If you are currently breastfeeding and already dreaming about getting pregnant again, you are not alone! Many women think about adding to their family before they’ve finished breastfeeding.
While it is true that breastfeeding can delay the return of your fertility – especially if you are breast feeding frequently – it is not necessary for you to wean when you are trying to become pregnant. If you are getting regular periods again, it is likely that you are fertile. Talk to your GP, midwife or health visitor for more advice regarding family planning and pre-conceptual care.
If you do become pregnant whilst breastfeeding, it’s good to know that research shows that it is perfectly safe to breastfeed when you are pregnant. Many mums continue to breastfeed throughout their pregnancy and go on to feed both their new-born and their older child (also known as tandem feeding). The taste of breastmilk changes when you are pregnant, so don’t be surprised if your older child reduces the amount of feeds he/she takes. Sometimes an older child may self-wean at this point.
It’s a really good idea to do a quick check of your health when thinking about having another baby. Things to consider are your weight, diet, and exercise in particular. Being as close to your pre-pregnant weight is a really good starting point, research has shown that women with a normal BMI tend to have an easier pregnancy and birth! Take a look at your diet; are you having enough fruit and veg? What about folic acid? When it comes to exercise most mums are kept busy, but now is a great time to just check that you are getting out and about on a regular basis, walking and swimming are great fun ways to increase your activity and baby can join you too! It’s very important to think about lifestyle changes too, smoking, drinking alcohol, taking drugs can really affect your own health and that of your child’s and unborn baby. Get support from your health professionals about how to make changes to your lifestyle – they will be able to point you in the right direction.
Remember to enjoy this time, stress can actually decrease your chances of getting pregnant. Think about asking family or friends to babysit so that you and your partner can have some ‘date-nights’ again! Relax and be healthy and happy, then you are more likely to conceive.