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Can I Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?


Updated July 19, 2009

Question: Can I Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?
Answer: Breastfeeding is up to 98% effective as a natural contraceptive for up to six months after childbirth if your period has not returned. This method of birth control is called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method or LAM. LAM is most effective when you can also answer “Yes” to the following questions:

  • Do you plan to breastfeed fully for at least 6 months after the birth of your baby? This means that at least nine out of 10 feedings are breast feedings. Breastfeeding women who depend on LAM to prevent pregnancy should limit the number of supplemental feedings given to their infants to no more than 5 to 10 percent for the best contraceptive results.

  • Do you plan to breastfeed your baby at least once every four hours during the day and every six hours during the night? The most significant impact on fertility is achieved when feedings are spaced out no more than four hours during the day and six hours during the night.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or the ACOG, direct breastfeeding is the most effective method for women using LAM. Other feeding methods may “reduce the vigor and frequency of suckling and the maternal neuroendocrine response…” This may increase the probability of ovulation returning. Additional contraception is recommended for women who are unable to directly breastfeed during the majority of feedings, as described above.

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