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Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Updated on January 4, 2015
photo credit: c r z on flickr
photo credit: c r z on flickr

Yes you can!

One of the questions my midwife asked me before I left hospital having just given birth, was "have you decided what form of contraception you're going to use?"

Her question rather took me by surprise, since having sex was very far from my mind at this particular time.

But this is a common question for healthcare providers to ask new mothers here in the UK (and probably in other countries too).


A common myth

Her reason for asking was that many people assume that you can't get pregnant soon after having a baby, especially if you're breastfeeding.

Although it is commonly believed that breastfeeding is a natural form of contraceptive, and that it is nature's way of ensuring that your babies are well-spaced out, this is not always the case. So it's very easy to fall pregnant again much sooner than you planned.

And two babies in little more than a year might be a little more than you bargained for!


Everybody's different

Everybody's body is different, and even if you're breastfeeding frequently your period can return at any time.

I was still breastfeeding around the clock when my period came back after four months, which was a bit of a surprise. And I have friends whose periods returned even sooner than this.

Others, however, were breastfeeding for two years before they got a period, and some didn't re-start menstruating until they had stopped breastfeeding completely.


Remember, you are fertile before your period starts..

And it's not as if you can wait for the arrival of your period to signal that you're fertile again - as that first ovulation will occur two weeks before your first period.

So you will probably have no warning signs at all, and will never really know for sure - perhaps until it's too late and you're staring disbelievingly at a pink line on a pregnancy test!

So this makes breastfeeding a not-very-reliable-at-all form of contraceptive.

For me, starting my period after four months meant that I was fertile from just the third month after my baby was born.


Image courtesy of the site for the International Breastfeeding Symbol.
Image courtesy of the site for the International Breastfeeding Symbol. | Source

Surprise!

Meaning that under different circumstances my daughter could possibly have had a very unexpected first birthday present!




Are You Pregnant?

  • If you're within the first month of your pregnancy, or you think that you might be, you may want to see my hub on Very Early Pregnancy Symptoms.

If you had two babies close together:

Were you breastfeeding when you fell pregnant?

See results

Comments

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    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      5 years ago from London

      Thank you Brinafr3sh. And sorry it's taken me so long to reply. It is indeed necessary to consider which forms of contraception are safe with breastfeeding, when so many things that you take might be harmful to your baby. We wouldn't want the positive effects of breastfeeding to be negated by medications that the mother's taking.

    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 

      6 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Hi, that is such a big myth, that women can't get pregnant while breastfeeding. The truth is women can get pregnant while breastfeeding; and a contraceptive would be needed at the time to prevent another pregnancy. But the contraceptive have to be accepted by the doctor to make sure that it can be taken while breastfeeding. I know the Depro-vera shot (contraceptive) is alright for breastfeeding. Voted up.

    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      6 years ago from London

      Hi Naveed,

      Yes that is normal. Even when you're breastfeeding around the clock your period can still start a few months after giving birth. Everyone's body is different.

      Congratulations on your new baby!

    • profile image

      Naveed 

      6 years ago

      my wife is having periods very early i mean just four months after delivery i just want to ask it is normal.....?

    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      8 years ago from London

      Thanks a lot for your comment cbris, and thanks also for the follow. I will take a look at your hub. It's an interesting subject!

    • cbris52 profile image

      cbris52 

      8 years ago

      Really informative Hub! I just completed a hub on a similar topic regarding breastfeeding as birth control. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.

      https://hubpages.com/family/Breastfeeding-Its-Effe...

    • Moon Daisy profile imageAUTHOR

      Moon Daisy 

      8 years ago from London

      Thanks a lot nilum!

      And thanks for your comments Chris. Yes you're right, Mother Nature has a sneaky way of trying to ensure the future of the human population! I like your comparisons.

    • Chris Telden profile image

      Chris Telden 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest, U.S.A.

      Good points--and a pleasure to read. Just more evidence that Mother Nature is good at her job (the job of assuring that babies get born, that is). Similarly, when people try the rhythm method of birth control, it's not unheard of for wily Mother Nature to go behind their backs and change the rhythm...

    • nilum profile image

      nilum 

      8 years ago

      Nice its very informative !!!

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