Nursing: Pregnant or my period?

I have asked many breastfeeding mothers this question and nobody seems to know what this could be. My son is almost four months old. He is exclusively breastfed. He feeds about every two to three hours during the day and at night goes six hours and then back to two to three hour feeding schedule. He is a very efficient eater. It takes him only about 15 minutes to eat, and he is a very healthy big boy.

I am not sure if my period has returned. A few days ago I noticed a small amount of "pink mucus" - enough to stain my underwear - and it lasted a couple of hours. The next day the same thing happened again when I used the restroom. There has been nothing since then. I am baffled. I have a deep tenderness in my breast but no cramps or any other signs of a period.

My husband and I use condoms but we usually wait until the last minute. I took a pregnancy test two days ago and it was negative. Was it too soon to take a test or could this be the beginning of my period? It has been about five days since this has happened and nothing more has come of it.

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

It's impossible, of course, for me to tell you if you're pregnant or just returning to your monthly cycle.

Continued breast tenderness, as you describe, is an early sign of pregnancy, often beginning around 3 weeks following conception. "Morning" sickness (sometimes occurring all day) and frequent urination can come right on its heels. Light pink staining could have been from implantation, when the embryo attaches to the lining of the uterus. Or it could have been a slight fluctuation of hormone levels - just enough to allow you to shed some of your lining - perhaps from a change in your baby's feeding schedule.

Pregnancy tests, though quite accurate, are definitely not 100 percent foolproof - not even blood tests! ( Home pregnancy tests can have false negatives as high as 25 percent.) I would recommend another home pregnancy test, performed with your concentrated first morning urine, if you still think you might be pregnant. If this again is negative, schedule a visit with your Health Care Provider for a blood test and thorough exam.

If you do find out that you are not pregnant, and hope to delay pregnancy for a while, I would highly advise changing the way you use condoms as a birth control method. Applying a condom at the "last minute" is not effective in preventing pregnancy. Pre-ejaculate does contain sperm, and usually in sufficient quantity to cause pregnancy, if you are fertile. When applying a condom, use as part of love play - prior to any genital to genital touching or penetration.

Until you know for sure whether or not you're pregnant, be especially careful with your diet, including a daily folic acid supplement. It's also prudent to avoid prescription (if at all possible), over-the-counter, and "recreational" drugs as well as alcohol - just to be on the safe side. My very best wishes that this turns out the way you hope!

You might also like to check out Peg Plumbo, CNM's excellent column for more information.

 

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