I had my little girl on the 30th of January 2019 whilst still breastfeeding my little boy who was 2.5yrs old at the end of February.
I lived in the UK for nearly 8.5 years and my son was born via IVF in August 2016. I moved back home to Australia in June 2017 with my English husband and son and our one remaining frozen embryo was left in the UK. When we had IVF, my eggs had been harvested at one hospital (my local one) and put with sperm at another hospital (as the first hospital could only harvest eggs at the time) and we also transferred at this hospital.
We wanted to do a frozen embryo transfer before moving back to Australia, and had been told at the first hospital to stop breastfeeding, but my son was too young at that point anyway. We moved back to Australia and still kept our embryo in storage. We looked at transferring our embryo from the UK hospital to Australia even though is expensive. In the end we got a referral to a local fertility clinic and they told me it was better to do our frozen embryo transfer in the UK due to transfer costs etc.
The timings were perfect as we were about to go to the UK in May 2018, so we started our protocol for a medicated frozen embryo transfer so the transfer could be controlled easier due to travelling overseas. I started by taking progynova (estradiol valerate) on the second day of my period. I had a scan to check the lining of my uterus before we travelled, and started the endometrin pesaaries (progesterone) on the flight over (we controlled the timing to make sure the tablets were taken at the correct time due to time zone changes).
In the UK, my bloods were taken and consent forms were signed on the 21st May, then the frozen embryo transfer went ahead on the 23rd of May. I did not tell the clinic I was still breastfeeding.
My supply dipped a bit but didn't go completely. I had no pain and my little boy still nursed and was nursing after she was born. He went through a period of not wanting to nurse when our little girl was 6 weeks old, but is still going now at 18 weeks.
My milk came back 100% but it took awhile as I had a post partum haemarrage at home when she was six days old so had to have another trip to hospital, including going to theatre and staying in hospital.
All went well and we came home and had some relaxing days as much as possible; i'm very glad my husband had some leave.
Thank you for the support to keep breastfeeding whilst doing the frozen embryo transfer. I have found this page and the people in it very helpful for sure.
Written by Sarah
Edited by Ali
I would like to share my story; when I was preparing for and going through treatment, I found it really helpful to see success stories and now I've come full circle, I'd like to pass it on 😁
In the photo are my 2nd and 3rd children, Arlo and Freddie. Both IVF babies. Arlo was the last embryo from his cycle so we had no frosties left, but dearly wanted a third child. So last September I did another fresh cycle of IVF. Arlo had just turned 3 years old at the time and I continued to breastfeed him throughout my treatment, mainly for naps and bedtime. I responded really well to the meds and produced 16 eggs! This is compared to 10 eggs in Arlo's cycle when I was 4 years younger and not breastfeeding! Of those 16, 9 developed into top grade blastocysts. I had one put back fresh at day 5 and the rest were frozen. To my delight I became pregnant!
I was put on some drugs to prevent OHSS, having responded so well, and sadly they caused my milk to dry up very quickly. Arlo was undeterred though and continued to dry nurse throughout my pregnancy. This was painful for a little while but it passed.
On the 5th June, 2 days before his due date, Freddie was born, completely naturally - which was a welcome change after my previous two highly medicalised labours! He took to breastfeeding immediately like a little pro. When my milk came in, poor Arlo was so surprised after months of dry nursing that he nearly choked on it 🙈🙈🙈 I have to be honest and say that tandem feeding is HARD at the moment. I find it difficult to get comfortable when feeding them both at the same time and Arlo's latch is suddenly very painful! He wants to feed every time Freddie does but I'm trying to limit him to morning and bedtime feeds at present. However, I hope this will get easier with time!
I hope my story gives hope to those still trying. I know I'm incredibly lucky to have my three lovely children, and I wish everyone in this group as much happiness as I've had. ❤💛💚💙❤
I have PCOS and have probably never ovulated. Even with the highest levels of clomid given for 6 months, all of my blood tests came up negative for ovulation. I went through 3 different rounds of IVF and 2 clinics before we finally got fertilized embryos. That last round of IVF that finally worked was short protocol so we had to freeze all four of our embryos and do FETs. Our first FET was a success and resulted in my sweet Lucy in December of 2014.
I always imagined that I would breastfeed for a year and just stop. I had no clue that it just isn't that simple. As a year got closer the thought of weaning her gave me some of the most anxiety of my life. We planned to go through IVF again when she was 18 months old but nursing was still so very important to her and such a huge part of our relationship. She was still nursing for every nap, bedtime, and every couple of hours during the night. I finally found this group and was introduced to the idea of lying to my clinic about weaning. It took some major convincing for my husband but it felt right in my gut so he trusted me.
In the end I didn't even have to lie. My clinic never even asked if I was breastfeeding because they figured Lucy was way too old, I guess. I had not yet had a period, so I did lie to say that my period had returned but was very irregular. The doctor was eager to get the ball rolling so he ordered me some provera to jumpstart my period and get on their schedule. My clinic did end up ordering a test for prolactin levels prior to my cycle and my levels were too high. I was so upset that I'd been found out. It turns out there are lots of reasons prolactin levels could be raised and breastfeeding was never mentioned. They told me to come back and retest in the morning and be sure to not eat or exercise before I came. That did the trick. My levels were much lower that time.
The rest of the cycle was totally normal. I did not experience any change in my milk and Lucy went on nursing just as happily as before. We transferred one more embryo and it worked! Pregnancy did affect my supply and I was dry by my second trimester. Lucy dry nursed all the way until her 2nd birthday when I got the stomach flu and couldn't let her nurse for a few days. At that point she knew a baby was coming and was totally fine with me saying that she was not a baby anymore that she was 2 and we needed to save the milk for the new baby. I was ready to have my body back if only for a few months. When the new baby was born I wondered if she'd want to nurse again too, but she's never once asked. She says she doesn't even remember nursing...
Anyways, Wesley is 8 months now and they are just the sweetest brother and sister. I am forever grateful to this group for giving me the courage to follow my instinct and do what was best for my family. Best of luck to all of you. Fertility treatments are so stressful all around, how lucky we are to have sweet little nurslings to get us through, for better or worse.
Written by Nora.
My breastfeeding goals have shifted a few times since my daughter was born. There were the early days when I thought we might struggle to make it to six months, and then it started to work and I went back to my goal of two years.
Then, of course, came the big question: could we wait two years to try for our next one?
I thought not, so in my mind, I compromised. Eighteen months. Eighteen months of breast milk was a really good deal, right? After all, most kids don’t get that much. I still felt, though, like I would be betraying my boobie monster by trying to wean her that early, but it seemed like I would have to. I would wean her, and we would try for a frozen embryo transfer.
And then somehow, it all changed. I learned that a friend of a friend had conceived her first through IVF, like us, and continued to breastfeed until well into her second pregnancy, which was a FET. So it could be done! My mind was blown, and I went researching.
We went and saw our fertility specialist and he asked outright if I was still breastfeeding her. (I was thinking we might take the 'don't ask don't tell' approach!) I said ‘yes’ and he told me he had no concerns as I understood that my supply would likely drop if we were successful. As he wanted us to try a natural cycle FET there were almost no medications to be concerned about, only progesterone, but by all accounts - my FS, this page, and the Australian breastfeeding medication guru, Rodney Whyte - that was a-okay.
It was all much more than okay!
From four days post five day transfer I started testing; from 5dp5dt I got a shadow, and the line darkened and darkened, and bloods at 10dp5dt were a respectable 274. This doubled, and doubled again, the seven week dating scan showed a little jelly bean right on track with a strong little heartbeat, the NIPT test showed us that everything was low risk, and the twelve week scan was spot on.
Throughout it all... my toddler breastfed.
And breastfed. We have a handful of nights with just one wake up and one breastfeed, we have days she’s at daycare and doesn’t have any milk all day long. And we have days where anything more than a few feet away from me and the boobies is nothing less than a tragedy. We have nights she feeds to sleep, and nights she feeds to sleep only to wake and need milk again, and again. And again.
My goal was to feed her until she was two.
I suspect her goal is far loftier!
I don’t really know how or when she’ll wean, but I’m seriously glad and grateful that we’re still going. She’s not going to be the littlest for much longer, but she’s still my baby and she’s so very little.
IVF and all the associated protocols are hard, and I think it’s important to not make it harder by weaning if that’s not necessary. Even if we don’t have an explanation for our infertility, our odds are already lowered, and I really don’t think stopping breastfeeding is the single variable that will up success rates.
Boob on, mamas. Snuggle your little ones, and may science work its magic for you.
Written by Jo
I'm nursing my 2.5 year old, and I'm 16 weeks pregnant after an FET.
My protocol was Crinone (progestrone) and Estradiol. I was never even asked if I'm still nursing, which may be because we're in the States and it's assumed my daughter would be weaned by now.
I got a hotline from my lactation consultant and confirmed with them that the two meds I was on were safe for nursing.
After my daughter was born (also after an FET), I mourned the idea of tandem nursing. As our breastfeeding relationship blossomed, I got anxious about having to choose between premature weaning and postponing our last FET.
After a lot of googling and reading what other women were doing and why, I decided that
A) women get pregnant while nursing all the time, and since my dd was older and I didn't need to ovulate for my treatment, there was no reason to worry that BF would interfere with the transfer, and
B), since the only meds I was on were naturally occurring in my body anyway, I had no reason to worry that a transfer would harm my nursling in any way.
Hi mama's. I just wanted to share my story so far to give other breastfeeding mums a bit of hope! I am in Australia and went through Life Fertility with Glenn Sterling. He is amazing and had no issues with me continuing to breastfeed, he actually told me he is so proud of mums who tandem feed!!!!
In Jan 2013 after many rounds of IVF, and 2 losses I conceived my son and his twin via FET. Sadly I lost his twin early but my beautiful son Hudson is now almost 3 and still breastfeeding which I'm very proud of!
Fast forward to Feb this year and I underwent another FET (the first since Hudson was born) and low and behold it was successful first go! About a month before starting the cycle I decided to gradually wean Hudsons day feeds which was pretty easy. He still fed through the night and for nap time though.
Medication wise I was on progynova 2mg 3x a day, crinone 2 x a day and prednisone 20mg (this is a steroid and I was put on it to help prevent my body from attacking the embryo and causing miscarriage). This is the exact same protocol I did with Hudson and all medication except prednisone was stopped at 12 weeks. The prednisone I had to slowly wean off and that was stopped by 15 weeks.
Well today I am 18+6 weeks and had my morphology scan and baby boy is looking perfect!
I am so excited and can't wait to update you all with bubbas birth :)
Hudson has dropped down to just feeding to fall sleep and that was more my desicion than his, he is a total boobie monster but my nipples have been in agony whilst feeding since the start, along with nursing aversions and nausea when he feeds so for my own needs I decided to drop his feeds quite a bit. My milk is also colostrum now!!!
I hope my story gives someone some hope. Good luck to everybody!!! Xoxox
Several years ago I had an emergency surgery due to an ovarian torsion. When the doctors were operating they found out that I had endometriosis stage 4. After the surgery was completed I was informed that it would be impossible for me to conceive naturally and that IVF was my only option due to the damage that was caused my endometriosis and the fact that they had to remove part of my left ovary and fallopian tube.
My husband and I did two rounds of IVF at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, CA and on the second round we conceive my now 16 month old daughter, Stella.
I always knew that I wanted another child, around the time she was 10 months old, I contacted by IVF doctor to ask him what a fresh cycle would entail on my end as we did not have any frozen embryos. He said that I would need to wean before beginning my cycle. I remember getting off the phone with him and thinking "No I just can't imagine weaning my daughter." I contacted my acupuncturist, two family friends who are into eastern/alternative medicine and everyone said it would be better to wean. But this advice never felt right for me, because it wasn't given based upon evidence. I wanted evidence based research to tell me that I had to ween, not someone's opinion who was not well informed.
So, I spoke to a lactation expert in Australia via Skype and asked her professional opinion and she said that there was no evidence that I must wean to execute a successful IVF cycle. I then contacted several people at the La Leche League and they provided me with the number of the InfantRisk Center in Texas. I called and inquired about the medications that were on my protocol and doses, please see below:
Lupron MD (10 units AM and PM)
Follistim AQ (425 IU PM only)
Menopur (150 IU PM only)
Prometrium (vaginal) 200mg
Vivelle Dot 0.1mg Patch
The InfantRisk Center said that all of these medications fell into categories of L1 or L2 which meant that there would be no risk or negative impact to my nursing child. Once I had this information I knew that I was going to go forward with my IVF cycle without weening my daughter. I talked to my mother and my husband about it and everyone was supportive of my decision, although honestly it wouldn't have mattered either way. I felt strongly that I was not going to sacrifice my breastfeeding relationship with the child I had for a maybe child in the future. As anyone who has gone through fertility treatments knows, nothing is guaranteed.
I decided to increase my acupuncture appointments and take my nutrition to the next level. I also decided to lie to my doctor and inform him that I had weaned when I had not. My period returned at 14 months after the birth of my daughter. I only had one period before I began my fresh IVF cycle. I breastfeed my daughter throughout my cycle and a lot. She was sick and teething so there was an increased need for the boob. I have extremely low AMF .320, so we always knew we wouldn't get a lot of eggs. They retrieved three eggs, two fertilized and two grew out to day three. Those two were grade 1 with 8 cells each. We transferred both of them and I received a positive HCG beta with my levels at 241 and then on my second beta my levels were at 665. I am now waiting my first scan which will be on July 22nd.
I think as mothers the best gift we each have is our gut. We have to follow our gut, it guides us. When people were telling me that I had to wean my child I knew in my gut that I didn't. I knew that my body was strong enough to continue to breastfeed and have a successful IVF cycle. Doctors make the recommendation to ween not because of evidence based research.
I sincerely believe that I had a successful cycle in part due to the fact that I did not wean. I can only imagine the extra stress that would have caused me prior to my IVF cycle and during. Continuing to breastfeed allowed me to be calm and happy that I was continuing to provide for my daughter.
My experience of breastfeeding through IVF and resultant conception, pregnancy and tandem feeding
After a long journey of infertility and treatment we were delighted for our 2nd round of ISCI to be successful. The pregnancy and birth were relatively smooth despite heightened anxiety probably stemming from the difficulties of conception.
I was always going to breastfeed, like my school friends, sister, mother and grandmother before me. Breastfeeding went well, very well in fact, and at one year, I had no wish what so ever to wean. Having discovered the concept of extended breastfeeding, it was not something I was willing to give up. Although I'd always wanted two babies, giving up breastfeeding would be sacrificing the best interest of the precious baby I had for one that may never exist. Not an option. I wanted both, so I did some reading.
I found out :
(1) that IVF whilst breast-feeding had been done, i.e. was possible. (see ref 1)
(2) Regarding the effect of IVF on the nursling - the IVF medications would not harm the nursing child. Most are not given orally as are destroyed by the liver (first-pass effect). Thus if any were to pass via the breast milk, the babies liver would prevent the drugs being active. The only oral medication is given to induce a period and is hormonal, that same as in contraceptive pills. These are commonly used in breastfeeding women.
(3) Regarding the effect of breast feeding on fertility- natural hormones are not likely to be relevant in IVF.
In early stages of breastfeeding the raised prolactin suppresses ovulation. This is the basis of the natural contraceptive effect of breast feeding. In long term breast-feeding the prolactin levels stay only slightly raised and ovulation and periods usually resume. This is of no bearing in my case as due to polycystic ovary syndrome, I do not ovulate even when not breastfeeding. In any case of infertility treatment the whole process and hormone balance is managed artificially, so pre-existing levels may not be relevant.
My conclusion was that there is no absolute requirement to stop breastfeeding. At our consultation breastfeeding was not mentioned (my baby was 14 months old so there may have been an assumption of weaning made). So we proceeded. There was a sudden drying of milk supply when my oestrogen levels soared, but it was temporary. After successfully conceiving there were the further issues of painful nipples and dry sucking, but that was unrelated to the IVF. A couple of years down the line I am now happily tandem feeding my three and five year olds.
(1) Elliot, Jeanette., 2008. Breastfeeding through IVF treatment: A case study. Topics in Breastfeeding: Australian Breastfeeding Association