Can You Breastfeed While Taking Fertility Drugs? Experts Explain The Risks
How far ahead can you plan for your next baby? Some people might have one child they're breastfeeding while taking fertility drugs for the next one. But is this a good idea? Experts have some insight about how safe and effective this kind of multitasking might be for new parents.
For the most part, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to fertility medication and breastfeeding, as Dr. Rebecca Chilvers, a double board-certified fertility specialist in Texas, tells Romper. There's very little research to go on, for one thing. Plus, a lot depends on the particular medication. "Some medications may be compatible with breastfeeding, while others may not be," Wendy Wisner, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), tells Romper. Wisner recommends discussing your individual case with a doctor. "I also highly recommend checking the medication on LactMed, which is a government sponsored database listing medications on their affects on breastfeeding babies and milk supply," she adds. It's good to be on the safe side.
With this in mind, you may wait to start fertility treatments for the next baby after you're done with breastfeeding this one. "In general we advise that patients stop breastfeeding before taking fertility drugs for 1-2 months," Dr. Andrea Reh, a board certified reproductive endocrinologist, tells Romper. "As with all medications, there is always some small degree of excretion of the drug into breast milk." Postponing the treatments for a little bit could be the safer choice for your baby who's currently nursing.
Plus, fertility meds could also interfere with your current milk production. "It is known that many [fertility medications] such as Clomid and Femara affect hormones, estrogen receptors and estrogen production respectively. Though only temporary, these changes can decrease milk supply," says Dr. Chilvers. Although there are ways to help increase your milk supply, many people would rather not hamper their supply in the first place.
In addition, breastfeeding itself could make the fertility meds less effective. "Breastfeeding in general decreases fertility by increasing prolactin and decreasing estrogen production in the body, which in turn affects ovulation and thins the uterine lining. For most people it is enough to prevent pregnancy altogether," says Dr. Chilvers. Basically, you're just working against the meds. "In addition, breastfeeding often prevents a woman from ovulating, which can counteract the goal of most fertility drugs," says Dr. Reh.
That said, wanting to plan ahead for your reproductive future is completely understandable (and doable). "For women with a history of infertility who anticipate wanting more children, we advise reconnecting with their fertility specialist at some point in the months after delivery to make plans for the next pregnancy," says Dr. Reh. "Together, the patient and her doctor will devise an individualized plan for her next pregnancy, taking into account the health of her prior pregnancy, her options for fertility treatment, and often, the breastfeeding goals for the new mother." With some guidance from your medical team, it's possible to plan ahead for the next baby right now.
Wendy Wisner, a writer and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC)