After the birth of your last bundle of joy, you may have relied on breastfeeding as a form of contraception. Some mothers may begin to have symptoms of pregnancy despite continued breastfeeding. If you breastfeed exclusively, you are likely breastfeeding enough to prevent ovulation, which makes pregnancy possible, according to Ask Dr. Sears. Your doctor can confirm a pregnancy or help you identify when breastfeeding may no longer be an effective contraceptive method for you.
Use a home pregnancy test if you think that you may be pregnant. If the result is positive, confirm the pregnancy with your doctor. If the result is negative, the pregnancy may be too early for you to get a positive result. Wait a few days and take another home pregnancy test.
Track the symptoms that you are feeling, though symptoms of approaching menstruation can match those of early pregnancy. You may notice breast tenderness and nipple soreness, which may make continued breastfeeding painful, according to the Mayo Clinic. Milk supply may also diminish if you are pregnant while breastfeeding.
Think about your previous child's age. When your baby turns 6 months old, you may no longer be reaping the benefits of breastfeeding as contraception, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Breastfeeding suppresses ovulation during the first six months after birth, making pregnancy unlikely. After six months, you may begin ovulating normally again. If you had unprotected sex around the six-month mark, you may be pregnant.
Examine your monthly cycle. If menstruation has returned, you may be ovulating again, according to AskDrSears.com. If your periods have returned, but then stopped, pregnancy is possible.
Evaluate how you use breastfeeding as birth control. If you breastfeed exclusively, feedings occur at least every three hours during the day, at least every six hours at night, your period has not returned and your baby is younger than six months, it is unlikely that you are pregnant, according to Ask Dr. Sears. The same is true if you are also using another form of contraception according to its directions.
- If you continue not to have your period despite its previous return, and if home pregnancy tests continue to be negative, talk to your doctor about your concerns.
- Ask Dr. Sears: Breastfeeding and Fertility
- Healthy Children: Birth Control and Breastfeeding
- Healthy Children: Breastfeeding as a Form of Contraception
- KidsHealth: Is Breastfeeding a Good Form of Birth Control?
- Mayo Clinic: Symptoms of Pregnancy: What Happens Right Away
- Mayo Clinic: Breast-feeding while Pregnant: Is It Safe?
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