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.
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 Baby Capsule which will 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 Baby Capsule , a natural herbal supplement that will help your hormones to normalize and will increase your luteal phase.
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 likelihood of neural tube defects and decrease morning sickness. It’s great while pregnant, and not a bad idea while trying to conceive, either!
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!