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How Soon After You Stop Breastfeeding Can You Conceive?

by Jenivieve Elly

The question of how soon after you stop breastfeeding can you get pregnant is slightly complex, because you do not need to stop breastfeeding to get pregnant. You can get pregnant while you are still breastfeeding although the chances of this are slim. It is a common misconception that breastfeeding poses as natural birth control. Although breastfeeding may provide many natural remedies, birth control is not one of them. The website "Medline Plus" states that it is possible to conceive while nursing. Breastfeeding suppresses but does not stop ovulation. If you are looking to conceive another child, then whatever protection breastfeeding affords against conception usually ends around 14 months of breastfeeding.

Fertility

Breastfeeding produces a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin is what produces milk, while also suppressing menstruation and ovulation. According to the "La Leche League International," the average time women have a break in their fertility while breastfeeding is about 14 months after birth. That is just an average, for some women it can return much sooner, and the body will release an egg before menstruation, so one may be fertile without having a period first. Exclusive breastfeeding, also called the lactation amenorrhea method, stops the menstrual cycle, and is generally 98 percent effective in preventing ovulation. A small possibility of conception does exist, however.

Conceiving

If you are exclusively breastfeeding and have not yet had a menstrual cycle, then you are less likely to conceive. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that having babies too close together could be bad for an infant's health. The CDC concluded that after the birth of each child that it is best to wait 18 to 23 months to get pregnant between pregnancies. When it comes to getting pregnant, it is not necessarily about weaning a baby but is about waiting until the body has a chance to heal from the previous birth.

Breastfeeding During Pregnancy

A common belief now regarded as false was that breastfeeding a baby would take nutrients from the developing fetus, thereby increasing the risk of miscarriage, according to the AskDr.Sears website. Several research studies have proven this false, and that breastfeeding under normal circumstances during pregnancy is safe. Unless you have a history of preterm labor or miscarriages, you do not need to wean your baby. Therefore, if your previous pregnancies have gone full term, at 38 weeks or higher, and no history of miscarriage exists, breastfeeding is fine.

Increasing Fertility During Breastfeeding

Breastmilk is best for a baby until she is 6 months old. After 6 months, you can introduce her to solid foods, which reduces feedings. Around this time, babies usually start sleeping longer through the night. Fewer night feedings means the mom’s prolactin levels are reduced, which increases fertility and the chance of conception. It is important to make changes gradually, because during the first year of life, breastmilk should be the priority. Breastmilk is the nutrition that gives baby most of her calories and nutrients. If you wean your baby before the first year is up, then you have to use formula to supplement those feedings.

About the Author

Jenivieve Elly has been an entertainment writer since 2006 and also has experience in public relations. She writes for Right Celebrity and its sister websites, serving as senior marketing consultant and fashion editor. Elly holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of South Florida.

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