Breastfeeding & Birth Control

What birth control methods can be used while breastfeeding?

There are several methods of contraception that are safe for women to use while breastfeeding:

Progestin-only hormonal birth control

Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

Barrier birth control methods

What birth control methods should not be used?

Some forms of birth control are not recommended for use during breastfeeding:

  • Fertility awareness, also known as natural family planning or the rhythm method, is more difficult to manage while breastfeeding, due to the changes in ovulation that often occur.
  • Combination birth control pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin, may affect milk production during early breastfeeding or increase risk of a blood clots. In most cases, a woman should wait until at least after the first six weeks of breastfeeding to begin using this method.

Breastfeeding as birth control

It is possible to use breastfeeding as a form of birth control under specific circumstances. This method, known as the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM), is 98 percent effective if:

  • The baby is six months old or younger
  • The baby is exclusively breast-fed, both day and night, without long intervals between feedings
  • The mother is not menstruating (amenorrhea)

At any point when the mother’s periods return, this method is significantly less effective and another form of birth control should be used to prevent pregnancy.

Even if menstruation has not started, when the baby is six months old, breastfeeding is no longer a reliable form of birth control because ovulation occurs before a woman’s period starts.