Breastfeeding as Birth Control

After I gave birth, I was told by my midwife that I had six months to use breastfeeding (on demand, that is) as a form of birth control, but that after six months, every woman really needs to find a back up. Several other sources I’ve looked at confirm the six month mark, but none are clear as to why. What happens at six months that isn’t happening at 5 months and 30 days?

I often say that I impregnated my ex-wife three times in 40 months using three types of birth control. Actually, it was two. One resulted from breastfeeding, in addition to the rhythm method. Oddly enough, even though I was the one raised Catholic, it was her idea. She heard about it from her midwife.

I can’t say exactly what happens, but it doesn’t always happen in six months. It can happen two months after a birth, even though the woman’s body isn’t ready for another pregnancy then.

Typically with on demand breastfeeding, the hormones keep flowing enough to keep ovulation away for about six months. However, what saoirse said is true, and it does not always last six months. I’ve heard women’s fertility returning anywhere between 2 months post-pardom and one year.

You could always wait (to use other forms of birth control) until after your first post-pardom period, but then you run the risk of getting pregnant at that first cycle, and then end up being one of those women that go to the doctor with a huge stoumach tumor, only to find out that they are ready to deliver a baby that they didn’t even know about. :smack:

I highly recommend reading the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler which talks a lot about reading natural fertility signals (not the rhythm method) and does have some information about breastfeeding and birth control.

I’d tell you what the book says, but it’s lended out at the moment. Maybe someone else on the board has it and can tell you.

According to my wife,

"According to Dr. Sears,

‘Studies have shown that most mothers who are berastfeeding exclusively remain infertile for more than the six-month period covered by LAM.’"

(LAM is a method for birth control which has been developed, which involves lactation as its chief instrument, and which covers six months from birth with 98 percent effectiveness.)

As far as I can discover, there is nothing magical about the six month figure–its just an average taken over all mothers who do any breastfeeding at all, or something.


Hah! My family has an overabundance of ‘Irish twins,’ babies born eleven months apart, despite breastfeeding. Gotta’ love them Catholics.

I see the “Irish twins” aspect has already been covered.

Don’t trust breastfeeding for birth control. Not for six months postpartum, not for one month after, not at all. As a form of birth control it works for some people but it’s not reliable–you may be the exception. I think that 98% figure is way high, just judging (anecdotally, y’know) from people I know, including a woman who was infertile for 8 years–so breastfeeding plus her known infertility should keep her from getting pregnant again (nope!) and a woman who has three sons born on the same date in three successive years who breastfed exclusively.

Unless you really wouldn’t mind having your kids close together.

I have three children. I breastfed all of them. I ALWAYS had my first postpartum period 28 days after giving birth.

Do not trust breastfeeding for any level of birth control.

IIRC, nutrition is a factor. If you’re eating well enough to support lactation and ovulation, you will, if not, lactation will trump. In the modern world it’s not considered reliable,

now, for all those posting that they or someone they know became pregnant while breastfeeding for less than six months, just to clarify, were they breastfeeding on demand, or on a schedule, or with formula or food supplimentation, or with pumping, etc?

There’s a perfectly sound reason why six months is mentioned - that’s the current giudeline for introducing solids. **Not **exclusuve breastfeeding is absolutely no method of birth control.

I still wouldn’t trust exclusive breastfeeding though. It might work, might not. If you’re anything like me, “might” isn’t great odds!

Exclusively pumping for 1 year, had periods at 6, 10 and 14 weeks post-partum, they’ve been missing ever since. Also on 120mg daily of domperidone for milk supply - 4 times the recommended dose.

You’re only “safe” if you’re ammenorrheic and breastfeeding exclusively at least 8 times a day. That is supposed to ensure that the prolactin levels are high enough to inhibit ovulation.

Most babies older than 6 months will be eating some solids and won’t require a full milk feed every 3 hours, that’s why they say 6 months is the limit. If you’re have periods, are supplementing with formula, or breastfeeding less than every 3 hours you need some other form of contraception.

BTW it is not unheard of for women to be pregnant again within 6 weeks of giving birth, you can get pregnant before that first post-partum period, so if you’re not breastfeeding you need to start using contraception from the get go.

Whynot- you have extra-high levels of prolactin because of the Domperidone, which is why you’re currently ammenorrheic, which I assume you already know.

It is my understanding that “breastfeeding as birth control” only works for women with an extremely low body fat %- think Masai, etc.

It is a myth. Rely on it at your peril, unless you want multiple kids in diapers simultaneously.

I breastfed on-demand. I had a period at two months post-partum, which means ovulation about two weeks before. My husband and I used condoms until such time as I had my tubal ligation.

That’s what you call a conflict of interest.

Right. Historically, poor women who breastfed and were just this side of malnutrition themselves would not have enough fat to prompt the normal cycle.

Let me get you my #3 niece’s email…she believed this, and a couple of months ago gave birth to her second.

She’ll tell you how effective breastfeeding is as birth control… :eek:

There are supposedly 7 rules to follow in order to use the lactation method. I recall on demand feeding, absolutely no artificial nipples, allowing the baby to comfort nurse, sleeping when the baby sleeps.

So far, 11 months and I’ve either been really lucky or it’s working (minus 4 months when my husband was deployed).

Yet another cause of pregnancy. :smiley:

It takes the typical fertile non-breastfeeding woman between 25-30 years of age an average of about 8-9 months to get pregnant, while actively trying. Of course, some manage it much faster, but others take quite a bit longer than 11 months too.

After birth my wife was advised to use some form of contraception as soon as she became sexually active because the breastfeeding method came with no guarantees.