Is It Harder To Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding

How can I use breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy?

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method, or LAM, is another name for the Exclusive Breastfeeding Method of birth control. When a woman stops menstruating because she is breastfeeding, it is referred to as lactational amenorrhea, which is a form of natural postpartum infertility. On the subject of breastfeeding and fertility, many mothers are given contradictory information.

Myth #1 – Breastfeeding cannot be relied upon to prevent pregnancy.

Myth #2 – Any amount of breastfeeding will prevent pregnancy, regardless of the frequency of breastfeeding or whether mom’s period has returned.

Although it has been demonstrated that breastfeeding exclusively is a fantastic method of birth control, there are a few requirements that must be met.

Exclusive breastfeeding (by itself) is 98-99. 5% effective in preventing pregnancy as long as all of the following conditions are met:

  • Your baby is less than six months old
  • Your menstrual periods have not yet returned
  • Baby is breastfeeding on cue (both day & night), and gets nothing but breastmilk or only token amounts of other foods.
  • Effectiveness of Birth Control Methods Number of Pregnancies per 100 Women
    Method Perfect Use Typical Use
    LAM 0.5 2.0
    Mirena® IUD 0.1 0.1
    Depo-Provera® 0.3 3.0
    The Pill / POPs 0.3 8.0
    Male condom 2.0 15.0
    Diaphragm 6.0 16.0
    * Adapted from information at

    How can I maximize my natural period of infertility?

    Depending on the baby’s nursing habits and how sensitive the mother’s body is to the hormones produced during lactation, the timing of the return to fertility varies greatly from woman to woman.

  • Breastfeeding frequency and total amount of time spent breastfeeding per 24 hours are the strongest factors leading to the return of fertility: a mother is more likely to see the return of fertility if baby’s nursing frequency and/or duration is reduced, particularly if the change is abrupt.
  • In some populations, research has shown that night nursing slows the return to fertility.
  • One study showed that mothers who were separated from their infants (but expressed milk to provide 100% breastmilk for baby) had a higher pregnancy risk (5.2%) during the first 6 months (Valdes 2000).
  • The introduction of solid food can also be a factor in the return of fertility. Once baby starts solids (if mom’s cycles have not returned), the natural period of infertility may be prolonged by breastfeeding before offering solids, starting solids gradually, and not restricting nursing.
  • You can achieve higher effectiveness by practicing ecological breastfeeding:

  • keeping baby close
  • breastfeeding on cue (day and night)
  • using breastfeeding to comfort your baby
  • breastfeeding in a lying-down position for naps and at night
  • using no bottles or pacifiers
  • If you practice ecological breastfeeding:

  • Chance of pregnancy is practically zero during the first three months, less than 2% between 3 and 6 months, and about 6% after 6 months (assuming mom’s menstrual periods have not yet returned).
  • The average time for the return of menstrual periods is 14.6 months.
  • Moms whose cycles return early tend to be infertile for the first few cycles. Moms whose cycles return later are more likely to ovulate before their first period. Source: Natural Child Spacing and Breastfeeding by Jen O’Quinn
  • Source: Natural Child Spacing and Breastfeeding by Jen O’Quinn

    Although it is uncommon, it is possible for a nursing mother to get pregnant while she is nursing and before she has her first period. Most women wait until after their first period, also known as the “warning period,” before becoming pregnant. Even after that, some women can get pregnant after just one cycle, while others need to cycle for months before getting pregnant. Others may not be able to get pregnant until they have finished weaning, which is a rare occurrence.

    Numerous studies have shown that ovarian activity and fertility gradually return (Ellison 1996, p 326-327):

  • Follicular activity without ovulation (No chance of pregnancy.) 1a. Menstruation without ovulation (This does not always occur–see below.)
  • Ovulation without luteal competence (After the egg is released, fertilization may take place. During the luteal phase, the uterine lining is prepared for implantation as the egg travels down the fallopian tube and into the uterus. If the uterine lining is not adequately prepared for implantation, the implantation will probably not be successful.)
  • Full luteal competence (Full fertility — at this point breastfeeding no longer has any effect on your chance of pregnancy.)
  • Before you ovulate, you might have one or even more periods (rarely). In this instance, menstruation starts during the initial phase of the return to fertility, prior to the return of ovulation. The first six months after giving birth are the most common time for no-ovulation cycles. For some mothers, ovulation precedes the first menstruation; a longer lactational amenorrhea period increases the likelihood that you will ovulate prior to that first period.

    Very few women will become pregnant during their first ovulation after giving birth without having experienced a postpartum period. Per fertility researcher Alan S. According to McNeilly, this is “rare and from our experience is associated with a sharp decline in suckling input.” ”.

    For weeks or even months before their period returns, breastfeeding mothers frequently complain of cyclical cramping or PMS-like symptoms, which are signs of an upcoming period but don’t actually cause bleeding. Breastfeeding continues to delay the return of fertility even though the body is likely “gearing up” for the return of menstruation at this time.

    Every woman experiences the transition to full fertility at a different pace. In general, the return to full fertility is more gradual the earlier your menses return.

    Reference Menstruation without ovulation First ovulation without luteal competence Time between 1st period and ovulation
    0-6 mo after 6 mo 0-6 mo after 6 mo
    Eslami 1990 67% 22% 8.4 weeks 0.1 week
    Gray 1990 45.1% “the rate fell greatly” 41%
    Reference Frequency of ovulation
    Lactation: 1st cycle Lactation: 2nd cycle Post-weaning: 1st cycle Post-weaning: 2nd cycle Formula-feeding only: 2nd cycle
    Howie 1982 45% 66% 70% 84% 94%

    Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

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