Breastfeeding can be used as a method of birth control, called the lactational amenorrhea
method (LAM). But three conditions must be met to ensure its
Your baby must be 6 months of age or younger.
After your baby is 6 months old, you are much more likely to become pregnant
and need to use another method of birth control to prevent
You must fully breastfeed your infant, meaning that
the baby receives only breast milk. Also, breastfeeding must be maintained
with both day and night feeding, and no long intervals can occur between
feedings. It’s best if you don’t go longer than 4 hours between feedings during the day and no more than 6 hours between feedings at night.
You must not have a period (amenorrhea). When your
periods start, use an additional birth control method.
When these conditions are met, LAM has been shown to be about 98%
effective.footnote 1 But many doctors recommend that you
also use another method of birth control.
After 6 months, even if
you are breastfeeding exclusively and your period has not returned, you must
use an additional form of birth control if you do not want to get pregnant. You
can get pregnant before your first period. This is
because you ovulate, then have your period.
point during breastfeeding, use a reliable method of birth control if you do
not want to get pregnant. Many methods are safe to use while you are
breastfeeding, although some are more reliable than others. Options
Progestin-only birth control pills. The estrogen-progestin methods
of birth control are not recommended in early breastfeeding because they may
reduce the milk supply.
The shot, such as Depo-Provera, which does not affect milk production.
The hormonal implant, such as Implanon or Nexplanon, which
provides extremely effective birth control for 3 years.
methods, such as condoms or diaphragms. To increase their reliability, use them
with spermicide or foam.
Fertility awareness is not recommended
for birth control during breastfeeding. This method is less reliable and
harder to manage than other forms of birth control, especially with the
sporadic ovulation that may occur while you are breastfeeding.
For more information, see the topic Birth Control.
Kennedy KI, Trussel J (2007). Postpartum contraception and lactation. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 403-431. New York: Ardent Media.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerFemi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC – Obstetrics and Gynecology