Contributed by – Dr. Dhrity Vats
A lot of myths revolve around sex and pregnancy. Because of hushed discussions the truth never comes out. One such myth is – A mother will not get pregnant until she is breastfeeding. A large number of people have faith in this myth. But do not get misguided and lose control to become a second-time mother by believing in the myth that you can have unprotected sex if you were lactating.
When you have delivered a baby, your hormones go on a splurge. Your glands in the breasts are activated by the oxytocin hormone to produce milk. Your breasts produce milk depending upon the stimulation they get from the baby. Sometimes the stimulation could also be through massage and suction pumps which manually or by machine create a vacuum for the suctioning. The more is the suckling by baby more would be the milk produced which even highly depends on your diet.
Breastfeeding mothers face amenorrhea which is the period for which they are not having their menstrual cycle. This delay is called Lactational Amenorrhea, or LAM. It happens due to the prolactin hormone which produces milk. It suppresses the release of hormones that cause eggs to mature and become fertile and the lining of the womb to nourish fertile eggs. So, in simple terms breastfeeding delays ovulation in the uterus which reduces the chances of fertilization when the sperm comes in. This LAM is the best way to hint the parents that it’s a little too early for a sibling for the baby.
There is no exact and proven method of contraception by breastfeeding. Mothers who are extensively breastfeeding for the initial 6 months of infants who are not on formula milk face the amenorrhea hence chances of getting pregnant after unprotected sex is likely less.
Mothers of infants who are not exclusively breastfed and are now on formula and semi-solid foods have a lesser amount of milk produced by the glands. These mothers generally get their periods also as soon as they reduce the frequency of breastfeeding to their babies. As there is less prolactin getting produced the ovulation would automatically start increasing and fertilization could occur after getting in contact with semen. To increase your chances of not getting pregnant you can breastfeed your baby extensively. But there are baby’s growth demands which will reduce your breastfeed and increase your probability of getting pregnant again.
So, for protection do not use breastfeeding as a weapon. To prevent pregnancy after you have your baby, use birth control every time you have sex, even if you’re breastfeeding. Discuss, talk and read about different types of methods like a condom, IUD’s during breastfeeding phase to keep a gap between your children and for your improved health. Prefer not using oral contraceptives while you are breastfeeding as it would interfere and would not be safe for your even minimally breastfed baby. If your periods have returned then also you should not depend much on the calendar method of contraception. If you are breastfeeding, the ovulation in your body would depend upon how much prolactin is being produced in the body which is not measured. Your period cycle would also not be within the old cycle. It can range from 10 days to months.
Breastfeeding delays ovulation but gives no contraception. Be smart, be careful and play intelligently.
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