Breastfeeding Versus Fertility

Updated on September 24, 2007
A.M. asks from Oak Park, IL
4 answers

I am 41 and had a lovely baby girl 4 and a half months ago. I was very lucky as a single mom by choice, I conceived at the first insemination. I was then 40. I am now breast feeding my little sweetie which I really enjoy doing. She gets a little formula as I am back to work and expressing is pretty hard for me at work. I do it twice a day and get maybe 12 oz irrespective of taking fenugreek, drinking water etc etc.

I would really like to have a sibling for her but I amn't menstrating at present. My fertility doc says I likely amn't ovulating because I am breastfeeding so much. This may or may not be true but for insemination, I imagine they need a start date of menstration. Given that I am already 41 and a half, I now have a icky choice - stop breast feeding soon so that I can menstrate and maybe be lucky again or feed her longer and worry that my fertility is decreasing.

Does anyone have experience as to how much or little breastfeeding one could do to start menstrating?

I know that if I use fertility drugs, I will definitely have to stop breast feeding but I could try a cycle or two without the drugs.


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answers from Chicago on


you can read about lactational amenhorrea -
essentially once you start to introduce other foods or liquids you will no longer be "protected". as you have introduced formula you may find that you will menstruate in the near future.

good luck to you

Pres. Lactation Support Group. Inc



answers from Chicago on

I don't know much about fertility but I have a friend who had her first daughter when she was 37, no issues at all, and is now pregnant with her second without ever having got a period. She was still breastfeeding and got pregnant when her little Isabella was 9 months old. SO it can be done. I got pregnant again when my daughter was 14 months old and still breastfeeding with a few irregular periods here and there. I think as soon as she starts solids is when they say that the natural birth control period is over. Exclusively breastfeeding protects you about 90% I think although I'm not sure about insemination...You can ovulate without bleeding and vice versa.
I applaud you for whatever decision you make. It's a huge undertaking having babies with a partner, I can't imagine going it alone. Good for you.



answers from Chicago on

Hi Ann MArie- i nursed all 4 of my kids for over a year and my period returned at different times with each child. With my oldest, she started food at 6 monthes and I got my period (and pregnant the next month). The other 3 ranged from 11 monthes to 14 monthes so there is no "set time" your cycle will return.
I hope this info is helpful and best of luck tho you!



answers from Chicago on

Tough choices here when you feel like the clock is ticking. I can tell you that I've heard moms have *wildly* varying experiences here. On average your period comes back around 14 months if you breastfeed on demand, but it can range from 4-24 months. I exclusively breastfed my son when he was young, and continue to feed him 2x/day now that he's 16 months old. I started taking Vitex (an herb) about 2 months ago to see if I could coax my cycles back again since we are interested in conceiving a second child. I finally ovulated 4 days ago, for the first time (!) I think it probably would have happened on its own by Christmas of this year, regardless of the Vitex.

If you continue to breastfeed your baby you will probably start menstruating arond the time she's 12 months +/-, or when you wean her. Other things that can jump start it include abruptly cutting back on nursing (you may not have to completely wean). Lots of people I know had their period come back when they were down to 2 feedings or less per day. You just need to decide whether you can stand to wait another few months to conceive. I will tell you that I think having kids really close can be very tough for the first year. Good luck whatever you decide.

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