Mothers who enjoy breastfeeding their new babies may not be aware that nursing slows the return of fertility. While many new parents may be relieved that the chance of another pregnancy is lowered by breastfeeding, others may be torn between continuing the breastfeeding relationship between mom and baby, and conceiving another child. Fortunately, there are some concrete steps mothers can take to hasten the return of fertility while still nursing.
Things You'll Need
- Writing utensil
Monitor Nursing Habits
Record each nursing session in a notebook. Label the top of the page with the date. Each time you nurse your baby, record the length of time. Don't forget to record night sessions as well, since these are a very important factor in return of fertility.
After about two or three days of recording all nursing sessions, examine your data. Pay close attention to the average number of nursing sessions per day, as well as the time of day at which they occur.
Cut back on the number of nursing sessions per day. If your baby is older than six months and has started solids, try to begin by replacing one afternoon or late morning nursing session with solid foods.
After a couple of days with one reduced nursing session, try to take away another. If you do this until your nursing sessions are between four and seven hours apart, your period is much more likely to return, allowing for the next baby to be conceived.
Of course, regular intercourse will always increase your chances of conceiving.
Tips & Warnings
- If your baby is less than six months old, and has not yet begun to eat solid foods, then breast milk is his primary source of nutrition. Don't rush weaning with a baby of this age. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be exclusively breastfed for at least six months.
- Be sure to decrease nursing sessions gradually. Abrupt changes are no more helpful than slow changes, and a gradual transition will be easier on baby. It will also decrease the chances of clogged ducts.
- Remember, just because your period has not returned does not mean you cannot conceive. Many women ovulate while breastfeeding without the return of menstrual bleeding. Take regular pregnancy tests to ensure that you are not, in fact, pregnant.
- As mentioned above, decreasing the amount of nursing time can sometimes be difficult to balance with milk production. If your breasts feel very full, you may want to use a breast pump to empty them, in order to avoid clogged ducts or mastitis. However, this does not usually cause a problem unless the decrease is abrupt and drastic.
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