old. The first few cycles may be a little irregular. Once they have become regular again, fertility is considered to be restored.

What can I do to get my period again?

This is a recurring question when you are trying to conceive again while breastfeeding and your period has not yet returned. The first option is to not do anything, have sexual intercourse, and see if you get pregnant again. Sometimes, this happens without you even having a first period, as we have explained above.

If it does not happen, another option is to try weaning. But it does not have to be a complete weaning. If you don’t feel like giving up breastfeeding completely, one possibility is to do nighttime weaning. This is an interesting option if you are looking to get pregnant, as between 12 midnight and 5-6 am in the morning, there is a spike in prolactin levels, which reduces the chance of your period returning. Therefore, eliminating those nighttime feeds and thus reducing your prolactin levels makes it easier for your period to return. Usually, in this case, menstruation reappears within 6 to 8 weeks.

What if it doesn’t work?

If you have not had a period during this time, you may need to wean completely. Each person is different, and breastfeeding affects some women differently than others. Some women need to stop breastfeeding completely to reactivate their cycle, although this is not very common.

I need fertility treatment, and I am still breastfeeding. Do I have to stop breastfeeding?

If you need to undergo assisted fertility treatment, breastfeeding may be questioned by some professionals (more on this topic here). In reality, it will depend on whether or not you need your natural cycles.

If you need to undergo artificial insemination, you will need to start your cycle again. If this can be achieved by spacing the breastfeeds, you will already obtain the ovulations you need.

If the treatment is IVF, ovulation is often not necessary, and the uterus is usually prepared with hormones that are given intramuscularly, vaginally, or orally. Therefore, it is not necessary for your cycles to be well established.

No research studies are proving that when a woman is breastfeeding a baby older than 3-4 months or is not exclusively breastfeeding, the success rate of fertility treatments is different than without breastfeeding.

The vast majority of fertility treatments are fully compatible with breastfeeding. The effect they may have is a drop in milk supply, which will happen anyway if a pregnancy is achieved.

We always recommend you check any medication on www.e-lactancia.org to verify if they are safe to take when you are breastfeeding. Here are some examples of medications used in fertility treatments and their compatibility with breastfeeding according to e-lactancia:

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