Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size
A
A
A

Breast-Feeding as Birth Control - Topic Overview

Breast-feeding can be used as a method of birth control, called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). But three conditions must be met to ensure its effectiveness:

  • 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 pregnancy.
  • You must fully breast-feed your infant, meaning that the baby receives only breast milk. Also, breast-feeding 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.1 But many doctors recommend that you also use another method of birth control.

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free women’s preventive services, including mammograms, birth control and well-woman visits. Learn more.

Health Insurance Center

After 6 months, even if you are breast-feeding 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 pregnantbefore your first period. This is because you ovulate, then have your period.

At any point during breast-feeding, use a reliable method of birth control if you do not want to get pregnant. Many methods are safe to use while you are breast-feeding, although some are more reliable than others. Options include:

  • Progestin-only birth control pills. The estrogen-progestin methods of birth control are not recommended in early breast-feeding 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.
  • Barrier methods, such as condoms or diaphragms. To increase their reliability, use them with spermicide or foam.
  • An intrauterine device (IUD), which is placed inside your uterus by a health professional.

Fertility awareness is not recommended for birth control during breast-feeding. 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 breast-feeding.

For more information, see the topic Birth Control.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: 8/, 014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
1
Next Article:

Breast-Feeding as Birth Control Topics

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
 
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.
 

mother holding baby at night
ARTICLE
mother with sick child
QUIZ
 
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
SLIDESHOW
Track Your Babys Vaccines
TOOL
 
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Slideshow
Woman holding feet up to camera
Article
 
Father kissing newborn baby
Article
baby gear slideshow
Slideshow