Congratulations! You’ve settled into parenthood and are successfully breastfeeding your newest addition. As you continue this journey, you may start to think about the future. Whether you want to have additional babies, it is helpful to understand how breastfeeding can impact your ability to become pregnant.
Can I get pregnant while breastfeeding?
Yes, but it can be a little complicated. Breastfeeding can prevent your body from ovulating, and your body needs to ovulate for conception. When you are breastfeeding, the milk production delays the return of your period. However, just because you have not gotten your period does not mean you are not ovulating. Remember, if you are ovulating and having unprotected sex, you will have a chance of becoming pregnant.
Does breastfeeding affect my fertility?
Yes, but the change in your fertility is not permanent. When you are breastfeeding, your period will be delayed, which can also delay the return of your fertility. The time it takes for a person’s period to return can vary, but typically, it returns anywhere between 9 and 18 months after your baby’s birth. Waiting for your period can be emotional, so please talk to your local healthcare provider if you have any questions.
What is the Lactational Amenorrhea Method?
The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a common method of preventing pregnancy, but to be successful, you must use this method properly as well as meet specific criteria:
- You must breastfeed at least every four hours during the day and every six hours every night.
- You cannot supplement breastfeeding with formula.
- Your baby is younger than six months old.
- Your period has not returned.
If you meet these four conditions 100% of the time, the LAM method can be almost 98% effective. However, the LAM method becomes less effective if you pump instead of breastfeeding, start feeding your baby solids, or your baby is older than six months.
If you are breastfeeding and want to prevent pregnancy, you have many options. While you can utilize the LAM method, you may want to know more about other birth control methods. If you are looking for other methods and unsure what works for you, take our Birth Control Quiz or reach out to your local healthcare provider. If you are looking for breastfeeding support or education, contact your local WIC Breastfeeding Counselor.