Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding

Khyati Choudhary, Lactation Consultant and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida

  • Is it a myth or fact? 

It is a fact that, yes you can get pregnant while breastfeeding. Every new mother should do exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months at least 8 to 10 times a day in 24 hours. However breastfeeding offers some protection from ovulation, as this does not permit ovulation to happen hence when there is no egg then no fertilization, therefore, chances of getting pregnant decrease. However, if a nursing mother is not breastfeeding exclusively and formula feed is also being given to the baby then chances of conception increase.  The “protective” effect of breastfeeding becomes progressively less effective the longer it’s been since you delivered your baby.

  • Is breastfeeding a type of birth control? 

Breastfeeding is the healthiest way to feed your baby in the first six months.  It can also be a form of birth control — but only done in a certain way. This is called LAM Method Lactational Amenorrhea. It is referred to as an effective Birth Control Method for 6 months as long as Exclusive Breastfeeding is done. Until you get your first periods and then miss the next one then only you get to know that you’re pregnant again.

  • What are the signs to understand if a breastfeeding mom is pregnant? 

There is increased production of the hormone prolactin in your body as a result of the nipples being stimulated during breastfeeding. Higher levels of prolactin mean a decrease in your fertility. This hormone prevents ovulation and keeps menstruation from happening. Prolactin levels are at their highest during nighttime and soon after you wake up. But, it is important to remember that there can be ovulation even if you do not experience any menstrual flow yet. For Breastfeeding and Pregnancy-related symptoms, it is advisable to consult Obesetriction / gynecologist. If the Pregnancy is a healthy one then we can continue but if there is a history of miscarriages or some complications then breastfeeding will not be recommended. Oxytocin is the key hormone that helps in milk letdown and also induces labor in the form of uterine contractions so we really have to see how long the mother can continue breastfeeding while being pregnant. Some common signs to watch out for pregnancy while breastfeeding are thirst, fatigue, painful breasts, reduced milk production, cramping, nausea, hunger, morning sickness, lumps in the breast.

  • If pregnant and breastfeeding at the same time, are there any special tips to keep in mind? 

It’s also important to note that doctors advise women to wait a full year and ideally 18 months to get pregnant again because it’s the safest and healthiest option for them and their future pregnancies. Getting pregnant earlier than that, especially within the first six months of your previous baby’s birth, can increase the risk of complications in the new pregnancy.

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