Monday, September 20, 2010

Determining if you are pregnant while breastfeeding

Avoid an unplanned pregnancy by understanding your body




There are many fallacies about breastfeeding and pregnancy. For example, you may have heard that you cannot get pregnant if you are breastfeeding. This is not true. You are less fertile while breastfeeding, but you are certainly not infertile.



Breastfeeding and ovulation


In order to get pregnant, you must be ovulating. That is, your body must be releasing eggs in order for one of the eggs to be fertilized. After you give birth, your body’s hormonal balance shifts.

The hormones that tell your body to produce milk for the baby also repress the hormones that stimulate ovulation, which means that mothers who breastfeed usually do not get their periods as soon after childbirth as those who do not. However, this situation will not continue indefinitely. Eventually, your period will return, even if you are still breastfeeding.



Breastfeeding and pregnancy


Women usually ovulate two weeks before they have their period, which means that you will be fertile again before you have a period. This can make it challenging to tell if you are pregnant while breastfeeding because you can get pregnant without even having a period after childbirth in the first place.

Additionally, signs that may indicate pregnancy can be confused with breastfeeding side effects, such as sore breasts and fatigue. For this reason, the only way to determine with certainty whether or not you are pregnant while you are breastfeeding is to take a pregnancy test.

You can use an at-home test or go to the doctor and get a blood test. Both types are highly accurate and neither will be affected by breastfeeding.

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