Everyone knows that pregnancy is accompanied by significant changes in the body of a woman. There is not a single system in a woman’s body that would not undergo a transformation in this period. After previous births, a woman ideally needs at least 2 years to restore the strengths of her body. If this interval is a shorter period of time, the body of a pregnant woman experiences double load. So is it possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding? What are the signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding?
When Can the Next Pregnancy Occur?
In most cases, pregnancy in a short period of time after delivery is unplanned. Many women do not pay enough attention to postpartum contraception – especially on the background of breastfeeding. The method of so-called “lactational amenorrhea” (absence of menstruation on the background of breastfeeding) is effective only in the absence of complementary feeding and replacement of part of the feedings. If you are breastfeeding your baby but the child doesn’t apply to the breast every feeding, the method loses its effectiveness. In the absence of breastfeeding, the fertility restores within 6-8 weeks after giving birth. The resumption of menstruation indicates the need for contraception.
Sometimes pregnancy occurs even in the absence of menstruation. The first ovulation or the release of a mature egg from the ovary leads to pregnancy, and menstruation does not start. On this background, a woman may not know about her pregnancy for a long time. Especially, if there are no signs of an early toxicosis or a mild manifestation of its symptoms (nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, incomprehensible malaise, etc.). If the pregnancy still occurs, the woman faces the question of its preservation. She needs to take into account not only the social conditions and her desire but also medical recommendations (the presence of contraindications to the continuation of this pregnancy).
What Changes in the Body?
First of all, changes occur in the reproductive and endocrine systems. The concentration of sex hormones increases. In the ovary, pregnancy support is carried out by the endocrine gland which provides the synthesis of the hormone progesterone necessary for the development of pregnancy. From the 5th week, the growth of the uterus begins. The activity of the thyroid gland and adrenal glands changes.
In the cardiovascular system, the volume of circulating blood increases. The heart rate, vice versa, decreases. Changes in the nervous system – both vegetative and central – lead to mood swings and an increase in the tone of the parasympathetic autonomic nervous system (part of the nervous system that is responsible for the work of the internal organs). This leads to drowsiness, nausea, some inhibition. There is an additional burden on the organs of the urinary system. The increased pressure on the vessels of the legs and the expansion of veins during pregnancy contribute to the appearance of varicose veins disease.
Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
A nursing woman often explains many signs of pregnancy as fatigue: sleepless nights, constant anxiety for the baby, and incomplete recovery after childbirth.
These symptoms include the following conditions:
- Discomfort and soreness in the mammary glands. Breastfeeding often thickens the mammary glands, leads to cracking nipples and aching areoles;
- The absence of menstruation. During lactation, the period may be absent until the milk production stops. If a woman does not have menstruation for more than six months after pregnancy, she should do a pregnancy test, even in the absence of characteristic symptoms. Naturally, the cycle resumes by this time.
- There are heaviness in the uterus, sometimes uncharacteristic contractions. It can be postpartum changes or the occurrence of inflammatory diseases.
- Also, nausea, drowsiness, back pain can seem to be postpartum conditions as you often have to get up at night, carrying a heavy baby and so on.
Changes in Breast Milk – Changes in the Behavior of the Child
Here is an important sign of pregnancy while breastfeeding which even your baby will not miss. If you notice that the baby is no longer interested in your breast milk or even refuses to eat, you may already be pregnant. Pregnancy and hormonal changes alter the taste and the consistency of milk. Some children cannot accept this new formula of milk. Others will not even notice this change. Therefore, for more thorough control, watch for other signs.
Decrease in the Production of Milk
Another sign of pregnancy while breastfeeding may be a decrease in the production of breast milk. The body distributes its resources not only to breastfeeding but also to pregnancy to support a new baby.
Changes in the Mammary Glands
Some women have sensitivity, soreness, swelling of the breast and nipples which can make breastfeeding unbearable. This serious discomfort can cause a woman to stop breastfeeding or, at least, address this problem to a breastfeeding consultant. If an improper application, nipple injury, child biting, ovulation or premenstrual syndrome are excluded, then most likely this may be one of the signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding. Soreness can be not only in the first trimester but also throughout the entire pregnancy.
Common Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
The above signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding are not always felt by a woman. It is possible that there will be absolutely typical signs of pregnancy: morning sickness, fatigue, pain in the lower back, frequent urination, and so on.
A full break between pregnancies, according to doctors, should be 3-4 years. Or at least 2 years. If the pregnancy still occurred, it is quite possible to continue breastfeeding during pregnancy. Consult a doctor.
Changes in taste and perception of fragrances, moodiness and similar factors can also be signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding. Often a woman, despite the fact that she has been carrying a child, doesn’t understand that she got pregnant again because the signs of a new pregnancy are absolutely different from those she has faced during the first one.
Classic Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
As it has already been mentioned above, one of the classic symptoms of pregnancy is toxicosis. Some women did not face this phenomenon during the first pregnancy, so it can become a real surprise for them. Toxicosis is usually expressed by nausea that occurs in the morning and sometimes continues throughout the day. Sometimes this symptom arises suddenly. In other situations, it is a reaction to certain smells, actions, and even thoughts. Toxicosis can also be accompanied by vomiting. According to the doctors, all this cannot harm either the mother or the child. However, in particularly difficult cases, you may need to take some medication and even hospitalization.
The classic symptoms of pregnancy include the change in taste preferences and the perception of fragrances. A future mother may get irritated by a familiar smell while, at the same time, she may like sharp and unusual flavors.
Many pregnant women start liking only one or two foods. A frequent sign of pregnancy while breastfeeding is the desire to eat incongruous products.
Pregnancy can be manifested by changes in the emotional state – tearfulness, fatigue. However, during breastfeeding, these phenomena may seem to be an adaptation of a woman to the new role of a mother. So, do not consider them apart from others.
Can You Keep on Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding a child is not a means of contraception, preventing the conception of another baby. Therefore, when there are certain changes and signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding it is worth doing a pregnancy test.
- The child refuses the breast, shows signs of anxiety in the process of feeding, greedily sucks the breast but is not eating up the usual amount of milk;
- Retention of menstruation;
- Periodic pain and contractions in the lower abdomen;
- Nipple swelling, discomfort, and soreness during breastfeeding.
If you have these signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding you need to have a gynecological examination or an ultrasound.
A pregnancy test does not always show the exact results in the period of breastfeeding. This is due to changes in the hormonal background. Test’s results may be erroneous.
If pregnancy occurred and you intend to give birth to a child, then the question of continuing breastfeeding arises. Previously, a new pregnancy seemed to be almost a contraindication to continuing breastfeeding. Now pediatricians approach it more loyal. Even if the composition of the breast milk becomes less useful the baby still receives most of the nutrients from the mother’s milk. But if the baby refuses mother’s milk, the mother will need to consider alternative ways of feeding her child.