Health Information and Tools >  Breastfeeding as Birth Control

Main Content

Breastfeeding as Birth Control


Breastfeeding can be used as a method of birth control. This is called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). But three conditions must be met to make sure that it works:

  • 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. You'll need to use another method of birth control to prevent pregnancy.
  • You must fully breastfeed your infant. This means that the baby receives only breast milk. You can't use formula or other supplements. And you have to breastfeed for both day and night feeding, with no long breaks 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 some other birth control method.

When these conditions are met, LAM has been shown to be about 98% effective.footnote 1 But many doctors recommend that you also use another method of birth control.

After 6 months, even if you breastfeed only and your period has not returned, you must use another form of birth control if you do not want to get pregnant. You can get pregnant before your first period. That's because you ovulate before you have your period.

Other birth control methods

At any point during breastfeeding, use a reliable method of birth control if you don't want to get pregnant. Many methods are safe to use if you breastfeed, but some work better than others. Talk to your doctor about which type is best for you.

Options include:

  • Hormone birth control pills, skin patches, and vaginal rings. But it's best to use progestin-only options while breastfeeding, as estrogen may decrease your milk production.
  • The shot, such as Depo-Provera.
  • The hormonal implant, such as Nexplanon. It provides extremely effective birth control for up to 3 years.
  • Barrier methods, such as condoms or diaphragms. To make them more effective, use them with spermicide or foam. Diaphragms are not widely available in Canada. Buying the necessary spermicidal jelly to use with them is difficult.
  • An intrauterine device (IUD). This is placed inside your uterus by a health professional.

Fertility awareness isn't recommended for birth control during breastfeeding. This method is less reliable and harder to manage than other forms of birth control, especially since ovulation may not be regular while you are breastfeeding.

Some birth control methods can be used right after you give birth. Others are safer if you wait. Talk to your healthcare provider about which methods you can use right after you give birth. You may also want to talk about how long to wait before starting some birth control options while breastfeeding.



  1. Kennedy KI, Trussel J (2007). Postpartum contraception and lactation. In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 403–431. New York: Ardent Media.


Adaptation Date: 8/2/2022

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.