Fertility signs while breastfeeding


Getting pregnant can be a challenge all by itself. But when you’re still breastfeeding your last baby, you may face some unique challenges in getting pregnant that you never expected. Clearly if you’re breastfeeding you’ve successfully gotten (and stayed) pregnant at least once. However, it may not be quite that easy the second time if breastfeeding is in the mix.

The reason is that your hormones are different while breastfeeding. You’ve probably heard that exclusive breastfeeding is pretty good birth control, right? Well, for some women, ANY breastfeeding is birth control and can make getting pregnant difficult. Even if that’s not the case, there are some unique signs and symptoms that can occur while breastfeeding.

fertility signs while breastfeeding

Guest Post by Kate from Modern Alternative Mama

This article is written for women who are ready for another baby but whose previous baby may still have the emotional need to nurse. I wouldn’t recommend that women who are EXCLUSIVELY nursing a baby, or nursing a baby much under a year get pregnant again. But for many women, their babies are still nursing at or past 1 year of age and they are ready for another.*

While breastfeeding, the hormone in control is prolactin, which produces milk. This can interfere with the estrogen and progesterone that are needed to get pregnant. Prolactin suppresses estrogen, which can make it difficult to ovulate. And if you don’t ovulate, you can’t conceive. It also appears that progesterone levels can be too low in the second half of your cycle, meaning that your luteal phase (the time between when you ovulate and when you would expect your period) may be too short for your embryo (if one was actually created) to implant.

It’s kind of a “bad” cycle, if you’re trying to conceive anyway! Your prolactin levels interfere with your estrogen, so fewer follicles mature and you have less chance of ovulating. And if you do ovulate, the smaller number of matured follicles produce less progesterone, leading to low levels (progesterone is very important in sustaining a pregnancy and is responsible for a lot of the morning sickness and fatigue you feel during pregnancy) and possibly a short luteal phase (shorter than 10 days and the embryo doesn’t have time to implant before your period starts).

It’s why exclusive breastfeeding really can be VERY effective birth control for some women! It’s natural infertility if you will.

(though this doesn’t happen for every woman, so if you are trying to prevent getting pregnant, don’t use breastfeeding as ‘birth control’.)

There’s also the chance that even if your cycles have returned that they are still not normal and regular (for the above reasons!), which means it can be difficult to predict when you are fertile. Unless you want to have sex every other day ALL MONTH LONG (and maybe you do!), you could miss it.

But what is a woman who is trying to conceive to do?

First, take a deep breath. It may not be as “bad” as it seems. As your baby gets older and begins to nurse a bit less often, especially once your baby sleeps through the night (at least mostly), your body will begin to get fertile again. Many women are able to get pregnant once they are only breastfeeding 2 – 4 times per day instead of 10 – 12 times.

Fertility signs while breastfeeding

The best thing to do now is to start charting. That means you need to track your basal body temperature (BBT), cervical position, cervical texture, and cervical mucus. All of these, along with any other signs/symptoms (nausea, cramping, etc.) can give you some hints as to what your body is doing. Once you KNOW, then you can do something about it.

As a quick refresher, you are looking for your cervix to be high, soft, and open at ovulation, and for your cervical mucus to be either clear and watery (kind of slimy) or like raw egg whites and copious. You may also have headaches, feel tired, or feel a bit nauseous, and you may notice cramping. It’s a good idea to start having sex a few days before your ovulation if you know when it will occur. If you don’t, chart for a few months to figure out about when it’s occurring, as well as to get familiar with your body and your signs. If you are charting BBT, you will notice a sustained thermal shift (3 days or longer of higher temps) of .2 or .3 degrees AFTER your ovulation. This isn’t helpful in conceiving when you first notice it, as it’s “too late” at that point, but it does confirm that you ARE ovulating. Which means you get to try next month!

If you’re not ovulating, you may need to make a choice. You could simply wait a few months longer to see if your cycle normalizes (chances are, it will, in time). You could try to reduce breastfeeding sessions to see if that helps you start ovulating again. Others have sworn by grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, or fertility tea blends. Increasing your general nutrition (plenty of good fats and no refined sugar or flour!) can help. Also, there is a supplement called Vitex which may normalize your cycles, promote ovulation, AND fix luteal phase defects (more on that in a minute). If these don’t help, acupuncture may be able to help.

Once you ARE ovulating, then you have the issue of what’s happening AFTER. How long is it from the time you ovulate until your period starts? If it is less than 10 days (and ideally at least 12 days), your baby can’t implant. Most women end up taking Vitex* (also known as chasteberry), a natural herbal supplement that will help your hormones to normalize and will increase your luteal phase.

(PLEASE NOTE: I am not a doctor. There may be some women who are not helped by this, and a few may experience depression due to increased progesterone levels. It is not for everyone. But it is a common option and something you may consider.)

(pssst – note from Donielle here: Vitex is also good for lowering the amount of prolactin in the body, hence another reason why it may be successful in helping you ovulate while breastfeeding. But also know that while it’s a great help for some women, others find that it increases symptoms of hormone imbalance. Make sure to watch this video, or at least read the summary, if you plan on trying vitex – Expert advice on vitex.)

It may be worthwhile to look into taking B vitamins too. There are B-complex supplements, or Brewer’s Yeast is a great whole foods supplement (mix into smoothies, baked goods, or take as a pill). These increase energy and decrease the likelihood of neural tube defects and decrease morning sickness. It’s great while pregnant, and not a bad idea while trying to conceive, either! (B6 is known for helping lengthen the luteal phase.)

Be aware that even if the whole thing seems like a mess, you WILL get back to normal eventually. Night feedings are a real fertility killer, for more than one reason! My son (13 months) still sleeps with me and some nights still nurses 4 – 6 times. My daughter (2.5 years) didn’t do this so becoming pregnant the second time was easy. Not as much the third time. But, slowly, I’ve noted my signs getting back to normal. It’s just taken several months longer. Three months ago I was ovulating on CD 27 with luteal phase of only 9 days! Then on CD 21 with luteal phase 11 days. And most recently, on CD 15 and was hoping this was a pregnancy cycle (but not yet, unfortunately). As you can see – it’s SLOWLY returned to normal. I wasn’t regular from my first postpartum period (as I was with my daughter, who slept mostly through the night at 4 months and started solids early too), but, it IS happening.

Keep charting, consider some fertility herbs, and always make sure to have excellent nutrition! Donielle has many great posts here on exactly what to eat for a fertility diet.

Kate blogs at Modern Alternative Mama about real food, natural living, parenting, and other “natural” subjects.  She lives in Ohio with her husband, Ben, and their two kids, Bekah, 2.5, and Daniel, 13 months.  She also sells an organic skin cream that has a multitude of uses, from diaper rash to dry, cracked feet, to soothing burns!  Kate enjoys everything that has to do with an all-natural lifestyle, even if most people do think she’s a little crazy.






*note from Donielle – 

While I would never tell someone when they can and can’t try to conceive, I also think we need to look past our desire a bit and make sure we focus on our health if we do try to conceive while breastfeeding.

A slow return of fertility can be a good thing for mothers, allowing their bodies the time to replenish nutrients depleted during pregnancy. And nursing in and of itself also depletes the mother! Sometimes this natural infertility we experience is protective in nature, preventing us from getting pregnant when the body isn’t ready. 

I personally think that waiting 3 months from the time of weaning (or at least until the previous baby is almost two) allows for the best outcomes as you can focus on rest and nourishment.

I know that seems like a long time, especially if you choose to practice extended nursing and breastfeed until your baby is two or three. I need to find the statistics again, but it seems that optimal child spacing is about 3 years between births. 

As with any choice we have in family planning, make sure to take your health into account and change your diet and lifestyle when needed.




  1. annie

    I’m not sure it’s a great idea to get pregnant while breastfeeding. There is a reason it’s so hard. Our bodies need to rest and rebuild between pregnancies, for the breastfeeding baby, the more nutrients in the milk the better, and the developing fetus needs all of mom’s nutritional resources. Unless you are one of those people who is fertile while breastfeeding, it seems like a recipe for everyone being much less healthy than they otherwise would be. So, why would you want to get pregnant while breastfeeding?

    • donielle

      @annie, Annie, In many ways I completely agree with you. I’ve been putting my thoughts together to give another viewpoint as well. 🙂 Stay tuned!

    • Melissa

      Annie – My baby is a year old. My body HAS rested and rebuilt after pregnancy with her. I have fallen pregnant with my other kids (I have four) at this stage traditionally, however, I had also stopped breastfeeding by now too. Unfortunately, because I am still breastfeeding my 1yr old (and quite regularly as she demands – and despite her being on solids) my period has yet to return. Me falling pregnant at this stage wouldn’t make anyone less healthy. But I am not yet at the stage where I am willing to give up breastfeeding solely so I can get pregnant, when my daughter so obviously isn’t ready yet to wean.
      To add to this, alot of mothers successfully breastfeed whilst pregnant and go onto tandem feed even once the second baby is born. It isn’t unhealthy for any of them. You seem to be making ‘assumptions’ based on homegrown logic, however there is absolutely no research to back up your stance on this.

    • Cornelia Slotiuk

      Though I agree with the information in your blog, I also believe that our bodies/nature spaces children for a reason. I don’t have the stats in front of me but I seem to remember that, world wide, children are spaced close to 3 years apart. In cultures that use biological nursing (child decides when to wean) you see more spacing between kids than in our culture. These cultures tend to also practice and support co-sleeping = night time breastfeeding.
      What I am missing in your blog is just how advantageous the slow return of fertility is for mothers. No early return of periods help restore iron levels in women. As well, the demands of caring for and meeting the needs of a baby/young child are great enough without adding the additional energy demands of pregnancy and a newborn. Nature protects the mother and, by happy association, also the baby/child. A breastfeeding baby/child is more likely to continue to breastfeed when his/her mom isn’t pregnant.
      There are many parents who choose to have their babies close together (or don’t plan for this but it happens), I am only pointing out that in a biological, evolutionary way this may not be the best model for women and babies.

      • donielle

        @Cornelia Slotiuk, Yes, I agree. 🙂 This was a guest post by a friend and I have yet to write my own thoughts, as it can be controversial at times…..

    • Lisa

      Because I want my second baby before I turn 40

  2. Kate

    Annie — some babies continue to nurse for QUITE a long time. My daughter is still breastfeeding at 2.5 years! Naturally she doesn’t breastfeed very often anymore, only about 2 – 3 times during the day and none at night. Should I (and many, many other women like me) have chosen NOT to conceive again because my older child (who no longer relies on me for nourishment, but mainly eats food) is still nursing?

    This article is written for women who are ready for another baby but whose previous baby may still have the emotional need to nurse. I wouldn’t recommend that women who are EXCLUSIVELY nursing a baby, or nursing a baby much under a year get pregnant again. But for many women, their babies are still nursing at or past 1 year of age and they are ready for another. And there’s definitely a need for this information for those women!

    Thanks Donielle for allowing me to guest post!

    • donielle

      @Kate, Thanks Kate! And I agree with a lot of what you say too. 😉

  3. Amanda Clements

    Great job, Kate! Lots of good information to consider and store away 🙂

  4. Kristen

    Another side of the story, is people like me who found themselves pregnant when their nursing baby was only 6 months old. My baby was still nursing exclusively, not sleeping through the night, etc…so it is definitely a myth that you *can’t* get pregnant while nursing!

  5. Tonya

    I agree with Annie. God made it difficult to get pregnant while breastfeeding for a reason. Our nursing babies need the nutrients in the milk, yet the fetus needs nutritional resources. I really don’t understand why someone who is nursing would go to the trouble to track temperature, mucus, etc. before their baby was over 2. What is the rush? Let nature take it’s course, and let God decide when the next baby is conceived.

    • RuthAnne

      @Tonya, I don’t think that some women go through the “trouble” of tracking and charting because they are solely trying to get pregnant. I track and chart because for years I did not know how my body “worked” and was curious. I started tracking and charting after I experienced a stillbirth about 9 years ago and have continued primarily out of habit. I have been pregnant 3x since that stillbirth and still track and chart. I even found myself tracking throughout my last pregnancy.
      Tracking and charting is a skill that allows a woman to see how unique and complex her body truly is.

  6. Sarah

    Vitex and vitamin B helped me to regulate again after breastfeeding. On the other hand, there are side effects of vitex and you do need to be careful. I would suggest going to a naturopath who specializes in fertility to help you out. Especially if you do need to go for fertility treatments, they will NOT want you using vitex. For me, I had to stop it because my periods became so scant that I only had a day a bleeding. I read that it can cause that as a side effect.

  7. Alyssa

    I hope someone can help me! I have 3 little girls the youngest being 8 months who only nurses once at night. I have had years of issues with my ovaries. When I was 17 I had the left ovary surgically cut in half due to a 19cm cyst. Then smaller cysts on and off through out the years. But in my last pregnancy, when I was 14 weeks along, they found a 13cm cyst on my right ovary. They went in Laproscopically and drained it and “took care of it” It was pressing on my kidney and larger than my womb at that point. 2 weeks later it returned measuring 15cm so when I was 17 weeks along they went in again this time a full surgical procedure and rolled my womb to the side and removed my whole ovary. Now my husband and I are trying to conceive again but I am worried that with the one “injured’ ovary I wont be able to. Like I said I only nurse once at night and my period has not yet returned. I have been doing what I can to boost my fertility but I would really love some advice or helpful comments. It would break my heart if I was unable to conceive again. Thank you!

    • donielle

      @Alyssa, Alyssa – I’m so sorry for your health issues! How troublesome.

      But many women don’t ovulate while nursing. I don’t even when my my kids went down to nursing once a day. In many ways, that’s the way it’s supposed to be – our body protects us from nourishing more than it can handle. In traditional cultures they routinely went 3-4 years between children as they weaned around 3 years and then spent a few months building nutrient reserves. So while you may be ready to conceive again, your body may not be.

      I know it’s not really what you wanted to hear though, right? 😉 But being patient with our bodies is really important and with your youngest being just 8 months old, your body is still recovery from pregnancy. And with only one injured ovary, it may need more time before you start ovulating again.

      I would look into a no sugar diet and maybe adding something like red raspberry tea to help prevent any further cysts. And the good thing is, both can also help to increase fertility. 🙂

      • Alyssa

        @donielle, Already on a 0 sugar, 0 gluten diet! And the raspberry leaf tea also! Thank you for your thoughts 🙂

  8. Alison

    I don’t think anyone wants to get pregnant again when they have a very young, exclusively breastfed baby. My youngest is age 2, and I’m still breastfeeding, but want to get pregnant. I have had my period back for a year. I was still breastfeeding my oldest child (past a year) and easily got pregnant with my second. Your body does need a rest between pregnancies, but naturally most women get their periods back around 12 months postpartum. Conceiving while nursing a toddler is not bad.

    • donielle

      @Alison, No, it’s not always bad. But for some women it could be. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. IMF

    I’m asking mainly to avoid pregnancy while nursing. Since I’m nursing full time with no periods yet. I just wanted to know what to look for and exactly where each step is going to be.

    • donielle

      @IMF, I guess the best thing I can tell you is that it’s different for every woman. Some don’t ovulate at all while nursing, and others start back very soon after birth. Try checking out the Creighton model of charting and also grab a copy of “The Art of Natural Family Planning”. And basically, if you ever have a noticeable amount of cervical fluid and want to prevent pregnancy, it’s best to abstain.

  10. rachel

    I allways get preg while feeding.and have twelve live babes ! interested in lots of feed back.

  11. gina

    The issue I seem to be having is that I had a period at 3 months pp when I went back to work full time. That was the one and only period I’ve had in a year. I pumped 3 times and would nurse mornings and as soon as I got home from work. I also demand fed on the weekends. I began weaning my pumping down when son was 11 months old and completely stopped pumping during work when he turned a year, in May. I still nursed mornings, nights & demand fed on weekends. when son turned 14 months old I only nursed him mornings & nights. I was taking the mini pill and stopped on August 4th (over 4 weeks ago). I’ve been having cramping, but still no period. I was on the mini pill for about 9 months. We are trying to conceive our 2nd child, but it seems tough when I don’t have my period. I’m still only breastfeeding mornings & nights.

    • donielle

      @gina, It’s tough, because every woman’s body is so different! Many don’t truly ovulate (though they may still have a period) until after full weaning. Others begin much sooner. Paying attention to cervical fluid is really key when trying to predict ovulation. The more fluid you have, the nearer to ovulation you may be.

  12. Michelle

    Can anyone tell me what you mean by rebuiling nutrient reserves? I am breastfeeding my 13 month old and get the general idea, but would like to know more specifically.

    • donielle

      @Michelle, Check out the Fertility Diet tab here – http://www.naturallyknockedup.com/start-here/table-of-contents/
      I basically mean that we need to eat a nutrient dense diet to make sure we get adequate amounts of essential fertility nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K. Following something like the fertility foods checklist will give you a good start. (free for subscribers – just look at the bottom of your emails)

  13. Sandy

    I am researching becoming pregnant while breastfeeding because my husband and I are ready to have another baby, and our 20 month old still nurses 1 or 2 times per day. I feel that my body has fully recovered (except that it looks different now than before baby…dang!), and we feel emotionally, financially, and physically ready to add a second child to our family. I have pcos (polycystic ovarian syndrome), so it is difficult to become pregnant anyways, so I want to be prepared and be as healthy as I can for my son and future child(ren). I haven’t weaned my son because it’s a very useful thing to be able to do when he needs comfort, and he really doesn’t want to give it up 100% yet. He has gone 2 days ever (not in a row) of no breastfeeding, so we are eventually going to wean, it just hasn’t happened yet. You make a totally valid point though, breastfeeding is a “natural birth control” for a reason!

  14. Mallory

    Great info!
    I am currently nursing my 14 month old 3 times a day. If and when I get my period (I’m in the dreaded 2WW right now!) I will drop her afternoon feeding so we’ll be down to just morning and night nursing. Unfortunately I have a low AMH level so the quality of my eggs isn’t the greatest. I had to take Clomid to conceive my daughter and fear that I will have to take it again for baby #2. DD enjoys nursing so I do not want to wean her simply to take Clomid again, but at the same time, I fear that I will not be able to get pregnant as long as I’m nursing. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? Thanks!

    • Donielle

      @Mallory, Many women don’t ovulate well when they are nursing, in fact many don’t ovulate at all until weaning is complete. Personally it has taken me 6 weeks to ovulate after each child weaned.
      If you aren’t pregnant, I would really focus on getting a lot of nutrient dense foods to help boost egg quality, especially if you continue to nurse. While many women do get pregnant while they are nursing, it can be more difficult on the woman’s body, depleting her of necessary nutrients that can have lasting symptoms.

  15. ames

    Hello, I have a 21 month old, and for the past 4 months I have been trying to conceive. She is still breastfeeding and I get a period every month and I have ovulated every month but it still is not enough. I am getting really upset and I am debating whether to stop breastfeeding all together just so that i can have another baby. Please let me know if you have any advice. I am really desperate. She really doesn’t want to stop breastfeeding it is really hard. She loves her night feeds and in the day she doesn’t ask for it and if she does i have band aids, on my nipples so she thinks they are hurt. any advice would be really appreciated. thank you

    • Donielle

      @ames, Ames, I’m sorry you’re feeling kind of stuck. Have you confirmed ovulation by temperature shifts? Because while some women have a period while nursing, they still may not be ovulating. (breastfeeding often causes prolactin to remain high which suppresses ovulation)
      It’s also very common for women to be unable to get pregnant while nursing, whether due to annovulation, a short luteal phase or reduced egg quality.
      I wish I had some great advice for you, but the best thing you can do is nourish your body with the most nutrient dense foods possible in order to build nutrient reserves for a future pregnancy and to allow your body enough to support yourself, a nursing babe, and a pregnancy.
      I also don’t recommend trying to force the body to ovulate during breastfeeding by using a lot of herbs or bio-identical hormones. I’m also an advocate for allowing at least a few months between weaning and trying to conceive to allow for rebuilding lost nutrients and letting the hormones balance out again, though I know that many women choose not to wait, and that is a very personal decision.

  16. Misty

    So I just had my first period three weeks ago , and then another one 5 days later. My husband and I are trying to concieve. Is it common to ovulate after such in irregular bleed. I am checking my cervix everyday and cervical mucus hoping and praying I ovulate and become pregnant with baby number 2!

    • donielle

      @Misty, When coming off of breastfeeding – anything is possible. 😉 It can take awhile for the hormones to balance out again, sometimes causing odd cycles or break through bleeding during ovulation. If it happens again, so close together, definitely call your ob/gyn to chat about it.

  17. Naomi

    My son is 3.5 months old & a perfect little baby. He eats 6 times a day and sleeps 9+ hours straight each night. He never cries for food @ night, so I don’t wake him. Now my period has returned. I have been planning on breastfeeding @ least until he is 1 year. I don’t mind getting pregnant again soon, but guess I don’t feel quite ready for it. I don’t want to rob either my son or the child I would be carrying from nutrition. Also, I don’t want to rob my husband or me of intimacy & hurt our marriage in any way. I really just want to trust God in His sovereignty to plan out our family & I’m scared to take anything into my own hands. Is there something I should be doing? Am I maybe not fertile, even though I have my period? Anyone able to relate to this or help out? I still have 2.5-3 months left of exclusive breastfeeding & want that to go well. Is it even possible to conceive while exclusively breastfeeding? Thank you!!

    • donielle

      @Naomi, It is possible to conceive while breastfeeding exclusively! Some women find that they become fertile within months after birthing, others don’t ovulate at all until the baby is fully weaned.
      I very much understand wanting to wait though – you’re concerns were all the same ones that I had. And I do think that they are very valid! You could start charting and paying a bit more attention to cervical fluid in order to abstain during fertile times to space babies out a bit. And I think it’s really up to you and your husband to decide if you’re “taking control” or not. I personally believe that God will bestow wisdom to parents to help them work through this issue. I also think that he gave us cycles like we have so that we can make the decision to abstain or not – we have plenty of signs of upcoming ovulation when you really pay attention! You could check out the Couple to Couple League for lots of info as well. I pray you find peace in whatever you decide!

  18. shelley

    Hi naomi, i am in about the same boat as you. my LO is 18 months old. She night feeds and i pump during the day. My period has returned. I have had about 3-4 of them, not too regular, but definitely not ready for another baby yet. I believe that even with your period, ovulation still might not occur. So i AM HOPING that is the case with me. I am checking my cervix and fluids, but it is hard to tell sometimes. And since i am night feeding i find it very hard to take BT in the am. I have found through out the month for my cervix to be high and even open, but i have not to my knowledge have had the “right” cervical fluid for fertility. But i could be misreading everything as well. Here’s to hoping that i am not ovulating!!

  19. kizzzah

    Very good info here. When my pp bleed returned finally at 22mth pp with my second we started ttc. My first cycle was 56 days long and my luteal phase only 8days .. 2 cycles I got light pos tests then bled … Cycle 3 I ovulated way earlier at CD 31 while on vitex but found I had sore boobs on this … The next cycle I took b6 and red rasp leaf (rrl only until o) . I of CD 49 but I had the most ewcm of all cycles. I also only bd 1 time and we concieved. I suspect my body ovulated yesterday for first time. Off to buy vitex b6 and red rasp tomorrow… 🙂 ttc after my first bleed arrives.

  20. Cynthia Jones

    I love breastfeeding by baby girl she’s almost 6 months. I have had previous issues with conception, I have the ‘fantasy’ of conceiving naturally. I’m currently using Vitex for the first time.

    • Donielle

      @Cynthia Jones, Just be aware of your milk supply while on vitex as it works in part by lowering the prolactin levels in the body. Some women find that it also lowers their supply quite significantly and then if/when they become pregnant that their supply lowers even more and breastfeeding can then be painful.

  21. peace

    I really find this article helpful, my baby is 8months, and I still breast feed most night, but I don’t know if am pregnant now, cause my period is yet to run for this month, was expecting it on 14th of july, am so scared cause I had my last baby through a C section, I really want to try VBAC for my next pregnancy, am so confused!!!

    • Donielle Baker

      Take solace in the fact that many women, who have supportive doctors, go on to have a VBAC!

  22. Veronica

    I’ve found your information regarding nursing and fertility very helpful but have a quick question regarding fertility and night nursing versus daytime nursing. After my first child, my cycle returned around nine months, I had one period and conceived my second child. My second is now ten months old and no sign of my period yet. I’ve read that going eight hours or longer without nursing can increase the chance of your cycle returning sooner rather than later, but does it make a difference whether that eight hour period falls during daytime or at night? My 10 month old is on solids and drinks water and pumped breast milk (pumped in the evening) during the day so usually does not nurse between 7:00am and 6:00pm. However, he sleeps with me and nurses 2-5 times per night. Will this daytime non-nursing period help my fertility return? I realize it will eventually return on its own but we’re very hopeful that we’ll have another child and are feeling a bit of pressure because of our ages. Thank you!

    • Donielle Baker

      The return of ovulation is totally different for each woman and after each child. For me, it didn’t return even though mine little one was mostly night weaned by 5 or 6 months old. Some women do find that any break in nursing is helpful though.

      My theory is that the body knows what you have nutritional stores for and what it can handle, so it’ best not to push it to do something it may not be ready for. I know it’s hard when you feel the clock ticking though! Try to focus on eating nutrient dense foods and know that you’re supplying the body with what it needs.

  23. ybb

    Thank you so much for this very informative write up. We are ttc but I am still breastfeeding my 12 month old. I pump about 4 times a day (since she day-weaned herself soon after solids at about 7 months) and she nurses once before bed, and some times once in the very early morning.

    Because my period returned at 7 weeks ppm, I had to resort to fenugreek capsules to increase my supply. As it is, I’m making ends meet every day, producing a tiny bit less than what she needs (I think I pump about 18 oz a day). Even though baby girl is very happy with bottle, I am forced to do this full-time pumping because she has MSPI and formula wasn’t an option (the Dairy/Soy free formulas are medicinal and the RX isn’t covered by our insurance, meaning a three day supply is $50).

    My question: should I stop taking fenugreek to increase my chances of ovulating and having a longer luteal phase. I have to confess I didn’t track my ovulation with temps or test sticks, trying instead to rely on fluid reads. It’s very confusing, and my periods are somewhat varied (anywhere between 28-42 days since 7 weeks ppm, though most are around 32-35 days, which is what I was naturally).

    If I don’t get preg now, we’ll have to delay ttc for another few months, as we are preparing to move cross country next summer and can’t make the trip if I am very pregnant. Please God it will all work out as it’s meant to, just trying to do my best effort should God will it for us this time around.

    Thanks again!

    • Donielle Baker

      That’s really a very personal decision. 🙂 It also depends on your overall health and how able your body is to nourish 3 beings at once.

      For myself, I make sure that I have at least 3 or 4 months between weaning and pregnancy in order to allow my hormones to balance out and re-nourish my body. Other women continue to conceive while nursing, and while I don’t necessarily agree with *trying* while nursing, they are the only ones who can make that decision about their body. 🙂

      • ybb

        You make a good point about waiting 3-4 months. I’m hoping to wean this month – our hope is that she’s outgrowing her milk intolerance and we can begin giving her cow’s milk. If pregnancy doesn’t happen this month, we’ll have to wait about 4 months to try again anyhow because of the timing of our move. Perhaps that will end up being what happens anyhow. And if it does, your response has given me some rationale to not feel disappointed if we have to wait. So thank you for replying!!

  24. nicole

    Thank you ladies for all of your insight. My first baby is 13 months and is still nursing on demand and I have yet to have a period. My husband and i are trying for baby number two and are hoping to catch that firat heathly ovulation cycle. But just knowing that there are other mamas out there who were able to get pregnant while breast fewding gives me hope that it is possible.

    • alena

      I’m still breatfeeding my 25 months old. And I’m breastfeeding a lot.although she eats everything but she always starts by eating her mom! so,4-5 times a day. plus 3 times per night.
      I got back my cycle when she was 20 months old. and it looks like I’m ovulating (ultrasound + tests but my luteal phase is 9 days long.
      we’re trying to conceive baby number 2. and due to many reasons we just have to hurry.

      I’d try to reduce the breastfeeding at night. (I’d rather wean naturally. But…

      also, if I take B6, do you know what dosage I might need?

  25. Emma

    Thank you for writing this. I have a 13 month old who I was down to breastfeeding just once a day (during morning snuggles) for the past few months. I got my period back when he was less than 6 months old and I have been bleeding regularly since. We started actively trying to conceive again at the beginning of the summer and I was starting to get worried. Because so many women can and do get pregnant while they are still breastfeeding, people these days very loudly discredit BF as birth control. But apparently for me it is just as you said “ANY breastfeeding is birth control and can make getting pregnant difficult.” Even with a period. That is cool, and awesome of my body. I wish that someone had told me that you know, maybe it does work that way for me; instead of denying it and causing me to freak out about infertility. I ended our morning BF sessions by handing my son a bottle of almond milk instead of a boob this morning and he was excited! Haha How’s that supposed to make me feel, kiddo?? I guess he’s been ready to wean for a while. I was just so emotionally dependent on BF that I didn’t want to stop. Anyway, thank you. And here is to conceiving this next cycle!

  26. Julie

    I’m BF my 13 month-old on demand, day and night. At this point I still have yet to see a cycle return and am charting trying to figure out what exactly is going on. My question is would there be a sustained rise of 0.45°F without ovulation? I’m on day 15 of the rise, though today’s temp was lower but still higher than my normal. I tested negative and thought I would start AF yesterday. Is this normal for breastfeeding as my body gears up to ovulate again?

    • Donielle Baker

      It’s actually possible, as frustrating as it might be. Sometimes as hormones kind of “surge” so to speak, funny things can happen. It could also be that it’ll take a few more days for a positive hpt. 😉

      Your best bet when charting during breastfeeding is going to be checking cervical mucous and not temps. Or at least use both symptoms together for best results.

  27. Holly Desfosses

    The most obvious way of boosting your chances of getting pregnant is to have sex quite frequently. Although this might seem pretty trivial, the timing of having sex is equally important. Women ovulate at different times according to their cycles, so it is essential to calculate their most fertile days. For those women who are fairly regular in their cycle, the 14th day of their cycle is the most fertile. Even for those who aren’t regular, they can find out their most fertile period easily with the help of an ovulation kit. Sperms remain in the body of a women for about six days but the egg only has a lifespan of about 24 hours, so it is advisable to have sex about 2-3 times a week.Having the right position during intercourse is equally if not more important. The sperms have to travel all the way to the female’s fallopian tubes, hence some positions like the women lying on her back or placing a pillow below the hips do help in conceiving better by guiding the sperms at an upward angle.

  28. Emily

    I am bf my 1 year old so I know the birth control effect is possibly less for me. I am majorly confused…I do NFP and I had one untypical period that was short and hardly cramping and then since my signs have been everywhere and I have gotten what looks like super light breakthrough bleeding and I really expected it to pick up like a regular period but it just went away. I am going to take a HPT soon but I’m lost because we have been trying to avoid and were being pretty strict. So if it was implantation bleeding ill be a bit shocked…any thoughts while I wait to get an accurate HPT would be really amazing!

    • Donielle Baker

      Breastfeeding really causes a variety of NFP symptoms and makes it difficult to guess when you might start ovulating again. It’s so different for each woman as well, some start ovulating within months after birthing and others not until the baby has finished weaning! I was once told that if there is any cervical mucous at all that you treat it like you’re possibly fertile.

  29. Emily

    Oh and my cervical mucus is all over the place….metaphorically speaking of course!

  30. Jennifer

    I have a question for my sister. She just had her first baby who is now 6 weeks old. He sleeps well through the night….so now she has had her first period. Her question is if she starts having him feed through the night or even pumps….could it lower her fertility again? Or is it too late? She DOES NOT want to get pregnant right now.

    Thank you!!

    • Donielle Baker

      Unfortunately there is no cut and dry answer. Some women begin ovulating within weeks after birthing no matter how well (or not well) the baby sleeps! Others don’t start ovulating again until baby is completely weaned, even when the baby sleeps through the night or if they reduce to only one nursing session a day. With it being her first baby she has no other experience to base it on which is tough, because normally a woman’s body follows the same basic patterns after each baby.

      One thing to think about is if it’s just associated with birthing and not a true period. Many women begin to push their bodies too hard after 4-8 weeks and they’ll begin to bleed again, so taking it easy may fix it if it’s that issue.

      It’s also possible that it could be a one time thing as her body works to balance hormones for nursing. And so its possible that her fertility could lower again.

      The best thing to do is read up on natural family planning, especially if they decide to not use any barrier methods and really want to wait. Charting temperatures as well as cervical fluid is important. Especially the cervical fluid as it shows up before ovulation and will give a couple a chance to abstain until after ovulation.

      Basically, breastfeeding is not a form of birth control or family planning and other practices will need to be put into place if they do not want another baby so soon.

  31. Katie

    The reason I would like to become pregnant soon is that I am going on 32. I know that’s not “old”; I am just paranoid that something will be wrong and I want to give my kids the best chance to be healthy.

    Still breastfeeding a VERY healthy 10-month-old. We cosleep and he will start crying around 11 (maybe twice between 10:30 & midnight) to feed, as well as sometime in the wee hours. I used to want him to sleep through the night, but this works for us and, I think, gives him some security. But right now I wish we could ease up enough that I would be fertile again!

    Any advice on this, and any links to what women can do to boost their babies’ chances of being healthy (I realize that’s a broad question)? I know the chances of DS and so on are supposed to go up by 35, but I do wonder if hormonal birth control and the many, many toxins in most of our daily lifestyles play a part in that.


    • Donielle Baker

      Yes, big question! 😀

      Personally I don’t recommend “trying” to conceive while breastfeeding, and many women experience a natural “infertility” during this time, some women until the baby/toddler fully weans.

      And I also think that diet plays a huge part in the health of the baby. You can check out some of my thoughts here: http://www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com/start-here/

      • Oli

        Thank you for the article! I am a 41 yr old mom trying to conceive a 2nd baby. My toddler is 3 1/2 months old & we have been TTC for 1.5 years using the Creighton model. My luteal phases are 14 days on avg, progesterone and estrogen stable, and my period returned even with exclusive breastfeeding at 3 months. My periods are regular as is the cervical mucus however we have been unable to conceive. The only difference is nursing. We are down to once a day, more recently 3 times a day. I never had any challenges conceiving, just keeping two babies due to my body’s inability to process folic acid (MTHFR.. (sp?). Do you have any thoughts with older mother’s trying to conceive (and/or the MTHFR deficiency) and the effects nursing even after nursing is down to once a day? I am trying to gently wean my daughter to completely stop, and at the same time honor my daughter who is not ready to fully weaning. Thank you!

  32. Iqra

    I am breastfeeding of 9 month old baby boy.He feeds 2-4 times in day&night. Now we plan to have our next baby but there is no conception. My monthly periods are regular. What can be the reason?

    • Donielle Baker

      Do you know for sure that you are ovulating? It’s possible that even though you have regular periods, you aren’t actually ovulating?

      Do you chart your cycle and know how long the luteal phase is? It’s common while breastfeeding to have lower amounts of progesterone which shortens the luteal phase to the point where it can not sustain a pregnancy. Charting your temperature and cervical fluid will help you know when you ovulate and how long your luteal phase is.

      For some women it’s the body’s way of self-preservation in not allowing another pregnancy when it feels it cannot sustain itself, a nursing baby, and a pregnancy. I know quite a few women that, even though they were ovulating, they could not conceive until after full weaning. The best thing to do is get plenty of nourishment, plenty of sleep, and allow the body to “do it’s thing” without pushing it.

  33. Julie

    I understand folks who are saying that under ideal circumstances, women ahould wait and heal. However, I have many friends who started a family late in life often because they didnt marry until they were In their late 30s. Waiting 3 years to try again is just not an option. Sometimes even a year is much too long.

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