The Nourished Blog

Using Fertility Awareness Method Postpartum and while Breastfeeding

Can you use FAM while postpartum and breastfeeding?

Can you use Fertility Awareness Method to prevent pregnancy postpartum and while breastfeeding?

The answer is YES! And I absolutely encourage you to use the method during this special time.

But, using Fertility Awareness during the postpartum period can also be a bit tricky.

Here is what you need to know…

During pregnancy, both your estrogen and progesterone levels sky rocket.

But very soon after you deliver your baby (and the placenta containing all those hormones) both estrogen and progesterone drop rapidly.

In fact, it’s said that these hormones drop back to pre-pregnancy levels within 24 hours….

That is a serious shift in a woman’s body.

In addition to estrogen and progesterone dropping after delivery, the hormone prolactin begins to increase.

Prolactin is the hormone that stimulates milk production and it works through a hormonal feedback loop.

When the baby feeds at the breast, this stimulates nerves that send important signals to the brain.

Once these signals are received, the brain releases oxytocin (which helps with let down) and prolactin (which supports milk production).

This increase in prolactin suppresses both the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

So, why is all this hormone talk important when considering Fertility Awareness Method as birth control postpartum?

If you choose to breastfeed (either exclusively or partially) the consistent release of prolactin is going to continue to suppress estrogen levels.

Estrogen is a very important hormone when it comes to getting your natural cycle back and triggering that very first ovulation.

We need rising + PEAKING levels of estrogen in order for our brain to get the signal to release luteinizing hormone – the hormone that triggers ovulation.

To put it simply…

  • Consistent low levels of estrogen = infertility and a lack of ovulation
  • Rising and peaking levels of estrogen = a return of fertility and ovulation

When you’re in the postpartum period, you’re in a consistent state low suppressed estrogen, which is what makes assessing for upcoming ovulation a bit tricky.

Luckily, we can still use cervical mucus changes and patterns to gain information on returning fertility!

Once your lochia has stopped (this is bleeding and fluid post delivery) you will most likely experience a long set of dry and infertile days.

Eventually, you will notice a switch to something more lubricative/moist and estrogenic in quality. This is when you really need to start paying attention to the return of fertility.

This switch from a more dry “infertile” cervical mucus to a more estrogen fertile quality cervical mucus will depend on your breastfeeding journey.

The graphic below will give you an idea on when fertility may return based on your breastfeeding patterns and the difference between exclusively or partially breastfeeding.

Essentially, you will use the chart above to determine when you should begin charting again. This means noting for any changes in cervical mucus prodcution.

Once you begin noticing a switch to a more estrogen quality mucus, get out the LH strips, mama!

Using LH strips will help you zone in on the 24-36 hours before your first ovulation occurs.

Using FAM postpartum simply means returning to your daily practice of observing CM clues to determine when that first ovulation is going to happen.

I would also get into the habit of taking your basal body temp again to give you extra data + help you confirm ovulation has actually happened.

I do advise that anyone choosing to use Fertility Awareness Method Postpartum either works with a certified instructor or does self-study.

If you’re looking for additional support, I have a postpartum masterclass inside my online Fertility Awareness Method course, LUNA! Plus, you will get 6-months of coaching support through the membership.

Not sure if LUNA is right for you? No worries! You can catch my free FAM training, here.

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Hi, I’m Nina! I’m a Certified Fertility Awareness Educator who teaches women how to transition off of birth control and prevent pregnancy hormone-free.

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