I have written several articles about getting pregnant while breastfeeding, and answer many questions related to pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most of these questions usually come from women who are still nursing but want to get pregnant again.
But, some women do not want to get pregnant again and may be wondering, will breastfeeding prevent pregnancy?
Breastfeeding in certain situations can be effective birth control but it is very specific.
When you breastfeed exclusively - this means no formula, supplements, or food. And, it must be every few hours during the day and every six hours at night, and if your baby is less than six months old and is not using a pacifier or bottles, your fertility may not return right away.
The term for using this as birth control is Lactational Amenorrhea Method - LAM. And if you are not ovulating you cannot get pregnant. You will not have a period during this time either.
With all of my babies I did not ovulate and did not have a period until about 9 months plus postpartum.
LAM can be used as birth control if you are exclusively breastfeeding (as described above) for about the first six months of your baby's life, or until your period returns. Once your baby is older than six months and starts eating solid foods it is not an effective form of birth control. While your fertility may not return right away it is still possible and you will not always know when it has returned. The risk of getting pregnant increases.
If you want to prevent pregnancy and are not sure if this applies to you I recommend using a back up method of birth control. The main issue with using breastfeeding as birth control is that you will ovulate before you get your first period. While it is rare, it is technically possible to get pregnant during this first postpartum ovulation.
Despite not having a period for a long time after each pregnancy I still used a backup birth control since I did not want to take any risk.
If you have more questions about the return to fertility after pregnancy check out the La Leche League, they have plenty of articles on fertility while breastfeeding.
While breastfeeding will prevent pregnancy under specific conditions it is definitely still possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding! I personally have gotten pregnant twice while breastfeeding but in both cases I was well over 9 months postpartum and my period had returned.
If you would like to read more about getting pregnant while breastfeeding check out my other articles on the subject here:
Please let me know if you have any questions regarding fertility and breastfeeding at all!