New Mom Groove

Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

If you're nursing a newborn, sex may be the last thing on your mind ... still, though, if you and your hubby end up raring to get it on during some rare interlude when the little tyke is asleep, a very important question may crop up: Can you get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Oh that. Yes, let us talk about the possibilities ...

The answer is probably not -- that is, if you're breastfeeding exclusively, says Jenny Jaque, a board-certified OBGYN of Healthgoesfemale.com. The reason: Breastfeeding increases your levels of the hormone prolactin, which suppresses ovulation. No ovulation, no pregnancy. "Research shows it's 98 percent effective in preventing an unplanned pregnancy," says Jaque.

While those odds sound fairly airtight, keep in mind this only applies to moms who breastfeed on demand (at least every three hours) and around the clock (through the night). If your hubby grabs a bottle and takes a night shift so you can get some shut-eye for more than six hours, this could cause prolactin levels to dip long enough that ovulation could kick back in. Pumping doesn't count, either -- your body knows the difference between a baby and a pump -- so if you're back at work or away from your little one for long stretches, your odds of pregnancy rise even if you're pumping like a maniac and still nursing at home. And once your baby starts supplementing breast milk with food (typically around 6 months), all bets are off.

More from The StirWhy Breastfeeding Your Husband Isn't Such a Bad Idea

Needless to say, if you get your period, that means you're ovulating, and that means pregnancy is a possibility even if you're still breastfeeding. Of course, even if you haven't resumed menstruating, that doesn't mean you're definitely in the clear. "Ovulation occurs before menstruation, so a mom can go from the birth of a baby into a next pregnancy without a period," warns Leigh Anne O'Connor, Board Certified Lactation Consultant, who "has worked with scores of women who got pregnant while breastfeeding."

Bottom line? If you absolutely don't want kids back to back, get some birth control.

Did you get pregnant while breastfeeding?


Image © Larry Williams Associates/Corbis

breastfeeding 101, birth control

19 Comments

To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Rosie

Yup! Just ask my 13 months younger then her brother daughter! You can also breast feed while pregnant as well.

nonmember avatar Zmsmom

Definitely did! No period and still breast feeding! I have a boy and a girl 16.5 months apart

nonmember avatar lmNC

Yes, this happened to me. I was exclusively nursing on demand, hadn't had a period, but we were using condoms as an extra precaution just in case and still ended up pregnant when my daughter was four months old. Now I have a 2 month old and a 15 month old. Crazy!

johnn... johnny4ever

Nope....guess this happens alot!

MamaY... MamaYankee

Mine are 15 months apart... I breastfed for 9 months...guess I was doing it wrong *sighs*

lil_m... lil_mama06

Yes I did...My first 2 are 16 months apart....And my last 1 I didn't have a period since August 2005...I conceived Dec 2005....Had her Sept 2006...(Was due Oct 2006)

lil_m... lil_mama06

My first 2 are 16 months apart...Now they are 22 (just turned last week) and 20...Will be 21 in November....

elasmimi elasmimi

My grandmother breastfed my mother til she was a big girl, but cut her off when she realized she was pregnant again, lol. It worked for several years, apparently.

1-10 of 19 comments 12 Last