Ask an Expert! Being 13 months postpartum, having not had the return of my period, and currently breastfeeding, what are the chances of becoming pregnant?
Also, if I were to become pregnant & still breastfeeding, what is the healthiest way to ensure both pregnancy and breastfeeding baby both get the proper nutrients to be healthy?
Breastfeeding/chestfeeding is considered to be a natural birth control method, called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). It usually postpones the return of the menstrual cycle by preventing ovulation from occurring due to elevated prolactin levels.
Exclusive breastfeeding/chestfeeding may be effective in preventing pregnancy in people who gave birth within the last 6 months, and haven’t begun their period yet.
There’s a big warning here though – It’s important to note that LAM is not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. Which is why your Midwife or OB/Gyn spoke to you about contraception at your 6 week follow-up appointment. It’s absolutely possible to get pregnant without experiencing your period.
The importance of Prenatal Vitamins During Breastfeeding/Chestfeeding
When breastfeeding/chestfeeding, it’s recommended to continue taking your prenatal vitamin as your baby is also using it to fill their vitamin and mineral stores. If you happen to become pregnant while breastfeeding/chestfeeding you’ll need these vitamins and minerals in a prenatal vitamin to support a healthy pregnancy.
Your prenatal vitamin should ideally contain methyfolate, the active form of folate, as it helps to prevent neural tube defects. Ideally, folate levels should be around 600 mcg, though in some cases such as a neural tube defect in a prior pregnancy, a higher dose of folate is required.
You may also want to consider taking a high quality fish oil that contains DHA to support brain function in the child who is breastfeeding/chestfeeding, as well as to support fetal neurological development throughout your pregnancy.
Having a Healthy Diet is Helpful
While supplements can act as an insurance policy for getting all those necessary vitamins and minerals, a well-rounded and healthy diet will act as a strong foundation for your nutritional needs.
Aim for 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, as well as ensuring you’re meeting your protein requirements. Daily protein intakes are around 79g/day early in pregnancy, and 108g/day late in pregnancy.
Feel free to book an appointment with one of our Naturopathic Doctors to help you meet your nutritional goals throughout all three trimesters of your pregnancy, and into postpartum. They can also provide guidance as to which supplements are safe and most appropriate for you during pregnancy and lactation.
About Dr. Alexsia Priolo
Dr. Alexsia is a Naturopathic Doctor with a strong focus on perinatal health. She guides women during their reproductive years on their journey from maiden to mother. She does this by helping women achieve and maintain pregnancies, as well as supports them during their prenatal and postpartum period. Click here to learn more about Dr. Alexsia.