what are the odds of getting pregnant while breastfeeding?

(July 22, 2010)

Breastfeeding And Pregnancy

There is a possibility of getting pregnant even while breastfeeding. In case prevention is important, the best way to avoid getting pregnant is to use contraceptives.

After childbirth, a woman’s menstrual cycle may take a while to become regular and the first few cycles may be very light. However, this occurs differently in each woman. The menstrual cycle may be delayed in women who breastfeed. This is especially the case when the woman is exclusively breastfeeding and no formulas or solids are used as supplementation. In other cases, menstruation may be delayed till after breastfeeding. Some women may also begin to menstruate after the child turns one year old. It is however possible for menstruation to occur even in women who are breastfeeding. Those who hope to conceive and are not experiencing menstruation are advised to consider delaying having another child or weaning the child that is currently being breastfed. During breastfeeding, the body produces a higher amount of the hormone prolactin. This hormone works by suppressing ovulation and therefore the chances of getting pregnant are reduced by 1 to 2 percent. After the first year, the possibility of pregnancy increases.

An awareness of one’s menstrual cycle will help to create an understanding of the changes occurring in one’s body and when conception is likely to occur. Ovulation usually occurs on the 13th or 15th day after bleeding takes place. The exact date differs from woman to woman. Those who are menstruating can count the days from the first day that bleeding occurs each month, in order to calculate their ovulation date. It is important to remember that if breastfeeding continues, the amounts of prolactin in the body will remain high and the cycle may undergo changes. The baby’s requirement of breast milk tends to reduce when solid foods are introduced.

Breastfeeding is based on supply and demand and hence once the child’s requirements reduce, the prolactin levels will also change accordingly. This can also be achieved by extending the time period between day feedings and supplementing with solid foods or formula. Babies must be breastfed for at least the whole of their first year. During the middle of that year, solid foods may be introduced slowly. Those who do not wish to get pregnant must remember that it is not advisable to rely on lactation as means of contraception. Since ovulation takes place before menstruation, it is possible to get pregnant even before the first period occurs after childbirth.

Submitted by P T on July 22, 2010 at 05:35

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