Many mothers believe that they will not get pregnant while exclusively breastfeeding their babies. This practice is called the Lactational Amerrorhea Method (LAM) of birth control because women who breastfeed exclusively usually do not menstruate after childbirth. This results in natural infertility. However, because of conflicting information they receive, which include myths like breastfeeding is an unreliable method of preventing pregnancy and breastfeeding will prevent pregnancies no matter how frequently they breastfeed or even if their period has resumed, many mothers are confused and ask can you get pregnant while breastfeeding.

Can You Get Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

Yes, women can get pregnant while they are breastfeeding because although they are less fertile during this time, they may not be infertile. You may not get your period for a few months after childbirth but your body will release an egg two weeks before you resume menstruating again. However, you will not know when you have ovulated or released the egg until after your first period begins.

This means that if you do not want to get pregnant soon after giving birth while nursing your newborn baby, you must use birth control methods when having sex. Doctors recommend using barrier methods such as diaphragms and condoms but others believe that low-dose oral contraceptives or mini-pills are safe even while breastfeeding. Consult your doctor about using these progestin pills, which do not contain estrogen hormone.

More About Breastfeeding and Menstruation 

Mothers who exclusively breastfeed usually do not menstruate for up to a year after giving birth. However, when the baby feeds less at night, the mother may start having her periods sooner, within 3-8 months. Mothers who supplement their feedings with milk formula are also more likely to menstruate sooner.

It is therefore more likely for women who breastfeed more to get their periods after a longer time. Experts say that breastfeeding prevents ovulation by regulating the hormones that trigger the process. However, you can start ovulating anytime after 3 months of nursing without knowing it. So to avoid getting pregnant, you need to use birth control methods during sex.

It should also be noted that you are fertile around the time of ovulation, which is about 12-16 days before your period. Your period may resume anytime between a month to a year or so after childbirth.

Example of One Mom:

“I have two children who were born 10 months apart after believing that I cannot get pregnant while fully breastfeeding my first child. I argued with my mother-in-law about breastfeeding as a form of birth control and I feel that women in Le Leche League lied to me about it. I did not have a period while breastfeeding but I was shocked to find out that I was four months pregnant when my son was only five months old! I have a condition called PCOS, which is supposed to make it more difficult for me to get pregnant but I am now on my third pregnancy. Now I have to be more careful.”

                                                                     – posted 8/30/2012 by happymommy

How Effective Is Breastfeeding as Contraception?

1. The Effectiveness

Breastfeeding has long been used by women to avoid getting pregnant. Researchers from Georgetown University have found that breastfeeding or LAM is effective for birth control and may be more reliable than using a condom or diaphragm. The risk of getting pregnant with LAM is less than 2% when three conditions are met:

  • The baby is younger than six months
  • The mother has not menstruated again
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is practiced

Comparison of Effectiveness of Birth Control Methods
Number of Pregnancies/100 Women

Method Used

Exclusively Used

Typically Used










POPs/ The Pill









* Sourced from

2. How Can You Prolong Natural Period of Infertility?

Return of a woman's fertility varies for every woman and it may depend on a baby's nursing habits as well as the mother's sensitivity to the hormones of lactation. You can maximize your natural period of infertility by keeping these factors in mind:

  • The frequency of breastfeeding and the amount of time you spend breastfeeding in a day are the most important factors that determine the return of your fertility. Mothers are more likely to return to fertility if the baby nurses less frequently and/or the duration of feeding is reduced. Abrupt changes in feeding patterns are also associated with early return of fertility.
  • Research shows that night nursing may delay fertility.
  • A study reveals that separation of mothers from their babies carries a higher risk for pregnancy during the first six months even if mothers expressed their milk to supply their babies with 100% breast milk.
  • Mothers may prolong their period of infertility by breastfeeding their babies before introducing solid foods and starting them on solids gradually. Breastfeeding must not be restricted as long as her menstruation has not returned.
  • Unrestricted breastfeeding (about 6-8 times a day) suppresses ovulation. If you want to use breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy do not train the baby to sleep continuously at night. The hormones that induce milk production and prevent ovulation are usually highest during the early morning (1-6 am). Unrestricted nursing at night is important to suppress ovulation and this may be done by sleeping with the baby.
  • Allow the baby to suck the breast for food and comfort. Avoid using pacifiers or giving milk bottles.
  • Delay solid food introduction until the baby is six months old or older. Solid foods should be given to provide added nutrition, not to substitute for breastfeeding.

It is important to remember that the key to successful use of breastfeeding for birth control is to maintain the frequency of breastfeeding. This ensures that the blood levels of the hormone called prolactin are high enough to suppress your ovulation. When the baby feeds less, prolactin levels decline and your reproductive hormones increase, causing fertility to return.

If these guidelines are followed, your lactation amenorrhea may last for 13-16 months, or an average of 14.5 period-free months after childbirth. However, it is also possible for menses to return after six months in a few women.