Extended Breastfeeding May Not Be Smart For Older Moms Who Want Another Baby

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Extended Breastfeeding May Not Be Smart For Older Moms Who Want Another Baby

I sit in my office with a woman before me – a mother to a toddler who is still breastfeeding.

She and her husband are trying for baby number two, month after month with no luck. She’s only nursing a couple of times per day plus when her little one is sick or hurt or can’t sleep.

This scenario plays over and over again in my office. With women asking…

“Do I need to stop breastfeeding to get pregnant?”

The answer is not completely clear.

Before I explain, let me say, I am a huge breastfeeding advocate.

It’s my opinion that mother’s milk is the best food for babies and nursing should be encouraged for as long as it is serving both child and mother.

That said, I believe that sometimes extended breastfeeding may inhibit fertility.

How Breastfeeding Normally Acts as Birth Control

In most mothers, the temporary birth control that breastfeeding provides is thought to be caused by the effect of the baby suckling. This built-in pregnancy prevention helps to keeps babies spaced at a healthy distance apart for the benefit of both mother and her children.

The constant nipple stimulation during the first several months postpartum limits the release of lutenizing hormone (LH), which then suppresses ovulation. Without the release of an egg from the ovaries, pregnancy cannot occur. When a baby starts solids (or formula) the mom’s period soon returns, and ovulation typically follows.  (source)

Another contributing factor to delayed postpartum fertility is prolactin, the hormone responsible for telling the body to make milk.  Elevated levels of prolactin can prevent ovulation and/or prevent the body from releasing enough progesterone, the hormone that makes it possible for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus. As the baby nurses less, prolactin levels fall, and fertility is soon restored. (source)

Can extended breastfeeding inhibit pregnancy?

Since toddlers don’t nurse as often as newborns and younger babies, it’s unlikely that the frequency of suckling will prevent conception.

It is possible, however, that elevated prolactin can get in the way of making a new baby, since prolactin may also be elevated in those who feel rundown, or are experiencing thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, too much stress, not enough sleep, or poor nutrition. (source)

Since the demands of motherhood often trigger some of the above symptoms, women who are trying for baby #2 (or #3 or more) should consider having prolactin tested if they are having difficulty conceiving this time around.

Why Age Matters…

I despise the term “advanced maternal age.” I see young, vibrant women every day who technically have this diagnosis, and frankly it seems harsh and ridiculous.

Unfortunately, though, age is an undeniable factor when it comes to fertility, and while getting older does not preclude you from having baby, a woman’s fertility actually peaks in her late 20’s. (source) Luckily, there are measures women can take to conserve fertility.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, each of us is born with a certain reproductive capacity and overall vitality. This is referred to as Jing or Essence. I like to think of Jing as our trust fund of vital energy that was bestowed on us at birth.  Ideally, we aren’t supposed to touch it, but throughout our lives our Jing is tapped for various reasons and naturally wanes over time.

Women cash in some of this reproductive capacity with each child that we bear. When we over-work, mismanage stress, and eat nutrient-deficient diets, the depletion of Jing may present as depression, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, thyroid imbalance or other health issues.

While breastfeeding can be a profound bonding experience, it can place nutritional and emotional demands on a mother’s body that may contribute to overall depletion – especially in older moms.

For women who want to have another child, it’s especially important to conserve your reproductive energy – eat well, sleep well, and manage stress. In addition to good maternal care, proper spacing between siblings also goes a long way to preventing unnecessary Jing deficiency.

Ultimately, mama knows best.

Is nursing depleting you?

If so, you may want to consider weaning your little one (and adding some extra self-care) before trying to conceive again.

Did you have challenges getting pregnant when you were nursing?

Please share your experiences in the comments below,

and if you’ve found this post interesting or helpful, please pass it on!

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    • France says

      I, too, would love some weaning suggestions. My little one just turned 2 and is nowhere near ready to wean and even though I’m not either, I know I have to for my health’s sake.

    • says

      I think it depends on what works best for your family. What worked for me may not work for you. That said, I will definitely write a post on this soon presenting some great suggestions.

    • says

      Hey Megan and France! I would like to heartily recommend “The Nursing Mother’s Guide to Weaning” by Kathleen Huggins. I was feeling ambivalent about continuing to breastfeed my then almost-2-year-old when I literally stumbled across this book at a used book store. I read the whole appropriate section (which has the woman who WANTS/WANTED to nurse in mind) after nursing my son to bed and immediately took action (like that night). Turns out (for us, and for many) that abrupt weaning (I hate the term, but it just means non-gradual) would cause the least crying and the least anxiety for my son and I both. Kind of like how potty training is usually better when done more quickly, weaning seems to be a similar animal. Quicker is often gentler. It’s more clear. My ambivalence from month 17-23 was actually making my son nurse MORE…it was a love/hate thing. I put Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) on my nipples that night and said “the Nanas must taste bad because you’re such a big boy now.” He asked for them for 4 days and then stopped asking. We blamed the Nanas and their horrid taste (this is what many tribal cultures do). Anyway…since you asked, there’s my 2 cents!!!! :)

      Emily – love this post. I am 35 and just conceived my 2nd child. I wasn’t fertile until I literally stopped BFing my then 2 year old. My menses had returned at 19 mos, but I really hit a moon rhythm at 24 mos. I am in the boat of wanting to conceive as many as possible before I’m 40…so I will definitely be weaning at 18 mos with the next one and trying to conceive right away! Thanks for the clear and lovely post. :) Andrea

  1. says

    This is so interesting to me! I had zero issues getting pregnant the first time around, and my cycle returned when my baby was about 10 months old. When my son was 16 months (and still nursing) we decided to try for another baby (I’m 32). As with the first time, I immediately got pregnant, but ended up miscarrying very early on- my period (the miscarriage) was barely even a week late, almost like implantation never even really occurred…? In the back of my mind, I wondered if nursing played into the miscarriage.

    • says

      Ashley, I’m sorry to read about your miscarriage. Out of my own curiosity I too wondered if breastfeeding while pregnant can cause complications. Kori below commented that she carried a baby to full term while breastfeeding, even against her practitioners advice. I’m curious to the science behind it all. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • says

      Hi Ashley – Thanks for sharing. Typically a miscarriage that early on is considered a ‘chemical pregnancy’. Chemical pregnancies are thought to be nature’s way of eliminating a pregnancy that wouldn’t result in a baby. This is quite normal and happens more often that one might think.

      Could it have to do with nursing? Maybe, maybe not. Breastfeeding is just one piece to consider when trying to conceive. I would say that if you continue to experience chemical pregnancies or have any of the health issues discussed in the post, you many want to consider waiting to get pregnant until you are done nursing. Wishing you the best!

  2. Kori says

    I’m so interested in this article – just saw your website through the “riding the wave” picture on FB!

    I was 39 when I got pregnant with my first-born, a little boy. When we thought about trying for a second child, around little boy’s 16 month mark, I did have one chemical pregnancy (only showed positive for a few days, then negative). Then, a couple of months later, I did get pregnant with my second-born, a little girl. The nurse practitioner I saw at my OB’s office told me to wean my son. I remember leaving that appointment feeling distraught and angry and completely upset. Because I was over 40, it made no difference that I had already had one healthy child, that I was and am healthy and fit, she just said “wean now.” I didn’t agree, so did more research. I checked in with every La Leche League article I could find, checked Kelly Mom’s website, checked random things, checked in with a Doula, read books on nursing while pregnant… and ultimately, I decided I would not wean my little boy. Our little girl went full term, without any issues! I think each mother has to consider her own endurance, her own health level, and disregard this “oh-mi-gosh-you’re-over-40-time-to-freak” issue. My little boy was my 39th birthday gift. My little girl was my 42nd. I tandem nursed both children until the little boy was almost four. She is still nursing now at 3.5. :)

    • says

      Hi Kori – Welcome, and thanks for sharing your experience here. I agree that each mama is different, and I wish that health care providers on a whole were more compassionate in their bedside manner, remembering that their patients are individuals not just a clinical case. Extending breastfeeding is certainly just one component to consider with fertility in ‘older’ moms, and many women will go on the conceive multiple children while nursing. I hope that this post presents this clearly. :)

  3. Frances says

    I have a 12 month old. I m ready to have another one. We have been trying and so far no luck. It has been about 4 months. I am still not having regular periods (they ate usually about 2 months apart), I have only had 3 so far. I am really torn with wanting to continue nursing bit also feeling like it is stopping ovulation. We had no trouble at all getting pregnant before. Also, I started opk last month and got a positive test but then no pregnancy and still on period. That was on the 17th of January. Can anyone give any advice?

    • says

      Hi Frances – It’s difficult to really advise you without getting to know more about your situation. Some things to consider though – At 1 year, many babies are still nursing quite a bit. It is possible that breastfeeding may be preventing adequate progesterone for implantation to occur, despite the fact that you are ovulating. . Also spacing babies at least 2 years apart is known to be best for fertility and the health of your and your children. Wishing you best!

  4. says

    Great write up! I was just discussing with my husband last night the science behind breastfeeding and all the hormones it releases & suppresses. I was wondering out loud that if children should ideally be breastfeeding for several years, does that mean that siblings ideally should be at least 3 years apart?

    My 19 month is still breastfeeding (morning & night and if she’s not feeling well, more) & so far my plan is to continue doing this until she’s done. Any suggestions on if I should wean & if so, how?

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Susie says

    My period didn’t return until 25 months, and I am THRILLED that it stayed away that long. My son still nurses quite a bit – 6-8 times a day and twice at night – so I’m sure that’s why my fertility stayed at bay for so long (although speaking to other moms who nurse on demand, two years really isn’t uncommonly long). Even though I am ovulating again, my luteal phase is only 8 days long and preventing anything from sticking.

    It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it, that your body knows when your baby still needs you and becomes fertile again after those needs diminish. I’ve been very grateful for that.

  6. Monique says

    Today I have been breastfeeding for 8 years! I am 41. My first son was born when I was 33. When he was a year we tried to conceive but suffered 3 miscarriages. I really thought it was the breastfeeding. I chose not to wean though. I read about Vitex, Chasteberry I think it’s called and I found some at GNC and took the recommended dosage to regulate my cycles. Online research and miscarriage while nursing boards on ivillage led me to believe that I had a luteal phase defect from breastfeeding. It worked and I fell pregnant with my second son and carried him to term! I was 35 and also nursed throughout the entire pregnancy. I tandem nursed both boys and imagine my surprise when baby boy #3 was conceived a year later while tandem nursing and without vitex! I tandem nursed both boys throughout the whole pregnacy! By the time baby boy 3 was born, baby boy 1 was gently nudged to wean (he was stubborn lol). I was 37 and happily nursed both boys and again surprise, fell pregnant with my youngest boy a year later while tandem nursing! This time I tandem nursed throughout the pregnancy until two months before birth and gently weaned both boys and had a two month break ((sleep, recharged, relaxed)) Baby boy number 4, born when I was 39. I am 41 now and he will be 2 in May and is still nursing. No plans for any more :)
    I am sure that in my situation the Vitex helped my luteal phase defect caused by my breastfeeding! I think as the extended breastfeeding continued my body just got used to breastfeeding and regulated itself.
    Of course I am not a dr so who knows ;p just my experience! Also, maybe while reading and pouring over the Internet I convinced myself that it would work but seriously it worked after the first month of taking it!!
    Monique :)

    • Moriah says

      I just want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart, for your comment. The article was very informative, and then I started reading comments. I cringed to read the post from the woman who believes that gentle weaning = forcing your child to go cold turkey. The idea literally makes my gut ache. Of course as they say, each mom must follow her own intuition and do what is best for her family. However, shutting the boob door on my own kid felt totally wrong for me. Plus Dr. Sears has a very good article about weaning. He mentions that children weaned before their time may show “anger, aggression, habitual tantrum-like behavior, anxious attachment to caregivers, and an inability to form deep and intimate relationships.” I’ve found this to be the case, verbatim, for my child in times that I’ve pushed the weaning envelope too far too fast!

      Our weaning journey thus far, in a nutshell: I began to gently wean my two year old several months ago, starting with daytime, non-essential nursings. We started being very active between the 1st morning nurse and the pre-nap nursing. This immediately opened a window of 4.5-5 hours each day that I didn’t pull out a boob. Yay! I allowed this to sink in for a while, then began to target the evening nursings that happened post nap and before night night. This all went very well. We started a strong bedtime routine somewhere in there, switched my daughter to a floor mattress, and suddenly she started giving me, randomly at first, full, uninterrupted nights of sleep! Bliss!! Then I made the discovery that if I didn’t offer a breast when she did wake at night, but instead instantly took her in my arms and walked around or rocked or bounced back and forth, she would fall quickly back to sleep. After only a few minutes, before I got too tired out from holding her, I could lay down on my back, with her on my chest (not in the boob zone, this is important…her head needs to be on my shoulder and away from the cupboard!) in her bed, then gently and in segmemts, I could ease her back into her bed. Usually feet first, then I’d roll her upper half off of me, then I’d creep out from under her, my arm the last thing to go. It took a little more than a week of consistently doing this between about an hour after I first put her down to about an hour before we intended to get up (a target of 7 hours). She now consistently gives me between 8 and 9 uninterrupted hours every night! … Her bed is a mattress sandwiched between the foot of our bed and the wall…this bed situation also seemed to help her transition to sleeping through the night. Before she had been in a baby bed sandwiched between the wall and my side of the bed and it was her habit to wake to nurse between 1 and 10 times nightly. My life had become a tortuous exercise in sleep deprivation!

      All this to say, I’m 38, and we’ve been trying for baby #2 for 11 months. I had one chemical pregnancy last October, around the time we began sleeping more through the nights, which was really a let-down. I read your wonderful comment, researched and started taking chasteberry Jan. 29. Today, March 8, I’m five weeks pregnant, still nursing my little girl before and after she sleeps, about four times/day and able to comfortably follow my intuition on that, as well as be sensitive to her cues that she’s either ready to take another step towards weaning, or needs to take a step back, and because of the hormonal support I know I’m receiving from the vitex, I’m not stressing that continuing to nurse may threaten my pregnancy, or stressing that I need to force my little girl to wean when she is definitely not ready yet!! Thank you again, truly from the bottom of my heart!! :-)

      • Betsy says

        Thanks so much for posting details about your gentle night/day weaning approach. I am going to try a mattress on the floor with my 2.5 year old to cut down on night nursing opportunities. I am 39 and we’ve been trying to have a second for 3 months but my boy nurses so much that I suspect my prolactin levels are creating an unsuitable environment for implantation. Would you mind sharing what dose of Vitex you took? Did you use tincture or pills?
        Thanks so much for sharing your experience.

        • Moriah says

          I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to find this page again after submitting my comment because of an internet prob. I wanted to tell you I started vitex in capsule form, a 40 mg blend of vitex extract, not the whole herb. Dosage for whole herb would be 400 to 800 mg. The form I took is much stronger. I started out taking one cap/day, then graduated to two. I took 2 caps up through my 5th month while continuing to nurse my daughter, though we have gradually weaned in this period. Now, I’m in my 7th month pregnancy and only this week finished breast feeding my daughter. It was the gentlest of all the milkings we’ve released – the before bed boob :-) By now we have a strong bedtime pattern…treat before bed, quiet play & one-on-one time with mom & dad, brushing teeth, pajamas, turning out light and getting in bed, and cuddles with mom telling a story or singing a song. My belly’s gotten a bit big for all this, but it still makes me teary to consider that my little girl no longer needs my milk. I’m just so grateful to have been able to be sensitive to her needs – and that is owing to the hormonal support of vitex even though I became pregnant. Oh and something else I forgot to share, my own doctor commanded me to “immediately wean” my daughter on my first check-up for my pregnancy. I ignored this unsupported advice and found another doctor.

  7. Silvia says

    I’m a mum to a 2year old girl whom I had at the age of 37. She is breastfeeding regularly, day & night, although she does eat all the foods at this stage & age. We are both to continue this actualy whole family including my husband Jacques is quite supportive. We weren’t really trying for another baby yet – but it looks like I had no trouble with that – I’m 2 months pregnant now, aged 39 something. It feels to me that the right nutritious diet & lifestyle has generally much more influence on reproductive health then breastfeeding (which is not exclusive – it means the child eats other foods as well). I’m definitely not forcing my firstborn to wean :)
    All the best!

  8. Simone says

    I guess I am very fortunate with my situation…I had my first baby at 38, and exclusively breastfed her for 12 months, then started to introduce solids very slowly at 13 months…my cycle returned within 3 months of giving birth, I fell pregnant 3 months after that, but unfortunately miscarried, ; then fell pregnant again when my first born was 12 months old, had my second daughter at 40, and tandem fed for 3 years…Extended breastfeeding certainly didnt seem to affect my fertility, even though I was an older mum,but I am not sure whether it has affected my overall health and well being now…I weaned my second daughter at 3 1/2 years old, a few months ago, and still feel so exhausted all the time…I think having children later in life definitely places a toll on your body, that you maybe wouldnt experience if you had children in your 20’s, early 30’s…certainly dont have any regrets though, and feel priveleged and blessed, I was able to breastfeed my 2 daughters to 4 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age.

  9. Lee Skidmore Shields says

    Hi. Just want to share my testimony. I am 42, breastfeeding an 8 month old, and 6 weeks pregnant. I consider myself healthy, but by all means could be healthier. I try to eat organic, whole foods, but also don’t have a problem indulging in things I shouldn’t eat. No fast food though! I believe in balance. I do not exercise. I have 5 kids, and run a business so I just don’t make the time. I would say my level of stress is probably the most detrimental to my health. I don’t take vitamins or supplements (unless I am breastfeeding, or pregnant). I probably should. I am truly astounded I am pregnant and consider it a miracle! I believe God wants me to be a testimonial for other women in their 40’s not to give up or be afraid. Thank you for the opportunity to share this blessed news! Lee

  10. says

    I have not found breastfeeding to stop me from conceiving; not even round the clock, on demand BF. So there is hope for anybody out there who doesn’t want to wean to TTC. I am very convicted about NOT weaning to TTC because I don’t feel for me it is right to take away from my child in the here & now, to potentially have another, even if it means not having another at all. I know many others feel differently though ;).

  11. Missy Lee says

    So happy to find this great site! I’m nursing my 22-month old about 3-4 times daily and am trying to conceive. I have had two chemical pregnancies and had blood tests done with each, showing that my progesterone levels were VERY low (around 4). The tests were performed a few days after my missed period. I have wondered if the low progesterone could be (1) due to nursing and (2) preventing implantation. However, my luteal phase is 14 days and my cycles occur every 28 days like clockwork, so I figured that since I was so “normal,” my hormones must be as well (?). My menses resumed when my son was 15 months and my first chemical pregnancy was at 16 months, with the second now at 22 months. Any advice on whether weaning would actually help in this particular case, since I KNOW I have low progesterone? I’m fine with weaning if nursing is “more than likely” the reason I keep having chemical pregnancies (no one, of course, could say with 100% certainty, especially at my “advanced maternal age” of 39), but all the info out there is so confusing. It irks me that most reproductive health professionals treat weaning so cavalierly, as if it’s no big whoop and/or that I should even be glad to have an “out.” I’m glad to see that other women treasure nursing! Thank you in advance for any insight.

    • says

      Hi Missy – Thanks for your comment. It’s difficult to say for sure without knowing more about your case, but it’s certainly possible. I’d try working with an acupuncturist/herbalist specializing in fertility support to see if you can get your hormones in balance whether or not you choose to wean.

  12. Katie says

    When the youngest of my four children was 13 I had my fifth child at age 43. Menses returned almost immediately, but I breastfed exclusively for almost a year and did not become pregnant, so I think I was not ovulating. When my baby was 19 months old I had a very early miscarriage. I have not been pregnant since. She is now 2-1/2 and I am 46 and I am still breastfeeding but only twice a day when my baby takes a nap and goes to bed. Until recently she breastfed more often. About the time she cut down to this schedule my cycles and from being every 28 days on the dot to bring too frequent. That was 2 months ago. They went from 28 days to about 2 weeks and now are about 3 weeks. Are my hormones just adjusting to all the recent changes so that I can conceive again or am I beginning menopause? I would very much like another baby. I am generally very healthy and would like my current little one too have a sibling her own age. But she still wants to nurse very much, just not often, and I don’t feel right about weaning her when she’s not ready if I can’t conceive again anyway.

    Any thoughts?
    Thank you,

    • says

      Hi Katie – Thanks for your comment. Whether or not you can conceive again is a question that is difficult to answer. Every woman’s personal ‘fertility window’ will close in it’s own time, but this usually occurs sometime in our 40’s. Keep in mind that this is not a function of poor health, but the body’s natural flow as we grow older. Menopause may be a long way off or around the corner.

  13. Ingrid says

    Hmm. I had my son when I was 42. I wanted another child, but I did not have a period again for two years. Perhaps this was because I was breastfeeding him this whole time. I did get pregnant again at 45 but then I freaked a little and my feeling was just that I was too old to go through it all again. I guess once you have had a child, you realise what is involved with all those sleepless nights and all that attention that is needed. I miscarried after just a few weeks. So perhaps if I had known this about breastfeeding and conception, I would have stopped breastfeeding earlier.But maybe not ? It is sad to stop breastfeeding before you are ready too, especially if you are thinking that maybe you may only be lucky enough to have one child. It’s hard to imagine how different life would be if I had two children.

  14. Cheryce says

    Hi Emily,

    I stumbled across this post while trying to look up if nursing would cause my progesterone levels to be low.  My husband and I got pregnant on the first try with our son, when I was 30.  We had decided we wanted our children to be about 2 years apart and began trying last April with no success.  I finally went to a fertility specialist in December, which was only costing me $25 a visit at the time.  Ultra sound showed everything was good except the fact that she couldn’t see one of my ovaries–it looked like it was behind my intestines, which she said was probably a result of having a c-section.  I wasn’t told this at the time, but just learned, yesterday, after reviewing my day 3 FSH and estradiol results with a nurse, that my progestrone levels in Dec indicated I didn’t ovulate that cycle.  My FSH and estradiol for my current cycle is normal, though.

    I am still nursing, but very little.  My 25 mo. old usually nurses for a little bit when I get home from work, when he is going to bed, and sometimes during the night if he wakes.  Other than that, he doesn’t nurse as we are apart for about 13 to 16 hours a day.  Could this still be the cause of my low progesterone?  

    My co-pay for infertility services went from $25 to 50% of the cost in January, so I can no longer afford to continue them.  It would cost $75 just to see the doctor.  It is very difficult for me not to stress about this or be upset.  My husband and I have a family bible study we attend every Tuesday and the past 2 weeks have been difficult for me because we found out that 2 of the women are pregnant and another that is about 3mo. along just returned back after being gone for a couple months.  So the topic of babies is ever present and it takes every grain of my being to smile and not break down into tears.  I am fighting tears just writing this.  

    On top of that, I am the sole supporter for a family for 3 1/2.  So when the day is over and I get home from work, I don’t have the energy to even try to ween my LO, even though it seems that is what I need to do.  I have read things from others talking about progesterone creams and supplements, but I don’t know anything about that and don’t know that I want to risk taking something without discussing it with a doctor first.

    Any thoughts on my situation?

  15. Katy says

    Hi, I think part of the point of this article should not just be focused on whether you can conceive while breastfeeding another child. What you should really worry about is whether it is safe for the fetus to develop in a situation where the mother’s available nutrients are being depleted by the other breastfeeding child. I was told that it is completely safe to breastfeed while pregnant. Three years later my second child has developmental problems. If I could do things again there is no way I would breastfeed while pregnant. I was just too old, too tired, and much later found out that I had low iron and a thyroid problem, which is a risk for older women. So if you are going to breastfeed while pregnant better get lots of rest, get your iron, b12, checked, get your thyroid checked, or just don’t risk it. That is coming from someone who risked it and really really wishes she didn’t. Also look at some of the studies coming out, one shows an 8% dip in the IQ of the second born child who gestated while the first child was breastfeeding. Check it out, do you research.

  16. Meg says

    I got my period back while nursing my first child when she was 10 months, and got pregnant while still nursing her when she was 15 months. I am still nursing my second child at 17 months and no period. My second child likes to play with my nipples, even when not feeding him, as a comfort measure. In pictures, he always seems to have a hand down my shirt, ha ha. I am wondering if this could be contributing to the lack of period? We no longer night nurse. We would like another and I am 37. Not sure if I should start giving cow’s milk, keep him out of my shirt, or what? Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Meg – Thank you for your question. Every woman and postpartum pregnancy is very different, and it’s a very personal choice. You can only do what feels right for you and your child. :)

  17. leontina goodin says

    I am pregnant in my first trimester. I am 39. I am still nursing about 3 times a day my 3.5yr old. I am terrified that the nursing my toddler deplete the unborn baby of nutrients. Please, somebody give me some scientific facts that support or go against my nursing while pregnant. What I am confused though, is there a difference in production of milk as far as what it takes to make that milk nutrition wise feeding a 6mo or arrived at 3yr old? I dont want to hurt my unborn child. I want this baby desperately to be born and healthy. Thanks .

  18. Rebecca says

    Hi there I conceived my first three sons no problem whatsoever and have been breastfeeding my youngest up until two days ago just once per day. However I have been trying to conceive baby #4 since April with no luck whatsoever. My consultant told me to stop breastfeeding back in march but I just couldn’t bear to stop and am really sad that I have stopped two days ago ESP as my son still wants ( but possibly doesn’t need to feed)
    I will see if I cn get pregnant now! Interestingly whilst breastfeeding I have HFCs very short luteal phase, about 8 days and some months I have been passing huge clots which I’ve never done before. I am 41 so am not sure why I am unable to conceive again but hope its not my age!

  19. Brendelyn says

    Oh how I wish this was true for me! I had my first child at 24, my periods returned at 9 months. With my 2nd and 3rd it was 4 months. With my 4th child, at age 39, I started again just 2 weeks after I had stopped bleeding from the birth, then got pregnant again when she was 7 months old. This time, at 40, i got my period within a month. All of my children were EBF for at least 6 months, and I continued nursing them for A LONG TIME.

  20. Clarissa says

    Hi I’m 38 and trying to conceive whilst breastfeeding my 13mth old girl …Ive had regular periods since Annalise was 5-6mths old.
    She is baby number 5,after a tubal ligation reversal and a 13 year break..I fell pregnant 2 months after the reversal and had her ( VBAC) sunny side up,3 weeks before my 37th bday. She was 10Ib 8oz.
    Im becoming quite distressed that I haven’t fallen yet…I turned 38 3 weeks ago and really hoped to have fallen pregnant by the time she was 8-10mths old.
    I have Fibromylgia, CFS & Ankylosing Spondylitis and riddled with osteoarthritis,& was high risk pregnancy.
    I desperately want another girl,so have been trying the old woves tales on when to have sex,&trying to maintain an acidic environment through diet.
    Anyway,reading these stories from women 38+,you have given me some hope, & total admiration to you…Can anyone please suggest any books on trying to concieve sex of choice,& ideas on how to get my lil one out of bed sharing, & off the boob. She does not self soothe,rather using my nipple as a pacifier..breastfeeds twice daily then every 3-4hrs at night..Its like she doesn’t want to share me with a sibling lol
    My other children are 14.5-19yrs old,& I did things differently (CIO) & only had to think about falling pregnant for it to happen..
    Any assistance in helping me to wean & conceive
    Would be greatly appreciated.

    • -- says

      If you have all of these health issues, and some of them are caused by genetics, aren’t you afraid of passing them on to your children? What is your reasoning for getting pregnant at this stage in your life? Do you think you’ll have the strength and health to raise healthy, well-adjusted children? There are plenty of children in the world, why not look into adoption if you are having problems?

  21. Fiona says

    I nursed my first who was a MAJOR nurser, every two or more from birth to 15months. My period returned at three months postpartum. I was intimate with my husband once, 12 months postpartum and became pregnant. I continued to nurse during my first trimester until it became too painful, the taste had changed and production had grown to an almost complete halt! 6 months later no. 2 was born and I nursed around the clock again until I gently weaned at age two.
    I was not prepared for happened to me once I weaned. I became depressed, had major anxiety and started smoking! – I would get soooo drowsy mid day and what pass out for a deep cat nap wherever I was. I was sooo tired all of the time and had very low energy, I had very little appetite and could barely eat… I could no longe work out at my local cardio dance classes. I was like a dead person walking. I gained 30lbs even though I was barely eating. I fouldnt sleep at night… The dr. kept telling me it was all just stress. I finally went to a homeopath and got blood work done. I was diagnosed with HypoThyroid and Adrenal Fatigue. My testosterone, DHEA, Vit D and B12 were all dangerously low. It’s been almost 6 months since treatment began and still no improvement. It was all too much for my body.

  22. Rebecca says

    So glad to see this website and read about other experiences. I had my 1st LO at 40 years old via IVF due to male factor infertility. I exclusively breastfed for 12 months and I got my menses back at 6 months. We decided to start IVF for baby #2 when .my LO was 14 months old and still nursing 5 to 7 times in a 24 hour period. I had lab work done for estrogen, prolactin, progesterone, FSH, thyroid, etc. etc. when Every value was the same as it was before I ever was pregnant. Despite all my hormone levels being normal, we waited until the LO was 17 months old before doing the IVF. Before IVF, I night-weaned the LO and cut down to only 2 or 3 breastfeeding sessions per 24 hour period. I had a great response to IVF. Testing hormone levels (especially prolactin, FSH, and thyroid) can help you understand how extended breastfeeding affects your body. Progesterone changes a lot throughout the menstrual cycle, but you can get prescriptions for post-luteal progesterone support if that is a concern. Good luck all!

  23. Sarah says

    Thank you for writing this! I have a daughter who is almost two and a half. This past summer, I finally decided that we would try for a second. With my daughter, I got pregnant immediately. I didn’t expect that but I also didn’t expect to be waiting and waiting. I have recently realized that it might be because of the nursing. I have felt the past two months like I was pregnant soon after ovulation but then towards my period I felt like I wasn’t. I didn’t know why I kept feeling like that. Now I’m beginning to think that if my egg had been fertilized, it was not able to implant because of hormones from nursing and stress. This is exactly what you said! I think that I will significantly cut down nursing this month and if I can’t get pregnant, I will have to wean her. She will be so sad, but I’m sure she’ll be ok.

  24. melissa says

    great article to stumble upon,ive read so many conflicting things about this subject.
    hubby and i been trying to conceive baby number 2 for a year! I had a chemical pregnancy in april and the stress of not getting pregnant is affecting everything.
    im 37 and still breastfeeding (for comfort) my 22 month old. I dont want to do it anymore and hate it if im hinest,iits a miracke ive lasted this long,but my son has terrible screaming/crying fits of rage if i dont give in. He only suckles at lunchtime nap and before bed a few minutes each side but im positive this is the reason im not getting pregnant. Ive been trying to wean him for 6 months but his tantrums are uncontrollable and i always end up giving in,then hate myself for it (and resent him a little bit too).
    We are desperate for number 2, we have been tested for any problems but both check out fine,so im pretty positive the fertility issue is the breastfeeding. im open to any suggestions.
    advice anyone?

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