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Early Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding

author image Laura Candelaria
Laura Candelaria is a family nurse practitioner and assistant professor of nursing and nutritional science. Her experience includes neonatal and pediatric intensive-care, women's oncology, gynecology, obstetrics, lactation, nutrition and infertility. She has been published in "Nursing Spectrum," "Newsday" and on various websites.
Early Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
mother kissing newborn


Many women use breastfeeding as a method of natural contraception until they wean their babies. This method can be successful, but in some cases regular menstruation can begin before you wean your baby, such as if you start breastfeeding less when your baby stops waking up for night feedings, or when she begins to eat solid foods. You can't predict when your menstrual cycle will return, so you could use a barrier method of contraception such as condoms to prevent pregnancy. If you still become pregnant while breastfeeding, there are some symptoms you may experience.

Breast Pain and Tenderness

Early Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
mother feeding child with bottle Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

One of the first symptoms of pregnancy that a breastfeeding woman may experience is breast pain and tenderness. Women may experience an increase in nipple sensitivity at this time. According to, pregnancy makes the nipple extra sore and irritated while nursing, triggering pain and discomfort for many. There are some natural treatments for sore nipples. These include the use of a nipple shield, applying Lansinoh cream to the breasts after feeding, and allowing the breasts to air dry after breastfeeding. For many women, extreme nipple tenderness leads to weaning their babies from breastfeeding. Those who continue nursing throughout pregnancy may experience relief from breast pain and nipple soreness as the pregnancy progresses.

Decreased Milk Production

Early Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
child looking at bottle with mother's milk Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Your milk supply with likely slow down when you first become pregnant, according to, which could be a sign of pregnancy. The content and taste of your breast milk will change throughout pregnancy. A woman may experience decreased milk production and changes in the appearance of her breast milk as her pregnancy progresses. A breastfeeding mother may notice that her child seems to be hungry more frequently and tries to initiate additional feedings. Decreased milk production and altered taste during pregnancy causes some babies to independently wean themselves from breast feeding. Supplementing with formula may be a sensible option for mothers who experience decreased milk production during pregnancy. If babies are of the right age, the addition of rice cereal or fruits and vegetables may help to satisfy their hunger.

Fatigue Early in Pregnancy

Early Signs of Pregnancy While Breastfeeding
tired woman yawning on couch Photo Credit Marina Bartel/iStock/Getty Images

Fatigue is a common sign of pregnancy in a breastfeeding mother. Breastfeeding puts additional stress on a woman's body causing women who are nursing to feel more tired and sleepy than usual. During pregnancy rising pregnancy hormones can cause an additional increase in fatigue. A nursing mother who is pregnant may find herself sleeping more than usual and requiring naps during the day. A sensible way to combat fatigue naturally is to consume protein-rich meals throughout the day. Mild exercise, drinking plenty of water, and taking a mid-day nap can also help alleviate pregnancy-related fatigue.

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