There are a few factors to take in to consideration when looking at using fertility awareness whilst you are breastfeeding. The very act of breastfeeding, the stimulation of the nipples to produce the milk increases prolactin and therefore does affect your fertility putting you in to a state of Lactational Amenorrhea, a term used for the continued absence of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Prolactin turns off your ovulatory hormones. In some cases, as we will discuss, this can be an effective form of birth control. Yet it depends on how you are doing this as to whether or not it is effective.
An important point to note – the stimulation from a breast pump does not produce the same amount as prolactin as does when the baby is suckling.
If you are not breastfeeding exclusively and on demand; if you are not topping up with bottles and formula; and if you are not separated from your baby for extended periods of time; AND you are in the for 3-6 months post-partum, it is said that you have 0-1% chance of getting pregnant. Without these measures in place, it is likely that your cycle could return in around 6 months post-partum or before. In which case it IS possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding.
What’s very important to understand, is that for a period to arrive, most women will have first ovulated around 2 weeks prior. In which case, your fertility actually returns prior to that first period. So how do you know when and if I you are ovulating? Especially when cycles can be very irregular and long, it can be tricky to know exactly what’s happening as your hormones make all of their adjustments. This is where it is very beneficial to chart. You simply just need to know what you are looking for.
Using a Sympto-T
hermal method of Fertility Awareness, cervical fluid and your basal body temperature are the signs of fertility that you want to be checking. Cervical position can also be added to these biomarkers. And this is something that needs to be done every day. Not just when you see a change.
It is absolutely viable and possible to do this and to use this as your method of contraception. However there are many variables at play, therefore working with a trained educator is essential while you chart and navigate this seemingly uncertain period in the post-partum phase.