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Getting pregnant while breastfeeding - Advice from experienced mamas?!!

(27 Posts)
Giuseppino80 Thu 12-Jun-14 08:50:21

Hello, new to this - posting on a forum....and motherhood! I wasn't sure whether to start a new thread or how to join in the last one so sorry if this messes up existing conversations and do let me know if I need to move it elsewhere.

I am mother to an 8 month old baby boy. He was exclusively breastfed until 6 months. He is now on solids and I am combination feeding. We would love to have another baby as soon as possible (this was the reason I decided combination feed / reduce breastfeeding). My understanding is that fertility returns when breastfeeding is drastically reduced or stopped completely and my questions to other mamas relates to this issue:

- has anyone reduced breastfeeding significantly and had their period return? If so, what was the timescale between the bfing reduction and the period?

- did anyone have to stop bfing completely and if so at what point did you realise that you would need to in order for fertility to return? How soon after stopping did your period come back?

I would like to continue breastfeeding my son if possible. I was hoping that a significant reduction might trigger ovulation but no sign yet. I am trying to work out how long to wait before making a decision about whether to stop completely.

Some details:
We co sleep. He night weaned a week ago. He currently breastfeeds at: 6.30pm, 5am, 6am, 8.30am.

Also, does anyone think the early morning feeds might prevent fertility from returning? Do you think I should drop the 8.30 feed and see if that triggers ovulation?

I would love to hear your stories, thoughts, wise words, advice - any mama who might be able to help, and especially anyone who is / was in a similar boat (and especially especially if you were ttc when your baby was under 1ish) xxxxxxx

ManchesterAunt Thu 12-Jun-14 18:32:48

Took me 10 months till I got my first period when breastfeeding. And another 6 weeks till I got pregnant. I was still breastfeeding a lot.

As soon as I got pregnant my milk supply went right down.

Mrsantithetic Thu 12-Jun-14 18:35:13

I was still bf dd 3-4 hours daily and overnight when I conceived dc2.

Now 8 months pg and still bf although morning and night plus one during day plus one during night. Noticed a drop in my milk 2-3 months back to normal by 6 months pg

Giuseppino80 Thu 12-Jun-14 21:03:18

Hello Machester Aunt and Mrsantithetic - thank you both for messaging. It looks like you didn't actively change your breastfeeding pattern at all and managed to get pregnant - amazing! I am too worried that mine won't come back so reluctantly started to combination feed - I came across a lot of posts saying that they were breastfeeding toddlers at 1, 2 years old and no periods - and I just don't want to be in that situation.
Did you guys use OPKs or did you just go with it and roughly know when you were ovulating?
thanks again, much appreciated

AntinousWild Thu 12-Jun-14 21:07:33

I was bfing dd round the clock, at least 2 hourly. I ovulated when she was 11 weeks old.

DS slept through from v young, big gaps between feeds. I ovulated when he was 12 months old.

Sometimes it makes no sense.

Giuseppino80 Thu 12-Jun-14 22:10:21

that truly makes no sense! Its so confusing! But obviously different for everyone. I read on another website re a mama who had similar experience to you and she came across some research on metabolic load theory which has its origins in research carried out in a South American community. Basically, the fertility group of women came back much more quickly when compared to the norm (2 or 3 year gaps for communities where mothers breastfeed on demand) the reason found was a sharp increase in insulin prior to ovulation. the increase in insulin was related to diet and activity. So basically eating more and doing less will trigger ovulation....! (according do this!). Not sure if that theory fits for you?!!!

Mrsantithetic Fri 13-Jun-14 07:54:52

I had sex for the first time since dd was born.

That was it.

Bearing in mind it took 3 years to conceive dd it was a bit of a surprise!

AntinousWild Fri 13-Jun-14 13:43:11

I eat healthily and run 4 times a week so not sure the theory fits tbh. I think I was just unlucky!

Justpickagoddamnname Fri 13-Jun-14 14:09:06

I had to stop bf altogether. I tried reducing bf quite suddenly but still no return of fertility so at 14 months stopped altogether and had period in about six weeks I think. Tbh it really does seem to just be different for different women. I have friends who demand bf and periods returned in six weeks after birth. I would have loved to continue bf but it just seemed fertility wasn't going to come back.
I read that the number and duration of bf I more important than when you bf but that some women need to stop altogether. Bf also made sex prohibitively painful for me so it really was an absolute birth control for us!

Justpickagoddamnname Fri 13-Jun-14 14:12:24

Ps I also know a woman, leche league member in fact, whose periods did not return for a year after stopping bf altogether.

naturalbaby Fri 13-Jun-14 14:15:01

I think I read something about baby going more than 3hrs overnight triggering ovulation. Ds1 went slightly longer on a couple of occasions overnight so af returned and I was pregnant again when he was 6 months old. I was still ebf and he was still feeding once or twice in the night.

Giuseppino80 Fri 13-Jun-14 20:19:45

ah to me that seems super lucky! MrsAnt, Antinous, and naturalbaby, getting pregnant again while breastfeeding and not expecting to be expecting!
JustpickaG -thank for sharing the other side of the coin. I am worried that I will have to stop breastfeeding completely too which is why I cut down so soon. Did you know at any particular stage that you would need to stop completely or did you to really think about it until your baba was over a year? How much were you feeding your baba at one year?
xx

VioletGoesVintage Fri 13-Jun-14 20:30:29

I've done it twice. Once when DC was fifteen months old and still BFing in the morning. Period returned when he was 12 months, which was about the time I went back to work and he dropped the evening feed.

The second time was when DC2 was just over 2 and still BFing morning, evening and hmm overnight. IIRC my period returned at much the same time as with DC1, at about 12 months after birth, even though I was BFing much more frequently. I've never combination fed.

A friend of mine got pregnant with her second while still feeding her 11 month old and before she'd even had a period. So it can happen although I'm sure it's different for everyone.

imip Fri 13-Jun-14 20:47:15

Everyone is very different. I, too, was very very eager to conceive again quickly due to a previous stillbirth, pervious infertility and being 35+

I wanted to breastfeed too, but I did have to give up. I night weaned dd1 at 10 months. For a month or so beforehand, I had tried a different approach to not feed at all during the day and only feed at night (on demand every hour or two). Not surprisingly, I couldn't cope with the night and weaned totally. Period arrived back and I conceived dd2 at 11 months first go.

I tried to nightwean dd2 earlier at 8 months. It took longer, but by 11 months my period hadn't returned so at 12 months I stopped and got my period and conceived dd3 first go.

I had more trouble convincing dh on dc4 so I kept feeding, but dd3 was a better sleeper and less likely to breastfeed. My period returned when she was 13 months old and I conceived first go again. After infertility, I realise what a blessing this is...

My periods returned with dc4 at 16 months. About the time I night weaned. Now 2.5 yrs on, my cycle is shorter, 23-4 days gyne says due to bf.

If I had my time again, I'd bf straight through til one yo. IMHO, it's the easiest time to wean. Depends I guess on yr age and no. Of holderness you want. Good luck!

imip Fri 13-Jun-14 20:47:45

Grrr no of dc, not holderness!

Giuseppino80 Fri 13-Jun-14 21:01:41

hi imip...thank you. am i right in thinking that night weaning was the key for your periods coming back? I know for 2 babas that seems to the the case and I wondered the same about your other two. Did you ttc AFTER your first period each time?

I am 34 now, with an 8 month old baby. I would like to have 4 children, but I guess we will keep re-assessing as we go. I think this is why i feel s much pressure to keep reproducing. Sometime I wish that we had started younger, but then I wonder about what a different parent i would have been - even five years ago.

imip Fri 13-Jun-14 22:17:53

No, I'd don't believe it was in the <12 month scenarios, though I acted on that assumption every time. I day-time weaned after dd1 and should have had the same effect. Didnt work for dd2. I had to completely give up feeding both times. I think it was for me just waiting for 12-ish months.

I was always pretty desperate to get pregnant again and very concerned as we had had infertility with our oldest daughter who was still born. I had my dcs at 35, 37, 38 and 40 with 19, 20 and 22 months between them. Upon reflection I would just have weaned at 12 months, but in reality, I was just bloody blessed to fall pregnant each time straight away with the last four (although massively fucking unfortunate to experience infertility, and most significantly a stillbirth), which, in my quest for a family, made me feel like 3 years of my life had been stolen.

I did ttc (sex every second day from day 7 for two weeks) on the return of my period. I know I hadn't ovulated before the first period as I am very in tune with my cycle due to infertility.

Don't worry about whether you so should have started younger, can't change it, enjoy the life that you had! While I tried sooner, I'm glad with all that I did before children. My kids are appalling sleepers and I don't think bf helped, I don't know how I could have handled that at a younger age!

captainproton Fri 13-Jun-14 22:32:59

There is 14 months between my 2. I had periods when I started introducing solids. I got pg with DC1 on first attempt so we assume we're just very fertile. I remember asking my gp how long it would take to get pg again after DC1 was born, I was worried it would take a long time as I was breast feeding. She just smiled and said if I wasn't pg within a year to come back and see her.

I think the bf-contraception theory is a bit of a myth. It probably works in the early days when little babba is permanently suckling. But in the grand scheme of things that stage doesn't last very long.

So maybe give it a year and see what happens?

Justpickagoddamnname Sat 14-Jun-14 09:11:10

CAptain, upstream I explain why bf as a contraception certainly was not a myth for us...
OP, I think as time went by, and I realised bloody everyone I knew ( bar one) had their periods return a very long time ago, that I realised not having my periods return yet was a bit unusual. And I was pushing 41 ( was 41 by time stopped bf) so time not on my side. And hearing la leche story of a year for fertility to return was final push.I think was still demand bf at one but quickly dropped all day feeds and just night fed once or twice a night ( as latest research showed the time of feelings doesn't affect fertility and I didn't want to arse about with bottles at night).
Do miss bf though. ( me, not ds, he took to bottle very well!)

Justpickagoddamnname Sat 14-Jun-14 09:13:43

Ps I also know someone else who had to stop bf completely for fertllity to return and another whose fertility has not returned yet at 15 months. It really is different for everyone.

captainproton Sat 14-Jun-14 18:13:32

It is different for everyone and most definitely not a reliable form of contraception.

Giuseppino80 Sat 14-Jun-14 22:26:56

HI imip, felt a really mix of feelings reading your message - can't even begin to let myself think about the experience of childbirth and how you begin to recover from such grief; and at the same time feeling happy and smiling to myself reading about your children and when they were born (and how quickly after stating ttc!). How lovely to have them all so close together.

JustpickA - what does the latest research say about the time of feedings and fertility? I thought everything said to stop feeding at night because of hormone levels etc. - but maybe this has changed recently - am curious!

Hope its ok to ask.....but from your posts, some of you are in early 40's with young children (and I will be too, probably) - what has this been like? That's a bit of a random question......I suppose I was wondering about pro's and con's or anything that surprised you?

Justpickagoddamnname Sun 15-Jun-14 20:03:13

Guiseppino, I can't remember what website I found that on sorry, but it said that basically it is the total time breastfeeding ( frequency and length of feeds) that seems to affect fertility rather than time of day of feeds.

As for having kids at a later age, well, it is tiring! But then I have always needed my sleep so may have been just as tired if I had them earlier. I don't have a comparison sorry! I guess I feel that I have grown a lot as a person in the past few years before having ds, so I feel I am in a better place psychologically and emotionally to raise a child: more life experience, more insight into myself and all that. I find it hard to say if it would have been better or worse if I had them earlier. I feel more settled in my work which I think will help. We have more money. But then again, we won't have time after ds leaves home to save money for retirement without working till we are really old. And we will just see less of ds's life as we will die when he is fairly young. That last point makes me think that, On balance, it is better to have kids younger but I am where I am so no point in fruitless pondering!

imip Sun 15-Jun-14 21:23:15

I guess you just need to keep moving on, I couldn't have not ever had a family from grief, if anything, it made my desire even stronger.

I think if you have other children, having a small child when you are in your early 40s is not a bother as you've been doing it for a while. Not that I really think it matters when you have a baby, I just wouldn't want it spread throughout my 20s, 30s and 40s as I couldn't imagine the sleep deprivation!

The biggest thing is that we are very very financially stable. I know it doesn't happen for everyone, but having dcs from 35+ meant that we had a very healthy deposit for a house, furniture, investments, travelled a lot, a decent car. If we had done all that say 10 years before, I'm sure we'd be struggling to save a deposit, wouldn't have investments or a pension, probably a crap car, or a loan for a better one. I'm not saying this is neccescarily a bad thing, but it's eased the pressure on us and allowed me to be a sahm.

Of course, we will be older grandparents. However, I have a little theory that our kids will probably have kids younger in retaliation to us having them older! My mum was 21 When she had me and 34 with my dsis, she never really worked and doesn't now at 64 years. They are dirt poor, but mine are a dysfunctional bunch. I certainly wouldn't have had kids that young as a direct response to the age of my mum.

Giuseppino80 Sun 15-Jun-14 22:25:35

You are right Justpick! No point in fruitless pondering, think I tend to over ponder and like any decisions / circumstances there will be pros and cons like you and Imip have described. Since having baba, have felt the happiest I ever have..... That should probably answer my question!!!!

Xx

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