A lot of women are still confused as whether or not they can get pregnant while breastfeeding. Different women have different experiences and so, it becomes difficult to draw a mean conclusion. Only an expert can best tell if it is possible to conceive while breastfeeding. This World Breastfeeding Week, Onlymyhealth spoke to Ms. Khyati Choudhary, Lactation Consultant and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida. We asked her if conception during breastfeeding is possible or not. To know her response, scroll down to read the article.
Pregnancy While Breastfeeding: 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 decreases. However if a nursing mother is not breastfeeding exclusively and formula feed is also being given to the baby then chances of conception increases. 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?
Ms. Khyati Choudhary responds, “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."
Signs of Pregnancy in a Breastfeeding Mother
Here are some signs that indicates a breastfeeding mother is pregnant:
- Increased thirst
- Painful breasts
- Reduced milk production
- Morning sickness
- Lumps in the breast
- 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 night-time 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 an Obstetricion/ gynaecologist. 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.
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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