BreastfeedingCan I get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Can I get pregnant while breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding is considered an effective natural contraceptive method for the first 6 months, but is it 100% safe? When can it fail?

Believe it or not, getting pregnant while breastfeeding your baby is possible, despite the widespread myth that breastfeeding protects the mother from conception and therefore a new pregnancy, if she maintains intimate relationships without proper contraceptive protection.

In fact, although there are many moms who believe that it is not possible, it is, especially if breastfeeding is not followed continuously over time. What’s more, the truth is that, in reality, it all depends on the type of breastfeeding; that is, how it is.

Breastfeeding is an effective natural contraceptive method, but…

There is a belief that breastfeeding is an effective natural contraceptive method that protects the mother against new pregnancies. While it is true that this is so, the reality is that it is not a 100% safe method of contraception.

During breastfeeding, at the same time that the baby sucks at the breast to feed and obtain milk, an inhibition of ovulation occurs. It is a method known by the name of LAM (Lactation and Amenorrhea Method), and the main reason is that the frequent suction of the nipple by the baby produces an inhibitory effect on ovulation, since it acts directly on the function of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to alter the pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone (LH).

In this way, usually during the first six months of breastfeeding, ovulation does not occur, so that the mother does not usually have periods (what is medically known as postpartum amenorrhea occurs).

For this reason, the more times a day the baby feeds with breast milk and takes from the breast, the greater the contraceptive effectiveness of breastfeeding.  Hence, if breastfeeding is not on demand and is maintained both throughout the day and throughout the night, it is possible that the method fails and the mother begins to ovulate. Time when pregnancy can occur.

Although it is usual that ovulation does not occur during the first 6 months of breastfeeding, if a new pregnancy is not wanted, it is necessary to use a safe contraceptive method for the baby, such as a condom.

How can pregnancy be avoided during lactation, precisely with breastfeeding?

Many experts agree that the LAM method is 98% effective. However, for this to be the case, it is necessary to meet a series of basic requirements:

  • Only during the first 6 months after delivery:  This method is effective as long as the mother has not yet had her first menstruation after delivery, and it is precisely within the first 6 months of the baby’s life.
  • The baby must be fed exclusively with breastfeeding:  It is necessary that the baby be fed on demand, through breastfeeding on demand and also exclusively. Both during the day and at night. We must bear in mind that the more times the baby suckles at the breast, the more effective the method will be.
  • Absence of breaks:  It is essential that, between takes, there are no breaks of longer than 6 hours.

However, although the common thing is that during the first 6 months of breastfeeding the mother does not ovulate, and therefore does not have menstruation, it is possible that it is not a one hundred percent effective method. Therefore, if both mom and dad do not want a new pregnancy for the moment, it is essential to opt for another effective contraceptive method.

In this case, the most important thing is that the contraceptive is safe for the baby. Therefore, it is not recommended at all to opt for oral or injected contraceptives, and it is recommended to opt for safer contraceptives for the little one during breastfeeding, such as the use of condoms.

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