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How Breastfeeding Changes Your Cervical Mucus, According To Science

Just because you're breastfeeding a baby doesn't mean you're no longer paying attention to the signs of fertility. You may want another baby quickly, or you may want to run screaming away from your partner to avoid it. Either way, you need to know — does breastfeeding affect your cervical mucus, or is it just the postpartum hormones changing your downtown?

When I was trying to conceive, I know that I became the Agent Jethro Gibbs of my cervical mucus. No stone went unturned, no slippery cervix unchecked. I could probably sketch you a chart from memory using nothing more than whatever crayons my children haven't broken and a scrap of paper. However, that was during my time trying to get pregnant. When I was breastfeeding? Yeah, nope. Didn't care. The only thing I cared about regarding my vagina was when she could get waxed and when she could see action again after giving birth. (Both of these turned out also to be of very little consequence when I stopped sleeping and started mom-ing around the clock.)

But that doesn't mean it didn't change. According to Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, my cervical mucus almost assuredly changed — and changed a lot. That's because the hormones that regulate breastfeeding also regulate your cycle, meaning that the normal fluctuations in your cervical mucus around your ovulatory periods may be absent for some time.

According to the Journal of Human Lactation, when a woman is breastfeeding, her body releases a chemical called prolactin, which promotes anovulatory behavior in a woman's body. The lack of ovulation diminishes the amount and quality of cervical mucus until her cycle returns. The cycle typically returns after the baby begins feeding less frequently — between four and six months postpartum — and it may take a month or more beyond that for your fertility to return, and your cycle to steady and become more regular.

However, if you notice that you're having fertile-type mucus (think egg whites), but your cycle hasn't returned, you might be ovulating, and can therefore get pregnant, according to La Leche League International. If you are noticing a real change in your discharge outside of what is normal for you pre-children or postpartum, call your OB-GYN to eliminate the possibility of infection or some other cause. Otherwise, it should go back to normal in time.