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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:
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.
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.
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.
CitationsKennedy 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
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