updated 28 May 2011, 08:21
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Can I become pregnant while breastfeeding?

When you are breastfeeding, the hormone that your body makes to stimulate milk production, called prolactin, acts to prevent the release of eggs from your ovaries. This prevents menstruation and therefore there will not be any ovulation.

However, every woman's body is different and hormone levels vary from one woman to the other.

For some women, the ovaries continue to release eggs despite the presence of prolactin
produced by breastfeeding. Therefore, breastfeeding does not always prevent pregnancy.

In studies conducted by the World Health Organization and researchers to determine if
breastfeeding can effectively prevent pregnancy, results have shown that in 98 percent of the times, breastfeeding was a barrier to conception if three criteria were met:

- You must be fully or nearly fully breastfeeding. This means you should be breastfeeding
at night and have regular and small intervals between feeding times.

- You have not resumed your menstrual periods. Any kind of vaginal bleeding after the
56th postpartum day is a sign that fertility has returned.

- Your baby is younger than six months.

Any disruption to breastfeeding such as when you return to work, introducing solid food into the baby’s diet or when the baby sleeps through the night, your chances of conceiving improves.

Even if you continue to nurse your baby beyond six months, your chances of getting pregnant are significantly higher even if your menstruation has not returned.

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