Getting Pregnant While Breastfeeding
Many women find they want a new baby while they're still nursing an older baby or toddler. Many women desire children spaced more closely together, or the timing is just right to bring a new baby into the family. If this is the case for you, you may not want to wean your older nursling – so you have plenty of questions about getting pregnant while breastfeeding!
Is it Okay?
Since extended nursing isn't common in most modern cultures, you may be unsure if it's even safe to try to conceive (TTC) while you're nursing. It is safe – it's safe for you, safe for your nursing child, and it's safe for the new baby. Don't just rush into TTC'ing, though. Your body needs a lot of nutrients to maintain your health, nourish a nursing baby, and especially to grow a brand new baby. Pay even closer attention to your nutrition than you normally would so you know you're getting what everybody needs. I recommend that you follow a pregnancy/nursing diet for a mother of twins. You'll know for sure that you're getting the nutrients you need for yourself and your babies 🙂
Will I Have to Wean?
In most cases, you do not have to wean to get pregnant again. There are some women whose bodies will simply not ovulate as long as they're nursing a child. But most women find their fertility returns while they're nursing. Your fertility is more likely to return once your baby is nursing less, which is why most women experience a return of fertility when their babies are between the ages of six months and about fourteen months old. At this point nursing frequency usually decreases somewhat, which causes hormone levels necessary for fertility to rise.
I Want My Fertility Back!
Remember that changes in the breastfeeding pattern often let hormone levels rise to what is needed for your body to start fertility cycles again. You need to make changes with awareness of how the changes will affect you and your nursling. And sometimes your body has wisdom on child spacing you don't realize.
However, it is possible to encourage your fertility return by making changes to your nursing patterns. Weaning your baby at night is an especially good way to encourage the return of cycles because nighttime nursing powerfully suppresses hormones. Nightweaning isn't always easy to do but could help your fertility return sooner.
What if My Cycle Has Already Returned?
If your cycles have come back and are very regular, chances are you're already fertile. Start charting your fertility signs just as you would if you were not breastfeeding. You'll get a good sense of when ovulation is occurring and when you should time baby-making attempts.
If your cycles are very short, long, irregular, etc., it may mean that your body is still trying to sort things out and get your hormone levels correct. You may not be fertile during this time period. You can encourage fertility by nightweaning or otherwise changing nursing patterns to help your body get back to regular cycles – but sometimes it's just a matter of waiting several months while things get back to normal on their own.
Good nutrition and pregnancy/nursing safe herbs like nettle and red clover can help your cycles to normalize sooner and boost your health for yourself, your nursling, and the baby you're trying to conceive.
No Period – Can I Get Pregnant?
It is possible to get pregnant before you have your first period. During a menstrual cycle your body ovulates – then you have your period if fertilization does not occur. Some women will ovulate before they ever have a period. If you're lucky, you may “catch that egg” and get pregnant!
This generally happens if you've had a long period of amenorrhea (no periods) while nursing – typically if baby is over a year or two old. You may have a clue that ovulation is occurring because you'll notice tell-tale ovulation signs like fertile fluid build-up. If you haven't had a period and you start to notice these things, it's a very good sign that your body is trying to gear up for ovulation again.
Pregnancy and Nursing Can Work Together
It is safe to nurse your baby while you're pregnant. Some women choose not to, others really want to. It's up to you and your baby. Just watch your fertility signs and time baby-making sex as you would if you were trying to conceive without nursing. If your periods haven't returned yet, watch for fertility signs that indicate ovulation is returning. If you're having irregular periods, pay close attention to your diet and use breastfeeding-safe balancing herbs to bring your cycles back in line and boost fertility. Charting your cycles and watching fertility signs is always helpful.
Do remember that your body needs a large number of nutrients for both pregnancy and nursing. The best way to be sure you're getting enough for your nursling and the baby you're growing is to eat well. Follow a good pregnancy diet as you try to conceive, and when you get pregnant follow a twins pregnancy diet so you continue to make milk and have a happy, healthy pregnant.
(NOTE: Want the Top Easy Steps to Boosting Your Fertility? Use these 5 simple, evidence-based steps to get pregnant and carry your healthy baby to term. Get them here.)