real life

Breastfeeding is not a guarantee you won't fall pregnant again.

I remember staring at the pregnancy test in total disbelief. It took all of about two seconds for the window to reveal two lines indicating I was pregnant.

Surely the test had to be faulty. After all, how could one be pregnant if they were still breastfeeding and had not had a period? Dr Google had even told me that when you breastfeed, the act of breastfeeding in itself acts as a natural contraception. Wasn’t it common knowledge? The same hormones which make breast milk suppress the release of reproductive hormones. It was that simple. Or at least I thought it was.

W.R.O.N.G.

Katheryn Blewett and her family. Image via @katherynblewett Instagram.

Whilst this is somewhat true, the fact is, ovulation occurs before you get your period. If you happen to engage in the horizontal bone dance on the day(s) of ovulation, then watch out world. Anything is possible, breastfeeding or not. Of course the chances are incredibly low. Particularly in the first six months where exclusive breastfeeding has proven 99.5% efficient in pregnancy prevention. After all, who really thinks they’re going to be the .05%? Generally speaking, even at ten months postpartum (as in my case), the odds of conceiving are still relatively low, but, as I have come to learn, certainly not impossible.

I was breastfeeding my ten-month-old, now one-year-old, baby boy Sam, and had no sign of getting my period at the time of my positive pregnancy result. In fact, to be precise, the dreaded monthly cycle made its last appearance just before we conceived with our first child back in April 2014.

I had been feeling incredibly flat, exhausted and deliriously tired for nearly six weeks. My head felt like it was in a vortex. I felt bloated, very temperamental and moody (not so unusual for me, just ask my husband) and my appetite had turned slightly peculiar. I had even seen two doctors to discuss my concerns. The first of whom advised my hormones were most likely out of whack because of breastfeeding. The second did a physical stomach examination and had advised I needed to start taking digestive enzymes and eat more raw foods.

Bless.

Katheryn with her baby boy. Image via @katherynblewett Instagram.

No one had thought to do a pregnancy test. No one, not even me. The idea admittedly entered my head for a split second, as is always the case when we women are unwell and feel under the weather, however, the thought was followed by instant dismissal. If the doctors weren’t entertaining the idea then why would I?

The early pregnancy signs were there, but the alarm bells just weren’t ringing. The lights were on but nobody was home. Well, not so true. Unbeknownst to me, someone had found a nice new home for the next nine months.

The truth was my husband and I were super dooper keen to have another baby. It would be an actual godsend if the pregnancy stick wasn’t faulty. In fact, we had decided around the five to six month mark that we would start to try to conceive again. However, as it turned out, I continued to breastfeed, menstruation had not returned and there was no sign at all that my son was interested in weaning any time soon. Accordingly, we had decided that I would breastfeed our son for a full year so we wouldn’t have to transition onto formula, but rather, just normal milk. It would be easier this way especially with all the travel we were doing.

Whilst I had already dismissed the possibility of being pregnant, I had also had flashbacks to my first trimester of pregnancy with my son. I was bedridden with morning, afternoon and night sickness for sixteen weeks and spent the majority of my time making quick trips from the bed to the bathroom sink to be sick. Further validation. How could I possibly be pregnant if I wasn’t crippled with sickness? I wouldn’t be able to function or drive a car if my first pregnancy was anything to go by.

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Wrong again.

Another lesson learnt. No two pregnancies are ever the same, and as I have come to learn, no two pregnancies should ever be compared. It will only serve to confuse you, as it did in my case.

As it turns out the test wasn’t faulty (surprise, surprise). I had confirmation after having a scan that I was eight weeks pregnant.

Pregnancy test confrimed. Image via iStock.

The reason why I ended up eventually doing a pregnancy test? Purely by accident. I had taken it upon myself to become my own doctor since increasing my intake of raw foods wasn’t working and I wasn’t feeling any better. I had concluded that my body was preparing for menstruation. Thus, I decided to take an ovulation test. Of course the ovulation pack I purchased also came with a pregnancy test which was not too dissimilar in appearance to that of the ovulation test. In an impatient frenzy, and without reading any instructions (a common folly of mine), I mistakenly opened the pregnancy test thinking I was testing for ovulation.

HELLO- Positive pregnancy result. It’s not often, but baby brain certainly worked in my favour this time.

I am now fourteen weeks pregnant. My husband and I are ecstatic about our news. It certainly has taken the stress out of trying to conceive. Of course, it is still early days and based on my first pregnancy, it’s a long and cautious six months ahead. Especially when my four major food weaknesses, soft cheese, paté, sashimi and San Daniele prosciutto, have all been involuntarily culled from my daily food repetoire. Admittedly, I scored a few weeks up my sleeve since I was indulging in these delicacies when I was unknowingly pregnant- winning!

So ladies, be aware and don’t be naive. Breastfeeding and absent periods do not render you infertile or incapable of conceiving by any means. Conceiving whilst breastfeeding is actually far more common than you think. So be cautious if you are not ready for that new little edition to the family just yet. The chances are low, but there is still a chance. You just never know.

This post originally appeard on Katheryn Blewett's blog.

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