Breastfeeding and Your Fertility

July 3, 2013

Whether you’re considering having another little one as soon as possible or you’re going to wait, it is important to know how breastfeeding affects your fertility.

Exclusive breastfeeding can temporarily delay your fertility postpartum, making it more difficult (but not impossible) to get pregnant while nursing. But it’s a little more complicated than that.

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

We all know the numerous benefits of breastfeeding for mothers, including reduced risk for breast and ovarian cancer, an increase in weight loss, increased self-confidence and building an irreplaceable bond.

Did you know that natural contraception is another benefit of breastfeeding?

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a natural and effective birth control method used to postpone the return of a mother’s fertility after having a baby.

Breastfeeding can interfere with the release of hormones your body needs to activate ovulation. The LAM method naturally provides birth control due to breast milk production causing a lack of menstruation.

Under the three factors listed below, exclusive breastfeeding can be 98 – 99.5% effective in preventing pregnancy:

  1. You gave birth less than 6 months ago.
  2. You breastfeed exclusively (not supplementing with formula).
  3. You have not started menstruating since you gave birth.

LAM isn’t 100% effective as a sole form of contraception, because you can get pregnant before your period begins again. Additionally, LAM does not protect against STDs. If you think you are at risk for a sexually transmitted disease, make sure to use effective contraception.

When Fertility Returns

The time it takes for a woman’s period to return after giving birth can vary widely. Once you start menstruating again, it is usually a sign that your fertility has returned or will return soon. Once menstruation is back to a normal schedule, it usually means that you are back to full fertility, and breastfeeding won’t have any effect on your ability to get pregnant. However, every woman’s fertility and ovulation cycle is different. You should talk to your doctor if you have any questions about your fertility.

Visit our website to learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding or contact our Lactation Consultant for answers to your breastfeeding questions and concerns.

2 thoughts on “Breastfeeding and Your Fertility

  1. Some women seem to require very little stimulation at the breast in order to keep from ovulating, while others seem to ovulate shortly after giving birth. I have come into contact with this issue quite frequently as a natural family planning instructor. Sometimes it takes only a slight decrease in nursing frequency to resume ovulation and menstruation to achieve another pregnancy.

    Since your baby doesn’t seem to nurse at night anymore, perhaps looking at her nursing patterns during the day might give you an idea about another time of day when you might put limits on her nursing. When does she nurse? When she’s tired? When she’s thirsty? How about when she’s bored? Can you find ways to distract her or provide alternatives to meet her needs during one or two of those nursing requests? That might be all it will take for your body to decide to ovulate.

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