How to Tell If You Are Pregnant While Breastfeeding

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While it’s a common misconception that breastfeeding prevents you from getting pregnant again, many new moms end up with two babies close in age because they thought they were protected. The fact is, it’s possible to ovulate while breastfeeding, which means you can conceive if you’re sexually active during your fertile time. Here are some indications that you may be pregnant again as a breastfeeding mom.

Keep Track of Your Menstrual Cycles
It can take between 13 and 16 months to menstruate again after having a baby if you are breastfeeding. So while missing a period is the first sign of pregnancy for many women, it’s not reliable for moms of infants who may not have had a postpartum period yet. If you have ovulated, however, you can get pregnant before your period returns. Those who have begun menstruating again should note cycles to be aware of fertile times.

Know the Signs of Early Pregnancy
Even if you haven’t missed a period, other early pregnancy symptoms could tip you off that you’re expecting again. Although these are different for every woman, they often include headaches, backaches, nausea, fatigue, breast tenderness, and frequent urination. Keep in mind, though, that tenderness in the breasts could stem from breastfeeding, not from conception.

Take a Test
The fastest way to reliably detect early pregnancy is often a home test. Because most tests are designed to be taken on the first day of a missed period, it can be challenging to determine when to test if you aren’t menstruating. Many women use tests to confirm a pregnancy if they notice the symptoms described above.

Visit the Doctor
A blood test from your primary care provider or gynecologist can detect pregnancy within a week to 10 days after conception.

If you don’t want to get pregnant again at this time, it’s important to use a reliable form of birth control that doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding.

-Birth control pills can be used safely a month after your child is born. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to choose a pill that won’t interfere with your milk supply. Most doctors prescribe the mini-pill, which contains progestin.
-An intrauterine device, or IUD, can be inserted six weeks after birth. This device is implanted in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can usually be left in for three to five years.
-Implants, injections, and patches are other hormonal methods that won’t interfere with milk supply.
-Barrier methods, including the condom, diaphragm, and cervical cap, prevent pregnancy safely while breastfeeding.

If you have questions about your fertility after giving birth, talk with your ob/gyn. He or she can provide the information you need to make the ideal decisions for your family.

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