Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?

You may be enjoying your motherhood and may not think  of the next baby soon. And many people have given you advice that you shouldn’t worry because you are nursing. You will ‘not get pregnant while breastfeeding is completely a myth.

If you are having sex after marriage use birth control methods because it can only reduce the chance of conception. But you can use breastfeeding as birth control but should fulfill certain criteria. Using breast feeding as contraception is called lactational amenorrhea method (LAM).

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)

Breastfeeding results in the reduction in the release of gonadotropin releasing hormone, luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone (these hormones support ovulation). Inhibition of these hormones stimulates prolactin secretion and milk production. These hormones hinders the brain from producing the hormones that are necessary for an ovary to release an egg. In the initial six months of pregnancy the fertility is usually low. So family planning can be used  as a family planning method.

This will workout only in the case:

  • Baby should be under six months
  • Mother is exclusively feeding the baby both day and night and the baby’s only food is breast milk. Supplementing the baby with formula wouldn’t guarantee breastfeeding as contraception.
  • She hasn’t started menstruating after periods 

LAM isn’t contraceptive anymore:

Case1: Baby  is older than six months

Before you used to feed a baby only breast milk. But the nutritional demands of the baby changes with their growth. They start to have other solid foods and liquids so the demand for breast milk is low.

Case2: Long interval between baby’s sleep

In the first six months the babies used to wake up in their sleep and suckle the breasts. After growing up they sleep for long hours and there is around 4 hours of breastfeed in the day and six hours at the night.

Case3: Reentry of menstruation

You weren’t bleeding for long after your delivery .But soon your fertility period is derived. There will be spotting or patches on your underwear. This is an indication that you are going to be fertile again. 

LAM is no longer a contraceptive if any of this happens.

You can’t breastfeed

You can’t breastfeed if you have any of the following medical conditions. So breastfeeding can’t  be used as LAM (lactational amenorrhea method). Let’s look at some of this medical conditions:

  • Infants that need special medical care

If the child has any metabolic disorders or needs support of NICU or in the case of food allergies or sensitivities breastfeeding is not recommended.

  • Cases of breast surgery

Mothers who have undergone  breast augmentation, breast reduction or mastectomy  have less chance of lactation. There are chances of lactation but the chance is very low.

  • HIV

This disease is spread through body fluids. So there is a high chance that it can spread from mother to infant. Even though there are many treatments available, consult a doctor before you breastfeed.

  • Cancer treatment

It is advisable not to breastfeed while you undergo medical treatments like chemotherapy. Many chemotherapy drugs, especially cyclophosphamide and methotrexate get secreted into the breast milk and can risk the health of your baby.

  • Active tuberculosis

Mothers should nurse the baby if they are having active tuberculosis. But they can definitely continue nursing after the treatment.

  • Some medications:

Breastfeeding should be stopped in the cases  if the mother is taking medication such as reserpine, ergotamine, antimetabolites, cyclosporine, bromocriptine, radioactive drugs, lithium, or anticoagulants.

How can I use birth control during Breastfeeding?

  • After six months of delivery or you aren’t actively breastfeeding you may need to use birth control methods. Is it safe to use all birth control methods?
  • You can use hormonal birth control like shot, implant, some types of birth control pills(avoid pills containing estrogen at the initial days of breastfeeding),copper IUD. Along with that non hormonal options like condoms, internal condoms, diaphragm, and cervical cap can be used.

Symptoms of getting pregnant while breastfeeding?

Here are some symptoms that would help you to know whether you are pregnant. If you have this symptoms just conduct pregnancy test to detect your pregnancy:

Frequently asked questions and answers 

1)Will my milk supply be reduced if I get pregnant?

The hormonal changes during pregnancy would reduce the milk supply. The milk starts to become lighter .But the milk supply isn’t affected in the initial months. Breastfeeding has no effect on the baby in the womb. Just taking enough rest, eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated and proper nipple care can ensure that breastfeeding mothers, Unborn Child, and Newborn Baby are safe.

2)How can I know I’m ovulating during pregnancy?

Recording basal body temperature , cervical mucus method or ovulation predictor kit can help you to know that you are ovulating during pregnancy.

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