Although you definitely can conceive while lactating, getting pregnant while breastfeeding is not necessarily easy for all women. Prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production, can inhibit FSH and GnRH production, which blocks ovulation from being triggered. So when my husband and I decided to start trying for a second baby, I had no idea whether I could conceive because I was still nursing my toddler. My first postpartum period did not arrive until 17 months after I had given birth, and my cycles continued to be wildly irregular. To increase my chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding, I turned to the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).
Listening to Your Body
The Fertility Awareness Method, or natural family planning, is generally used as a birth control method that does not require medications or medical devices. But you can also use it to observe your body for signs of fertility throughout your menstrual cycle. From the first day until the last day of each cycle, your cervical fluid (CF) changes from dry to sticky and then from creamy to stretchy. During your most fertile days, your CF increases in quantity and becomes a consistency similar to an egg white. When that happens, your body is preparing to ovulate.
Your basal body temperature (BBT) also indicates ovulation. BBT is the lowest temperature attained by the body within a 24-hour time frame, usually after a few hours of restful sleep. On average, your BBT increases by half a degree after you ovulate and remains higher until your next period. Looking for a spike in your BBT can help you determine whether you are ovulating, which is especially important when you are planning on getting pregnant while breastfeeding.
How to Use FAM to Conceive
I had been breastfeeding my daughter for two years when my husband and I decided to try to have a second baby. However, due to the irregularity of my cycles, I needed help determining whether I was ovulating. I started charting my cervical fluid and basal body temperature. Every morning, I took my temperature using a BBT thermometer and plotted the number on my fertility chart. Every evening before bed, I recorded the type of cervical fluid that I had observed during the day. By looking for egg white CF, my husband and I could time sex better for conception. I was also able to determine that getting pregnant while breastfeeding was possible for me because my BBT showed a shift that indicated I was ovulating. My husband and I successfully conceived our second baby in only two cycles.