Most women have the traditional olden day misconception that you can’t conceive while breastfeeding. And if they do they will having another baby sooner than they imagined. The truth of the fact is, that women can get pregnant again while breastfeeding. Although breastfeeding delays ovulation, it does not completely stop you from being fertile.
If a mother is exclusively breastfeeding her child day and night, it is likely she will not menstruate for more than a year. However, this does not define the woman to be infertile for conceiving again. The only reliable source of preventing pregnancy is contraception.
How does breastfeeding affect pregnancy?
During breastfeeding, the stimulation of nipples stimulate the hormone prolactin, which has a direct effect on the reproductive hormones. The higher the concentration of prolactin in the body, the more infertile you are. The hormone prolactin restricts menstrual flow and ovulation. Even if you are completely infertile during this period, it is not an effective contraceptive method for birth control.
You are likely to get pregnant again only when your menstrual flow resumes. However, in some cases, the longer you remain amenorrheic, the more the chances of ovulation without any menstrual flow. In such circumstances, there is a high probability of becoming pregnant once again.
Scientifically, the hormone oxytocin releases in breastfeeding makes the woman’s uterus unsuitable for growing fetus. During this time, the uterus remains contracted and does not allow the implantation of embryo. However, it is a proven fact that uterus is only sensitive to effects of oxytocin in 24th week of pregnancy.
Common Signs of Pregnancy while Breastfeeding
Symptoms of pregnancy during breastfeeding are similar to those observed in regular pregnancy. Some of the common signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding are:
1} Changes in the breast and breast tenderness
Changes in the breast is one of the most common and early signs of pregnancy. It most likely appears in the 6th week of pregnancy. Breast begins to feel tender and some hormonal changes can cause lumps. These lumps are generally filled with milk produced by milk ducts. When a breastfeeding mother gets pregnant, she will notice some changes in her milk. As the pregnancy hormone increases, the milk production will start to decrease.
2} Nausea and vomiting
Just like normal women, some breastfeeding mothers experience signs of nausea and vomiting. If you have not got your periods again and you are starting to feel uncomfortable, then you must get yourself checked. There is a high probability that you might have conceived again.
3} Fatigue and exhaustion
Breastfeeding drains out a mother’s energy, and getting pregnant during breastfeeding can suck out all the reserves. Pregnant breastfeeding mothers may notice that they take more number and longer duration of naps during the day. They will also notice an overall reduction of energy throughout the day. If you are experiencing fatigue that is more than normal, it is advised to get checked for pregnancy.
4} Implantation Bleeding
Just like normal pregnancy, breastfeeding mothers also experience implantation bleeding if they get pregnant. This is characterized by light bleeding or spotting between the 4th to 12th week of pregnancy. If your menstrual cycle is irregular and you have spotting, this may be a sign that you have conceived again.
5} Uterine enlargement
After birth, the uterus return to normal and becomes pre-pregnancy size. After 4 weeks, the uterus completely settles back into the pelvic area. If you still feel the uterus above the pubic bone, it is an indication that the uterus has increased in size again. This could be due to several normal factors like gas and bloating. However, if it doesn’t seem to subside, then you must get yourself checked for pregnancy.
6} Skin Changes
Skin changes are the most visible signs that can indicate another pregnancy while you are breastfeeding. The dark line “linea nigra” appears faster in breastfeeding pregnant women than just normal pregnant women. Appearance of new stretch marks on your abdomen and breasts can also be an indication that you have conceived again.
The above mentioned signs are just presumptive indicators to being pregnant while breastfeeding. However, only a blood test, urine test, and an ultrasound scan at the 7th week can definitely confirm a pregnancy.
If you want to get pregnant again while breastfeeding, there are several things that can increase your chances of fertility. When your breast milk reduces, the higher is the rate of fertility. Generally after 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, you milk supply reduces slowly increasing your chances of conception.
If you do not want to rush in for the second baby, you and your partner should play safe and use the right type of contraception. Mainly relying on the female hormones and breastfeeding is not an option. To avoid unexpected surprises, family planning is important. You can talk to your GYN for guidance on the best birth control methods for you and your partner.
Read More: 11 Tips To Stop Breastfeeding