Is it possible to get pregnant as a breastfeeding mom?
Yes! Breastfeeding is considered an effective contraceptive if certain criteria are met, and without all of the criteria being checked off, it is absolutely possible to become pregnant as a breastfeeding mom.
The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is the ‘official' name given to this method of contraception, and only applies if:
- Mom’s menstrual bleed has not yet returned after birth.
- Baby is younger than 6 months of age.
- Baby is exclusively breastfed.
If any of these criteria aren’t met, then pregnancy is a possibility unless another method of birth control is used.
Important: Ovulation occurs before the cycle’s bleed, so fertility will return before the arrival of mom's first period, postpartum.
Can I continue to breastfeed during pregnancy?
In almost all cases, yes!
No proven contraindications exist when it comes to breastfeeding through pregnancy, and in fact, research shows that the womb is equipped to safely handle the natural contractions that may occur via the release of oxytocin during nursing sessions.
Nourishment will ‘favour’ the growing baby in mom’s womb, so staying well nourished and trusting those hunger cues is as important as ever.
For the nursing child, mom’s milk remains just as safe as it was prior to pregnancy. Sometimes though, supply will reduce due to the hormonal shifts of pregnancy. Rest assured, supply will ramp up again after birth, and tandem feeding both siblings can be an incredibly bonding and positive experience for all involved, if that's the route you're wanting to take. You can find out more about tandem nursing here.
What’s the deal with nursing aversion during pregnancy?
Many moms sail through pregnancy without even a hint of nursing aversion, while for others, nursing through pregnancy can bring discomfort, nipple pain, or all-out aversion. This is due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy and potential latch issues that can arise from a decreased milk supply.
Paying close attention to positioning and little one’s latch while nursing can help to alleviate any soreness, as can setting boundaries around the frequency and duration of breastfeeds when necessary. You can find out more about weaning, partial weaning, and setting gentle limits in the Weaning Gently eBook.
Will my child wean during pregnancy?
Weaning isn’t a prerequisite for pregnancy, but sometimes a reduced milk supply can cause a child to nurse less often, or wean entirely, before a new sibling arrives. For many moms, the exhaustion of pregnancy paired with potential aversion can be enough of a nudge to set some gentle limits, night wean, partially wean or actively wean altogether.
References: Ishii H 2009, Moscone SR, Moore MJ 1993, Newton, N, Theotokatos M 1979