For some moms, the thought of trying to become pregnant while breastfeeding is null and void, mostly because they are so consumed with the kid they already have attached to their boob. But there may come a time where baby fever hits and you begin to wonder how to get pregnant when breastfeeding. Experts say it depends on a few things, including when your period returns and how frequently you are breastfeeding.
“No period, no pregnancy, no problem right?” Dr. Sherry Ross, OB-GYN and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California tells Romper in an email interview. “If you are breastfeeding every four to six hours during a 24-hour period and not giving the baby formula, then chances are you will not be ovulating. If you are not ovulating, then you will not get a period and you will not get pregnant.”
But Ross stresses that this typically only works well for the first six months of breastfeeding. “As you introduce foods and juices to the baby's diet, breastfeeding does not happen with the same frequency. If you do not breastfeed with this type of commitment after six months, you will be more likely have start ovulating again and be vulnerable to getting pregnant. Since you ovulate before you actually get a period, this is when unsuspecting breastfeeding moms get pregnant.”
Dr. Jaime Knopman, co-founder of TrulyMD, and director at New York's Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine agrees, adding that basically the less times you express per day, whether it's pumping or actually feeding, the lower the prolactin hormone — which helps you make milk — will be. "The lower this hormone is, the better the chance that your brain will resume ovulation," she says in an email interview with Romper.
Of course, you don't have to wean your baby from breastfeeding just because you are pregnant. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it is perfectly safe to breastfeed while pregnant as long as you have a healthy pregnancy. Instances where you might not be able to do so include carrying twins and if you are having bleeding or uterine pain.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that obstetricians recommend waiting one to two years after your last birth before conceiving "because you should allow your body time to heal," Dr. Nichole Mahnert, OB-GYN at Banner-University Medicine Women’s Institute in Phoenix, Arizona, tells Romper. In addition to letting your body recover, you might just also need a bit of time to reclaim it as your own. After all, breastfeeding and taking care of a little one can make you feel a bit "touched out."
Most importantly, do you. Whether it's breastfeeding or formula, one kid or five, do what works for you.