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How I Got Pregnant While Breastfeeding

Photograph by Instagram

There are many causes of infertility but one that seems to go unmentioned is breastfeeding. I’m one of the many moms who have decided to long-term breastfeed my child. I’ve seen the health benefits of it, as well as the emotional benefits, but one thing I’ve really struggled with is how hard it is to conceive another baby while continuing to breastfeed my toddler. Ready for our second child, my husband and I tried to get pregnant again. More than a year and a half passed without any luck.

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After the birth of our firstborn, the midwife told us that breastfeeding was a 98 percent effective form of contraception by using LAM (or the Lactational Amenorrhea Method). This was fantastic news for us! We wanted to wait a while before having another baby and enjoy our newborn. I loved the idea of not having to take another form of birth control. I was already breastfeeding on demand so not being able to get pregnant because of it was just an added bonus.

This journey is something that I’m not alone in. Part of me felt guilty about being frustrated.

But once my menstrual cycle returned, I knew the Lactational Amenorrhea Method was something we could no longer rely on as a guarantee. My husband and I spoke about the possibility of having another baby and decided that we would be ready for whatever happened. The problem was that nothing ever did—even when we intentionally tried for another child.

This journey is something that I’m not alone in. There are other moms I’ve spoken to or have read about who are trying to get pregnant but can’t for the same reason: breastfeeding. Part of me felt guilty about being frustrated. I know there are plenty of women who can’t ever conceive and here I was complaining about not being able to get pregnant with our second child. But this was my own reality and something I couldn’t just ignore, so we made an adjustment. We swapped places during our daughter’s nighttime routine and that’s when everything changed.

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I continued to nurse her frequently throughout the day but started to get my husband involved in the evenings. I would send her off with him after a good nursing session so he could bathe her and then rock her straight to sleep. This meant she was going anywhere from eight to 10 hours without needing me (i.e., without breastfeeding). I honestly believe that spacing out our time together meant that my prolactin levels had a chance to decrease, causing my reproductive hormones to rise. Within a couple of weeks of this new routine, conception happened. I was finally pregnant.

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